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

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    FILE PHOTO - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks at a Harden County Republican party fundraiser in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, U.S. on June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston/File Photo - RTX3BWYY

    U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks at a Harden County Republican party fundraiser in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, U.S. on June 30, 2017. Photo by Bryan Woolston/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s attacks on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell come at the worst possible time, if the president’s goal is actually to accomplish the agenda on health care, infrastructure and taxes he’s goading his GOP ally to pass.

    Congress, now on its August recess, will return to confront a brutal September workload including two absolute must-do items: funding the government to head off a shutdown, and raising the federal borrowing limit to avert a potentially catastrophic first-ever default on U.S. obligations.

    Both will require bipartisan cooperation, something that’s been in short supply on Capitol Hill this year. And that’s all apart from the legislation Trump wants to see, including a rewrite of the tax code to lower rates, a sweeping infrastructure bill, and renewed efforts to repeal Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act after McConnell tried and failed last month – an outcome Trump called “a disgrace.”

    So the president’s rhetoric this past week has fueled divisions at a moment when his party should be working together toward shared goals, not tearing each other apart. And his agenda only can pass if McConnell navigates it through the Senate, something the veteran lawmaker may not feel more motivated to do with his president working against him instead of for him.

    “Virtually any substantial goals that the president intends to achieve, whether it’s tax reform or more infrastructure, requires the active assistance of the Senate majority leader,” said Michael Steel, who served as spokesman to John Boehner when the Ohio Republican was House speaker.

    McConnell allies say that Trump’s frustration over the failure on health care is shared by the majority leader. And campaign operatives on the political side say it’s crucial that the next item on the agenda – overhauling the tax code – not collapse in a similar fashion. Otherwise Republicans will have a tough time making the case to voters during next year’s midterms that they should continue to control both chambers of Congress and the White House.

    “Tax reform is a must-do issue in our view,” Steven Law, head of the McConnell-aligned super PAC Senate Leadership Fund, said Friday in an interview for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program. “I think if we fail to get action on that, I think people will start to wonder why Republicans are in charge of everything and what they’re accomplishing.”

    Yet instead of linking arms with McConnell on the issue and working Capitol Hill, like Republican President George W. Bush did when he got his big tax cuts through in 2001, the White House may already be at cross-purposes with the majority leader.

    [Watch Video]

    The president’s team has raised expectations for fast action on taxes, with White House legislative director Marc Short recently suggesting a bill could be completed by the end of the year. That’s a tall order for Republicans who have yet to meet a single major legislative deadline. At the same time, Congress has made virtually no progress on infrastructure or the budget, with the unfinished work piling up.

    And unlike health care, the upcoming agenda – outside of tax reform and Trump nominations – requires Democratic votes. That’s sure to be another sore point between Trump and McConnell, since Trump wants the Senate to eliminate the filibuster. McConnell, along with most Senate veterans, are resolutely opposed.

    McConnell dinged Trump this week for “excessive expectations” about what can happen in Congress, which didn’t sit well with the president, who lashed out against the majority leader.

    Even as Senate Republicans rushed to the majority leader’s defense Friday following Trump’s attacks, McConnell’s allies tried to soothe the waters, with some noting that McConnell, while repeatedly expressing his displeasure with Trump’s tweeting habits, has nonetheless proceeded forward despite them.

    “The most important thing Leader McConnell said this week is that this Congress will be judged in its totality, not in a snapshot, which is exactly right,” said Brian McGuire, McConnell’s former chief of staff. “He and the president share a common set of legislative goals, and there’s no reason whatsoever to believe those shared goals won’t continue to be a unifying force in the months and years ahead.”

    A top priority for Trump is U.S. taxpayer money for a wall along the Mexico border despite his repeated campaign promises that Mexico would finance it. McConnell may be hard-pressed to deliver as funds for the border wall are certain to face strong Democratic opposition and some Republican foes.

    “We have announced publicly, ‘No wall. Never,'” said No. 2 Senate Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois. “Don’t put that on the table. It’s just a nonstarter with our caucus.”

    The administration is signaling that Trump is so determined to win money for the wall that it may be open to a budget deal that would increase defense spending and boost funds for domestic programs favored by Democrats. Trump reluctantly relented on the wall this spring – only to turn to Twitter to threaten a shutdown if he didn’t get a better deal this fall.

    But adding the contentious wall issue to the already volatile mix of the September agenda could be too risky.

    AP Congressional Correspondent Erica Werner contributed to this report.

    The post Trump spat with Senate leader complicates tough agenda appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    STAT nuclear

    Two nuclear reactor cooling towers at the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in Waynesboro, Ga. Photo by Dustin Chambers/STAT

    SHELL BLUFF, Ga. — Life here in the farming communities along the Savannah River demands an uneasy trust with all things nuclear.

    And in recent decades, that trust has been fraying.

    One woman has stopped drinking her tap water because it smells like sewage. Another has lost too many relatives to cancer. A third wonders why hummingbirds no longer flock to her yard. All suspect the blame lies with the two giant institutions that dominate this rolling green landscape — a federal nuclear reservation and a massive nuclear power plant that sends steam billowing from two cooling towers as tall as skyscrapers.

    “You always think of Erin Brockovich,” said community organizer Natalie Herrington. “Maybe there is a connection …”

    Testing required by independent and federal regulators has repeatedly found no sustained heightened risks of contamination. But officials at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site recognized that all the suspicion itself was toxic. For some locals, it’s become a force that’s made life feel as unstable as a radioactive atom.

    So the federal government has launched an unusual effort to put residents at ease — by teaching them to trust science.

    In the final year of the Obama administration, the University of Georgia received a grant of nearly $665,000 to send a team of ecologists and educators to this poor, rural stretch of northeast Georgia, where life revolves around farms and faith. Launched this summer, the program is designed to demystify the science that officials use to monitor the air and water for radioactive contamination — and explain to residents of Burke County why there’s no need for alarm.

    READ NEXT: EPA sidestepped decision to tighten standards for lead levels, leaving communities adrift

    “It’s easy to blame … the biggest perceived threat,” said Gene Rhodes, director of UGA’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, which is leading the program. “To me, it’s disturbing to think someone may see steam coming out of the Plant Vogtle stack and worry they’re being exposed to radionuclides. We have enough to worry about in this life — that’s an unnecessary threat. But we’re not getting the message across.”

    A wildlife biologist from South Carolina, Rhodes is acutely aware that the Trump administration has proposed deep cuts to environmental protection efforts and has sought to cast doubt on, rather than build trust in, mainstream science. Still, he holds out hope that this program can become a national model. Before he can think bigger, however, Rhodes has to figure out how to explain dense environmental science in a community where only 1 in 10 adults has a college degree.

    “No one here has done this kind of outreach,” he said. “It’s not easy. But I believe it’s worthwhile — and I’m willing to step out on a limb to earn their trust.”

    On a recent Monday morning, residents trickle out of the oppressive heat into the cool Burke County Library. Megan Winzeler, a 26-year-old wildlife biologist with curly blonde hair and thick amber glasses, asks everyone to be seated. Half a dozen people are here today for the second of three public meetings.

    Still, Winzeler, who works for the UGA team, is encouraged by the turnout, given the community’s historic distrust of environmental monitors. She intends to hold scores of meetings over the next two years — including sessions tailored to churchgoers, Rotary club members, and seventh-grade students.

    She pulls a chair into the middle of the library’s conference room to explain the program’s goals and offer a history of environmental monitoring here. For decades, federal funding paid for monitoring of the air, groundwater, crops, and animals all around the 310-square mile Savannah River Site, which straddles the border of South Carolina and Georgia. The nuclear reservation makes a vital component for nuclear weapons: tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen that at very high levels may increase cancer risk.

    Over time, federal officials came to believe the testing in Georgia was redundant, since any heightened levels of contamination would likely surface first in South Carolina before making their way through the soil and water to Burke County.

    In 2003, the U.S. cut off funding, declaring no more need for outside monitoring in Georgia. The utility that runs the power plant, Atlanta-based Southern Company, still submits its own annual reports to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; last year, it wrote that testing found “no adverse radiological environmental impacts” associated with the reactors.

    Jacob Hawkins, a spokesman for the utility, said the plant has also published newsletters and offered tours to make sure locals are comfortable with the nuclear power in their midst. The company supports the federal effort, too: “We appreciate the importance of communication with our neighbors,” Hawkins wrote in an email.

    READ NEXT: Citizen science often overstates ‘cancer clusters’ like the one linked to artificial turf

    The last year of federally funded testing in Burke County found “slightly elevated levels” of tritium.

    Winzeler conceded the very mention of tritium worries residents — especially since scientists at the time didn’t do a good job explaining that the “elevated” levels didn’t automatically mean there was cause for concern.

    “Right now, community members feel like conclusions are being drawn by the government,” she said. “And the government is saying, ‘Everything’s fine, just trust us.’”

    STAT nuclear

    A man walks his dogs in a field cleared for power lines leading to the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant. Photo by Dustin Chambers/STAT

    It’s her job now to put the elevated tritium levels in perspective, in part by helping locals understand that people all over the world, not just in Burke County, are exposed to low levels of radiation on a daily basis. She also wants to help them understand just what the monitors were collecting.

    The raw data are available on a public website. “But it’s hard to find. It’s hard to understand. It’s a lot of numbers.” Winzeler said.

    And that’s no help to anyone here, said Herrington, the community activist: “The data should be easily interpreted so you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand.”

    So Winzeler starts at square one: the scientific method.

    She pulls out her oversized Post-it note board to write words like “observation” and “conclusion” as she discusses the art of making scientific predictions, collecting data, and checking for bias. She explains that she will show residents how to collect new samples from the air and water over the next two years, but mostly for the purpose of demonstrating how such monitoring works, not to do rigorous testing.

    That’s frustrating to Tonya Bonitatibus, executive director of the local environmental group Savannah Riverkeeper.

    “It’s good to educate residents,” Bonitatibus said. But she also wants a robust monitoring program to compare pollution levels now to those from over a decade ago.

    “We need,” she said, “to answer the damn question of whether we have a problem or not.”

    Lillie Wilson grew up here in Shell Bluff, a tiny riverside community full of cotton farms and unadorned churches near the lush banks of the Savannah River.

    She left for work at a VA hospital in Augusta, but returned home about a decade ago to find the nuclear power plant up and running. (It started producing energy in the late 1980s.).

    Upon her return, Wilson heard community members discussing growing health concerns in Burke County. There were rumors of increased cancer deaths.

    READ NEXT: Uncertainty haunts parents of Flint, as every rash, every tantrum raises alarms

    Just as such questions were being raised, Wilson’s grandma died from lung cancer despite never smoking. The death drove her to find answers. Her first thought: the nuclear waste stored at the federal reservation.

    “A lot of places don’t want this stuff,” Wilson said. “Why are we the dump site?”

    Wilson, now 72, came to the community meeting hoping to find answers.

    So did the others. At the final meeting of the day, Winzeler opens the floor for questions, and longtime resident Rose Johnson brings up the old testing that found elevated levels of tritium. Then she asks: Is it related to my water tasting and smelling like sewage?

    “Tritium is here,” Rhodes replies.

    He grasps for an analogy to make clear why that, in and of itself, should not be scary. Just imagine, he says, that the ceiling of this room is the level of tritium the federal government deems dangerous to human health. The levels found in Burke County were elevated — but only to the height of a sheet of paper lying on the ground. In other words, nowhere close to being a real health risk.

    The explanation doesn’t seem to change anyone’s opinions on the spot. But the wary residents listen — and some say they’re eager to come back to learn more.

    Outside the library after the meeting, Johnson sits on the bench listening to the hum of cicadas. She’s lived here for over 50 years and can’t imagine ever leaving the house where she picks okra and squash from her garden. But home has brought hardship. Her mother and sister first lost bouts with lung cancer years ago. Recently she’s also had to bury two of her brothers. They, too, had lung cancer.

    She’s at a loss. Is it hereditary? Is it something in the water?

    The uncertainty has made her worry about her health. Ideally, she’d like to see monitoring restored. In lieu of that, she hopes this program will deliver answers.

    “At least somebody is doing something,” she said.

    Rhodes must walk a tightrope in Burke County. Trust can’t be built without acknowledging the community’s concerns about nuclear pollution. But there’s risk that local activists will seize the opportunity to press for more vigorous federal monitoring, which is not likely to come, especially given the deep cuts Trump has planned for the Environmental Protection Agency.

    There’s also the faction that doesn’t want monitoring at all. Allen DeLaigle, chairman of the Burke County Commission, said he’s satisfied with the tests run by the operators of the power plant.

    “In the society we live in, you just can’t be afraid of everything,” he said. “[Activists] lay everything on Plant Vogtle when they should spend time taking care of themselves.”

    It’s also true that the power plant and the federal nuclear reservation are among the biggest employers in Burke County, which has a population of just 22,000.

    Between full-time and construction jobs, more than 6,000 people currently work at the Vogtle site. The nuclear reservation lists its workforce at 12,000. Both are an oasis of well-paying jobs near a county where the average median household income is $33,600 and the poverty rate is nearly double the national average.

    Most people in the area don’t want to rock the boat by targeting those employers.

    “Nobody wants to talk about it,” said the Rev. Willie Tomlin, a pastor at the Thomas Grove Baptist Church in county seat of Waynesboro.

    Rhodes now hopes teaching the fundamentals of research will get community members talking again. He’ll be happy if he can restore their confidence in science — and in the government that has repeatedly reassured them that their air and water are safe.

    “We have small expectations,” he said. “We’re going to build from there.”

    This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on August 11, 2017. Find the original story here.

    The post In the shadow of a nuclear plant, the U.S. government lays out an unusual mission: teach the locals to trust science appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin

    Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, July 5, 2017. Photo by Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

    SEOUL, South Korea — Chinese President Xi Jinping made a plea for cool-headedness over escalating tensions between the U.S. and North Korea in a phone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday, urging both sides to avoid words or actions that could worsen the situation.

    The call came after Trump unleashed a slew of fresh threats against North Korea on Friday, declaring the U.S. military “locked and loaded” and warning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that he “will regret it fast” if he takes any action against U.S. territories or allies.

    Trump has pushed China to pressure North Korea to halt a nuclear weapons program that is nearing the capability of targeting the United States. China is the North’s biggest economic partner and source of aid, but says it alone can’t compel Pyongyang to end its nuclear and missile programs.

    [Watch Video]

    The White House said in a statement that Trump and Xi “agreed North Korea must stop its provocative and escalatory behavior.” It also said that the two “reiterated their mutual commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

    State-run China Central Television quoted Xi as telling Trump the “relevant parties must maintain restraint and avoid words and deeds that would exacerbate the tension on the Korean Peninsula.”

    But restraint was not the word of the day on Friday as Trump sent out a cascade of unscripted statements, including what appeared to be another red line – the mere utterance of threats – that would trigger a U.S. attack against North Korea and “big, big trouble” for Kim.

    North Korea’s Minju Joson newspaper, meanwhile, lashed back at the U.S. in an editorial Saturday.

    “The powerful revolutionary Paektusan army of the DPRK, capable of fighting any war the U.S. wants, is now on the standby to launch fire into its mainland, waiting for an order of final attack,” it said. DPRK stands for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

    The tough talk capped a week in which long-standing tensions between the countries risked abruptly boiling over.

    New United Nations sanctions condemning the North’s rapidly developing nuclear program drew fresh ire and threats from Pyongyang. Trump, responding to a report that U.S. intelligence indicates Pyongyang can now put a nuclear warhead on its long-range missiles, vowed to rain down “fire and fury” if challenged.

    The North then came out with a threat to lob four intermediate-range “Hwasong-12” missiles near Guam, a tiny U.S. territory some 3,200 kilometers (2,000 miles) from Pyongyang.

    READ NEXT: 5 things you likely didn’t know about Guam

    At the epicenter of the rhetoric, Trump’s New Jersey golf course, the president seemed to put Kim on notice, saying, “If he utters one threat in the form of an overt threat – which by the way he has been uttering for years and his family has been uttering for years – or he does anything with respect to Guam or anyplace else that’s an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it and he will regret it fast.”

    Asked if the U.S. was going to war, he said cryptically, “I think you know the answer to that.”

    But Trump’s comments did not appear to be backed by significant military mobilization on either side of the Pacific, and an important, quiet diplomatic channel remained open. As a precaution, Japan deployed missile defense batteries under the path a North Korean missile might take.

    Life on the streets of the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, also remained calm.

    There have been no air raid drills or cars in camouflage netting as has been the case during previous crises. State-run media ensures that the population gets the North Korean side of the story, but doesn’t convey any sense of international concern about the situation.

    U.S. officials say they will be going ahead with long-scheduled military exercises with South Korea. Pyongyang says it will be ready to send its missile launch plan to Kim for approval just before or as the drills begin.

    Called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, the exercises are expected to run Aug. 21-31 and involve tens of thousands of American and South Korean troops on the ground and in the sea and air. North Korea claims the exercises are a rehearsal for war, but Washington and Seoul say they are necessary to deter North Korean aggression.

    Trump began his Friday barrage with an especially fiery tweet: “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”

    He later retweeted a posting from U.S. Pacific Command that showed B-1B Lancer bomber planes on Guam that “stand ready to fulfill USFK’s #FightTonight mission if called upon to do so.” ”Fight tonight” has long been the motto of U.S. forces in South Korea to show they’re always ready for combat on the Korean Peninsula.

    Trump also brushed away calls for caution from other world leaders, including Germany’s Angela Merkel.

    “I don’t see a military solution and I don’t think it’s called for,” Merkel said Friday, calling on the U.N. Security Council to continue to address the crisis.

    “I think escalating the rhetoric is the wrong answer,” Merkel added.

    “Let her speak for Germany,” Trump said, when asked about the comment. “Perhaps she is referring to Germany. She’s certainly not referring to the United States, that I can tell you.”

    By evening, he seemed to have mellowed a bit.

    “Hopefully it’ll all work out,” Trump said. “Nobody loves a peaceful solution better than President Trump.”

    Speaking to Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo, he promised: “You are safe. We are with you a thousand percent.”

    Lemire reported from Bedminster, New Jersey. Associated Press writers Josh Lederman, Matthew Pennington and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.

    The post Xi calls for calm after Trump says U.S. is ‘locked and loaded’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The U.S flag and the Texas State flag fly over the Texas State Capitol as the state senate debates the #SB6 bathroom bill in Austin

    The Republican-controlled Texas Legislature is poised to restrict insurance coverage for abortions. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    AUSTIN, Texas — The Republican-controlled Texas Legislature is poised to restrict insurance coverage for abortions over the objections of opponents who say doing so could force some women to make heart-wrenching choices because no exceptions will be made in cases of rape and incest.

    A bill requiring women to purchase extra insurance to cover abortions except amid medical emergencies already cleared the state House after hours of emotional debate. The Texas Senate could approve it Saturday night, sending the restrictions to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to be signed into law.

    State lawmakers debated other bills limiting insurance coverage for abortion during Texas’ regular legislative session that ended in May, but Abbott called a special session and revived the issue.

    Ten states already have laws restricting insurance coverage of abortion in all private insurance plans: Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Utah. All make exceptions if the mother’s life is endangered; only Indiana and Utah also make exceptions for rape and incest.

    The measure’s House sponsor, Republican Rep. John Smithee, said it applies only to “elective” abortions and promotes “economic freedom” by not forcing Texas policyholders who object to abortion to “subsidize” insurance coverage for women undergoing the procedure.

    “What we’re saying here is: If you want to buy this coverage, you can buy it,” said Smithee, a Republican from Amarillo.

    Outnumbered Democrats dismissed the bill as purely political, arguing that insurance companies already cover only medically necessary abortions. They also said the law will require women to purchase insurance plans that insurers won’t actually offer because too few women will buy them, not knowing in advance that they will be undergoing abortions.

    [Watch Video]

    Rep. Chris Turner, head of the House Democratic Caucus, said the bill would effectively require women to buy “rape insurance.”

    “I think we all agree, rape, sexual assault, incest are horrible crimes,” said Turner, of the Dallas suburb of Grand Prairie. He added of victims who wouldn’t be eligible for abortion insurance coverage: “Let’s not re-victimize that same person again.”

    Texas approved some of the nation’s strictest limits on abortion in 2013, but those were mostly struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court last summer. Still, abortion clinics around the state have closed and the number of abortions performed in the country’s second-largest state has fallen from more than 82,000 in 2006 to around 54,300 in 2015.

    “One of the talking points we’ve heard lately is abortion should be considered health care,” Elizabeth Graham, director of Texas Right to Life, told a Texas Senate committee. “Really, the definition of health care is to make a person well and to encourage health. The definition of a successful abortion is the complete death of the unborn child.”

    State policy analyst Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute, a national research group that supports abortion rights, said she knows of no current analysis of the impact of states imposing coverage restrictions, nor the extent to which health plans offer supplemental coverage for abortion.

    “My sense is that there isn’t any identifiable impact of these restrictions since most women pay out of pocket already,” Nash said by email.

    READ NEXT: Idea of Democrats funding anti-abortion candidates draws ire

    A Guttmacher analysis in March said about 60 percent of privately insured abortion patients pay out of pocket, because their policy doesn’t cover the procedure or because deductibles are high. But many women who get abortions are too poor to afford private insurance.

    Nancy Northup, president of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, depicted the insurance bans as “a shocking infringement” on women’s right to opt for private insurance to cover a legal medical procedure. In cases where a woman opts for an abortion after detection of a severe fetal abnormality, the costs can run into the thousands of dollars, she said.

    The insurance bans also have been criticized by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which says insurance coverage of abortion should be comparable to that of other essential health care services.

    This report was written by Will Weissert and David Crary of the Associated Press.

    The post Texas set to restrict insurance coverage for abortion appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville

    Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the “Unite the Right” rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    A car plowed into a pool of people in the college town of Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday afternoon, killing one person and injuring several others in the aftermath of a white nationalist rally that turned violent before it was scheduled to start.

    In videos posted on Twitter, a car sped into the crowd, flinging people in the air and smashing into the rear-end of one car, which rear-ended another. The driver then pulled away, speeding in reverse. Police apprehended the driver later in the afternoon.

    “Unite the Right” was scheduled for noon by people protesting the city’s decision to remove an equestrian statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park. But at least an hour earlier, hundreds of neo-Nazis, alt-right activists, pro-Confederacy groups, people who oppose them and police had started shoving or punching each other, throwing objects and spraying chemicals.

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

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

    At 11:06 a.m., Albermarle County declared a local state of emergency. Charlottesville soon tweeted, “Unlawful assembly declared for rally at Emancipation Park,” and the Virginia State Police added that arrests were being made.

    Soon after, Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency. While law enforcement cleared out the park, pools of people were still scattered around the area – the hit-and-run happened about a third of a mile away, according to NPR.

    Members of white nationalists clash a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville Virginia

    Members of white nationalists clash a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    Friday night set the tone for Saturday, starting after a federal judge forced the city to accommodate Saturday’s rally after it had initially announced that organizers had to move it to another park.

    U.S. District Judge Glen Conrad granted a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit filed by right-wing blogger Jason Kessler, who organized “Unite the Right,” according to the Associated Press. The city said in response that it would accommodate the rally.

    Hundreds of people marched with torches through the University of Virginia’s campus after the judge’s decision on Friday night, holding up their right arms and chanting, “White lives matter” and “You will not replace us,” according to CNN.

    White nationalists carry torches on the grounds of the University of Virginia, on the eve of a planned Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville

    White nationalists carry torches on the grounds of the University of Virginia, on the eve of a planned Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. August 11, 2017. Photo by Alejandro Alvarez/News2Share via Reuters

    In a Facebook post, Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer wrote, “I am beyond disgusted by this unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation on a college campus.”

    Members of the Ku Klux Klan staged a similar protest one month ago that ended in the arrest of 23 people.

    Police in riot gear on Saturday afternoon were still sweeping the streets, telling everyone they had to clear.

    President Donald Trump said at a press conference around 3:30 p.m., “We condemn in the strongest possible terms, this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”

    Trump did not mention the crash or a specific group.

    The post Car runs into crowd, killing one, after white nationalist rally in Charlottesville appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Who is a cyberbully? What is cyberbullying? The PBS NewsHour (@newshour) will host a Twitter chat on these questions and more Thursday, July 13 at 1 p.m. Have questions tweet them using #NewsHourChats. Flickr/Camden

    Photo by Flickr user Caden Crawford

    Bullying, as many people know, can be a tremendously painful experience for a young person. The point has been driven home over the last decade by stories about teens like Phoebe Prince or Amanda Todd, who killed themselves after experiencing bullying.

    Recently, the parents of eight-year-old Gabriel Taye filed a federal lawsuit against the Cincinnati public schools, alleging that their son committed suicide because the school covered up and failed to prevent a culture of bullying.

    All 50 states have some kind of anti-bullying law, and schools are increasingly being called upon to implement bullying prevention programs.

    Bullying and suicide are both significant public health concerns for children and adolescents. As a scholar with expertise in youth violence and bullying, I’ve done considerable research to understand the link between bullying and suicide. Although there certainly is a connection between the two, research highlights the complexity of the relationship.

    Bullies and their victims

    Many studies have examined the relationship between bullying and suicidality, or the tendency to have suicidal thoughts and behaviors. We wanted to see what these studies could tell us about the strength of this association: Is being bullied or bullying others associated with suicidality?

    To find out, we conducted an analysis of 47 studies on bullying and suicide among students in K-12 settings. The studies were from the United States and several other countries (including China, Australia, the U.K. and Finland).

    Overall, we found that youth involved in bullying in any capacity – both bullies and victims of bullying – were more likely to think about and attempt suicide than youth who were not involved in bullying. In short, bullying is bad for everyone involved.

    We also found that bullying and suicidality are most strongly related for bully-victims: youth who have experienced both sides of bullying, as victim and perpetrator. This is consistent with past research suggesting that bully-victims are at particularly high risk for experiencing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

    Who is most at risk?

    In addition to questions about bullies versus victims, we examined three factors in the association between bullying and suicidality: gender, country and how bullying is measured.

    While associations between bullying involvement and the tendency to have suicidal thoughts or behaviors were similar for boys and girls, we did find a difference when it came to the country of origin for these studies. In general, there were stronger associations between bullying and suicidality in the U.S. studies compared to their international counterparts.

    As a whole, studies also showed a stronger connection between being a bully victim and suicidal thoughts when the study asked a single question to identify victims such as “Have you been bullied?” Studies that asked about specific behaviors (without mentioned the word bullying) showed a weaker connection.

    This finding might reflect that suicidality is more common in youth who self-identify as being bullied, when compared to those who admit only to experiencing specific behaviors (e.g., they’ve been teased). The latter may not self-identify as someone who has been bullied and may be less at risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

    What else do we need to consider?

    Research clearly indicates there is an association between bullying involvement – on both sides – and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. However, it also suggests that there are factors beyond bullying that are relevant to suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

    For instance, in one study of fifth through eighth graders, researchers found that once depression and delinquency were considered, there were only small differences between youth who were not involved in bullying and those who were.

    A recent study of adolescents highlighted the role of low self-esteem and depression as factors contributing to suicidal thoughts and behaviors for sexual minority and heterosexual youth who had been bullied.

    In short, a host of psychological and other factors may contribute to suicidality.

    What does this mean for intervention and prevention?

    Our cultural narrative about bullying presumes that youth who are bullied are at great risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. But research shows that bullies themselves are at risk as well.

    The analysis provides additional evidence that youth who experience bullying as both perpetrator and victim are at particularly high risk for psychological distress.

    In short, bullying involvement of any stripe is harmful.

    Our research (and more that can be done in the future) should prompt the creation of more effective prevention and intervention programs to better address the mental health needs of youth involved in bullying. In particular, it’s essential that we bolster mental health supports for kids who bully – not just their victims.

    Melissa Holt is an Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology at Boston University. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. This is an updated version of an article originally published on May 14, 2014.

    The Conversation

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    BEDMINISTER, N.J. — President Donald Trump on Saturday blamed “many sides” for the violent clashes between protesters and white supremacists in Virginia and contended that the “hatred and bigotry” broadcast across the country had taken root long before his political ascendancy.

    That was not how the Charlottesville mayor assessed the chaos that led the governor to declare a state of emergency, contending that Trump’s campaign fed the flames of prejudice.

    Trump, on a working vacation at his New Jersey golf club, had intended to speak briefly at a ceremony marking the signing of bipartisan legislation to aid veterans, but he quickly found that those plans were overtaken by the escalating violence in the Virginia college town.

    He told reporters that he had just spoken to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, D-Va., and “we agreed that the hate and the division must stop, and must stop right now. We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation and … true affection for each other.”

    The president said that “what is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives.”

    White nationalists had assembled in Charlottesville to vent their frustration against the city’s plans to take down a statue of Confederal Gen. Robert E. Lee. Counter-protesters massed in opposition.

    A few hours after violent encounters between the two groups, a car drove into a crowd of people peacefully protesting the rally. One person died and at least 26 were sent to hospitals.

    “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides,” Trump said.

    “It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time,” he said.

    Mayor Michael Signer said he was disgusted that the white nationalists had come to his town and blamed Trump for inflaming racial prejudices with his campaign last year.

    “I’m not going to make any bones about it. I place the blame for a lot of what you’re seeing in American today right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president,” he said.

    Disturbances began Friday night during a march through the University of Virginia before escalating Saturday.

    The White House was silent for hours except for a tweet from first lady Melania Trump: “Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let’s communicate w/o hate in our hearts.”

    Trump later tweeted: “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for.” He also said “there is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!”

    House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., took to Twitter to denounce the scene.

    “The views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant. Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry,” he said.

    In his remarks, Trump mentioned the strong economy and “the many incredible things in our country, so when I watch Charlottesville, to me it’s very, very said.”

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    U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks on the protests in Charlottesville Virginia from his golf estate in Bedminster New Jersey

    U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks on the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, from his golf estate in Bedminster, New Jersey U.S., August 12, 2017. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    BEDMINSTER, N.J. — President Donald Trump has signed an emergency spending bill that will pump more than $2 billion into a program that allows veterans to receive private medical care at government expense.

    Trump, who made improving veterans care a central campaign promise, signed the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act while at his New Jersey golf club on Saturday. The bill, which addresses a budget shortfall at the Department of Veteran Affairs that threatened medical care for thousands of veterans, provides $2.1 billion to continue funding the Veterans Choice Program, which allows veterans to seek private care.

    Another $1.8 billion will go to core VA health programs, including 28 leases for new VA medical facilities.

    “Today is another milestone in our work to transform the VA where we’re doing record-setting business,” Trump said.

    The Choice program was put in place after a 2014 wait-time scandal that was discovered at the Phoenix VA hospital and spread throughout the country. Veterans waited weeks or months for appointments while phony records covered up the lengthy waits.

    The program allows veterans to receive care from outside doctors if they must wait at least 30 days for an appointment or drive more than 40 miles to a VA facility. VA Secretary David Shulkin has warned that without legislative action, the Choice program would run out of money by mid-August, causing delays in health care for thousands of veterans.

    The bill will extend the program for six months. Costs will be paid for by trimming pensions for some Medicaid-eligible veterans and collecting fees for housing loans.

    READ NEXT: House unveils plan to fix VA’s budget gap as deadline looms

    Veterans groups applauded the bill being signed, though some criticized the delay and the cost.

    “We’re grateful President Trump is taking decisive action to ensure veterans using the Choice Program won’t see lapses in their care due to a lack of funding,” said Dan Caldwell, policy director for Concerned Veterans for America. “Unfortunately, this bill took far too long to get to the president’s desk and is $1.8 billion more expensive than it needed to be.”

    Leaders of the House Veterans Affairs Committee said the six-month funding plan was urgently needed and would give Congress more time to debate broader issues over the VA’s future. While the bill may avert a shutdown to Choice, disputes over funding may signal bigger political fights to come.

    During the 2016 campaign, Trump criticized the VA for long wait times and mismanagement, saying he would give veterans more options in seeing outside providers. Shulkin announced the budget shortfall last month, citing unexpected demand from veterans for private care and poor budget planning. To slow spending, the department last month instructed VA medical centers to limit the number of veterans it sent to private doctors.

    Currently, more than 30 percent of VA appointments are in the private sector, up from fewer than 20 percent in 2014. The VA has an annual budget of about $180 billion.

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    Anti riot policemen clash with protesters supporting opposition leader Raila Odinga in Mathare, in Nairobi, Kenya August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/ Reuters

    Anti riot policemen clash with protesters supporting opposition leader Raila Odinga in Mathare, in Nairobi, Kenya August 12, 2017. Photo by Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

    Police have killed at least 11 people in the aftermath of Kenya’s presidential election on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

    Following the re-election of incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta, supporters of challenging candidate Raila Odinga protested in the cities of Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa — opposition strongholds — where police have fired guns and tear gas as protesters burned shacks, tires and barricades.

    The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights put the death toll higher, claiming that police shootings during post-election protests have killed 24 people since Aug. 8, with 17 of the killings taking place in the capital Nairobi.

    The National Super Alliance (NASA), the opposition coalition that ran Odinga as its candidate, has contested the result of the election, alleging that the results are fraudulent.

    Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which conducted the election, responded to the fraud claims in a letter alleging flaws in NASA calculations. The IEBC reports that NASA neglected to provide data supporting their vote count and that NASA’s numbers on votes cast and registered voters in multiple counties were erroneous.

    According to official results, Kenyatta received 54.3 percent of the vote, while Odinga received 44.7 percent. While the IEBC had 7 days to announce the official results, they declared Kenyatta the winner of the election on Aug. 11.

    “Your neighbour will always be your neighbour and we cannot fight over an election,” Kenyatta said after the IEBC announced his victory. “We have seen the results of political violence and I am certain that there is no single Kenyan who would wish for us to go back to those days.”

    Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga run away from police during clashes in Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya, August 12, 2017.  Photo by Goran Tomasevic/ Reuters

    Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga run away from police during clashes in Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya, August 12, 2017. Photo by Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

    The president said he “extend[s] a hand of friendship” to Odinga and his supporters and encouraged Kenyans to do the same, saying, “Let us shun violence and let us refuse to be used for short-term political gain that can only cost our country pain and grief in the longer term.”

    Ahead of the vote, the IEBC reported no major issues with the polling process across Kenya’s 40,833 polling stations, although they acknowledged issues such as delayed station opening times due to adverse weather as well as a failed election hacking attempt.

    A woman cries as she stand behind policemen during clashes between supporter of opposition leader Raila Odinga and policemen in Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya, August 12, 2017. Photo by Goran Tomasevic/ Reuters

    A woman cries as she stand behind policemen during clashes between supporter of opposition leader Raila Odinga and policemen in Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya, August 12, 2017. Photo by Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

    This is not the first time Kenya, a country marked by economic prosperity as well as political corruption, has experienced post-election turmoil.

    Violence ensued after the 2007 election, when at least 1,000 people were killed and about 600,000 were displaced from their homes. Claims of election tampering also surfaced in the 2013 election, which Odinga also lost to then-incumbent Mwai Kibaki.

    The post At least eleven people killed after Kenyan election as opposition alleges fraud appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A man hits the pavement during a clash between members of white nationalist protesters against a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Good evening and thanks for joining us. At least one person is dead and several are injured tonight after protests and counter protests turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency. Hundreds of white nationalists and alt-right activists clashed in the streets with counter-protesters and police.

    McAuliffe said the declaration would facilitate the state’s response, which included calling out Virginia National Guard soldiers.

    NewsHour Producer P.J. Tobia has been covering today’s demonstrations and has more.

    P.J. TOBIA: The violent clashes began before a so-called “Unite the Right” rally scheduled to take place in Charlottesville’s McIntire Park.

    Organizers had originally planned to hold a rally in the city’s “Emancipation Park,” which used to be called “Lee Park” in honor of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The Charlottesville City Council voted in April to remove a bronze statue of Lee from that park, sparking opposition by white nationalists.

    They converged on the park today, waving Confederate flags and chanting Nazi-era slogans. They were soon surrounded by counter-protesters with their own signs and chants. Shoving and fighting soon followed.

    This self-described militia member says he had rocks thrown at him.

    MILITIA MEMBER: We constantly get blamed as the haters. We came here in peace. We came here to keep security in this town for freedom of speech whether we agree with you or not. Our goal is to give you a chance to voice your opinion, that’s all we’re about.

    P.J. TOBIA: This man is a Charlottesville native. He said he came out to show the “unite the right” rally did not represent him.

    UNNAMED MAN: I came out to support our people. Not only people of color but the people of this community that represent peace.

    P.J. TOBIA: Unitarian pastor Susan Frederick-Grey blamed the political rhetoric from the White House for emboldening the white nationalists.

    SUSAN FREDERICK-GREY: Fear and hate have been given license in our country. Racialized violence has been given permission in this country and we are here to stand love.

    P.J. TOBIA: A spokesman for the Anti-Defamation League called today’s protest a “white supremacist rally,” indicating, “The darkest corners of society are emboldened to come forward and openly parade their bigotry on Main Street.”

    The rally ended before it ever began. By early afternoon, police had largely cleared the park.

    Later, one car plowed into a group of counter-protesters, causing multiple injuries.

    This video — posted to Twitter by a staff member of the former U.S. congressman from Charlottesville — shows a car driving into a crowd and then speeding away in reverse. The witness says the crash seemed intentional.

    President Trump said today in a tweet, quote: “We must all be united at condemning all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Let’s come together as one.”

    Later, he spoke about Charlottesville from his golf club in New Jersey.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama, this has been going on for a long time. There is no place in America. What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives.

    P.J. TOBIA: The person who died was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of protesters. It happened on the street right behind me. 19 others were also injured. In all, there was one arrest.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: P.J., you were near the area when the car plowed into the protesters. Describe that scene. We’ve kind of seen pictures here and there throughout the day, but what was it like in there?

    P.J. TOBIA: Well actually, at that moment, Hari, the protest had turned kind of festive. There were people with funny signs, there was laughing and singing and chanting. And all of a sudden you heard the screech of tires and a rush of people coming the other direction. The tone changed dramatically. People were calling for medics, there were bloody people on the street, there was someone performing CPR, a lot of people heaving and crying and within minutes EMTs were on the way.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: This is not what Charlottesville’s known for, it’s primarily a college town. When you talk with so many of the people you spoke with today, how did they feel about what was happening, not just today but also last night?

    P.J. TOBIA: Overwhelmingly, the message is, this is not what our city is about. Charlottesville is a welcoming place, it’s a diverse place, it’s a modern city with modern feeling, and that these kind of old school racist tropes are not welcome here. We spoke to a lot of local people who basically all echoed that message.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So to be clear, the driver of that car has been apprehended?

    P.J. TOBIA: That’s right, police say they apprehended the driver earlier today.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. P.J. Tobia reporting for us from Charlottesville, Virginia tonight. Thanks so much.

    P.J. TOBIA: Thanks Hari.

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    Demonstrator holds signs during a rally in response to the Charlottesville, Virginia car attack in Oakland

    A demonstrator holds signs during a rally in response to the Charlottesville, Virginia car attack on counter-protesters after the “Unite the Right” rally organised by white nationalists, in Oakland, California, U.S., August 12, 2017. Photo by Stephen Lam/Reuters

    BEDMINSTER, N.J. — President Donald Trump is drawing criticism from Republicans and Democrats for not explicitly denouncing white supremacists in the aftermath of violent clashes in Virginia, with lawmakers saying he needs to take a public stand against groups that espouse racism and hate.

    Trump, while on a working vacation at his New Jersey golf club, addressed the nation Saturday soon after a car plowed into a group of anti-racist counter-protesters in Charlottesville, a college town where neo-Nazis and white nationalists had assembled for march. The president did not single out any group, instead blaming “many sides” for the violence.

    “Hate and the division must stop, and must stop right now,” he said. “We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation and … true affection for each other.”

    Trump condemned “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.” He added: “It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time.”

    He did not answer questions from reporters about whether he rejected the support of white nationalists or whether he believed the car crash was an example of domestic terrorism. Aides who appeared on the Sunday news shows said the White House did believe those things, but many fellow Republicans demanded that Trump personally denounce the white supremacists.

    [Watch Video]

    Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., tweeted: “Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.”

    Added Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.: “Nothing patriotic about #Nazis,the #KKK or #WhiteSupremacists It’s the direct opposite of what #America seeks to be.”

    GOP Chris Christie of New Jersey, a staunch Trump supporter, wrote: “We reject the racism and violence of white nationalists like the ones acting out in Charlottesville. Everyone in leadership must speak out.”

    On the Democrat side, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York said “of course we condemn ALL that hate stands for. Until @POTUS specifically condemns alt-right action in Charlottesville, he hasn’t done his job.”

    The president’s only public statement early Sunday was a retweet saluting two Virginia state police officers killed in helicopter crash after being dispatched to monitor the Charlottesville clashes.

    The previous day, Trump tweeted condolences to those officers soon after the helicopter crashed. His tweet sending condolences to the woman killed in the protests came more than five hours after the incident.

    Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said Sunday that he considered the attack in Charlottesville to be terrorism:

    “I certainly think anytime that you commit an attack against people to incite fear, it is terrorism,” McMaster told ABC’s “This Week.”

    “It meets the definition of terrorism. But what this is, what you see here, is you see someone who is a criminal, who is committing a criminal act against fellow Americans.”

    The president’s homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, defended the president’s statement by suggesting that some of the counter-protesters were violent too.

    When pressed, he specifically condemned the racist groups. The president’s daughter and White House aide, Ivanka Trump, tweeted Sunday morning: “There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis.”

    White nationalists had assembled in Charlottesville to vent their frustration against the city’s plans to take down a statue of Confederal Gen. Robert E. Lee. Counter-protesters massed in opposition. A few hours after violent encounters between the two groups, a car drove into a crowd of people peacefully protesting the rally. The driver was later taken into custody.

    Alt-right leader Richard Spencer and former Ku Klux Klan member David Duke attended the demonstrations. Duke told reporters that the white nationalists were working to “fulfill the promises of Donald Trump.”

    Trump’s speech also drew praise from the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, which wrote: “Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us. … No condemnation at all.”

    The website had been promoting the Charlottesville demonstration as part of its “Summer of Hate” edition.

    Mayor Michael Signer, a Democrat, said he was disgusted that the white nationalists had come to his town and blamed Trump for inflaming racial prejudices with his campaign last year.

    “I’m not going to make any bones about it. I place the blame for a lot of what you’re seeing in American today right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president,” he said.

    Trump, as a candidate, frequently came under scrutiny for being slow to offer his condemnation of white supremacists. His strongest denunciation of the movement has not come voluntarily, only when asked, and he occasionally trafficked in retweets of racist social media posts during his campaign. His chief strategist, Steve Bannon, once declared that his former news site, Breitbart, was “the platform for the alt-right.”

    The post Politicians criticize Trump for not explicitly rebuking white supremacists appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Two Virginia state troopers and a woman died on Saturday in the fallout of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., that was canceled before it even started because of the violence it was provoking.

    The woman died after a car rammed into a crowd of anti-racist protesters. Virginia police charged 20-year-old James Alex Fields, Jr. with second-degree murder in connection with the incident and the Department of Justice is also investigating whether he violated any civil rights, which could lead to federal hate crime charges.

    Fields is a registered Republican from Ohio and images on Twitter appeared to show him with the far-right Vanguard America group, which later denied Fields was a member. His mother Samantha Bloom told the Associated Press that she knew her son was driving to the rally, but she had not known it was a white supremacist demonstration.

    “I thought it had something to do with Trump. Trump’s not a white supremacist,” Bloom told the AP.

    Then she trailed off after she said, “He had an African American friend, so…”

    Two other people died in connection to the rally. State police Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, 40, were assisting with crowd control in a helicopter that crashed and burned in a wooded area, according to CNN. Both men died on the scene.

    Commotion began on Friday night after hundreds of white nationalists marched with torches on the University of Virginia’s campus, celebrating a federal court’s injunction that forced the city to allow their rally.

    Right-wing blogger Jason Kessler had organized the “Unite the Right” rally for Saturday in the park at noon to protest the city’s decision to remove an equestrian statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

    The city initially announced that the rally had to move to another park, but Kessler, backed by the ACLU, accused it of violating free speech. U.S. District Judge Glen Conrad granted a preliminary injunction, allowing it to proceed in Emancipation Park.

    But as Saturday came and hundreds of neo-Nazis, alt-right activists, pro-Confederacy groups, people who oppose them and police started clashing before the rally was even scheduled. It was one of the biggest gatherings of its kind since President Donald Trump has come into office.

    The county and state declared a local state of emergency and dispersed everyone from the park as the National Guard stood by. About two hours later and six blocks away, a driver rammed a gray car into the crowd, flinging people in the air and smashing the back end of one car, which did the same to another.

    Then, the driver sped in reverse, fleeing the scene. That night, state police announced they had arrested Fields, an Ohio resident. They charged him with second-degree murder as well as three counts of malicious wounding and a hit-and-run.

    State police also announced Saturday night that they arrested three others, one for carrying a concealed gun.

    Gov. Terry McAuliffe told white supremacists at a news conference in the evening to go home.

    “You pretend you are patriots, but you are anything but patriots,” McAuliffe said. “Take your hatred and take your bigotry. There is no place. “

    Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has come under scrutiny for his statement on events in Charlottesville during a bill-signing ceremony on Saturday. Trump did not explicitly name white nationalism or neo-Nazis, instead blaming “many sides” for the violence.

    “We condemn in the strongest possible terms, this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” he said.

    His remarks were celebrated by some white supremacists online. Andrew Anglin, founder of the white supremacist and neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer, wrote that Trump had “outright refused to disavow” the demonstration.

    Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch said in a tweet, “We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”

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    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang July 5, 2017. Photo by KCNA/via Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Senior U.S. national security officials say a military confrontation with North Korea’s isn’t imminent. But they’re also saying that the possibility of war with the reclusive Asian nation is greater than it was a decade ago.

    CIA Director Mike Pompeo says there’s “nothing imminent today.” But Pompeo says on “Fox News Sunday” that North Korea’s push to develop a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States “is a very serious threat and the administration is going to treat it as such.”

    READ NEXT: How media smuggling took hold in North Korea

    President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, tells ABC’s “This Week” that “we’re not closer to war than a week ago, but we are closer to war than we were a decade ago.”

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    Philly March for Police Abolition

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: The estate of Charleena Lyles — a black woman fatally shot by two white police officers in Seattle in June — has taken the first step in a wrongful death lawsuit against the city.

    The claim filed yesterday alleges police were negligent and violated her civil rights when the officers fatally shot Lyles, a 30-year-old pregnant mother of four, in her own apartment.

    The officers have said, after responding to a 911 burglary call from Lyles, she threatened and tried to stab them with kitchen knives.

    Based on a police recording of the incident, the claim says the officers failed to order Lyles to drop the knives or warn her they would shoot.

    Lyles had a history of mental health issues, according to her family, while the officers had undergone special training to handle people in distress and reduce their use of lethal force.

    Three of Lyles’ children were in her apartment when she was killed.

    Her family alleges race was a factor in the shooting, which has sparked protests and remains under investigation.

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    Hill Street Studios/Getty Images

    The party establishment is backing a popular mayor with a Democratic past, who faces further-right conservatives. Photo by Hill Street Studios/Getty Images

    SALT LAKE CITY — The Republican race to fill a Utah congressional seat abandoned by Jason Chaffetz is pitting the party establishment, which is backing a popular mayor with a Democratic past, against further-right conservatives who are divided between two candidates with support from national GOP heavy-hitters.

    The winner of Tuesday’s primary will be the overwhelming favorite in the November special election in a district where Republican voters outnumber Democrats five-to-one.

    The three candidates say they support President Donald Trump’s agenda, including the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, tax reform and efforts to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s health care law.

    But in Mormon-majority Utah, where Trump struggled to gain widespread support despite the state’s overwhelmingly Republican slant, the candidates have carved out nuanced stances toward the president.

    John Curtis, the Provo mayor who has drawn support from the GOP’s more moderate flank, is the only candidate who didn’t vote for Trump, saying he had significant moral concerns about supporting the billionaire businessman.

    Tanner Ainge, the son of Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge endorsed by Sarah Palin, said he voted for Trump because he always votes for the Republican candidate in presidential elections.

    Chris Herrod, a former state lawmaker backed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, is the most vocal supporter of Trump. He said he did not think it was necessary for a special prosecutor to be appointed to look into possible ties between the president’s campaign and Russia.

    The victor of the November election will serve the final year of Chaffetz’s term after the outspoken congressman surprisingly resigned at the end of June, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family after eight years in office. He’s since taken a role as a Fox News commentator and announced he will be one of six visiting fellows at Harvard University this fall.

    Curtis has outraised his opponents and drawn most of their barbs. He initially had a strong lead, but the race has tightened in recent days as the campaign has grown increasingly negative, said Boyd Matheson, a veteran Utah Republican strategist who runs the Sutherland Institute, a conservative think tank.

    “I would call it a toss-up up at this point,” Matheson said. “There could be some very subtle things before now and Tuesday morning that could ultimately impact it.”

    Curtis, a 57-year-old social-media savvy politician who ran a shooting range business before serving eight years as Provo’s mayor, earned a rare primary endorsement from Republican Gov. Gary Herbert.

    He’s faced suspicion from some conservatives for previously serving as head of the county Democratic Party and running as a Democrat for the Legislature in 2000 before switching parties in 2006.

    Curtis notes that Ronald Reagan, Trump and even Chaffetz were all Democrats at one point in their lives and said he’s a conservative who used his “fling on the dark side” to try to push local Democrats to embrace pro-gun and anti-abortion positions.

    Tanner Ainge, a 33-year-old first-time candidate and consulting firm owner, is the son of a former NBA player who is still revered for his time as a basketball star at Mormon-owned Brigham Young University. Father Danny Ainge headlined a campaign fundraiser for his son where people could try to dunk him in a water tank.

    A political action committee almost entirely funded by a $250,000 contribution from the elder Ainge and his wife has targeted Curtis and Herrod, drawing scrutiny. Federal law prohibits campaigns and candidates from coordinating with super PACs, something both Tanner Ainge and his family deny has occurred.

    Tanner Ainge said he’s pleased to have family support but he’s running on his own resume. He went to college in Utah but has been criticized as an outsider after just moving back in November and not voting there since 2008. He says he’s a lifelong Republican who has always wanted to raise his family in the state.

    Herrod, 51, is a home loan officer who says his time in the 1990s living in Russia and Ukraine gives him an understanding of international affairs and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Herrod, who backed Cruz and later Trump in the presidential election, was known in the Utah Legislature for his hard-line immigration positions, including punishing businesses that hired workers in the U.S. illegally and fighting a Republican guest-worker proposal.

    The GOP primary winner will face two candidates in the November election for the 3rd Congressional District, which stretches from the Salt Lake City suburbs and several ski towns southeast to Provo and Utah coal country.

    Democratic physician and political newcomer Kathryn Allen socked away more than half a million dollars earlier this year after she called out Chaffetz for his comments suggesting people should spend money on health care instead of iPhones.

    Jim Bennett, the son of late U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, is running as a third-party candidate. Both are considered longshots in the GOP-dominated district.

    The post Utah Republicans divided in battle for Chaffetz’s House seat appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Gen. John Hunt Morgan

    Statue of Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan at the former Fayette County Courthouse. Photo by Flickr user J. Stephen Conn

    Mayor Jim Gray of Lexington, Kentucky, has announced he will take steps to move statues of two Confederate generals located at the former Fayette County Courthouse in the aftermath of Saturday’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    Gray said he had planned to announce the decision next week but did so on Saturday because of what he called “the tragic events in Charlottesville,” which he said “remind us that we must bring our country together by condemning violence, white supremacists and Nazi hate groups.”

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

    Three people died in connection with the white nationalist rally. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed by a car that plowed into the crowd, while Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, 40, died in a Virginia State Police helicopter crash. More than a dozen people were injured in the car crash in Charlottesville, where both the city government and Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared states of emergency.

    On Tuesday, Gray will ask the Lexington-Fayette County Urban County Council to support his petition to the Kentucky Military Heritage Commission to remove the statues.

    If his petition is successful, the statues of Confederate Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan and Maj. Gen. John Cabell Breckinridge will be relocated to Veterans Park, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

    White supremacists, neo-Nazis and alt-right activists planned the “Unite the Right” rally in response to Charlottesville’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park, formerly named Lee Park.

    Debates over the public display of Confederate symbols, including statues and flags, have taken place across the United States recently, particularly in southern states.

    READ NEXT: What the Confederate flag’s design says about its legacy

    In 2015, South Carolina removed the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol. That same year, Alabama removed the flag from a Confederate memorial on state house grounds, in part a response to the shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, that killed nine people.

    While supporters of the removal of such monuments decry Confederate symbols as representative of racist hatred, others argue that they should continue to be on public display as remnants of Southern heritage.

    The post Kentucky mayor says he wants to move two Confederate statues appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Trump speaks to reporters after a security briefing at his golf estate in Bedminster, New Jersey

    U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by ?Vice President Mike Pence? (R), speaks to reporters after a security briefing at his golf estate in Bedminster, New Jersey U.S. August 10, 2017. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence will visit Colombia amid escalating tensions with neighboring Venezuela and North Korea.

    Pence is set to meet with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Sunday at the start of a weeklong trip to Latin America that is likely to be dominated by conversations about the deepening crisis in Venezuela, where the U.S. accuses President Nicolas Maduro of a power grab that has sparked deadly protests and condemnation across the region.

    Trump appeared to complicate the discussions Friday with an unexpected statement that he would not rule out a “military option” in response to the Venezuelan government’s attempt to consolidate power.

    The statement drew immediate push-back, including from the Colombian Foreign Ministry, which condemned any “military measures and the use of force,” and said that efforts to resolve Venezuela’s breakdown in democracy should be peaceful and respect its sovereignty.

    Pence’s trip will also take him to Buenos Aires, Argentina; Santiago, Chile; and Panama City, Panama, where he is expected to deliver a number of speeches, meet with the country’s leaders and tour the newly expanded Panama Canal.

    [Watch Video]

    In Colombia, Pence is also expected to highlight trade, business investment and other ties between the nations, including U.S. support for the country’s efforts to implement its peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

    The U.S. will also likely be looking for assurances that Colombia is taking seriously the surging coca production in the country, which has been blamed partially on Santos’ decision in 2015 to stop using crop-destroying herbicides.

    A July United Nations report showed that coca production in Colombia had reached levels not seen in two decades, complicating the South American country’s efforts to make its vast, lawless countryside more secure.

    The Trump administration has been putting pressure on the country to curb the flow of drugs into the U.S, and Colombia has stepping up its forced eradication program and increased seizures of cocaine.

    The post Pence to begin Latin America tour as global crises grow appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    People protest President Donald Trump's travel ban outside of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Seattle, Washington. Photo by David Ryder/Reuters

    People protest President Donald Trump’s travel ban outside of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Seattle, Washington. Photo by David Ryder/Reuters

    HONOLULU — The Syrian grandmother at the center of Hawaii’s lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s travel ban on people from six mostly Muslim countries arrived in Honolulu.

    Wafa Yahia received approval from the U.S. government several weeks ago, according to her son-in-law, Ismail Elshikh, the imam of a Honolulu mosque. She arrived Saturday night, after a 28-hour journey that began in Lebanon.

    Two of Elshikh’s five children have never met their grandmother, he said. She last visited her family in Hawaii in 2005.

    “Without the lawsuit, we couldn’t get the visa. Without this challenge, my children would not have been reunited with their grandma,” he said. “I still feel sadness for those who are still affected by the Muslim ban, who are not as lucky as my family.”

    Elshikh is a plaintiff in Hawaii’s challenge to the travel ban. Yahia’s immigrant visa approval would not affect Hawaii’s lawsuit, Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said: “So long as this discriminatory and illegal executive order is not struck down, the state of Hawaii and its residents are harmed.”

    READ NEXT: Legal experts to Trump on travel ban: Put down the Twitter

    A federal appeals court in Seattle is scheduled to hear arguments later this month in the government’s appeal of a ruling allowing grandmothers and other family members of those in the U.S. to enter the country.

    The U.S. Supreme Court previously allowed a scaled-back version of the ban to go into effect before it hears the case in October. The justices exempted visa applicants from the ban if they can prove a “bona fide” relationship with a U.S. citizen or entity.

    “The news that Dr. Elshikh’s family is being reunited is one bright moment today when love trumped hate,” Chin said in a statement. “In America, no race should ever be excluded, no religion should ever be hated, and no family ever gets left behind.”

    The post Grandmother in travel ban lawsuit arrives in U.S. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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