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

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    Demonstrators gather to protest U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military, at the White House in Washington, U.S. July 26, 2017.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX3D29Q

    Demonstrators gather to protest President Donald Trump’s announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military, at the White House on July 26, 2017. Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal filed separate lawsuits against President Donald Trump and members of his administration Monday over his plan to ban transgender individuals from joining the military.

    Mr. Trump directed the Pentagon last Friday to implement the ban, one month after he announced the proposal on Twitter.

    Who filed the lawsuits? The ACLU suit was filed in federal court in Baltimore, Maryland, on behalf of six transgender individuals who currently serve in the military. The complaint by Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ advocacy group, was filed in federal court in Seattle, Washington on behalf of an Army veteran and two transgender individuals seeking to join the military. Two other advocacy groups, the Human Rights Campaign and the Gender Justice League, signed onto the Seattle suit.

    What the ban says: Trump’s memo directed the Department of Defense to stop recruiting transgender soldiers and also cut off funding for sex reassignment surgeries by Jan. 1, 2018. Defense Sec. James Mattis must submit a plan for what to do about the thousands of transgender individuals currently serving in the military by Feb. 21.

    What the lawsuits say: The lawsuits argue that the ban is unconstitutional because it violates equal treatment protections under the law, setting up what could be a major legal battle over the controversial proposal. Two other groups filed a similar suit last week, challenging Trump’s claims that transgender individuals are a disruptive force in the military. In a series of tweets first proposing the ban last month, Trump claimed that allowing transgender individuals to continue serving in the military would cause “tremendous medical costs and disruption.”

    What the ACLU says: “Allowing men and women who are transgender to serve openly and providing them with necessary health care does nothing to harm military readiness or unit cohesion,” Josh Block, an ACLU senior staff attorney, said in a statement.

    What Lambda Legal says: “President Trump is denying brave men and women the opportunity to serve our country without any legitimate justification whatsoever,” Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Peter Renn said in a statement.

    Why it matters: There are roughly 8,800 transgender individuals currently serving in the military, according to the ACLU. Trump’s ban would reverse an Obama administration policy put in place last year that allows transgender individuals to serve openly in the military. Until then, thousands of transgender members of the military are in limbo. A Rand Corporation study released last year concluded that transgender troops would have a “minimal impact” on military readiness, study author Agnes Gereben Schaefer told the NewsHour.

    The post The lawsuits challenging Trump’s ban on transgender troops, explained appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo of Trump Tower. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer acknowledged Monday that the president's company pursued a Trump Tower in Moscow during the Republican primary, but that the plan was abandoned

    President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer acknowledged Monday that the president’s company pursued a Trump Tower in Moscow during the Republican primary, but that the plan was abandoned “for a variety of business reasons.” Photo of Trump Tower in New York by Jenna Gray.

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer acknowledged Monday that the president’s company pursued a Trump Tower in Moscow during the Republican primary, but that the plan was abandoned “for a variety of business reasons.” He said that at one point he sent an email to the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin about approvals from the Russian government.

    The attorney, Michael Cohen, said in a statement to the House intelligence committee that he worked on the real estate proposal with Felix Sater, a Russia-born associate who he said claimed to have deep connections in Moscow. The panel is one of several on Capitol Hill investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

    MORE: Inside Russia’s propaganda machine

    The discussions occurred in the fall of 2015, months after Trump had declared his candidacy, and ended early last year when Cohen determined that the project was not feasible, according to a copy of Cohen’s statement obtained by The Associated Press. Cohen also disclosed that Trump was personally aware of the deal, signing a letter of intent and discussing it with Cohen on two other occasions.

    The potential deal shows that the Trump Organization was actively considering doing business in Russia during the presidential election, providing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators considerable fodder for turning their investigation into Russian collusion toward Trump’s personal and business finances. Trump has said Mueller would be crossing a red line by delving into his finances.

    The potential deal shows that the Trump Organization was actively considering doing business in Russia during the presidential election, providing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators considerable fodder for turning their investigation into Russian collusion toward Trump’s personal and business finances.

    In a statement, the Trump Organization emphasized that the licensing deal “was not significantly advanced,” noting that no site or financing materialized during the negotiations. The company also said it was never paid any fees as part of the deal, and the signed letter of intent was nonbinding.

    “To be clear, the Trump Organization has never had any real estate holdings or interests in Russia,” the company said.

    The negotiations of the possible Trump Tower Moscow deal were first reported Sunday night by The Washington Post. On Monday, The New York Times reported on an email in which Sater appeared to boast that the real estate deal could help Trump get elected. Sater did not respond to a request for comment from the AP on Monday.

    “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Sater wrote in an email, according to the Times. “I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.”

    He also said in another email about a possible ribbon-cutting: “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected.”

    READ MORE: All of the Russia investigations, explained

    In the two-page statement obtained by the AP, Cohen said he emailed Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, after Sater suggested that “the proposal would require approvals within the Russian government that had not been issued.” Cohen said he did not recall any response to his email, or any other contacts with Peskov or other Russian government officials about the project.

    Cohen portrayed the proposal as one of “countless” that the Trump Organization has received for developments around the world, noting that Trump had properties and developments in about a dozen different countries.

    Cohen said that the project first came to his attention in September 2015 when he received a proposal for a “Trump Tower Moscow” that would house a luxury hotel, office spaces and condominiums.

    Cohen said that he “performed some initial due diligence” to determine whether it was a good fit for the Trump Organization, and Trump ultimately signed a nonbinding letter of intent with a Moscow-based developer, I.C. Expert Investment Co., on Oct. 28, 2015.

    After the signing of the letter, Cohen said the Trump Organization sought building designs from architects and held “preliminary discussions regarding potential financing” for the building.

    Cohen said he also communicated extensively with Sater, who was brokering the deal and stood to receive payment from the Russian developer if it came to fruition.

    Sater was a former real estate executive at Bayrock Group LLC, a development company that leased space in Trump Tower and also partnered with him on various deals. Sater was previously convicted of assault in 1993 for stabbing a man in the face with a broken margarita glass. He later became a government informant upon his conviction years later in a $40 million Mafia stock fraud scheme.

    A judge is reviewing requests by news organizations and others to unseal court records detailing his cooperation on behalf of the government in what prosecutors have described as national security matters. Federal prosecutors have opposed disclosing such information, arguing doing so could jeopardize investigations and put lives at risk.

    READ MORE: What we know ― and what we don’t ― about Mueller’s grand jury

    In his statement, Cohen downplayed the comments Sater made in email correspondence about the Trump Tower Moscow deal.

    “Over the course of my business dealings with Mr. Sater, he has sometimes used colorful language and has been prone to ‘salesmanship’,” Cohen said. “As a result, I did not feel that it was necessary to routinely apprise others within the Trump Organization of communications that Mr. Sater sent only to me.”

    Cohen said that Sater “constantly” invited him to travel to Moscow and encouraged him to bring Trump. But Cohen said he rebuffed the overtures. He said he has never traveled to Russia, and never considered asking Trump to go to Russia, which he said he only would have encouraged if there was a “definitive agreement in place.”

    Cohen said the proposal, which was contingent upon the developer finding an appropriate property and getting necessary permits, was under consideration until the end of January 2016. At that point, he said that he determined the “proposal was not feasible for a variety of business reasons and should not be pursued further.”

    He said neither the decision to pursue the development nor the decision to abandon it were related to Trump’s presidential campaign.

    Associated Press writers Stephen Braun and Jake Pearson in New York contributed to this report.

    The post Lawyer: Trump organization pursued property in Russia during campaign appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. President Donald Trump listens during his joint news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto at the White House in Washington, U.S., August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTX3DQUK

    President Donald Trump on Monday promised federal assistance to storm-ravaged parts of Texas, insisting Congress will act swiftly on a multibillion-dollar Hurricane Harvey recovery package as the government signaled current funds will be exhausted in the next few weeks. Photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque.

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday promised federal assistance to storm-ravaged parts of Texas, insisting Congress will act swiftly on a multibillion-dollar Hurricane Harvey recovery package as the government signaled current funds will be exhausted in the next few weeks.

    “I think it’ll happen very quickly,” Trump said of an aid package that could rival those enacted after Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy. “It’ll go very fast.”

    The president said existing disaster balances of more than $3 billion are sufficient for the immediate emergency but promised his administration will send lawmakers a request for far more to help Texas rebuild from the record storm in which catastrophic flooding has hit Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city.

    “The real number, which will be many billions of dollars, will go through Congress,” Trump said at a White House news conference.

    READ MORE: Why Hurricane Harvey became so extreme

    House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., promised through a spokeswoman that “we will help those affected by this terrible disaster.”

    The Republican-led Congress appears likely to add an immediate infusion of aid to a temporary spending bill to prevent a government shutdown Oct. 1, though congressional aides say the larger recovery package may take more time to develop. It’s way too early to guess how much will be required with floodwaters rising in Houston, people stranded in homes and the city essentially paralyzed.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster fund currently contains more than $3 billion, but FEMA on Monday said response to Harvey is “quickly drawing down” disaster balances.

    The upcoming disaster aid package is yet another item for a packed September agenda in Washington that includes preventing a government shutdown, making sure the government doesn’t default on its debt obligations, and laying the groundwork for overhauling the tax code.

    WATCH: FEMA administrator says Hurricane Harvey recovery in Texas could take several years

    Vice President Mike Pence told a Houston radio station Monday that given the “magnitude of the flooding” in the area that “it will be years coming back.” He said 22,000 people had already applied for federal aid but that as “many as a half-a-million people in Texas will be eligible for and applying for financial disaster assistance.”

    “We remain very confident that with the reserves and with the support in the Congress, we’ll have the resources that we need,” Pence told KHOU radio.

    Democrats promise they’ll help.

    “Republicans must be ready to join Democrats in passing a timely relief bill that makes all necessary resources available,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

    Last week, Trump threatened a government shutdown if he didn’t get his $1.6 billion request to begin building a U.S.-Mexico border wall. But the need for disaster funding could make a shutdown showdown in September less likely since Trump may want to avoid a battle that could make him look like he’s prioritizing wall funding over flood victims.

    FEMA announced Monday that it is prioritizing the Harvey response and holding off on less-urgent payments for earlier disasters to husband its money to make sure there is enough for immediate Harvey-related needs such as debris removal and temporary shelter for tens of thousands of Texans displaced from their homes.

    READ MORE: The latest on Hurricane Harvey and how you can help

    Congress stepped forward with enormous aid packages in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012, though some GOP conservatives — including then-Indiana Rep. Pence — chafed at the price tag. And White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, who will be responsible for preparing any disaster request for Trump, opposed a 2013 Sandy aid package as a South Carolina congressman, offering a plan to cut elsewhere in the budget to pay for it.

    Mulvaney’s May budget release also proposed eliminating community block grants that are likely to be sought by the powerful Texas delegation to help with rebuilding efforts.

    Lawmakers provided $110 billion to rebuild the Gulf Coast after Katrina, thanks in part to dogged efforts by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran, R-Miss. The Bush administration, politically scalded by criticism over its botched response, signed off on the aid.

    But New York and New Jersey lawmakers seeking help over Superstorm Sandy encountered stiffer resistance. Many Republicans opposed the full $51 billion aid package, which included a $34 billion amendment by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., that included grants for housing and other repairs patterned after the Katrina response.

    Some hard feelings linger on the part of New York and New Jersey Republicans, who had to battle to win help for their Democratic-leaning states in the bitter aftermath of the 2012 election.

    “Despite my TX colleagues refusal to support aid in #SouthJersey time of need, I will support emergency disaster $$ for those impacted,” Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., wrote on Twitter on Monday.

    Texas Republicans overwhelmingly voted against the final Sandy aid bill. The state’s two senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, opposed the aid package along with more than 20 House Republicans representing Texas.

    The post Trump promises swift federal aid to Texas after Hurricane Harvey appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    MILES O’BRIEN: Now to another controversial move announced by the White House late Friday, this time about transgender people serving in the military. Today, human rights groups filed two lawsuits against the ban.

    William Brangham brings us up to date.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The White House issued memorandum that followed through on President Trump’s unexpected tweets last month where he said that transgender people wouldn’t be accepted or allowed to serve in the U.S. armed forces.

    Friday’s memo said allowing trans service members could — quote — “hinder military effectiveness and lethality, disrupt unit cohesion, and tax military resources.”

    The memorandum asked the Defense Department to finalize new rules about what to do with the estimated several thousand active-duty trans service members.

    For more on all this, we turn to Agnes Gereben Schaefer. She’s a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation and was the lead author of a 2016 study for the Defense Department about transgender people in the military.

    Welcome to NewsHour.

    AGNES GEREBEN SCHAEFER, RAND Corporation: Thank you.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, you were tasked to do this study back in 2016, when the Obama administration was trying to figure out what to do with regards to transgender service members.

    And what was the overall sort of focus of your study?

    AGNES GEREBEN SCHAEFER: So, the Office of the undersecretary of Defense for Personnel Readiness asked us to conduct a study with a very distinct mandate.

    And that included looking at the estimated transgender population in the military, seeing how many of those transgender service members would be likely to seek gender-transition-related treatment, what the costs would be of extending health care coverage to the transgender community in the military, and what the potential readiness implications might be associated with some of those medical treatments that they may undertake, and, lastly, what lessons could be learned from foreign militaries that had already allowed transgender individuals to serve openly.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The president in his tweets cited two main concerns that he had that made it why he wanted to do this.

    Costs was one of the things. He was — referred to these as tremendous medical costs. I know you looked at this in your study. What are the costs?

    AGNES GEREBEN SCHAEFER: So, we estimated that the cost would be about between $2.4 and $8.4 million.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This is per year?

    AGNES GEREBEN SCHAEFER: Per year, exactly. And that represents four-tenths to one-tenth of a percent of the active component health care budget for 2014, which are the numbers that — the base numbers that we used.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, a minuscule fraction.

    AGNES GEREBEN SCHAEFER: Well, what is driving this is really the — our estimate of the total number of transgender individuals in the military. And they’re small numbers, less than 11,000 across the active and reserve component.

    And so those small numbers drive small costs. And the other thing to take into account is that not all transgender service members will undertake these medical treatments, like surgeries and hormone replacement. But the surgeries is really what was driving the costs.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The other thing that the president cited as a main driver of why he wanted to change the policy was disruption to the military services. What did you find in that regard?

    AGNES GEREBEN SCHAEFER: So, we found that the readiness impact of transgender-related treatments would lead to a loss of less than 1 percent of the total available man or labor years across the active component.

    In fact, the number that we estimate is .0015 percent of those labor years.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Again, pretty small number.

    AGNES GEREBEN SCHAEFER: A small — exactly, because, again, not — the number of individuals that we think will use these or take these medical treatments is small.

    So, we estimate between 25 and 130 active component members would actually have surgical treatments.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Lastly, and very quickly, I understand you looked at the experiences of, I think, 18 other countries?


    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Did any of those other nations have a problem that they felt they needed to get transgender service members out of their services?

    AGNES GEREBEN SCHAEFER: So, we didn’t find any readiness or cohesion implications.

    There were anecdotal concerns about bullying, but they were able to deal with that through policy changes.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Agnes Gereben Schaefer, thank you very much.


    The post Fact-checking Trump’s reasons for a transgender military ban appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Republican Bruce Rauner smiles after winning the midterm elections in Chicago, Illinois, November 4, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTR4CVD6

    Illinois will limit how local and state police can cooperate with federal immigration authorities under a plan signed into law Monday by Gov. Bruce Rauner, a move that puts the first-term Republican at odds with his party on immigration issues. File photo by REUTERS/Jim Young.

    CHICAGO — Illinois will limit how local and state police can cooperate with federal immigration authorities under a plan signed into law Monday by Gov. Bruce Rauner, a move that puts the first-term Republican at odds with his party on immigration issues.

    The narrow measure prohibits police from searching, arresting or detaining someone solely because of immigration status, or because of so-called federal immigration detainers. But local authorities will be able to communicate with immigration agents and hold someone for immigration authorities if there’s a valid criminal warrant, according to the new law.

    The narrow measure prohibits police from searching, arresting or detaining someone solely because of immigration status, or because of so-called federal immigration detainers.

    Rauner acknowledged at the signing — a heavily-attended, festive event in a predominantly Mexican neighborhood — that it was a tough proposal many didn’t want him to support, but he said he was convinced after talking with law enforcement and immigrant leaders.

    “This took months and months of difficult negotiations,” Rauner said after a mariachi band performed and top Democrats gave supportive speeches. He said it helps Illinois take another step toward “continuing to be a welcome state.”

    Proponents insist the measure falls short of a “sanctuary” law because it leaves the door open to communication and ensures the state complies with federal law. But Republican opponents have tried to characterize it that way, something that comes as President Donald Trump has threatened to crack down on sanctuary cities, which have laws friendly to immigrants living in U.S. without legal permission.

    READ MORE: Trump administration pushes back against Chicago lawsuit over sanctuary city policy

    The move places Rauner in a tricky spot as Democrat-heavy Illinois’ first GOP governor in over a decade. He faces re-election next year and will need to shore up support from Republican strongholds outside Chicago.

    Rauner said he believed the measure would increase safety and “improve connectivity” between immigrants and law enforcement to make the state safer.

    Detainers are requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to law enforcement agencies to hold a suspected deportable immigrant long enough for immigration authorities to pick them up. But federal courts have found the requests aren’t sufficient for local jails to hold someone after bail has been posted or beyond their sentence, with critics raising constitutional and liability questions for jails. California and Connecticut don’t honor them, a practice many counties nationwide already follow.

    Trump has called for more links between federal and local authorities to fix a broken immigration system and deport criminals. He’s threatened to withhold public safety funds from sanctuary cities such as Chicago, which has filed a lawsuit in response. In light of his crackdown, Miami-Dade County has reversed a sanctuary policy and Texas beefed up laws to allow police to ask about immigration status on traffic stops and requiring law enforcement to honor detainers or face punishment. However, the Texas law faces a court challenge.

    READ MORE: New Justice Department rules intensify crackdown on sanctuary cities

    In Illinois the measure was only approved after it was scaled back from an initial proposal that included the creation of “safe zones,” like schools and hospitals where immigration agents wouldn’t be allowed to make arrests.

    Law enforcement agents, who attended Monday’s event, said the plan would allow them to focus energy on safety, encourage immigrant victims of crime to come forward and build trust. Tension between the groups was on display briefly during the event as Illinois Sheriff’s Association executive director Greg Sullivan used criminal justice terminology to discuss the “removal of illegal criminal aliens” to the crowd of immigrants and activists. Several interrupted, yelling their preferred term of “undocumented.”

    Rauner’s hesitance to back the bill has been obvious. The former businessman has avoided talking about national issues such as immigration, particularly when it comes to Trump. He’s said he favors comprehensive immigration reform, but has not detailed what that means.

    The move places Rauner in a tricky spot as Democrat-heavy Illinois’ first GOP governor in over a decade. He faces re-election next year and will need to shore up support from Republican strongholds outside Chicago.

    This month during his first national television interview on FOX News, he repeatedly declined to discuss Chicago’s lawsuit or sanctuary laws. He pivoted to his ongoing fight over state funding issues with majority Democrats. In response, conservative media outlets such as Breitbart News, blasted Rauner for not denouncing the measure. A Chicago Tribune columnist said Rauner signing the bill “opens a breach on his right political flank.”

    Ahead of the signing, Rauner would only say the measure was “reasonable,” prompting groups in support such as the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, which includes high-profile Republicans and CEOs, to boost advocacy.

    Backers say the law, reviewed by State Police and the Illinois Attorney’s General office, will help protect immigrants from federal harassment.

    “It’s obviously a benefit to an undocumented person to know the police are not going to be putting them under suspicion everywhere they go,” Senate President John Cullerton, a Democratic sponsor of the bill said at the signing. “There are also benefits to law enforcement.”

    The law takes effect immediately.

    The post Illinois governor signs law limiting police cooperation with federal immigration officials appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    MILES O’BRIEN: Finally tonight, an intimate look into an often overlooked community.

    The documentary “Raising Bertie” follows three young African-American men coming of age in rural North Carolina as they struggle with school, society and generational poverty.

    Documentarians Margaret Byrne and Ian Kibbe spent six years filming the young men, and sat down with Jeffrey Brown to discuss what they found.

    WOMAN: What in the world going to happen to these boys? Have we given them the tools to be able to survive without getting into trouble?

    JEFFREY BROWN: The new documentary “Raising Bertie” takes us to a place and a people rarely the focus of films, television or other media.

    Set in rural North Carolina, it centers on three African-American males as they move from their teenager years into young adulthood, the hardships they endure, the hope they maintain.

    Filmmaker Margaret Byrne spent six years on the project. She and producer Ian Robertson Kibbe join me now.

    And welcome to both of you.

    MARGARET BYRNE, Director, “Raising Bertie”: Thank you.

    IAN KIBBE, Producer, “Raising Bertie”: Thank you.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, six years is a long time for a film. Why did you want to make this? And did you know what you were getting into?

    MARGARET BYRNE: Oh, I had no idea what I was getting into.

    I originally went down there with Jon, the director of photography and a producer on the film, in 2009. And we — we intended to just follow the school for a year. And what happened is, the school, an alternative school for boys called the Hive, they closed down very early on into filming.

    And so we had to decide, is this something we abandon, or is there a story here? And it really became a story about these three young men and their lives. And it took six years to tell it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Three young men and, as I said in the introduction, a place that we often do not see.

    What did you see in it in the end when you entered the project?

    IAN KIBBE: Yes.

    Well, like you said, it was a community, and communities like this do not get nearly, I think, enough attention from the media or from our, you know, educational reform systems. And for me, as a North Carolinian, I grew up about two hours from Bertie.

    And still I had no idea what this area was like or what the people in these communities lived like. And so I was really drawn to the project just because, in a lot of ways, I was ashamed not to have known more about these communities.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, I want to show you a little clip of — just to give our audience a little feel for it.

    This introduces two of the young men. Let’s take a look.

    YOUNG MAN: Me and my mom been living together for six months without my dad.

    I wish I could see my mom and dad get back together. And I was asked like why he doesn’t call him.

    It hurt.

    YOUNG MAN: My neighborhood, it’s fine. You just be back playing ball full court to the neighbor house over there.

    My grandma stayed next door. Then my cousins stayed the next door right there. So, yes, we moved right here. There’s one of my boys right here.

    Our hood, people scared to come around here. We just stick together.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, that introduces us to two of the young men, David Perry and Davonte Harrell, right?

    Margaret, these young men express frustration. There’s futility in some scenes, a sense of loss. We just saw that.

    I wonder what you — were you surprised by what you heard? And, also, how were you able to capture the kind of intimacy of their lives?

    MARGARET BYRNE: Well, I think coming to Bertie as an outsider — I’m from the city. I lived in New York at the time. You know, I’m a white woman making a film in a majority African-American community.

    I think what was really important is that when — you know, especially when we decided that it’s about these young men, and we were trying to really figure out what this film is and learn about the community, we got an apartment, and we lived there.

    And we spent time with the families, developing trust. And I think those relationships are key in the making of this film.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What about the sense of outsiderness?

    I was reading your bio, and it said that you are of mixed race. And I was thinking about the outsiderness of somebody coming in, but also perhaps a sense of some understanding. What did it bring to your sense of this project?

    IAN KIBBE: Yes.

    I think there are a lot of ways that Margaret and myself were outsiders to this community. As someone who is mixed race, but does — looks like an Austrian ski instructor, I grew up in sort of the ultimate skin of male privilege, a white male living in the society.

    And so that’s something I think about a lot. And it has shaped my life tremendously. But, you know, I think there are a lot of ways that we were outsiders, and — but then there’s also a lot of ways that we connect.

    And I think one of the things we want people to get from this film is that this is a community you may not know, or you may not know someone who lives in, or you may not even be near, but there are sort of human elements, and these guys have tremendous value in their lives. And if we can kind of humanize them and sort of the issues that they’re dealing with, I think that’s sort of our main takeaway, is that we want people to connect to them as people.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I want to ask you, just from a filmmaking perspective, when we talk about something takes six years, you go with one idea in mind, right, to focus on the school. The school closes. Things change.

    In the meantime, a lot changed in the culture, right? Black Lives Matters happened. A lot of things happened.

    MARGARET BYRNE: Absolutely.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Is that just the nature of your business, making documentaries?

    MARGARET BYRNE: Absolutely.

    I don’t think I have ever worked on a film where it was what it was when it started. And I think, as a filmmaker, I think if you try to dictate that, then you’re straying away from the truth. And, also, the real story is Always much more interesting than what you intended to make.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Do you end this project with pessimism, hope, or what?

    MARGARET BYRNE: I think there’s a lot of hope in the end. There’s hope.

    And I really believe in them. And I hope that this is a story that honors them and shows what value there is in the human capital in our rural communities.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The documentary is “Raising Bertie.”

    Margaret Byrne and Ian Robertson Kibbe, thank you both very much.

    MARGARET BYRNE: Thank you.

    IAN KIBBE: Thank you.

    MILES O’BRIEN: And you can watch the entire film “Raising Bertie.” It premieres later tonight on the PBS documentary series “POV.”

    The post ‘Raising Bertie’ paints portrait of hope and hardship for three young men appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    MILES O’BRIEN: We stay with the politics of the Arpaio pardon, plus the growing public rift between President Trump and key members of his administration with our regulars, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR.

    Thanks very much for being with us.

    Tamara, let’s begin with you.

    Hurricane Harvey is President Trump’s first natural disaster test. These are important for presidents. Go back to Katrina, 2005, and how that affected President George W. Bush at the time.

    How would you score him so far?

    TAMARA KEITH, NPR: I think it’s too soon.

    This is an ongoing natural disaster. It is still raining as we speak in Houston. And so it’s really hard to know exactly how this is all going to play out, since it’s ongoing. He’s planning to go tomorrow to Texas. He’s planning, we think, to stay outside of the main, most heavily impacted areas.

    And it’s an interesting choice. A lot of presidents have waited longer, not wanting to take resources away from the ongoing disaster recovery and rescue efforts. President Trump is making a calculation that being there on the ground is important.

    And this is a president who has shown that he is easily moved by the stories of individual people. So if he goes to Texas and he meets individual people and he sort of feels these stories viscerally, it may change the way he talks about the disaster.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Well, you mentioned the way he talks about it, or, in his case, more likely tweets about it.

    Amy, we will put up a screen with some of the tweets that occurred from Friday until now from the president. There are a couple addressing the storm itself. But they’re oddly, in a strange way, upbeat, talking about teammate and — teamwork, I should say, and things going along.

    And then there’s stuff about NAFTA, then the wall at the border to Mexico, and then a recommendation of a book by David Clarke, the Milwaukee County sheriff, another very controversial sheriff.

    Amy, were those the right tweets, do you think?

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Listen, I think the attention right now, for the first time in a long time, is not on Donald Trump. It’s on the rescuers and the people who are being rescued in Houston. And it’s on another politician. And that’s Governor Abbott of Texas, who is the person who’s the point person there now on the ground.

    The president is going to get a lot of attention as he goes to Texas this week. But I think that the focus, as Tam pointed out, is going to be the long-running success of the state government and of the federal government.

    But right now, I think what people are seeing is the story, which is that neighbors are coming out and helping neighbors, the Coast Guard, that things are actually at this point working.

    The tragedy with Katrina was that from the very outset, everything collapsed. The levies collapsed. Government, state, local and federal collapsed. That’s not what we’re seeing here.

    MILES O’BRIEN: So, here in Washington, before Friday, Tamara, there was a lot of talk about a possible showdown, a government shutdown over this issue of whether to build the wall or not.

    Does this disaster change that appreciably?

    TAMARA KEITH: It should. I think it does.

    And the president was asked about it today in his press conference, and he said this is not related to the disaster and we’re going to get the funding that’s needed to deal with Harvey.

    It seems quite likely that, given everything that is going on with Harvey, Congress will find a way to probably do what they do best, which is kick the can, or any other number of analogies, to push this off, to get it to December, to mess up the holidays, but to get out from under the shadow of this disaster that doesn’t need a government shutdown to compound things.

    MILES O’BRIEN: All right, let’s shift gears.

    Do you have something you want to add?


    MILES O’BRIEN: All right, let’s shift gears and talk about the continuing backlash on Charlottesville and the president’s statement subsequent to that.

    Very interesting to see yesterday the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, on “FOX News Sunday” addressing who’s speaking for whom here.

    Let’s roll the tape for a moment.

    REX TILLERSON, Secretary of State: I don’t believe anyone doubts the American people’s values or the commitment of the American government or the government’s agencies to advancing those values and defending those values.

    CHRIS WALLACE, Host, “FOX News Sunday”: And the president’s values?

    REX TILLERSON: The president speaks for himself, Chris.

    MILES O’BRIEN: And then there was another little piece of tape from the secretary of defense, General Mattis, with some troops offering sort of similar sentiments.

    Amy, is there a real rift here between the president and the people at the top of his Cabinet?

    AMY WALTER: And there’s another person that you didn’t mention was Gary Cohn, who’s his top economic adviser, who in an interview with F.T. said that he was getting pressured to resign over comments that the president had made about Charlottesville.

    And, in fact, there was reporting in The New York Times that he actually had penned his own resignation letter.

    But the bottom line is, yes, there are risks obviously about the president’s response to Charlottesville. But they are staying in his administration. Nobody has quit. Nobody has actually resigned. And this is what you’re seeing just in general with the isolation that the president is getting right now, both with his own Cabinet and with his own party in Congress.

    So much of it is over style and the tweeting and the behavior. It’s not necessarily over substance. That’s usually where you see parties break part. Right. We thought we were going to see this with the president on some of the substantive issues in which he disagreed with his party, whether it was on taxes or on trade or on some of the social programs.

    Today, we’re not seeing it on the policy, as much as we’re seeing it on the behavior.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Tamara, he’s also aimed an awful lot of criticism at members of his own party. And I think Ronald Reagan described that as the 11th commandment. You never criticize members of your own party.

    What’s the strategy there? Could you see what it might be?

    TAMARA KEITH: President Trump is a brand. President Trump is more popular than Republicans in Congress among Republicans.

    And President Trump sees this as working for him. And you hear from people who say, you know, I love President Trump, and Congress and the swamp need to figure this out. You know, they need to move along and go along with what the president is saying.

    What is remarkable, though, is also Republicans and members of his own Cabinet who no longer seem afraid of the president. It’s sort of a remarkable thing. They’re not afraid of a rogue tweet or an angry backlash in the way that six or eight months ago they might have been afraid of it.

    MILES O’BRIEN: So, he seems to be doubling down with the base in a sense.

    AMY WALTER: He is.

    Tam is exactly right. There’s a piece of him that is really all about protecting his brand. He doesn’t want to get dragged down and he is much more popular than Congress is. Interestingly enough, there are also some Republicans who don’t mind that they’re separate, seen as separate from Donald Trump, especially going into a midterm election.

    They say, normally, when the president is unpopular — right now, he’s sitting at somewhere 38, 40 percent approval rating — he drags the whole party down with him because his brand is the party brand. Their hope right now from some Republicans is, our brand is actually different. We can go and separate ourselves from some of his behavior, even though, you know, we still all — we all have an R behind our name. We’re seen as different. We can project ourselves, present ourselves in a different way than the president.

    MILES O’BRIEN: All right, that’s Politics Monday.

    Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, thank you both for joining us, as always.

    AMY WALTER: You’re welcome.

    TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.

    The post How President Trump is navigating Hurricane Harvey appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    MILES O’BRIEN: The presidential pardon for a controversial former Arizona sheriff is illuminating key aspects of President Trump’s approach to the rule of law.

    John Yang has more.

    JOE ARPAIO, Former Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff: You a resident?

    JOHN YANG: Criticism of President Trump’s Friday night pardon for former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was swift and even came from fellow Republicans. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s said he doesn’t agree with this decision. Arizona Senator John McCain said it undermines Mr. Trump’s claim for the respect of the rule of law.

    Ohio Governor John Kasich said Mr. Trump wielded his pardon authority as a political wedge.

    GOV. JOHN KASICH, R-Ohio: The president has that power. I don’t agree with what he did.

    JOHN YANG: Arpaio was awaiting sentencing after his July conviction for defying a 2011 court order to stop detaining people solely on the suspicion they were in the country illegally. The court said the practice violated the constitutional rights of Latinos.

    Today, Mr. Trump defended the pardon.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Sheriff Joe is a patriot. Sheriff Joe loves our country. Sheriff Joe protected our borders. And Sheriff Joe was very unfairly treated by the Obama administration.

    JOHN YANG: The 85-year-old former DEA agent has long been a lightning rod for his tough stand on criminals and undocumented immigrants, which he talked about in a 2012 interview with the “NewsHour.”

    JOE ARPAIO: I don’t just talk and say I’m going to arrest illegal immigration — immigrants. I do it.

    JOHN YANG: He housed prisoners in tents beneath the blazing desert sun.

    JOE ARPAIO: These guys are all convicted, regardless of critics. They are doing their time in the tents.

    JOHN YANG: He made pink underwear part of inmate’s uniforms.

    JOE ARPAIO: You know what? You don’t like it? Don’t come to jail. Very simple.

    I’m here to endorse a great patriot.

    JOHN YANG: The tough-talking sheriff was an early supporter of the tough-talking presidential candidate who shared the belief that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He’s the kind of guy we want on our team. He’s tough, he’s strong, and he’s smart. And he’s done an amazing job.

    JOHN YANG: Last year, Arpaio was defeated in his bid for a sixth term as sheriff. The same night, Mr. Trump won the White House and the power to give Arpaio a presidential pardon.

    We take a deeper look at this controversial pardon with Brian Kalt. He’s a Michigan State University law professor and the author of “Constitutional Cliffhangers: A Legal Guide for Presidents and Their Enemies.”

    Mr. Kalt, thank you so much for joining us.

    From your perspective as a constitutional scholar and professor of law, what make this pardon so noteworthy?

    BRIAN KALT, Michigan State University: Well, it’s very unusual for a president to make a pardon this controversial this early in his term.

    In recent history, presidents have waited until after the election. After the Ford pardon of Nixon, which probably cost President Ford the election, presidents have been very reluctant to use their pardon power.

    And, again, when they have, they have waited until there aren’t really political ramifications for it.

    JOHN YANG: But aside from the timing, is there anything about the nature of this pardon, what it was for, what Sheriff Arpaio was convicted of doing, that makes this sort of noteworthy?

    BRIAN KALT: Oh, sure.

    On the merits of the pardon, it’s very unusual for a president to step in and sort of cheer on someone for defying a court order like this.

    JOHN YANG: And at his press conference, the president compared this, was defending this by noting the pardons from Presidents Clinton and Obama of drug dealers, of members of the Weather Underground, Puerto Rican separatists.

    Are those fair comparisons, in your view?

    BRIAN KALT: Well, there are a lot of differences.

    Most of the examples that the president gave today were of commutations of sentence, right? These are people who were convicted. They were in prison, and they had the president shorten their sentences. That’s very different from a pardon, where the president is not only preventing Joe Arpaio from going to jail at all, but he’s also basically undoing the conviction entirely.

    JOHN YANG: And, also, that Sheriff Arpaio’s appeals process hadn’t even begun yet or hadn’t even ended, for that matter.

    Is that unusual for a president to step in at this point?

    BRIAN KALT: It is fairly unusual.

    I think a more conventional thing to do would have been to wait and see what sort of sentence came down. If he had wanted to appeal, let him appeal. Let the system work its way through.

    But presidents have used the pardon power to prevent prosecutions, not wait until the conviction, until the sentencing is over. So, that’s — it’s not common, but it’s not unheard of.

    JOHN YANG: But, also, the cases that the President Trump spoke of today, those were cases where people were convicted of breaking a law.

    In this case, this is someone who was convicted of defying a court order trying to protect constitutional rights. Does that make a difference?

    BRIAN KALT: Well, certainly.

    I think it make as difference, because if the president is sort of intervening in an ongoing case, it’s a little different from the president saying, well, this person broke the law, but the sentence should be reduced or they have done enough time now. Without saying what this person did was OK, they’re saying the punishment needs to be reduced.

    What President Trump did here was, again, basically endorse Joe Arpaio defying a court order, which is troubling from a separation of powers standpoint.

    JOHN YANG: Brian Kalt from Michigan State University, thanks for joining us.

    BRIAN KALT: Thank you.

    The post What the Arpaio pardon reveals about Trump’s take on the rule of law appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    MILES O’BRIEN: In the day’s other news: North Korea has fired its second missile in three days, and, this time, the Pentagon says it flew over Japan. South Korea’s military says the missile flew nearly 1,700 miles. Japanese broadcaster NHK reports it triggered alarms on the island of Hokkaido. There’s no report of any damage.

    A top official in the Trump Organization has acknowledged working on a Trump Tower for Moscow as late as January 2016. It’s widely reported today that Michael Cohen asked President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman to help advance the proposal, but he got no response. Cohen gave the explanation to a House panel that’s investigating possible Russia ties to the Trump campaign.

    The president will allow police departments to resume buying a wide range of surplus military weapons and equipment. In the wake of the police shooting and protests in Ferguson, Missouri, President Obama had limited police access to everything from armored vehicles to grenade launchers to large-caliber ammunition. That was in 2015.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the rollback in a speech to the Fraternal Order of Police meeting in Nashville, Tennessee.

    JEFF SESSIONS, Attorney General: The executive order that the president will sign today will ensure that you can get the lifesaving gear you need to do your job and send a strong message that we will not allow criminal activity, violence, and lawlessness to become a new normal. And we will save taxpayer money in the process.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Police drew criticism in recent years for deploying heavy military gear in response to mass protests against police killings.

    There’s more fallout from the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, two weeks ago. In Berkeley, California, thousands rallied Sunday against hate. But scores of masked anarchists overran police barricades and attacked several supporters of President Trump. Officers arrested 13.

    In Charlottesville, hundreds turned out for a special town hall. They criticized Mayor Mike Signer and others over the violence at a white supremacist rally.

    In Northern India, a self-declared guru was sentenced today to 20 years in prison for raping two followers. Ahead of the sentencing, thousands of police filled the streets to keep order. Last week, the religious sect leader’s conviction set off riots that killed at least 38 people.

    Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran today of building sites in Syria and Lebanon to make guided missiles. And he said they’re for use against Israel. In Jerusalem, Netanyahu told U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that the U.N. is not doing enough to counter Iranian aggression.

    BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Prime Minister, Israel: Iran is busy turning Syria into a base of military entrenchment, and it wants to use Syria and Lebanon as war fronts against its declared goal to eradicate Israel. This is something Israel cannot accept. This is something the U.N. shouldn’t accept.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Iran is fighting in Syria to aid President Bashar Assad, aided by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

    Authorities in Germany now say they think a male nurse killed at least 86 people. It happened over 15 years in two cities. Niels Hoegel was sentenced to life in prison in 2015 for two murders. He had admitted to giving overdoses of heart medication because he liked trying to revive the victims. Investigators warn the number of victims could go higher still.

    In economic news, the effects of Hurricane Harvey sent oil prices tumbling and gas prices rising. But stocks had a quiet day. The Dow Jones industrial average lost five points to close at 21808. The Nasdaq rose 17 points, and the S&P 500 added a single point.

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    Find all of our coverage on Hurricane Harvey

    MILES O’BRIEN: The U.S. Coast Guard is on the front line of the rescue efforts, using an armada of boats and helicopters to get residents to safety.

    Lieutenant Commander Michael Attanasio is helping lead those operations.

    We spoke earlier about the challenges they are facing.

    LT. COMMANDER MICHAEL ATTANASIO, U.S. Coast Guard: We’re getting calls for rescues continuously, and that’s been nonstop since the incident began.

    We have multiple aircraft, multiple small boats, states, multiple counties, city and multiple federal resources all in the water, all in the air at the same time, and their rescues are nonstop.

    READ MORE: The latest on Hurricane Harvey and how you can help

    MILES O’BRIEN: Give us an idea of the kinds of scenarios you’re running into.

    LT. COMMANDER MICHAEL ATTANASIO: Say that there’s a shelter or say there’s a specific home taking water, rising floodwater.

    We will immediately dispatch a helicopter and we will try to prioritize those as best we can to the most urgent case. But as our helicopter is en route, that helicopter may then encounter another person in distress that we may not have realized was in distress, that they weren’t able to make an emergency call.

    So, we will really have to trust the on-scene initiatives, the on-scene experience of our pilots and our boat crews to have to make some very tough decisions as to which people they do rescue and which people they come back to later.

    And that is an extremely difficult thing and that is something that all of us — that weighs on all of us here.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Tell me a little bit about the resources you have there at your disposal, how many aircraft exactly, how many crews. Do you need more help?

    LT. COMMANDER MICHAEL ATTANASIO: This morning, when we started, when we deployed for operations, I had over 21 Coast Guard small boat teams, our small boat punt teams and our airboat ice rescue teams from District 9.

    These are our shallow water flood experts. I had access to 21 of those boats, and in excess of 50 to 60 personnel specifically trained for these types of operations. I had access to them this morning. I was able to get them out in the field very early. Get them to areas where we were receiving the most calls and immediately have them start rescues, in some cases, immediately just getting people from danger to high ground.

    The aircraft, I’m just going to speak in excess of 20 Coast Guard helicopters, and that includes other aircraft we have of state aircraft. We have other DHS aircraft. We have DOD aircraft. And they’re continuing to muster and continuing to assemble.

    MILES O’BRIEN: A little bit unusual in this situation is, the crews are flying through ongoing hazardous weather. How much is that hampering efforts and how much are you concerned about the safety of these crews?

    LT. COMMANDER MICHAEL ATTANASIO: I think you hit it right on the head.

    I think that the unique challenge of this particular storm, of this particular weather event is extremely complicated rescue operations and rescue coordination for the air crews that are having to fight through some hazardous weather, but the fact that the rain and the continual floodwaters has made transportation, has made coordination extremely difficult.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Lieutenant Commander Michael Attanasio with the United States Coast Guard, keep up the good work. Thank you for your time.


    MILES O’BRIEN: Those rescue efforts might be the most immediate, but they are just part of how Houston is grappling with Harvey.

    Police Chief Art Acevedo describes the magnitude of the situation.

    CHIEF ART ACEVEDO, Houston Police Department: Our priority is saving lives. We’re getting so many calls for people requiring rescue from rising floodwaters.

    And, unfortunately, so far, we have more calls than we have capacity. Our response teams from the state and other cities are having a hard time actually accessing the area of operation and our O.R. And it just seems that every time we think we’re going to get a break, the weather keeps getting worse and the rain just will not stop and the flooding is just getting worse.

    MILES O’BRIEN: I have read that at one point in the midst of this, an individual 911 operator had as many as 250 calls on hold.

    Where do you stand on that right now and how are you getting help to people who need it?

    CHIEF ART ACEVEDO: We are — the Houston Police Department has responded to over 60,000 calls for service.

    We have rescued over 2,000 of our fellow Houstonians. Fortunately, the backlog was down on the hold at one point last night to just 10, but now the rain and the flooding is starting to spread to places that historically haven’t even flooded.

    And so it’s going to start getting worse again. And the bottom line is, a lot of folks are even using social media and we’re actually monitoring it to get help to folks. So, it’s been all hands on deck.

    And it just seems that there’s no end in sight to the tragedies that our community is facing.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Of course, Houston is renowned for its medical center.

    One of the hospitals there, the Ben Taub Hospital, was of great concern. I know evacuating patients from there was a big priority. Bring us up to date on that.

    CHIEF ART ACEVEDO: Well, we had to evacuate that hospital. There are other hospitals that are here in Houston that are at a level where that may become an issue.

    I even heard recently that even a hospital down in Pasadena, which is a city near us, their hospital is not functioning normally. So, this a — to say this is the perfect storm is an understatement. This is a storm of historical proportions. And when we’re done, they will talking about it for many generations to come.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Chief, what do you need right now the most?

    CHIEF ART ACEVEDO: We absolutely need more rescue boats. We need more rescue boats in our O.R. We need more aircraft.

    But, again, the problem with aircraft is that the Coast Guard has been heroic in their efforts, but not — they can’t operate 24/7 because of the weather conditions. And the relief boats that are coming from DPS and the National Guard are still having difficulty trying to get into the O.R. because of flooded freeways.

    And, unfortunately, it’s not just flooded freeways in and around Houston. We have been having that issue throughout the state. There’s big debate about whether you should — should the city have been evacuated, not evacuated?

    Well, people are forgetting that this entire state has been deluged, but the one place where it has not stopped is the city of Houston and the Houston region.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Looking back on that decision about evacuations, do you feel you made the right call?

    CHIEF ART ACEVEDO: Well, listen, if you know anything about the state of Texas, our highways are prone and our rural community and the entire state is prone to flash floods.

    Just yesterday, which was three days into this event, we, DPS, our Department of Public Safety troopers, 500 troopers could not get past the city of Bastrop, the town of Bastrop, on the way to Houston.

    I’m convinced that we would already be talking about hundreds, if not thousands of lives lost had we put an entire populace, tried to put a region of 6.5 million, because I’m not sure we would have taken them.

    This entire state, it seems like, has been underwater, and now that water is all headed here.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Art Acevedo is the police chief in Houston.

    Thank you.

    CHIEF ART ACEVEDO: Thank you.

    And if you believe in the good lord above, I don’t care what religion, please send prayers our way.

    MILES O’BRIEN: The American Red Cross is also on the scene in Texas to help thousands of people in need.

    I spoke with MaryJane Mudd from the Brown Convention Center in Houston, where they’re providing shelter and aid.

    Thank you very much for joining us. I know you’re extremely busy.

    Give us an overview of the Red Cross response to Harvey so far.

    MARYJANE MUDD, American Red Cross: The response has been astronomical because the storm has been astronomical.

    It hit us a few days ago down in South Texas and it made its way here to Houston. Last night, we provided shelter for over 1,600 people in 34 shelters up and down the Texas Gulf Coast. And now, in this shelter, 2,900 people and currently there are 3,800 people here who have registered today.

    It’s just growing and growing and growing. It is just — it’s just major. I have lived here 25 years, and I have never seen anything like it. There’s even — there’s water lapping at our front door, my husband informed me, as well. We live about a half-hour away.

    But my heart is broken for those who are here, because they have lost everything. The Red Cross is all about the response to this sort of thing. We have been planning for this. We have had supplies coming in, tractors, emergency response vehicles, enough food and hygiene products and comfort items for 34,000 people.

    This is not a sprint. This is a marathon. It is going to go on a long time. And that’s what we’re trying to do, is bring some comfort, have those things available, have the people here to make them feel comfortable when they have lost everything.

    MILES O’BRIEN: And it’s not over. We’re told, you know, another punch is anticipated a little bit to the east of where you are right now. Is the Red Cross able to respond to that? Or are you strained as it is?

    MARYJANE MUDD: Well, this is what the Red Cross prepares for.

    We’re about three things, preparedness, response and recovery. And, you know, two weeks ago, we were telling people how to prepare, how they would need to evacuate, things like that.

    But when we saw this was going to happen, working with our partners, our city officials, and looking at the maps and the models and figuring all of this out, our organization knew this was going to happen. Therefore, yes, we brought in those supplies. We talked to our shelter partners.

    And our shelters have been on active standby for a long time. So, the answer to you is, this shelter will hold up to 5,000 people. But after this is full, there are other shelters because there are other partners and because the Red Cross is out ahead of it.

    We’re ready for it. It doesn’t mean it’s easy. There’s a lot of heartbreak here, but there’s so much resilience. And we’re ready to help people.

    MILES O’BRIEN: MaryJane Mudd is with the American Red Cross of the Texas Gulf Coast.

    Thank you for time.

    MARYJANE MUDD: Thank you.
    MILES O’BRIEN: And if you want to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey, you can give to a number of organizations aiding in the relief efforts, including the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Donate on their Web sites or by mobile phone.

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    MILES O’BRIEN: For another view on the soggy ground in Texas, I spoke a short time ago to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat. She has represented downtown Houston for more than two decades. The congresswoman has not been able to access her own home due to flooding in the area.

    She joins us from the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.

    Thanks very much for being with us, Congresswoman.

    I know you have been in your district for the day, and I know you are personally affected by this. If you can just paint the scene for me, what are you seeing among your constituents right now?

    REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE, D- Texas: Well, I’m seeing a lot. I just came back in from the northeast part of high district, rescuing about 50 people, including elderly that were frail, babies and moms and others that were disabled, but these were resilient people who are waiting and really said, we will wait it out. We will stay here in this place with no real food and no real resources.

    They had taken cover, if you will, in a place in the neighborhood. A lot of people are doing that. They are seeking their own refuge, but a lot of people are volunteering and being the good samaritans. At the same time, we’re working closely with local governments, the mayor and county judge.

    And I’m here on the federal resources. FEMA at this center we have, this very, very popular center, if you will, the George R. Brown Convention Center, the shelter that is here, we just got FEMA coming in to work with people on their losses. We have got a full medical center established.

    And we’re trying to restore people’s lives. But we do need and will need federal resources. And I’m looking for a bipartisan approach to making sure we get those monies to restore the lives of Houstonians and those in South Texas and all over the state that have been impacted and still being impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

    MILES O’BRIEN: What will you be asking for from Washington and from your fellow members of Congress?

    REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE: We’re planning on introducing an aid package that we hope will be joined by Republicans and Democrats that will comprehensively look at the housing.

    We believe that there will be a major impact on people who will be able to go back to their housing at this time. We realize that there are homes that are now sitting with water. This is the most catastrophic event that we have had in Houston, in Harris County, bar none, bar Alicia and Allison.

    The water is pounding. So, we’re going to have to restore a lot of housing. Our infrastructure has to be restored, our water retention. All of that will be part of an aid package. And I hope that we will not only have the leadership of the Congress, but the White House will understand that a large economic piece of the nation has been severely impacted. I heard someone from FEMA say this will take months for restoration and maybe even years.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Of course, the politics here in Washington is the possibility maybe of a government shutdown. In the context of what’s happening in Houston, what do you say to that?

    REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE: Well, this is a busy place. And I’m trying to get people rescued. But I intend to send a letter to the president of the United States and emphasize to him that this is the worst time that a government shutdown could occur.

    I’m not for a government shutdown. I understand the speaker of the House is not for a government shutdown, the majority leader is not for a government shutdown. Those of us in the other party, Democratic Party, our leadership wants to be able to help working people get a better deal.

    We do not want to have a shutdown. So my message to the president is if you’re coming here tomorrow, come here with a message of unity, come here with a message of strength and come here with a message that we are America first and that we want to help the people of America, we’re going to help Houston, Texas, and we’re going to help the first-responders, the police and firefighters who were out there with me just an hour ago bringing these 60 people in.

    I watched them carefully lift up the elderly and the sick and the frail and young mothers and families. That’s what I needed the president to do. He should come here with a message unity and a message of thanks for all of these people who have sacrificed, who are out there with their own boats helping. And he should come with a message of a dollar sign, that he’s going to go back, keep the government open, and help us get back on our feet.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Is there a sense of desperation in your district?

    REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE: I will say to you that this is beyond our even appreciation or understanding. We’re in an ocean.

    So, people, rightly so, are mourning and concerned about their lives. They have been disrupted. But they’re welcoming of help. And I don’t think despair has set in at this point, but I think they’re looking for those who are going to be held accountable and get us back on our feet. Despair comes when you think no one is out caring about you.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, thank you very much. We will let you get back to it.

    REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE: I thank you so very much.

    And I thank all the volunteers who have come in, some across the nation. And we need help, so please send us help. A lot of items here, whatever you have, bring them down to the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas.

    Thank you so very much.

    The post Rep. Jackson Lee: Hurricane Harvey ‘worst time’ for a government shutdown appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Find all of our coverage on Hurricane Harvey

    MILES O’BRIEN: Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city, is virtually paralyzed tonight. Huge swathes are underwater in the wake of Hurricane, now Tropical Storm Harvey.

    At least eight people are dead, thousands rescued, untold numbers stranded. About 30 inches of rain has fallen already, with 20 more inches possible.

    Special correspondent Christopher Booker reports from Houston.

    READ MORE: The latest on Hurricane Harvey and how you can help

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Hour by hour, the water keeps rising and rescuers keep going with whatever is at hand.

    CARLOS MAZZEI, Rescue Volunteer: It’s just going to get worse. And if they don’t get out today, they’re going to have to get out tomorrow or the day after anyway. Power is not going to come back, so might as well get out and try to ride it out outside at a shelter.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Whole communities have already been inundated, and officials opened two reservoirs today to ease pressure on dams and protect the city’s business core. It could also mean flooding thousands more homes may flood. That’s lent new urgency to the round-the-clock rescue efforts.

    All over the city, impromptu rescue operations are under way. In this apartment complex, neighbors are going door-to-door encouraging people to leave.

    Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner:

    MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER, Houston: The rescues, because that’s our number one priority is getting to people in the city of Houston who may remain their homes in stressful situations. And we want to get to them today. That’s our goal, is to try to reach everyone today.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Harvey made landfall near Corpus Christi late Friday night, then stalled, all the while dumping rain measured in feet. Now the storm is expected to dip back into the Gulf of Mexico, then hit Houston for a second time by Wednesday.

    Today, Governor Greg Abbott activated all 12,000 members of the Texas National Guard for search-and-rescue missions. But it’s still not enough, and civilians, from Texas and beyond, have volunteered boats and trucks to help overwhelmed first-responders.

    CLINT WINGAR, Rescue Volunteer: You have just got to look out for everybody. It’s overwhelming, the amount of rain. It’s too much for the first-responders. They need help.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Over the weekend, some people were airlifted from roofs by Coast Guard helicopters, others ferried off on boats.

    MARIE SILVA, Rescued from flood: Thigh-deep water. Current was strong. And they helped us up to the military truck that evacuated us over here to the library. So we’re just happy to be OK.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: For rescuers and rescued alike, it’s risky business.

    As you’re walking through the water, the water is actually moving pretty rapidly past you, and the other danger is you take each step, you’re not exactly sure what you’re going to step on, or how deep it is or how shallow it is. You’re constantly getting jostled back and forth.

    Many of Houston’s main roadways are still impassable today. This map shows where high water has made travel all but impossible, except by boat. For those forced from their homes, the scope of what’s been lost is sinking in.

    COLLEEN HOUSTON, Rescued from flood: I have three feet of water in my house. Three feet in my bed, in my hospital bed in my house, because I’m bed-ridden. There’s water in all of the beds in the house. We have lost every strip of furniture, every couch, everything.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center housed thousands of New Orleans victims during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Now the city’s own residents are taking shelter there. City officials are defending their decision not to order evacuations.

    Francisco Sanchez, a spokesperson for the Harris County Office of Homeland Security, says it would have been worse if they evacuated everyone at once

    FRANCISCO SANCHEZ, Harris County Office of Homeland Security: Some of those questions and criticisms, where you’re actually looking at where those are coming from, aren’t people from Texas and they aren’t people from Harris County. Our community here understands hurricanes.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Some coastal Texas counties did evacuate Friday night, but the sheer destruction will take months, if not years, to clean up.

    LAVENA WILLIAMS, Resident: We don’t have any electricity. There’s no water. So, basically, we’re just — we’re still breathing, but it humbled us. It really did. If nobody’s humbled by this, something’s wrong.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Volunteers arrived in Rockport, Texas, to hand out water bottles.

    President Trump monitored the situation from the White House, promising full federal support for the victims.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I think that you’re going to see very rapid action from Congress, certainly from the president and you’re going to get your funding.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: The president and Mrs. Trump plan travel to Corpus Christi themselves tomorrow, then to San Antonio. Mr. Trump has also declared a separate emergency in Louisiana.

    MILES O’BRIEN: That report from special correspondent Christopher Booker, who joins me with more now.

    Christopher, where are you and what are you seeing right now there in Houston?

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: We’re just west of downtown Houston and we’re really seeing what is being seen all over city.

    Scenes like this are playing out everywhere. We drove a little bit around today. Everywhere we went, the streets just like this. And of the many, many amazing things is that all the people that are coming out and forming these impromptu rescue units, just as we have been standing here, just a moment ago, a family walked past with a young child, and the woman was very, very pregnant.

    It’s just unbelievable.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Chris, you get the sense that people are banding together and relying on each other as much they can, not necessarily waiting for the authorities to come rescue them. Is that what you’re seeing?

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: We spent some time earlier this afternoon with a group of neighbors who had formed an impromptu rescue chain, where people were going into this apartment complex with boats, getting — encouraging people to leave their homes.

    And once the people got out of their homes, they then went to the next node of this chain where the people were directing them to shelters or to hotels. And this was all organized on the scene in the moment.

    MILES O’BRIEN: What does surprise me as I see this scene there with the driving rain and a lot of water behind you is there is still quite a bit of put activity. What is going on there right now? What are people doing?

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: This scene is just like many of the other scenes throughout the city. People are coming up. We have seen number of people launch their boats. And they have been taking the boats down through the flooded waters.

    That truck that just passed me is actually from the Ohio task force, so people are dispatching clearly from all over to go to different places. Just down the way, I’m not sure if you can actually see it here, but there’s an 18-wheeler that has been stuck in the water, and there’s a group of people walking toward it.

    Also, people seem to be coming out from the right here as they’re basically making their way towards higher ground. And just beyond my view, there’s a higher spot where people who have walked out of the water are kind of walking up to what seems to be rides that have been arranged to pick them up.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Special correspondent Christopher Booker in Houston.

    Christopher, you and your team, please be safe.


    The post Texas rescuers work around the clock in unrelenting rain and flooding appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Command of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army (KPA) in an unknown location in North Korea in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 15, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA. PICTURE BLURRED AT SOURCE. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTS1BTNV

    North Korea launched a missile Monday that flew over Japan, the Pentagon said, a departure from what had appeared to be easing tensions between the U.S. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, seen here in a file photo. Photo by KCNA/via REUTERS.

    North Korea launched a missile Monday that flew over Japan, the Pentagon said.

    In a statement, Pentagon spokesman U.S. Army Col. Rob Manning said, “We are still in the process of assessing this launch,” but the “North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America.”

    Manning said the Pentagon was “working closely with Pacific Command, Strategic Command and NORAD and will provide an update as soon as possible.”

    Japan’s government said the missile broke into three pieces fell in waters off Hokkaido, the country’s northernmost main island, reports Elise Lu, NPR’s Asia correspondent.

    The test is a departure from what seemed to be an easing of tensions between America and North Korea, which has been developing a nuclear missile that could reach the U.S.

    WATCH: Tillerson commends North Korea restraint, but says ‘we need to see more’

    Last Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson praised North Korea’s “restraint in its provocations,” saying he thought it was a positive step toward dialogue — something many had not thought possible earlier this month, when President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un exchanged a series of heated statements some feared could lead to conflict.

    North Korea’s latest missile test comes as the traditional U.S.-South Korea military exercises are underway. Some Korea watchers told the NewsHour the military exercises have increased Pyongyang’s anxieties.

    “Every time we are practicing, whether it’s field exercises, or even a table top exercise, they get a little bit nervous about what we might do. They also worry about the capabilities that we’re demonstrating,” Mansfield Foundation Frank Jannuzi told NewsHour last week.

    Sixty-one percent of Americans say they have little to no confidence in Trump’s ability to handle an international crisis, according to a recent PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll. The poll also found some 73 percent of U.S. adults prefer diplomacy over warfare to ease tensions with North Korea.

    Lu said South Korea’s National Security council has convened, “as is usual practice after a provocation.”

    NewsHour will update this story as it develops.

    The post North Korea launched missile that flew over Japan, Pentagon says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    If employers rely largely on job boards to hire, yet can’t fill those jobs, and if job seekers are crying that job boards don’t help them get jobs, then what’s really going on? asks Nick Corcodilos.

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

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

    It’s become a routine complaint in today’s economy: Employers groan that they can’t find the workers they need to fill jobs. But our readers reveal what seems to be the underlying problem: the methods employers use to recruit.

    Grouses one job seeker: “The number one factor accounting for double-digit increases in the average length of unemployment is the reliance on job boards.”

    If employers rely largely on job boards to hire, yet can’t fill those jobs, and if job seekers are crying that job boards don’t help them get jobs, then what’s really going on?

    Follow the money

    It’s the job of Human Resources departments to deploy their recruiting budgets to fill jobs, but is HR spending its money wisely?

    ZipRecruiter, a venture-funded, privately held company, markets itself to employers as “The Fastest Way to Hire Great People.” It lets HR departments “Post to 100+ Job Boards with One Submission.”

    ZipRecruiter web ad

    A ZipRecruiter ad.

    You’ve probably heard the ads – on NPR One or Bloomberg or some other radio station. (Back in June, ZipRecruiter even accidentally placed an ad on a white nationalist podcast.)

    In a long-running Bloomberg radio ad, ZipRecruiter features an employer who says:

    “Hiring people is probably the worst part of my job. It’s such a hassle — the searching. The sorting through resumes.”

    Man, doing HR work really sucks. Is that an HR manager grousing? Or maybe it’s a hiring manager? Imagine a sales rep at your company complaining about what a hassle it is to sell.

    Yet, HR executives ponied up over $100 million in 2016 to ZipRecruiter for help filling jobs.

    According to USA Today, “Zip makes most of its money by charging $249 monthly to employers to post [their job] listings.” That’s a lot of job ads. That’s a lot of passing the buck.

    Is HR paying for job candidates — or to be insulted?

    What’s it like when the vendor you rely on to do your job for you blares to the world that your job is one big bother? Do HR execs love being insulted? Well, they keep paying for it. “Revenue is up 270% since 2013,” reports USA Today.

    HR seems to love being abused.

    “We started using ZipRecruiter about three months ago. Right from the start you could tell it was going to make hiring a lot easier.”

    HR also loves getting millions of job applications that no human ever needs to touch. Candidates “roll in.”

    “One click and my job was posted to 100 plus job boards — all the top sites.”

    One click and a job is sprayed all over kingdom come.

    The talent is insulted, too

    Job seekers, however, aren’t as enthused. One wrote to me:

    “I heard an advertisement for ZipRecruiter on the radio. In short, you can post a job on this site and it simultaneously posts it on other job boards and social media outlets. Does HR really need that many applications? Especially in these times?”

    The challenge for employers who live in this job-board ecosystem is not just to pick good hires. It’s to survive the hordes of inappropriate applicants the job boards gleefully deliver. Does HR really need “all of the candidates” from all of the job boards in HR’s “dashboard”?

    What does HR do with them? Says the HR manager in the ZipRecruiter ad (emphasis mine):

    “All of the candidates came to my dashboard and it’s easy to compare them. Thumbs up if I liked them, thumbs down if I didn’t. No emails and attachments, printing up docs, phone calls, none of that.”

    Imagine: None of that. No “docs” — no resumes, no application forms. No communications with applicants — “no emails, attachments… phone calls…” Nada. It’s 100 percent keywords. So who needs an HR department?

    ZipRecruiter takes care of everything for your company — including turning job applicants into your own private digital beauty pageant.

    Except really ugly stuff happens in beauty pageants when there’s no regulation. And while some venture-funded firm sucks up the profits, job seekers keep clicking for the next opportunity.

    Job seekers & HR: hapless marks

    While ZipRecruiter’s investors are cleaning up, job seekers are left drowning in the mess left behind by the job boards.

    One job seeker says it for many:

    “My Gmail inbox is littered with e-mails from ZipRecruiter, Indeed.com, and others. It is so frustrating to go through the daily search and submission only to get the robo-e-mails from ‘Phil@ZipRecruiter.com’ — the Job Seeker Advocate — and similar messages from Indeed and others. Sometimes I think it’s all one big bizarre video game and I am the hapless mark helping to feed the Monster(.com?). At first, I viewed them hopefully, but now I see them as a part of a giant ruse.”

    Another job seeker peals out:

    “Things have changed too much for the worse. The old, tried and proven Agencies have gone to wayside and replaced with kids calling me…Saying, ‘Hey, I saw your resume on Indeed or ZipRecruiter or LinkedIn, etc.’ If you put enough monkeys in a room with keyboards eventually semblance of a word will be achieved. If this is how Americans get a decent job nowadays … [oh my god].”

    Judging from how ZipRecruiter insults the HR profession in its radio ads, and judging from how much HR spends on ZipRecruiter’s services, we have to ask who is the more hapless mark: job seekers or HR?

    Dear Readers: What’s your experience with ZipRecruiter? I’d especially love to hear from folks in HR: How do you feel about how ZipRecruiter portrays you?

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

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

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

    The post Column: ZipRecruiter turned hiring into a beauty pageant where everyone loses appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The world is a big place, but one Manhattan tourist destination managed to shrink it down to size.

    Gulliver’s Gate — an elaborate, miniature world just two blocks from New York City’s Times Square — features 300 scenes from around the world scaled down to one-87th their real life proportions.

    “It’s our interpretation of the world in miniature,” Founder and CEO Eiran Gazit said. “It enables you to see, feel and experience places that maybe you’ve been to, maybe they are on your bucket list or maybe now they’ll become part of your list, all in one afternoon.”

    The $40 million dollar, 50,000-square foot attraction was crafted by 600 model-makers and other craftspeople from eight countries. In addition to a miniature Panama Canal and Eiffel Tower, Gulliver’s Gate features 1,000 model trains, 10,000 cars and 100,000 miniature people.

    “It just makes you smile and that’s the whole idea,” he said.

    You can virtually experience Gulliver’s Gate in the 360 video above.

    The post 360-video: An up-close view of a miniature world’s tiny tourist destinations appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    NewsHour shares web small logoIn our NewsHour Shares series, we show you things that caught our eye recently on the web. What about you? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or tweet to @NewsHour using #NewsHourShares. We might share it on air.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Finally, from Venice to a tourist destination of a different kind.

    In tonight’s NewsHour Shares, the world is a big place, but a new attraction in the heart of New York City has managed to shrink it down to size.

    The NewsHour’s Julia Griffin explains.

    JULIA GRIFFIN: Brazil’s Copacabana Beach, Rome’s Colosseum, or India’s Taj Mahal, pick one for your vacation destination, or see all three in one afternoon on a much smaller scale.

    EIRAN GAZIT, Co-Founder, Gulliver’s Gate: We wanted to give the impression that, even though we are dealing with very small things, this is huge.

    JULIA GRIFFIN: Eiran Gazit is the co-founder of Gulliver’s Gate, a world of miniatures the size of a football field in New York City’s Times Square.

    EIRAN GAZIT: I believed that the way to create the experience properly was that each area would reflect its own flavor, tastes, smell and the things that are important to that area.

    JULIA GRIFFIN: Achieving that required a team of 600 artists from eight countries. Gazit’s partner, Michael Langer:

    MICHAEL LANGER, Co-Founder, Gulliver’s Gate: In Russia, it was building the Russian section. In Rimini, Italy, they were building the European section. And by doing that, we not only got the authenticity, but we also got a diversity of design.

    JULIA GRIFFIN: Among the highlights?

    MICHAEL LANGER: I’m very fond of the Panama Canal. I love how the water functions and runs through the Amazon and turns into a waterfall at the end.

    EIRAN GAZIT: Grand Central is one of my favorites, because you see the layers that go between the subway, the regular train and the entrance. And if you actually look at the ceiling, you see that no detail was left behind.

    ADRIAN DAVIES, Head of Model-Making, Gulliver’s Gate: I think the volcano in South America is just really staggering.

    JULIA GRIFFIN: For design team head Adrian Davies, the massive miniature world is a feat of engineering and coordination.

    ADRIAN DAVIES: We have model makers, we have sculptors, we have writers, set painters, movie effect guys, architectural model makers and train nerds, for want of a better word.

    JULIA GRIFFIN: Indeed, Gulliver’s Gate is a mecca for model train lovers. Everything in the exhibit from the slopes of Sochi, Russia, to Stonehenge is built in the industry’s one-to-87 scale, 300 scenes are home to 1,000 trains, 10,000 vehicles, and 100,000 people.

    And unlike some of their real-life counterparts, those drivers actually use their blinkers. The exhibit also offers interactive experiences. Turn a souvenir key to trigger the Loch Ness Monster in the Scottish highlands, or a carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro.

    Guests can even have 3-D printed figurines of themselves placed among the exhibit.

    MICHAEL LANGER: If you had proposed at the Eiffel Tower, you can go ahead and recreate that moment and permanently place it at the Eiffel Tower.

    JULIA GRIFFIN: And while it’s a big miniature world out there, visitors might be most amused by the movie moments and pop culture references hidden among the landmarks, if they can spot them.

    EIRAN GAZIT: It just makes you smile. And that’s the whole idea. We wanted to create a place that would make people really smile all the time, and the smile just gets bigger and bigger as they go around.

    JULIA GRIFFIN: Smiles he hopes will last for years to come.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Julia Griffin in the big — I mean little apple.

    MILES O’BRIEN: That is so cool. I got to check that out.

    There’s more to explore online. You can virtually experience Gulliver’s Gate. Take a 360-degree video tour on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour.

    The post Artists remake the world’s wonders in lilliputian scale appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    MILES O’BRIEN: There have been a number of reports on how climate change is imperiling the city of Venice. But some projections indicate there’s an even more urgent danger: depopulation. The city is losing about 1,000 residents every year, as millions of tourists squeeze them out.

    Special correspondent Christopher Livesay reports.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Venice, more than any other place in Italy has withstood the test of time. Very little has changed since this lagoon city was built in the Middle Ages, except perhaps the people themselves. You might even think the locals had been replaced entirely by tourists like these.

    MAN: Obviously, most of the people here are tourists.

    WOMAN: You’re right. It’s too much.

    WOMAN: I thought this was just a tourist area. I honestly had no idea people lived here.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Of course, some do. Giovanni-Claudio Di Giorgio is one of them. He and his two brothers are concert musicians. But they fear they’re becoming an endangered species.

    GIOVANNI-CLAUDIO DI GIORGIO, Venetian Musician: When I go outside my house, and I walk around in Venice, I feel alone, because I recognize that the people I see don’t live here.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: In the Renaissance, it was merchants who flocked to the Rialto Bridge. But, today, it’s tourists, a lot of them.

    In fact, there are so many, that a lot of Venetian say they’re just too many, and they’re leaving as a result. In the 1950s, there were over 170,000 Venetian. But, today, there are just over 50,000.

    GIOVANNI-CLAUDIO DI GIORGIO: This is not as extreme this summer. It was way more, way worse.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: How do you do groceries on a day like this?


    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Susan Steer is an art historian who says Venice has always been irresistible to visitors.

    SUSAN STEER, Art Historian: The way particularly Northern European young men from the British Isles would mark their entree into adulthood would be with the famous grand tour, and Venice was a place where you could enjoy some culture, you could enjoy some of the finer things in life. And you could be initiated into some of the carnal pleasures that Venice also had to offer.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: You mentioned something about the type of tourist changing. What’s changed?

    SUSAN STEER: Fifty, 60 years ago, Venice was an expensive place for many people to reach. Gradually, travel has opened up, so we have budget airlines who are bringing planeloads of people into Venice on a very, very regular basis. We have got budget bus services bringing lots of people into Venice.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: And cruise ships. The sector alone employs 5,000 Venetians. Tourism at large brings in over two billion dollars every year, by far the city’s biggest industry. Tasked with the daunting role of managing it is the Venice tourism assessor, Paola Mar.

    So, six tourists jumped into the water from this bridge?

    PAOLA MAR, Venice Tourism Assessor: Early in the morning, at 6:00 in the morning, they jumped into the water. And they come out.

    (through interpreter): We have 25 million tourists per year. It’s our main business. The problem is one of mass tourism. We’re up against people acting stupid, posting videos on YouTube. We have zero tolerance for that. If you jump in the water, you’re fined 450 euros on the spot.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Starting this month, tourists can also be fined for having bicycles, feeding pigeons, and even sitting down in public squares.

    WOMAN: I’m sorry. It’s not allowed to sit here.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: A common scene in crowded tourists sites, where locals rarely visit anymore.

    But down a few back alleys, you can still find places where the Venetian way of life is unspoiled, like at this locals bar. The food on order, traditional dishes you won’t find in most tourist restaurants. And the lingua franca isn’t Italian; it’s Veneziano, a dialect few outside the lagoon can understand.

    So there’s differences from neighborhood to neighborhood.

    Giovanni-Claudio Di Giorgio introduces me to members of his club, Generazione ’90, or ’90s Generation, young Venetians struggling to keep their beloved city afloat.

    SOFIA CUTRONE, Venice resident (through interpreter): Venice doesn’t have much to offer us young people. So we’re trying to reverse this trend.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Would you like to stay in Venice and raise a family?

    SOFIA CUTRONE: Yes, yes, I would like to. I would like for my kids to have the same opportunity. But I realize that may not be possible.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Not possible, in part, because of the high cost of housing. Modest-size homes can easily exceed a million dollars, as apartments routinely get converted into vacation rentals, squeezing middle class locals off the island.

    Thousands of people who work here now must commute from the mainland by bus and vaporetto. But some refuse to leave, like these Venetians who have taken to squatting.

    Either they squat in a house, or they have to leave Venice?

    CHIARA BURATTI, Squatter: Yes. Yes. For the people that choose, for the families that choose to squat in houses, of course, it’s not an easy choice. It’s not — it’s like the last chance for living here.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: For working-class Venetians, she says mass tourism is killing the city. I posed that question to Paola Mar, the tourism assessor.

    PAOLA MAR (through interpreter): Killing the city? I wouldn’t say so. Like anything else, mass tourism has its pros and cons.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: She says the city is doing what it can to protect the housing market from runaway speculation, by ramping up regulations on rental sites like Airbnb.

    If tourism continues unabated, the city may consider restricting flows into Saint Mark’s Square, effectively turning the heart of this once vibrant metropolis into an open-air museum.

    As for Giovanni-Claudio Di Giorgio, he doesn’t want tourists to stop coming altogether. He knows the economy depends on them. But if locals continue to leave at an alarming rate, he fears his generation will be the last that can truly call itself Venetian.

    GIOVANNI-CLAUDIO DI GIORGIO: Would I want to have a family and live here? Yes, I would. Would it be feasible right now? No, I don’t think so. It will never be the same again, and we feel that this last generation is the generation whose responsibility is to ensure that more people have the same privilege as us.

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

    The post Irresistible to tourists, has Venice become unwelcoming to its inhabitants? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    MILES O’BRIEN: Next, we continue our series Rethinking College, with a look at the nation’s first statewide youth apprenticeship program.

    As Hari Sreenivasan reports, it offers high school and college credit and pays students for their work.

    This story is part of our weekly education segment, Making the Grade.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In Colorado, this factory floor may be the classroom of the future.

    MAN: This goes into that hopper, gets melted back into a liquid, as it goes through the machine.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And these students may be hired for prime jobs before they even finish high school.

    Manufacturers like Intertech Plastics in Denver are facing critical shortages of skilled labor, and they want to teach teens how to work for them.

    NOEL GINSBURG, CEO, Intertech Plastics: We couldn’t support the growth in both facilities because we didn’t have the people.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Noel Ginsburg is the CEO.

    NOEL GINSBURG: From the day I started the company to this day, the biggest challenge we have was around having the right people with the skills we needed to grow the business. We have 40,000 unfilled tech jobs in Colorado.

    College is not cheap, right? So, if you could earn up to 40 to 50 credit hours for college by working in a business like this, and get paid, and get your high school diploma, who wouldn’t want to do that? It’s a pretty cool deal.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper, is behind the idea.

    GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER, D-Colo.: We are one of the fastest growing economies in the country. You can’t sustain that without talent. And it is a global competition for talent now. And a lot of that talent, it’s not Ph.D.s and the superstars. A lot of that talent is middle skills.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Partnering with the state, Ginsburg founded CareerWise, an apprenticeship program that links Colorado industries and school districts.

    Starting this year, high school Jr.s and seniors can spend three school days a week as on-the-job apprentices, earning classroom credit and a paycheck.

    NOEL GINSBURG: We’d like to have 230 career paths that will, in 10 years, serve 20,000 young people in a whole host of careers, from banking and finance to advanced manufacturing.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Colorado leaders believe they are in the forefront of addressing what economists call a middle skills gap, unfilled jobs that require more than high school, but less than a four-year college degree.

    GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER: For more than 30 years, we took on this challenge that we were going to make sure every kid went to college, and this was the only solution. But we have barely nudged the needle in terms of how many kids actually go to college and graduate. And in that sense, I think it’s been a failure.

    NOEL GINSBURG: I was part of that mantra, saying everybody should go to college. The reality of it is, that’s never going to happen. In this country, what the percentages? Twenty-eight percent, at best, will get a four-year degree in this country.

    So, we’re essentially telling everybody else that they can’t be successful in our economy and in our country. And it’s simply not true.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: After graduating high school, the program offers apprentices full-time employment and financial support toward community colleges degrees.

    The pitch convinced visiting high school student Kevin Roquemore to add another choice to his career path.

    So, what are you going to do after you graduate high school? What are you thinking right now?

    KEVIN ROQUEMORE, Student: So I have a plan A, plan B. Plan A hopefully is to go to the Major Leagues, just if I don’t go to college, play baseball.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK, I don’t know your athletic skill, but let’s just say the baseball career stops in high school. What are you going to do?

    KEVIN ROQUEMORE, High school student: My plan B was to be in manufacturing and engineering.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Alejandro Garcia’s parents were thrilled to hear he was accepted into the program.

    JOSEFINA SANTUARIO, Mother of Alejandro Garcia, high school student (through interpreter): We preferred him to attend university. That’s what we wanted. But when we heard of this opportunity, we jumped straight on it.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But will schools become training grounds for industry? Will apprentices miss out on crucial classroom learning?

    The idea that critical thinking and kind of the long-term life lessons that you pick up being in an academic environment, those are necessary too.

    NOEL GINSBURG: They are, but what I believe is that those skills can be learned in the workplace, because the workplace is real, and you have different personalities. I think soft skills are better taught in business, not in the classroom.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Looking to fine-tune their apprentice program, Colorado leaders traveled to Switzerland, where 40 percent of companies offer student apprenticeships.

    MAN: So, why apprenticeship? Swiss firms do not only train because it’s a tradition. There is an economic rationale.

    MAN: It is an investment into young people for making sure that we have a low unemployment rate.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Suzi LeVine, former U.S. ambassador to Switzerland, hosted the delegation and is now working with Colorado’s CareerWise apprentice program.

    SUZI LEVINE, Former U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland: We’re at the front end of an apprenticeship renaissance in the United States. When you look back at Hamilton and Franklin, started out as apprentices. In Switzerland, two-thirds of young people go into apprenticeship. Their youth unemployment is just 3.2 percent. We need that here in the United States.

    GAIL MELLOW, President, La Guardia Community College: I think what Colorado is doing is a great first step.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Gail Mellow is the president of New York’s La Guardia Community College, which also offers programs that link high school students to middle skills.

    While enthusiastic about Colorado’s new program, Mellow cautions that Europe and the United States have very different social structures.

    GAIL MELLOW: The challenge is that if we model those steps exactly at what happens in Switzerland, we don’t have the robust safety net. So, our robust health benefits, the living wages, those are often not part of American businesses.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And she’s concerned that apprenticeships could lead to short-lived jobs that improved technology could eventually wipe out.

    That it’s not a dead-end job?

    GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER: It’s a job that’s going to lead to a better job, that will lead to a better job. That’s what we used to call a career.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: For now, Colorado’s apprenticeships are financed by federal and state funds, business and philanthropy.

    But the future plan is for industry to provide the biggest investment.

    In Denver, for the PBS NewsHour, I’m Hari Sreenivasan.

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    MILES O’BRIEN: In the day’s other news: There’s word that Libya is paying militias to stop migrants from crossing to Italy. The Associated Press reports the Tripoli government is using funds from the European Union, with Italy’s support. It’s led to a sharp drop in crossings, but it also empowers the militias that have destabilized the country.

    Meanwhile, some migrants are still trying to flee. About 700 have been rescued in the last 48 hours alone.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has thrown up a new roadblock to peace talks with the Palestinians. In a speech last night, he told a cheering crowd that Israel will never surrender its West Bank settlements.

    BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Israeli Prime Minister (through interpreter): This is our forefathers’ legacy. This is our land. We have returned here for good. There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the land of Israel. Settlements will not be uprooted. It was proven that it’s not helping peace. We have uprooted settlements. What did we get? We got rockets. And, therefore, it won’t happen again.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Netanyahu has made similar remarks before, but this time, he spoke just after President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner visited the region. He’s leading the new peace effort. The Palestinians condemned the prime minister’s remarks. They have long called for all of the West Bank to be part of a Palestinian state.

    On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 57 points to close at 21865. The Nasdaq rose almost 19 points, and the S&P 500 added two.


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    MILES O’BRIEN: The U.S. and its Asian allies are trading barbs in the wake of North Korea’s latest missile test early today.

    Nick Schifrin has our report.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: It was an alarming way to wake up, 6:00 a.m. on Japan’s Hokkaido Island, and the air raid sirens go off as a North Korean missile flies unseen above.

    Residents posted videos on social media, and received a text that was also displayed on computer screens: “Please take refuge in a sturdy building or underground.” Never mind most Japanese homes don’t have a basement.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): They said please get into a solid building, but we were thinking ours here would be gone in the first blast.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: The test shook a key U.S. ally, admitted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

    SHINZO ABE, Prime Minister, Japan (through interpreter): The North Korean missile, which passed over our nation, represents the greatest and gravest threat to our nation ever. It also is an egregious threat to the peace and stability of the Asia Pacific region.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: South Korea’s response was even more aggressive. The Defense Ministry released video of every step of a drill it called a direct strike on North Korea’s leadership: a fleet of American-made F-15s flying two sorties and dropping GPS-guided bombs.

    The South Koreans said they hit their mock target. And if that message wasn’t direct enough, air force Colonel Lee Kuk-No made it obvious.

    COL. LEE KUK-NO, South Korean Air Force (through interpreter): If North Korea threatens the security of the South Korean people and the South Korea-U.S. alliance with their nuclear weapons and missiles, our air forces will exterminate the leadership of North Korea.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: The response was so grave because today was unprecedented. The missile, which launched from a Pyongyang suburb, was the first time a ballistic missile designed for a nuclear tip overflew Japan.

    It flew for 14 minutes and splashed down 1,700 miles away, almost enough distance to have reached U.S. territory Guam, which the North Koreans previously threatened to target. The North Koreans have now launched more missiles in the last three years than in the last three decades. They say they’re responding to U.S.-South Korea exercises that have been ongoing for the last nine days.

    The U.S. calls those exercises defensive and computer simulations, as seen in the 2013 version.

    But, in Geneva today, North Korea’s U.N. ambassador depicted those exercises as preparations for war.

    HAN TAE SONG, North Korean Ambassador to the U.N.: It is an undeniable fact that the U.S. is driving the situation of Korean Peninsula towards extreme level of explosion by deploying huge strategic assets around the peninsula to conduct a series of nuclear war drills and maintaining nuclear threats and blackmail for over a half-century.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: The aggressive rhetoric drew a curt reply from President Trump that ended, “All options are on the table.”

    Analysts describe that today’s missile test was designed to create considerable chaos, but not confrontation, and it was also designed to create distance between the U.S. and its allies.

    CHRISTOPHER HILL, Former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea: They’re trying to show that the U.S. is not in a position to do anything for the Japanese right now. And I think it’s part of a broader strategy really to kind of try to show the United States is a kind of paper tiger in the region.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Chris Hill was the U.S. ambassador to South Korea and headed the U.S. delegation in talks designed to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program. He advocates a strategy combing diplomacy with sabotaging North Korea’s missiles.

    CHRISTOPHER HILL: We do need to look at more direct measures in that narrowing space between peace and war. I don’t see how we can simply rely on China or rely on some kind of sanctions program.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Just last week, both President Trump and Secretary Tillerson praised North Korea’s self-control.

    REX TILLERSON, Secretary of State: I am pleased to see that the regime in Pyongyang has certainly demonstrated some level of restraint that we have not seen in the past.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Since then, North Korea launched two sets of missiles. But Ambassador Hill says the U.S. is right to continue talking diplomacy; it just needs to push its point more.

    CHRISTOPHER HILL: Diplomacy is a little like the advertising business. If you haven’t said it 50 times, you haven’t said it at all.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Today’s launch shook the region. The U.S. is trying to reassure allies and deter North Korea, which doesn’t seem to feel pressure right now to stop its testing.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Nick Schifrin.

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