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

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    White House Senior Advisor Steve Bannon attends a roundtable discussion held by U.S. President Donald Trump with auto industry leaders at the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Breitbart News says Steve Bannon has returned to the website after leaving his position as President Donald Trump’s chief strategist. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Breitbart News says Steve Bannon has returned to the website after leaving his position as President Donald Trump’s chief strategist.

    The conservative news site says Bannon is back as its executive chairman, and says he led an editorial meeting Friday evening.

    READ MORE: What we know about Bannon’s departure from the White House

    Bannon left Breitbart just a little over a year ago to join Trump’s presidential campaign.

    Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow says, “The populist-nationalist movement got a lot stronger today.”

    Earlier Friday, Breitbart senior editor at large Joel B. Pollak tweeted “#WAR” as news of Bannon’s White House departure emerged.

    The post Bannon returns to Breitbart News appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    An employee uses an Apple iPhone to demonstrate to reporters how to pay using the Apple Pay service at an Apple store in Beijing, China, February 17, 2016.  REUTERS/Damir Sagolj - RTX27FY0

    An employee uses an Apple iPhone to demonstrate to reporters how to pay using the Apple Pay service. Apple Pay blocked websites that sell white nationalist merchandise this week. Photo by REUTERS/Damir Sagolj.

    After the violent protests in Charlottesville, tech companies are rethinking their roles in providing online services for hateful groups.

    The fight is only beginning, as far-right groups and freedom of speech advocates have argued that tech companies are infringing on their first amendment rights by blocking their access to these services.

    For now, here are the companies who have taken steps to remove white nationalist and other hate groups from their platforms.

    GoDaddy: The web domain name provider cut off the neo-nazi website The Daily Stormer, citing that the website had “crossed the line from exercising freedom of speech to provoking further mayhem.”

    Apple Pay: On Wednesday, Apple Pay blocked websites that sell white nationalist merchandise, such as clothing with nazi symbols from using their payment services. A day earlier, Apple CEO Tim Cook sent a memo to employees where he said “hate is a cancer” and announced donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.

    Discord: Members of the “alt-right” movement, whose beliefs are a mix of white nationalism, neo-Nazism and extreme populism, flocked to this group messaging service due to it’s privacy and anonymity; however, after the violence in Charlottesville, the company booted white nationalist groups and users off the app. In the days leading up to the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, the New York Times reported that some white supremacists used the app to organize transportation to and lodging for the event.

    Spotify: The music streaming service removed dozens of white supremacist artists that the Southern Poverty Law Center had identified as hate music.

    READ MORE: Spotify has removed white power music from its platform. But it’s still available on dozens of other sites

    Facebook: Citing violations of the company’s guidelines, Facebook banned eight pages associated with the white nationalist movement, along with the personal page and Instagram account of a white nationalist featured in the Vice News documentary about the Charlottesville rally.

    CloudFlare: The Daily Stormer was also dropped by the network provider CloudFlare. In a memo, CEO Matthew Prince outlined how and why he made the decision, calling the site “vile” but expressing concern about the consequences of having the power to effectively remove a voice from the internet.

    Dan Schulman, CEO of PayPal, delivers a keynote speech during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain February 22, 2016. REUTERS/Albert Gea - RTX281GE

    Dan Schulman, CEO of PayPal, delivers a keynote speech in Barcelona. The online payment service will no longer work with KKK, white supremacist and neo-nazi-affiliated groups, it said this week. Photo by REUTERS/Albert Gea.

    PayPal: The online payment service will no longer work with KKK, white supremacist and neo-nazi-affiliated groups, PayPal SVP Corporate Affairs & Communications Franz Paasche wrote in a press release. He also noted the “difficult” balance between “protecting the principles of tolerance, diversity and respect for people of all backgrounds with upholding legitimate free expression and open dialogue.”

    READ MORE: Internet company DreamHost fights government request for records related to Inauguration Day protest

    Squarespace: The website building service promised to take down white nationalist sites and gave 48-hour notice to those it deemed as hate groups. Alt-right leader Richard Spencer’s think tank, the National Policy Institute, is one of the far-right groups now under scrutiny, though Squarespace did not release a public list of their targets.

    GoFundMe: Crowdfunding pages dedicated towards raising money for the white nationalist who drove into a crowd of people on Saturday, ultimately killing one, have been shut down by GoFundMe. Bobby Whithorne, director of strategic communications told Reuters that the campaigns failed to raise any money and were quickly removed.

    OkCupid: Alt-right members looking for love will no longer have the dating site OkCupid to aid their journey. CEO Elie Seidman told Gizmodo “OkCupid has zero tolerance for racism,” after a white nationalist featured on Vice’s documentary on Charlottesville was banned from the site.

    The post These tech companies are purging white supremacist groups from their platforms appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Kennedy center

    View of the Kennedy Center in evening. Photo by Flickr user mk30

    WASHINGTON — In a break with tradition, President Donald Trump and the first lady have decided not to participate in events honoring recipients of this year’s Kennedy Center arts awards to “allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction,” the White House announced Saturday.

    Past presidents and first ladies have hosted a reception for honorees at the White House before the Kennedy Center gala and sat with them at the televised event.

    The decision came a day after the entire membership of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities resigned to protest Trump’s comments about last weekend’s demonstrations by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia. The president blamed “many sides” for the violence that left an anti-racism activist dead.

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

    But Trump has long had a contentious relationship with the arts world and some of the Kennedy Center honorees already had said they would not attend the White House reception in December.

    One of the honorees, television writer and producer Norman Lear, had previously questioned whether Trump would want to attend the gala, “given his indifference or worse regarding the arts and humanities.”

    Other honorees include hip-hop artist LL Cool J, singers Gloria Estefan and Lionel Richie, and dancer Carmen de Lavallade. It’s the 40th year of the awards, which honor people who have influenced American culture through the arts.

    The White House said Trump and first lady Melania Trump “extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year’s award recipients for their many accomplishments.”

    The honorees will be celebrated at a gala on Dec. 3, featuring performances and tributes from top entertainers.

    The post Trump to skip Kennedy Center arts awards appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Members of the Shi'ite Badr Organisation fighters gather during a battle with Islamic State militants at the airport of Tal Afar

    Members of the Shi’ite Badr Organisation fighters gather during a battle with Islamic State militants at the airport of Tal Afar west of Mosul, Iraq, November 20, 2016. Photo by Khalid al Mousily/Reuters

    BAGHDAD — Senior U.S. military leaders said Friday that Iraqi forces are largely set for their next major campaign against Islamic State extremists after closing out the wrenching nine-month battle to retake the city of Mosul.

    Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said he sees the Iraqi assault on the IS-held area of Tal Afar “unfolding relatively soon.” The upcoming fight follows weeks of Iraq regrouping troops and repairing equipment and weapons after recapturing Mosul in July.

    “I can’t say that we replaced every single damaged or broken vehicle or rifle or machine gun,” said Townsend, whose forces are aiding the Iraqi military. But, he insisted: “They’ll be ready enough.”

    Tal Afar and the surrounding area is among the last pockets of IS-held territory in Iraq after victory was declared in Mosul, the country’s second-largest city. Tal Afar is west of Mosul and about 150 kilometers (93 miles) east of the Syrian border. It sits along a major road that was a key IS supply route.

    Mosul took a heavy toll on Iraqi forces. As many as 1,400 troops were killed and more than 7,000 wounded, and the Iraqi military has proceeded methodically since its biggest success to date. Just three years ago, its soldiers were chased by the Islamic state group from much of the battlefield.

    “The last days of Mosul looked like Iwo Jima to me,” Townsend told a small group of reporters.

    “In the end, it took bulldozers plowing ISIS fighters under the rubble,” he recalled, using multiple different acronyms for the extremist group. “Iraqi infantry men advanced beside the bulldozers, shooting and throwing grenades at Daesh fighters popping up out of the rubble.”

    Iraiqi Humvees emerged shot up, their glass spider-webbed with bullet marks and shrapnel, their weapons worn out or even destroyed.

    [Watch Video]

    In the weeks since, much of the Iraqis’ equipment has been repaired or replaced, said Gen. Joseph Votel, America’s top Middle East commander who spent the last few days in Iraq.

    “I think they are ready,” Votel told reporters Friday, echoing Townsend. The key priority, he said, is ensuring the Iraqis maintain momentum and have a good battle plan, and that the U.S.-led coalition is prepared to support them.

    Votel met with Iraqi military and political leaders in Baghdad and with Kurdish Peshmerga leaders in Irbil, in northern Iraq. He was ensuring U.S. military advisory teams are with the right local units to provide the best support, intelligence gathering, surveillance and advice.

    Iraqi military leaders said Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has approved their combat plans. The fight will involve a broad spectrum of forces, including the Iraqi Army, counterterrorism troops, police and a group of mainly Shiite, Iranian-backed militias.

    The fight will start “in the next few days,” Iraqi Brig. Gen. Yahia Rasool told reporters. Speaking through an interpreter, he said officials believe there are between 1,400 and 1,600 IS militants in the Tal Afar area. Many are foreign fighters, he said.

    Rasool said the various Iraqi forces already have largely encircled Tal Afar.

    “I don’t think it will be tougher than the battle of Mosul, taking into consideration the experience we got in Mosul,” he said

    Townsend said the fight for Tal Afar will be a “microcosm” of Mosul, with parts easier and others equally difficult.

    “It’s smaller and there are fewer bad guys,” Townsend said. “But for the Iraqi security force member or policeman or infantry man or special forces soldier who’s attacking, it won’t be easier. He’s going to be facing a determined ISIS fighter dug into Tal Afar, determined to fight to the death.”

    The post U.S. says Iraqi forces ready for next battle against Islamic State extremists appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Liz Gorman

    The words “We Are All Responsible to Stand Up and End White Supremacy” are projected on the side of Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Photo by Liz Gorman

    In the dark of Thursday night, artist Robin Bell drove up beside the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and flipped on a projector. Within seconds, the words “The President of the United States is a Known Racist and Nazi Sympathizer” appeared in bright blue on the side of the building. Soon after, he projected a second message, “#RESIST,” then a third, “We Are All Responsible to Stand Up and End White Supremacy.”

    Bell, 38, is among a number of artists who criticized the Trump administration this week for the president’s response to a white nationalist rally that turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia. He says he began using projections to make a statement that will resonate with passersby and open a dialogue.

    With more than a half-decade of experience staging these scenes of art activism, Bell began creating work opposing the Trump administration in May. Since then, it has gone viral on social media. We spoke to Bell about his resistance art outside the Trump International Hotel, how he uses the news as inspiration and the impact of working in a public space.

    Where did you get the idea for these projections? What’s their origin story?

    “We, as a society, need to be visually reminded that things are not okay right now.”

    This is something I’ve wanted to do since I started out in art and media 17 years ago. I’ve been creating politically-charged projections for about six years, ever since the Occupy D.C. movement. We’ve done projections against the war, against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and against Trump’s environmental policy.

    When Trump commissioned his hotel I just knew I had to do something with it.

    What’s your process when choosing a statement to project?

    It’s almost like making a TV show. You look at the issues and how people are talking about them, what imagery already exists, and then we start working on visuals. We work in Photoshop and After Effects to create the media, then we move on to projection mapping based on the architecture of the building upon which it’ll be seen.

    Thursday night outside the Trump Hotel, how did you decide what you wanted to project? What made you choose the Trump Hotel as your background?

    We started with the “Experts Agree: Trump is a Pig” because it felt good. When you bottle things up and don’t say something, you feel terrible. This was us saying something. We, as a society, need to be visually reminded that things are not okay right now.

    We chose the Trump Hotel because it’s a Trump beacon on public property. He’s taken it over and could be using foreign profits to enrich himself. It’s important we don’t shy away from calling that out.

    And it’s a sad day when I, as an artist, can write that the president is a Nazi sympathizer and it’s completely accurate.

    trump projections

    The words “We Are All Responsible to Stand Up and End White Supremacy” are projected on the side of Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Photo by Liz Gorman

    You’ve created other projections unrelated to Trump. What are those projects about?

    This whole thing started as very anti-war, against the war in Afghanistan. So we’d do projections outside the Veterans Affairs Building. We did an entire series outside the Environmental Protection Agency protesting Scott Pruitt’s appointment as EPA Director and the EPA’s stance on climate denial. Last week, we projected anti-racism sentiments on the Confederate statue of Albert Pike.

    Thursday night, we actually took a request from a fan to project “Heather Heyer” on the side of the Newseum. Heyer died fighting for the First Amendment, and the Newseum is right between the White House and Capitol. I like that the news is between those two buildings, and that despite the disparagement of the news media, it’s still a form of communication and First Amendment rights.

    trump projections

    The words “Heather Heyer, 1985-2017” are projected on the side of the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Photo by Liz Gorman

    Are you an activist, a protester, an artist or a journalist?

    [Laughs] I’m all of those things. An artist’s responsibility is to look out at the world and look inside ourselves and then figure out how to express that — it might be a news story, or a projection or some other kind of media. For me, media is art, art could be a news story and the news could be a form of activism.

    Have you faced any police pushback when doing your projections?

    Legally, we know we’re able to do these projections. Whether or not that works on the street at nighttime is another issue. We’re not going to fight with the police because our issue isn’t with a security guard, our issue is with the people in power and the establishment that got Donald Trump elected.

    At the end of the night, the headline shouldn’t be “video projectionist arrested,” it should be what we’re talking about. I want to find out how we have discussions about things without having it predicated on someone being arrested or someone being killed.

    Photo by Liz Gorman

    An image of Trump against a background of money is projected onto the side of the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Photo by Liz Gorman

    How was the public responsed to the art?

    There’s been overwhelming support for the project and people coming together to say society isn’t right.

    The majority of pushback has been in comment sections on social media, but walking on the streets people have been supportive. That’s what I like about the projections, we’re literally on the streets talking to people, opening a dialogue. That’s what gives it authenticity and I only really value people who want to talk and engage. I’d be happy if people don’t agree with what I’m doing, so long as they acknowledge this is a [conversation] that needs to be had.

    This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

    The post This projection artist is using the Trump International Hotel to protest the president appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    With this summer’s total solar eclipse only days away, thousands of Californians are probably already on the road north to Oregon to get ready for Monday’s celestial spectacle.

    But don’t fret if you can’t make the trip, because UC Berkeley and Google are producing a 90-minute film of the rare event. Citizen scientists and professional photographers will be staged all along the eclipse’s path of totality to capture footage, which will be stitched together into the Eclipse Megamovie.

    The project is a dream come true for chief field photographer Mark Bender. He divides his life into two chapters: the one he lived before his first total eclipse, and the one he’s lived since.

    “You’ve never experienced awesome until you see a total solar eclipse!” he exclaimed.

    Bender’s passion was initially sparked in 1999. He was living in Scotland at the time as a filmmaker. That summer, a total solar eclipse was due in southern England — but not surprisingly, the forecast called for dreary conditions.

    “There was probably only a 5 percent chance of seeing it because of bad weather,” said Bender.

    But he and a friend decided to hit the road anyway. The night before the eclipse they were optimistic they’d made the right decision. They camped under a clear, starry sky near the beach.

    But it didn’t last.

    “When we woke up at 6 a.m., it was completely pea soup,” said Bender. “You could not see your hand in front of your face because of the fog.”

    All morning they drove up and down the coast searching for a clearing. Eventually they slumped in their seats as they pulled into a socked-in parking lot.

    eclipse

    Total solar eclipse seen on Easter Island, July 11, 2010. Photo by Mark Bender

    Then the temperature suddenly dropped. Shadows sharpened. The winds picked up.

    “The clouds literally started to part as if like the Red Sea!” said Bender.

    The sky opened just like the bible story where Moses parts the Red Sea for the Israelites. Bender’s jaw dropped.

    “It was almost like graphic art,” he said. “There was this perfect kind of jet black pearl surrounded by this corona.”

    Then he was struck with an epiphany.

    “Oh!” said Bender. “I now suddenly believe in God, completely believe in God.”

    The atheist suddenly turned Christian was an instant umbraphile, or shadow lover.

    “I’m what’s known in the vernacular as an eclipse chaser,” said Bender. He now schedules his life around eclipses. For nearly 20 years he’s crisscrossed the globe to countries like Indonesia, Argentina, Norway and Bermuda.

    Patricia Reiff is also a self-confessed umbraphile. She’s an astronomy professor at Rice University in Texas. She says there’s really only one word that describes the experience: orgasm.

    “But it is a lot like that!” laughed Reiff. “It’s just — it’s just that kind of a whole body reaction.”

    Reiff has seen many eclipses, and she says she loses her breath every time. Just like Bender, she says a viewing is spiritual.

    “In the distance it kind of looks like a tornado,” said Reiff. “But then zoom! It washes over you and as it washes over you — you look up and there is the eclipsed sun in the sky. Like the eye of God staring down at you, it is one of the most dramatic things you’ll ever experience.”

    Bender has tried to capture that sentiment for the last 18 years chasing eclipses. He’s tried over and over to make a documentary about the transcendental nature of an eclipse. But the quest has been excruciating because images and words don’t do it justice.

    “It’s so beautiful,” said Bender. “It’s so overwhelming. It’s so transformative. It’s such an important moment. It’s it’s like blah blah blah. I’ve heard it a thousand times. People cannot describe the experience.”

    He hopes his team will have better luck this summer during the creation of the Eclipse Megamovie. Bender will have his camera rolling in Alliance, Nebraska.

    eclipse_2

    Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska. Photo by Chris M. Morris/Flickr

    The lure is a clear forecast and a very unique tourist site called Carhenge.

    “The only place that really struck me as complete Americana was Carhenge,” said Bender.

    It’s modeled after Stonehenge. In the middle of dry cornfields, rusty automobiles spray-painted grey are stacked on top of each other just like the ancient rocks in England. Bender joked that there’s no better way to watch an American eclipse than through the silhouette of an automobile.

    On a more serious note, Bender said, “I’ve realized that the story I’ve been trying to capture all these years is actually about the spiritual journey I’ve been on since the sky parted in Cornwall nearly 20 years ago.”

    Bender now hopes to show audiences this summer that when the moon slides in front the sun, it awakens something inside. Something that just might change their lives.

    This report was produced by KQED Science. You can view the original report on its website.

    The post An eclipse made this atheist photographer find God appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Damage done to the face of a statue of Confederate commander General Robert E. Lee is seen, at Duke University's Duke Chapel in Durham

    Damage done to the face of a statue of Confederate commander General Robert E. Lee is seen, at Duke University’s Duke Chapel in Durham, North Carolina, U.S. on August 17, 2017. Photo by Jonathan Drake/Reuters

    Duke University has removed a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from the entrance of an on-campus chapel.

    The university removed the statue Saturday morning after discovering that it had been vandalized Wednesday night. Part of the statue’s nose had been broken off and its face was chipped and cracked in various places, according to the Associated Press.

    “I took this course of action to protect Duke Chapel,” Duke University President Vincent E. Price said in an email to students, faculty, staff and alumni. “[T]o ensure the vital safety of students and community members who worship there, and above all to express the deep and abiding values of our university.”

    “The removal also presents an opportunity for us to learn and heal,” Price continued. “The statue will be preserved so that students can study Duke’s complex past and take part in a more inclusive future.”

    This move by Duke University to remove the statue from public view follows a series of contentious debates that have occurred in the past few years on college campuses across the country about whether to display monuments to Confederate leaders.

    The move follows the “Unite the Right” rally that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, last Saturday. The large gathering of white nationalists, white supremacists and members of the “alt-right” turned violent, spurring the quiet removal of Confederate monuments in Baltimore, Maryland, and the toppling of a Confederate statue by protesters in Durham, North Carolina.

    READ NEXT: Robert E. Lee opposed Confederate monuments

    Debates over maintaining material representations of certain historical figures on college campuses have taken place at universities across the country from Princeton University to the University of Texas.

    The post Duke University takes down Robert E. Lee statue after defacement appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    People gather around an impromptu memorial two days after a van crashed into pedestrians at Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain August 19, 2017. Photo By Reuters

    Spanish authorities have expanded their search across international borders in the hunt for a terrorist suspect believed to be the driver in a deadly strike that killed 13 people and injured 120 on Thursday in central Barcelona.

    The international dragnet is now centered on a 22-year-old Moroccan-born man, Younes Abouyaaquoub, suspected of barreling a van through a crowded Barcelona street in what was Spain’s largest terrorist strike in more than a decade.

    A second attack on the seaside town of Cambrils killed one person on Thursday after five assailants wearing fake suicide belts plowed a vehicle through a busy street about 75 miles outside of Barcelona. Police shot dead all five suspects.

    The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.

    Police investigate at the scene of an attack in Cambrils, south of Barcelona, Spain, August 18, 2017. Photo By Reuters

    As the manhunt for the driver ensued on Saturday, police continued to investigate the wreckage of a house in the coastal town of Alcanar about 128 miles south of Barcelona where the attackers were thought to have created makeshift bombs and plotted the assaults. The home blew up on Thursday after the authorities said an explosive device had detonated. Police said controlled explosions would take place throughout the day on Saturday.

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

    Spanish and French authorities said they also were combining forces to search for a possible ringleader of the alleged cell, the Associated Press reported.

    Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoida said Saturday that police moved quickly to break up a terrorist cell accused of carrying out the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, with at least 12 people arrested or killed.

    “We can say that the terrorist cell in Barcelona has been completely dismantled when you consider those who are dead, those who have been arrested, and those who have been identified, but that we cannot discuss because they are subject to an ongoing investigation,” Zoida said.

    The post International search underway for driver in Barcelona attack appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    As many as 40,000 counter-protesters overpowered a scheduled “free speech” rally by far-right groups in Boston on Saturday in a largely peaceful showing that did not lead to the violence seen one week earlier in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    By 11 a.m. on Saturday, the counter-protesters — who were organized by groups including Black Lives Matter and — vastly outnumbered those who came in support of the “Boston Free Speech Rally.” Police announced the rally had ended at 1:30 p.m. on Twitter.

    After the crowds had dispersed, President Donald Trump tweeted praise for the Boston police, saying they looked “tough and smart.”

    Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said Friday that the city would deploy 500 officers to keep the two groups apart.

    Aside from small skirmishes, the rally and counter-protests were largely peaceful. According to Commissioner Evans, police arrested 27 protesters, mostly on charges of disorderly conduct. The rally and counter-protest ended with no serious injuries or property damage.

    “99.9 percent of people here were for the right reasons, and that’s to fight bigotry and hate,” Evans said.

    The crowds marched from Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury to the Boston Common, where the rally they were protesting was scheduled to begin at noon. The group’s city permit allowed the rally to continue until 2 pm.

    Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who has vocally opposed the rally, joined counter-protesters in Roxbury.

    Though the rally has been planned since July, it has drawn increased attention in the aftermath of last week’s white nationalist gathering in Virginia. On the event’s Facebook page, organizers insisted that their movement for free speech was “in no way affiliated with the Charlottesville rally.”

    The post Thousands counter-protest ‘free speech’ rally in Boston appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A woman attends a candlelight vigil for Heather Heyer at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville

    A woman attends a candlelight vigil for Heather Heyer following last Saturday’s protest organized by white nationalists that turned deadly at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. on August 16, 2017. Picture taken on August 16, 2017. Photo courtesy of Tim Dodson/The Cavalier Daily/Handout via Reuters

    CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia — When Carl Valentine dropped off his daughter at the University of Virginia, he had some important advice for the college freshman: Don’t forget that you are a minority.

    “She has to be vigilant of that and be concerned about that, always know her surrounding, just be cautious, just be extremely cautious,” said Valentine, 57, a retired military officer who now works at the Defense Department.

    As classes begin at colleges and universities across the country, some parents are questioning if their children will be safe on campus in the wake of last weekend’s violent white nationalist protest here in Charlottesville, Virginia. School administrators, meanwhile, are grappling with the difficult question of how to balance students’ physical safety with free speech.

    Friday was move-in day at the University of Virginia, and students and their parents unloaded cars and carried suitcases, blankets, lamps, fans and other belongings into freshmen dormitories. Student volunteers, wearing orange university T-shirts, distributed water bottles and led freshmen on short tours of the university grounds.

    But along with the usual moving-in scene, there were some visible signs of the tragic events of the past weekend, when white nationalists marched through campus holding torches and shouting racist slogans. The protest turned violent last Saturday, when a car drove into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one woman and injuring 19 others.

    Flags flew at half-staff outside the Rotunda, the historic building designed by university founder Thomas Jefferson. A statue of Jefferson was stained with wax from the candlelight vigil held earlier in the week by thousands of students and city residents in a bid to unite and heal. Some student dormitories had signs on the doors reading, “No Home for Hate Here.”

    UVA President Teresa Sullivan began her address to students and families by welcoming “every person of every race, every gender, every national origin, every religious belief, every orientation and every other human variation.” After the speech, anxious parents asked university administrators tough questions about the gun policy on campus, about white supremacists and the likelihood of similar violence in the future.

    [Watch Video]

    For Valentine, of Yorktown, Virginia, the unrest brought back painful memories of when, as a young boy, he couldn’t enter government buildings or movie theaters through the front door. “We’ve come a long way, but still a long way to go for equality.”

    His daughter Emilia Valentine, an 18-year-old pre-med student, is more optimistic.

    “It was scary what happened, but I think that we as a community will stand together in unity and we’ll be fine,” she said.

    Christopher Dodd, 18, said he was shocked by the violence and initially wondered if it would be safe for him to attend UVA.

    “Wow, I am going to be in this place, it looks like a war zone,” Dodd, a cheerful redhead, remembered thinking. “But I do think that we are going to be all right, there is nothing they can do to intimidate us. I am not going to let them control my time here.”

    Others feel less confident.

    “As a black man, as a black student I don’t know if I can really say that I am safe,” lamented Weston Gobar, president of the Black Student Alliance at UVA. He says he’ll warn incoming black students not to take their safety for granted. “The message is to work through it and to recognize that the world isn’t safe, that white supremacy is real, that we have to find ways to deal with that,” Gobar said.

    Terry Hartle, president of the American Council on Education, said colleges are in the process of reassessing their safety procedures. “The possibility of violence will now be seen as much more real than it was a week ago and every institution has to be much more careful.”

    Such work is already under way at UVA.

    In an interview with The Associated Press, Sullivan said the university will be revamping its emergency protocols, increasing the number of security officers patrolling the grounds and hiring an outside higher education safety consultancy.

    “This isn’t a matter where we are going to spare expense,” Sullivan said.

    Hartle said some universities may end up making the uneasy decision to limit protests and rallies on campus and not to invite controversial speakers if they are likely to create protests.

    “There is no easy universal answer,” said Hartle. “There is an overarching priority to protect the physical safety of students and the campus community.”

    READ NEXT: The role of media literacy in teaching your students about Charlottesville

    Sigal Ben-Porath, a University of Pennsylvania education professor who has written a book on campus free speech, said universities’ key mission is to serve as platforms for discussion and debate. “The goal of supporting dignity and diversity and inclusion is so that we can have an open and free conversation.”

    At the University of California, Berkeley, Chancellor Carol Christ said campus authorities were working to protect free speech and public safety during a rally near campus scheduled at the end of the month and a proposed speech next month by former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro.

    Student body presidents from over 120 schools in 34 states and Washington, D.C., signed a statement denouncing the Charlottesville violence and saying college campuses should be safe spaces free of violence and hate.

    Ohio State University junior Andrea Gutmann Fuentes said she now worries that she and fellow members of a socialist group on campus could be physically attacked while peacefully promoting their views.

    “We’re coming to a point where I think we’re going to see more physical violence being enacted upon people with leftist views,” said Gutmann Fuentes, a 20-year-old linguistics student from Cincinnati who identifies as Latina.

    She said she thinks far right groups have been emboldened by the election of Donald Trump.

    “That’s definitely a cause of fear for a lot of students on campus, students who already have been marginalized, and I think that something like this probably heightens those fears a lot,” Gutmann Fuentes said.

    She’s hopeful that students returning to campus will be emboldened, too, to speak out and fight bigotry and hate.

    “I do think that that is a thing that is going to continue to happen unless we stand up against it,” she said.

    Associated Press writers Sally Ho, Jocelyn Gecker and Kantele Franko contributed to this report.

    The post After Charlottesville, students worry about safety on campus appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    File photo of California Governor Brown during a news conference at the State Capitol in Sacramento

    California Governor Jerry Brown looks on during a news conference at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California in this file photo taken March 19, 2015. Brown on April 4, 2016 was expected to sign into a law a plan to raise the minimum wage from $10 to $15 an hour by the year 2023, making the nation’s most-populous state the first to boost pay to that level for the working poor. Photo by Max Whittaker/Files/Reuters

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California lawmakers return Monday from a monthlong break with a busy agenda that includes tackling the state’s housing crisis and deciding whether to make California a statewide sanctuary for people living illegally in the U.S.

    Here’s a look at some of the high-profile issues the Legislature will tackle in the last four weeks of business this year. They reconvene in January for the rest of their current two-year session.

    HOUSING

    With Californians facing high and rapidly rising housing costs, Gov. Jerry Brown and top Democratic lawmakers put housing at the top of the agenda for the Legislature’s return.

    Brown, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon agreed to advance a package of housing bills.

    They said it would include a bond and permanent funding source for subsidized housing — a top priority for many Democratic lawmakers — as well as regulatory changes that make it easier for developers to build affordable housing, one of Brown’s priorities.

    Legislative leaders have long identified soaring housing costs as a major concern, but they’ve struggled to find consensus with Brown, developers, labor unions and environmentalists.

    READ NEXT: California lawmakers to decide fate of landmark climate law

    CAP AND TRADE MONEY

    California got national attention last month for extending the state’s “cap and trade” climate law until 2030. The move keeps alive a program that raises hundreds of millions of dollars a year by auctioning off permits to release climate-changing gases.

    Lawmakers outlined broad priorities for the money, including cleaner air, zero-emission vehicles, sustainable agriculture, forests and parks. Now they have to decide on specifics — while listening to a loud chorus of interest groups looking for a piece of the money.

    Sixty percent of the money automatically goes to high-speed rail, public transit, housing projects and other purposes. Another chunk is committed to cover the cost of tax breaks included in the extension to win support from Republicans and business interests.

    The Air Resources Board held the most recent auction last week and is scheduled to announce the results Tuesday. Officials expect a rebound after more than a year of sagging demand tied in large part to uncertainty about whether businesses would need to buy the permits after 2020, when the program was originally set to expire.

    SANCTUARY STATE

    The Senate voted along party lines to restrict state and local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal immigration authorities, essentially making California a statewide sanctuary for immigrants living in the country illegally.

    The measure, written by de Leon, is a response to President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to step up deportations. It would give California the nation’s strongest statewide protections for immigrants.

    It has cleared the Senate but has had a tougher run in the more moderate Assembly.

    The bill has fired up conservative critics and drawn the rebuke of the California State Sheriffs’ Association, which says it would endanger the public and drive immigration enforcement from jails to neighborhoods.

    The measure is backed by immigrant and civil rights groups, which say the state needs to protect families living in fear that they’ll be split up.

    Brown told NBC’s Meet the Press that he has concerns and is working with de Leon to address them. He didn’t elaborate, and his spokesman Evan Westrup wouldn’t say what changes the governor is seeking.

    BAIL REFORM

    The Senate voted earlier this year to end bail for most defendants as part of an attempt to dramatically redesign the system for supervising defendants awaiting trial.

    The Assembly wasn’t ready to go that route and rejected a similar measure, but proponents are still working to line up support.

    Critics contend the bail system hurts poor defendants who haven’t been convicted but must await trial behind bars solely because they’re too poor to pay bail and be released. Bail is money or property that can be forfeited if suspects fail to appear for trial.

    Some Democratic lawmakers want to give judges more flexibility to decide during arraignment whether to impose bail as a condition of release, taking the defendant’s income into account.

    The bail industry has aggressively lobbied against the bill, even bringing celebrity bail man Dog the Bounty Hunter to Sacramento to testify against it. The industry says the legislation would endanger the public by allowing dangerous criminals out of custody.

    The post California lawmakers to tackle housing crisis, immigration appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Demonstrator holds a United States flag in front of another waving a Confederate flag as self proclaimed "White Nationalists" and "Alt-Right" activists hold "Freedom of Speech" rally at Lincoln Memorial in Washington

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR:  In the wake of the violence and tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia, last Saturday, much of the past week has been spent examining the so-called alt right — the ideology, based on white nationalism, rejects Jewish people, people of color, those in the LGBTQ community and immigrants, and it’s typically seen as a movement made up of white men.

    However, as reporter Seyward Darby writes in the September issue of “Harper’s” magazine, there is a disturbing trend worth paying attention to.  Seyward Darby joins me now.

    The women, the women have not really been in the imagery that we’ve seen just in the past week, but as you find out, they exist, and they’re growing in numbers.

    SEYWARD DARBY, REPORTER, HARPER’S MAGAZINE:  I went into this story with a simple question, and that was, where are the women?  And I started to think of this question last winter around the time that, you know, millions of women around the country were organizing for the women’s march on Washington, and simultaneously, the alt-right was celebrating Trump’s victory and being portrayed as a movement of young white men.

    And I went looking for these women, and they very much exist.  And there is a cluster of them that are very vocal on YouTube, Twitter, sometimes in real life at conferences and events.  And they are very keen to let other women know that they’re there, and that the alt-right is a place where, if they’re white women of a certain mind, they would be welcome.

    SREENIVASAN:  So, what’s the allure?  I mean, when you see the displays of sort of bravado that some of these men exhibit, why would women want to be there?  Is it because they like that sort of manliness of manhood, or do they see a place for them in the organization?

    DARBY:  The short answer is yes.  They very much like the idea of alpha men who embrace a very sort of aggressive form of masculinity.  But in terms of the place women see for themselves, they don’t believe that these men are misogynistic in the way that people looking from the outside might.

    They think that the men of the alt-right just understand biology and that men and women are fundamentally different, not equal, but equally important, and that men should be alpha, macho, fighting battles, running countries, making policy, whereas women have an equally important role on the home front, nurturing family units, inculcating the beliefs of this movement.  They would say they don’t see that as, you know, submission or subjugation.  They would say that it’s equally important, almost like a yin and yang.

    SREENIVASAN:  So, what kind of numbers are we talking about here?

    DARBY:  It’s really hard to say.  And I spoke to many academics who have studied right-wing extremism for a long time, and they said because the alt-right is ultimately this movement from the Internet, very motley, very disparate, from comment boards and various social media platforms, it’s really hard to get a sense of precise numbers.  In terms of women within it, the number you hear bandied about is 15 percent to 20 percent.  But they’re not necessarily the ones you’re going to see in Charlottesville.

    SREENIVASAN:  Let’s talk also about the network effects here.  How do these women congregate online?  How do they meet each other?  How do they get recruited?

    DARBY:  I think it is a deeply, deeply inside the Internet in a way that can take a while if you’re an outsider to find, to see the patterns of connection.  They will say that there are meet-ups happening in real life that, you know, women are organizing in ways you can’t see, but I do think fundamentally most of this is happening on these various Internet platforms.

    SREENIVASAN:  Is there a moment that they see coming?  I mean, do they see their influence increasing?

    DARBY:  They will say that they do.  They would say that the moment is now, that we’re seeing it.  They don’t necessarily see Donald Trump as alt-right.  Lana Lokteff, for instance, when I met and interviewed her, she pointed blank said, he’s not one of our guys.

    SREENIVASAN:  Yes.

    DARBY:  But he’s got the coattails that they felt they needed to be pulled more so into the mainstream.  And what we’re seeing in Charlottesville and other places where the alt-right is, you know, stepping out into the world to show themselves.  I think that they very much see this as the moment when they can garner more followers.

    They want it to seem like they have a lot of momentum.  Whether or not they do —

    SREENIVASAN:  Yes.

    DARBY:  — it’s hard to say.

    SREENIVASAN:  All right.  Seyward Darby has this as one of the big stories in “Harper’s” — thanks so much for joining us.

    DARBY:  Thank you so much for having me.

    The post Why are women joining the ‘alt-right’? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    CLARISSA LYNN: Does everyone have a pen or pencil?

    IVETTE FELICIANO: 7th grade science teacher Clarissa Lynn takes her class on a 15-minute walk from their school in Harlem to New York City’s East River. There, they pull up a cage filled with oysters from an an oyster restoration station.

    CLARISSA LYNN: Put it in…

    IVETTE FELICIANO: Observing the growth of oysters is part of the Billion Oyster Project, an initiative to restore a billion of the once plentiful oysters to New York’s harbor by 2035.

    Clarissa Lynn’s Central Park East 2 is one of over 100 participating middle schools and high schools.

    CLARISSA LYNN: The oysters are a perfect hands on vehicle to teach kids a lot of different science skills. You can go into lessons on classification, and identification, ecology roles, so how do these organisms work together to create a balanced ecosystem?

    IVETTE FELICIANO: More than 10,000 students monitor and collect data at 100 oyster restoration stations.

    CLARISSA LYNN: You can identify what type of crab.

    They’re learning so much about the world that they particularly live in. We’re not studying a coral reef in some other part of the world. No, this is your backyard.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: Students document conditions, like water quality and clarity, and write reports.

    JANINE JIMENEZ, STUDENT: My question is how and why are the oysters dying. Since there’s a lot of things going on. The oysters haven’t been doing well today, like for the past few months.

    EJ JIMINEZ: We started with about 100 and then next thing we know, a bunch of them died.
    IVETTE FELICIANO: Twins Janine and Ej Jiminez are studying why 70 percent of the oysters have died at their station since last October.

    CLARISSA LYNN: That was the inspiration for their project – why is this happening? Finding out that this is not a suitable place to put an oyster reef is important, because that’ll help us narrow down the places for the project to ultimately be successful.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: New York City was once known as the oyster capital of the world, with 200,000 acres of oyster reefs.

    MURRAY FISHER: There were more oysters consumed, produced, and shipped out of New York Harbor in New York City than anywhere else in the world. But by the early 1800s, we had eaten them all.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: Billion Oyster Project co-founder Murray Fisher considers oysters a keystone species that can help can clean or filter the water by removing algae, phytoplankton, and other particles.

    MURRAY FISHER: An adult oyster filters, conservatively, in the summertime when they’re feeding, a gallon of water an hour, so 24 gallons a day. That means the standing volume of New York Harbor would be filtered by a billion oysters once every three days.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: The oyster reefs not only filter the water, they also provide habitat for other wildlife and help protect erosion of the shoreline from future storms and flooding.

    Since the project began three years ago, students have planted over 24 million oysters in the harbor.

    While these oysters are not destined for consumption, restaurants across the city are participating, by providing millions of recycled oyster shells to build back the reefs.

    NAAMA TAMIR: We keep the top part of the oyster shelL. When they’re done with the oysters, we make sure we keep the bottom parts as well.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: Naama Tamir hosts a daily oyster happy hour at her restaurant, Lighthouse, in Brooklyn.

    She donates 800 shells a week. The project then implants them onto the shells and distributes them to the monitoring stations.

    The project still has a long way to go before reaching a billion.

    CLARISSA LYNN: My hope is that some of these students will end up in career paths into sciences, technology and engineering. They definitely have the ability, and I think a big part is helping them see that they have the confidence or they have the capability to do that.

    MURRAY FISHER: This once was one of the most productive ecosystems on the planet. If we want to live sustainably and happily for another several hundred years or maybe every thousand years, we’ve got to take care of this natural resource. And if we don’t know about it, we’re not going to take care of it.

    The post Can students return a billion oysters to a New York harbor? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Google logo on office building in Irvine California

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: The events in Charlottesville also prompted a response from the tech community that quickly took steps against hate speech. Companies like Google, Go Daddy and Cloudfare have decided to stop hosting or supporting white supremacists’ Websites. PayPal and Apple Pay have decided to stop allowing known hate organizations from using their payment platforms to raise funds.

    Fundraising sites like Patreon and GoFundMe have kicked certain users off their system. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter have begun shutting down known white supremacists’ accounts. Airbnb and Uber have kicked white supremacists off their service, and even Spotify began taking down music from hate rock bands.

    Our next guest says this is a slippery slope development. She’s Cindy Cohn of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She joins us now from San Francisco.

    Cindy, for those people who aren’t familiar with what EFF does, a nutshell summary.

    CINDY COHN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION: Well, we work to make sure that when you go online, your rights go with you. So, we spend lot of time thinking about free speech and privacy, and how to make sure that the Internet is the place that we all want to be.

    SREENIVASAN: Tell us of the constitutional protections in place for free speech and how they translate online. A lot of these public companies and private companies on the Internet are going to say, hey, we’re well within our rights. We are the ones that host these communities, and we want to figure out what kind of speech works.

    COHN: They’re absolutely within their rights to kick off these folks. There’s no legal problem here. There’s no First Amendment problem here because they’re private companies. So, they’re within their rights.

    You know, what we’re worried about is that this — this tactic is not a new tactic. And we think it’s a very dangerous one. We have spent last 10 years trying to help all sorts of Websites and speakers online respond to threats being issued against their service providers to try to silence them. And while, you know, everyone’s just awakening to this now because of the horrific, you know, words on these Websites, you know, the vast majority of people who we have tried to help protect are people who I suspect at least some of your audience will be far more sympathetic to.

    SREENIVASAN: Are you concerned that different groups can fall under the same category? Right now, we’re going after the Nazis. We may go after someone else six months from now or two years from now.

    COHN: That’s exactly right. In fact, there is a pretty significant effort to try to get people to call the Black Lives Matter movement a terrorist movement and stop their hosting. In the past, we’ve helped people who have done parody sites. We have seen big companies like De Beers or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce try to go after parody or criticism Websites by getting their hosts and their domain name hosts not to host them anymore, to chase this speech off of the Internet.

    So, you know, I have no love lost for the Daily Stormer and the neo Nazis. But if we endorse this tactic here, it’s going to be much harder for me and other people the next time, when it turns around and it goes against a cause that we love, to say, no, no, no. You know, you should just be a neutral content host.

    SREENIVASAN: It seems that these tech companies are actually creating a set of laws that cross borders. I mean, if Facebook has 2 billion users on the planet, this is not just the United Nations sort of Geneva Conventions that we’re living by. They’re figuring out what speech works in one country, what’s controversial in another.

    COHN: That’s correct, and they get it wrong all the time. And this is something that we know from where we sit because we try to help them.

    Let me give you a very recent example. YouTube was trying recently to use artificial intelligence to get rid of what they called extremist content on YouTube. And you know what they ended up taking down? A bunch of the people who are collecting war crimes evidence.

    It’s not that easy to just say, oh, well, that’s bad speech, we don’t want it; this is good speech, we do. There are easy cases, but there’s far more hard cases. And what we see is, this ends up meaning that powerful people get to censor and take speech down and not powerful people don’t.

    SREENIVASAN: All right. Cindy Cohn of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, joining us via Skype from San Francisco today, thanks so much.

    COHN: Thank you.

    The post Tech companies shut down white nationalist sites appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: Good evening and thanks for joining us.

    One week after the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia a self-described free speech rally today in Boston organized by conservative activists was eclipsed by thousands of counter-protesters.

    Hours before the rally in the Massachusetts capital was to start, an estimated fifteen thousand counter-protesters marched peacefully through downtown Boston. In sharp contrast with Charlottesville, today’s events in and near the historic Boston Common were largely peaceful.

    More than 500 police officers were on hand — some undercover — and Commissioner William Evans greeted the counter-protesters today telling them violence would not be tolerated.

    A few dozen people attended the event organized by the Boston free speech coalition, but shortly after the rally was scheduled to start..And vastly outnumbered, they left the site. Today’s organizers had publicly distanced themselves from the racist groups that gathered last week in Charlottesville. After officials declared the so-called ‘free speech rally’ over, some counter-protesters scuffled with police.There were other anti-racist events planned around the country, including in Atlanta, Dallas, and Houston.

    For more on the scene today in Boston, I’m joined by WGBH senior investigative reporter Phillip Martin.

    Phillip, you were there.  What was if like?

    PHILLIP MARTIN, SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, WGBH:  Well, Hari, it was — it was extraordinary in the sense that there were a lot more people there than what was anticipated.  Several thousand, by one estimate, 15,000 alone marching from a section of Roxbury, which is a black community in Boston, to the Boston Common, where the so-called “free speech” rally was taking place, which was organized by a group of right-wing activists in the area with some very controversial speakers on hand.  They — the march essentially involved people of all races and represented a number of religions.  I spoke — I spoke to Muslims.  I spoke to Christians.

    I spoke to a number of people who said they’d come in from Hartford, Connecticut, part of what they call the Moral Mondays, which, of course, was an offshoot of what occurred in North Carolina, over — around voting rights.  And they said they would not have missed this because wherever there is hate, quote/unquote, they want to counter it with love.

    So, the majority of people I spoke with were people who want it to be amongst people who thought like themselves — anti-white supremacists, they said, anti-neo-Nazi and, frankly, anti-Donald Trump.

    SREENIVASAN:  Now, speaking of Donald Trump, he tweeted this afternoon: Looks like many anti-police agitators in Boston.  Police are looking tough and smart.  Thank you.

    That’s his perception of it.  How significant were the groups of people that were there to agitate?

    MARTIN:  I would say not significant at all, though they had a presence.  They were very apparent.  But they were dwarfed by the large number of people who were there, again, to protest peacefully.  Police made sure that this was peaceful.  They waited until the crowd taking sticks and poles away from people that were — that held placards.  Those placards, again, contained some choice words, which I cannot repeat, many of those directed at the president of the United States.

    Anti-fascists, antifas as they’re called, they were in fact present.  They were, in fact, clad in black, but they were not a significant presence.  Though, I did find a lot of people had sympathy for their position.  That is to say, their position is: we do not negotiate with neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and their position is they do not believe in freedom of speech for these individuals.

    But if they wanted to carry out any type of action, it was not going to be under the watch of the Boston police commissioner, nor, frankly, of most of the people who took part in today’s demonstration.  They were there, and they asserted this forcefully, for peace, for — to show that they oppose white supremacy, and oppose the president of the United States who they say has endorsed white supremacy and hate.

    SREENIVASAN:  All right.  Phillip Martin of WGBH — joining us from Boston — thanks so much.

    MARTIN:  It’s good talking with you.

    The post Counter-protesters dwarf far-right marchers at Boston rally appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    FILE PHOTO - Activist Dick Gregory delivers a speech during a public viewing and funeral for legendary singer James Brown in Augusta

    FILE PHOTO – Activist Dick Gregory delivers a speech during a public viewing and funeral for legendary singer James Brown in Augusta, Georgia, on December 30, 2006. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    LOS ANGELES — Dick Gregory, the comedian and activist and who broke racial barriers in the 1960s and used his humor to spread messages of social justice and nutritional health, has died. He was 84.

    Gregory died late Saturday in Washington, D.C. after being hospitalized for about a week, his son Christian Gregory told The Associated Press. He had suffered a severe bacterial infection.

    As one of the first black standup comedians to find success with white audiences, in the early 1960s, Gregory rose from an impoverished childhood in St. Louis to win a college track scholarship and become a celebrated satirist who deftly commented upon racial divisions at the dawn of the civil rights movement.

    “Where else in the world but America,” he joked, “could I have lived in the worst neighborhoods, attended the worst schools, rode in the back of the bus, and get paid $5,000 a week just for talking about it?”

    Gregory’s sharp commentary soon led him into civil rights activism, where his ability to woo audiences through humor helped bring national attention to fledgling efforts at integration and social equality for blacks.

    Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey tweeted, “Dick Gregory’s unflinching honesty & courage, inspired us to fight, live, laugh & love despite it all.” A tweet by actress/comedian Whoopi Goldberg said, “About being black in America Dick Gregory has passed away, Condolences to his family and to us who won’t have his insight 2 lean on R.I.P”

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

    Gregory briefly sought political office, running unsuccessfully for mayor of Chicago in 1966 and U.S. president in 1968, when he got 200,000 votes as the Peace and Freedom party candidate. In the late ’60s, he befriended John Lennon and was among the voices heard on Lennon’s anti-war anthem “Give Peace a Chance,” recorded in the Montreal hotel room where Lennon and Yoko Ono were staging a “bed-in” for peace.

    An admirer of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., Gregory embraced nonviolence and became a vegetarian and marathon runner.

    He preached about the transformative powers of prayer and good health. Once an overweight smoker and drinker, he became a trim, energetic proponent of liquid meals and raw food diets. In the late 1980s, he developed and distributed products for the popular Slim-Safe Bahamian Diet.

    When diagnosed with lymphoma in 2000, he fought it with herbs, exercise and vitamins. It went in remission a few years later.

    He took a break from performing in comedy clubs, saying the alcohol and smoke in the clubs were unhealthy and focused on lecturing and writing more than a dozen books, including an autobiography and a memoir.

    Comedian Dick Gregory and wife Lillian look on as he is honored during his dedication for his star on Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles

    Comedian Dick Gregory and wife Lillian look on as he is honored during his dedication for his star on Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California, on February 2, 2015. Photo by Gus Ruelas/Reuters

    Gregory went without solid food for weeks to draw attention to a wide range of causes, including Middle East peace, American hostages in Iran, animal rights, police brutality, the Equal Rights Amendment for women and to support pop singer Michael Jackson when he was charged with sexual molestation in 2004.

    “We thought I was going to be a great athlete, and we were wrong, and I thought I was going to be a great entertainer, and that wasn’t it either. I’m going to be an American Citizen. First class,” he once said.

    Richard Claxton Gregory was born in 1932, the second of six children. His father abandoned the family, leaving his mother poor and struggling. Though the family often went without food or electricity, Gregory’s intellect and hard work quickly earned him honors, and he attended the mostly white Southern Illinois University.

    “In high school I was fighting being broke and on relief,” he wrote in his 1963 book. “But in college, I was fighting being Negro.”

    He started winning talent contests for his comedy, which he continued in the Army. After he was discharged, he struggled to break into the standup circuit in Chicago, working odd jobs as a postal clerk and car washer to survive. His breakthrough came in 1961, when he was asked to fill in for another comedian at Chicago’s Playboy Club. His audience, mostly white Southern businessmen, heckled him with racist gibes, but he stuck it out for hours and left them howling.

    That job was supposed to be a one-night gig, but lasted two months — and landed him a profile in Time magazine and a spot on “The Tonight Show.”

    Vogue magazine, in February 1962, likened him to Will Rogers and Fred Allen: “bright and funny and topical … (with) a way of making the editorials in The New York Times seem the cinch stuff from which smash night-club routines are rightfully made.” ”I’ve got to go up there as an individual first, a Negro second,” he said in Phil Berger’s book, “The Last Laugh: The World of Stand-up Comics.” ”I’ve got to be a colored funny man, not a funny colored man.”

    His political passions were never far from his mind — and they hurt his comedy career. The nation was grappling with the civil rights movement, and it was not at all clear that racial integration could be achieved. At protest marches, he was repeatedly beaten and jailed.

    He remained active on the comedy scene until recently, when he fell ill and canceled an August 9 show in San Jose, California, followed by an August 15 appearance in Atlanta. On social media, he wrote that he felt energized by the messages from his well-wishers, and said he was looking to get back on stage because he had a lot to say about the racial tension brought on by the gathering of hate groups in Virginia.

    “We have so much work still to be done, the ugly reality on the news this weekend proves just that,” he wrote.

    He is survived by his wife, Lillian, and 10 children.

    The post Comedian, civil rights activist Dick Gregory dies appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, with his Japanese counterparts, participates in a news conference after their U.S.-Japan Security talks at the State Department in Washington, U.S., August 17, 2017. Photo By Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    AMMAN, Jordan — U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Sunday he is satisfied with how the administration formulated its new Afghanistan war strategy. But he refused to talk about the new policy until it was disclosed by President Donald Trump.

    He said the deliberations, including talks at the Camp David presidential retreat on Friday, were done properly.

    “I am very comfortable that the strategic process was sufficiently rigorous,” Mattis said, speaking aboard a military aircraft on an overnight flight from Washington to Amman, Jordan.

    Months ago, Trump gave Mattis authority to set U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, but Mattis said he has not yet sent significant additional numbers. He has said he would wait for Trump to set the strategic direction first.

    WATCH: Mattis says U.S. is close to new approach in Afghanistan

    Mattis did not mention that Gen. Joseph Votel, who as Central Command chief is responsible for directing the war in Afghanistan, was not invited to the Camp David talks. Votel has said his views were represented by Mattis. The top U.S. commander on the ground in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, also was not invited to attend.

    Trump wrote on Twitter on Saturday that he had made decisions at Camp David, “including on Afghanistan,” but he did not say more about it. The expectation had been that he would agree to a modest boost in the U.S. war effort with an additional 3,800 to 3,900 troops.

    Mattis said Trump had been presented with multiple options. He did not name them, but others have said one option was to pull out of Afghanistan entirely. Another, which Mattis had mentioned recently in Washington, was to hire private contractors to perform some of the U.S. military’s duties.

    Afghan military commanders have been clear that they want and expect continued U.S. military help.

    Pulling out American forces “would be a total failure,” Col. Abdul Mahfuz, the Afghan intelligence agency chief for Qarahbagh, north of Kabul, said Saturday. And he said that substituting paid contractors for U.S. troops would be a formula for continuing the war, rather than completing it.

    [Watch Video]

    The administration has been at odds for months over how to develop a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, amid frustrations that after 16 years the conflict is stalemated against a resilient Taliban and an offshoot of the Islamic State group.

    Mahfuz and other Afghan commanders spoke at a shura council meeting at Bagram air base attended also by U.S. military officers and Afghan intelligence officials.

    Col. Abdul Mobin, who commands an Afghan mechanized battalion in the 111th Division, said any reduction in the U.S. military presence “leads to total failure.”

    Speaking through an interpreter, he added that operations by Afghan and U.S. special operations forces have been very effective, and that “the presence of U.S. military personnel is felt and considered a positive step for peace.”

    He said he’d like to see an additional 10,000 American troops in the country.

    The post Mattis tight-lipped on new Afghanistan war strategy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Claire McCaskill

    Ranking Member Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) speaks prior to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testifying before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on border security on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., April 5, 2017. Photo By Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

    CUBA, Mo. — Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill is spending the August recess trekking through Republican strongholds in rural Missouri as she gears up for what’s expected to be a fierce battle for a third term.

    Missouri has shifted even further to the right since the former state auditor joined the Senate in 2007. Republicans haven’t lost a statewide race since 2012 when McCaskill won her second term, and they haven’t lost a presidential race for more than two decades.

    Although McCaskill likely still enjoys strong support in the predominantly Democratic metropolitan areas of St. Louis and Kansas City, where she once served as a county prosecutor, the changing demographics signal that might not be enough. During the monthlong congressional recess, she’s holding town halls in dozens of small towns and cities — including some areas where she hasn’t fared well in past elections.

    Appearing Thursday at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, McCaskill said she has an “independent streak.” At an earlier town hall in Cuba, a city of fewer than 3,500 people that’s roughly 80 miles (130 kilometers) southwest of St. Louis, she pitched herself as a “believer in compromise.”

    “‘Right in the middle’ is an accurate way to describe me,” McCaskill told the roughly 30 people who showed up.

    McCaskill is one of 10 Senate Democrats up for re-election next year in states won by President Donald Trump, in many cases by wide margins. The challenge for Democrats could be tougher because turnout in big cities could be lower without a presidential race topping the ballot.

    Rural turnout could also be critical for Michigan’s Debbie Stabenow and Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin, two other Democratic senators facing tough re-election challenges.

    McCaskill faces tough competition if she matches up with Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican who won more votes in Missouri last year than Trump did and is exploring a potential bid against her.

    Retired Saint Louis University political scientist Steven Puro said next year, it’s vital for McCaskill to carry votes far beyond Kansas City and St. Louis.

    “The rural strategy has to work for her,” Puro said. “Because if it doesn’t, she’s out of luck.”

    In her successful 2006 and 2012 campaigns, McCaskill made a series of small-town stops in an attempt to court rural voters. Her itinerary in rural areas this year is aggressive, with dozens of town halls already under her belt and more to come in the next few weeks.

    While she lost in many counties in 2012, she had some victories and trailed closely behind her Republican rival, former Rep. Todd Akin, in some traditionally GOP areas. However, Akin tumbled in the polls after commenting on a talk show that women’s bodies have ways of avoiding pregnancy from what he called “legitimate rape.”

    “It’s not always about winning an area, but just siphoning off as much of the vote as you can for your cause,” said Randy Hagerty, a political scientist at Truman State University in northern Missouri.

    Republicans are openly mocking McCaskill’s outreach in rural areas. State Republican Party spokeswoman Keelie Broom in a message posted on the party’s website predicted McCaskill will “conveniently play up her down-home ‘daughter-of-rural-Missouri’ act now she is up for re-election,” adding that Republicans “aren’t fooled by this.” McCaskill is a Rolla native who was later raised in Houston and Lebanon, Missouri, before moving to Columbia as a child.

    “Rural Missouri voters haven’t seen hide nor hair of Sen. McCaskill in six years,” Missouri Republican Party Executive Director Austin Stukins said. “Now that it’s time for re-election, she suddenly pretends to care.”

    McCaskill said she’s held town halls throughout her time in the Senate, and pointed to ones held in 2009 during the contentious debate over former President Barack Obama’s health care law. On Thursday, she said town halls this year are “not an election year thing.”

    “In this world, you’re kind of darned if you do and darned if you don’t,” she said earlier in Cuba. “If I wasn’t coming, they’d say I was hiding.”

    McCaskill has long painted herself as a moderate, and during the Cuba town hall touted support for the Keystone XL pipeline and opposition to Sen. Harry Reid’s bid for minority leader when Democrats lost control of the Senate in 2014, for example.

    Her recent work has focused on issues including human trafficking, opioid abuse and veterans’ issues — topics without partisan baggage that could resonate across party lines.

    Republicans are trying to counter that narrative, arguing instead that she’s an obstructionist to Trump’s agenda and attempting to tie her to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and fellow Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

    In a rodeo-themed ad against her that ran in southeastern Missouri markets during a Sikeston rodeo this month, the National Republican Senatorial Committee claimed McCaskill “would rather cozy up to radical liberals in Washington than make America great again.”

    That message seemed to echo criticism from at least one person at McCaskill’s Cuba town hall.

    “I’m totally, 100 percent behind our president and she is not. She is there obstructing,” said Vivian Simpson, 56, a Democrat-turned-Republican. She also expressed skepticism of McCaskill’s rhetoric in light of the upcoming election.

    Associated Press writer Bill Barrow contributed to this report from Atlanta.

    The post McCaskill reaching out to rural Missouri ahead of election appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    German author Guenther Wallraff takes part in a gathering in support of the Turkish-German author Dogan Akhanli outside of a courthouse in Istanbul

    German author Guenther Wallraff, right, takes part in a gathering in support of the Turkish-German author Dogan Akhanli outside of a courthouse in Istanbul December 8, 2010. Turkish-German author Dogan Akhanli who is accused of involvement in a robbery and a murder is on trial in Istanbul. Akhanli was living in exile in Germany for 19 years and returned to Turkey in August 2010. Photo by Murad Sezer/Reuters

    BERLIN — Germany’s foreign minister welcomed the release Sunday of a German writer detained in Spain on a Turkish warrant.

    Turkish-born writer Dogan Akhanli, who has German citizenship, was arrested Saturday while on holiday in southern Spain.

    Akhanli was conditionally released after a court hearing, but ordered to remain in Madrid while Turkey’s extradition request is considered, his lawyer said.

    It wasn’t immediately clear what Akhanli is accused of, but the author has in the past written about the mass killing of Armenians in Turkey in 1915. The killings are a sensitive subject in Turkey, which rejects the widespread view that they constituted genocide.

    German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in a statement “it would be terrible if Turkey could get people who raise their voice against (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan imprisoned on the other side of Europe.”

    “I have complete faith in Spain’s judicial system and know that our friends and partners in the Spanish government understand what’s at stake,” Gabriel said.

    Erdogan hit back while speaking to supporters in Istanbul, attributing Ankara’s souring relations with Berlin to next month’s German election and warning Germany to “mind its own business.”

    “They have nothing to do with democracy,” Erdogan said, warning Gabriel to “know his place” and to address Turkey’s foreign minister instead of its president.

    The already high tensions between the two countries hit another peak on Friday when Erdogan said all of Germany’s mainstream parties were enemies of Turkey and urged Turkish-Germans to not vote for them in the upcoming election.

    Akhanli emigrated to Germany in 1991 after spending years in a Turkish prison following the 1984 military coup in the country.

    The German section of the writers’ association PEN called the arrest warrant against Akhanli politically motivated.

    Spain is also holding Turkish-Swedish reporter and writer Hamza Yalcin who was arrested Aug. 3 in Barcelona on a Turkish warrant for alleged terrorism.

    PEN and Reporters Without Borders have demanded his release. The Swedish branch of Reporters Without Borders said Yalcin’s arrest was an attempt by Erdogan to show he can reach critical voices abroad.

    Spain’s Freedom of Information Defense Platform said it welcomed the decision on Akhanli, but reiterated that it expects Yalcin to be let go and Spain to explain both arrests.

    The post Germany welcomes release of writer sought by Turkey appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A white supremacist wears a shirt with the slogan "European Brotherhood" at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. Photo by Joshua Roberts/REUTERS

    A white supremacist wears a shirt with the slogan “European Brotherhood” at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    Whether you’re a white supremacist, a white nationalist or a member of the “alt-right,” much of your ideology centers around a simple principle: “being white.” The creation of a white ethnostate, populated and controlled by “pure” descendants of white Europeans, ranks high on your priority list.

    Yet, when confronted with genetic evidence suggesting someone isn’t “pure blood,” as white supremacists put it, they do not cast the person out of online communities. They bargain.

    A new study from UCLA found when genetic ancestry tests like 23andMe spot mixed ancestry among white supremacists, most respond in three ways to discount the results and keep members with “impure” genealogy in their clan. Their reactions range from challenging the basic math behind the tests to accusing Jewish conspirators of sabotage.

    Some argued their family history was all the proof they needed. Or they looked in the mirror and clung to the notion that race and ethnicity are directly visible, which is false.

    But the real takeaway centers on an new, nuanced pattern within white supremacist groups to redefine and solidify their ranks through genetic ancestry testing, said Aaron Panofsky, a UCLA sociologist who co-led the study presented Monday at the American Sociological Association’s 112th annual meeting in Montreal.

    “Once they start to see that a lot of members of their community are not going to fit the ‘all-white’ criteria, they start to say, “Well, do we have to think about what percentage [of white European genealogy] could define membership?” said Aaron Panofsky, a UCLA sociologist who co-led the study presented Monday at the American Sociological Association’s 112th annual meeting in Montreal.

    And this co-opting of science raises an important reminder: The best way to counter white supremacists may not be to fight their alternative facts with logical ones, according to people who rehabilitate far-right extremists.

    How genetics warps the rules of white nationalism

    To catalog white supremacists’ reactions to genetic ancestry results, this study logged onto the website Stormfront. Launched in 1995, Stormfront was an original forum of white supremacy views on the internet. The website resembles a Reddit-style social network, filled with chat forums and users posting under anonymous nicknames. By housing “nearly one million archived threads and over twelve million posts by 325,000 or more members,” Stormfront serves as a living history of the white nationalist movement.

    Over the course of two years, Panofsky and fellow UCLA sociologist Joan Donovan combed through this online community and found 153 posts where users volunteered the results of genetic ancestry tests. They then read through the subsequent discussion threads — 2,341 posts wherein the community faced their collective identities.

    No surprise, but white supremacists celebrate the test results that suggest full European ancestry. One example:

    67% British isles
    18% Balkan
    15% Scandinavian…
    100% white! HURRAY!

    On the flip side, Panofsky and Donovan found that “bad news” was rarely met with expulsion from the group.

    “So sometimes, someone says ‘Yeah, this makes you not white. Go kill yourself,’” Panofsky said. “Much more of the responses are what we call repair responses — where they’re saying, ‘OK this is bad news. Let’s think about how you should interpret this news to make it to make it right.”

    These “repair responses” fell into two categories.

    Reject! One coping mechanism involved the outright rejection of genetic tests’ validity. Some argued their family history was all the proof they needed. Or they looked in the mirror and clung to the notion that race and ethnicity are directly visible, which is false, said University of Chicago population geneticist John Novembre told NewsHour.

    “Genetically, the idea of white European as a single homogenous group does not hold up.”

    Though the genetics of “whiteness” are not completely understood, the gene variants known to influence skin color are more diluted across the globe than any random spot in the human genome. “That is to say, humans appear, based on our skin pigmentation, to be much more different from each other, than we actually are on a genomic level,” Novembre said.

    Others accused the ancestry companies of being run and manipulated by Jews, in an attempt to thwart white nationalism, but even other Stormfront users pointed out the inaccuracy of this idea.

    Reinterpret The biggest proportion of responses — 1,260 posts — tried to rationalize the result by offering an “educational or scientific explanation” for the genetic ancestry results. Many in the online community played a numbers game. If a genetic ancestry test stated someone was 95 percent white European, they would merely count the remaining 5 percent as a statistical error.

    Many adapted this line of thinking to make exceptions for those with mixed ancestry. Nearly 500 posts made appeals by misapplying theories of genetics or by saying whiteness is a culture, not just biology — an apparent contradiction to the mission of forming a “pure” ethnostate . This trend led some white supremacists to debate the boundaries of their ethnostate, Panofsky said.

    “They start to think about the genetic signs and markers of white nationalism that might be useful for our community,” Panofsky said. “[They say] maybe there are going to be lots of different white nations, each with slightly different rules for nationalism? Or an overlapping set of nations, that are genetically defined in their own ways?”

    But these arguments are moot, because these genetic ancestry boundaries are inherently built on shaky ground.

    Making money off the hunt for white ancestry

    If it seems white supremacists are making arbitrary decisions about their ancestry tests, it’s hard to blame them. Direct-to-consumer ancestry testing is a slippery, secretive industry, built largely upon arbitrary scientific definitions.

    “It’s black box because it’s corporate,“ said Jonathan Marks, biological anthropologist at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. “The way these answers are generated depends strongly on the sampling, the laboratory work that you do and the algorithm that you use to analyze the information. All of this stuff is intellectual property. We can’t really evaluate it.”

    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. Picture taken August 11, 2017. Photo by Alejandro Alvarez/News2Share via REUTERS

    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. Picture taken August 11, 2017. Photo by Alejandro Alvarez/News2Share via REUTERS

    Genetic ancestry companies assess a person’s geographic heritage by analyzing DNA markers in their mitochondrial DNA (for maternal history) or their Y chromosome (for paternal history). These two sources of DNA remain unchanged from parent to child to grandchild, aside from a relatively small number of mutations that occur naturally during life. These mutations can serve as branch points in the trees of human ancestry, Panofsky and Donovan wrote, and as DNA markers specific to different regions around the world.

    When genetic anthropologists examine the full scope of humans, they find that historical patterns in DNA markers make the case that everyone in the world came from a common ancestor who was born in east Africa within the last 100,000 to 200,000 years. Plus, groups intermingled so much over the course of history that genetic diversity is a continuum both within American and Europe, through to Asia and Africa, Novembre of the University of Chicago said.

    WATCH: Years after transatlantic slavery, DNA tests give clarity

    “Genetically, the idea of white European as a single homogenous group does not hold up. The classic geographic boundaries of the Mediterranean, Caucasus, and Urals that have shaped human movement and contact are all permeable barriers,” Novembre told NewsHour. “Most of the genetic variants you or I carry, we share with other people all across the globe…If you are in some ethnic group, there are not single genetic variants that you definitely have and everyone outside the group does not.”

    Commercial ancestry companies know these truths, but bend them to draw arbitrary conclusions about people’s ancestry, researchers say. They compare DNA from a customer to the genomes of people — or reference groups — whose ancestries they claim to already know.

    23andMe, for instance, uses reference dataset that “include genomes from 10,418 people who were carefully chosen to reflect populations that existed before transcontinental travel and migration were common (at least 500 years ago).” To build these geographic groups, they select individuals who say all four of their grandparents were born in the same country, and then remove “outliers” whose DNA markers do not match well within the group.

    These choices willfully bias the genetic definitions for both geography and time. They claim that a relatively small group of modern people can reveal the past makeup of Europe, Africa and Asia and the ancestral histories for millions of customers. But their reference groups skew toward the present and overpromise on the details of where people came from.

    While 23andMe denounces the use of their services to justify hateful ideologies, they do not actively ban known white supremacists from their DNA testing.

    A study by 23andMe reported that with their definition of European ancestry, there is an average of 98.6 percent European ancestry among self-reported European-Americans. But given all I’ve said we should digest this with caution,” Novembre said. “An individual with 100 percent European ancestry tests is simply someone who looks very much like the European reference samples being used.”

    Though ancestry companies claim their tests can pinpoint someone within 100 miles of their European ancestral home, that’s not always the case. Marks offered the recent example of three blond triplets who took an ancestry test for the TV show The Doctors. The test said the triplets were 99 percent European. But one sister had more English and Irish ancestry, while another had more French and German. Did we mention they are identical triplets?

    “That shows you just how much slop there is in these kinds of of ancestry estimates,” Marks said.

    ‘The antidote to shame is compassion’

    Marks described commercial ancestry testing as “recreational science” because its proprietary nature lacks public, academic oversight, but uses scientific practices to validate stereotypical notions of race and ethnicity.

    While 23andMe denounces the use of their services to justify hateful ideologies, they do not actively ban known white supremacists from their DNA testing, BuzzFeed reported.

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

    But white supremacists aren’t the only ones to buy into these wayward notions when genetic ancestry tests support their self-prescribed identities or reject the science when things don’t pan out as expected. African-Americans do it too, as Columbia University sociologist Alondra Nelson found in 2008.

    “Consumers have what I call genealogical aspiration,” Nelson told NewsHour. “They often make choices among dozens of companies based on the kind of information they’re seeking. If you’re interested in finding whether or not you’re a member of the small group that has, for example, some trace of Neanderthal DNA, then you’re going to go to a company that focuses on that.”

    She said Panofsky and Donovan’s study shows that white nationalists will engage in “a process of psychic and symbolic negotiation” when genetic ancestry results fail to satisfy their “impossible idea for racial purity.”

    But Panofsky, who doesn’t support or sympathize with white nationalists, believes these negotiations are not a reason to “dismiss white nationalists as ignorant and stupid.”

    “I think that is actually a dangerous view,” Panofsky said. “Our study reveals that these white nationalists are often engaging with genetic information in extraordinarily sophisticated ways.”

    Many white supremacists are dealing with toxic shame, a perpetual subconscious belief system where their sense of identity is negative.

    White supremacists are trying to deal with the issue of identity as an intellectual problem, said Tony McAleer, the co-founder and board chair of Life After Hate, a counseling organization that rehabs white supremacists. But he said the rehab of white nationalist views doesn’t start with challenging their mental gymnastics with data.

    “We need to deal with the emotional drivers first,” McAleer said. “University of Maryland did a study of violent extremists and what they found was the number one correlated factor with someone joining a violent extremist group was childhood trauma.”

    But McAleer continued that the emotional trauma fueling white supremacy extends past physical and sexual abuse. Many white supremacists are dealing with toxic shame, a perpetual subconscious belief system where their sense of identity is negative.

    “The person feels at a subconscious level they’re not good enough,” McAleer said. “One way to react to that is to perpetually spend all of your efforts to prove to the world that you are a winner.”

    So, Life After Hate’s antidote to this shame is “compassion and empathy,” he said. Rather than toss statistics about how Muslims aren’t flooding the country and do not lead to spikes in crime, they will take a white supremacist to an Islamic center and have them sit down and spend time there.

    “A personal connection is a much more powerful way to change the dynamics within a person, than it is to re-educate the dataset that’s in their head,” McAleer said.

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    The post How white supremacists respond when their DNA says they’re not ‘white’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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