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

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: A serious drought has swept southern Europe this summer. Some farmers in Italy and Spain are predicting the worst crop yields in 20 years. Agricultural damage and loss are expected to be in the billions.

    NewsHour special correspondent Christopher Livesay bring us this report from Italy.

    (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: For three generations, Daniel Granieri and his family have farmed olives in the tiny hilltop town of Nerola, producing extra-virgin olive oil from these fields outside Rome.

    This summer, things took a turn, and for the worst.

    DANIEL GRANIERI, Olive Farmer (through interpreter): I started to get very worried. From being worried, that turned into being absolutely certain about the drought. There’s never been anything like this, not in 20 years. This is the worst it’s ever been.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Granieri is also the regional president of the Italian Farmers Association, Coldiretti. He shows me some of the damage up close.

    DANIEL GRANIERI (through interpreter): Look here, there’s hardly anything compared to the olives that should be on this branch. Raising the price won’t offset the loss. But we’ll have to raise them at least 10 to 15 percent. We’ve lost up to 70 percent of our harvest in the region.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: The drought is so relentless that his town now rations water. For eight-hour blocks every day, they can’t turn on their taps. And they aren’t alone. So far, 20 nearby towns have had to follow suit. Roughly $200 million in crops have been lost in the Central Lazio region alone. And two billion dollars have gone up in smoke nationwide, due to drought and related brush fires, according to Coldiretti.

    Conditions have gotten so dire that even Rome, the city of aqueducts, has warned it too may have to ration water for a million and a half Rome residents, and the tourists who flock there.

    There are almost 3,000 of these drinking fountains like this all over Rome, and there’s a trick to getting a good drink.

    But that could soon be a thing of the past. The city is currently turning off 30 fountains a day because of the drought.

    Romans call them nasoni, or “big noses” for their curved spigots. The water utility says it’s the first time in history they’ve had to turn them off, a radical move in a city where water plays such a central role, from the Trevi fountain, to the Tiber River.

    TOM RANKIN, La Sapienza University: Rome was founded where it is because of this water, because of the Tiber Tiber.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Tom Rankin is a professor of urbanism at Rome’s La Sapienza University.

    TOM RANKIN: The Romans were smart. They started removing the groundwater where it was undesired, using for their water source, wells.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: So, the ancient Romans were master engineers of water.

    TOM RANKIN: They really were. They really were. And when you think about it, the sewer system, they were certainly in place in the 4th century B.C., and it’s still functioning today. It’s probably the most cost- effective public works project ever built.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: But modern city planning has fallen short. The drought is one thing, he says. But long-term mismanagement is also to blame.

    Officials from both the city and the water utility declined requests for an interview.

    TOM RANKIN: Rome, of all the European capitals, is the only city that has a fully sustainable water supply, meaning that the water table is recharged faster than the city can use the water. The real problem, though, is not that there wouldn’t be enough water to provide for the population, it’s the waste of water.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: The waste of water?

    TOM RANKIN: The waste of water. The water system is damaged. And therefore, at least 25 percent of it, some say up to half of it, leaks out before getting to its destination.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Leaks like this one, that’s caused foliage to overgrow a path along the river.

    TOM RANKIN: Because you see, this water isn’t actually stagnant, it’s flowing. It’s flowing from the city’s water system.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: And this one, which has formed stalactites.

    The water utility says it’s working to repair city pipes in order to avoid rationing water. But the lingering threat frightens Roman shaved-ice vendor, Maria di Pascale.

    MARIA DI PASCALE, Shaved Ice Vendor (through interpereter): It would be a tragedy because without water, you can’t survive, you can’t work. It’s essential for humans to survive. But especially us, because we need it for our business.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: The threat is especially acute for some of Rome’s most vulnerable. The Red Cross says turning off public fountains poses a serious risk to the city’s thousands of homeless, which include a growing number of migrants.

    Volunteer Marzia di Mento distributes food and water to migrants and refugees outside Rome’s Tiburtina Train Station.

    MARZIA DI MENTO, Boabab Experience (through interpreter): We need those fountains. We use those that are closest to the camp. We use this pipe for the people to bathe in.

    We’re afraid it could be turned off at any moment. It’s their only water source. It would be a huge loss.

    Many of the migrants have skin diseases from the trip over here by boat. They need water to clean those wounds. Water is fundamental.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: For the moment, Rome says it’s averted water rationing by tapping Lake Bracciano, about 30 miles outside the city. But that’s caused still more problems, as water levels plummet to alarming lows, threatening local plants and wildlife.

    Back in the Rome countryside, farmer Daniel Granieri survey’s his olives. This year, he’ll have to pick them early in order to save what isn’t already lost.

    DANIEL GRANIERI (through interpreter): Drought has absolutely become a recurring event. A farm like mine now has to decide either to change business, or make some serious changes in infrastructure. If this happens again next year, farms will go out of business.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: For urbanism professor Tom Rankin, Rome’s drought is a wake-up call, not just for the Eternal City, but for cities around the world coping with a changing climate.

    TOM RANKIN: If Rome, which is by definition a great water city, if it can no longer manage its abundant resource, then how can we expect places which have a very limited supply of water to survive? On the other hand, if Rome were able to demonstrate its ability to engineer a solution, providing fresh, clean water for free to a growing population, then it would set a model for the rest of the world.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Is that what we’re seeing, Rome rising to the occasion?

    TOM RANKIN: Not yet.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Christopher Livesay, in Rome.

    The post Starved by drought, Rome’s water supply may not spring eternal appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to the ripple effects inside the White House, after President Trump’s reaction to Charlottesville and the departure of White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.

    Here to break it all down, our politics Monday regulars, Amy Walter of the “Cook Political Report” and Tamara Keith of NPR.

    And welcome to both of you, politics Monday.

    The country got through last week, Amy, but I think it’s fair to ask the question how many damage was done to the president.

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I was away last week enjoying some family vacation time, but there was no avoiding what was going on.

    AMY WALTER: That’s right. It’s never a good time, Judy, when you’re the president of the United States and your own party is finding lots of different ways to distance themselves from you. Report after report was that elected leaders weren’t even going to go on television to defend because they were worried they would have to defend the president.

    The short answer, though, is we don’t really know what total effect that the results of Charlottesville and the president’s reaction have had. We’re starting to get some polling data, but it’s really not definitive yet. The only thing we have is history to guide us.

    And we’ve sat at this table plenty of times during 2016, Judy, where we watched the “Access Hollywood” tape, the attack on John McCain not being a war hero, the president attacking a gold-star family who was Muslim, where we said, well, maybe this is it, maybe the Republican base will now divide over this candidate, this nominee. Obviously, they never did.

    So, it’s a little bit soon to tell, but it’s pretty clear even in talking to the voters, listening to the voices of voters and a lot of the reports over the weekend, they’re not abandoning this president. The question, of course, is what happens when a president is constantly being — his own party in Congress has constantly distanced themselves and watched out for themselves. How much effect can you have as president when you’re only talking to a narrow slice of the electorate over and over again?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is that what’s happening, Tam?

    TAMARA KEITH, NPR: Yes. Now, an interesting thing is there are some rank and file Republicans like Bob Corker from Tennessee or Susan Collins from Maine, who are saying things that are clearly distancing themselves from the president and saying it in a way that says the president’s name. But when you get someone like Paul Ryan, the speaker of the house, or Mitch McConnell, the majority leader in the Senate. And Ryan put out a statement, you know, arguably, a very strong statement condemning neo-Nazis, saying there are — there are no sides when it comes to racism and neo-Nazis and white supremacists, never mentions the president’s name.

    But there certainly is a sense there are many Republicans in Congress, obviously, you have these business leaders who jumped ship from the advisory council to the president and all this indicates that there are a lot of people who aren’t as afraid of this president as they were earlier in his presidency.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, would do it — Amy, what does that mean? I know we’re all, you know, sort of groping

    (CROSSTALK)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: — trying to understand what has changed. Has anything changed? Are we just right back where we were eight, 10 days ago?

    AMY WALTER: It feels like every day is about like a dog year. It’s like every day, seven years. So, you have to sort of live within that, knowing that by tomorrow, we could be talking about something else, and so, it’s unclear if there is real systemic damage.

    But the president has a pretty important task ahead of him as we come back into the fall and that’s will he be able to get his legislative agenda back on track, and that’s where we can have an answer to this question about how much damage did this really do. As I said, if you’re a president who’s sitting at anywhere between 35 and 40 percent approval, it’s hard to get a whole lot done.

    It’s hard to first of all pressure members of Congress with an approval rating that low and for members who are Republicans, the base may still be with Trump, but they know that independents and other swing voters in their districts may not be. They can’t guarantee that he can come and help them in the fall of an election year with approval ratings this slow. So, it really does limit his ability to be a strong legislator and chief as well as an executive.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And when it comes to appealing to the base, the person who I think most represented the base in the White House, Steve Bannon, is now out as of three days ago, Tam. How much difference is that going to make do we think in what’s going on?

    TAMARA KEITH: I think we just don’t know. You know, how many times have we said on this very set, how much difference is this going to make?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

    TAMARA KEITH: This person leaving, this person coming in, this new chief of staff? And I think the answer is we don’t know.

    What we can say is that Steve Bannon is still going to have a voice in this country and on the right, and he also is still going to have a telephone. And President Trump may be unhappy with him now but as we have seen, people who have been fired from the Trump orbit, they come back like celestial beings, they come back around and come back in. Like a Corey Lewandowski who was fired as campaign manager, who then I saw walking out of the White House the other day.

    So, people go way. They come back. And Steve Bannon is going to continue to have an influence in this White House and with this president, simply, if only because President Trump reads “Breitbart News.”

    AMY WALTER: Yes. And the shakeup in the White House is reflective of the broader debate within the party right now, between these two different wings of the party, the more establishment versus the anti-establishment, the Tea Party versus the original. That is a debate that’s ranging within the Republican Party. It makes sense that it’s also happening within the White House and that debate isn’t going away at anytime.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, because as you look at Steve Bannon who represented all the nationalist instincts and populist instincts, the fact that’s not going to be in the president’s ear, it’s not that he’s not going to hear it. But it’s not going to be as regular.

    TAMARA KEITH: It’s also still going to be in the president’s head. President Trump believes — President Trump has those nationalist instincts. I mean, he has been talking about some of these nationalist ideas for years and years and years, well before Steve Bannon entered his orbit.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, that’s — and that’s still going to be there. So, as we look to see, OK, different chiefs, chief of staff, the chief strategist has gone, the communications shop has changed, but the president is still the president.

    AMY WALTER: The president is still the president. And as I said, you know, the people who have left the White House, you had one establishment wing with Reince Priebus, the former RNC chairman, Sean Spicer came from the RNC, and one from the outside. And that’s what his policy portfolio looks like so far thus far. You had some wins from the nationalist side, the Steve Bannon side, the travel ban, pulling out of Paris. But also, the more traditionalists have gotten their way as well.

    So, it has been this balancing act within the White House and, of course, within the party. But both those issues are tearing — the difference on those issues are tearing the party apart and the president’s temperament as well.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: More to come.

    Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, politics Monday — thank you both.

    TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.

    AMY WALTER: You’re welcome.

    The post Did Charlottesville controversy damage Trump’s agenda? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Navy’s top admiral has ordered a one-day, worldwide safety review after a destroyer collided with a civilian oil tanker ship east of Singapore. Ten U.S. sailors are missing and five are injured. Just two months ago, there was another deadly collision between a destroyer and a cargo ship near Japan.

    These are the latest in a series of incidents involving Navy ships in the Pacific. Is there a systemic problem?

    John Yang has more.

    JOHN YANG: Thanks, Judy.

    To examine that question, we’re joined by retired Navy Officer Bryan McGrath, who commanded a destroyer identical to the ones involved in the two latest collisions. He’s now a consultant to the Navy.

    Mr. McGrath, thanks for joining us.

    We’ve had four incidents in the Pacific with Navy ships. The last two collisions, the Fitzgerald off the coast of Japan, the McCain now off the coast of Singapore. A run of bad luck or is there something more elemental wrong here?

    CMDR. BRYAN MCGRATH (RET.) Hudson Institute: You can’t hang your hat on a run of bad luck. It’s unsatisfying and probably not the right answer. The right answer is to look hard at what ties these incidents together, all four of them, potentially, and learn from that. So, it’s — reaching conclusions is wrong right now. Forming hypotheses is right.

    JOHN YANG: But what could be the problem? If there is a systemic problem, what do you think the roots could be?

    CMDR. BRYAN MCGRATH: The roots go back to tend of the Cold War. The roots go back to America becoming the predominant sea power on the face of the earth and losing an opponent that focused its efforts and, over the course of time, the Navy became less important to the country and we progressively funded it less. We had less of a Navy, less of a size of the Navy, and we funded it inconsistently over the course of the last 12 or 13 years.

    JOHN YANG: So, how did the lack of funding translate into these kinds of accidents?

    CMDR. BRYAN MCGRATH: It translates by having too few ships to do what’s required in that theater, and because there are too few ships and the work has to be done, my theory is that they sometimes have to cut corners on the basic training, and I think CNO today who announced a panel to look into this, I think that’s one of the things they’ll look it, whether or not they’re getting the basic training time they need.

    JOHN YANG: CNO, chief of naval operations. So, in this sort of pause, this operational pause, what’s going to happen?

    CMDR. BRYAN MCGRATH: The first thing is if a ship is involved many a sensitive operational mission, it won’t pause. It will continue to do its operations. But by and large, throughout the fleet, both at sea and in a shore, ships will take a full day. They will get their bridge teams, their combat information center teams, their engineering teams together, their navigation detail.

    And they will go through the procedures. They will go through the common reports. They will go through the things that they have to do every time right the first time and create a sense of importance, create a sense that business as usual is not acceptable. We have to get back on the right side of safety here.

    JOHN YANG: You commanded a destroyer, Arleigh Burke (ph), for how long?

    CMDR. BRYAN MCGRATH: Two years ago.

    JOHN YANG: Did you have any close calls?

    CMDR. BRYAN MCGRATH: Anyone who’s gone to sea for an extended period of time has had close calls. How close they are comes — is a factor of how just well you and the other ship involved are following the rules of the road. If both ships follow the rules of the road, they’re not going to collide.

    JOHN YANG: Bryan McGrath, thanks for joining us to talk about this.

    CMDR. BRYAN MCGRATH: My pleasure.

    The post Do repeated Navy collisions suggest a systemic problem? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Since inauguration day, the Trump administration has been deliberating over what to do about the war in Afghanistan.

    Tonight, the president will address the nation and reveal changes to that policy. The U.S. has almost 10,500 troops there now. More than 2,400 Americans have died and more than 17,600 have been wounded since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan after 9/11. And tens of thousands of Afghan civilians and military personnel have been killed.

    For many Afghans, President Trump’s announcement can’t come soon enough.

    Special correspondent Nick Schifrin starts our coverage.

    (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

    NICK SCHIFRIN: In Afghanistan this weekend, an anxious country celebrated its independence day. Security was extremely tight. The government controls only half the country. Over the last couple years, violence has increased, stability has decreased. And the Afghan government says it still needs the United States.

    MIRWAIS YASINI, Member of Parliament, Afghanistan: Hopefully there is one day we will be a good partner without having any troops in Afghanistan. But for the time being, it is necessary.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Mirwais Yasini is the first deputy speaker of Afghanistan’s lower parliament. In 2009, he ran for Afghan president. He speaks for many here when he asks President Trump to increase U.S. troops.

    MIRWAIS YASINI: We would like to have a steady and continuous war against ISIS particularly, and Taliban. Ambiguity is costing us. And we are paying, and international security is paying the prices for the delay of the strategy which is coming out of the White House.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: For months, the Trump administration’s been debating its policy. Now-fired senior advisor Steve Bannon advocated withdrawal, or replacing troops with private contractors.

    President Trump’s expected to reject that plan and endorse a 4,000 to 5,000 troop increase advocated by military advisors with long histories in Afghanistan. National security advisor H.R. McMaster, who is a brigadier general, was tasked to fight Afghan corruption. Chief of Staff John Kelly, a former four-star whose son First Lieutenant Robert Kelly died in Afghanistan. And Defense Secretary James Mattis, who led troops on the ground during the Afghan invasion.

    They’ve teamed up with current commander, General John Nicholson, who just yesterday painted an apocalyptic picture if the U.S. abandoned Afghanistan.

    GEN. JOHN NICHOLSON, Commander, NATO Forces in Afghanistan: If we were to fail, it would unleash waves of migration in the millions around the world. If we were to fail, it would embolden jihadists globally.

    GEN. JOHN ALLEN (RET), Former Commander, NATO Forces in Afghanistan: Putting some more firepower back in can make a huge difference at the right time and at the right place to be successful.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: From 2011 to 2013, General John Allen was the U.S.’s top commander in Afghanistan. Last year, he campaigned against Donald Trump, for Hillary Clinton:

    GEN. JOHN ALLEN: Hillary Clinton will be exactly, exactly the kind of commander-in-chief America needs.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: But today, he’s backing President Trump if he increases troop numbers.

    GEN. JOHN ALLEN: Here’s an opportunity for President Trump to make decisions that can put us on the road to the success that he’s looking for.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Allen and the president’s military advisors say deploying more troops that are better integrated and have no departure date can turn the tide, and help push the Taliban to the negotiation table.

    GEN. JOHN ALLEN: You can get a lot more out of 5,000 if they’re properly positioned, to train and to advise, and if we resource this properly, and we resource it in the context of both time and the right kinds of individuals, we can be successful.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: As a civilian, Donald Trump disagreed. Between 2011 and 2013, he wrote at least 11 tweets criticizing the Afghan government and urging President Obama to withdraw.

    We should leave Afghanistan immediately, he wrote in March 2013. No more wasted lives. If we have to go back in, we go in hard and quick. Rebuild the U.S. first.

    That skepticism is shared by retired lieutenant colonel and former National Security Council staffer, Doug Ollivant.

    DOUG OLLIVANT, Senior Fellow, New America: What is this magic powder, this secret sauce, this new idea that you’re going to do with this new 4,000 troops that you weren’t doing when we had almost 100,000 troops in country? And if it didn’t work with 100,000 troops, why do you think it’s going to work now?

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Ollivant used be a senior advisor in eastern Afghanistan, advocating for more troops. But today, he and other critics advocate leaving a small number of U.S. assets to ensure Afghan government stability, and facilitate counter-terrorism, and otherwise, to withdraw.

    DOUG OLLIVANT: Pulling the band aid off will hurt. But are the policy options going to be any different from 10 years from now? Or 15 years from now? The best tribute we might be able to give to someone who died in Afghanistan is not to have another generation of children die in Afghanistan.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Many Afghans acknowledge while the country has made great strides, major parts of the U.S. policy haven’t worked. But they don’t want the U.S. to abandon them. And they urge the president not only to increase U.S. troops, but somehow help fix the problems that have long plagued the Afghan government — a lack of resources, and endemic corruption.

    MIRWAIS YASINI: My advice is to support the people of Afghanistan economically, financially. The corruption — fighting against the corruption is not less important than fighting against the terrorism.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: It’s been 16 years since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. President Trump’s hoping his decision can prevent what he’s complained about: his successor inheriting America’s longest war.

    For the PBS NEWSHOUR, I’m Nick Schifrin.

    (END VIDEOTAPE)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan has been accompanied by rising ethnic tensions, warlord rivalries, as you just heard, corruption, and a government in the capital city that many say is barely functional.

    To walk us through what the U.S. faces: Andrew Wilder is vice president of Asia Programs at the United States Institute of Peace. And Ahmed Rashid is a long time journalist and the author of several books about Afghanistan and Central Asia.

    Gentlemen, we welcome you both to the program.

    Ahmed Rashid, I’m going to start with you. You wrote earlier this summary about the crisis the U.S. faces in Afghanistan. You talked about the strengthening Taliban, the dangerous role of Iran and Russia, the political crisis in Kabul. How bad is the situation there?

    AHMED RASHID, Journalist/Author: Well, I think there are multiple crises. Much of the talk in the U.S. has been about troop levels and how many troops President Trump should send. But there are other equally major problems.

    There are political crisis right now. The President Ashraf Ghani has lost a lot of legitimacy. There is enormous opposition against him from the parliament, from politicians, from warlords, and I don’t mean the Taliban.

    There’s a huge economic crisis and no guarantee that the Trump administration is going to come up with all the money that is going to be needed.

    And then there’s this regional interference by now three neighboring countries deeply involved in giving some kind of support to the Taliban — Pakistan, Iran, and Russia. And at the moment, it doesn’t seem that the U.S. has a team either in the National Security Council or in the State Department which could deal with such a multitude list of problems.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Andrew Wilder, what would you add to that? And do you — you talked to this administration. Are they aware of what they’re dealing with here?

    ANDREW WILDER, United States Institute of Peace: Yes, they are. You know, it’s very daunting the challenges in Afghanistan, and I think there is no quick fix. People are looking for a silver bullet and for many years and many administrations, we have been looking for quick fix solutions. So, I think there is an opportunity to re-think our strategy and I will be listening very closely to President Trump tonight to see, you know, what it’s going to be.

    But, you know, in the segment we just showed, yes, there is very rightly skepticism. So we decide on an additional 4,000 troops. What impact is that going to have when we’ve had 100,000 troops before and 4,000 troops would bring us to around 12,500, 13,000. They’re not — it’s not going to defeat the insurgency.

    But I think as Ahmed rightly pointed out, we’ve always focused on troop numbers and the military strategy and have not put nearly enough emphasis on what is the political strategy in Afghanistan. So, I actually hope that we hear there will be more troops sent and we’ll have a modest increase on the military side, but primarily to support a political strategy which will be focusing on what Ahmed said, getting the Afghanistan government to step up more, to tackle corruption and things that are undermining its legitimacy, which is fueling the insurgency. But also the regional strategy, getting Pakistan to do more, but also trying to focus on what is possible to get a politically negotiated end of the conflict with the Taliban.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Ahmed Rashid, what would the strategy be on the part of the United States that would address the regional threat, Iran, Russia, Pakistan, that would address this political crisis inside the capital with the current leadership?

    AHMED RASHID: I think what has been so sad is that for the last year or two, the U.S. has not had a regional strategy. Its has not really been able to put together an alliance of countries around Afghanistan which would talk peace and persuade the countries who are interfering to pull out of there and the Taliban to get to the peace table.

    What you need is a major diplomatic push. Now, given everything else that’s happening in the world, the Middle East, North Korea and others, I fear that President Trump is not going to put together a really high-powered team which is going to effectively deal with some of these neighboring countries and bring them together in some kind of alliance. And, of course, there are problems. I mean, the U.S. has very shaky relations with Iran, but Iran is a major player. The U.S. has very good relations with Pakistan, but it is also become a major player in backing the Taliban. So, this needs a great deal of diplomatic effort which at the moment is just not there.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Andrew Wilder, is it your sense again from talking to people in the administration that they are prepared to come up with some semblance of a strategy that you and Ahmed are describing?

    ANDREW WILDER: I think so. I mean, certainly, we thought we were close to having a strategy in April and then in July, and I think one of the things that delayed it was a sense in particular from the State Department that we didn’t have an adequate regional strategy. And I think Ahmed is right, the absence of that has truly destabilizing behavior. People don’t know what the U.S. policy is going to be, so Iran helped stepped into the void a bit more, Russians have stepped into the void in addition to what Pakistan has been doing.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But as you said a moment ago, Ahmed Rashid, a moment ago, the U.S. right now strained relations with Iran, strained relations with Russia. So, how does one see working around that to make a difference?

    AHMED RASHID: Well, I think there have been very good proposals by America’s scholars that really would get the Americans to look at Afghanistan separately, perhaps involve other players, neutral players like the United Nations, and support perhaps not an American-led but perhaps someone else-led coalition of countries with interested parties like Russia, Saudi Arabia and others and get them to sit around a table and work something out.

    The problem is that certainly it’s risky and it would be extremely difficult to do simply because the U.S. doesn’t have good relations with so many countries. But it’s the only thing that’s going to work. And if the U.S. can’t do it, get somebody else to do it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Andrew Wilder, we heard Ahmed Rashid say a moment ago that part of this should be looking at a way to bring this to an end, but is that even realistic at this stage?

    ANDREW WILDER: I think it’s difficult but I think it’s realistic and I think that’s what our objective should be. And I should point out, actually one area where I think the Taliban, Afghanistan’s neighbors and the U.S. agree is — or President Trump agrees, we don’t want our troops there forever. So, that seems to be something we should negotiate on.

    It was interesting when I used to travel to Afghanistan last year or the year before, the big concern in Afghanistan’s neighbors was that we were leaving precipitously, it was going to collapse, which would be very bad for the neighborhood. Now, I think the concern might be that, you know, they also don’t want us there forever. And so, my argument for I think the opportunity for the Trump administration is to make the case that, no, we also want to leave, but we don’t want to leave precipitously and have it collapse. We want to leave responsibly, and we can agree on that with Afghanistan’s neighbors and eventually with the Taliban as well.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: To both of you, very quickly at the end, Ahmed Rashid, what would you like to hear President Trump say tonight?

    AHMED RASHID: I would like to hear him give a very nuanced speech in which he does not just talk about the military deployment but also talk about the other issues: strengthening the Afghan government, getting them to do more reforms, dealing with corruption, helping the economic crisis in Afghanistan, all these refugees who are fleeing the country, getting them to stay put by having a sounder economic policy and raising money from other places, and most importantly, taking steps to get the Taliban to the table to talk peace.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Andrew Wilder, just quickly to you. What do you want to hear?

    ANDREW WILDER: I would like him to renew our commitment that we want a partnership with Afghanistan. We don’t want to abandon Afghanistan.  So, I think that would have a stabilizing thought that we are not about to jump ship and abandon them, and going to have positive political, economic and security benefits in the region.  But I also, I think, President Trump needs to explain to the American people why we’re in Afghanistan, why it’s important not to leave precipitously because I have no doubt in my mind it would then become one again a safe for transnational terrorist groups that would threaten the U.S.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: If the U.S. did pull out?

    ANDREW WILDER: Exactly, yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Andrew Wilder, Ahmed Rashid, gentlemen, thank you both.

    ANDREW WILDER: Thank you.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news here on Earth, Spanish police shot and killed the fugitive suspected of plowing a van through a crowd in Barcelona last week. They caught up with Younes Abouyaaqoub about 30 miles west of Barcelona. Police said the 22-year-old Moroccan was wearing a fake bomb belt when officers confronted him and opened fire.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    JOSEP LLUIS TRAPERO, Catalan Police Chief (through interpreter): The continuation of the investigation can be extended, but the 12 people that we have always referred to in the cell have been accounted for. Now, we can say the 12 people that were part of the group are all dead or detained.

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The death toll rose to 15 today, in the Barcelona attack, and one that occurred hours later. The count includes a man who was stabbed to death by the fugitive who was killed today.

    There’s been yet another car ramming attack in Europe, this time in Marseilles, France. Police say that a man drove a van into two bus stops about three miles apart today. One woman was killed. The driver was captured later. Officials say the suspect has psychological problems, and they’ve ruled out terrorism.

    The U.S. fired a new diplomatic broadside at Russia today. The American embassy in Moscow stopped issuing non-immigrant visas for eight days, and three U.S. consulates stopped indefinitely. The move could affect hundreds of thousands of would-be Russian tourists.

    In Moscow, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denounced it as a bid to stir discontent.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    SERGEY LAVROV, Foreign Minister, Russia (through interpreter): My first impression is that the American authors of this decision have embarked on another attempt to provoke the displeasure of Russian citizens with the actions of Russian authorities. This is a famous logic. It’s the inertia of the Obama administration in its purest form.

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The visa action is retaliation for Moscow’s order that the U.S. cut diplomatic staffing in Russia by hundreds of employees.

    The U.S. and South Korean militaries began annual war games today, amid heightened tensions with North Korea. Some 17,500 U.S. troops are taking part in the drills. They began with computer simulations of a North Korean invasion.

    Back in this country, at least eight people were killed and more than 50 others injured in Chicago over the weekend, in a new spate of shootings. The “Chicago Tribune” reports that the violence unfolded in a 13- hour period ending Sunday evening. The city has recorded more than 450 homicides this year.

    There is word the Secret Service’s budget is stretched to the brink, again. It’s partly because agents have to protect 42 people under the Trump administration, up from 31 under President Obama. The director says some one thousand agents have already hit salary caps for the entire year. He says it’s been a recurring problem in recent years.

    A Los Angeles jury has ordered Johnson and Johnson to pay $417 million to a woman who says that talc in baby power caused her ovarian cancer. The company says there’s no scientific basis for the claim, and it plans to appeal. Hundreds of similar lawsuits are pending nationwide.

    On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 29 points to close at 21703. The Nasdaq fell three points, and the S&P 500 added two.

    And, finally, from London, the famed clock tower Big Ben chimed its last today, for the next four years.

    Big Ben had been in service since 1859, but now, it’s undergoing renovations that will keep it mostly silent until 2021.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: People gathered across the country for a historic event today, a total eclipse of the sun in a 70 mile- wide band, crossing from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts. With special eyeglasses or homemade boxes, tens of millions looked to the sky to witness a sight not seen in most people’s lifetimes.

    Our science correspondent, Miles O’Brien, was in Idaho to watch for us and in partnership with our colleagues from the PBS program, “Nova.” Miles gets us started and then, he and William Brangham discuss the day’s celestial and earthly events.

    (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

    MILES O’BRIEN: It is the first coast to coast American eclipse in a century. Millions had front row seat for a celestial minuet of moon and sun.

    JACK KRUMP, Tourist: We got to Charleston yesterday morning, came up because this was in our path and we could come and when you can, you should, so we came to see the eclipse because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal.

    STEPHEN ULMAN, Chicago Resident: I’d never seen an eclipse so I figured this was my chance since I was so close to Chicago.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Beneath a 70-mile wide path from Salem, Oregon, to Charleston, South Carolina, day turned to night for two minutes or more.

    It thrilled the public and the experts alike.

    Williams College astronomer Jay Pasachoff was among them. He has traveled the world for years chasing eclipses. This is his 66th. No one has seen more.

    Pasachoff is drawn by the beauty, and the scientific opportunity, when the moon appears to swallow the sun.

    JAY PASACHOFF, Astronomer: And then this white corona appears all around you. It’s dark and it’s just a wonderful experience to have. And there’s great science that you can do. Only on the days of eclipses do we see the corona appear, and so we want to take advantage of that as much as possible.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Understanding the sun’s corona is a priority for scientists. Among the mysteries: why is it hotter than the surface of the sun itself?

    But there are practical reasons as well. Sometimes, the corona breaks free of the sun’s magnetic field, causing a coronal mass ejection — billions of tons of hot plasma moving at 2,000 miles per second.

    Normally, the earth’s magnetic field deflects most of the highly charged particles. But every now and then, a large coronal mass ejection can overwhelm our defenses, disabling satellites and causing power outages.

    Bill Murtagh is among the scientists watching this space weather for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colorado. The biggest event they ever saw came in 2012.

    BILL MURTAGH, Scientist: And this is what we saw. All of a sudden that flare occurs, the eruption occurs and that blast was tremendous. Very big. Very, very fast.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Fortunately, it did not hit earth, as it would have caused widespread power outages.

    A total eclipse is one way scientists try to better understand coronal mass ejections.

    BILL MURTAGH: We would love to improve our capability to predict. If we can better model what the magnetic field might look like within an eruption, then we would be in a great place.

    MILES O’BRIEN: NASA and the European Space Agency have sent several craft to study the sun over the years. The next big mission, the Parker Solar Probe, is slated for launch next August. It will fly through the corona itself gathering data. But no spacecraft can match the teaching opportunity provided by a total solar eclipse, which occurs when the earth, moon and sun are perfectly aligned, so the moon blocks the sun’s light.

    The moon is 400 times smaller than sun. But also 400 times closer to the earth. So, from our vantage point, they seem to be the same size.

    But total solar eclipses happen rarely because the moon’s orbit is tilted five degrees. And it is elliptical, so sometimes it is too far away to completely obscure the sun, causing a so called annular eclipse, with its distinctive ring of fire.

    The last total solar eclipse visible in the Continental United States happened in the northwestern corner of the country in 1979.

    (END VIDEOTAPE)

    MILES O’BRIEN: Of course, Jimmy Carter was president back then. That eclipse was in the northwestern U.S., ideally suited for Washington state. This time around, Washington, D.C. wasn’t a bad place to watch. President Trump did so, briefly forgetting to put on protective glasses before he finally did the right thing — William.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, Miles, you were there in the actual shadow cast by the moon on the face of the United States. Tell us what — for those of us who were here outside of that shadow, what was it like?

    MILES O’BRIEN: You know, William, I’ve never seen the total eclipse of the sun before. This is my first experience with this. And, of course, we’ve all seen the pictures in the films.

    The experience of being in it is surreal. It’s the combination of all the senses that are involved, the temperature dropping, the light becoming this ethereal kind of blue and then, suddenly, darkness at noon for a brief period of time. I stopped looking through the welder’s glass and looked at the sun or what was the sun, this disk with this amazing aura around it, and I was truly gobsmacked, I was at a loss for words.

    It — you know, we think we’re all so advanced and evolved, but I think it appears to us in a very fundamental, kind of limbic brain place. It’s sort of an instinctual response that you have, it’s difficult to put into words, but it was spectacular.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And I understand you were with a rather unique brand of scientists and enthusiasts out in Idaho. Would you tell us who you spent the day with?

    MILES O’BRIEN: It was like the United Nations of astronomy here. People from five nations here. Many of them operators of planetariums, some of them amateur astronomers, a few professional astrophysicists, some of them doing some actual science here.

    What I like about this and what I like about covering science in general is it does afford opportunities like this that really do bring us together. And we live in a time when things that bring us together seem to be in short supply. So, it was really nice to see us in this particular place come together and really in many respects the country kind of savor this moment together.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You reported several times about how crucial this day was for science. And I’m just wondering, why is it that we have to wait for an eclipse to do these sorts of measurements? Can’t we put a filter on the telescopes or the devices that we used to measure the sun? Why do we have to wait for the moon to actually block it?

    MILES O’BRIEN: You know, it’s interesting. You can think about it. You can just cover the sun with your thumb, right, and maybe you get the same thing. It doesn’t work that way.

    It’s important to have something in space that does the blocking because the atmosphere gets in the way of the science. If you have something — coincidently, the moon being 400 times smaller than the sun and yet 400 times closer makes it a perfect disk to occult the sun, creating that clean view of the corona which you really can’t get unless you’re in space.

    And so, this is an opportunity for science. There are probes that have gone to the sun and will go to the sun that will get all kinds of other types of science, but this does give scientists a great opportunity to further understand the corona and its behavior.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, the last one of these was in the late 1970s. Today was obviously a historic event for the U.S. When’s the next one? When’s the next chance we might have to get a gander at something like this?

    MILES O’BRIEN: April of 2024, only seven years away. By quirk, this is happening. It’s roughly, as we said, about every 18 months, that eclipse happens somewhere. Any given place on the planet, the odds are one in 365 years that you’ll see a total eclipse.

    Put that all into the Rubik’s cube and you get another American eclipse from Texas all the way up into Pennsylvania, New York and into Maine in seven years’ time. And, I having done this one and seen it in person, I can tell you, William, if I’m around, I will be there seven years from now to see it in person.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right. Fantastic. We are always grateful for our Miles O’Brien, especially on days like today. Thank you so much.

    MILES O’BRIEN: You’re welcome, William.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Just a marvelous today.

    And remember to stay with PBS tonight for “Nnova’s” special, “Eclipse Across America.”

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening and welcome to this special NewsHour.

    In just a moment, President Trump will address the nation, laying out what is said to be a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan. For all those solar eclipse fans, Nova’s “Eclipse over America” will begin immediately after our live coverage of the president’s speech for our East Coast and Central Time Zone viewers, and later this evening for everyone else.

    The United States longest war is now consumed nearly 16 years, becoming the burden of three different presidents.

    Last Friday, President Trump held a meeting with his national security team at Camp David where a new strategy was reportedly discussed and agreed on.

    Tonight, the president has traveled to Fort Myer, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from the White House, where military personnel, other invited guests will join him as he makes his presentation.

    Correspondent Nick Schifrin has been covering this war extensively and he joins me now.

    So, Nick, quickly, they’re saying this is also a strategy about South Asia.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Yes, absolutely. The only solution of Afghanistan is a regional one, and that means not only will the president announce some troop increases inside Afghanistan but talk about a political solution to the problem. That means engaging Pakistan and also inside of Afghanistan, trying to tackle corruption, go after the Afghan economy, trying to prop that up. Perhaps even talk about a politically negotiated end with the Taliban.

    But the headline, of course, Judy will be more troops to Afghanistan.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, Nick Schifrin.

    And now, let’s turn to President Trump at Fort Myer, Virginia.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Tillerson, members of the cabinet, General Dunford, Deputy Secretary Shanahan, and Colonel Duggan, most especially, thank you to the men and women of Fort Myer and every member of the United States military, at home and abroad.

    We send our thoughts and prayers to the families of our brave sailors who were injured and lost after a tragic collision at sea, as well as to those conducting the search-and-recovery efforts.

    I am here tonight to lay out our path forward in Afghanistan and South Asia.

    But before I provide the details of our new strategy, I want to say a few words to the servicemembers here with us tonight, to those watching from their posts, and to all Americans listening at home.

    Since the founding of our republic, our country has produced a special class of heroes whose selflessness, courage, and resolve is unmatched in human history. American patriots from every generation have given their last breath on the battlefield for our nation and for our freedom.

    Through their lives, and though their lives were cut short, in their deeds they achieved total immortality. By following the heroic example of those who fought to preserve our republic, we can find the inspiration our country needs to unify, to heal, and to remain one nation, under God.

    The men and women of our military operate as one team, with one shared mission and one shared sense of purpose. They transcend every line of race, ethnicity, creed, and color to serve together and sacrifice together in absolutely perfect cohesion. That is because all servicemembers are brothers and sisters. They’re all part of the same family. It’s called the American family. They take the same oath, fight for the same flag, and live according to the same law. They’re bound together by common purpose, mutual trust, and selfless devotion to our nation and to each other.

    The soldier understands what we as a nation too often forget, that a wound inflicted upon a single member of our community is a wound inflicted upon us all. When one part of America hurts, we all hurt. And when one citizen suffers an injustice, we all suffer together. Loyalty to our nation demands loyalty to one another. Love for America requires love for all of its people.

    When we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry, and no tolerance for hate. The young men and women we send to fight our wars abroad deserve to return to a country that is not at war with itself at home. We cannot remain a force for peace in the world if we are not at peace with each other.

    As we send our bravest to defeat our enemies overseas — and we will always win — let us find the courage to heal our divisions within. Let us make a simple promise to the men and women we ask to fight in our name, that when they return home from battle, they will find a country that has renewed the sacred bonds of love and loyalty that unite us together as one.

    Thanks to the vigilance and skill of the American military, and of our many allies throughout the world, horrors on the scale of September 11th — and nobody can ever forget that — have not been repeated on our shores.

    And we must acknowledge the reality I’m here to talk about tonight, that nearly 16 years after September 11th attacks, after the extraordinary sacrifice of blood and treasure, the American people are weary of war without victory. Nowhere is this more evident than with the war in Afghanistan, the longest war in American history, 17 years.

    I share the American people’s frustration. I also share their frustration over a foreign policy that has spent too much time, energy, money — and most importantly, lives — trying to rebuild countries in our own image instead of pursuing our security interests above all other considerations.

    That is why shortly after my inauguration, I directed Secretary of Defense Mattis and my national security team to undertake a comprehensive review of all strategic options in Afghanistan and South Asia. My original instinct was to pull out. And historically, I like following my instincts.

    But all my life I’ve heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office, in other words, when you’re president of the United States. So I studied Afghanistan in great detail and from every conceivable angle. After many meetings, over many months, we held our final meeting last Friday at Camp David with my cabinet and generals to complete our strategy.

    I arrived at three fundamental conclusion about America’s core interests in Afghanistan. First, our nation must seek an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made, especially the sacrifices of lives. The men and women who serve our nation in combat deserve a plan for victory. They deserve the tools they need and the trust they have earned to fight and to win.

    Second, the consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable. 9/11, the worst terrorist attack in our history, was planned and directed from Afghanistan because that country was ruled by a government that gave comfort and shelter to terrorists.

    A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum for terrorists, including ISIS and Al Qaida, would instantly fill just as happened before September 11th. And as we know, in 2011, America hastily and mistakenly withdrew from Iraq. As a result, our hard-won gains slipped back into the hands of terrorist enemies. Our soldiers watched as cities they had fought for and bled to liberate, and won, were occupied by a terrorist group called ISIS. The vacuum we created by leaving too soon gave safe haven for ISIS to spread, to grow, recruit, and launch attacks. We cannot repeat in Afghanistan the mistake our leaders made in Iraq.

    Third, and finally, I concluded that the security threats we face in Afghanistan and the broader region are immense. Today, 20 U.S.- designated foreign terrorist organizations are active in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the highest concentration in any region anywhere in the world.

    For its part, Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror. The threat is worse because Pakistan and India are two nuclear-armed states whose tense relations threaten to spiral into conflict. And that could happen.

    No one denies that we have inherited a challenging and troubling situation in Afghanistan and South Asia. But we do not have the luxury of going back in time and making different or better decisions. When I became president, I was given a bad and very complex hand. But I fully knew what I was getting into, big and intricate problems.

    But one way or another, these problems will be solved. I’m a problem-solver. And in the end, we will win.

    We must address the reality of the world as it exists right now, and the threats we face and the confronting of all of the problems of today, and extremely predictable consequences of a hasty withdrawal. We need look no further than last week’s vile, vicious attack in Barcelona to understand that terror groups will stop at nothing to commit the mass murder of innocent men, women, and children. You saw it for yourself. Horrible.

    As I outlined in my speech in Saudi Arabia three months ago, America and our partners are committed to stripping terrorists of their territory, cutting off their funding, and exposing the false allure of their evil ideology. Terrorists who slaughter innocent people will find no glory in this life or the next. They are nothing but thugs and criminals and predators and — that’s right — losers.

    Working alongside our allies, we will break their will, dry up their recruitment, keep them from crossing our borders, and, yes, we will defeat them, and we will defeat them handily.

    In Afghanistan and Pakistan, America’s interests are clear. We must stop the resurgence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten America. And we must prevent nuclear weapons and materials from coming into the hands of terrorists and being used against us, or anywhere in the world, for that matter.

    But to prosecute this war, we will learn from history. As a result of our comprehensive review, American strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia will change dramatically in the following ways.

    A core pillar of our new strategy is a shift from a time- based approach to one based on conditions. I’ve said it many times how counterproductive it is for the United States to announce in advance the dates we intend to begin or end military options.

    We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities. Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy from now on. America’s enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out.

    I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will.

    Another fundamental pillar of our new strategy is the integration of all instruments of American power — diplomatic, economic, and military -toward a successful outcome. Someday, after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan. But nobody knows if or when that will ever happen.

    America will continue its support for the Afghan government and the Afghan military as they confront the Taliban in the field. Ultimately, it is up to the people of Afghanistan to take ownership of their future, to govern their society, and to achieve an everlasting peace. We are a partner and a friend, but we will not dictate to the Afghan people how to live or how to govern their own complex society. We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists.

    The next pillar of our new strategy is to change the approach in how to deal with Pakistan. We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond.

    Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists. In the past, Pakistan has been a valued partner. Our militaries have worked together against common enemies. The Pakistani people have suffered greatly from terrorism and extremism. We recognize those contributions and those sacrifices.

    But Pakistan has also sheltered the same organizations that try every single day to kill our people. We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting.

    But that will have to change. And that will change immediately. No partnership can survive a country’s harboring of militants and terrorists who target U.S. servicemembers and officials. It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order, and to peace.

    Another critical part of the South Asia strategy for America is to further develop its strategic partnership with India, the world’s largest democracy and a key security and economic partner of the United States. We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development. We are committed to pursuing our shared objectives for peace and security in South Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region.

    Finally, my administration will ensure that you, the brave defenders of the American people, will have the necessary tools and rules of engagement to make this strategy work, and work effectively, and work quickly.

    I have already lifted restrictions the previous administration placed on our warfighters that prevented the secretary of defense and our commanders in the field from fully and swiftly waging battle against the enemy.

    Micromanagement from Washington, D.C., does not win battles. They’re won in the field, drawing upon the judgment and expertise of wartime commanders, and front-line soldiers, acting in real-time with real authority, and with a clear mission to defeat the enemy.

    That’s why we will also expand authority for American armed forces to target the terrorists and criminal networks that sow violence and chaos throughout Afghanistan. These killers need to know they have nowhere to hide, that no place is beyond the reach of American might and American arms. Retribution will be fast and powerful, as we lift restrictions and expand authorities in the field. We’re already seeing dramatic results in the campaign to defeat ISIS, including the liberation of Mosul in Iraq.

    Since my inauguration, we have achieved record-breaking success in that regard. We will also maximize sanctions and other financial and law enforcement actions against these networks to eliminate their ability to export terror. When America commits its warriors to battle, we must ensure they have every weapon to apply swift, decisive, and overwhelming force.

    Our troops will fight to win. We will fight to win. From now on, victory will have a clear definition. Attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing Al Qaida, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge.

    We will ask our NATO allies and global partners to support our new strategy, with additional troop and funding increases in line with our own. We are confident they will.

    Since taking office, I have made clear that our allies and partners must contribute much more money to our collective defense. And they have done so.

    In this struggle, the heaviest burden will continue to be borne by the good people of Afghanistan and their courageous armed forces. As the prime minister of Afghanistan has promised, we are going to participate in economic development to help defray the cost of this war to us.

    Afghanistan is fighting to defend and secure their country against the same enemies who threaten us. The stronger the Afghan security forces become, the less we will have to do. Afghans will secure and build their own nation and define their own future. We want them to succeed.

    But we will no longer use American military might to construct democracies in faraway lands or try to rebuild other countries in our own image. Those days are now over. Instead, we will work with allies and partners to protect our shared interests.

    We are not asking others to change their way of life, but to pursue common goals that allow our children to live better and safer lives. This principled realism will guide our decisions moving forward. Military power alone will not bring peace to Afghanistan or stop the terrorist threat arising in that country. But strategically applied force aims to create the conditions for a political process to achieve a lasting peace.

    America will work with the Afghan government as long as we see determination and progress. However, our commitment is not unlimited, and our support is not a blank check. The government of Afghanistan must carry their share of the military, political, and economic burden.

    The American people expect to see real reforms, real progress, and real results. Our patience is not unlimited. We will keep our eyes open. In abiding by the oath I took on January 20th, I will remain steadfast in protecting American lives and American interests.

    In this effort, we will make common cause with any nation that chooses to stand and fight alongside us against this global threat. Terrorists take heed: America will never let up until you are dealt a lasting defeat.

    Under my administration, many billions of dollars more is being spent on our military, and this includes vast amounts being spent on our nuclear arsenal and missile defense. In every generation, we have faced down evil, and we have always prevailed. We prevailed because we know who we are and what we are fighting for.

    Not far from where we are gathered tonight, hundreds of thousands of America’s greatest patriots lay in eternal rest at Arlington National Cemetery. There’s more courage, sacrifice, and love in those hallowed grounds than at any other spot on the face of the Earth.

    Many of those who have fought and died in Afghanistan enlisted in the months after September 11, 2001. They volunteered for a simple reason: They loved America, and they were determined to protect her.

    Now we must secure the cause for which they gave their lives. We must unite to defend America from its enemies abroad. We must restore the bonds of loyalty among our citizens at home. And we must achieve an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the enormous price that so many have paid.

    Our actions, and in months to come, all of them will honor the sacrifice of every fallen hero, every family who lost a loved one, and every wounded warrior who shed their blood in defense of our great nation.

    With our resolve, we will ensure that your service and that your families will bring about the defeat of our enemies and the arrival of peace. We will push onward to victory with power in our hearts, courage in our souls, and everlasting pride in each and every one of you.

    Thank you. May God bless our military, and may God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much. Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And with that, President Trump has concluded what he called a new strategy for the United States and Afghanistan and South Asia. It amounts to keeping American troops there, adding more troops for an indefinite period. He would not say how long. The president said the U.S. is there to win.

    He said what’s new about this strategy is that the U.S. will combine military with diplomatic and an economic approach, and he also said the U.S. intends to work with other countries in the region, including Pakistan and India. We’ll have much more on this later this evening on the NewsHour.

    For viewers of most stations in the East and Central Time Zones, stay tuned for “Nova,” “Eclipse Over America.” That’s coming up next.

    For those on the West Coast, we’ll return in just a moment with the analysis of the president’s speech and the rest of this day’s news. I’m Judy Woodruff in Washington. Thank you for joining us.

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    WASHINGTON (AP) — Reversing his past calls for a speedy exit, President Donald Trump recommitted the United States to the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan Monday night, declaring U.S. troops must “fight to win.” He pointedly declined to disclose how many more troops will be dispatched to wage America’s longest war.

    In a prime-time address to unveil his new Afghanistan strategy, Trump said the U.S. would shift away from a “time-based” approach, instead linking its assistance to results and to cooperation from the beleaguered Afghan government, Pakistan and others. He insisted it would be a “regional” strategy that addressed the roles played by other South Asian nations — especially Pakistan’s harboring of elements of the Taliban.

    READ MORE: 7 takeaways from Trump’s new Afghanistan strategy

    “America will work with the Afghan government as long as we see determination and progress,” Trump said. “However, our commitment is not unlimited, and our support is not a blank check.”

    Still, Trump offered few details about how progress would be measured. Nor did he explain how his approach would differ substantively from what two presidents before him tried unsuccessfully over the past 16 years.

    Although Trump insisted he would “not talk about numbers of troops” or telegraph military moves in advance, he hinted that he’d embraced the Pentagon’s proposal to boost troop numbers by nearly 4,000, augmenting the roughly 8,400 Americans there now.

    Before becoming a candidate, Trump had ardently argued for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan, calling the war a massive waste of U.S. “blood and treasure” and declaring on Twitter, “Let’s get out!” Seven months into his presidency, he said Monday night that though his “original instinct was to pull out,” he’d since determined that approach could create a vacuum that terrorists including al-Qaida and the Islamic State would “instantly fill.”

    “America will work with the Afghan government as long as we see determination and progress,” Trump said. “However, our commitment is not unlimited, and our support is not a blank check.”

    “We will ask our NATO allies and global partners to support our new strategy, with additional troop and funding increases in line with our own. We are confident they will,” Trump said in comments echoed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

    Earlier this year, Trump announced he was entrusting Mattis and the military with the decision about how many troops would be needed. In talking points sent Monday to congressional Republicans and supportive groups, the White House affirmed that the troop numbers were up to Mattis and added that the administration wasn’t seeking more money from Congress for the strategy in the current fiscal year, which concludes at the end of next month.

    While Trump stressed his strategy was about more than just the military, he was vague on other “instruments of American power” he said would be deployed in full force to lead Afghanistan toward peace, such as economic development or new engagement with Pakistan and India. Absent military specifics, it was difficult to assess how his plan might dissolve the stalemate between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

    On one point — the definition of victory — Trump was unequivocal. He said American troops would “fight to win” by attacking enemies, “crushing” al-Qaida, preventing terror attacks against Americans and “obliterating” the Islamic State group, whose affiliate has gained a foothold in Afghanistan as the U.S. squeezes the extremists in Syria and Iraq.

    Trump’s definition of a win notably did not include defeating the Taliban, the group whose harboring of al-Qaida led the U.S. to war in Afghanistan in the days after the 9/11 attacks. Like President Barack Obama before him, Trump conceded that any solution that brings peace to Afghanistan may well involve the Taliban’s participation.

    “Someday, after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan,” Trump said. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a statement after the speech, said the U.S. was ready to support peace talks with the Taliban “without preconditions.”


    Judy Woodruff reviews the president’s remarks with John Yang, Nick Schifrin and Andrew Wilder of the United States Institute of Peace.

    Talk of future Taliban reconciliation was one of several echoes of Obama woven into Trump’s plan. Like Trump, Obama insisted near the start of his presidency that the “days of providing a blank check are over,” urged a regional approach and said U.S. assistance would be based on performance.

    Still, Trump was intent on differentiating his approach from his predecessors — at least in rhetoric. He emphasized there would be no timelines, no hamstringing of the military and no divorcing of Afghanistan from the region’s broader problems.

    One step being considered to further squeeze Pakistan is to cut foreign aid programs unless Islamabad clamps down on the Taliban and an associated group known as the Haqqani network, senior administration officials told reporters ahead of Trump’s speech. Using civilian and military aid as a pressure lever with the Pakistanis has been tried for years.

    Trump’s speech concluded a months-long internal debate within his administration over whether to pull back from the Afghanistan conflict, as he and a few advisers were inclined to do, or to embroil the U.S. further in a war that has eluded American solutions for the past 16 years. Several times, officials predicted he was nearing a decision to adopt his commanders’ recommendations, only to see the final judgment delayed.

    And while Trump has pledged to put “America First,” keeping U.S. interests above any others, his national security advisers have warned that the Afghan forces are still far too weak to succeed without help. Even now, Afghan’s government controls just half the country.

    In Kabul, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid dismissed Trump’s speech as “old” and his policy as “unclear.” But the plan was cheered by Afghanistan’s government. Ambassador Hamdullah Mohib, the Afghan envoy to Washington, called it a “10 out of 10.”

    “We heard exactly what we needed to,” Mohib said in a phone interview. “The focus on the numbers has taken away the real focus on what should have been: what conditions are required and what kind of support is necessary.”

    Among U.S. elected officials, the reception was equally mixed, reflecting the deep divisions among Americans about whether to lean into the conflict or pull back.

    Among U.S. elected officials, the reception was equally mixed, reflecting the deep divisions among Americans about whether to lean into the conflict or pull back.

    John McCain, the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman who’d criticized Trump for delays in presenting a plan, said the president was “now moving us well beyond the prior administration’s failed strategy of merely postponing defeat.” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said the speech was “low on details but raises serious questions.”

    “Tonight, the president said he knew what he was getting into and had a plan to go forward. Clearly, he did not,” said Pelosi, D-Calif.

    At its peak, the U.S. had roughly 100,000 in Afghanistan, under the Obama administration in 2010-2011. The residual forces have been focused on advising and training Afghan forces and on counterterror operations — missions that aren’t expected to dramatically change under Trump’s plan.

    “I share the America people’s frustration,” Trump said. But he insisted, “In the end, we will win.”

    Burns reported from Amman, Jordan. Associated Press writers Kathy Gannon in Islamabad and Jill Colvin and Ken Thomas in Washington contributed.

    The post WATCH: Trump says U.S. can’t afford ‘hasty’ withdrawal from Afghanistan appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Donald Trump announces his strategy for the war in Afghanistan during an address from Fort Myer, Virginia, U.S., August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RTS1CQU0

    U.S. President Donald Trump announces his strategy for the war in Afghanistan during an Aug. 21 address from Fort Myer, Virginia. Photo by REUTERS/Joshua Roberts.

    President Donald Trump announced what he called a “dramatic” shift in U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia on Monday night, one focused less on nation building and writing a “blank check” to the Afghan government and more on increased pressure on Pakistan and its neighbors to fight terror in the region, he said.

    (Watch the full speech here)

    The 16-year war has spanned three presidents. Here are seven takeaways from foreign policy experts about Trump’s remarks and how he could change the country’s efforts in the region.

    This is the “most hawkish view of Pakistan that we’ve seen in some time,” said Seth Jones, a political scientist at the RAND Corporation specializing in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. Trump’s language “really reflects how tired and angry a number of senior American intelligence, military and diplomatic officials are this far into the 16-year war in Afghanistan — and that the Taliban continues to have a safe haven in Pakistan soil,” Jones added.

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

    Trump’s language indicated a subtle difference between his approach to the Taliban and his approach to al-Qaeda and ISIS. Trump used the words “obliterating” and “defeating” when he spoke about al-Qaeda and ISIS, but not when referring to the Taliban, Jones said. This suggests Trump recognizes that “the Taliban will probably have to continue in some form possibly in rural areas as a militant group [or] maybe in a political forum.”

    This is the “most hawkish view of Pakistan that we’ve seen in some time.”

    Trump said we’re not in the business of nation building, but he shouldn’t discount it, either, said Andrew Wilder of the United States Institute of Peace. “Having a democracy there is an important, fundamental to exit strategy from Afghanistan,” Wilder told PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff. “Just killing bad guys — we’ve done a lot of that over 16 years,” Wilder said, but more important is ensuring the country’s 2019 presidential election is legitimate. Otherwise, we’ll see “a descent into anarchy with no legitimate government,” he said.

    Setting deadlines for troop withdrawal — as President Barack Obama had done — are counterproductive, Trump said, and “I think he’s right,” said James Dobbin, a former ambassador to the European Union and special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. “It’s counterproductive to set deadlines that aren’t condition-based, which gives the adversary a timetable that allowed them to wait it out.”


    Judy Woodruff reviews the president’s remarks with John Yang, Nick Schifrin and Andrew Wilder of the United States Institute of Peace.

    A serious settlement in the region will require other political groundwork, says Steve Biddle, a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University and an adjunct senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. Specifically: having Congress work out a deal involving concessions to the Taliban. “If we’re not willing to lay the political groundwork for a real deal, then this is just keeping the war on life support to no identifiable purpose,” Biddle added. “Modest U.S. reinforcement can help prevent outright defeat of the Afghan government but it cannot win the war.”

    “Modest U.S. reinforcement can help prevent outright defeat of the Afghan government but it cannot win the war.”

    Trump highlighted partners in the region, and a diplomatic push will be key to his success. The U.S. hasn’t had a regional strategy for the last two years, journalist Ahmed Rashid told NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff. “Now, given everything else that’s happening in the world, the Middle East, North Korea and others, I fear that President Trump is not going to put together a really high-powered team which is going to effectively deal with some of these neighboring countries and bring them together in some kind of alliance.”

    This was a speech more about strategy than tactical details. Jones noted Trump avoided touching on troop numbers and other debates about the long war, such as the role of military advisers. “It’s hard to gauge how successful a strategy can be without knowing more of the details,” Jones said — and for that reason, we’ll have to take a “wait-and-see” approach about how this plays out on the ground, he added.

    NewsHour’s Joshua Barajas reported for this story.

    The post 7 takeaways from Trump’s new Afghanistan strategy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Donald Trump announces his strategy for the war in Afghanistan during an address from Fort Myer, Virginia. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    President Donald Trump announces his strategy for the war in Afghanistan during an address from Fort Myer, Virginia. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Laying out his new Afghanistan war strategy, President Donald Trump reissued old demands on neighboring Pakistan to eliminate militant sanctuaries. Less expected: an entirely new warning to close U.S. partner India to provide more economic aid.

    Much of Trump’s eagerly awaited address on turning around the nation’s longest war sounded familiar, not least the need for Pakistan to crack down on Taliban fighters hiding across Afghanistan’s borders. Washington has clamored for greater Pakistani action for years.

    More surprising was Trump’s blunt challenge to India and how he linked Afghanistan’s economic revitalization to totally separate U.S.-Indian trade matters.

    “We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development,” Trump said.

    He did not elaborate, but the threat was clear, especially considering Trump’s regular chafing over countries enjoying significant trade surpluses with the United States. Either India must pony up more money for what the Trump administration is calling its “regional approach” to Afghanistan, or it could face commercial repercussions.

    The U.S. deficit in goods and services with India last year was about $30 billion. Trump also is reviewing a work visa program heavily used by Indians.

    Such trade threats might be new to India, but Trump has employed them similarly with China. He has linked decisions on whether Beijing is a currency manipulator or a trade rules violator to how strongly its government pressures North Korea over its nuclear program.

    Trump’s remarks on trade could irk India, which also has suffered attacks by Pakistan-based militants and sees itself as a natural counterterrorism ally of the United States. And they come less than two months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi was warmly welcomed at the White House as a key strategic partner, with the two leaders exchanging hugs and declaring their shared interest in bringing stability to Afghanistan.

    India has provided $3 billion in aid to Afghanistan since 2001.

    “I imagine his cutting reference to the trade deficit with India will leave a bit of a sour taste in the mouth of New Delhi, which otherwise was likely quite content with Trump’s speech,” said Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert at the Wilson Center think tank.

    Indeed, Trump had far sharper words for Pakistan, India’s long-time rival. The two countries are locked in a decades-old dispute over the territory of Kashmir. Each has nuclear weapons.

    Trump said it was time for Pakistan “to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order, and to peace” after benefiting from billions in U.S. counterterrorism funds since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

    “But Pakistan has also sheltered the same organizations that try every single day to kill our people,” Trump said. “We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting.”

    Trump said America’s patience was over: “That will change immediately. No partnership can survive a country’s harboring of militants and terrorists who target U.S. service members and officials.”

    WATCH: Trump commits to presence in Afghanistan and outlines strategy

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    The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen after a collision, in Singapore waters. Photo by Ahmad Masood/Reuters

    The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen after a collision, in Singapore waters. Photo by Ahmad Masood/Reuters

    SINGAPORE — The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet said some remains of Navy sailors were found in a compartment of the USS John McCain on Tuesday, a day after the warship’s collision with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters left 10 sailors missing.

    Adm. Scott Swift also said at a news conference in Singapore that Malaysian officials had found one body, which had yet to be identified.

    The focus of the search for the missing sailors shifted Tuesday to the damaged destroyer’s flooded compartments. The collision on Monday tore a gaping hole in the McCain’s left rear hull and flooded adjacent compartments including crew berths and machinery and communication rooms. Five sailors were injured.

    “The divers were able to locate some remains in those sealed compartments during their search today,” Swift said, adding that it was “premature to say how many and what the status of recovery of those bodies is.”

    He said the body found by the Malaysians would have to be identified to “determine whether it’s one of the missing sailors or not.”

    “We will continue the search and rescue operations until the probability of discovering sailors is exhausted,” Swift said.

    It was the second major collision in two months involving the Pacific-based 7th Fleet, and the Navy has ordered a broad investigation into its performance and readiness. Seven sailors died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided in waters off Japan. There were two lesser-known incidents in the first half of the year. In January, the USS Antietam guided missile cruiser ran aground near Yokosuka base, the home port of the 7th Fleet, and in May another cruiser, the USS Lake Champlain from the Navy’s 3rd Fleet, had a minor collision with a South Korean fishing boat.

    “While each of these four incidents is unique, they cannot be viewed in isolation,” Swift said.

    He said the Navy would conduct an investigation “to find out if there is a common cause … and if so, how do we solve that.”

    Earlier Tuesday, the 7th Fleet said the sea search by aircraft and ships from the U.S., Singapore and Malaysian navies would continue east of Singapore where the McCain and the tanker collided at daybreak Monday, but the deployment of divers to search inside the warship, now docked at Singapore’s naval base, was a blow to families still hoping for a miracle.

    After the Naval destroyer USS John S. McCain collided Monday with an oil tanker east of Singapore, the Navy’s top admiral ordered a one-day, worldwide safety review. John Yang talks with retired Cmdr. Bryan McGrath of the Hudson Institute.

    Megan Partlow of Ohio, who said her fiance was on board the McCain, told The Associated Press in a Facebook message that they last communicated on Sunday and she was losing hope of seeing him again.

    “My last text to him was ‘be safe,’ which is the same way we end every conversation. I’m just ready for answers,” she said. The identities of the missing have not been disclosed but Partlow said her fiance’s parents were in touch with the Navy’s family assistance center.

    Navy Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, on Monday ordered a pause in 7th Fleet operations for the next few days to allow commanders to get together with leaders, sailors and command officials and identify any immediate steps that need to be taken to ensure safety.

    A broader U.S. Navy review will look at the 7th Fleet’s performance, including personnel, navigation capabilities, maintenance, equipment, surface warfare training, munitions, certifications and how sailors move through their careers. Richardson said the review will be conducted with the help of the Navy’s office of the inspector general, the safety center and private companies that make equipment used by sailors.

    The McCain had been heading to Singapore on a routine port visit after conducting a sensitive freedom-of-navigation operation last week by sailing near one of China’s man-made islands in the South China Sea.

    China, Washington’s main rival for influence in the Asia-Pacific, seized on the McCain collision to accuse the Navy of endangering maritime navigation in the region. This year’s string of accidents shows the U.S. Navy “is becoming a dangerous obstacle in Asian waters,” the official China Daily newspaper said in its online edition.

    The McCain and the Alnic MC oil tanker collided about 4.5 nautical miles (8.3 kilometers) from Malaysia’s coast at the start of a designated sea lane for ships sailing into the busy Singapore Strait.

    There was no immediate explanation for the collision. Singapore, at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, is one of the world’s busiest ports and a U.S. ally, with its naval base regularly visited by American warships.

    The Singapore government said no crew were injured on the Liberian-flagged Alnic, which sustained damage to a compartment at the starboard, or right, side at the front of the ship some 7 meters (23 feet) above its waterline. The ship had a partial load of fuel oil, according to the Greek owner of the tanker, Stealth Maritime Corp. S.A., but no apparent spill.

    Several safety violations were recorded for the oil tanker at its last port inspection in July, one fire safety deficiency and two safety-of-navigation problems. The official database for ports in Asia doesn’t go into details and the problems apparently were not serious enough for the tanker to be detained.

    AP writers Lolita C. Baldor in Muscat, Oman, Stephen Wright in Bangkok, Deb Riechmann in Washington, Christopher Bodeen in Beijing and Ken Moritsugu in Tokyo contributed to this report.

    The post Some remains of Navy sailors found on USS John McCain, U.S. commander says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence says state and local authorities should make decisions about Confederate statues, and he calls himself “someone who believes in more monuments, not less monuments.”

    As for the fate of Confederate statues at the U.S. Capitol, Pence says it’s up to states to pick the figures represented.

    He tells “Fox & Friends” that “what we have to walk away from is a desire by some to erase parts of our history just in the name of some contemporary political cause.”

    READ MORE: Robert E. Lee opposed Confederate monuments

    Pence recalls traveling to Selma, Alabama, in 2010 to walk with civil rights leader John Lewis, and the vice president favors monuments honoring those “who’ve helped our nation move toward a more perfect union.”

    The violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, has renewed calls to remove Confederate statues.

    READ MORE: After Charlottesville rally, these U.S. cities say they’ll take down their Confederate statues

    The post Pence says Confederate statues are a state, local decision appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Iraq's Defence Minister Erfan al-Hiyali, walks with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis during his visit, in Baghdad, Iraq. Photo by Reuters

    Iraq’s Defence Minister Erfan al-Hiyali, walks with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis during his visit, in Baghdad, Iraq. Photo by Reuters

    BAGHDAD — Islamic State militants, driven from their main stronghold in northern Iraq, are trapped in a military vise that will squeeze them on both sides of the Syria-Iraq border, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said.

    Mattis arrived in the Iraqi capital Tuesday, hours after President Donald Trump outlined a fresh approach to the stalemated war in Afghanistan. Trump also has pledged to take a more aggressive, effective approach against IS in Iraq and Syria, but he has yet to announce a strategy for that conflict that differs greatly from his predecessor’s.

    In Baghdad, Mattis was meeting with Iraqi government leaders and U.S. commanders. He planned to meet in Irbil with Massoud Barzani, leader of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region that has helped fight IS.

    Mattis told reporters before he left neighboring Jordan that the Middle Euphrates River Valley — roughly from the western Iraqi city of al-Qaim to the eastern Syrian city of Der el-Zour — will be liberated in time, as IS takes hit from both ends of the valley that bisects Iraq and Syria.

    “You see, ISIS is now caught in-between converging forces,” he said, using an alternative acronym for the militant group that burst into western and northern Iraq in 2014 from Syria and held sway for more than two years. “So ISIS’s days are certainly numbered, but it’s not over yet and it’s not going to be over any time soon.”

    Mattis referred to this area as “ISIS’s last stand.”

    Unlike the war in Afghanistan, Iraq offers a more positive narrative for the White House, at least for now.

    Having enabled Iraqi government forces to reclaim the Islamic State’s prized possession of Mosul in July, the U.S. military effort is showing tangible progress and the Pentagon can credibly assert that momentum is on Iraq’s side.

    U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis meets with Iraq's Defence Minister Erfan al-Hiyali, in Baghdad, Iraq. Photo by Reuters

    U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis meets with Iraq’s Defence Minister Erfan al-Hiyali, in Baghdad, Iraq. Photo by Reuters

    The ranking U.S. Air Force officer in Iraq, Brig. Gen. Andrew A. Croft, said that over the past few months, IS has lost much of its ability to command and control its forces.

    “It’s less coordinated than it was before,” he said. “It appears more fractured — flimsy is the word I would use.”

    Brett McGurk, the U.S. special envoy to the counter-IS coalition, credits the Trump administration for having accelerated gains against the militants. He said Monday that about one-third of all territory regained in Iraq and Syria since 2014 has been retaken in the past six or seven months.

    “I think that’s quite significant and partially due to the fact we’re moving faster, more effectively,” as a result of Trump’s delegation of battlefield authorities to commanders in the field, McGurk said. He said this “has really made a difference on the ground. I have seen that with my own eyes.”

    It seems likely that in coming months Trump may be in position to declare a victory of sorts in Iraq as IS fighters are marginalized and they lose their claim to be running a “caliphate” inside Iraq’s borders. Syria, on the other hand, is a murkier problem, even as IS loses ground there against U.S.-supported local fighters and Russian-backed Syrian government forces.

    The U.S. role in Iraq parallels Afghanistan in some ways, starting with the basic tenet of enabling local government forces to fight rather than having U.S. troops do the fighting for them. That is unlikely to change in either country.

    Also, although the Taliban is the main opposition force in Afghanistan, an IS affiliate has emerged there, too. In both countries, U.S. airpower is playing an important role in support of local forces, and the Pentagon is trying to facilitate the development of potent local air forces.

    In Iraq, the political outlook is clouded by the same sectarian and ethnic divisions among Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish factions that have repeatedly undercut, and sometimes reversed, security gains following the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s government in 2003.

    An immediate worry is a Kurdish independence referendum to be held Sept. 25. If that’s successful, it could upset a delicate political balance in Iraq and enflame tensions with Turkey, whose own Kurdish population has fought an insurgency against the central government for decades. McGurk reiterated U.S. opposition to holding the Iraqi Kurdish referendum.

    “We believe these issues should be resolved through dialogue under the constitutional framework, and that a referendum at this time would be really potentially catastrophic to the counter-ISIS campaign,” McGurk told reporters in a joint appearance with Mattis before they flew to Iraq.

    With Iraqi troops on Tuesday reaching the first urban areas of the IS-held northern town of Tal Afar on the third day of an operation, Mattis has refused to predict victory. He says generals and senior officials should “just go silent” when troops are entering battle.

    “I’d prefer just to let the reality come home. There’s nothing to be gained by forecasting something that’s fundamentally unpredictable,” he told reporters traveling with him.

    The post Mattis in Baghdad to meet with Iraqi leaders, U.S. commanders appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood - RTS1CLJD

    The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen after a collision in Singapore waters on Aug. 21, 2017. Photo by Ahmad Masood/Reuters

    The USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker collided off of Singapore early Monday morning. The accident left 10 U.S. sailors missing and injured others.

    This is the second major collision this summer. The USS Fitzgerald, another ship of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet, collided with a container ship in waters off Japan in June. The two Navy ships, which have ballistic missile defense capabilities, are now out of commission. The U.S. Navy’s top admiral John Richardson has ordered an “operational pause” for Navy fleets around the world as well as a separate investigation into the 7th Fleet’s performance and readiness.

    The 7th Fleet is the U.S. defense presence in the Indo-Asia Pacific region. So we wondered, with the escalation of words between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reaching new heights in recent weeks, what does the loss of the the USS John S. McCain mean for U.S. defenses?

    The PBS NewsHour spoke with Bryan McGrath, a former Navy commander who served from 1987 to 2008. McGrath is now a consultant, the founding managing director of The FerryBridge Group LLC, which specializes in naval and national security issues. The following conversation has been edited for clarity and length.


    How important is USS John S. McCain?

    We don’t have a limitless supply of ships. We have close to two dozen ships in the Northwestern Pacific at any one time. Only a certain number of them are configured to contribute to the nation’s ballistic missile defense system. The USS John S. McCain is one of them and so was the Fitzgerald, the ship that had a collision two months ago. So this is two out of probably close to a dozen and a half of these ships that we rely upon to help provide targeting data on the ballistic missile shots of interest. That would include those that could potentially come from North Korea.

    They provide defense from North Korea?

    If North Korea was to shoot an ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile] in the direction of the United States, they would get an early track on it, and they could help provide targeting data to other elements of the ballistic missile defense system.

    So can this ship also shoot down or intercept North Korean missiles?

    I am certain the ship cannot intercept a North Korean missile that would be shot at the United States of America. I believe it has some capability against some of the shorter range missiles that it might seek to shoot against its neighbors.

    What types of missiles does the ship carry?

    The ship carries a variety of missiles, missiles that carry computers so that you can shoot a missile or torpedo into the water and then go get a submarine. It has missiles that shoot down other missiles, it has missiles that shoot down airplanes, and it has missiles that can attack targets on land. Tomahawk missiles, the standard missile family and the vertical launch ASROC [Anti-Submarine Rocket] are the names of those capabilities.

    Can you put this accident in context? What does this mean for our defense system in that region?

    There are so many layers to this. There’s the nagging question about whether there is something wrong with the U.S. Navy at a systemic level, that oh my goodness, we’ve had these series of accidents, some of them very serious, some of them with loss of life in the last year. Is there something wrong with the Navy and with respect to our country’s defensive posture in that part of the world? The Navy and the Marine Corps are huge components of our defense presence. They are the face of the American dense presence in the western Pacific.

    There’s also the direct impact that this ship will not be available for tasking. So there are tasks that will either go unmet or other ships will have to take on additional tasking.

    Then there’s the sort of atmospheric question of doubt, of confidence. And I think that’s something the Navy, with regard to the investigation, has to take on. It has to be able to show the American people and our allies around the world that if there are systemic problems, they understand what they are, and they understand how to overcome them. And if there aren’t systemic problems, they must be are able to adequately explain why so many closely spaced horrible accidents have occurred. I don’t think the Navy will reach that latter conclusion. I think they will conclude there are systemic issues that they have to tackle, and I think they will take them on head first.

    Is there anything else that you think NewsHour readers should know about?

    I think that they should know that there really is no organization that I know of that values accountability and responsibility more than the U.S. Navy. In fact, the Navy is often criticized for … the punishments that are handed out. We have no idea what happened here, we have no idea if this commanding officer would be punished or not, but we do know that the Navy will go after this story relentlessly, they will figure out what happened here, they will figure out what happened in the Fitzgerald two months ago and the other incidences in the Pacific Theater in the past year. And if they are able to draw systemic conclusions, they will release those conclusions, they will let the American public know what is wrong, if anything. And I think your readers should be confident that they’re going to get the truth out of the Navy on this.

    The post Do U.S. Navy collisions weaken our defense against a North Korean missile attack? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — Trying to recapture the Republican fervor that helped put him in office, President Donald Trump travels to Arizona on Tuesday to visit the nation’s southern border and to rally thousands of supporters in a state where he’s trashed both Republican senators.

    The two-day trip, which also includes a stop in Reno, Nevada, on Wednesday to speak to veterans at an American Legion conference, marks his farthest journey west since taking office in January.

    President Donald Trump’s Arizona rally is scheduled to begin at 10 p.m. ET today. Watch the president’s remarks in the player above.

    It comes at a politically turbulent time for the president. On Monday night, he addressed the nation about his decision to maintain a U.S. presence in Afghanistan, an action at odds with his repeated promises on the campaign trail to end the country’s longest war. And last week he touched off a firestorm by saying that “both sides” were to blame for violence that erupted at a rally organized by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    Trump’s planned events could help stoke a base of voters who oppose his move on Afghanistan and the recent White House departure of Steve Bannon. The chief strategist had made it his mission to remind Trump of what his most fervent supporters want from his presidency, and some conservative strategists have openly worried that without Bannon around Trump will be too influenced by more traditional Republicans — such as on Afghanistan policy.

    Trump is scheduled to tour a Marine Corps base along the U.S.-Mexico border, watch demonstrations of U.S. Customs drones, a boat and a truck, and meet with Marines.

    While at the Marine Corps facility, Trump can renew his vow to build a wall and highlight other tougher immigration policies, a favorite among his supporters. Later, his political rally in Phoenix provides the atmospherics of the campaign trail itself. This will be Trump’s eighth political rally since taking office. His 2020 re-election campaign pays for and organizes the events, carefully screening attendees.

    Democratic leaders and other Trump opponents plan protests and marches outside the rally to decry his immigration policies and his comments about Charlottesville. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton had implored the president to postpone the rally to allow time for the country to heal after Charlottesville.

    Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday on Fox News Channel that Trump will be “completely focused” on his agenda for the country.

    “But he’s also going to call on the Congress to get ready to come back when they arrive on Sept. 5th and go straight to work to make America safe again, make America prosperous again, and in his words to make America great again,” said the vice president, who was flying separately to Phoenix to introduce Trump at the rally.

    Gov. Doug Ducey, a Trump supporter, will greet Trump as he arrives in Phoenix but will not attend the rally to focus on safety needs, his spokesman said. Neither Sens Jeff Flake nor Sen. John McCain, who is undergoing cancer treatment, will join Trump at his events in the state. Flake has been on tour promoting a book that says the Republican Party’s embrace of Trump has left conservatism withering.

    Flake has been a frequent target of Trump’s wrath. Last week, Trump tweeted that Flake is “toxic” and said it is “great to see” Kelli Ward running against him in the GOP primary for the seat, which is up for re-election next year. That has sparked talk of Trump possibly endorsing Ward from the stage Tuesday night.

    Another potential subplot of the rally: Trump has teased in a Fox News interview and on Twitter the possibility that he’ll pardon former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who recently was convicted in federal court of disobeying a court order to stop his immigration patrols.

    WATCH: President Trump addresses the nation on Afghanistan

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    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday commended North Korea for recent restraint in its provocations and said it could point the way to a possible dialogue with the U.S.

    It was rare positive expression from the U.S. toward the authoritarian government in Pyongyang and comes amid a slight easing in recent tensions between the adversaries that had flared after President Donald Trump pledged to answer North Korean aggression with “fire and fury.” North Korea, for its part, had threatened to launch missiles toward the American territory of Guam.

    Addressing reporters at the State Department, Tillerson said that North Korea had “demonstrated some level of restraint that we have not seen in the past” by not conducting missile launches or provocative acts since the U.N. Security Council adopted tough sanctions on Aug. 5.

    “We hope that this is the beginning of this signal that we have been looking for, that they are ready to restrain their level of tensions, they’re ready to restrain their provocative acts,” Tillerson said, “and that perhaps we are seeing our pathway to sometime in the near future having some dialogue.”

    “We hope that this is the beginning of this signal that we have been looking for, that they are ready to restrain their level of tensions, they’re ready to restrain their provocative acts … and that perhaps we are seeing our pathway to sometime in the near future having some dialogue.”

    Tillerson added a caveat.

    “We need to see more on their part,” he said, without elaborating.

    The U.N. sanctions were a response to twin tests last month of an intercontinental ballistic missile that may be able to reach parts of the U.S., heightening concern in Washington that North Korea could soon be able to threaten it with nuclear weapons. It was the latest salvo in the Trump administration’s push to increase economic and diplomatic pressure on Kim Jong Un’s government.

    However, the U.S. administration has left the door open to engagement with the North, with Tillerson recently urging it to stop missile tests to show its sincerity. While the two sides have maintained quiet diplomatic contacts in recent months, there has been scant sign that Pyongyang will oblige.

    Kim has held off on the North’s supposed plans to fire missiles into waters near Guam that were advertised in state media earlier this month, but his government this week has kept up its harsh criticism of the U.S. over annual military drills conducted with close ally South Korea.

    MORE: How likely is a military conflict with North Korea?

    The North regards the drills as preparation for invasion and on Tuesday its military vowed, with customarily tough rhetoric, a “merciless retaliation” against the U.S. Senior U.S. military commanders dismissed calls to pause or downsize the exercises that they view as crucial to countering a clear threat from Pyongyang.

    In a reminder that the U.S. economic pressure campaign on North Korea continues, Trump administration on Tuesday imposed sanctions on 16 mainly Chinese and Russian companies and people for assisting North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and helping the North make money to support those programs. The penalties are intended to complement the new U.N. sanctions.

    The Treasury Department said that the 16 entities either do business with previously sanctioned companies and people, work with the North Korean energy sector, help it place workers abroad or facilitate its evasion of international financial curbs.

    READ MORE: Do U.S. Navy collisions weaken our defense against a North Korean missile attack?

    The measures block any assets the entities may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bar Americans from transactions with them.

    “It is unacceptable for individuals and companies in China, Russia, and elsewhere to enable North Korea to generate income used to develop weapons of mass destruction and destabilize the region,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. “We are taking actions consistent with U.N. sanctions to show that there are consequences for defying sanctions and providing support to North Korea, and to deter this activity in the future.”

    Among those sanctioned are six Chinese companies, including three coal companies, and two Singapore-based companies that sell oil to North Korea and three Russians that work with them.

    The list also included a Russian company that deals in North Korean metals and its Russian director; and two Namibia-based companies.

    In addition to the Treasury sanctions, the Justice Department filed suit against two of the companies, Velmur Management of Singapore and China’s Dandong Zhicheng Metallic Material Co., demanding that they forfeit more than $11 million that they allegedly money-laundered for North Korea. The suits allege that the two companies participated in schemes to launder U.S. dollars on behalf of sanctioned North Korean entities. The suits seek almost $7 million from Velmur and just over $4 million from Dandong, the Justice Department said.

    READ MORE: 7 takeaways from Trump’s new Afghanistan strategy

    The post WATCH: Tillerson commends North Korea restraint, but says ‘we need to see more’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Illustration by enisaksoy/Getty Images

    ATLANTA – More than half a billion dollars in surplus lottery funds, meant for Georgia’s college students, is sitting unused in the state’s coffers even as many drop out of school, unable to afford to continue.

    Top lawmakers say the reserves guarantee the stability of the state’s hallmark aid program. But some question the need for holding such a large amount, arguing it could be better used to boost college completion rates and keep student debt down.

    Altogether, the state has more than $1 billion in reserves for the HOPE Scholarship and pre-K programs. Nearly $500 million is restricted to use only in the event of a funding shortfall. Beyond that, officials have quietly grown a second pot of reserve money from $160 million in 2011 to $524 million in 2016 that has no restrictions. The government could use it to give larger scholarships or grants to students in state universities, colleges and technical schools.

    As that fund grew, Georgia’s university system sustained significant budget cuts and pushed more of the cost of college onto families. That helped raise student debt to record levels, and thousands of students have dropped out because of their inability to pay.

    “It’s unclear to me just if there’s any strategy around that unrestricted reserve,” said Jennifer Lee, a higher education policy analyst at the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. “In law, there’s no specific direction on what this money is supposed to be used for… It’s just sitting there.”

    Gov. Nathan Deal said revenue projections are crafted at the start of the year, and income may vary, depending on the economy. During the Great Recession, the state had to draw from HOPE reserves to pay out the merit-based scholarships.

    Between 2013 and 2015, more than 56,000 students who took out federal loans to pay for Georgia’s four-year regional, state and research universities dropped out before graduating.

    “Depleting these funds put the program’s long-term solvency at risk,” said Deal, a Republican. “In fact, when I took office in 2011, some projections showed HOPE going bankrupt by 2013. This was not an option, and with the help of the General Assembly, we made bipartisan reforms to save the program and to ensure HOPE would remain strong for years to come. In order to safeguard one of the most generous scholarship programs in the nation, a robust reserve fund is critical.”

    In 2015-16, the HOPE program gave out more than $612 million in aid to students. That’s down from $747.6 million in 2010-11.

    In 2011, fearing a budget shortfall, the legislature cut HOPE from covering full tuition and fees. Today, the merit scholarship covers, on average, only 65 percent of tuition and mandatory fees per semester for students enrolled for a full 15-hour course load, leaving thousands to turn to loans to make up the difference.

    Universities and colleges have limited money to hand out in scholarships, and Georgia does not have a statewide needs-based aid program. The cost of earning a degree has grown beyond the reach of moderate-income families – the average yearly price tag of attending a state four-year school, including living expenses, is now $14,791, up 77 percent from 2006 to 2015, the state auditor says. There was no tuition increase last school year.

    Those who drop out have to pay back their loans, but without a degree, finding a job in which they can earn enough to make their payments can be very difficult. Some end up in default while others manage only to pay down the interest each month.

    It’s a problem nationwide. About 28% of Americans with student debt didn’t complete the educational program for which they took on the loans, according to the 2016 National Financial Capability Study published August 1st by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

    More than 56,000 students who took out federal loans to pay for Georgia’s four-year regional, state and research universities left before earning their degree between 2013 and 2015, according to the most recent available federal data. That’s in addition to nearly 52,000 people who ended up in the same perilous position at the mostly two-year state colleges and technical colleges. They have debt, but no degree.

    Raven Searcy, a HOPE scholar with $15,000 in student loans, is trying to make her way out of this financial web. After graduating from Northside High School in Columbus, she dreamed of attending Savannah College of Art and Design, but it was too expensive. So she made what she believed was a more realistic financial choice — in 2012 she enrolled at Columbus State University. She thought she would be OK, paying her way with a HOPE scholarship, a Pell grant, loans and a part-time job at the Peachtree Mall.

    “It was hard to juggle work and classes,” said Searcy, 23. “I didn’t realize how expensive it was going to be.”

    Still, she did everything she was supposed to – she organized her work hours to fit her class schedule, working weekends when necessary, and kept her grades high enough to hang onto her HOPE scholarship. Students lose it if they don’t maintain a B average. Less than one-third of students who began with HOPE in 2010 still had it when they graduated.

    “I’m hoping I can save up money and go back in 2018. I know I need a degree…and I want to make my mom proud.” — Raven Searcy, who dropped out of college with $15,000 in debt

    Because of the cuts made in 2011, HOPE still left Searcy about $2,400 short per year of what she needed for tuition and fees. She dropped out after her second year to work a full-time job at the mall and save up some money.

    “I think if I could have had tuition and fees covered, I would have probably kept going,” she said. “With all those loans, it was just a lot to handle.”

    Seven other states have lottery-funded college scholarship programs, and all have different policies regarding reserves. West Virginia doesn’t have a reserve fund. Arkansas requires $20 million to be set aside for a rainy day (a quarter of the amount that goes to scholarships). Tennessee gave out $311 million from its 2015-16 proceeds and keeps $110 million in reserves. Additional proceeds go to support the state’s free community college initiative.

    By contrast Georgia has been squirreling away $73 million on average per year for the past five years. The legally mandated reserve has grown to $490 million from $332 million, and the unrestricted reserve, not mandated by law, to half a billion dollars in that time.

    Restoring HOPE to its original mission – covering full tuition and fees at University System of Georgia schools – could cost up to $227 million a year and drain the reserves quickly, based on estimates from 2015 data. But there are other, less expensive options. It would cost up to $82 million annually to cover full tuition. The cost to fully cover tuition at technical colleges would be $21 million a year, according to the state Department of Audits and Accounts.

    That’s an option that State Rep. Stacey Evans, a Democrat who is running for governor, has been pushing. Evans agrees it’s vital to have money in reserve but questions why the state has put so much away.

    “It’s our money,” said Evans. “It’s money that the state told people… we’re going to spend on education. We have all this money coming in from the lottery that we’re not using for [that] purpose.”

    Republican Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, who is also planning a run for governor, disagrees.

    “I am proud to have led our state to grow Georgia’s HOPE reserves so that we will always meet the obligation made to our scholarship students,” said Cagle.

    He points to Senate Bill 5, passed by the Senate but not the House, that would increase the percentage of lottery proceeds that goes to the state treasury as a way to increase funding for HOPE.

    The original 1992 law creating the lottery stated that as close to 35 percent as is practical of lottery earnings should be given to the state to spend on education, but the quasi-public Georgia Lottery Corporation (GLC) hasn’t given the state 35 percent since 1997. Last year it was 25 percent.

    The GLC argues that it hands out bigger prizes, which results in more tickets sold and therefore bigger revenues overall. The senate bill would require the lottery to hand over 28 percent of its proceeds by 2019, unless its ticket sales dropped by a specified amount. State Sen. Fran Millar, chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, estimates that would translate to another $80 million for HOPE over three years.

    Like Gov. Deal, he said it’s important for the state to be able to keep the promises it has made to current HOPE recipients should another recession hit. “In order to be prudent, the billion is probably not a bad number for that reason,” Millar said.

    “In order to safeguard one of the most generous scholarship programs in the nation, a robust reserve fund is critical.” — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal

    Government officials and residents from all sides of the political spectrum tend to agree that HOPE has made college more affordable for hundreds of thousands of Georgians. But slowing growth in lottery collections, increasing numbers of students applying to college and rising tuition meant demand for the scholarship would soon outstrip supply, so the legislature made changes in 2011.

    Among them, HOPE stopped paying for fees and covered only a percentage of tuition. In addition, the legislature created Zell Miller scholarships, which cover full tuition for state university students who have a 3.7 GPA and a 1200 SAT score or are their high school’s valedictorian or salutatorian. Zell recipients overwhelmingly attend the state’s most expensive public colleges, leaving less money for HOPE scholars.

    The addition of Zell scholarships also shifted more money to middle- and upper-income students. In 2013, 58 percent of HOPE scholarships went to middle- and upper-income families, while 79 percent of Zell Miller scholarships went to this group, according to state data compiled by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.

    And although black students make up about 30 percent of Georgia’s university system, only 5 percent of Zell Miller scholars are black. White students, who make up 54 percent of public university students, receive about 78 percent of Zell scholarships.

    Although there was widespread agreement in 2011 that HOPE needed to be fixed, the solution was put together with some haste – it was signed by the governor 22 days after being introduced to the General Assembly.

    Evans was in her first term while this was happening and vividly remembers how quickly the process went.

    HOPE needed to be changed to prevent bankruptcy, but she said the legislation upended an original goal of the program: to make college more affordable for people who didn’t have the money to pay for it.

    “The rewrite in 2011 was a horrible mistake overall,” she said. The Zell Miller SAT score requirement “ignores the realities of who does well on those tests and the ways you can do well on the test,” she said, citing the use of test prep and tutoring, which can be financially prohibitive for low- and middle-income families.

    Since 2011, legislation has been routinely proposed to expand the program, but it stalls. In 2013, a piece of legislation was put forward to restore HOPE to paying for full tuition. In 2015, the Senate passed a bill that would require HOPE to pay at least $2,000 per semester, but the House never voted on it. In 2017, a bill was introduced that would base HOPE award amounts on the previous year’s tuition.

    “It’s our money. It’s money that the state told people… we’re going to spend on education.” — Georgia State Rep. Stacey Evans

    “Every legislative session we’re hopeful… that there will be some measures put in to place to kind of stop the bleeding and the student loan debt crisis, but it just does not seem to be a priority for state lawmakers,” said Brandon Hanick, from Better Georgia, a left-leaning advocacy group. “In fact, nothing has been done to restore HOPE to the pre-2011 levels. That’s obviously a huge component to the student loan debt.”

    The average Georgia graduate in 2015 carried loan debts of $27,754, according to the Project on Student Debt.

    Meanwhile, the high cost of college continues to drive away students. Alec Harden entered Georgia State University in 2012 as a top student from Luella High School in Locust Grove. His 3.8 GPA not only earned him a HOPE scholarship, but other academic ones as well.

    Still, by the end of his first year he had racked up $10,000 in loans. The prospect of taking on more debt gave him pause. In high school, he had worked part-time at a State Farm office. His old boss told him he’d hire him full-time and help him get licensed, so Harden dropped out after his first year.

    “At least I’ve only ended up with $10,000 worth of debt instead of $50,000 or $60,000,” said Harden, 23. “The lesson for me is, don’t go to big universities.”

    His wife, Elizabeth Harden, graduated from Southern Crescent Technical College in Griffin, and they have paid off her loans. It will take them at least five more years to get out from under Alec’s student loan.

    Meanwhile, Searcy spends her days working for commission fixing and selling cellphones at a kiosk in the Peachtree Mall and trying to make a dent in her loans.

    At her mom’s urging, she’s already tried to go back to school once, completing another year before withdrawing again. If HOPE were fully funded, her debt would have been cut in half.

    “My mom was like, ‘You need to get back to school,’” said Searcy, smiling. “She’s seen how hard it is out here to get a job without a degree, even little jobs.

    “I’m hoping I can save up money and go back in 2018. I know I need a degree…and I want to make my mom proud.”

    This story was produced by The Hechinger Report in collaboration with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Hechinger Report is a nonprofit, independent news website focused on inequality and innovation in education. Read the original story here.

    The post Georgia students drop out with high debt despite state surplus appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    man waiting for phonecall

    Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979 and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community.

    In this special Making Sen$e edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.


    Question: I applied for a position in May. I had one phone interview and two interviews in person over the summer. The employer sounded eager and acted like they wanted to hire me on the spot. It’s a very good job for me. The position was removed from the job boards, and during the Independence Day holiday I learned my references were called. They even sent me benefits info.

    Since then, no word at all. I emailed and called the recruiting assistant to see if there was anything else I could provide since he was my main point of contact. I got no response even after he returned from vacation. Then I called the director to whom the position would report, who said in a quick call that it’s taking longer than expected and that they need more time. I told him okay, but it’s weird that he gave me no timeframe to follow up. That was almost a month ago, and two months since my references were called.

    I’m still interviewing for other jobs. I know nothing is final until the offer letter, and that HR can be very flakey, but this takes the cake. Your thoughts? Thanks!

    Nick Corcodilos: One of the most important things I’ve learned from readers after all these years is that, no matter how much a person thinks they’re a good fit for a job or how much they want it, control rests with the employer.

    READ MORE: Ask the Headhunter: 5 tips for avoiding terrible employers

    Here’s what else I’ve learned: Employers are terrible at interviewing and hiring. They drop the ball. They delay.

    Don’t fall prey to wishful thinking. Don’t stop looking for other jobs while you wait for an employer.

    They tell you how much they want you. Then they delay some more. Most of the time, you never hear from them again.

    Please read this carefully: Most job opportunities go south. Every job seeker must bear this in mind while managing their job search. Don’t fall prey to wishful thinking. Don’t stop looking for other jobs while you wait for one employer who sounds eager and says they’re ready to hire you.

    While I understand the vicissitudes of business, and that situations and employers’ needs change, there is no excuse for the abject rudeness and unprofessionalism of employers, managers and HR departments. (See ”Rude Employers: Slam-bam-thank-you-mam.”)

    Consider the rules of engagement that HR managers and career advisors drill into job seekers’ heads:

    • Be polite.
    • Be professional.
    • Be patient.
    • Be forthcoming.
    • Act responsibly.
    • Be respectful.

    But the same rules and standards apply to employers. What you’re seeing is not just a delay. It’s an ill-mannered company with a double standard. (How would employers react if the shoe were on the other foot? See “Why employers should pay to interview you.”)

    When an employer disrespects you like this, don’t make excuses for them or wonder what’s up. It’s obvious. They don’t care about you or about how they portray themselves. Imagine how they treat their customers and how that bodes for you if you were to take a job there.

    The employment system has convinced employers there are plenty of candidates available all the time. That is, job applicants are free, so why waste time being nice to them?

    How can employers afford to be so rude to you when they’re trying to fill jobs? It’s simple. The employment system — job boards, applicant tracking systems, LinkedIn — has convinced employers there are plenty of candidates available all the time. That is, job applicants are free, so why waste time being nice to them? Why rush to fill a job when there’s a better candidate out there for a lower salary?

    READ MORE: Ask the Headhunter: What can I do after my job offer was rescinded?

    The best thing to do is forget about this company and “opportunity” and move on. If they ever come back to you, I’d make them jump through one or two hoops before re-engaging with them. Make them prove themselves just as they expect job applicants to prove themselves.

    Don’t let yourself believe this kind of behavior is excusable. It’s not.

    When you encounter a company that does this right, you’ll know it immediately. That’s who to focus your attention on.

    Dear Readers: Is this type of employer behavior normal? Is it defensible? How long do you give a company to make a hiring decision? What’s the worst you’ve seen from employers that enthusiastically pursue then ignore job candidates? What’s the best? How would you advise this job applicant?


    Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps,” “How Can I Change Careers?” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

    Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

    Copyright © 2016 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.

    The post Ask the Headhunter: Why employers can afford to be rude to you appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    FILE PHOTO: U.S. troops walk outside their base in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani/File Photo - RTS1CL1M

    President Donald Trump’s plan to end America’s longest war and eliminate Afghanistan’s rising extremist threat involves sending up to 3,900 additional U.S. troops, senior officials said Tuesday. Photo by REUTERS/Omar Sobhani/File Photo.

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s plan to end America’s longest war and eliminate Afghanistan’s rising extremist threat involves sending up to 3,900 additional U.S. troops, senior officials said Tuesday. The first deployments could take place within days.

    In a national address Monday night, Trump reversed his past calls for a speedy exit and recommitted the United States to the 16-year-old conflict, saying U.S. troops must “fight to win.” He warned against repeating what he said were mistakes in Iraq, where an American military withdrawal led to a vacuum that the Islamic State group quickly filled.

    Trump would not confirm how many more service members he plans to send to Afghanistan, which may be the public’s most pressing question about his strategy. In interviews with television networks Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence similarly wouldn’t give any clear answer, but he cited Pentagon plans from June calling for 3,900 more troops.

    “The troop levels are significant, and we’ll listen to our military commanders about that,” Pence said.

    READ MORE: 7 takeaways from Trump’s new Afghanistan strategy

    Although the Pentagon’s plans are based on 3,900 additional troops, the exact number will vary as conditions change, senior U.S. officials said. Those officials weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the figures and demanded anonymity.

    They said the Pentagon has told Trump it needs the increase, on top of the roughly 8,400 Americans now in the country, to accomplish Trump’s objectives. Those goals, he said Monday night, include “obliterating ISIS, crushing al-Qaida, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge.”

    Speaking to reporters in Iraq, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis declined to confirm a precise number Tuesday, saying he was waiting for more input from Gen. Joseph Dunford, America’s top military official. Mattis said he will “reorganize” some U.S. troops in Afghanistan to reflect the new strategy.

    Meanwhile, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East said he expects the first reinforcements to arrive “pretty quickly,” within days or weeks.

    “What’s most important for us now is to get some capabilities in to have an impact on the current fighting season,” Gen. Joseph Votel, who spent last weekend in Afghanistan, told reporters traveling with him to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

    MORE: What should be in Trump’s plan for America’s longest war?

    Most of the new forces will train and advise Afghan forces to improve their combat abilities, or provide security for American adviser teams in the field, Votel said. U.S. counterterror forces will make up a smaller portion, as will other support forces and medical personnel.

    About 460 of the total troops will help the U.S. train more Afghan special commandos in more locations, said U.S. Maj. Gen. James Linder, commander of U.S. and NATO special operations forces in Afghanistan.

    Before he was a presidential candidate, Trump argued for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan and called the war a massive waste of U.S. “blood and treasure.” On Monday, he suggested an open-ended commitment rather than a “time-based” approach.

    “Conditions on the ground — not arbitrary timetables — will guide our strategy from now on,” Trump said.

    At its peak involvement in 2010-2011, the U.S. had roughly 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. President Barack Obama then started bringing them home, drawing criticism for the public timetables he provided for his planned drawdown and ultimate withdrawal of forces.

    Trump was among those who argued that Obama was aiding the enemy by telegraphing U.S. intentions. On Monday, Trump said he wouldn’t discuss troop numbers, military tactics or timetables. “America’s enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out,” he said.

    However, the American public may insist on knowing how many of its citizens are waging a war overseas.

    The administration invariably will have to provide updates to Congress, which pays the military’s bills, and to key U.S. allies, whose troop contributions it seeks.

    Obama, too, had reversed himself on withdrawing from Afghanistan as security worsened. Taliban militants have made gains, and the fractious Afghan government currently controls about half the country.

    Afghanistan’s U.S.-backed government welcomed Trump’s strategy, with President Ashraf Ghani saying it will help stabilize the region. Allies responded positively, too.

    Afghanistan’s U.S.-backed government welcomed Trump’s strategy, with President Ashraf Ghani saying it will help stabilize the region.

    Allies responded positively, too.

    Germany, which contributes 950 troops in northern Afghanistan, approved the U.S. readiness for a “long-term commitment” and agreed the military’s continued deployment should be “linked to the conditions on the ground.”

    Trump offered few specifics of how his strategy would be implemented. He didn’t say how the U.S. would get Pakistan to crack down on militant sanctuaries on its soil — long a point of contention that has led Washington to restrict aid to the country.

    Insisting that the U.S. was intent on “killing terrorists” rather than “nation building,” Trump gave little indication of how the U.S. would use other instruments of American power to end the conflict.

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that after an effective military effort, a political settlement including some Taliban might be possible, echoing language of the Obama years. He said the U.S. would support peace talks with the Taliban “without preconditions.”

    On Pakistan, Tillerson said Tuesday that the U.S. could consider sanctions or cutting off Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally if it doesn’t crack down on the Taliban and other extremist groups.

    U.S. lawmakers reflected the division among Americans about whether to press on with the Afghan conflict or pull back.

    Republican John McCain of Arizona, the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman who’d criticized Trump for delays in presenting a plan, said Trump was “now moving us well beyond the prior administration’s failed strategy of merely postponing defeat.”

    Maryland’s Ben Cardin, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s top Democrat, said he failed to see how another “surge” of forces in Afghanistan would turn the tide on the insurgency. He expressed concern that Trump was ceding significant responsibility to his defense secretary.

    Baldor reported from Muscat, Oman, and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Associated Press writers Robert Burns in Baghdad, Kathy Gannon in Islamabad, Pakistan, and Josh Lederman in Washington contributed to this report.

    The post Trump’s new plan will send 3,900 more troops to Afghanistan, officials say appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Ricky Brown and Ryann Brown together in 1989.

    Ricky Brown and Ryann Brown, the children of Kimberly Greer, together in 1989. Both Ricky and Ryann were victims of gun violence and Greer says she is traumatized by the losses she has endured. Photo courtesy Kimberly Greer

    Kimberly Greer can’t sleep. Almost every night for the better part of four years, she has woken up in the dark. The numbers on her clock flash 3:30 a.m.

    Greer rouses at this hour most nights, haunted by the faces of her son, Ricky, her daughter, Ryann, and her nephew, Jordan — three of the hundreds of Chicago’s victims of gun violence. One survived. Two did not. But they all come back in the hours she can’t sleep.

    “I’m traumatized,” she says, thinking about the people she’s lost.

    Her daughter, Ryann, was hit in the head by a bullet in March 2006. An assailant shot and killed her friend as they sat in the front seat of her friend’s car. Ryann survived the shooting, but she woke up in a medically induced coma and it took years of rehab at home with help from her mother to regain her motor skills.

    Greer’s 30-year-old son, Ricky Brown, wasn’t as lucky. On March 21, 2012, while leaving for his job at the U.S. post office, Brown was shot multiple times in the chest as he descended the steps of his Englewood home.

    “I feel bad for every mother who has lost a child,” she said.

    Greer’s nephew, Jordan “BayBay” Liggins, was 18 when he was fatally shot in the head one morning last June while sitting in a car — also in Englewood.

    Every day on her way to work as a drug counselor at St. Bernard’s Hospital, Greer drives from her South Side neighborhood past that spot where her nephew was killed.

    “I have to suck up my grief. Whatever I’m feeling I gotta suck it up and keep it moving,” she said. “Go to work because you can’t fall to pieces.”

    Greer, 58, is one of thousands of people across the South and West Sides of Chicago who experience some form of mental health trauma as a result of gun violence. And as the number of shootings in the city increases, mental health providers are struggling to keep up.

    Few resources

    In 2016, there were more than 4,000 shootings and 762 homicides in the city, according to the Chicago Police Department — a nearly 60 percent increase from 2015. It’s the highest number of homicides since the 1990s, though recent numbers are still well below the worst years of that decade.

    “Every time a person gets shot, especially a young person, there are literally hundreds of people who are affected by that shooting.”

    Through the first seven months of 2017, there have been 397 murders, 1,692 shootings, and 2,124 shooting victims in Chicago, according to the police. The number of shootings is down 13 percent compared to this time last year, but there has been one more murder so far compared to 2016, police data show. The overwhelming majority of these incidents took place on the city’s South and West Sides, where communities reeling from violent deaths also face anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a host of other mental health conditions, says Brad Stolbach, the clinical director of Healing Hurt People-Chicago, a trauma treatment organization.

    “Every time a person gets shot, especially a young person, there are literally hundreds of people who are affected by that shooting,” Stolbach said. Those people are “not thought about,” he said.

    Meanwhile, since 2009, the city has closed six mental health clinics. Between 2009 and 2012, the state cut $113.7 million in funding for mental health services, according to National Alliance on Mental Illness’ (NAMI) Chicago branch. And while mental health coverage expanded under the Affordable Care Act, service providers who work with low-income clients still say they are strained.

    Map courtesy Chicago Department of Public Health

    Credit: Chicago Department of Public Health

    A 2014 Department of Public Health assessment of Chicago’s behavioral health resources indicated an inadequate citywide infrastructure for mental health.

    In recent years, city government and health care providers have launched initiatives to train police officers and volunteers in trauma response techniques. Chicago Public Schools also received a $1.35 million federal grant for trauma support, intended for use at the 10 high schools where community violence is most prevalent.

    Map courtesy Chicago Department of Public Health

    Credit: Chicago Department of Public Health

    “I am confident we will be in a better place, but it won’t happen overnight,” Chicago Public Health Commissioner Julie Morita said.

    As part of a five-year plan launched in March 2016, the city is training new police officers in crisis intervention when working with residents who have experienced trauma. Chicago also received a $5 million federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to invest in programs that build trauma resiliency in neighborhoods with high rates of violence. It will be used, in part, to:

    • Establish a Chicago ReCAST (Resiliency in Communities After Stress and Trauma) Institute to train staff at city agencies and partner organizations on “how to identify, respond and support recovery from to various forms of trauma.”
    • Launch a directory of resources that will better connect community organizations and residents to the city’s mental health services.
    • Expand mental health services through new partnerships with Cook County Health and Hospitals System and the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services.

    “We recognize that there is a need in these communities and we’re working feverishly to address those needs,” Morita said. “There are too few resources for us not to be working together.”

    But providers and residents still say there isn’t enough support to fully address the mental health issues their communities face.

    “A kid who never had a chance”

    Everyone called Jordan Liggins “BayBay” because he was the baby in the family. Though he was the youngest, he was protective of his mom and older siblings. He was also a jokester who liked swimming and played baseball. When Liggins needed to make money, he drummed on buckets on the streets of downtown Chicago or passed out fliers for local companies.

    Kimberly Greer, and her nephew, Jordan “BayBay” Liggins at his 8th grade graduation on June 13, 2012.

    Kimberly Greer with her nephew Jordan “BayBay” Liggins at his 8th grade graduation on June 13, 2012. Photo courtesy Kimberly Greer

    He was shot twice as a young teen, once in 2011 and again in 2012. On June 13, 2016, the 18-year-old was shot again, in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago’s South Side. This time, it was fatal. They still haven’t found his killer.

    Police say it was gang related, but Greer disputes that.

    “The police think that BayBay was this horrible, awful person,” Greer said. “He was a kid who never had a chance.”

    Neighborhoods that experience the most gun violence have the highest number of hospitalizations for depression, anxiety, self-medication and other behavioral health issues, city data show.

    The city is becoming more aware, said Jaleel Abdul-Adil, the co-director of Chicago’s Urban Youth Trauma Center. “But I don’t think we truly understand the complexity of what it’s like to survive on a day-to-day basis in under resourced, historically oppressed and dangerously impoverished communities.”

    Providing better care

    The first step to providing care is actually addressing the problem, health care experts say. That starts with screening for mental illness, which is sometimes overlooked after traumatic experiences, said Inger Burnett-Zeigler, a clinical psychologist in Chicago.

    “That can be important not only in the treatment of mental health symptoms, but just in the treatment of the person as a whole when they’re getting health care,” said Burnett-Zeigler, who is also a professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

    While not everyone who undergoes a traumatic event will experience PTSD, Burnett-Zeigler says often times a person may have a symptom of PTSD, such as depression or anxiety.

    These symptoms and needs are most severe in neighborhoods such as Lawndale on the West Side or Englewood on the South Side, where Kimberly Greer’s son and nephew were killed.

    Last year, Burnett-Zeigler surveyed women in “disadvantaged urban neighborhoods” in Chicago. More than 50 percent of participants said they experienced a traumatic event, such as gun violence, sexual abuse or domestic violence.

    More than 70 percent of those who did experience a traumatic event had some mental health symptom associated with PTSD, according to the survey.

    In Chicago’s African-American communities, admitting the need for mental health care remains one of the biggest challenges.

    “There’s a stigma attached to saying that you need mental health counseling,” Greer said. Asking for that kind of counseling is seen as a sign of weakness, she added.

    “There’s a stigma attached to saying that you need mental health counseling” — asking for that kind of counseling is seen as a sign of weakness.

    The violence in some neighborhoods is so prevalent that residents, especially young men, see it as normal.There’s also an overall lack of understanding of mental illness among residents.

    In Chicago, there are six hospitals designated as trauma and mental health treatment centers dealing with issues that stem from violence. A seventh is expected to open at the University of Chicago in 2018. There are another 400 locations of clinics and agencies that offer mental health, violence prevention and substance abuse services, according to the city’s department of public health.

    Alexa James, executive director of NAMI Chicago, said the problem is not the number of facilities across the city. It is that the facilities that do exist are understaffed and lack clinicians and caseworkers with trauma training. And the waitlists are full.

    “There’s nowhere where you can call and get in tomorrow,” she said.

    Illinois passed its first full state budget in more than two years earlier this month. But the lengthy impasse left health and social service organizations that rely on state funding unable to hire more staff to keep up with the consequences of the city’s growing violence, James told the NewsHour.

    During the budget impasse, a third of the city’s mental health organizations had to reduce the number of clients they served, according to a March survey by United Way Illinois. A May survey from the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois found that the state owes local providers more than $142 million.

    The new budget reinstates funding to those organizations, but Illinois has more than $14.6 billion in backlogged bills stemming from the impasse.

    One organization hit by the deadlock in Springfield is Healing Hurt People-Chicago, a trauma support organization that trains and employs clinicians and caseworkers, provides counseling for as many as 200 young people and their families each year. With four or five more caseworkers, the organization could take on an additional 100 patients, medical director Kim Joseph said. Joseph said putting together the money to hire more staff is always a challenge, but that the budget impasse made it even more difficult.

    “One of the frustrating things for me is to know that we are not sufficiently resourced to provide the kind of service that we would like to,” said Joseph, who is also a trauma surgeon at Stroger Hospital.

    Faith communities as first responders

    Even if a person can find treatment, they cannot always afford it. Certain insurance plans do not cover mental health treatment.

    The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act in 2008 required plans that covered mental health to treat those issues the same way they treat physical health needs. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) also had a provision that required most insurance plans to cover mental health. As a result, Illinois’ Medicaid expansion through the ACA increased mental health coverage for thousands of Chicagoans, though there are still some gaps.

    State dollars from Medicaid reimburse providers who have contracts with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services for certain — but not all — types of treatment. Psychiatric care is reimbursed, but other, sometimes more appropriate, community-based treatments — such as mentorships, self-soothing programs and housing programs — are not. So agencies have to search for outside funding, a challenge in communities with high levels of trauma, or residents have to pay for such services on their own.

    Many trauma victims have said they already struggle to pay rent or a mortgage, making mental health treatment a luxury.

    “I don’t have a choice to take off [work] and grieve,” Greer said. “Because if I stay home and grieve, after a while I’m not going to have a home to grieve at.”

    “I don’t have a choice to take off [work] and grieve,” Greer said. “Because if I stay home and grieve, after a while I’m not going to have a home to grieve at.”

    The House of Representatives Republicans’ bill to replace the ACA, the American Health Care Act, is largely seen as weakening mental health coverage. The legislation passed in the House in June. Early Friday, the Senate voted against a “skinny repeal” bill that would lift mandates that require individuals to purchase insurance and companies to provide it. An earlier bill proposed in the Senate would give states the power to allow insurers to remove “essential benefits,” including mental health care, from their coverage. It’s an issue that may resurface as the legislation returns to committee.

    For many in Chicago, the first step after a traumatic event is not seeking medical help, but reaching out to their faith communities. One new effort, from Bright Star Church in Bronzeville on Chicago’s South Side, is trying to fuse those things together. The church’s nonprofit organization just launched a program called the Trauma Urban Relief Network, which trains faith leaders to work with social workers and clinical directors to provide post-trauma care.

    “Faith leaders are able to bypass the negative mental health stigma and utilize the strength of the community in combination with their own influence to peel back the layers of mental trauma,” Bright Star Church assistant pastor Rodney Carter said.

    Faith communities across the city are often the first responders to an individual’s mental trauma. It was a nurse at Latanda Graves’ church who first told her the hyperventilation she experienced after the fatal shooting of her son Joseph in 2015 was a form of post-trauma anxiety.

    “They have been the biggest support group,” Graves said of her church, Trinity United Church of Christ. “They are still walking with my family.”

    Learning to live with grief

    With each new report of a shooting, Greer said she thinks about other mothers, families and friends across Chicago that face her same sense of loss and the mental health challenges that come with it.

    “It will continue to be a loss for them for the rest of their lives,” said Susan Johnson, director of Chicago Survivors, an organization that responds to every shooting in the city and works with families in the immediate aftermath providing counseling and support.

    “Others around them will want them to return to their normal selves, and they’re going to have to find a new normal self,” Johnson said.

    Part of that healing process involves connecting with other survivors and engaging in community discussion.

    For Greer, a network of friends and family provides a sounding board for her; they also pass no judgement. Her group even pooled money together to pay for the burial of her nephew.

    Finding a new normal, on the other hand, has proved to be difficult. She says she writes sporadically in a journal, as a sort of therapy. She is working on a master’s degree in inner city studies at Northeastern Illinois University, and is writing her thesis on community violence.

    She hopes to one day tell the full story of her nephew and others who met a similar fate. But most days, she says, are spent pushing the losses she’s endured out of her mind.

    “I don’t think you ever get through grieving,” she said. “You learn to live with it.”

    Chicago Police District Commander Larry Watson looks on during a candlelight vigil against violence in the Englewood neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois, United States, July 3, 2015. Extra police patrols and long shifts were not enough to prevent nine deaths and about 50 injuries from gun violence in Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend, when homicides jump almost every year. Chicago, with 2.7 million people, is the most violent large city in the United States, with poverty, segregation, dozens of small street gangs, and a pervasive gun culture all contributing to the problem. Picture taken July 3, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young - RTX1JA26

    Chicago Police District Commander Larry Watson looks on during a candlelight vigil against violence in the Englewood neighborhood in Chicago on July 3, 2015. File photo by REUTERS/Jim Young

    The post Chicago’s gun violence crisis is also a mental health crisis appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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