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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: United States history is dominating the headlines by being at the heart of a debate that has compelled many to take to the streets. How should Americans remember the past and confront the deep wounds of slavery?

    Our William Brangham explores how the events of recent weeks are sparking a national conversation.

    (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: It began — at least according to the organizers — as a protest against plans to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from downtown Charlottesville, Virginia.

    MALE: I think it’s a historical monument and it should stay where it’s at.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But the events there earlier this month jolted the nation. This week, the nearly century-old monument was covered in a black shroud, and calls for it to be taken down continue.

    MALE: I’m not going to stop in my efforts to try and get it removed, but I’m glad the city council recognized that it had to be addressed.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This most recent push to get rid of Confederate symbols can be traced, in part, back to June 2015. That’s when avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof killed nine black parishioners at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. The next month, a confederate battle flag was removed from the statehouse grounds.

    Earlier this year, the city of New Orleans removed all its Confederate monuments.

    Democratic Mayor Mitch Landrieu:

    MAYOR MITCH LANDRIEU, D-La.:To literally put the Confederacy on a pedestal in our most prominent places of honor is an inaccurate recitation of our full past. It is an affront to our present, and it is a bad prescription for our future.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But in the weeks since Charlottesville, as even more Confederate statues came down in places like Baltimore, which the city removed, and Durham, North Carolina, toppled by activists, a new question emerged: what are we to do with monuments that’s on our honor historical figures who’ve been accused of wrongdoing?

    Among the examples cited recently: statues and commemorations for Christopher Columbus, whose brutality toward native Americans was well documented; Boston’s Faneuil hall, named after merchant Peter Faneuil, who had ties to slave trading; and the Philadelphia monument depicting former Mayor Frank Rizzo, who led a police force widely seen as brutal and racist.

    It’s a debate attracting voices from every corner — including President Trump:

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you all– you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The national conversation still largely focuses on the hundreds of Confederate monuments, most of which were erected decades after the civil war, and others during the civil rights era.

    (on camera): Joining me now are three men who’ve thought long and hard about how we are to wrestle with this history.

    Pierre McGraw is founder and president of the Monumental Task Committee, a group dedicated to preserving and restoring monuments. He’s in New Orleans.

    Peniel Joseph is a historian and professor of public affairs at the University of Texas in Austin. He’s the author of several books on civil rights.

    And, Fitzhugh Brundage is a history professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, with the focus on the south and U.S. history since the civil war.

    Gentleman, welcome to the NewsHour to you all.

    Peniel Joseph, I’d like to start with you first. I know you are a strong proponent that we ought to take down Confederate monuments across the country. Explain why.

    PENIEL JOSEPH, University of Texas: Well, I think because the Confederate symbols are symbols of racial hatred, slavery and white supremacy.

    So, I think what some critics do is conflate the wish to remove the monuments with somehow politically correct advocacy of whitewashing or subbing American history. Nothing could be further from the case. Removing Confederate symbols is not the same as trying to remove the Washington Monument or symbols of Thomas Jefferson. Those founders owned slaves but their ideas about democracy and freedom, they were generative ideas that other groups, including people of color, women, LGBTQ have utilized to perfect the Union.

    So, when we think about the Confederacy, that’s something different. There was a civil war between 1861 and 1865 where over 600,000 people were killed because there was a group that wanted to abandon our founding values of freedom and democracy, and didn’t want to be a part of the United States. So, getting rid of those symbols is really honoring the best of our history and not trying to somehow scrub or efface that history.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Pierre McGraw, what do you make of that? You heard what he’s saying that these monuments to many people are first and foremost, a celebration of the brutal torturous history of slavery in America. What do you make of that?

    PIERRE MCGRAW, Monumental Task Committee: Well, first, thanks for having me on.

    I think any time that you’re going to try to edit our history, you’re asking for trouble. And monuments do mean different things to different people. But it’s really unfair to judge historical figures by today’s standards.

    I think this is all just easy political fodder to go after these monuments. We know now this argument is much larger than that, having seen monuments to Christopher Columbus smashed. Just a few days ago, we’ve seen rallies in New Orleans that take down Andrew Jackson, an American president who saved New Orleans. So, this is a lot larger than just the easy targets of Confederate soldiers.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Fitzhugh Brundage, I wonder if you could give us a bit of context here. I mean, there is some question as to why they monuments went up, what they are a monument or celebration of. Who put them up and why? Can you tell us a little bit about that?

    W. FITZHUGH BRUNDAGE, University of North Carolina: Certainly. I think there’s not just the question of who put them up and why but also when. So, some monuments were put up in the first decades after the civil war and I think we could understand those monuments as being simultaneously monuments to the white Confederates who died for the Confederate republic, as well as symbols of grieve and certainly defiance. Those monuments tend to be located in cemeteries and were often put up by small local groups honoring local Confederates who were buried there.

    Then, between 1890 and roughly 1930, there was an explosion of Confederate commemoration. And those monuments are bigger ones that we typically think of that are monuments of — monuments to Confederate soldiers often depicted in military garb, on top of a pedestal or a column. And those monuments often include inscriptions which honor not just the Confederate soldiers but the Confederate cause itself.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, Peniel Joseph, I’m curious if you’ve seen this, with the NEWSHOUR and NPR and Marist recently put out a poll that showed that roughly six in 10 Americans feel that for their historical value, that Confederate ought to stay up. I’m wondering what you would say to 60 percent of the nation who seems to believe that. What would you say to try to convince them of your point of view and what would you like us to do with them?

    PENIEL JOSEPH: Well, I would tell them that these monuments are un-American. I would argue that these are symbols of white supremacy because one of the other things that happened after that period of 1930, that Fitzhugh Brundage spoke of is the 1950s and ‘60s after the Brown Supreme Court decision in 1954, different states start to put up the Confederate battle flag as white massive resistance against the idea of civil rights.

    So, I would say that it’s un-American. It’s not — we think about our founding documents, Constitution, Declaration of Independence, we said that all people are created equal. Even though the document says all men, we’ve since expanded and revise that to include people who are gay or straight, Muslim, Christian, atheist, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, we truly are multicultural, multi-racial democracy. And that’s why we are the envy of the world.

    We are only liberty’s surest guardian when we are true to our moral and political values. The Confederacy was not true to those values. Slavery is not true to those values. Racism, sexism, none of those things are true core American values.

    So I would say we don’t need to honor Robert E. Lee, but we’re on sure ground when we honor abolitionists, when we honor the founding fathers and mothers, when we honor people who reflect the values of making America the world’s last best hope for freedom and democracy.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Pierre McGraw, what do you make of that? I know that you were strongly against what happened in New Orleans, which was bringing down Robert E. Le and several other Confederate monuments. My understanding is that those are down now, that they will eventually end up in a museum where they will be wrapped in some kind of a context.

    What’s wrong with that? They haven’t been melted down. What’s wrong with removing them from these central places in our cities and towns, put them in a museum and saying, here’s what they stood for in history but take them out of the center square so to speak?

    PIERRE MCGRAW: Well, I think that’s an amusing concept. I mean, the Robert E. Lee monument is over 70 feet tall in New Orleans. I don’t know where you would put that. But if you have ever been to New Orleans, it’s a very special city, a unique city.

    And we have monuments to all kinds of events and to people. But — basically and since New Orleans has more historic districts than any city in America, the whole city is in essence a living museum and these monuments were designed for where they were placed. They were put up by New Orleanians. These were not put up by governments.

    Mothers held bake sales to raise money. Women want to honor their husbands who didn’t return. This is a way for the South to grieve and to show that, you know, they were still in business. They were still a proud people.

    The other gentleman mentioned that there weren’t any monuments put up for a little while after the war and only in cemeteries. Well, that was the case in New Orleans too because the reconstruction government, it was forbidden to put up any monuments until reconstruction was over. So, that’s when they launched into these series of putting up these monuments.

    As far as spending a lot of money to take down monuments, moving down, spending a lot of money to put them back up somewhere in public view just does not make any sense. The people who find these objectionable in the public view do now will find them equally as objectionable if they’re in a museum context.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Fitzhugh Brundage, I wonder if you could take on this idea, that the practicality of this. I mean, there are enormous amount of these monuments around the country. Is there any way you could imagine that they might be able to stay up and that context could be applied in some way to existing monuments that would make them — to give them context that you would be comfortable with?

    W. FITZHUGH BRUNDAGE: Well, I think there’s necessarily going to be some kind of triage in this process because as you said, there are so many hundreds of monuments, indeed, more than a thousand probably, maybe as many as 2,000 scattered all over the landscape. As a practical matter, it’s a huge undertaking. But I think there are questions as well about, given that these monuments are controversial, they provoke very strong emotions and we do live in a different society, a profoundly different society than the one that created these monuments, to continue to maintain the monuments where they currently exist also entails money.

    But I think there are questions as well about, given that these monuments are controversial, they provoke very strong emotions and we do live in a different society, a profoundly different society than the one that created these monuments. To continue to maintain the monuments where they currently exist also entails money and is presumably going to entail more money in the future.

    So, I do think, I would be cautious about allowing a sort of dollars and cents argument to decide whether or not it’s appropriate to remove the monuments.

    With regards to removing them, I certainly think it’s entirely within the community’s right to move a monument into a new setting and provide it with the kind of historical context that a monument standing 70 feet in the air that middle of a traffic circle in a modern city is never going to have. There’s no signage you could put up that is going to interpret that monument so that people driving past it on tour buses are going to gain an understanding of it, at least an adequate understanding.

    So I think the question of reinterpretation and how you do it is a very good question to have but I don’t think it’s one that’s going to be resolved by deciding it’s cheaper to leave them where they are than it is to move them.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right. Fitzhugh Brundage, Pierre McGraw, Peniel Joseph, thank you all very, very much.

    W. FITZHUGH BRUNDAGE: Thank you.

    PIERRE MCGRAW: Thank you.

    The post Why America is wrestling with Confederate monuments appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news, the death toll from monsoon flooding across South Asia surged again, to more than 1,200. Entire communities across India, Bangladesh and Nepal are devastated, with many cut off from clean water and food. An estimated 40 million people are affected.

    In Afghanistan’s capital, suicide bombers and gunmen stormed a Shiite mosque today, killing at least 20 worshippers. The four attackers also died. Shooting and explosions went on for several hours. Emergency workers rushed at least 50 people to the hospital. Others told of frantic efforts to escape.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    MALE (through interpreter): I was trying to escape over a wall when I saw my daughter, who was wounded, trying to climb the wall as well. There was another girl who was shot in the head. Finally, I managed to escape with my daughter, and a police officer escorted us to safety from the back of the mosque.

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Sunni-dominated Islamic State group claimed responsibility.

    In northern India, a self- declared guru was convicted of rape today, touching off riots that killed 28 people. Supporters of the religious sect leader went on a rampage, burning cars and destroying stores. In addition to the dead, more than 250 people were hurt.

    There is word that President Trump’s top economic adviser almost quit after the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. “The New York Times” reports that Gary Cohn drafted a resignation letter in response to Mr. Trump’s blaming both white supremacists and their opponents. Cohn is Jewish. He told “The Financial Times” that, quote, this administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups.

    But at the White House, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders played down the comments.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, White House Press Secretary: Gary has not held back how he feels about the situation. He’s been very open and honest, and so, I don’t think that anyone was surprised by the comments.

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, police in San Francisco are gearing up for possible trouble tomorrow, when a conservative group holds a free speech rally.

    The United States has slapped far-ranging sanctions on Venezuela. They bar any funds for the government or the state oil company, but, they stop short of cutting off imports of Venezuelan oil. The goal is to squeeze President Nicolas Maduro, as he moves increasingly toward authoritarian rule.

    The head of South Korea’s electronics giant, Samsung, was sentenced to five years in prison today. A court in Seoul convicted Lee Jae-yong of offering millions of dollars in bribes to then- President Park Geun-hye and a close friend of hers. Park was removed from office in March.

    President Trump has now formally ordered the U.S. military to reject openly transgender recruits. It also authorized the defense secretary to decide how to deal with those already serving. And he ordered the military to stop paying for surgery to do gender reassignments.

    The chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank is defending regulations imposed after the financial crash of 2008. In a speech today, Janet Yellen disputed claims that the Dodd-Frank law has hindered bank lending. President Trump and other Republicans have pushed to scrap the law.

    And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 30 points to close at 21,813. The Nasdaq fell five, and the S&P 500 added four.

     

    The post News Wrap: Monsoon death toll rises above 1,200 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Hurricane Harvey is bearing down on the Gulf Coast of Texas tonight, with all the makings of a major disaster. By early evening, the storm had sustained winds of 125 miles an hour, and could get even stronger.

    Lisa Desjardins begins our coverage.

    (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

    LISA DESJARDINS: Waves battered Galveston and the rest of the Texas coast all day, the punishing winds and rain only beginning. From high overhead, cameras aboard the international space station captured the scope of the storm as it closed in.

    Texas Governor Greg Abbott activated 700 National Guard troops and braced for the worst.

    GOV. GREG ABBOTT, R- Texas: We are going to be dealing with immense, really record- setting flooding in multiple regions across the state of Texas. You may think that the initial surge is something that you will be able to deal with. What you don’t know and what nobody else knows right now will be the magnitude of flooding that will be occurring over the coming days, and the aftermath of the initial surge.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Harvey is poised to make landfall overnight near Corpus Christi. But, it’s expected to stall and hover, inundating a wide swath of the state, including San Antonio and Houston, with up to three feet of rain. Then, another weather front could push it back into the Gulf of Mexico, to regain strength and strike again near Houston.

    Seven coastal Texas counties ordered tens of thousands to evacuate from low-lying areas. Other areas, like Galveston, only encouraged residents to leave. But the city’s mayor warned, the flooding will be worse than usual.

    JAMES YARBROUGH, Major of Galveston: That hovering effect will impact us. We’re going to see high tides come up. The highest tide, we anticipate, will be in the morning. The bad news is, they’re not going down for three or four days. And so, you get those high tides in the morning, any of this rain we anticipate is going to stack on top of that.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Corpus Christi officials are also anticipating tough times.

    JUDGE LOYD NEAL, Nueces county: When the power goes off, you can expect it to be off, depending on where you are in the city of Corpus Christi and in Nueces County, three to seven days.

    LISA DESJARDINS: With that in mind, one hospital in Corpus Christi airlifted 10 critically ill infants from its intensive care unit. As thousands of others hit the road for drier land today, a few took advantage of pounding waves.

    But a county sheriff put it plainly: stay at your own risk.

    SKIPPER OSBORNE, Sheriff, Matagorda County:  I am not going to send the boat down there after we ask you to leave. We are not — I’m not going to put one of my deputies’ lives on the line to go down there and get you out. So, you’re on your own.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Some boarded up their homes and hunkered down despite the warnings.

    FEMALE: I’m scared. So I will do everything I can to protect our little place down here, and hope and pray for the best.

    LISA DESJARDINS: In Washington, President Trump’s homeland security advisor Tom Bossert said federal disaster preparations are well under way.

    TOM BOSSERT, Homeland Security Adviser: Right now, we’re executing and we’re going to do what it takes to save peoples lives and make their lives easier as they sustain damage.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The president tweeted that he’d spoken with the governors of Texas and Louisiana, and will assist as needed. And later, the White House announced he’ll go to Texas early next week.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Lisa Desjardins.

    (END VIDEOTAPE)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The National Hurricane Center has issued very clear warnings about the danger of this storm.

    Ed Rappaport is the acting director, and he joins me now from Miami.

    Thank you so much for talking with us.

    What’s the latest on Harvey’s course?

    EDWARD RAPPARORT, Acting Director, National Hurricane Center: The latest is that the center of Harvey is located about 50 miles offshore between Corpus Christi and Port O’Connor, Texas. And we think that the center will be moving ashore there by about midnight.

    While the center’s offshore though, the strong winds and heavy rain and high storm surge are already approaching the coast. We’ve seen gusts now of over 80 miles per hour reported at Port Aransas, and the war levels are beginning to rise. That’s one of our big fears is that the storm surge associated with the hurricane is going to rise to life threatening levels.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, that’s what I wanted to ask you. What is the greatest danger? It’s flooding, is that rain that’s going to hover over the area?

    EDWARD RAPPAPORT: Yes. The greatest danger from hurricanes is always water, 90 percent of lives lost during hurricanes are due to water. And it’s split, many from storm surge, others from rainfall.

    In this case, we have both hazards in play. First along the coast, we have that storm surge that could rise to six to 12 feet, above ground level. There will be waves on top of that.

    Then, we also expect rainfall that’s going to be near record levels. Here’s the Texas coast. This area here we’re expecting at least 20 inches of rain, perhaps as much as 35 inches of rain.

    So, very dangerous conditions both from the sea and from the rainfall.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Ed Rappaport, some concern this storm could go out and come back again and hit Houston twice?

    EDWARD RAPPAPORT: There’s some possibility that down the road, three to five days, that we’ll have the system move back offshore. But at the moment, the biggest threat, the biggest concern is for the next three days with the storm surge which will linger through many high tides, as well as the rainfall, along the Texas coastal area.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to ask you to put this in context. We were looking at the warning the Hurricane Center put out just a few hours ago. Catastrophic flooding, life threatening conditions — this is very strong language.

    EDWARD RAPPAPORT: That’s right. This at the moment appears to be the strongest hurricane that we’ve had make landfall in Texas in about 50 years. So, I hope that provides some perspective at what we’re looking at. The last time we had such a strong storm was actually in the Corpus Christi area back in 1970 or even before that, 1964, also along the Texas coast.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And I know you are continually giving warnings and urging people to pay attention.

    Ed Rappaport, we —

    EDWARD RAPPAPORT: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We thank you very much, from the National Hurricane Center.

    EDWARD RAPPAPORT: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the city of San Antonio, they’re preparing for heavy rain, winds and evacuees from the coast.

    Ron Nirenberg is the mayor. I spoke with him just a short time ago.

    (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mayor Nirenberg, thank you very much for joining us.

    What have you been told to expect from this storm?

    MAYOR RON NIRENBERG, San Antonio: Well, we’re expecting some localized flooding because of some significant rainfalls that will occur over the next several hours and several days. But more importantly than that, our area is a coordinated regional emergency operation center.

    So, we’ve spun that up. We’ve been working with our emergency services departments over the last several days to prepare and we’ve received a lot of resources from the different parts of the state that are now being deployed to the coastal areas and we’re also receiving a lot of evacuees from the coastal communities. There’s a couple command tree evacuations and then, of course, there are people who are leaving which is a good idea, with the path of the storm going right over them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, before I ask you about some of that, I do want to ask you about the flooding, the rain you’re expecting. What have they told you to expect? I know from historical experience in San Antonio had some serious rain episodes in the past.

    MAYOR RON NIRENBERG: Yes. And the projections have changed. As we moved along in the storm and we’re cautioning everyone to be aware of the evolving nature of the storm that they could change again. But we know in San Antonio that a small amount of rainfall, falling in a short period of time can create some flash flooding, significant flooding. We saw that as recently as two weeks ago.

    So, we have been told to expect anywhere from six to 15 inches depending where you are in San Antonio. The heavy rain will fall east of I-35 and I-37.

    But again, that could all change. We’re asking residents to please stay home, use some common sense, stay off the roadways and if they have to travel, avoid low water crossings and be aware of their surroundings.

    We’re going to have emergency crews operating. Currently, they are barricading known trouble areas with regard to high water areas, and we’re also asking people just to alert our authorities if they find areas that are low — you know, high water over the road.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So you’re not asking people in your area to evacuate?

    MAYOR RON NIRENBERG: No. San Antonio is not under any kind of evacuation. We’re just asking people to clear path for first responders and to make sure that the roads are clear as evacuees continue to come here. We’ve had 700 of them come already that are sheltered and we have many more that are coming through our area or stopping in San Antonio on their own volition because they have wisely chosen to leave the coastal area.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So do you — do you feel you have what you need to handle the people who are coming into this city?

    MAYOR RON NIRENBERG: Absolutely. And we’ve been coordinating resources throughout the week and San Antonio is ready. No one will be turned away if they need shelter in San Antonio and we certainly stand ready as we always are in the event of significant storm, you know, rain or winds here in San Antonio locally.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Are residents heeding your advice, the advice they’re getting from city officials and from weather officials as well?

    MAYOR RON NIRENBERG: They are. Our residents here in San Antonio have been through this before. As I mentioned, we’re in flash flood alley, so we’ve seen small rain events turn into flooding situations. So, they’re aware.

    But we want to make sure that also, we’re checking on each other, you know, neighbors checking on neighbors. But just doing the simple things, preparing for — staying in during the vast part of this weekend and into next week, staying out of the way of first responders. And in the event someone can help, we’re also taking volunteers and doing trainings through our American Red Cross, all the way through tomorrow, and asking people to call our non-emergency lines to help with any assistance they can provide. We also are asking them to download apps and stay aware of the changing nature of the storm.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What’s your biggest worry right now?

    MAYOR RON NIRENBERG: You know, I’m not worried. I’m just presented and working with our emergency services, our neighbors to our south in the coastal areas.

    We’re activated. We’re ready. We know how to handle this.

    So, it’s not worry, it’s just making sure that we’re handling everything as it comes and ensuring that as people who do arrive from the coast who are worried about what they’re going to arrive back when they go home know that they have a friend and a neighbor and a safe place and shelter here in San Antonio.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Mayor Ron Nirenberg, we certainly wish you the best with this and wish safety for everybody there. Thank you very much.

    MAYOR RON NIRENBERG: Thank you, Judy.

    The post Texas prepares for ‘life-threatening’ Hurricane Harvey appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio arrives at a campaign rally for Republican U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump in Phoenix, Arizona, June 18, 2016. REUTERS/Nancy Wiechec - RTX2GYZN

    Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio arrives at a campaign rally for then-candidate Donald Trump in Phoenix on June 18, 2016. File photo by REUTERS/Nancy Wiechec

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday pardoned former sheriff Joe Arpaio, the retired Arizona lawman who was convicted for intentionally disobeying a judge’s order in an immigration case.

    The White House said the 85-year-old ex-sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County was a “worthy candidate” for a presidential pardon.

    The action came several days after Trump, at a rally in downtown Phoenix, strongly hinted that he intended to issue a pardon.

    “So was Sheriff Joe was convicted for doing his job?” Trump asked supporters. “I’ll make a prediction. I think he’s going to be just fine, OK.”

    Arpaio, who became linked to Trump during the campaign for their hardline immigration views, was convicted of a misdemeanor for intentionally defying a judge’s order to stop his traffic patrols that targeted immigrants.

    Both politicians questioned the authenticity of then-President Barack Obama’s birth certificate and have a similar history in sparring with judges.

    In the statement Friday night, the White House said, “Throughout his time as Sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now eighty-five years old, and after more than fifty years of admirable service to our Nation, he is worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.”

    READ MORE:

    The post Trump pardons Arpaio, ex-sheriff convicted of defying judge’s order appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Sebastian Gorka has left the White House. Credit: PBS NewsHour.

    Sebastian Gorka has left the White House. Credit: PBS NewsHour.

    WASHINGTON — White House national security aide Sebastian Gorka tells The Associated Press he has resigned from his position.

    A White House official, however, says Gorka did not resign but “no longer works at the White House.”

    That official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Gorka is declining to discuss the reasons he has left the White House, but is pointing toward excerpts from his resignation letter that were posted Friday evening by The Federalist website.

    Gorka wrote that “the individuals who most embodied and represented the policies that will ‘Make America Great Again,’ have been internally countered, systematically removed, or undermined in recent months.”

    Gorka’s departure comes a week after the exit of chief strategist Steve Bannon from the White House.

    READ MORE: Steve Bannon leaves White House

    The post National security aide Sebastian Gorka leaves the White House appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. (L) of the U.S. and UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor of Ireland face off during their official weigh-in at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas

    Undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. (L) of the U.S. and UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor of Ireland face off during their official weigh-in at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. on August 25, 2017. Photo by Steve Marcus/Reuters

    In Las Vegas, on August 26, the unbeaten American boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr and the immensely popular Irishman Conor McGregor will face off in a boxing ring, where only striking with hands while standing is allowed. It would be just another boxing match, albeit a huge one, except that McGregor is not even a boxer. Instead, he holds the lightweight and welterweight titles in mixed martial arts (MMA), an emerging combat sport where striking and grappling with both hands and legs is allowed, both while standing and on the ground.

    It is an unprecedented match-up and some people believe that McGregor, with his speed, athleticism and youth (he is 11 years younger than Mayweather) has a shot at doing something that 49 professional boxers before him have not been able to accomplish. But scientific evidence from the neuroscience of expertise, an emerging field investigating the brain functioning of experts, warns against betting on an MMA fighter – even one as skilled as McGregor – upsetting a boxer in a boxing match.

    The neuroscience of expertise

    The performances of experts often leave us speechless, wondering how it is humanly possible to pull off such feats. This is particularly the case in sports. Consider the serve in tennis. Once the ball is in the air, the brain needs time to process the ball’s trajectory and prepare an appropriate course of action, but by the time the body actually executes the required movements in response to these mental processes, the racket will do no more than slice the air, as the ball will have already passed by.

    This is the paradox of fast reaction sports such as tennis or boxing: it is only when the ball or the punch is in the air that we can tell with certainty what is going to happen, but by then it is far too late to react in time, even for the quickest humans. The expert brain adapts to this problem by “reading” the intention of the opponent. The positioning and movements of feet, knees, shoulders and the serving hand in tennis give away clues about the direction and power of a tennis serve.

    Similarly, the positioning of feet, hips and shoulders provide enough information for the boxing brain to anticipate a punch well in advance. This anticipation power of experts is the reason why the very best practitioners can look like characters from The Matrix, giving the impression of having all the time in the world in an environment where split-second responses decide who wins and who loses.

    Being fast and having good reflexes in general is certainly helpful in rapidly changing environments like sports. But no speed in this world will be enough if the brain hasn’t experienced and stored tens of thousands of movement patterns, which can then be reactivated and used for reading the situation at hand.

    Muhammad Ali vs Jim Brown

    This is illustrated by another unofficial cross-discipline event that occurred 50 years ago between the legendary Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown, National Football League (NFL) legend. Jim Brown was a force of nature. He was incredibly quick, immensely powerful, and his extraordinary coordination and reflexes made him one of the greatest NFL players. In the mid 1960s, aged 30, Jim Brown was bored with the NFL and was pondering other ways of making a living. One of them was boxing, a sport where his immense quickness and sheer power would seem to be especially useful.

    He persuaded his manager to organise a meeting with Muhammad Ali, at that time at the peak of his powers, who happened to be in London, where Jim Brown was shooting a film at that time. They met in Hyde Park, where Ali used to work out while preparing for the next bout. Ali tried to persuade Brown to give up on his dream of being a boxer. Brown maintained that he was as quick and as powerful as Ali, if not more so, and if boxing suited Ali, it should suit him too.

    A “sparring session” ensued, where Ali asked Brown to hit him as hard as possible. The problem was that Ali was never to be found at the spot where he had been standing a moment earlier. According to the legendary promoter Bob Arum, after about 30 seconds of swinging and missing by Brown, Ali pulled off one of his lightning quick one-two combinations and stopped Brown momentarily in his tracks. At that moment, Brown, visibly winded, clocked the situation and simply said: “OK, I get the point.”

    Don’t expect McGregor to be so totally embarrassed, as Brown was. After all, MMA includes aspects of boxing and McGregor has had experience with the sport, unlike Brown. Still, that experience is limited because boxing is just a part of the MMA skill set (not to mention embedded in a context where one needs to employ leg strikes and takedowns). One can be certain that McGregor’s brain has stored vastly fewer kinematic boxing patterns than the brain of a person who has boxed all their life, such as Mayweather Jr.

    Mayweather Jr may be 40, he may have ring rust after being absent from the ring for almost two years, and McGregor is not only 11 years his junior but also possibly faster and stronger; but everything we know about the way experts’ brains work tells us that the smart money is on Mayweather Jr recording a convincing win.
    The Conversation

    Merim Bilalic is a Professor of Cognitive Psychology at Northumbria University in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

    The post Mayweather will beat McGregor, neuroscience predicts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said during a news Saturday afternoon that officials have not confirmed any fatalities related to Hurricane Harvey, the most powerful storm to touch down in the state in more than a half-century.

    Abbott’s comments came as the National Hurricane Center downgraded the hurricane to a tropical storm and as emergency crews, including more than 1,800 service members, spanned out in Corpus Christi and elsewhere around the state.

    More than 338,000 homes are without power in parts of Texas. The greatest threat that residents now face is widespread flooding, which is expected to continue in the coming days, Abbott said.

    “We want to do everything we possible can to keep people out of rising water,” Abbott said, in part by issuing “constant warnings to the public about being vigilant.”

    At least 1,400 people are now staying at 24 Red Cross shelters, with 42 more locations on standby. Another 1,500 people have been moved to state parks. More than 100 bus trips have taken evacuees to safer ground, Abbott said.

    The National Hurricane Center downgraded Hurricane Harvey to a Category 1 hours after it descended on the Texas coast late Friday night, unleashing 130 mph winds and a torrent of rain.

    The storm, initially categorized as a Category 4 hurricane, knocked out power to thousands of homes as the authorities continued to assess the full extent of the damage.

    The hurricane touched down outside the city of Corpus Christi and was the strongest to hit the U.S. in more than 10 years before it weakened, moving farther inland over southeastern Texas, where it continued to bring life-threatening storm surge and winds of 90 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

    President Donald Trump said on Twitter on Friday that he had signed a disaster declaration for the state, allowing federal funding and support.

    Hurricane Harvey is expected to linger over Texas through Wednesday, producing as much as 3 feet of rain in portions of the state. The hurricane was expected to decrease in intensity throughout Saturday and be downgraded to a tropical storm, bringing widespread flooding over the next several days, according to the National Weather Service.

    Abbott on Friday said the state was working with federal and local authorities to address the fallout from the hurricane.

    “I encourage Texans to continue heeding all warning from local officials,” he said in a statement posted on Twitter.

    There were no fatalities immediately reported after the storm tore along the Gulf Coast.

    But in the hard-hit city of Rockport, which sat in the eye of the hurricane about 30 miles outside Corpus Christi, extensive damage consumed homes, businesses and schools. Images and videos posted to social media showed downed power lines and trees along with flooded yards as residents who remained began to survey the ruins.

    The Rockport Volunteer Fire Department requested airboats to begin search and rescue efforts. And the city’s mayor, Charles Wax, told CNN the storm left “widespread devastation.”

    “We’ve already taken a severe blow from the storm but we’re anticipating another one,” he said.

    READ NEXT: How did Katrina change how we evacuate pets from disaster?

    The Corpus Christi Police Department described heavy road debris and traffic light outages.

    “Please be patient. Let us get things safe for your return,” the department posted on Twitter.

    And in Galveston early Saturday, torrential rains and whipping winds froze traffic along roadways as emergency crews prepared for major flooding. Power outages were also reported.

    “If you must drive through high water, please drive slow to avoid pushing water into a home or business,” the city posted on Twitter.

    The post Texas governor says flooding poses greatest threat to residents appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a statement on the deadly protests in Charlottesville, at the White House in Washington, U.S. August 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTS1BS7L

    President Donald Trump delivers a statement at the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Donald Trump started as the most unpopular new president in the history of modern polling. After seven months, things have only gotten worse.

    Plunging into undesirably uncharted territory, Trump is setting records with his dismally low approval ratings, including the lowest mark ever for a president in his first year. In fact, with four months left in the year, Trump has already spent more time under 40 percent than any other first-year president.

    At 34 percent, his current approval rating is worse than President Barack Obama’s ever was.

    Trump’s early descent in the polls defies some longstanding patterns about how Americans view their president. Such plunges are often tied to external forces that the president only partially controls, such as a sluggish economy or an all-consuming international crisis. In Trump’s case, the economy is humming and the foreign crises have been kept to a minimum.

    Americans also tend to be optimistic about their new leaders, typically cutting them some slack during their early days in office. Not with Trump.

    “Most presidents begin with a honeymoon period and then go down from that, and Trump had no honeymoon,” said Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport.

    It’s a jarring juxtaposition for the reality TV star-turned-president who spent months on the campaign trail obsessing about his poll numbers and reading them to massive rally crowds while vowing that he’d win so much as president that Americans would get sick of it. Since he took office, the poll number recitations have stopped.

    Trump is now viewed positively by only 37 percent of Americans, according to Gallup’s most recent weekly estimate. (Obama’s lowest weekly average never fell below 40 percent.) It’s even lower – just 34 percent – in Gallup’s shorter, three-day average, which includes more recent interviews but can also involve more random variation.

    To be sure, approval ratings can fluctuate – sometimes dramatically. Some presidents have seen their positive reviews dip below 40 percent, only to recover strongly. Bill Clinton, whose rating fell to 37 percent in early June 1993 after policy stumbles, quickly gained ground. Later that same month, he climbed to 46 percent, and ended his eight years enjoying approval from 66 percent of the nation.

    Trump has defied the trends before. But if history is a guide, his numbers don’t bode well. Low approval ratings hamper a president’s ability to push an agenda through Congress and make it more likely the president’s party will lose seats in Congress in the midterm elections.

    READ NEXT: New poll: Majority of Americans unhappy with Trump’s response to Charlottesville

    Scott de Marchi, who teaches political science at Duke University, says his research suggests approval ratings tend to affect whether a president can persuade Congress to do his or her bidding. That’s primarily true with complex issues like tax reform, where Americans care about the outcome but may not have strongly formed opinions. In those cases, Americans are more likely to support whatever plan the president proposes if they broadly approve of the president himself.

    “The problem with Trump is that on any area like the budget or tax policy or even health care, people need to be led to a position to support,” de Marchi said.

    Since Gallup began tracking presidential approval, four presidents – Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush – spent significant time below 40 percent during their first four years. Clinton’s and Ronald Reagan’s forays below the 40 percent mark also came during their first terms. But neither stayed there long.

    Of those who spent at least a few months below 40 percent approval in a first term, only one – Truman – recovered enough to win re-election.

    Still, several others reached lows at some point in their presidency that are worse than Trump’s, including several who dropped below 30 percent.

    Truman hit 22 percent in February 1952, during a drawn-out Korean War stalemate and accusations of corruption in his administration. Richard Nixon hit 24 percent at the height of the Watergate scandal just before his resignation in 1974. Carter bottomed out at 28 percent in the summer of 1979, amid that year’s oil crisis.

    Trump’s average approval rating so far: Just 40 percent. That’s even lower than the previous average low for a first-term president, 46 percent, set by Carter.

    [Watch Video]

    Newport, the Gallup chief, said Trump’s struggles are unusual in that such abysmal numbers can usually be tied to a single, specific issue bedeviling the country. With Trump, Newport said, “it’s a more general kind of issue with the man himself and a more general dissatisfaction with the way things are going in the country.”

    In July, Gallup posed another question to Trump’s disapprovers: Why? Nearly two-thirds cited his personality or character, while less than a third cited issues, policies or job performance.

    By contrast, when Gallup asked the same question about Obama in 2009 and George W. Bush in 2001, less than 2 in 10 disapprovers cited similar concerns about personal characteristics.

    The vast majority of Republicans support Trump while the vast majority of Democrats oppose him. Such political polarization might be both a blessing and a curse for Trump, preventing him from achieving higher ratings but also keeping him from falling even further.

    “When Trump has done things that have generated an enormous amount of attention and people have anticipated his rating could go down, it has not,” Newport said. “And that’s because he’s being propped up by Republicans.”

    It’s unclear whether Trump’s most recent bout with controversy – his response to racially tinged clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia – further harmed his approval ratings. It could be he’s close enough to bottoming out that the latest dust-up will have little effect.

    In a Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted Aug. 16-20, just 28 percent said they approve of Trump’s response to Charlottesville. But 37 percent said they approved of the job Trump is doing overall – almost the exact same percentage that approved in the same poll a month earlier.

    Yet if the famously image-conscious Trump aspires to undo some of the damage, there’s reason to hope.

    “The history of presidential job approval ratings shows an enormous amount of fluctuation,” Newport said. “There’s no historical reason why his ratings couldn’t go up.”

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    CLEVELAND — An insurer has stepped up to sell individual health insurance policies to the last county in the United States without coverage in 2018, signaling the resilience of an Obamacare market that had been forecast to fail.

    The Ohio-based insurer CareSource has struck an agreement to sell policies in Paulding County, in the northwestern corner of the state, ending months of efforts by insurance commissioners nationwide to maintain coverage despite decisions by major insurers to bolt from the individual market.

    The deal was a win for Obamacare, which survived a Republican repeal effort and uncertainty created by the Trump administration’s refusal to guarantee that it would continue to pay cost-sharing subsidies that support the individual exchange market.

    “Working through this challenge has been a priority for the department and our staff in recent weeks and I’m proud of the collaborative approach insurers have been willing to take so that we could come together and solve this problem,” Ohio insurance commissioner Jillian Froment said. “There is a lot of uncertainty facing consumers when it comes to health insurance and these announcements will provide important relief.”

    READ NEXT: Uber and the gig economy used to love Obamacare. What happened?

    In a statement CareSource President Pamela Morris said, “The Marketplace provides vital health care coverage to more than 10.3 million Americans and we want to be a resource for consumers left without options. Our decision to offer coverage in the bare counties speaks to our mission and commitment to the Marketplace and serving those who are in need of health care coverage.”

    Earlier this year, more than 40 mostly rural counties across the country faced the prospect of having no options for their exchanges. Insurers who withdrew cited steep losses and a lack of clarity over the future of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Many counties still have only one insurer, and premiums in many regions will increase significantly next year due to the financial pressures facing insurers.

    Republican governors keep market intact

    On Wednesday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a press release noting that Paulding County was the only area left without an insurer. The release added: “It’s also projected that 1,478 counties — over 45 percent of counties nationwide — could have only one issuer in 2018. This could represent more than 2.6 million Exchange participants with only one health insurance option, which means they will not have any choices.”

    However, Thursday’s announcement means there will be no gaps in coverage. And ironically, it was primarily the work of Republican governors that prevented the market from crumbling.

    In Ohio, Republican John Kasich, an opponent of Trump’s in the presidential election and supporter of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, worked with insurers to fill the gaps. Earlier this year, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield pulled out of the state, as did Dayton-based Premier Health Plan, leaving 20 counties without coverage for 2018.

    In the end, Kasich’s administration struck arrangements with five different health plans to provide coverage, including CareSource, Medical Mutual of Ohio, Buckeye Health Plan, Molina Healthcare of Ohio, and Paramount Health Plan.

    READ NEXT: How Obamacare saved my life

    Prior to Thursday, several other states also struck deals with insurers to fill gaps left in their markets. Anthem pulled out of Nevada earlier this month, but Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval’s administration reached an agreement with Centene Corp. to provide coverage.

    Still, the longer-term viability of Obamacare remains under debate in Congress. “Making sure coverage is available has been our goal through this process, but this is a temporary solution and one that only applies to 2018,” Froment said. “Beyond that, insurers are still looking for predictability in the health insurance market. Now is the time for Congress to work on reforms that will strengthen our health insurance markets in ways that improve access and affordability.”

    This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on August 24, 2017. Find the original story here.

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    An Iranian flag flutters in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Photo by Leonhard Foeger/Reuters

    An Iranian flag flutters in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Photo by Leonhard Foeger/Reuters

    ABOARD THE USS NIMITZ — High above the Persian Gulf, an Iranian drone crosses the path of American fighter jets lining up to land on the USS Nimitz.

    The drone buzzes across the sky more than a mile above the massive aircraft carrier and is spotted by the fighters. It is unarmed.

    But for the senior Navy commanders on the ship, the presence of the enemy drone so close is worrying. Their biggest fear is the surveillance aircraft will start carrying weapons, posing a more direct threat to U.S. vessels transiting one of the world’s most significant strategic and economic international waterways.

    “It’s just a matter of time before we see that,” said Navy Rear Adm. Bill Byrne, commander of the carrier strike group that includes the Nimitz. He said the Iranian drone activity has “generated a lot of discussion” and was becoming an increasingly pressing matter of concern.

    If, at some point, Byrne believes a drone is threatening his ship, he and his staff would have to carefully proceed through the required responses — efforts at communication, sounding the horn, firing flares and warning shots, and flying a helicopter close to the unmanned vehicle. If all those efforts fail and he still perceives a threat, Byrne said it would be his duty, his “responsibility,” to shoot down the Iranian drone.

    So far, it hasn’t come to that. But the drones have become an even more dangerous security risk as U.S. carriers in the Persian Gulf like the Nimitz play a key role in Iraq and Syria. Planes from these ships are regularly flying to each country to bomb militants fighting with the Islamic State group and other targets. From the Nimitz alone, U.S. fighter jets flew missions resulting in at least 350 bombs being dropped on IS militants just in the last month.

    Iran has routinely challenged U.S. ships and aircraft across the Gulf, asserting at times that the entire waterway is its territory. Navy commanders say Iran’s unpredictable behavior is the biggest safety hazard.

    “Iranians don’t always follow the rules,” Byrne said. “There is a well-established set of norms, standards and laws. They don’t tend to follow them.”

    To counter the threat, Pentagon experts are searching for new ways to deter, defeat or disable the drones. According to Byrne and Cdr. Dave Kurtz, the Nimitz’s executive officer, Iranian drones fly over the carrier strike group almost daily.

    They said the danger is that as the F/A-18 fighters return from their missions in Iraq and Syria, they circle overhead, lining up for their turn to land on the carrier. Even if the Iranian drones are only meant to annoy, their buzzing across the American flight paths risks an accident.

    Up in the carrier’s control room, a book on Iranian naval and maritime forces sits above the radar screen. Commanders on the ship announce when a drone appears. Then, they go through a careful, planned response of attempted radio calls and warnings.

    Gen. Joseph Votel, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, visited the Nimitz on Thursday, also stopping on the nearby USS Vella Gulf, a guided missile cruiser. The drone, he said, also flew over that ship.

    “The proliferation of drones is a real challenge,” said Votel, who was finishing his 10-day trip to the Middle East and Afghanistan. “It’s growing exponentially.”

    Speaking with traveling reporters, Votel said the Pentagon has sought to devise more high-tech ways to handle the drones through the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization, originally set up in 2006 to counter improvised explosive devices used by insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan to kill and maim American troops.

    Much as it did with that decade-old roadside bomb battle, the organization now focuses on how to deal with Iran’s drones, Votel said. He didn’t provide details, but he acknowledged that U.S. cyber capabilities could be used to defeat a drone or the network controlling it.

    The military is training troops on drone response, he said. But right now, said Byrne, they’re still following their normal procedures. And he still hasn’t been forced to shoot one down.

    Byrne described how a helicopter from the Nimitz flew by the drone to ensure it wasn’t weaponized. In the month the Nimitz has been in the Gulf, efforts to speak with the drone operators have been hit or miss, he said.

    “Sometimes they answer, sometimes they don’t,” he said, echoing experiences American forces have had with small Iranian fast boats that pose a similar threat of coming too close by sea.

    When the Iranians do answer, Byrne said, they often “challenge our assertion that they are flying into danger.” The drones fly out of airfields up and down the Iranian coast, mainly watching U.S. ships and taking photos.

    On Thursday, the Nimitz was about 40 miles from the Iranian coast, halfway between the Islamic Republic and Saudi Arabia.

    The post In the Persian Gulf, Iran’s drones pose rising threat to U.S. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    People celebrate in San Francisco's Civic Center after a right-wing rally was canceled on August 27, 2017. Photo by Meredith Nierman

    People celebrate in San Francisco’s Civic Center after a right-wing rally was canceled on August 27, 2017. Photo by Meredith Nierman

    Hundreds of people in Berkeley on Sunday and in San Francisco on Saturday celebrated in the streets for discouraging right-wing groups associated with violence from holding planned public events in those cities.

    The Oregon-based group Patriot Prayer had been granted a permit by the National Park Service to hold a rally at 2 p.m. PST at Crissy Field in San Francisco on Saturday, under the conditions they did not wear helmets nor bring guns or anything else resembling weapons. Counter-protesters had also obtained three permits and planned two other rallies at the city’s Civic Center and in the Castro neighborhood.

    And a woman had organized a “No to Marxism in America” rally in Berkeley’s Civic Center Park for Sunday, despite the city’s denial of a permit.

    But on Friday evening, Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson said on Facebook that he was changing the rally’s location to Alamo Square and that it would instead be a news conference. After local law enforcement Saturday morning fenced and closed Alamo Square, turning people away, Gibson told the NewsHour Weekend that he would instead hold the news conference indoors and then pop up throughout the city to talk to residents.

    And Amber Cummings, who had organized Berkeley’s rally, also canceled the event in Berkeley on Sunday, citing fear for everyone’s safety.

    Still, hundreds of counter protesters showed up to the various rallies, some in vibrant costumes, with music and bubbles and signs, relishing what they saw as a success.

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

    Hina Shah, an immigration lawyer, was having a picnic with her two children in San Francisco’s Civic Center on Saturday when she told KQED, “This is about us as people of color … We can’t stand by and do nothing.”

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

    People celebrate in San Francisco's Civic Center after a right-wing rally was canceled on August 27, 2017. Photo by Meredith Nierman

    People celebrate in San Francisco’s Civic Center after a right-wing rally was canceled on August 27, 2017. Photo by Meredith Nierman

    Leading San Francisco officials including Mayor Ed Lee, House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi and state Sen. Scott Wiener had originally urged the National Park Service not to issue the permit for the rally, denouncing it as potentially violent.

    When Gibson changed the plans at the last minute, Lee said he did not trust the group.

    “We don’t trust this group. I never have from the beginning,” he told the Associated Press.

    And while Gibson maintains that the group is promoting freedom of speech, not violence, nor is it flagged by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, its reputation has been tainted by past events in Portland.

    In June, a two-hour “Freedom March” at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland during a blues festival provoked fights.

    Gibson has since denounced white supremacy and violence at his rallies, asking people looking for a fight not to come and then stating that he changed locations out of fear for people’s safety. But he also told the NewsHour Weekend that he agrees with a remark that President Donald Trump made, that “both sides” are to blame for violence, which is a message that has been celebrated by neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

    “I agree with the fact that it is [extremists on] both sides that are to blame, absolutely. I think that’s just wisdom,” he said.

    And Wiener issued a statement on Friday, saying that Patriot Prayer’s efforts to move the rally to an unpermitted, less secure location reinforced its reputation for encouraging violence.

    “Patriot Prayer is not interested in simply exercising free speech. Rather, Patriot Prayer wants to create a volatile, chaotic, violent tinderbox.”

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

    Cummings has also denounced white supremacy and violence, but shortly after she set up an event on Facebook, Kyle Chapman, who has since been charged with having a lethal weapon and accused of starting brawls at alt-right and pro-Trump rallies, wrote on the page, “I’ll see y’all there!” A handful of people wrote positive comments under his post.

    It has been two weeks since a car ran into anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing Heather Heyer in the aftermath of a white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally. And in those weeks, several people within Trump’s administration have issued statements or resigned, citing his failure to condemn white supremacists.

    Last weekend, a planned rally by far-right group called Boston Free Speech was outnumbered by thousands of counter-protesters who alleged the group was promoting racism.

    While San Francisco politicians on Saturday and the week prior used the national spotlight to denounce racism, hate and white supremacists, they did not use it to rail against the city’s own ongoing racial issues.

    Twitter, Google, AirBnB, Pinterest, Uber and other tech companies based in San Francisco and Silicon Valley have brought highly-paid employees to the area, leading to skyrocketing real estate prices that have pushed out local businesses and especially minority residents. The black population has declined from a 1970 peak of 13.4 percent of city residents to about six percent, according to U.S. Census data from 2015, while activists claim it’s as low as three percent.

    And the city has been under fire for the way its police force and justice system treats people of color.

    The San Francisco Public Defender’s office recently commissioned a report that found nearly half of the city’s inmates are black.

    And in May 2016, then-Police Chief Greg Suhr resigned after presiding over a series of controversies, including the exposure of racist texts by police and the fatal shooting of 26-year-old Mario Woods, whose family faced the foreclosure of his childhood home.

    Woods was shot 20 times in San Francisco’s historic Bayview neighborhood, known in particular for its naval development ahead of World War II, which drew black, working-class builders during the Great Migration. Now, the foreclosure rate in that area is four times higher than the rest of the city, according to the SF Weekly.

    Joanne Elgart Jennings contributed reporting from San Francisco.

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    Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio arrives at a campaign rally for Republican U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump in Phoenix, Arizona, June 18, 2016. REUTERS/Nancy Wiechec - RTX2GYZN

    Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio arrives at a campaign rally for Republican U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump in Phoenix, Arizona, June 18, 2016. Photo by Nancy Wiechec/Reuters

    President Donald Trump has exercised his pardon power for the first time, using it to pardon former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. A look at the president’s unique power:

    WHERE DOES THE PRESIDENT’S PARDON POWER COME FROM?

    Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the Constitution says: “The President … shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” The president’s power can only be used to pardon someone for a federal crime, not a state one.

    HOW DOES THE PARDON PROCESS USUALLY WORK?

    Someone who has been convicted of a federal crime and wants to be pardoned makes a request for a pardon to the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney, which assists the president in exercising his pardon power. Department rules tell pardon seekers to wait at least five years after their conviction or their release from prison, whichever is later, before filing a pardon application.

    It’s then up to the pardon office to make a recommendation about whether a pardon is warranted. The office looks at such factors as how the person has acted following their conviction, the seriousness of the offense and the extent to which the person has accepted responsibility for their crime. Prosecutors in the office that handled the case are asked to weigh in. The pardon office’s report and recommendation gets forwarded to the deputy attorney general, who adds his or her recommendation. That information is then forwarded to the White House for a decision.

    WHAT MAKES ARPAIO’S PARDON UNUSUAL?

    Arpaio didn’t submit a pardon application through the Office of the Pardon Attorney. His pardoning also took place before he was sentenced. Arpaio was convicted July 31 of misdemeanor contempt of court for intentionally defying a 2011 court order to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants. He had been set to be sentenced Oct. 5 and faced up to six months in jail. The fact that Arpaio was pardoned for a misdemeanor offense, which carries a penalty of less than a year in jail, is also unusual. Generally those seeking presidential pardon have been convicted of felonies.

    WHAT HAPPENS TO ARPAIO’S CASE NOW?

    One of Arpaio’s attorneys, Jack Wilenchik, said in a telephone interview Saturday that next week Arpaio’s attorneys will file a motion to vacate his conviction and to dismiss the case with prejudice, “meaning forever.” ”This is the end,” he said. Wilenchik said of the pardon the “president has done the right thing here.”

    WHO ELSE MIGHT TRUMP PARDON?

    Arpaio’s is Trump’s first pardon, but hundreds of other people also want his help. According to Justice Department statistics, as of Aug. 7 Trump had 376 requests for pardons pending and 1,508 requests for commutation, a reduction of a prison sentence a person is currently serving.

    It’s not unusual for presidents to ultimately use their power to help hundreds. During his time in office President Barack Obama granted 212 pardons and commuted the sentences of approximately 1,700 people, including about 300 drug offenders he pardoned on his last day in office and Chelsea Manning, the transgender Army intelligence officer convicted of leaking more than 700,000 U.S. documents. President George W. Bush pardoned 189 people and commuted 11 sentences.

    The post A look at the president’s pardon power and how it works appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    joe arapio

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR:  President Trump has formalized his ban on transgender Americans serving in the U.S. military, signing the official memorandum late yesterday.  The order asks the defense secretary to determine what to do about currently-enlisted members of the military who are transgender.  It also prohibits the military from spending money on surgery for military members who are transitioning.

    Joining me now to discuss the president’s latest actions is “NewsHour Weekend” special correspondent Jeff Greenfield, who’s in Santa Barbara, California.

    Jeff, is there something that binds all these different actions together?

    JEFF GREENFIELD, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, like the song says, it’s all about the base.  So, you have the second level departing White House aide charging that the White House has been captured by the globalists, the neo conservatives, the enemies of the Steve Bannon nationalists.

    So, if you want to appeal the base, well, you please the social conservatives with the ban on transgenders of the military, then you pardon Sheriff Arpaio, who’d been convicted in criminal contempt of hassling people suspected of being undocumented aliens.  And you say that Obama’s plan to protect the children of undocumented immigrants, that may be going by the wayside.  That’s all about shoring up the promises you made to be tough on immigration and to side with the social conservatives.

    SREENIVASAN:  Why do that on a Friday night literally as a hurricane is coming to shore?

    GREENFIELD:  You know, for anybody else, you’d have the suspicions that he was trying to hide it.  But remember Trump all but announced he was going to issue that pardon at a very well covered raucous rally in Phoenix.

    So with Trump, I’m beginning to think there was something about Friday night because it’s been happening all summer where everybody else goes home and he’s left alone with his iPhone and the tweets and decisions start coming.

    SREENIVASAN:  Si, let’s talk about the pardon here because people are also seeing a different message from that.

    GREENFIELD:  Right.  The obvious message is to the people who want to crack down on immigration if you’re with me on that, I’m going to protect you.  But for a lot of Trump’s critics, they’re looking at other people, they’re looking at Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager, General Flynn, both of whom are in the crosshairs of special counsel Mueller.

    And some people are saying if there’s a message here, if you protect me, if you stand with me, I’ll make sure you do not suffer legal consequences, which is another way of saying if you’re thinking about flipping, as they say in the law, turning the tables on me or my son or my son-in-law, remember, I’ve got this pardon power.

    SREENIVASAN:  And Joe Arpaio is already using this as an opportunity to raise some funds he says for his legal defenses.

    GREENFIELD:  Well, it’s very expensive to put on a criminal defense and now he’s got the president of the United States basically saying not just I’m pardoning you, I forgive you, saying there’s nothing to forgive.  You did the right thing.

    SREENIVASAN:  You know, all of this is also happening around Arizona and you’ve got Senator John McCain pushing back even against Joe Arpaio saying, hey, Mr. President, you said you respect the rule of law but this goes, you’re supporting a guy who went against a federal judge.

    GREENFIELD:  Not only that but the other senator, Jeff Flake, who has been very critical of the president, Trump at his rally I’m going to back one of his opponents in the primary.  And Flake is one of the two Republican incumbents who is seen as most endangered.  That in turn is not pleasing people like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who wants to keep his Senate majority more probably than he wants to be nice to President Trump.  It’s an amazingly unpredictable, unprecedented series of events and it’s going to get weirder.

    SREENIVASAN:  All right.  Let’s talk a little bit about the consequences here down the line when they get back in session.

    GREENFIELD:  It’s astonishing what’s on the table.  They’ve got a relatively short amount on time to fund the government or the government shuts down.  Even more perilous, they’ve got to raise the debt ceiling.  If not, the full faith and credit of the United States is thrown in the doubt.  What does that mean?  Countless billions of dollars more in borrowing cost and potential destabilization of the entire world financial market.

    Now, normally presidents really care about not doing either one of those things, but you have Trump saying if they’re not going to build the wall, then maybe we should shut down the government.  And you have the most conservative members of the House Republican Caucus, the Freedom Caucus folks who are prepared it looks like, to say if you don’t link the debt ceiling, the things we care about, maybe we won’t vote for it and let the heavens fall.

    It’s another of the maybe 500 examples where people like me keep telling people, you know this is not normal.  This just isn’t the way the government normally works.

    SREENIVASAN:  And if you actually had a government shut down, and we’ve had these conversations before when we’ve come to the brink and it’s been kind of veered off the last minute or a couple of days where you know, people in Washington, D.C. could go home.  What are the significant consequences?

    GREENFIELD:  Yes, if it’s just the kind of shut down that’s happened where they close the national parks and they close the monuments for a few days, I’m glad you asked this because people always said in the last one, well, the Republicans took a real hit when they were blamed for the government shut down.  But if you look at what happened in like the last midterm elections of 2014, no, they didn’t.  They had a second huge victory.  So, one thing I’d be cautious about is ascribing to the government shutdown, a necessary political peril for the Republicans.

    On the other hand, they have everything now.  They got the White House and the Congress.  So maybe this time the government shut down wound really wind up having serious political consequences.  But we’ve been surprised so often in the past —

    SREENIVASAN:  Yes.

    GREENFIELD: — by what has and hasn’t happened.  A little humility is in order here.

    SREENIVASAN:  All right.  Jeff Greenfield, thanks so much.

    GREENFIELD:  Thank you, Hari.

    The post Arpaio pardon hurts GOP relations with Trump appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Craig "Cajun" Uggen, 57, nearly floods his truck as Hurricane Harvey comes ashore in Corpus Christi

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    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Here at the Salvation Army’s emergency family shelter in San Antonio, relief efforts are less about what happened as the storm made landfall, and more about what’s still to come.

    MARYANN GAYTAN: To get ready, we had to pre-plan in the last 72 hours and even before that. And it was hard to plan, but we did plan for things like ordering extra food.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Maryann Gaytan is a case manager at the shelter.

    MARYANN GAYTAN: We’re in need of towels, things like deodorant, toothpaste, the basic essentials for the clients who come in who don’t come in with anything, who have had to abandon their immediate place of habitation.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Even before the storm, this shelter — primarily for homeless and at-risk women and families — was already at full capacity.

    The salvation army brought in trucks filled with extra food and supplies.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Are you are you worried about what the fallout will be from this storm?

    MARYANN GAYTAN: The worry really comes more from the make sure everybody is safe and secure here in our building, and then the local community coming in from the places of non-habitation.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: A few miles away, at one of the Red Cross centers in San Antonio, a a large volunteer effort is underway.

    Among the volunteers are three college students, who evacuated their home in Corpus Christi — 140 miles away — yesterday.

    BRIDGET DELEON: We boarded up the house, we tried to push everything, and it was hectic. It was chaos in Corpus, because all the stores were getting rammed out and, I mean, we were just focused on, let’s get the house ready and let’s get out of here because we don’t want to hit traffic.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Today they learned their house in Corpus Christi had been damaged in the storm.

    JANIQUE PATTERSON: One of our friends from back home — our coworker–sent us pictures.

    ARLENE ZUNIGA: Our trees in front, like, my room, window, in front of the house has been uprooted. The damages could have been a lot worse and we’re thankful for just the minor things and thankful for us coming all the way over here and not being stuck in there.

    JANIQUE PATTERSON: I’m a little bit worried to see what we go back to. We don’t know what to expect really.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Henry van de Putte is executive director of the greater San Antonio Red Cross. He says he’s not sure what aid will be needed next.

    How many people are currently in need of shelter?

    HENRY VAN DE PUTTE: Right now currently in San Antonio we’re right around 1,000 people. The need could be increasing or decreasing based on the situation on the ground, which you know is changing.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Chris you’ve been in and around sa all day, this is the city that people have evacuated to from the coast but it’s also a city that’s in preparation mode for the rain that’s coming.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: That’s right, we spent the day visiting numerous places. The Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and we spoke with a number of people who are bas getting ready for an unknown number of people who have left the coast basically who are at the forefront of Harvey’s arrival. We went to one of the main staging areas where the state has hundreds of buses and emergency vehicles that every now and again will leave and 10 to 15 bus convoys. We spoke with a police officer at the gate who said they’re heading south toward the coastline.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: What about the flooding that they’re expecting to have?

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Right now there’s been some flooding, it’s largely just standing water in San Antonio. We visited areas in the city that are known to flood and some of the roads were indeed closed but the flooding itself wasn’t v high. We saw a mail truck delivering mail, cutting through the streets. It really didn’t seem to be cutting into the activity of the city.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Chris Booker, thanks so much.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Thanks.

    The post Hurricane Harvey evacuees describe ‘chaos’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Business owner and resident clears debris from outside his shop which was hit by Hurricane Harvey in Rockport, Texas

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Hello and thanks for joining us.

    Once-mighty Hurricane Harvey is weakening and drifting slowly but dangerously over land. Forecasters warn the storm is still capable of generating “catastrophic” flooding as far as 100 miles inland. After making landfall overnight, Harvey was downgraded today from a Category 4 hurricane, with 130-mile-an-hour winds, to tropical storm status, still with very severe 75-mile-an-hour winds.

    Harvey came ashore about 30 miles northeast of Corpus Christi as the strongest hurricane to hit Texas in almost 60 years. Harvey has already dumped 20 inches of rain in some places. There’s a report of one hurricane-linked death.

    But the storm knocked out power to almost 300-thousand homes. Because of Harvey, officials say about a-quarter of gulf coast oil refinery production has been taken off-line.

    Hurricane Harvey struck the town of Rockport, northeast of Corpus Christi, as a Category 4 hurricane late last night. By dawn, nearly 20 inches of rain had fallen. The heavy winds caused damage to this coastal community of 10,000 people.

    After the roof of this senior center collapsed, some of its residents were evacuated to the county jail.

    Despite the warnings, the storm’s severity caught some off-guard.

    MANDY LEE: we’re kind of just hoping. We didn’t think it would end up a Category 4.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Near Rockport, the Coast Guard sent helicopters to rescue the crews of three tugboats that had sent mayday notifications.

    Nearby Aransas Pass was under a mandatory evacuation order, but some residents stayed behind.

    ALBERT GUZMAN: It was pretty scary. It felt like 150 mile an hour winds. I mean it was whipping pretty good.

    Albert Guzman prepared by moving all of his possessions into a storage container.

    ALBERT GUZMAN: The storage pod’s got everything I own in it. The house is empty. I got three cats and a rabbit, and a girlfriend.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In Corpus Christi, the closest major city at the center of the storm, there were heavy winds and downed lamp posts. But the large marina was relatively unscathed.

    About 75 miles north of Corpus Christi, the storm demolished structures in the town of Victoria. The mayor estimated that 65 percent of the town’s 65,000 residents didn’t leave, despite the mandatory evacuation order.

    Farther north, near Houston, Harvey was blamed for what’s believed to be a tornado that touched down in the nearby town of Katy.

    President Trump signed a disaster declaration for Texas before the storm hit the coast last night, and in a tweet early this morning he said he was “closely monitoring #hurricaneharvey from camp David. We are leaving nothing to chance. City, state, and federal govs. Working great together!

    The White House said later Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence met today with the cabinet and senior administration officials to discuss the federal response.

    Now-tropical storm Harvey is now headed inland in the direction of San Antonio, before it’s expected to turn around and start heading back toward the coast by tomorrow morning.

    Harvey is expected to hover over the Texas coast until the middle of next week.

    In a news conference this afternoon, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he had activated 1,800 Texas service members and warned the worst of Harvey may still be ahead.

    TEXAS GOV. GREG ABBOTT:
    In various key regions ranging from Corpus Christi to the Houston area, perhaps as much as 20 to 30 more inches of rain could be coming down. That is coming down on already saturated ground and already filled-up waterways, whether it be creeks, bayous, or riverways. And so there is the potential for very dramatic flooding.

    The post As hurricane slows, Texas braces for further damage appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A man walks past a business which was left damaged after Hurricane Harvey hit Rockport

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: When Hurricane Harvey made landfall, the eye of the storm descended on Corpus Christi. It’s a city of 325,000 people in southeastern Texas, right on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

    Natalia Contreras, a reporter for the “Corpus Christi Caller-Times,” joins me now by Skype.

    You’ve had a chance to go out there and see it. How bad was it?

    NATALIA CONTRERAS, REPORTER, CORPUS CHRISTIE CALLER-TIMES: Corpus Christi was pretty bad. What was surprising this morning is how much the streets are not too flooded. In Corpus Christi, a lot of debris over here in Corpus Christi, in Corpus Christi bay, downtown, it’s still pretty windy. People are driving around. About a hundred thousand people are still without power in Corpus Christi.

    SREENIVASAN: Did a lot of people from Corpus Christi evacuate? Did they move to higher ground in advance of the storm?

    CONTRERAS: A lot of people did. We looked at social media. A lot of people prepared.
    They boarded up their homes, but then also at the same time, a lot of people did board up their homes here and stayed here and just rided out the storm. Last night, we were monitoring our social media channels and we were getting reports of people that were, you know, tweeting and posting on Facebook that they were at home, that they were safe, that they their pets, and their power didn’t start going out in the area until about 11:00 or so when the storm got stronger.

    SREENIVASAN: So, right now, besides the power outages, which are significant, are the hospitals on-line or any of the first kind of responders or emergency services, they’re all functioning well?

    CONTRERAS: Police are responding. I believe we reported also that there were babies that were born during the hurricane at the hospital. So, right now, from Rockford, from that area of town, or Aransas Pass of Port Aransas, we got word that Coast Guard was going to try to fly in some people from those areas into the hospitals here. So, yes, hospitals are trying to help out people here.

    SREENIVASAN: All right. Natalia Contreras, a reporter for the “Corpus Christi Caller-Times”, thanks so much.

    CONTRERAS: Thank you so much.

    The post Assessing damage where Hurricane Harvey touched ground appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A sign warning against alligators is seen in a flooded street during Hurricane Harvey in Seadrift

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR:  Two hundred miles east of San Antonio is Houston, the most populous city in Texas, with 2.25 million people.  It’s the fourth largest city in the U.S.  Houston is also a hub for the nation’s oil refinery industry.  The National Weather Service forecasts the city could be deluged by 15 to 30 inches of rain in the coming days.

    Dianna Hunt is the metro editor of “The Houston Chronicle” and joins me now via Skype to discuss the impact Harvey could have and preparations for the hurricane there.

    So, how is the city preparing?

    DIANNA HUNT, METRO EDITOR, THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE:  The city is doing what it usually does.  People are hunkering down.  They’re putting, tying thing down.

    We had a little bit of a break with Harvey, strange as it may seem, because we didn’t have the hurricane come ashore here.  So, we haven’t had the high winds that we can sometimes get with hurricanes.  Those have all been south of us.  So, the refineries and the oil industry here hasn’t been as devastated, hasn’t had to tighten things down quite as much as they would have normally.  We’ve had some winds, but they’ve not been hurricane force winds.

    SREENIVASAN:  You know, one of —

    HUNT:  So, now, we’re just waiting.

    SREENIVASAN:  Well, one of the things I noticed on your site is a map of all the different areas in Houston that could flood or are prone to flood usually when you have high rains.  We’re talking 15 to 30 inches of rain over the next couple of days.  That’s a lot of water.

    HUNT:  That’s going to be devastating.  That brings to mind Tropical Storm Allison.  It wasn’t a hurricane.  It was in 2001.  It dropped about 25 inches over about a 24 hour period, as I recall.  We had 18 wheelers floating down the interstate just north of downtown.

    So, the city can’t handle that much rain over a short period of time.  The bayous flood.  We had rivers headed toward the gulf, the streets can’t handle it.  So, we get a lot of street flooding.  We have some areas now that are already having some street flooding.  We’re anticipating rescues maybe going on soon.

    At the moment western part of Houston is not — were not even getting rain, but there’s some pretty rain going on in the northeastern part of the city and the county.

    SREENIVASAN:  How about the people that do live in the lower lying areas in the Houston suburbs or in Houston proper, are they being told to evacuate or are authorities telling them listen, the infrastructure is not ready for the kind of water you’re about to get?

    HUNT:  We — Houston is so big, it’s about 600 square miles and how much rain we get and where it hits can determine whether to evacuate.  So, there’s no massive evacuation of Houston and no real orders to that effect.  We had two back to back floods over the last two years.  Tax Day flood and then we had a Memorial Day flood before that.  And in those areas, the Greenspoint area had a lot of home flooding lots of apartments, a lot of people displaced.  But it just depends on how much rain a certain area gets at a certain period of time.

    SREENIVASAN:  What about the drainage?  Were does all that water go that hits the asphalt or the pavement of Houston, it goes down the storm drains, and then what happens?

    HUNT:  Well, we have a fairly elaborate bayou system here.  Bayous are a little bigger.  They’re bigger than a creek and smaller than a river.  But once the bayous are inundated, and the reservoirs get full, it just starts to back up.

    That’s just the nature of Houston.  It’s basically built on a swamp.  It’s a very low city and we’ve had flooding here for decades.  It’s probably worse now than it has been.

    SREENIVASAN:  All right.  Dianna Hunt of “The Houston Chronicle”, thanks so much.

    HUNT:  All right.  Thank you very much.

    The post How will Texas’ most populous city handle excessive floods? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he walks on South Lawn of the White House in Washington

    U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he walks on South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., before his departure to Camp David, August 25, 2017. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump monitored Hurricane Harvey from the seclusion of his official mountaintop retreat on Saturday, sending a flurry of tweets before and after the powerful storm made landfall in Texas in an effort to reassure the public that he was fully in control of managing the first natural disaster since he took office.

    “Closely monitoring #HurricaneHarvey from Camp David. We are leaving nothing to chance. City, State and Federal Govs. working great together!” Trump tweeted in the morning. In an evening tweet, he touted “Wonderful coordination between Federal, State and Local Governments in the Great State of Texas – TEAMWORK!”

    The White House said in a statement Saturday that Trump held a video teleconference briefing on the storm with Vice President Mike Pence, Cabinet members and senior staff back at the White House. Trump directed all departments and agencies to “stay fully engaged and positioned to support his number one priority of saving lives,” and the governors of Texas and Louisiana, the White House said.

    Trump reminded his team that the full effects of the storm will be felt over the next few days with heavy rains and flooding. He also thanked all the volunteer and faith-based organizations that are providing assistance, and sent his thoughts and prayers to those who were affected.

    Harvey was downgraded to a tropical storm on Saturday afternoon.

    [Watch Video]

    The White House said Trump had received multiple storm updates on Friday and Saturday from chief of staff John Kelly, formerly secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, where the Federal Emergency Management Agency is housed. The White House released photos of Trump presiding over Saturday’s video teleconference from the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains with his advisers gathered in the White House Situation Room.

    A businessman inexperienced at managing a natural disaster, Trump has been mindful of his image during the storm.

    He tweeted a photo of himself in the Oval Office on Friday, with his desktop covered by color-coded papers. He was joined by Kelly and homeland security adviser Tom Bossert.

    Trump’s tweets also covered conversations he had with the governors of Texas and Louisiana, urgings for the public to follow the advice and orders of their state and local officials, and his decision to declare that a major disaster exists in Texas, which expedites the flow of federal money for rebuilding after the storm.

    Bossert told reporters that “this is right up President Trump’s alley” when asked Friday what the president needed to do to project leadership during the storm.

    [Watch Video]

    “Not only has he shown leadership here, but his entire focus has been on making America great again,” Bossert said. “He is focused on the Americans that voted him into office. He’s focused on the Americans that didn’t vote him into office. He’s focused on effecting positive change in this country. And when we go in and brief him on the preparations for this hurricane, he is acutely focused on making sure that — and just the right thing, by the way — that the American people in the storm’s path have what they need.”

    Trump also responded to Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who told Trump on Twitter to “keep on top of hurricane Harvey” and not repeat the mistakes that President George W. Bush made with Hurricane Katrina after it devastated New Orleans at this time in 2005. Bush was criticized for a slow federal government response to the storm caused hundreds of deaths and tens of billions of dollars in damage.

    “Got your message loud and clear. We have fantastic people on the ground, got there long before #Harvey. So far, so good!” Trump tweeted back to Grassley.

    The post Trump keeps tabs on Harvey and its aftermath from Camp David appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announces newly launched program aimed at providing security around schools in Anthem, Arizona, U.S. January 9, 2013. REUTERS/Laura Segall/File Photo/File Photo

    Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announces newly launched program aimed at providing security around schools in Anthem, Arizona, U.S. January 9, 2013. Photo by Laura Segall/File Photo//Reuters

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio shows a lack of regard for an independent judiciary, say critics who note Trump’s past criticism of federal judges, including the chief justice of the United States. Supporters counter that the veteran law enforcement officer deserved America’s gratitude, “not the injustice of a political witch hunt.”

    “I am pleased to inform you that I have just granted a full Pardon to 85 year old American patriot Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He kept Arizona safe!,” Trump tweeted late Friday after the White House announced that he had used his pardon power for the first time, sparing a political ally the prospect of jail time for defying court orders to halt police patrols that focused on Latinos.

    The announcement came as Trump hunkered down at the Camp David presidential retreat while millions along the Texas coast braced themselves for Hurricane Harvey’s impact. Trump’s decision also followed the uproar that ensued after he said “both sides” were responsible for deadly violence during race-fueled clashes this month in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    There is no legal dispute over Trump’s ability to pardon in a contempt of court case, as was Arpaio’s. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1925 that a presidential pardon for a criminal contempt of court sentence was within the powers of the executive, and Trump had telegraphed his move for days. But the pardon was unusual given that Arpaio was awaiting sentencing. It also had not gone through the normal pardon process, which includes lengthy reviews by the Justice Department and the White House counsel’s office.

    The Washington Post reported Saturday that Trump had asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions last spring whether it would be possible for the government to drop the criminal case against Arpaio. After being advised that would be inappropriate, Trump decided to let the case go to trial and, if Arpaio were convicted, could grant clemency later, the Post reported. The newspaper said its sources, who were not identified, were three people with knowledge of the conversation.

    [Watch Video]

    The Post reported that when press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about the Trump-Sessions conversation about Arpaio’s case, she responded: “It’s only natural the president would have a discussion with administration lawyers about legal matters. This case would be no different.”

    Reaction to Trump’s pardon was sharp and swift, including among some fellow Republicans with whom the president has been feuding openly.

    House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., signaled his disagreement with the pardon through his spokesman. “Law-enforcement officials have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States,” Ryan spokesman Doug Andres said in a statement. “We should not allow anyone to believe that responsibility is diminished by this pardon.”

    Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who incurred Trump’s wrath after voting against a Republican health care bill, said: “The president has the authority to make this pardon, but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions.”

    The state’s junior senator, Republican Jeff Flake, also disagreed with the move.

    “I would have preferred that the president honor the judicial process and let it take its course,” tweeted Flake, a Trump critic who has come in for particularly harsh treatment from the president. Trump has called Flake, who is up for re-election next year, “toxic” and “WEAK” on border issues and crime. Trump has rooted openly for Flake’s GOP challenger, state Sen. Kelli Ward, who supports Arpaio’s pardon, which could become an issue in the race.

    “We applaud the president for exercising his pardon authority to counter the assault on Sheriff Arpaio’s heroic efforts to enforce the nation’s immigration laws,” she said.

    Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., said, “America owes Sheriff Arpaio a debt of gratitude and not the injustice of a political witch hunt.”

    But while the pardon could in the short term energize Trump’s conservative base, which includes many with strong anti-immigration views, the decision could further alienate voter groups, such as Latinos, whose support the Republican Party has said it needs to win future elections. Trump managed to defy those dynamics in 2016.

    Jens David Ohlin, vice dean and professor at Cornell Law School, said he was disturbed by the pardon, given Trump’s relationship with the judiciary.

    “Ever since the campaign and the beginning of his administration he’s had a very contentious relationship with the judiciary and hasn’t shown much respect for either members of the judiciary or the proper role of the judiciary within our constitutional structure,” Ohlin said Saturday.

    During the campaign, Trump called Chief Justice John Roberts “an absolute disaster” and “disgraceful,” mainly for two opinions Roberts wrote that left President Barack Obama’s health care law intact. Trump also went after U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who presided over fraud lawsuits against Trump University. Trump said Curiel was “a hater of Donald Trump” who couldn’t be fair to Trump because of Curiel’s “Mexican heritage” and because of Trump’s campaign pledge to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

    Trump also referred to U.S. District Judge James Robart as a “so-called judge” after Robart imposed a temporary halt on Trump’s travel ban.

    Arpaio earned a national profile by acting aggressively to arrest immigrants in the U.S. illegally, including tactics that Latino and immigrants’ rights advocates said were akin to racial profiling.

    His alliance with Trump centers heavily on immigration enforcement, such as getting local police officers to participate in immigration enforcement. Both men have also questioned the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate. They share a similar history of sparring with judges and even a birthday, June 14.

    “Sheriff Joe Arpaio was the instigator of racial profiling and made official a policy of harassment and abuse based on the color of one’s skin,” said Janet Murguia, president of UnidosUS, a Hispanic civil rights and advocacy group. “Every person of color in this nation has been put in harm’s way because of this action and that is unconscionable.”

    P.S. Ruckman Jr., who edits a blog about presidential pardons, said the pardon is not an indicator of any serious interest by Trump in the pardon power.

    “It just looks like a political stunt, basically, as opposed to an act of policy,” Ruckman said.

    It is not unprecedented for a president to issue a pardon in his first year in office. President Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon for his involvement in the Watergate scandal just four weeks after assuming office when Nixon stepped down. George H.W. Bush granted clemency after seven months in office.

    Ruckman said that waiting until the end of a term to issue a pardon often gives the appearance that the president is trying to skirt accountability for it. President Bill Clinton ignited a major controversy on his final day in office with a last-minute pardon for fugitive financier Marc Rich, the ex-husband of a major Democratic fundraiser.

    A year and a half before was to leave office, President George W. Bush set off a political backlash for commuting the prison sentence of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby in a perjury and obstruction of justice case stemming from a CIA leak.

    Associated Press writer Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix contributed to this report.

    The post Critics: Trump pardon his latest affront against judiciary 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 to the nation from Fort Myer, Virginia, U.S., August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RTS1CQR9

    U.S. President Donald Trump announces his strategy for the war in Afghanistan during an address to the nation from Fort Myer, Virginia, on Aug. 21, 2017. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is accusing Canada and Mexico of being “very difficult” at the negotiating table over the North American Free Trade Agreement, and threatening anew to terminate the deal.

    Trump tweeted on Sunday morning that NAFTA is the “worst trade deal ever made.”

    Trump said at a rally last week in Phoenix that he would “end up probably terminating” NAFTA “at some point.”

    The U.S., Mexico and Canada began formal negotiations earlier this month to rework the 23-year-old trade pact that Trump blames for hundreds of thousands of lost U.S. factory jobs.

    Trump is also taking to Twitter to press the need for his promised southern border wall, tweeting that Mexico will pay for it “through reimbursement/other.” Mexico has repeatedly said there’s no chance of that happening.

    The post Trump says Canada, Mexico being “very difficult” on NAFTA appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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