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- 08/20/17--12:19: _Comedy legend Jerry...
- 08/20/17--13:35: _Kasich urges Trump ...
- 08/20/17--13:40: _Joint military dril...
- 08/20/17--13:53: _Remembering Jerry L...
- 08/20/17--14:23: _Making sense of a c...
- 08/20/17--15:18: _White supremacists ...
- 08/20/17--15:21: _Survivors recount a...
- 08/21/17--06:13: _President Trump to ...
- 08/21/17--06:54: _U.S. Embassy in Rus...
- 08/21/17--07:23: _Putin appoints new ...
- 08/21/17--07:38: _These photographs c...
- 08/21/17--07:47: _Navy orders investi...
- 08/21/17--08:56: _WATCH: Total eclips...
- 08/21/17--11:51: _WATCH LIVE: Trump t...
- 08/21/17--12:05: _Wounded congressman...
- 08/21/17--12:29: _WATCH: Trump views ...
- 08/21/17--13:07: _Between cancer trea...
- 08/21/17--13:26: _Analysis: 5 ways ta...
- 08/21/17--14:38: _Judge orders Montan...
- 08/21/17--15:20: _‘Mrs. Fletcher’ bec...
- 08/20/17--12:19: Comedy legend Jerry Lewis dead at 91
- 08/20/17--13:35: Kasich urges Trump to end staff chaos and ‘settle it down’
- 08/20/17--13:40: Joint military drills to begin with U.S., South Korea
- 08/20/17--13:53: Remembering Jerry Lewis and Dick Gregory, pioneering comedians
- 08/20/17--14:23: Making sense of a chaotic week at the White House
- 08/20/17--15:21: Survivors recount atrocities of ISIS occupation in Mosul
- 08/21/17--06:54: U.S. Embassy in Russia sharply scales back nonimmigrant visas
- 08/21/17--07:23: Putin appoints new Russian ambassador to U.S.
- 08/21/17--08:56: WATCH: Total eclipse crosses the continental U.S.
- 08/21/17--11:51: WATCH LIVE: Trump to give speech on Afghanistan strategy
- 08/21/17--12:05: Wounded congressman says return based on doctors’ advice
- 08/21/17--12:29: WATCH: Trump views the solar eclipse from the White House
- 08/21/17--13:07: Between cancer treatments, McCain maintains rigorous agenda
- 08/21/17--13:26: Analysis: 5 ways tax reform could affect educators
Famed comedian, actor and filmmaker Jerry Lewis died on Sunday at his home in Las Vegas, his publicist confirmed. He was 91.
Lewis developed his comedy career alongside his partner Dean Martin, whose polished persona was a foil to Lewis’ slapstick-style comedy. He would go on to appear in dozens of films, entertaining audiences with a uniquely zany brand of humor.
He was born in Newark, New Jersey, as Jerome Levitch on March 16, 1926. His parents were Jewish vaudeville performers who worked at resorts around New York City, according to the Washington Post. He first performed onstage in 1931.
Lewis began his career in earnest in 1946 at the age of 19, performing in nightclubs alongside Martin. The duo quickly rose to stardom and created 17 films together, including “My Friend Irma” — which marked the pair’s 1949 film debut — and “Hollywood or Bust” in 1956.
Together, Lewis and Martin were an entertainment powerhouse. But over a decade of performing together, a rivalry developed between them. Martin “had people whispering earnestly in his ear that Jerry was holding him back from greater things, and Jerry had sycophants giving him similar advice. They fought openly on film sets and privately behind the scenes,” film critic Shawn Levy wrote for the Guardian in 2005. In 1956, they parted ways.
Lewis created more than 50 films during his lifetime, with leading roles in movies like “The Nutty Professor” and “The Bellboy,” which launched his foray as a director.
He later led The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, which ran for 44 years and raised roughly $1.5 billion.
Corinne Segal contributed reporting.
BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich urged President Donald Trump on Sunday to stop the staff chaos at the White House and “settle it down.”
Strategist Steve Bannon last week became the latest top White House official to follow Trump’s national security adviser, a chief of staff, two communications directors and a press secretary, and others, out the door.
“You can’t keep putting new people in the lineup and think you’re going to win a world championship,” said Kasich, who is among those who think the staff churn is hampering Trump’s ability to notch a major legislative victory. He voiced his concerns on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The White House said Bannon and new White House chief of staff John Kelly had “mutually agreed” that Friday would be Bannon’s last day. Bannon immediately resumed his role as executive chairman of the conservative Breitbart News website, which he led before joining Trump campaign.
David Bossie, a former deputy manager of Trump’s campaign, said Bannon wanted to give Kelly “an opportunity to have a clean slate.”
Bannon repeatedly clashed with other top advisers, most notably Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. He dismissed concerns that White House staff divisions are hurting Trump’s ability to get his priorities passed, saying that “in every presidency there are factions.”[Watch Video]
Bossie blamed Republican congressional leaders instead. “No one is saying the president is not leading. There’s a lack of leadership on one side of Pennsylvania Avenue,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, urged “more cleaning house” at the White House, echoing some fellow Democrats in naming policy adviser Stephen Miller and national security aide Sebastian Gorka as two who should be fired.
“There certainly are a lot of people on the White House staff and NSC staff that shouldn’t be there, people like Miller and Gorka and others, who not only, I think, represent the same thing that Steve Bannon did but also aren’t capable of doing the job well,” Schiff said, also on CNN.
“So, yes, I think there’s more cleaning house that ought to take place,” Schiff added.
Schiff also questioned Trump’s capability. “There’s some attribute of his character that makes him seemingly incapable of introspection and a broad understanding of what the country really needs. And I think it’s a question that people are asking, you know, what is going on with this president?”
The lawmakers and others spoke Sunday as Trump prepared to return to the White House after more than two weeks away.
Trump spent most of what he said was a “working vacation” holed up at his private golf club in central New Jersey. He also spent two nights at his home at Trump Tower, his first visit to the New York skyscraper since taking office.
Trump also brought his national security team to the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland on Friday for a meeting on policy toward South Asia. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, traveling in Afghanistan, said Sunday that the president has agreed on a new war strategy after 16 years of conflict, but declined to discuss details before Trump announces his decision. The White House has not said when that will be.
Trump’s upcoming week includes travel to Arizona to visit a Marine Corps facility in Yuma and hold a campaign rally in Phoenix on Tuesday. He stops in Reno, Nevada, on Wednesday to address the American Legion convention.
Back in their states and districts for the August recess, Republican lawmakers were scarce on Sunday’s talk shows, skipping opportunities to weigh in on the president’s comments about the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Bannon’s exit from the White House.
An exception was Sen. Tim Scott, who urged Trump to spend time with people who have lived through the nation’s difficult racial past.
The South Carolina Republican had said last week that Trump had compromised his moral authority by appearing to equate neo-Nazis and white supremacists with those who came out to oppose them in Charlottesville. Trump said there were “very fine people, on both sides” of the clashes.
Scott said the nation is in a “very critical and sensitive time” and that Trump’s next steps would speak louder than his words.
“Without that personal connection to the painful past, it will be hard for him to regain that moral authority, from my perspective,” Scott said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Freking reported from Washington.
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HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: Defense Secretary James Mattis said today that a reduction in U.S. troops participating in joint military exercises with South Korea this week is not related to increased tensions with North Korea. More than 17,000 U.S. troops are expected to be a part of the Ulchi Freedom Guardian Drills that start Monday and last for 10 days. Twenty-five thousand participated last year. North Korea called the bi-annual exercises, quote, reckless behavior driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war.
For some perspective, I’m joined from Denver, Colorado, by Ambassador Christopher Hill, the chief U.S. negotiator with North Korea from 2005 until 2009, who has also served as a U.S. ambassador to South Korea.
Unrelated that we are decreasing the number of troops?
CHRISTOPHER HILL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH KOREA: Yes, I think it is unrelated. I mean, over the years, we’ve had more troops and fewer troops. It kind of depends on what they are exercising, what sort of maneuvers are they doing and what sort of units are coming often from the U.S. mainland to participate.
So, I think what is also pretty clear is these are exercises aimed at protecting South Korea and they’re exercises pursuant to the U.S. commitment in the U.S. Republic of Korea alliance where we will come to South Korea’s protection if they are attacked.
SREENIVASAN: You know, the North perceives this as drills that are staging area of an invasion of the North. I mean, it’s — the perception correct or not, but this is clearly for them a source of some consternation every time they happen.
HILL: Or maybe it isn’t, because yes, they have complained about these exercises ever since they first started, but they also know because they have pretty smart people looking at these things that these are defensively oriented exercises, exercises designed to have U.S. military work closely with our counterparts in ROK counterparts in the event of a North Korean invasion.
SREENIVASAN: Give us a sense of the readiness that exists along the peninsula between Japan, the Koreas and elsewhere. Obviously, it was ratcheted up, the rhetoric between both sides in the past couple of weeks, and the firing of the test missiles in the first place. How ready and prepared are all of these countries to stop a missile that might take off from North Korea from hitting anyplace that we care about?
HILL: Well, antiballistic missile technology is not as advanced as ballistic missile technology. So, the hope is that we can hit these incoming missiles with kind of latest generation anti-ballistic technology, including the so-called THAAD System, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System. I’m not among those people who believe that we’re about to, you know, be involved in a missile war with North Korea, let alone a nuclear war. But we need to continue to upgrade these systems.
SREENIVASAN: You know, as we do these military drills, how realistic is sort of a military option against the North considering how many people live in Seoul just 35 miles from the border?
HILL: To launch a so-called preemptive strike against North Korean nuclear facilities, first of all, it’s hard to say we would have the capability really of getting all these nuclear facilities. You know, North Korea is a pretty riveted country, pretty dug in country. I mean, they’ve got all kinds of tunnels and places underground to store things. So, I think, one, that would be pretty difficult.
And secondly, there are some 20 million South Koreans within in range of some 14,000 North Korean artillery tubes and while we have tremendous anti-battery capability, I mean, I would not want to be a North Korean firing an artillery shell at the South because within seconds, we would eliminate that installation. But nonetheless, they would be able to get a number of these shots off and we would have rather substantial civilian casualties. And frankly we’d be into a second Korean War.
SREENIVASAN: All right. Ambassador Christopher Hill, thanks so much.
HILL: Thank you.
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HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: It was another turbulent week at the White House featuring a contentious press conference and a departure of senior strategist Steve Bannon. Bannon has promised to wage war at figures inside the White House and congressional Republicans from his Breitbart Website. And there’s also the collapse of several advisory panels whose members included some of the most powerful CEOs in the country. All this as soon-to-return Congress faces heavy pressure to deal with everything from a possible government shutdown to a default on the death.
Special correspondent Jeff Greenfield is here to try to put all these in context.
Jeff, let’s first talk about the Bannon news that happened late in the week. On his way out or just after he left, he made some comments that said the Trump presidency is over, at least the one that — as we know it. The one that we came in with.
JEFFREY GREENFIELD, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. I think what he meant was that in Bannon’s view, Donald Trump was going to wage war on both parties’ elites. He was going to create a kind of nationalist workers movement — tough on trade, tough on immigration, skeptical of foreign intervention and populist in terms of economics. And his point is now that he’s gone, the globalists, the elites will be more in charge.
What’s puzzling about this to me is that while Trump indeed has always had nationalist populist views on trade and immigration and intervention, there’s not been any sign in the Trump White House of an economic populism. The tax policy that his people sketched out comforted the comfortable. The health care plan he more or less embraced came down very hard on working class, older rural people.
So, the idea that Trump was in any way going to marshal a plan that was going to tax the rich more heavily, I don’t see where Bannon ever thought that was going to happen, or why.
SREENIVASAN: You know — so, does this set up a scenario where there’s a civil war inside the Republican Party?
GREENFIELD: Yes. Well, one of the things about a part of the right, the talk radio folks, Rush, Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Breitbart Website itself, they’ve long been suspicious about the Republican leadership in Congress, that they would wimp out on things like building a wall, defunding Planned Parenthood. And so, what this raises is the specter that what happened three years ago, when the right helped take out House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a primary may happen again, that they may aim their fire at Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, even House Speaker Paul Ryan.
But when you look at what this new congress is going to face, you’re looking at the possibility I think of a legislative train wreck.
SREENIVASAN: Between now and the next election, they’ve still got a lot on their plate, just even when they just come right back from recess.
GREENFIELD: Just in the next few weeks, they’ve got to fund the government or it shuts down. They’ve got to raise the debt ceiling or the government defaults instead, which means tens of billions of dollars in borrowing costs and a possible jolt to the whole financial market. So, if you’ve got people on the right in the House Freedom Caucus being pressured from the right not to cooperate unless they get what they want, like a border wall, or defunding Planned Parenthood, if they make that a condition of passing a debt ceiling increase, you know, I would have hurt my eyes at a possible chaos it’s going to create.
SREENIVASAN: And what about health care?
GREENFIELD: Well — OK, now this is one you got to keep your eye on, because it’s really strange. The health care bill is not exactly dead. Trump would like to see it revived, so do some people in the Freedom Caucus.
Here’s the kicker: Bob Menendez, the New Jersey Democratic senator, is going to go on trial on federal corruption charges. If he is convicted and has to leave the Senate before January, Chris Christie appoints his replacement, and that could be the vote, the 50th vote that lets Mike Pence cast the tie breaking vote and the so-called skinny repeal is alive again. Stay tuned.
SREENIVASAN: All right. Jeff Greenfield, thanks so much.
Nearly a century ago, the governor of Louisiana proposed doxing the Ku Klux Klan.
Gov. John Parker was in New York City for a speech in April 1923, just a few months after the Klan’s killing of two white men in Mer Rouge, Louisiana, had drawn national attention to the white supremacist group’s doings in the state. He suspected that local leaders and townspeople knew full well who had perpetrated the attack but kept quiet — maybe because they, too, were in the Klan, operating under the cover of white hoods and robes.
His solution: “Turn the light of publicity on the Ku Klux Klan. Its members cannot stand it. Reputable businessmen, bankers, lawyers and others numbered among its members will not continue in its fold. They cannot afford it.”
This week, roughly 94 years later, internet hoards took up Parker’s call. They voraciously posted photos of people who attended a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and sought to use the online crowdsourcing to identify them.
Doxing, or publishing someone’s personal information without their consent, existed long before the internet. But this week brought an unparalleled flood, showing us what happens when an internet movement that thrived on anonymity comes head-to-head with a rapidly expanding group of online vigilantes.
On the evening of Friday, Aug. 11, modern-day Klan members, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, people on the “alt-right” and others marched through Charlottesville with torches, many chanting “Jews will not replace us” and “Blood and soil,” a Nazi slogan. The following afternoon — after the planned white nationalist rally had collapsed into violence, killing attendee Heather Heyer and injuring dozens of others — Peter Cytanovic and Andrew Dodson, who had come to Charlottesville for the rally, met up with some friends at a hotel in the city.
Cytanovic, a white nationalist and student at the University of Nevada, Reno, already knew the Guardian had published a photo of him shouting at the torch-lit march. But that afternoon, after someone published his name online, his phone began buzzing with notifications. Soon, he had hundreds of Facebook messages, including some death threats. Before long, people were calling his sister and grandparents. “It really got bad for me personally,” he told the NewsHour Weekend.
Dodson, who said he wants to protect white identity in the U.S., was with Cytanovic as he began to see the notifications. They were in part fueled by Twitter user @YesYoureRacist, who posted images of people on Twitter for others to identify. Within minutes, his friend said, “Hey, you’re on the news.” Before long, he too was receiving threatening messages.
“It’s a fascinating machine to see in progress,” Dodson told the NewsHour Weekend. “These are very hardworking people that are using these social media platforms to scrub the internet for all the data on someone. It’s like a giant artificial intelligence or something. This swarm of humans, Googling, in an attempt to destroy someone.”
As they identified Dodson, Cytanovic and others, internet commenters often expressed horror that white nationalists no longer felt the need to cover their faces.
But doing so would have been illegal in Virginia, where a law prohibits wearing masks or hoods to conceal one’s identity. The reason dates back to the Klan, and the frustration Gov. Parker and others felt at the group’s Teflon-like ability to avoid legal consequences for the murders and other violence they committed.
In the Klan’s early days in the late 1800s, members wore a variety of strange costumes invoking folk traditions, racist stereotypes or animals. They wore “gigantic animal horns, fake beards, coon-skin caps, or polka-dotted paper hats; they imitated French accents or barnyard animals … Many early Klansman also wore blackface, simultaneously scapegoating and mocking their victims,” author Alison Kinney wrote in her book “Hood (Object Lessons).”
The Klan mostly dissolved toward the end of the 19th century after state governments and Congress began to crack down. But it was temporary — several decades later, after the 1915 film “The Birth of a Nation” was released to wide popularity among white Americans, people began joining the Klan again, this time donning mass-produced white hoods and cloaks.
But they were a largely ineffective disguise in many small towns, where Klan membership was no secret, according to Eric Foner, a history professor at Columbia University. “We think of the Klan running around in disguise and hoods. They did that, but everyone knew who they were,” Foner said. “People were proud to be in the Klan and they didn’t want to hide that fact.”
Still, the hoods were a form of plausible deniability, giving people the option not to cooperate with law enforcement, said Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT. “In some ways, having everyone meet under hoods gave everyone the ability to say, ‘I can’t tell you whether I was there.’”
As a result, a number of states outlawed wearing hoods or masks in public from the 1920s to the 1950s.
Decades later, white supremacists’ masks took a different form online as anonymity became a central feature of the internet. In early chat rooms and message boards, and among hackers, personal information became a kind of currency — and a show of power, Zuckerman said. Pranksters would sometimes obtain each other’s personal information for sport, other times for nefarious purposes.
Online forums for white nationalists thrived in the early days of the internet. On Stormfront, an online white nationalist forum created by former KKK member Don Black in the 1990s, “People would have consistent screen names. They would hold onto a kind of identity … but they would be very explicit not to share personal information because they knew that other people could see what they were saying,” said Joan Donovan, media manipulation research lead for the Data & Society Research Institute.
In the early 2000s, those forums spun off into 4chan and 8chan, where white supremacist groups flourished and everyone was automatically assigned the username “anonymous.” Meanwhile, online activists had already begun publishing the names of white nationalists, usually on their own websites as an attempt at vigilante justice.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins was one of them. In 2000, his website, One People’s Project, began publishing the names of accused neo-Nazis. “I just wanted to know, what ever happened to the Klan after the civil rights movement?” he said.
In turn, white supremacists also published the names of anti-racist people or others who they wanted to harm. Hal Turner, a white supremacist and public personality, was sentenced in 2010 to three years in prison after he posted the addresses of three federal judges online and threatened to kill them after they ruled in favor of a local handgun ban in Chicago.
In 2006, the YouTube channel Vigilantes, led by someone who went by “CircaRigel,” was created to publicize the personal information of racist YouTubers. Within a couple of years the Anonymous collective was doing the same thing — first with individual white supremacists, and in 2008, with the Scientology leadership, a move that brought them national attention.
Then, in 2011, Google announced the launch of reverse image search, making it possible to find a person’s social media accounts or other online presence by searching for an image of them.
By then, doxing had become more widespread, as Anonymous in conjunction with Occupy protesters began doxing policemen who were accused of being violent toward the Occupy encampments, Donovan said. Anonymous’ Tumblr posted the phone number for New York police officer, Anthony Bologna, who was captured on camera pepper-spraying an Occupy Wall Street protester.
And in 2015, an online harassment campaign known as Gamergate posted personal information for women involved in technology and gaming.
But this most recent episode of doxing, post-Charlottesville, “feels qualitatively different,” said Whitney Phillips, a professor at Mercer University who has studied online trolling. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
What happened online after Charlottesville showed the collision of anonymous online space with the public face of white supremacy, Zuckerman said. “There’s a whole lot of conversations in that space where people don’t disclose their identity. They are their online persona. They are not necessarily taking off their mask and they are interacting primarily under that pseudonym. They realize that taking off that mask is a risk and a danger,” he said. “When you assume you’re going to a rally filled with people you know mostly under those pseudonyms, maybe [you think] those rules apply.”
Phillips said she often hears the misconception that anonymity online can encourage antisocial behavior such as racist and hateful speech. But she pointed to another idea expressed by Steve Reicher, a social psychologist and professor at the University of St. Andrews: that anonymity leads to a state in which people show a stronger adherence to group norms. As white nationalist groups siloed into their own online spaces, they may have exaggerated group members’ devotion to group ideas, she said.
Several months ago, a pro-Trump Twitter user who is affiliated with the “alt-right” accused Zuckerman of working for George Soros, a prominent donor to liberal causes and a common target of “alt-right” groups. Zuckerman, who works at MIT, responded — and eventually they moved the conversation to Gmail, where Zuckerman’s signature shows his phone number and office address.
The Twitter user was shocked, Zuckerman said, taking it as a “highly trusting” move that Zuckerman would provide his personal details. In a show of good faith, he sent Zuckerman his details too, leveling the playing field. “It was almost like an Old West [movie], I came in and put my gun on the table, and his response was to put his down as well,” Zuckerman said.
Zuckerman said he doesn’t want to see anyone being harassed, but that doxing could be effective against people who are just beginning to explore white nationalist ideas. “I hope it will be a successful tactic in helping filter people out of this movement who are exploring the identity, but who may not understand just what a hateful and horrible thing they’re doing,” he said.
This past weekend, a sparsely attended “free speech” rally organized by right-wing groups was eclipsed by thousands of counter-protesters in Boston. Brianna Wu, who was herself targeted during Gamergate and is now a Democratic congressional candidate in Massachusetts, drew a direct line between doxing after Charlottesville and scarce attendance at that rally.
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On the flipside, publishing white nationalists’ names could also reassure them that they can voice their beliefs more now than ever. Having his name published, Cytanovic said, was “relieving to a degree, that I can’t hide my political beliefs anymore.”
As widespread and cross-political alarm grows over the influence of fascism and white supremacy in the U.S., Donovan said more people than ever are using the internet to administer their own version of justice.
“We as Americans know that this has the capacity to spread. And the way you stop it from spreading from town to town is that you band together and try to find the vectors that are doing this kind of organization,” she said. White nationalists in Charlottesville may have “felt really safe to come out without masks on, and I think they’re discovering the reason why the KKK put masks on in the first place.”
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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will use a nationally televised address to outline for a war-weary nation the strategy he believes will best position the U.S. to eventually declare victory in Afghanistan after 16 years of combat and lives lost.
The speech Monday night will also give Trump a chance for a reset after one of the most difficult weeks of his short presidency.
Trump tweeted Saturday that he had reached a decision on the way forward in Afghanistan, a day after he reviewed war options with his national security team at a meeting at Camp David, Maryland. The president offered no clues about whether he would send thousands more U.S. troops into Afghanistan or exercise his authority as commander in chief to order that they be withdrawn from America’s longest war.
But signs pointed in the direction of Trump continuing the U.S. commitment there.
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan on Sunday hailed the launch of the Afghan Army’s new special operations corps and declared that “we are with you and we will stay with you.”
Trump scheduled a 9 p.m. EDT Monday address to the nation and U.S. troops stationed at the Army’s Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. Next door to the base is Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place for many of the U.S. troops who died fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It will be Trump’s first formal address to the nation outside of his late February speech to a joint session of Congress. And it follows one of the most trying weeks for the president, who generated a firestorm of criticism after he appeared to equate neo-Nazis and white supremacists with the counter-protesters who opposed them during a deadly clash, with racial overtones, two weekends ago in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Trump blamed “very fine people, on both sides” for the confrontation in which a woman was killed and more than a dozen people were injured. The comments triggered rebukes from elected and former elected leaders in both political parties, and corporate leaders signaled a lack of confidence in Trump by resigning from a pair of White House advisory boards, among other expressions of dissent over his comments.
In Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson’s comments suggested the Pentagon may have won its argument that U.S. military must remain engaged in order to ensure that terrorists aren’t again able to threaten the U.S. from havens inside of Afghanistan.
Nicholson, who spoke before the announcement about Trump’s speech, said the commandos and a plan to double the size of the Afghan special operations forces are critical to winning the war.
“I assure you we are with you in this fight. We are with you and we will stay with you,” Nicholson said during a ceremony at Camp Morehead, a training base for Afghan commandoes southeast of Kabul.
The Pentagon was awaiting a final announcement by Trump on a proposal to send in nearly 4,000 more U.S. troops. The added forces would increase training and advising of the Afghan forces and bolster counterterrorism operations against the Taliban and an Islamic State group affiliate trying to gain a foothold in the country.
The administration had been at odds for months over how to craft a new Afghan war strategy amid frustrations that the conflict had stalemated some 16 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The Afghan government controls just half of the country and is beset by endemic corruption and infighting.
The Islamic State group has been hit hard but continues to attempt major attacks, insurgents still find safe harbor in Pakistan, and Russia, Iran and others are increasingly trying to shape the outcome. At this point, everything the U.S. military has proposed points to keeping the Afghan government in place and struggling to turn a dismal quagmire around.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who visited Afghanistan over the weekend, declared himself satisfied with how the administration had formulated its new strategy. But he refused to discuss details before Trump’s announcement.
Afghan military commanders have been clear that they want and expect continued U.S. military help.
Among elected leaders in the U.S., opinions were mixed about America’s future role in Afghanistan.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who last year challenged Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, favors withdrawing the approximately 8,400 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan — not sending in more.
“I think we should begin to leave and then I think we should reserve the opportunity and the right, with proper basing of our forces in the region, to be able to strike, if we think that there is an effort being made to create another launching pad,” Kasich said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union. “But just to stay there after 16 years, I want our people to be able to come home.”
Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat and member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said he was more interested at this point in hearing Trump’s overall plan before any talk about troop levels.
“The troop strength question is sort of the cart before the horse. The real question is what is our strategy?” Kaine said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” ”And then when you lay out the strategy, then the troop strength question can kind of answer itself.”
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MOSCOW — In a step that could affect hundreds of thousands of Russian tourists, the U.S. Embassy in Russia said Monday it would suspend issuing nonimmigrant visas for eight days from Wednesday in response to the Russian decision to cap embassy staff.
The embassy made the decision after the Russian Foreign Ministry ordered a cap on the number of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Russia, it said in a statement, adding that it would resume issuing visas in Moscow on Sept. 1, but maintain the suspension at consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok indefinitely.
Nearly a quarter of a million Russian tourists visited the U.S. last year, according to Russian tourism officials.
Earlier this month, Russia ordered the U.S. to cut its embassy and consulate staff in Russia by 755, or by two-thirds, heightening tensions between Washington and Moscow after the U.S. Congress approved sanctions against Russia for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and for its aggression in Ukraine and Syria.
President Putin said that Moscow felt forced to reciprocate to the new package of sanctions against what he dismissed as “unfounded accusations,” but that it would hold off on further steps against the U.S.
The vast majority of the more than 1,000 employees at the various US diplomatic missions in Russia, including the embassy in Moscow and the three consulates are local employees.
The U.S. embassy said on Monday that Russia’s decision to cut its staff “calls into question Russia’s seriousness about pursuing better relations.” It insisted however that it will able to maintain adequate staffing “to carry out essential elements of our mission.”
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a news conference the decision to cut visa operations aims to make Russians feel discontent with their own government.
Asked about a possible Russian reaction, Lavrov said Russia will “study” the embassy’s announcement, adding that unlike the U.S. government Russia “is not going to take it out on U.S. citizens.”
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MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin has appointed a former deputy defense minister as Russia’s new ambassador to the United States.
The Kremlin said on Monday Putin has replaced Sergei Kislyak, whose tenure ended in July, with Anatoly Antonov, a deputy foreign minister and former deputy defense minister seen as a hardliner regarding the U.S.
The outgoing ambassador played a prominent role the controversy over Russia’s possible involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned after lying about contacts with Kislyak. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election after reports that he hadn’t disclosed meetings with Kislyak.
For the first time in nearly a century, a total solar eclipse is casting a shadow from coast to coast and plunging millions of eager onlookers into temporary darkness. Those lucky enough to be standing under the path of totality — the 70-mile-wide, 3,000-mile-long swatch directly below the shadow of the moon — will be treated to a view of the moon fully blocking out our sun.
But other Americans can take part, too, because everyone in the continental U.S., Hawaii and Alaska will be treated to at least a partial eclipse — provided cloudless skies clear the way.
From the “first kiss” in Lincoln Beach, Oregon, to the final moment of totality in Charleston, South Carolina, here are some of the memorable moments of 2017’s total solar eclipse.
The post These photographs capture the eclipse as it crosses the continental U.S. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis confirms that the Navy will conduct a broad investigation into the collision in Southeast Asia between the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker, and other recent Navy accidents at sea.
Mattis tells reporters traveling with him in Jordan that he’s sent condolences to families of sailors on the guided missile destroyer. It’s the second crash involving a ship from U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet in the Pacific in two months.
Ten sailors are missing and a search is underway.
Mattis says the Navy is putting together a “broader inquiry” that also looks at the USS Fitzgerald accident in waters off Japan in June. Seven sailors died in that accident.
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The total solar eclipse of 2017 has finally arrived.
For approximately 90 minutes this afternoon, the moon will cross coast-to-coast, casting a partial or complete shadow across the continental United States.
For those unable to visit a spot on the 3,000-mile-long, 70-mile-wide path of totality, you’re in luck. In partnership with NOVA, NewsHour will be streaming the event with science correspondent Miles O’Brien and astrophysicist Jason Kalirai from Irwin, Idaho. We will also feature coverage from a local PBS station in Wyoming and NASA.
Live coverage of the 2017 total solar eclipse at Madras, Oregon (via ABC) and Riverton, Wyoming (via WyomingPBS).
Here are five things you should remember if you’re planning to take part.
And don’t forget this advice for looking at the sun:
The luckiest among us will be able to stare at the eclipse without eye protection for a very brief period. But take note! This exposed viewing is only permissible for the totality — the 2.5 minutes when the moon completely obscures the sun. And this experience will only happen on the path of totality.
The rest of the country and the remainder of the 90-minute eclipse will be partial and should not be viewed without proper protection. Even a brief, unprotected exposure to sunlight can harm one’s eyes, so best to play it safe with a pair of eclipse glasses.
NASA and the American Astronomical Society recommend that people use eclipse glasses, camera filters and telescope viewers from “reputable vendors” that follow international safety standards. Such glasses and lenses carry the manufacturing number “ISO 12312-2” and make the sun look 100,000 weaker than normal.
Do not look at the solar eclipse through a large camera, a telescope or binoculars unless they have the proper filters, even if you are also wearing eclipse glasses. The concentrated light will burn through the glasses and damage your eyes.
…Can’t find a pair of eclipse glasses? You can always build your own sun viewer with trash bags or a pasta colander.
If you’re watching the event, send us your photos of the eclipse or viewing parties using the hashtag #EclipsePBS on Twitter. We’ll publish the best ones here.
President Donald Trump will deliver a televised address Monday on how the U.S. will proceed in the nation’s 16-year war in Afghanistan.
Trump will address the public in a televised address at 9 p.m. ET. Watch the president’s speech in the player above.
Trump met with his national security team, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, on Friday at Camp David, Maryland, to discuss military strategy in Afghanistan. The president took to Twitter on Saturday to say that the talks with military leaders led to “many decisions made, including on Afghanistan.” The president did not offer any clues into the agreed-upon strategy, but several media outlets have indicated that Trump may announce continued U.S. presence in the country.
Watch PBS NewsHour’s special broadcast of the president’s remarks at 9 p.m. ET tonight.
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WASHINGTON — The Louisiana congressman shot at a baseball practice in mid-June is telling colleagues that his return to the Capitol will be based on his doctors’ advice and a date has not yet been determined.
A spokeswoman for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Lauren Fine, said the congressman participated Monday in a conference call with fellow Republican lawmakers on the topic of spending bills.
Fine said Scalise thanked GOP members who are part of the team responsible for whipping up support for various policies and legislation during his absence, particularly Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina. Scalise also thanked lawmakers for their prayers and support.
Fine said Scalise also made it clear he is focused on his inpatient rehabilitation.
Scalise was struck in the hip, and the bullet tore into blood vessels, bones and internal organs. He has had several surgeries and was released from the hospital in late July.
“Enjoyed talking to my @HouseGOP colleagues on the phone today & look forward to seeing them all once I’m able!” Scalise tweeted.
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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump squinted and pointed skyward before donning protective glasses to take in the solar eclipse at the White House.
The president was joined by wife Melania, son Barron and top aides Monday afternoon to view the spectacle from the portico overlooking the South Lawn. The White House originally said Trump would watch from the second-floor Truman balcony.
Shortly after walking outside, the president looked up at the sky, squinted and pointed upward.
“Don’t look,” one staffer yelled from the White House lawn.
Trump then donned the protective eyewear. Asked about the view, Trump gave a thumbs up.
This is the first total solar eclipse to sweep the United States from coast to coast in nearly a century, although I Washington experienced about 80 percent coverage of the sun.
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PHOENIX — Sen. John McCain’s packed agenda while on break from Congress in his home state of Arizona has hardly been the schedule of a typical brain cancer patient – or even someone about to turn 81.
McCain has been undergoing targeted radiation and chemotherapy treatments at the local Mayo Clinic on weekday mornings before going about his day with vigor.
In the past two weeks, the Republican has discussed a development project with Arizona mayors, given a radio interview and held a Facebook town hall. The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee outlined a military strategy for Afghanistan, attended an Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game and went hiking several times with his family. He has been active on Twitter, including condemning the white nationalist attack in Virginia while criticizing President Donald Trump’s response to the violence.
Those who know the former POW well say they aren’t surprised by McCain’s upbeat and feisty approach to his latest challenge.
“This is all so characteristic of him, going back to his early days in Arizona politics,” said Grant Woods, the state’s former attorney general who served as McCain’s administrative assistant while he campaigned in 1982 for a seat in Congress’ lower house. “He outworked everyone, went door-to-door all summer in 110 temperatures.”
McCain’s spokeswoman in Washington, Julie Tarallo, said the senator was not available for an interview with The Associated Press. His daughter, Meghan McCain, tweeted Friday that he had just finished his first round of chemotherapy.
“His resilience & strength is incredible,” she wrote. “Fight goes on, here’s to small wins.”
The senator’s trip home during the August congressional recess comes as other lawmakers have returned to hostile constituents amid debates in Washington over health care and other elements of the president’s agenda. Despite his busy schedule, McCain has avoided town hall meetings. He has no upcoming election to worry about, having won a sixth term in November.
Still, during McCain’s time in Arizona, tensions have increased with Trump, who recently criticized the senator again for voting against the GOP health-care bill he backed. “You mean Senator McCain, who voted against us getting good health care?” Trump asked when his name came up during a news conference.
Trump’s remark came a day after McCain criticized him for saying both the white nationalists and counterprotesters bear responsibility for the violence last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. The senator insisted in a tweet that “there’s no moral equivalency between racists & Americans standing up to defy hate and bigotry” and the president should say so.
Trump also has sharpened his criticism of McCain’s fellow Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake in the lead-up to a Tuesday night rally Trump has planned in Phoenix, calling the senator “WEAK” on the border and crime.
McCain’s friend Woods said McCain hasn’t slowed down since undergoing surgery in mid-July to remove a 2-inch (51-millimeter) blood clot in his brain and being diagnosed with an aggressive tumor called a glioblastoma. It’s the same type of tumor that killed Sen. Edward M. Kennedy at age 77 in 2009 and Beau Biden, son of then-Vice President Joe Biden, at 46 in 2015.
Glioblastoma is a somewhat unusual cancer, with the American Brain Tumor Association estimating only about 12,400 new cases will be diagnosed this year.
McCain’s natural energy aside, his upbeat attitude is typical of people who’ve recently had a brain tumor removed, said Dr. Michael Lawton, chairman of neurosurgery and CEO and president at Phoenix’s Barrow Neurological Institute.
“They experience a lot of relief from the problems the tumor caused,” such as headaches or seizures from pressure on the brain.
Patients usually do well in the early post-operative stage, Lawton said. “But there could be some tough things down the road,” he added, speaking generally about typical experiences with glioblastoma because Barrow is not involved in McCain’s treatment.
Typical treatment of a glioblastoma involves chemotherapy and radiation to halt division of any possible remaining cancer cells and shrink any existing mass, followed by an MRI every two months to monitor for a recurrence, he said.
McCain’s three-week round of treatments that ended Friday forced the globe-trotter to stay near home rather than travel to meet with troops or international leaders as he normally does each August. The senator said during his Facebook appearance that after this round, doctors will “see if there is anything additional that needs to be done.”
In the meantime, “I feel good. I have plenty of energy.” McCain warned friends and foes with a laugh: “I’m coming back!”
Survival amid seemingly unsurmountable odds has been a constant in the life of this son and grandson of four-star admirals.
As a Navy pilot, McCain lived through a July 1967 fire that killed 134 sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War. The following October, his plane was shot down during a bombing mission over Hanoi. He endured more than five years as a prisoner of war.
McCain also has survived several bouts with melanoma, a dangerous skin cancer.
He was first elected to the Senate in 1986. Over his six terms, McCain carved out a reputation as a maverick and became one of the best-known figures in American politics. He ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000 and won it in 2008, but then lost to Barack Obama.
McCain returned to Washington after his operation, entering the Senate on July 25 to a standing ovation from his colleagues. He sported a wound from the surgery above his left brow and bruising under his eye.
In a widely praised speech, McCain complained to his fellow senators they had been “getting nothing done” because of partisanship and called the U.S. health care system a “mess.” He then cast a thumbs-down vote against the latest attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare, winning praise from Democrats and scorn from the right.
Michael O’Neil, an Arizona pollster who writes a political column and has a local radio show, said facing such a serious illness will likely bring McCain even greater freedom to act on his beliefs. “All the political constraints are now gone,” he said.
The American Cancer Society says the odds of surviving for five years or more are only 4 percent for people over 55.
Despite the diagnosis, the senator seems to be a man filled with gratitude as he approaches his 81st birthday on Aug. 29.
“Even those that want me to die don’t want me to die right away,” he said during his Facebook appearance. “Thank you for everything you’ve done for literally the luckiest guy on Earth.”
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With the collapse of the Republicans’ effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the next big-ticket item on the GOP’s agenda is reforming the federal tax code. So how could tax reform impact educators?
Late last month, congressional and Trump administration Republicans released a general set of principles that are guiding the tax reform effort, including the push to ensure the plan reduces tax rates “as much as possible.” (Congress last passed comprehensive tax reform in 1986.) We highlighted five items of particular interest for those working in schools below.
1) The State and Local Taxes Deduction
Eliminating this deduction on federal taxes, which has the support of some conservatives, would be a big step for GOP lawmakers, and maybe one they will ultimately decide is too dramatic. But according to Jack Jennings, a long-time Democratic education staffer on Capitol Hill and the former head of the Center on Education Policy, “that by far is the biggest threat to funding for education.”
Why? Getting rid of the deduction would put very significant pressure on state and local governments to reduce the tax burden they place on individuals. That, in turn, would likely cut down on tax revenue available to public schools. That’s particularly true in many states in the Northeast, where per-pupil expenditures from state and local sources are relatively high, Jennings noted — and those states, he added, did not vote for President Donald Trump in 2016.
We looked up studies on how much this might impact education spending, and we found a relevant Journal on Education Finance study from 1986, the same year Congress last passed tax reform. The analysis showed, using two different models, that eliminating this deduction would cause a drop in state and local education spending on average by 8.6 and 9.1 percent, respectively. Applying those percentages to education expenditures from fiscal 2014, that would amount to cuts of $48.9 billion and $51.8 billion from state and local budget for education, respectively. That’s a rough calculation, of course, and doesn’t examine how other changes to the tax code could impact state and local tax revenues. And things have changed quite a bit in the last 31 years, too.
2) The Classroom-Expenses Deduction
In 2015, Congress made “permanent” a provision that allows teachers to claim up to a $250 deduction on their taxes for money they spend out of their own pocket for classrooms supplies. Of course, what’s permanent today might be gone tomorrow, and it’s something education advocates are watching.
“When we do tax reform, everything is on the table. It does not matter whether the [benefits] were made permanent or not,” said Mary Kusler, the senior director of the National Education Association’s Center for Advocacy.
One potentially bad sign for that $250 deduction: the move by Trump and House Republicans to strip $2 billion in funding for professional development and class-size reduction measures. That’s a move that puts teacher-related jobs and expenses in jeopardy. That budgetary move by the GOP signals that they may not be particularly interested in preserving this carve-out for teachers in the federal tax code. Getting rid of this deduction, although it would be a very small piece of tax reform overall, would also help accomplish the Republicans’ stated goal of streamlining the tax code.
Here’s one way to put this issue in perspective: A survey for the 2012-13 school year found that teachers spent $1.6 billion of their own money on classroom supplies and materials. A separate survey conducted during the 2015-16 school year found that each teacher spent $600 on average of his or her own money on those supplies and materials every year.
3) Tuition Tax Credits
Yes, this is a vehicle GOP lawmakers and the Trump team could use to expand school choice. It’s been talked up a lot by some advocates, but perhaps significantly, not by Trump officials or members of Congress.
Creating a tax credit for those who support scholarships to private schools would run counter to that “streamlining the tax code” goal we mentioned above. But Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and other friends of educational choice will be looking for some kind of victory, especially if lawmakers continue to give a cold shoulder to the Trump-DeVos budget plans to expand choice. This might be the way they get it.
4) Qualified Zone Academy Bonds
Simply put, these bonds use tax incentives to help pay for school construction and repairs. They can be used for public schools in certain circumstances.
As a candidate, Trump made infrastructure improvement nationwide a notable portion of his policy platform, and at least once he highlighted school construction as a need (using an expletive for emphasis). But his administration hasn’t put forward a comprehensive plan for infrastructure spending. Democrats have one, and it includes additional spending on school construction, but it’s up to Trump and GOP lawmakers to make it happen in Congress.
5) Mortgage Interest Rate Deduction
Like eliminating the state and local tax deduction, eliminating the deduction homeowners can claim for interest on their mortgage payments would be a very controversial shift in tax policy. This deduction isn’t immune from criticism, but if it’s eliminated, it would impact home sales and home valuations. That, in turn, impacts tax revenues available for schools.
“It’s certainly been within the discussions of tax reform,” Kusler said.
This story was produced by Education Week, a nonprofit, independent news organization with comprehensive pre-K-12 news and analysis. Read the original post here.
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HELENA, Mont. — A judge has ordered Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte to be photographed and fingerprinted for assaulting a reporter in May, opening the door for the congressman’s mug shot to be plastered in opponents’ campaign ads in next year’s election.
Justice Court Judge Rick West on Monday ordered the Montana Republican to report to the Gallatin County Detention Center to be booked for the assault charge by Sept. 15.
Gianforte had argued that he should not have to be photographed and fingerprinted because he was never formally arrested for attacking Ben Jacobs when the Guardian reporter tried to ask him a question about health care on May 24.
Jacobs said then that Gianforte “body slammed” him and broke his glasses.
Prosecutors filed the misdemeanor assault charge later that day.
The day after the assault, Gianforte defeated Democrat Rob Quist in the special election to replace Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke as Montana’s only congressman.
Gianforte pleaded guilty in June.
However, Gianforte contested the judge’s original order then that he be booked, fingerprinted and photographed. His attorneys said a justice court judge does not have authority to order a defendant to be photographed or fingerprinted, and that Gianforte is exempt because he was charged with a misdemeanor, not a felony.
West said in his order, signed Friday, that “the Court has authority to order fingerprinting and photographing. If Gianforte doesn’t comply by Sept. 15, he will be in contempt of court, West wrote.
Gianforte spokesman Travis Hall and the congressman’s attorneys did not immediately return calls for comment.
Gianforte was fined $385 and ordered to perform 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management counseling. He also apologized to Jacobs and gave $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
He plans to work off his community service sentence with a Bozeman organization that builds custom wheelchairs for children.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, a look at a sexual revolution in ways you might not expect. Jeffrey Brown has this latest addition to the NewsHour bookshelf.
JEFFREY BROWN: Suburbia, sex, satire and a touch of the supernatural, subjects Tom Perrotta has taken on in novels, and the films and TV shows adapted from them. Among them, the 1998 book “Election” made into a film starring Reese Witherspoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REESE WITHERSPOON, Actress: Who put you up to this?
MALE: What do you mean?
REESE WITHERSPOON: You woke up this morning and suddenly decided to run for president?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFREY BROWN: In 2004 in 2004, came the novel and then film “Little Children” with Kate Winslet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATE WINSLET, Actress: It’s him.
MALE: Oh, Jesus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFREY BROWN: And most recently, “The Leftovers,” an apocalyptic tale that became an acclaimed HBO drama.
Now, Tom Perrotta is out with his seventh novel titled, “Mrs. Fletcher,” about a woman coping with her empty nest, her son who’s gone off to college and the sexual boundaries both explore.
Tom Perrotta, nice to talk to you.
TOM PERROTTA, Author, “Mrs. Fletcher”: Oh, great to talk to you.
JEFFREY BROWN: So, for you, the writer, were looking at sort of sexual norms today.
TOM PERROTTA: Yes, absolutely. So, in a way this is a book about college and identity. Eve sends her son Brendan off to college and she’s alone in the empty nest and she’s looking for a way to jumpstart her life. She’s lonely, and through a strange series of circumstances, starts looking at this porn that confuses her, but it also features middle aged women like herself and it makes her see herself as possibly an object of desire, and in doing so, it kind of changes her view on the world. Ordinary situations that seemed completely innocuous before are suddenly charged with some erotic possibility and sometimes she acts on that.
JEFFREY BROWN: Get to look at the limits of acceptable behavior today.
TOM PERROTTA: Yes, and I’m always interested in this idea of transgression and the fact that the lines keep changing, you know? So, in “Little Children,” the adulterous couple, that’s not the scandal, you know. But the pedophile is the scandal. Whereas in the 19th century in novels like “Anna Karenina” or “Madame Bovary,” the adulterous couple was the scandal.
So, we keep redefining where that line is and for Eve, worrying about her son’s porn consumption and she just feels like, oh, that’s — it’s terrible what these kids are exposed to and it’s had harmful effects on him. And then she starts looking, out of curiosity and it gets under her skin in a strange way.
And so, she’s in that place where a lot of my characters are where she’s doing something she herself disapproves of but she can’t stop.
JEFFREY BROWN: It’s Jane Austen, right? I mean, this is the stuff of, how do we treat each other, what’s allowed and what’s not?
TOM PERROTTA: Right, I’ve seen, you know, my parents generation have one view of sex, my — and one experience of sex, my generation had another, and now, my kids are coming of an age in a time when all sorts of sexual identities are suddenly available but also this huge amount of pornography on the Internet, so that, you know, any kid who wants to be exposed to the entire encyclopedic spectrum of sexuality can get it.
And I just don’t think that we know exactly how it’s affecting people. I think part of the fun of this book was to show a middle aged person experiencing this late in life this kind of sexual re- education.
JEFFREY BROWN: You know, I want to say, I mean, for the audience too. I mean, we’re talking about a book that is sort of about pornography and sex, but there’s not a lot of — this isn’t a book with a lot of pornography or even a lot of sex for that matter. You’re writing a book about sex without a lot of sex.
TOM PERROTTA: Yes, I hope that doesn’t disappoint anyone.
TOM PERROTTA: Right, I think that it’s really about how we think about sex, how sex factors into our identity and how that identity can change at different points in life. For instance, Eve takes a night school class on gender and society and she has a transgender professor and the book kind of tracks this moment that we just lived through where, you know, the culture has started to re- define gender as a spectrum, to see that trans people are, you know, human beings and part of the community, but it’s also been challenging to a lot of people who are used to thinking about sex in, you know, very binary terms. And so, think about gender in very binary terms.
JEFFREY BROWN: You know, it looks like you’re a writer who is in some way tracking his own life. I mean, I wonder if this is fair. I mean, I think of early novels as a young guy and then, you know, married, living in the suburbs with kids, and then up to today as an empty nester, it sounds like yourself, right? Is that fair?
TOM PERROTTA: Yes, that is absolutely fair. It’s —
JEFFREY BROWN: You’re your own material.
TOM PERROTTA: I am. And so, I don’t often write about myself or people I know, but I do write about the life passage that I’m going through and it helps in a way because I think I’m very close to it while I’m writing. So, it’s not seen through that mist of nostalgia, you know, and so, I really felt like, you know, what I was reading in the newspaper was feeding directly into this novel.
JEFFREY BROWN: Is your television experience impacting you fiction writing in terms of storytelling, or how you even approaching a novel?
TOM PERROTTA: I don’t think so. You know, I feel like if you look at “Mrs. Fletcher” and you look at some of my earlier work, I think you’d say that’s the same writer doing that.
On the other hand, what has happened is I’ve become much more aware of what’s special about novel writing, what are the kinds of things I can do. I can go into a character’s head. I can follow their inner monologue in a way that’s very difficult to do in a drama. And so, I think that I try to avail myself of the tools of fiction when I’m writing fiction, I’m much more conscious of that.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right. The new novel is “Mrs. Fletcher.” Tom Perrotta, nice to talk to you. Thank you.
TOM PERROTTA: Great to talk to you.
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