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

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    The Tampa skyline is pictured across Hillsborough Bay ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Irma in Tampa

    The Tampa skyline is pictured across Hillsborough Bay ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Irma in Tampa, Florida, on September 10, 2017. Photo by Chris Wattie/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The White House says President Donald Trump has received a “comprehensive update” on Hurricane Irma.

    Irma has plowed into the Florida Keys as it the storm begins its march up the state’s west coast.

    Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and several Cabinet members have participated in the briefing from Camp David — the presidential retreat where Trump has spent the weekend monitoring the storm.

    Other administration officials joined in from the White House or Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington.

    Pence and several Cabinet secretaries are planning to visit FEMA headquarters later Sunday.

    The White House says Trump has spoken with the governors of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. Irma could affect all four states.

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott says he also spoke with Trump on Sunday.

    The post Trump receives ‘comprehensive update’ on Hurricane Irma appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Sunday that state officials were “doing all we can” to prepare for damage from Hurricane Irma hours after it made landfall in southern Florida.

    The storm brought Category 4 winds that reached 130 mph as it made landfall in the Florida Keys Sunday morning. Tens of thousands of people hunkered down in more than 500 shelters across the state as high winds and flooding began to grip the Florida Keys and areas around Miami.

    Scott said that a vast majority of the state is experiencing storm-force winds and that the eye of the storm was approaching the Naples-Fort Myers area.

    Scott said he has spoken to President Donald Trump and requested a Major Disaster Declaration from the federal government, which would increase the amount of public assistance to Florida from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

    “We will make it through this together,” he said.

    The post Florida Gov. Rick Scott gives updates on Hurricane Irma appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump observe a moment of silence at the White House on Sept. 11 in remembrance of lives lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump observe a moment of silence at the White House on Sept. 11 in remembrance of lives lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    ARLINGTON, Va. — Leading his first commemoration of the solemn 9/11 anniversary, President Donald Trump said Monday that “the living, breathing soul of America wept with grief” for each of the nearly 3,000 lives that were lost on that day 16 years ago.

    Addressing an audience at the Pentagon, one of three sites attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, Trump used the anniversary to sternly warn terrorists that “America cannot be intimidated.” He said those who try are destined to join a long list of vanquished enemies “who dared to test our mettle.”

    Trump and first lady Melania Trump observed a moment of silence at the White House on Monday at the exact moment that a hijacked airplane was slammed into the World Trade Center. The Trumps bowed their heads and placed their hands over their hearts as “Taps” rang out across the South Lawn. They were surrounded by White House aides and other administration officials in what has become an annual day of remembrance.

    Nearly 3,000 people were killed when hijackers flew commercial airplanes into New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

    WATCH LIVE: Family, friends and survivors commemorate 9/11

    Trump, a native New Yorker who was in the city on 9/11, said the attack was worse than the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor during World War II because it targeted civilians. He vowed that it would never be repeated.

    “The terrorists who attacked us thought they could incite fear and weaken our spirit,” Trump said later at the Pentagon, where he was joined by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “But America cannot be intimidated and those who try will join a long list of vanquished enemies who dared test our mettle.”

    He said that when America is united, “no force on earth can break us apart.”

    Trump also offered words of comfort the many whose loved ones perished in the attacks.

    “For the families with us on this anniversary, we know that not a single day goes by when you don’t think about the loved one stolen from your life. Today, our entire nation grieves with you,” Trump said. Later, he said “the living, breathing soul of America wept with grief for every life taken on that day.”

    Vice President Mike Pence was representing the administration a ceremony at the 9/11 memorial in Shanksville.

    Trump has a checkered history with 9/11. He frequently uses the attack to praise the city’s response but has also made unsubstantiated claims about what he did and saw on that day.

    Trump often lauds the bravery of New York police officers, firefighters and other emergency responders who rushed to the Twin Towers to help as an example of the resilience of the city where he made a name for himself.

    But he has also criticized President George W. Bush’s handling of the attacks, accusing Bush of failing in his duty to keep Americans safe.

    Trump has made dubious claims about Sept. 11, particularly saying when talking about Muslims that “thousands of people were cheering” in Jersey City, New Jersey, across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan, as the towers collapsed. There is no evidence in news archives of mass celebrations there by Muslims.

    Trump also said he lost “hundreds of friends” in the attack and that he helped clear rubble afterward. Trump has not provided the names of those he knew who perished in the attack, but has mentioned knowing a Roman Catholic priest who died while serving as a chaplain to the city’s fire department.

    Superville reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Ken Thomas in Washington also contributed to this report.

    The post President Trump on 9/11: ‘America cannot be intimidated’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Rows of desks sit empty in a classroom. Photo by Alan Levine/Flickr

    Photo by Alan Levine/Flickr

    I was in 10th grade living in Toronto when 9/11 happened. We were in art class and an office announcement came on that the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. Students around me were shocked and some concerned for their families in New York.

    Later that day on the bus going home, a student looked at my friend, my sister and me, who all wear a hijab (a head cover that some Muslim women wear), and said, “Do you guys know what happened? I heard your people did it.”

    Of course I had no idea how to answer this. I was from Iraq and there were rumors in school that the Taliban was behind the attack. I remember we all looked at each other and did not reply back to her. That was the beginning of feeling like I was under attack for something to which I had no connection.

    Now, through my work at The Writing Project, I facilitate workshops and work directly with educators and students so that conversations like the one I experienced on 9/11 occur less often, and hopefully, one day, not at all.

    I asked one student if she had ever experienced any negative reactions because she wears the hijab in school. Her reply 16 years after 9/11 was sobering.

    One of the workshops I helped to facilitate right after the Trump administration issued the travel ban focused on Islamophobia and students’ experiences with it. I asked one student if she had ever experienced any negative reactions because she wears the hijab in school. Her reply 16 years after 9/11 was sobering.

    “Kids look at me and call me a terrorist,” said 9-year-old Malika. “How does that make you feel?” I asked the soft-spoken fourth grader. “It hurts. Because I am not. I just want to be treated normally.”

    Malika is not alone in this sentiment. A new survey by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) reveals that 42 percent of Muslims with children in K–12 schools report bullying of their children because of their faith.

    teachersloungeThe Southern Poverty Law Center documented an increase in hate crimes for the second year in a row in 2016, citing that the “radical right” was stimulated by Donald Trump’s rhetoric during the 2016 presidential election. The biggest growth was the almost tripling of anti-Muslim hate groups – from 34 incidents in 2015 to 101 last year.

    According to Pew Research Center’s analysis of new hate crime statistics from the FBI, the number of physical assaults against Muslims in the U.S. reached 9/11 era levels in 2015.

    With the anniversary of the September 11th attacks, educators, administrators, librarians, teachers and staff all have a duty in this social and political climate to take necessary action to create a safe environment for Muslim students and students of color.

    What can we do?

    Eric Fieldman, a high school special education and social studies teacher in New Jersey, focuses on how current and past events have shaped students’ understanding of the world, including the attacks on 9/11. And yet, most students born in the immediate aftermath of September 11th are only just starting their sophomore year of high school. “These events are as foreign to the students as Pearl Harbor or Kennedy’s assassination; it’s just another event in the past they have no memory of,” Fieldman said.

    As a result, Fieldman chooses to focus on how and why the world changed has changed since 9/11, which can lead to a more organic discussion with his students about Islam and how Muslims are treated today.

    Many students, especially Muslim women who wear a head cover, share stories about how they become cautious and even fearful during 9/11 memorial days. These fears have gotten worse with the rise of hate crimes against Muslims.

    “I have had friends who had their hijabs ripped off, or were called terrorists by one of their classmates,” says Aima, a Muslim student studying politics in Toronto. To combat hatred and stereotypes, Aima makes art that represents how Muslim women see themselves in ways that challenge stereotypes.

    Aima says she feels that too often teachers shy away from talking about 9/11, especially with students who are Muslim. Instead, she encourages teachers to speak with her and her fellow Muslim peers on the anniversary of September 11th. These conversations need to be conducted in a safe learning environment between Muslim and non-Muslim students and must also include discussion of the aftermath of the events, including the chain reaction of wars and hate crimes that resulted, Aima said.

    Indeed, many educators do include 9/11 as part of their curriculum, and that the anniversary allows teachers to discuss other relevant and controversial issues. Fieldman has initiated a social justice club in his school that explores topics like Islamophobia, white privilege, LGBTQ issues and many others that directly impact students. Like Aima, he emphasizes that students need to know the classroom is a safe place to have serious and meaningful discourse.

    Many students, especially Muslim women who wear a head covering, become very cautious and even fearful during 9/11 memorial days, especially with the rise of hate crimes against Muslims.

    Fieldman is in the process of rewriting his lessons for the start of the year to include resources he found using #CharlottesvilleCurriculum, a Twitter hashtag that was created after Charlottesville by Melinda D. Anderson, education writer and contributor to The Atlantic. A Google doc inspired by that hashtag contains dozens of resources for teachers ranging from news articles about the history of racism to lesson plans about student empowerment. Fieldman says he will use the materials to help him discuss ways to combat racism and bigotry, including white supremacy.

    Students are watching the news and its depictions and stereotypes of how the media portray Muslims. This will have a tremendous impact on how students view the world and how we treat those who may have a different social or cultural identity; more importantly, it will impact their personal identity. Having a supportive teacher and a safe learning environment where they know they can be themselves without feeling judged is crucial to helping students succeed in school and understand how September 11th has affected everyone.

    For additional resources, check out PBS NewsHour Extra’s lesson plan: Since 9/11, what do your students know about how the U.S. has changed?

    The post Column: Why educators still need to talk about 9/11 — and Islamophobia appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    File photo of the U.S. Supreme Court by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    File photo of the U.S. Supreme Court by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is back at the Supreme Court, asking the justices to continue to allow strict enforcement of a temporary ban on refugees from around the world.

    The Justice Department’s high court filing Monday follows an appeals court ruling last week that would allow refugees to enter the United States if a resettlement agency in the U.S. had agreed to take them in. The appellate ruling could take effect as soon as Tuesday and could apply to up to 24,000 refugees.

    Justice Anthony Kennedy issued a brief order Monday that will keep the ruling on hold for the time being, at least until the ban’s challengers submit written arguments by midday Tuesday and the full court has a chance to act.

    The administration is not challenging the part of the ruling that applies to a temporary ban on visitors from six mostly Muslim countries. The appeals court ruled that grandparents and cousins of people already in the U.S. can’t be excluded from the country under the travel ban.

    READ MORE: Trump’s travel ban shouldn’t include grandparents or extended family, 9th circuit court says

    The Supreme Court already has weighed in twice on lower court rulings striking down or limiting the travel and refugee bans, though it has to rule on their validity.

    In June, the high court said the administration could not enforce the bans against people who have a “bona fide” relationship with people or entities in the United States. The justices declined to define the required relationships more precisely.

    In July, the justices issued an order that temporarily allowed strict enforcement of the exclusion of refugees. But the Supreme Court refused to go along with the administration’s view that it could keep out grandparents, cousins and some other family members.

    The 90-day travel ban affects visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

    The high court is scheduled to hear arguments about the legality of the travel and refugee bans in October. By that point, the original 90-day travel ban will have lapsed and the 120-day refugee ban will have just a few weeks to run. The administration has yet to say whether it plans to renew the exclusions, expand them or make them permanent.

    The administration told the court Monday said that changing the way it enforces the policy on refugees would allow “admission of refugees who have no connection to the United States independent of the refugee-admission process itself.”

    The post Supreme Court agrees to temporary enforcement of Trump’s travel ban appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The White House says President Donald Trump “was right” to fire former FBI Director James Comey, rejecting former White House adviser Steve Bannon’s suggestion it was a major political mistake.

    White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Trump’s decision was justified given Comey’s conduct after the decision. She is accusing the former FBI director of “giving false testimony,” ”leaking privileged information to journalists” and politicizing his investigation.

    Comey’s firing angered career officials at the FBI, and the former director has defended his handling of the investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible connections with Russia.

    Bannon said in an interview with CBS News that Comey’s firing may have been the biggest mistake in “modern political history” and said it led to the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

    The post WATCH: White House says Trump ‘was right’ to fire Comey appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    It will take weeks for most areas of Florida to recover from damage sustained during Hurricane Irma, Gov. Rick Scott said in a news conference Monday.

    “It’s going to be a long road. There’s a lot of damage,” Scott told reporters.

    While the heaviest rain and winds have already cleared the state as the storm moves toward Georgia, flooding — particularly in Jacksonville, Florida’s largest city — will likely continue through next weekend.

    READ MORE: Live map: Track Hurricane Irma

    There’s been record flooding along the city’s St. John River, one of the areas of the state that saw more than a foot of rain accumulate during the storm, Scott said.

    It’s unclear how much the damage from Irma will cost. President Donald Trump signed a disaster declaration Sunday that will free up federal funding for recovery efforts, including “grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.” More than 220,000 remained in shelters across the state on Monday, the Associated Press reported.

    Scott said that in a flight over the Florida Keys on Monday morning, he saw boats washed ashore and debris filling the street. “I don’t think I saw one trailer park [where] everything wasn’t overturned,” Scott said.

    Roads to the Keys, which sustained some of the worst damage from Irma’s tear through the state this weekend, are open, Scott said, but the region has no water, no sewer system and no electricity.

    “I just hope everybody survived,” Scott said. “It’s horrible what we saw.”

    READ MORE: Hurricane Irma leaves Florida trailer park residents with impossible choices

    The post WATCH: In Florida, ‘it’s going to be a long road’ to recovery after Irma, governor says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    People worked in the lobby of the Airbnb office headquarters in the SOMA district of San Francisco, California, U.S., August 2, 2016. REUTERS/Gabrielle Lurie - RC185895A7E0

    People seen working in the lobby of the Airbnb office headquarters in the SOMA district of San Francisco, California. File photo by REUTERS/Gabrielle Lurie

    Editor’s note: Dr. Annie McKee is an author and Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches and directs the PennCLO Executive Doctoral Program. The following is an excerpt from her new, bestselling book, “How to be Happy at Work: the Power of Purpose, Hope and Friendships” (Harvard Business Review Press, 2017).

    “I’m working harder than ever before… and I don’t know if it’s worth it anymore.” Hearing these words from my friend “Ari” worried me a lot. As senior vice president of sales at a well-respected company, Ari is smart, emotionally intelligent, and wise — just the kind of person we want leading a company.

    The business is doing well. No crises are on the horizon, other than the routine demand to squeeze more profit out of the business. So why is Ari so unhappy that he’s thinking of quitting? What’s causing him to question his entire career and even his worth as a human being? The constant pressure, stress, and never-ending change initiatives are part of it, he told me. He’s most definitely sick of the rat race and the politics on the senior team. And he’s just learned he’s going to have to lay off more people, again.

    Ari doesn’t see the point anymore. He is demoralized, disillusioned, and burned out. He has lost sight of what he used to find exciting and meaningful at work. He’s given up hope that things will get better. He shows up every day and tries to play the game, but it’s getting harder and harder to keep up the charade. He feels he has lost his edge as a leader, and that others would agree.

    Ari’s not alone. Many people are sick to death of their jobs: Gallup consistently finds that about two thirds of us “neutral” — meaning we don’t care, or we are actively disengaged. This is unacceptable. Most of us work more than eight hours a day. That means that if we are unhappy at work, we are miserable for a third of our lives. Time away from work is affected, too, and our and friends suffer when we are disengaged, dissatisfied, and unfulfilled. Even worse, slow-burning stress, anger, and other negative emotions can literally kill us. We can’t possibly be effective at work (or anywhere else) when we feel this way, and neither can our organizations.

    And the other side of the coin? Companies with happy and engaged employees outperform their competition by 20 percent and research shows that we are personally more successful when we are engaged, fulfilled and excited about our work. How, then, can we move from discontent to happiness on the job?

    The road to happiness at work

    To be happy at work, we need to start by believing that people — and our human needs, desires and dreams — truly matter. But, dispelling the myth that work has to grueling can be a bit of an uphill battle. We are told we should settle for that paycheck or that next promotion and not ask for more. We aren’t supposed to complain when our managers treat us as recalcitrant children rather than smart, responsible adults who can make decisions and do a good job on our own. When we’re not trusted to think, however, we are insulted. When we are expected to pursue goals that don’t jive with our values or our hopes for the future, we lose interest. When relationships are merely instrumental, and we have to accept being treated as a “doer”, not a person, we get mad. And, when we treat others that way, we can find ourselves feeling ashamed. Working like this feels empty, meaningless, and fails to call out our best.

    I have had very personal experiences in my own life that taught me that the myth that work is supposed to be miserable and that people don’t matter is nothing but destructive. This, combined with the growing body of knowledge in positive psychology, led me to look to my own work in organizations for what we can actually do to be happier at work. I went back to studies that I and my team had done for companies and governments around the world. We’d interviewed dozens — sometimes hundreds — of people in these consulting projects, seeking clues about leadership practices and organizational values that helped, or hindered, organizational values. Results were pretty consistent: emotional intelligence and organizational cultures that value diversity, inclusion, learning, and human rights support success. Organizations that condone dissonance and mistreatment of people have problems.

    When people were asked what they needed in order to be effective, personally, it didn’t matter if they worked in a remote government office, a start-up or a large corporate giant. It didn’t matter if they were young or old, male or female, brown, black or white. They said the same thing: “I need and want to be happy at work. I am more productive, creative and successful when I am. And to be happy, I need to feel that my work is meaningful, that I am making a difference. My work needs to be linked to my personal dreams, not just the company’s vision. And I need friends at work.”

    The power of purpose

    Seeing our work as an expression of cherished values and as a way to make a contribution is the foundation of well-being, happiness, and our ongoing success. Passion for a cause fuels energy, intelligence, and creativity. And, when we see that the results of our labor will benefit ourselves and others, we want to “fight the good fight” together. This is in part because of brain chemistry: the positive emotions that accompany purposeful, meaningful engagement in our activities enable us to be smarter, more innovative, and more adaptable.

    Having a sound, clear, and compelling purpose helps you to be stronger, more resourceful, and better able to tap into your knowledge and talents. As you discover which aspects of your job are truly fulfilling, and which are soul destroying, you will be in a better position to make good choices about how you spend your time and what you pursue in your career.

    Hope’s contribution to workplace happiness

    Like meaning and purpose, hope is an essential part of our human experience. This is as true at work as in any corner of our lives. Hope, optimism, and a vision of a future that is better than today help us rise above trials and deal with setbacks. Hope makes it possible to navigate complexity, deal with pressure, prioritize, and make sense of our crazy organizations and work lives. And hope inspires us to reach our potential — something virtually everyone wants for themselves.

    To be truly happy at work, we need to see how our workplace responsibilities and learning opportunities fit with a personal vision of our future. When we see our jobs through a positive lens, and when a personal vision is front and center in our minds, we are more likely to learn from challenges and even failures, rather than be destroyed by them. With hope, optimism, and a personal vision, we can actively choose a path toward happiness — a path away from disengagement, cynicism and despair.

    Yes, you do need friends at work

    Resonant relationships are at the heart of collective success in our companies. That’s because strong, trusting, authentic relationships form the basis for great collaboration and collective success. But, I’ve found, we need more than this to get us through good times and bad. We need to feel that people care about us and we want to care for them in return. This, too, is part of our human makeup. We want to feel as if we are accepted for who we are, and that we work in a group, team, or organization that makes us feel proud and inspires us to give our best effort.

    Adding it all up, the kind of relationships we want and need look a lot like friendships. Yet, one of the most pernicious myths in today’s organizations is that you don’t have to be friends with your coworkers. Common sense and my decades of work with people and companies show the exact opposite. Love and a sense of belonging at work are as necessary as the air we breathe.

    Purpose, hope, and friendships don’t just appear magically. You need to work for them, as my friend Ari did. He started by deciding he had a right to be happy at work, then, he focused on recapturing what was most important to him in life and learning how to bring it back to work. Over time, he rediscovered what he loved about his job — what made it feel meaningful and important. He rebuilt bridges and reconnected with people he used to like and trust at work. He also began to see what he wanted next. He surprised himself with this discovery: what he wanted, it turned out, wasn’t that CEO job. He wanted to lead the new, innovative division that just might keep the company at the forefront of the industry as technology redefined the business. Ultimately, he rediscovered what it means to be happy at work. You can, too.

    The post Column: Happiness, not endless sacrifice, drives success at work appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The U.S. national flag is pictured at the Office of Personnel Management building in Washington June 5, 2015. In the latest in a string of intrusions into U.S. agencies' high-tech systems, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) suffered what appeared to be one of the largest breaches of information ever on government workers. The office handles employee records and security clearances REUTERS/Gary Cameron - RTX1FAQF

    A government backlog of 700,000 security clearance reviews has led agencies like the Defense Department to inadvertently issue interim passes to criminals — even rapists and killers — fueling calls for better and faster vetting of people with access to the nation’s secrets. Photo by REUTERS/Gary Cameron.

    WASHINGTON — A government backlog of 700,000 security clearance reviews has led agencies like the Defense Department to inadvertently issue interim passes to criminals — even rapists and killers — fueling calls for better and faster vetting of people with access to the nation’s secrets.

    The pileup, which is government-wide, is causing work delays for both federal and private intelligence efforts. It takes about four months to acquire a clearance to gain access to “secret” information on a need-to-know basis, and nine to 10 months for “top-secret” clearance.

    Efforts to reduce the backlog coincide with pressure to tighten the reins on classified material. In recent years, intelligence agencies have suffered some of the worst leaks of classified information in U.S. history. Still, calls for a faster clearance process are getting louder.

    “If we don’t do interim clearances, nothing gets done,” Dan Payne, director of the U.S. Defense Security Service, said last week at an intelligence conference.

    “I’ve got murderers who have access to classified information … I have rapists. I have pedophiles. I have people involved in child porn. I have all these things at the interim clearance level and I’m pulling their clearances on a weekly basis.”

    Yet Payne described handing out interim clearances as risky business. On the basis of partial background checks, people are being given access to secret and top-secret information sometimes for long periods of time, he said.

    “I’ve got murderers who have access to classified information,” he said. “I have rapists. I have pedophiles. I have people involved in child porn. I have all these things at the interim clearance level and I’m pulling their clearances on a weekly basis.”

    “We are giving those people access to classified information with only the minimum amount of investigation. This is why we have to fix this process. This is why we have to drive these timelines down.”

    Payne didn’t say how many criminals his agency has discovered, if their offenses were new or old, or if any of them had mishandled classified material. Efforts to reach him for this story were unsuccessful.

    More than 4.3 million people hold security clearances of various levels, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. They include nearly 3 million at the “confidential” or “secret” level and more than 1 million at the “top secret” level.

    READ MORE: Deeply personal information exposed in security clearance hack

    Checking federal employees and private contractors is a laborious process that requires an extensive background check and an effort to judge a person’s trustworthiness.

    Ninety-five percent of all background investigations are conducted by the National Background Investigations Bureau, which does some of the work itself and contracts the rest to private firms.

    The backlog grew significantly after the government stopped doing business with a contractor that suffered a data breach in 2014. That depleted the government’s capacity to do investigations by 60 percent, said Charles Phalen, director of the investigations bureau.

    Hundreds of new investigators have been hired since, Phalen said, but the backlog is “still way high.”

    He and other officials think the process needs to be updated to ensure the government can spot possible problems in real time.

    Is a clearance holder dealing with money woes or personal problems, such as alcohol or drug addiction? Is there unexplained foreign travel, questionable use of computer networks, or other issues that might point to possible leaks?

    Right now, clearance holders are reinvestigated about every five years, adding to the background checks for first-time applicants. Intelligence officials, industry leaders and lawmakers say continuous monitoring and evaluation are preferable.

    In today’s fast-paced world, they argue, it doesn’t make sense to wait years to find out someone is experiencing financial problems, making him susceptible to selling classified information.

    Many U.S. intelligence agencies already are onboard. The Defense Department also has begun more regular vetting. It has 500,000 people — contractors and military personnel among them — enrolled in what it calls “continuous evaluation,” which involves regular checks through law enforcement and other databases. Up to 1 million will be enrolled by the end of the year, Payne said.

    The improved vetting has led to 48 people losing their clearances based on information uncovered years before they would have been up for their next scheduled review. Several hundred additional cases have been flagged for additional investigation.

    Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the Senate intelligence committee’s top Democrat, said an overhaul of the clearance system is long overdue, particularly if the government hopes to continue to attract top-notch workers and recent graduates.

    And Vice Adm. Jan Tighe, deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare and director of naval intelligence, said the backlog is threatening the civilian workforce’s readiness.

    “This is one of these processes that have been unchanged for decades,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Groen, the Marine Corp’s director of intelligence. “It’s screaming for a different way to do business.”

    “We are losing talent to other places,” Tighe said.

    The backlog also is complicating transitions of mid-career intelligence professionals from agency to agency and in and out of private industry. It takes time to process clearances for these transfers, too.

    Over the years, various executive orders and legislation have called for change — none successfully.

    “This is one of these processes that have been unchanged for decades,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Groen, the Marine Corp’s director of intelligence. “It’s screaming for a different way to do business.”

    Intelligence professionals say serious changes are needed in the entire system, which dates to the late 1940s. That was long before the internet, social media, cyberattacks and massive classified disclosures like the National Security Agency leak perpetrated by Edward Snowden.

    “I do not think this is one of lacing up our shoes tighter and putting more people against it,” said Sue Gordon, principal deputy national intelligence director. “We have to reimagine how this is done.”

    The post Security clearance backlog has led government agencies to issue risky interim passes to classified material appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Years into the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe, human rights activists have accused the European Union of turning a blind eye to Greece’s treatment of refugees and migrants now stuck on the island of Lesbos.

    Many of the refugees there suffer from serious mental health problems.

    The charity Doctors Without Borders is raising alarms that health services for the vulnerable are now being cut.

    From Lesbos, special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports.

    MALCOLM BRABANT, Special Correspondent: Mohammed Karimi from Afghanistan uses this makeshift gym to eliminate the frustrations of being stuck in a refugee camp on Lesbos for the past 17 months.

    MOHAMMED KARIMI, Afghan Asylum Seeker: Exercise is better for all people, for everything. It supports a good mind. When I come to training, I feel so relaxed and my mind is relaxed. If I never training one day, I never good feeling.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The gym was installed with a day center run by a Swiss charity called One Happy Family, in the hope that exercise might make a small dent in the growing mental health crisis in Lesbos.

    GREG KAVARNOS, Psychologist, Doctors Without Borders: We are sitting on a bit of a time bomb. The future for these people is dark. I mean, there’s not much hope.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Greg Kavarnos is a psychologist at this clinic in Lesbos run by Doctors Without Borders. Their recent study showed that 80 percent of migrants they examined had severe mental health problems.

    GREG KAVARNOS: Most of the problems we’re seeing are as a consequence of their experiences, and their experiences being left untreated from their home country and untreated here, because currently people are trapped on the island. The longer you leave it untreated, the more likely it is to develop into something more permanent.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The psychologists’ concerns center on Moria. It was set up as a transit shelter two years ago.

    But since the migrant trail north was closed down in the Balkans, it has effectively become a permanent internment camp that is despised by its 6,000 or so occupants.

    This video from the start of this year shows police trying to prevent a migrant from hanging himself on the fence. Volunteers on the island say the man succeeded in committing suicide some time after this attempt.

    Outside the wire, we met a Nigerian man called Frank. He asked us not to identity him. He’s afraid that he will be deported for speaking out about conditions inside Moria.

    He says life in the camp has a debilitating effect on the mind.

    FRANK, Nigerian Asylum Seeker: During those nightmares, I don’t sleep. I was being transformed to another place. Sometimes, I see myself in the river. I see myself in a big ocean. Some kind of things come into my mind. I see some dead people in the river, which is not normal because of my — because of the prison.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Frank fled Nigeria after participating in violent protests. He has been in Moria for eight months, and he says the pressure of the camp caused him to attempt suicide.

    FRANK: I was like, let me just hang myself and forget about life, instead of trying to kill somebody.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: But you didn’t do it.

    FRANK: No, I didn’t.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Did you try?

    FRANK: Yes, I tried. I got the rope. I went to the bush. At this stage, I have a thought come inside me. Are you stupid? Do you want to kill yourself? Are you crazy? What is wrong with you? Will you go back?

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The psychologists say the nature of the journey to Europe often exacerbates the migrants’ mental health problems.

    Fridoon Joinda is from Afghanistan. He was attacked by robbers in a forest.

    FRIDOON JOINDA, Afghan Asylum Seeker: The guy, he put a gun on my head. In five seconds, I saw all of my life, my past, my future, my family, my friends.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Fridoon’s therapy is making videos like this one. He comes from an entertainment family in Afghanistan that had to flee the country after they mocked the government on television.

    FRIDOON JOINDA: I’m trying my best. All the time, I’m listening to videos, positive videos, on how to like even — like, during the night before I go to bed, I watch the videos about how to treat myself, like a doctor, because we don’t have any access to psychologists.

    I don’t have — I have to be my own psychologist. And I’m trying to find videos, how can I sleep? How can I remove the stress from my body?

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The One Happy Family day center is meant to be an oasis of tranquility for the occupants of the Moria camp. But staff acknowledge that they can only provide the psychological equivalent of a Band-Aid for people at the end of their tether.

    BRIDGET CHIVERS, Volunteer Nurse: I feel very frustrated and upset in my work that I’m referring all these patients and can’t help them whatsoever.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Bridget Chivers is a volunteer nurse from Australia.

    BRIDGET CHIVERS: People are saying: I don’t want to live. I don’t want to be here. I don’t know what the best option is. Is it to be in Syria with ISIS? Is it to be in Afghanistan with the Taliban? Or is to sit in Greece for two years, waste my life, and might be sent back anyway?

    Like, the stress is enormous.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: And according to psychologist Greg Kavarnos, that stress is compounded by the realities of life in Moria.

    GREG KAVARNOS: If you ever visit one of these camps, it’s quite clear that, even if you didn’t have a psychological problem, you’re going to develop one if you’re in this camp for any period of time, the facilities, the setup, the way that people are treated in the camp, the hopelessness.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: For example, as this phone video shows, more than two years into the refugee crisis, Moria still suffers from water shortages that make good hygiene impossible.

    GREG KAVARNOS: All of these things serve to compound or to fray a person’s psychological well-being.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The European Union has literally been throwing aid money at Greece.

    The latest handout was in July, when Brussels promised a contribution of $250 million. The migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said it was essential that there was solidarity within Europe, and he said that Europe had been standing alongside Greece since day one.

    He also said that, in total, $1.5 billion had been placed at Greece’s disposal to handle the migration crisis.

    We repeatedly asked to interview Greece’s migration minister, Yiannis Mouzalas, but he declined to talk to us.

    Outside Moria, Algerian asylum seeker Akram Ashouli was in no doubt about who to blame for conditions in the camp.

    AKRAM ASHOULI, Algerian Asylum Seeker: The government for Greece is bad. They treat us like animals.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Last year, the E.U. promised Turkey $3 billion if it could help to stem the migration flow. And this is what their policy looks like from the perspective of a migrants’ rubber dinghy. A woman screams, “You’re going to kill us” as the Turkish coast guard cutter comes close to ramming the small vessel.

    DIMITRIS CHRISTOPOULOS, President, International Federation for Human Rights: I think that this is a collective disgrace of the European Union, since the whole union wants to make itself more — less attractive for people to come. So, if Greece is attractive, then it means that the union is more attractive.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Dimitris Christopoulos is president of the International Federation for Human Rights.

    DIMITRIS CHRISTOPOULOS: It’s not only that the European Union is turning a blind eye to what is happening to Greece. We are talking about an implicit, absolute complicity between the European Union, the European Commission and the Greek authorities in order to leave the situation as it is, to function as a deterrent, so that people will not continue their journey.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Despite the exit from Lesbos being blocked, Afghan asylum seeker Fridoon Joinda is confident that eventually he will be able to leave.

    FRIDOON JOINDA: And just I have to be patient. And also I’m trying my best. And I’m just inviting all people, all humans to please just think, sometimes, just think, why you are allowed to fly? Why I shouldn’t?

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Across the Mediterranean, there’s growing evidence that Europe is wrestling back control of its frontiers, but its border force, Frontex, is still rescuing people.

    Although there appears no way out of Greece, they keep coming, increasing the pressures on their fellow migrants and those trying to help them. They may have a vision of Lesbos as a springboard to freedom, but come the dawn, the reality of their plight will soon become apparent.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Malcolm Brabant in Lesbos.

    The post Refugees urgently in need of mental health help flounder on Lesbos appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Time now for a closer look at the White House handling of Hurricane Irma, President Trump’s fraught relationships with his own party, and more.

    It’s Politics Monday, with Tamara Keith of NPR and Stu Rothenberg, senior editor for Inside Elections.

    Welcome to both of you.

    But let’s first ask about what Governor Christie just had to say.

    Tam Keith, he was pretty emphatic that that’s not what happened, whatever it was that Steve Bannon said.


    TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: Yes, that was a barn-burner at the end of an interview. That was incredible. Chris Christie doesn’t hold back.

    And the interesting thing to me is, as critical he was of Steve Bannon, he was praising the president, even used the, “I have broad shoulders,” which is a phrase much used in the Trump administration.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: He said, “I’m a soldier for Donald Trump.”

    STUART ROTHENBERG, Inside Elections: Take that, Steve Bannon.


    STUART ROTHENBERG: I wrote down two things.

    One, still a Trump loyalist. That absolutely came through loud and clear. And bad blood between Governor Christie and Steve Bannon. It was so obvious, the personal animus.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Does that say something about Trump world, or is this just a sideshow? What do we think, Tam?

    TAMARA KEITH: Trump world is — has many orbiting planets.

    It’s a complicated place, because Steve Bannon, in that “60 Minutes” interview, portrayed himself as sort of the flame keeper of what is Trumpie. He is there to defend Trump. He said he was going to be his wing man on the outside.

    Well, Chris Christie obviously sees himself as the president’s wing man, too. And I think there are a lot of people who see themselves in that role.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Stu, it was Steve Bannon who ended up going into the administration, and not Chris Christie. He’s heading up this opioid commission, which is important, but he doesn’t have a job.

    STUART ROTHENBERG: Which makes you think that something happened to deny Chris Christie a post in the administration, or at least one that he likes, because he said he was offered some.

    So, it may be in this case Bannon and Bannon’s folks won that battle. But, as we now see, they’re both outside the administration.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, what we’re focused a lot on right now, understandably, Tam, is these terrible storms. After Harvey, right away comes Irma wreaking destruction across the Caribbean.

    We’re now seeing it in the state of Florida. It’s moving across into Southeast.

    How is the president handling all this?

    TAMARA KEITH: The president has kept a relatively low profile. He has not been sort of tweeting himself, though his account has tweeted videos of him. He has made remarks here and there.

    He’s really put Tom Bossert, who is his homeland security adviser — that’s not the correct title.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Homeland.

    TAMARA KEITH: Homeland security adviser. He has put Tom Bossert out there, also his FEMA director.

    One thing that President Trump did is, when he formed his team, he brought in people who had some experience in dealing with natural disasters, which is a mistake that the Bush administration made.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Stu, we know from a lot of experience that presidents can get into trouble when there is a natural disaster. It seems to me President Trump is trying very hard not to do that, to stay focused on…

    STUART ROTHENBERG: Yes, I think, so far, so good.

    He hasn’t been demeaning Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. He hasn’t been attacking people. He’s been able to adopt a role that is more presidential.

    Now, people may argue whether he looks more presidential. That’s a different question. But at least he’s able to talk about national unity and responding to the crisis and laying wreaths at the 9/11 anniversary.

    So, this is better for him, probably better for the country. I don’t — personally, I don’t expect it to last. I think when we get back to politics as usual, we will see behavior as usual.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, quickly, Tam, there are some sticky questions coming up I asked Governor Christie about, about the money the federal government is going to have to spend on places like Florida, on top of Texas.

    Is the president, is the administration prepared to deal with that?

    TAMARA KEITH: Well, there certainly is a large congressional delegation from Florida.

    They had to postpone votes in the House today because there are so many members of the House that come from Florida. So, there will certainly be pressure to have additional funding. And, actually, the money that was put in place for Hurricane Harvey is not going to be enough.

    So, this will be something that will come up. There are many must-pass legislative vehicles coming up in the next few months.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, a lot of issues.

    And, Stu, I’m asking this because we know FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is just about out of money already, even before Irma hit.

    STUART ROTHENBERG: Well, I think there’s going to be money for these natural disasters.

    But I do think, the further we go from the incidents, the further the calendar passes on, I think there will be more calls for offsets and for fiscal responsibility. But, for right now, I think the photographs, the pictures, the videotapes are pretty compelling to get even members of Congress to spend money.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we will see.

    Another thing, Tam, I asked Governor Christie about is the president’s deal, the deal that he cut with Democrats last week. And, you know, he and other Democrats — Republicans and Democrats met with the president the day after that Pelosi-Schumer agreement to talk about this New Jersey-New York tunnel project.

    But what are you hearing? Are you hearing concern among Republicans? Are you hearing — what are people saying you’re talking to about this?

    TAMARA KEITH: This is a president who came back from visiting the damage from Hurricane Harvey, talking to people who were affected.

    And he — what I’m hearing, he just wanted to get something done. He wanted something to show for it. He wanted to help those people whose kids he hugged and who he took pictures with. And so he did a deal.

    Also, this president knows that, among a lot of people, a lot of people who voted for him, he’s a whole heck of a lot more popular than the leaders of the Republican Party in Congress. I mean, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan are rapidly becoming the enemies of Republicans, of rank-and-file Republicans.

    STUART ROTHENBERG: So, in the short term, I think that’s a plus for the president, but, long term, it’s a little different.

    I don’t see how the president benefits by belittling and criticizing the Republican leadership on the Hill. I don’t see how he benefits by making it seem as though they’re inept, incompetent and can’t pass anything, and only he can make a deal. I don’t see how that helps him in the midterms, because, if they lose, if the Republicans lose in the midterms, the president loses.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, do we have reason to believe that this is — something I was trying to tease out what Governor Christie thinks. And he said, yes, he will continue to cut these.

    But is this the thinking, Tam, that this is something that he is going to continue to do if he sees that it is in his interest?

    TAMARA KEITH: I think there’s a math analogy here about one point doesn’t make a line.


    TAMARA KEITH: It’s hard to form a trend from one data point.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I was really good at math.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: I’m not going to wade into that one.

    But to extend that out, you now have Republicans who are looking at whether they are going to stay in Congress or not, Stu. There are a couple of moderates. This is another case of, do one and one make three?

    You have got a couple of Republicans who are now saying they’re not going to run for reelection.

    STUART ROTHENBERG: Well, you have four recent Republicans, one in Florida, one in Washington State, and, most recently, Charlie Dent in Pennsylvania and David Trott in Michigan, who have announced they’re not running for reelection, two in Clinton districts, and two in Trump districts.

    You have Bob Corker, Senator Bob Corker, from Tennessee…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And speculation.

    STUART ROTHENBERG: … kind of talking about this.

    I actually talked to Senator Corker last week about this. And he told me the very same thing. But he also told me he’s not sure whether it would be good to lose his voice in the Senate. So, I’m not sure he’s actively thinking about whether to run or not run. I think he just is delaying a general decision.

    But there is no doubt there is nervousness among House Republicans, and there is much more talk about potential — about additional retirements from House Republicans, particularly moderates, who just are uncomfortable with the direction of the administration.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It just looks like the landscape has been shaken up once again.


    And, basically, every two years, there are a lot of retirements. You would expect some retirements. The thing is that this gives Democrats some hope that — you know, when they’re incumbents, they’re harder to beat. When there is no incumbent, it’s more of an open race.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it’s early, but it’s not early, if…


    TAMARA KEITH: No, it’s 2018 already.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: … if you’re running — if you’re running…

    STUART ROTHENBERG: Remember, the Alabama Republican runoff middle of September, the establishment vs. the outsider. Keep an eye on that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I have got it on my watch right here.



    STUART ROTHENBERG: Write it on your hand.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: Stu Rothenberg, Tamara Keith, thank you both.


    TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Politics Monday.

    The post How Washington is handling a historic hurricane season appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: It was five years ago this fall when Hurricane Sandy slammed into the Northeastern United States, leaving a death toll in the U.S. alone of more than 150 people. By the end, 24 states were affected, damages totaled over $70 billion, and it all happened at the height of the 2012 presidential election.

    New Jersey was the site of landfall for what became known as Superstorm Sandy and what developed into a defining moment for that state’s governor, Chris Christie.

    Today, Governor Christie is also leading the response to a different national emergency, as head of the White House Commission on Combating Drug Addiction in the opioid crisis.

    And Governor Christie joins me now.

    Governor, welcome to the NewsHour.

    GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J.: Hi, Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, thank you for being here.

    We know that Irma, the storm, is still wreaking havoc on the Southeastern U.S., but based on what you have seen, your own experience, do you believe that government at all levels have done everything they could have to prepare for that storm?

    GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE: Yes, it looks like Governor Scott worked well with the feral government and his local authorities to get millions of people evacuated, which is the first challenge for a governor, then to have the shelters ready to be able to house people, as many as need that type of housing.

    And now the next challenges are going to come as the storm dissipates and they see what it’s wrought and how to recover.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you believe that there is going to be aid for Florida and other states that need it in a way that aid wasn’t necessarily there timely after Sandy?

    GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, I hope that they learned their lesson in Congress. It appears they did by how quickly they moved to vote for Hurricane Harvey aid for Texas, even though those folks were not nearly as quick to get that aid to the Northeast in the result of Superstorm Sandy.

    So, I think they have learned that lesson. That mistake was made. I hope it will never be repeated, because it really set back recovery here much more than it ever would have had to. And it caused anxiety among people that is completely unnecessary. As a nation, when we have a national emergency like this one, we need to stand together and help each other, regardless of what region of the country we come from, what political party we’re in, or what philosophy we follow.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We know federal dollars are scarce, Governor.

    Is there a formula for how much after a natural disaster like this is the federal government’s responsibility, the state’s responsibility, private citizens’ responsibility?

    GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, listen, I think most of it is the federal government’s responsibility.

    Now, those who have private insurance and other means will not necessarily be able to access government programs, which are meant for those who are most truly in need. But there’s infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt and other things that, regardless of your economic level, you need to have there for your state to be able to operate.

    I think this has always been predominantly a federal government responsibility. States will contribute to it, but a lot of these states like Florida and Texas now, their economies will be damaged by this storm and, as a result, their tax revenues will be lower at the local and the state level.

    And so all this moves us towards the need for a federal response. And there’s no doubt that this is one of the things the federal government is there for, to deal with the health, safety and welfare of the American people. And so I don’t think Congress will hesitate to be able to put the funds in place that are necessary to rebuild what’s been destroyed in Houston and in Florida.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to ask you about the other crisis that you’re very much involved in now, and that’s, of course, the opioid crisis that has been gripping this country, chairing the president’s commission.

    You urged the president to declare a national emergency back in the middle of the summer. He eventually did that. It took a while for it to happen, but he did.

    But it’s now been over a month. I think a number of people are starting to ask, where are the results? What is going to happen as a result of declaring this emergency? Where is the action?

    GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, Judy, I know from — I was just at the White House last week to discuss this with the president’s senior staff.

    I know they are focused on putting a number of the recommendations that the commission has made in their interim report into place. I’m anxious to see that happen, like everyone else, because I think what we’re going to hear pretty soon, Judy, is that, in 2016, we had over 60,000 Americans die of a drug overdose.

    This is much greater than the AIDS epidemic in terms of numbers. This is more than automobile accidents kill folks every year. This is an extraordinary crisis in our country’s history, and I’m anxious to have those interim report recommendations implemented.

    And I know the White House is working very hard now to make sure it’s done in a way that’s most efficient and most effective. I know the president and I know his heart on this. And I know that he’s ready to do what needs to be done to get this implemented the right way.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, my question is, what’s the holdup? The reporting is that there’s disagreement inside the Trump administration about how much resources, how many funds to put into this.

    What is the holdup?

    GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, there always will be debate and discussion among the president’s staff, depending upon their point of view and what areas they’re responsible for.

    Here’s where there is no indecision the president of the United States has said very clearly that we’re going to spend substantial resources to deal with this problem. He has said it to me personally. He’s said it to other members of the commission. And most importantly, he’s said it publicly to the American people in August.

    And so I think what they’re doing now is twofold. One is to make sure, as I said before, it’s done efficiently and effectively, so that we do see some lessening of the human loss as quickly as we possibly can.

    And, secondly, to be fair, Judy, we have had two major national emergencies intervene since August with Hurricane Harvey and now Hurricane Irma. And so, you know, the administration is focused on making sure that’s dealt with, and they’re also on a parallel track working on making sure that we efficiently and effectively implement the recommendations in the interim report of the commission.

    I’m absolutely committed to that. I’m committed to urging the president to move as quickly as possible. And he’s told me that’s exactly what he’s instructed his staff to do.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Two other quick things I want to ask you about, Governor. One is, we know you were, as you mentioned, at the White House last week. You were there meeting with the president the day after he cut — struck that deal with Democratic congressional leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi over the debt limit, spending on Hurricane Harvey.

    You were there to talk about this project, this tunnel between New York and New Jersey, among other things. There were Democrats in that meeting.

    Is it your sense the president is going to be doing more deals like that with Democrats?

    GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE: It is my sense, Judy, that what the president wants is to get things done for the American people.

    And I don’t think he, quite frankly, cares whether he gets those things done with Republican members of Congress, Democratic members of Congress, or both. But what I believe he wants to see happen is accomplishments on major issues on behalf of the American people.

    And whether that’s on infrastructure, as we were discussing with him on Thursday and the Gateway Tunnel project, whether that’s on tax reform, which we need to do to further grow this economy, or whether it’s on health care, the president will work hard with anyone of good will to get something done.

    He showed that with Hurricane Harvey by working with Senator Schumer and Congresswoman Pelosi and other Republicans to get that done. And, listen, I have always known Donald Trump — I have known him for 15 years — to be a person who cares most about results.

    And I think that’s what the actions of last week showed the American people. And my guess is, they’re encouraged by it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Governor, you’re talking about the president. You know him well. You played a big role in his campaign. You were not asked to be part of the administration.

    I want to ask you about something Steve Bannon, who was the president’s former chief strategist, said in an interview over the weekend with Charlie Rose. Charlie asked him about the “Access Hollywood” tape involving its former anchor Billy Bush, when the president made some comments that were interpreted by many to be beyond inappropriate.

    You were critical of those. But here’s what Steve Bannon had to say. Here’s just a quick bit of that exchange.

    STEPHEN BANNON, Former Chief White House Strategist: Billy Bush, Saturday, to me, is a litmus test. It is a litmus test. When you side with him, you have to side with him. And that’s what Billy Bush weekend showed me.

    CHARLIE ROSE: You took names on Billy Bush Sunday, didn’t you?

    STEPHEN BANNON: I did. I got a — I got — I’m Irish. I got to get my black book, and I got them.

    Christie, because of Billy Bush weekend, wasn’t looked at for a Cabinet position.

    CHARLIE ROSE: He wasn’t there for you on Billy Bush weekend, so, therefore, he doesn’t get a Cabinet position?

    STEPHEN BANNON: I told him, the plane leaves at 11:00 in the morning. If you’re on the plane, you’re on the team.

    Didn’t make the plane.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Governor, was it your — what you said, your unwillingness to stand up for the president after that “Access Hollywood” tape, do you think that’s what shut you out of the Trump administration?

    GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, a few things on this.

    First is that that conversation that Mr. Bannon references in his interview never happened. Never had any conversations with him. I didn’t need to convey those kind of feelings to staffers.

    I was speaking to the principal, to the man who’s now president of the United States. Secondly, I was there the whole Billy Bush weekend. I was there during debate prep, leading debate prep for the second debate both on Friday and Saturday. And, by the way, if I was off the team, then why did I lead debate prep for the third debate?

    Third, this I was offered Cabinet positions by this president. It’s been widely reported and it’s true that I was offered Cabinet positions that I turned down.

    So I suspect this little black book that Mr. Bannon is talking about, the only one who read that black book was Mr. Bannon himself. I know that no one else cared about it. And now that he’s been fired, no one is going to really care about anything else Steve Bannon has to say.

    WATCH: Gov. Chris Christie: Steve Bannon conversation ‘never happened’

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you stand by your views of the president’s comments in that “Access Hollywood” tape?


    And I — most importantly, and the reason the president and I have been friends 15 years, and the reason that we both value each other’s friendship is that we speak the truth to each other.

    On that weekend, I spoke the truth directly to the president of the United States. And I didn’t need to go on the air or do it publicly or to self-aggrandize myself now, as, you know, Mr. Bannon is doing by giving a “60 Minutes” interview.

    This, I suspect, is his last 15 minutes of fame. And that’s fine. I hope he enjoys it.

    My intent is, as it’s always been, not as somebody who was just Donald Trump’s friend for a year, as Mr. Bannon was, but for somebody like me, who’s been his friend for 15 years, I want him to be a successful president first and foremost for this country, secondly, because I like him personally, and, third, because I believe that the country will benefit ultimately if Republican policies on tax reform and on infrastructure are put into place to make this country bigger, better and stronger.

    And, you know, so, listen, you know me, Judy. I have very broad shoulders, and I have had much tougher characters than Steve Bannon lie about me in the past. I just keep soldiering on and moving forward, and I will always be here for the president to tell him the truth, which is exactly what I have always done and why we’re still friends and why I was at the White House Thursday, while Steve Bannon was off doing an interview with “60 Minutes.”

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Chris Christie, the governor of the state of New Jersey, thank you very much.

    GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE: Judy, thanks for the time. Always a pleasure.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: The death toll from last week’s powerful earthquake in Mexico has risen to at least 96. Authorities also say 2.5 million people are in need of food, water and electricity. The 8.1-magnitude quake struck Friday near Mexico’s border with Guatemala. It damaged at least 12,000 homes, and that number is expected to rise.

    Today was the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and somber ceremonies honored the nearly 3,000 people who died that day. In New York, thousands gathered at Ground Zero, former site of the World Trade Center, for the annual reading of victims’ names.

    In Washington, President Trump laid a wreath at the memorial to the Pentagon victims and later sounded a warning.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The terrorists who attacked us thought they could incite fear and weaken our spirit. But America cannot be intimidated, and those who try will soon join the long list of vanquished enemies who dared to test our mettle.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, Vice President Pence took part in an observance for victims of the passenger jet that crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. He hailed the courage and sacrifice of those on Flight 93 who fought the hijackers.

    Eighteen Egyptian police officers were killed and seven wounded today when Islamic State militants ambushed their convoy. It happened on the Sinai Peninsula, part of Egypt that borders Israel and Gaza. The militants used roadside bombs to destroy four armored vehicles. And then gunmen opened fire with machine guns after commandeering a police pickup truck.

    The United Nations has voted unanimously to impose new sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear activity. It’s a watered-down resolution that doesn’t include U.S. demands to ban all oil imports to Pyongyang. The sanctions do ban imports of natural gas liquids, and they cap imports of crude oil. They also bar exports of all textiles.

    California is the latest state to sue the Trump administration over its decision to end the DACA program. The lawsuit filed today charges that it’s unconstitutional to rescind the presidential memorandum that shielded young undocumented immigrants from deportation. California is home to one in every four DACA participants.

    U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has ordered the president’s travel ban on refugees to stay in place, at least temporarily. A lower court ruling could have allowed another 24,000 to enter the country, but the U.S. Justice Department appealed. The department didn’t appeal another part of the ruling. It exempts grandparents and other relatives from the ban on entries from six Muslim countries.

    And on Wall Street, stocks rallied after reports that Hurricane Irma’s destruction in Florida is not as bad as initially feared. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 259 points to close at 22057. The Nasdaq rose 72, and the S&P 500 added 26.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, across the Caribbean, at least three dozen people are dead in Irma’s wake.

    Officials are struggling to get aid to the region’s islands devastated by what was then a Category 5 storm. In the British Virgin Islands, thousands have no electricity or shelter.

    That’s where Penny Marshall of Independent Television News picks up our coverage.

    PENNY MARSHALL, ITN: These paradise islands now look like an alien landscape. Nature has been scorched, every tree on the island stripped of its leaves. And the infrastructure’s been destroyed, every building on the island blown apart.

    FELICITO MOSES, British Virgin Islands Resident: Most every people have their part of their home destroyed.

    PENNY MARSHALL: Felicitor Moses survived by hiding in a cupboard. His house didn’t.

    So, what were you doing when you were in the cupboard?

    FELICITO MOSES: Praying to almighty God for this one piece to stay around to shelter, to save us.

    PENNY MARSHALL: But now all hope is with the British, whose help has just arrived. Royal Marines are spreading out across the islands to reestablish order. Extra police have also been flown in from other parts of the Caribbean.

    And if there was a delay getting help in here, there is now a clear urgency about trying to get it out to those who need it most. But those who can’t wait are desperate to fly out to safety.

    Families are sheltering at the airport, waiting for places on planes that so far haven’t come. Heather Robinson and her baby son Luke are waiting. They have lost everything.

    HEATHER ROBINSON, British Virgin Islands Resident: I mean, our house literally got swept away from around us.

    PENNY MARSHALL: You have nothing left? Everything you own is gone?

    HEATHER ROBINSON: Everything.

    PENNY MARSHALL: This is all that’s left of your home?

    Their entire worldly possessions have been reduced to one black bin bag. They nearly died. Luke survived strapped to his mother.

    You must be desperate to get out?

    HEATHER ROBINSON: Yes. I mean, I’m really scared. Like, we went through our rubble and found some — like, a thing of peanut butter and some crackers and biscuits and stuff, but we — it’s not going to keep us much longer.

    PENNY MARSHALL: This pregnant island restaurant owner is also desperate to get to the safety of Britain.

    CLAUDINE VOURDON, Restaurant Owner: I’m not able to help right now, so I may as well get out and don’t become a problem. Like, if I go into early labor, and then someone has to look after me, and that’s not fair.

    PENNY MARSHALL: Those who had little here now have nothing. And those with more are worried about how long the recovery is going to take and how much help they’re going to get from the British.

    With most of the island’s tourist marinas also obliterated, this place has lost its main source of income too. The pace of the aid operation is picking up. But the planes need to come back again and again if this British protectorate is to get the help it needs to recover.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That was Penny Marshall reporting for Independent Television News.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The storm that was once Hurricane Irma is churning into the Deep South tonight, after moving up the entire peninsula of Florida. It lost more of its punch today, but not before it left at least 34 dead across the Caribbean, five dead in Florida and two more in Georgia, more than seven million power customers in the dark, across Florida, and a growing tally of damage, including in some cities like Jacksonville, where floodwaters have been surging.

    P.J. Tobia begins our coverage.

    P.J. TOBIA: The sun rose on vast stretches of coastal Florida, waterlogged and still without power, after the howling winds and lashing rain of Hurricane Irma ravaged the state yesterday.

    Irma’s power weakened to a tropical storm earlier today as it churned across the Florida Panhandle. It’s on track to sweep through Georgia before veering west toward Alabama. Those states were scrambling to prepare.

    The National Guard was on the scene in this Orlando community, where homes were inundated with murky floodwaters. Other residents waded through knee-deep water to see the damage for themselves.

    Like many areas in Florida, this Pine Hills neighborhood regularly experiences flooding. But despite days of planning and pumping thousands of gallons from a nearby lake, county officials say they have never seen water levels this high.

    Rescues were also under way in Jacksonville as the storm battered that area today. Officials there warned people to get out as the Saint Johns River rose to historic levels.

    MAYOR LENNY CURRY, Jacksonville, Florida: We have search-and-rescue teams ready to deploy. Something that represents a white flag that can be viewed from the street, if you are in this very isolated and very specific flood threat, which is along the river.

    P.J. TOBIA: Governor Rick Scott deployed state resources to help.

    GOV. RICK SCOTT, R-Fla.: In Jacksonville, in Northeast Florida, storm surge is three to five feet on top of more than a foot of rainfall, which is causing record and historical flooding along the Saint Johns River. They also explained to me this morning in a weather briefing that Hurricane Jose is also pushing water into the northern part of our state.

    P.J. TOBIA: One major issue throughout the state: no power for millions of homes and businesses.

    Hundreds of trucks from power companies around the country arrived in Florida today to aid the effort to restore electricity, but authorities warned that it could take weeks. In some places, the damage was far worse. In Naples, some roads were made impassable by the floodwaters, others by downed trees.

    Whole neighborhoods in Fort Myers were inundated. Some people there sought shelter in a hockey arena, only to see the water come seeping in.

    MARY FITZGERALD, Ft. Myers Resident: Irma went over. Oh, good, we survived. And then all of a sudden, I guess some of the panels came off the roof and we started getting water pouring down in different places.

    P.J. TOBIA: Hundreds of thousands of Floridians are still in shelters as they wait for the all-clear to return home. One woman’s family rode out the storm in their Pasco County home. She vowed it would be the last time.

    WOMAN: I wouldn’t stay for another one. It’s just the intensity, not knowing what could happen, flying debris, a tree. So, I wouldn’t stay. Thankfully, we’re OK, but in the future, no.

    P.J. TOBIA: People in the Tampa and St. Petersburg area had been bracing for their first major hurricane in 100 years. But Irma’s wind speeds had dropped by the time it struck there overnight.

    Irma first made landfall in the Florida Keys as a roaring Category 4 hurricane. After the storm rolled past, the Keys lay eerily still, trailers and boats overturned, roadways washed away, and few signs of life as communications with the mainland remained largely severed.

    Authorities began door-to-door searches today for anyone stranded on the Keys. The state’s eastern coastline was also blasted by the storm. As sheets in Miami’s of water rushed through Miami’s downtown boulevards yesterday, it was hard to tell where the city ended and the bay began. But, today, the floodwaters had mostly receded.

    Entry to Miami Beach was still cut off as officials began to clear debris and assess the damage there.

    DANIEL ALFONSO, City Manager, Miami: The biggest thing that we want our residents to understand is that it is still dangerous to be out in the street. And for us to clean streets and do so in a safe way, it is best to not have people driving around.

    P.J. TOBIA: In coastal Brevard County, an entire chunk of roadway caved in. South Florida’s airports remain closed, and thousands of flights were canceled today. There were also disruptions at the world’s biggest airport, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, as the storm heads in its direction.

    Georgia Governor Nathan deal said the forecast looked better for the state’s coastal areas, but issued a warning.

    GOV. NATHAN DEAL, R-Ga.: We urge you to not get on the roads until you have been given clearance by everyone that is required to give the clearance, so that we do not have the kind of confusion that can result from a mass exodus.

    P.J. TOBIA: Meanwhile, Cuba is reeling after Irma plowed over its coastline on Friday as a Category 5 hurricane.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): We never thought the floodwaters could rise to such a height. The water in our house was as high as my waist at the beginning, and then it almost rose to the height of my neck.

    P.J. TOBIA: Power is still out in most of Cuba’s capital, Havana.

    Here in Orlando and across Central Florida, curfews are being lifted in different counties as the state begins the long and difficult slog of rebuilding from Hurricane Irma — Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: P.J., I know you have been in the state for a few days. You have been talking to people who live in the community. What are they telling you?

    P.J. TOBIA: Well, folks here, if they have had damage done to their properties, they’re just thankful to be alive and thankful that their families are safe. When those things are destroyed, they say, it is, after all, just stuff.

    I was covering Hurricane Harvey in Houston last week, and it’s a similar kind of sentiment. Today, we were in a neighborhood and we saw people who were being rescued by high-water vehicles because their houses were flooded out. And their houses were going to be total losses. And as they would get down from the vehicles, I would go up and talk to them.

    And they would say, you know what? Those are just things. Thank God I’m OK, the people I care about are OK, and pretty soon we’re going to get to the process of rebuilding, and we’re looking forward to that future.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It is remarkable the character that comes out at a time like this.

    P.J., I know you were also telling us there are people who have come to Orlando other places, including from the Florida Keys, which have been truly dealt a huge amount of damage. What are they concerned about?

    P.J. TOBIA: Since I have been here — I got here on Thursday, and since that time, I have been talking with a lot of folks from the Keys who came up.

    They call themselves hard conchs. They’re folks who live down there and it’s a different kind of lifestyle. Many of them had never evacuated for a storm before, but they knew that Hurricane Irma was going to be different. And at first, many of them were just happy to be out of the storm’s path and they were hoping it would pass quickly.

    But now that pictures, images are starting to come out of their hometowns in places like Key Largo and the total devastation that’s happened to their homes and their neighborhoods, a lot of worry written on their face and some fear about what they are going to find when they get home. And they’re really trying to get home soon.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And I guess the forecast is it’s going to take some time to take care of the damage, to make it a place where you can travel much less inhabitable.

    So, P.J., are people there looking for government help, local help? Are they saying, we can do this on our own?

    P.J. TOBIA: Well, it’s a little bit of both.

    In talking with county and city officials in different places that we have been to, you know, we have crisscrossed this part of Central Florida from the Atlantic Coast to the Gulf Coast talking to mayors and other officials.

    They say it’s going to be a combination. In places like Tampa, when I interviewed the mayor on Saturday, he said that they have a kind of rainy day fund, if you will, for such just an event. But, yes, they are going to be looking to the federal government, but also state government for help in that regard.

    For people here, though, in Orlando in this neighborhood, you know, they’re without power right now, and it’s really in the hands of the city to turn the lights back on. They tell me that the city’s told them that it may be weeks before the lights come back on.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And that will be a test for all of them.

    Well, we’re wishing them the very best.

    P.J., thank you for your hard work today and in the last days there in Florida. Thank you.

    P.J. TOBIA: Thanks so much, Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, the eye of Irma passed right over Naples, Florida, knocking out power and water and downing phone lines.

    Bill Barnett is mayor of Naples. We spoke on the phone a short time ago.

    Mayor Bill Barnett of Naples, thank you very much for talking with us.

    You have said that Naples was spared, in effect, that the 15-foot storm surge didn’t materialize. But we have seen some pictures of pretty significant damage.

    MAYOR BILL BARNETT, Naples, Florida: Yes, we — Judy, we have really taken a hit.

    And, you know, I have said that we didn’t get that storm surge that was predicted by pretty much everyone, and that’s a blessing. But driving around the neighborhoods in Naples and seeing stop signs uprooted, we had just put new road signs, street signs in, and to see them uprooted, coconut palms that are stately just lying across roads, just a total — you just kind of shake your head when you drive by a street.

    And the people are — you know, our citizens are out there trying to move palm fronds. And the city staff are certainly out there with all the emergency crews, utilities, and streets, and storm water, and everything you can imagine.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I think I read you had winds of up to 130 miles an hour. That’s pretty hard to prepare for. What is the main thing that you need as a community right now?

    MAYOR BILL BARNETT: That the one that’s a one-word answer, power, because the last count I heard was six million Floridians without power from one end of the state to the other.

    But I will tell you, it’s a harsh realization, whether you’re a mayor or whomever or whatever your responsibility is, to go for a day or two or three without the necessities that we’re all so used to.

    I mean, just planning a meal, none of the food stores — there’s no grocery stores open. We did get a 7/Eleven that opened up, but it’s very tough to deal with, and especially with this heat.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I was just curious to know, any lessons learned? Do you feel you did all you could ahead of time to get ready?

    MAYOR BILL BARNETT: We did. We really pre-prepared well, not only from the beginning, where the first hint that this storm might get to Florida, and then as it was tracking toward Florida, our people early evacuated, which was great.

    And I have said before I think Harvey was a real wakeup call. But then, as you said, when this thing came roaring through here, and we had gusts of 143 miles an hour yesterday, it was — there’s no other word than say scary.

    And today is just — you know, it’s kind of an emotional day. But I go out there and I see everybody pitching in and working. We have got a small crew even at city hall, which is open. So, lessons learned, every hurricane, you’re going to learn something.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Mayor Bill Barnett, I know the country is watching and wishing you and everyone in the Naples community and the entire state of Florida the best.

    MAYOR BILL BARNETT:And thank you. Take care. Bye-bye.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And moving up Florida’s Gulf Coast, the Tampa/St. Petersburg area feared a massive storm surge from Irma. Thankfully, it was spared the worst, but there are challenges, especially, as we have heard, when it comes to power and planning for future hurricanes.

    I also spoke by phone late today with Tampa’s mayor, Bob Buckhorn.

    Mayor Bob Buckhorn, thank you for talking with us.

    So, how much of this storm did Tampa get?

    MAYOR BOB BUCKHORN, Tampa, Florida: Well, not nearly as much as we thought we were going to get, Judy.

    This could have been a knockout punch for us. Instead, it was just a glancing blow. We got a lot of winds. We got a lot of rain. There’s a lot of debris on the ground, some trees that are falling down, but the surge didn’t occur, for which we are eternally grateful. So, the crews are out clearing the streets right now.

    The one lingering issue is the power that’s out and I would imagine, in some cases, might be out for a couple of days.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, that’s what I wanted to ask you about.

    What are the main things that you’re dealing with?

    MAYOR BOB BUCKHORN: Well, it’s predominantly power.

    We have been at it since about 3:00 this morning, when our police crews starred checking every street. And we deployed about 1,000 officers yesterday. And so we got a good analysis of what was wrong, where the standing water was, where the trees were down, where the power lines were down.

    And much to our surprise, it wasn’t nearly as bad as we thought it was going to be. No surge to any extent. The flooding was almost minimal. So, the only remaining issue is the power outages. And, you know, that’s going to be a big issue. And there will be folks who will be inconvenienced for a couple of days, which, as you know in Tampa in the middle of September, is not a pleasant thing.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: No, it’s not.

    I do want to ask you about — we know there’s some analysis that has been pointed out to us, analysis going back several years, experts saying that Tampa is one of the most unprepared cities in the country to deal with a major hurricane, in terms of the fact that you’re at sea level, that you have got so much water so close.

    How do you — do you think the city was prepared, as prepared as it could have been?


    Some of those things that were referenced in that story were not of our making. Some of it is the fact that we are a low-lying city right on Hillsborough Bay. Our infrastructure is like every other infrastructure in America. It’s aging. It’s 100-year-old pipes trying to deal with 2017 growth.

    I think, in terms of our preparation and our ability to react to this storm, I think we’re in great shape. Even though we haven’t been hit in 90 years, Judy, we train for this all year long because we know at some point our number is up.

    And I thought a day ago that our number was up. So we were ready. We were deployed. We had assets deployed. We had our people ready. Our command posts had been up and running for three days.

    I think if it had been a Cat 3, Cat 4, Cat 5, we would have reacted the same as we did. Fortunately, it wasn’t. But, you know, there are some things that we can’t fix here that Mother Nature has given us, but, you know, in terms of infrastructure and hardening of our infrastructure, those are things that this country needs to have a discussion about.

    And, certainly, if the president is interested in helping America’s mayors, an infrastructure bill would be much needed. And these storms are a great indication of why it’s needed.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And I know a lot of people are talking about that right now.

    Very quickly, finally, how long do you think it will take to clean Tampa up, get it back in the shape it was in?

    MAYOR BOB BUCKHORN: I think we will have the place cleaned up over the next two days, and I think back to normal by tomorrow.

    I think schools are closed tomorrow, but city hall is open. I think the power will be the remaining issue. And that will be a function of how quickly all of those out-of-state line men can get into the state to help their sister utility companies get this power hooked up again.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The mayor of Tampa, Florida, Bob Buckhorn, we thank you very much. And we’re so glad, along with you, that it wasn’t worse than it was.

    MAYOR BOB BUCKHORN: Well, thank the country for their prayers, Judy.

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    Gov. Chris Christie took a hard line against criticism from his former Trump campaign colleague, Steve Bannon, in an interview with Judy Woodruff on Monday. Bannon said in a Sunday interview on “60 Minutes” that Christie’s unwillingness to stand by then-candidate Trump after the revelations of the Access Hollywood tape damaged Christie’s position in the campaign, and that Bannon kept Christie’s name in a “little black book.”

    “I was offered Cabinet positions by this president,” Christie told Woodruff.

    “So I suspect this little black book that Mr. Bannon is talking about, the only one who read that black book was Mr. Bannon himself. I know that no one else cared about it. And now that he’s been fired, no one is going to really care about anything else Steve Bannon has to say.”

    Christie also criticized Bannon for airing their disagreement in public.

    “On that weekend, I spoke the truth directly to the President of the United States,” Christie said. “And I didn’t need to go on the air or do it publicly or to self-aggrandize myself now, as, you know, Mr. Bannon is doing by giving a “60 Minutes” interview. This, I suspect, is his last 15 minutes of fame. And that’s fine. I hope he enjoys it.”

    Watch our full interview with Gov. Christie here.

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    The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday to explore how the U.S. can better pressure North Korea to stop accelerating its nuclear program.

    The hearing will begin around 10 a.m. ET. Watch live in the player above.

    The latest nuclear test by North Korea on Sept. 3 “was its most powerful to date, and its ICBM capabilities continue to improve,” committee chair Rep. Ed Royce, R- Calif., said in a statement. “Sanctions, diplomacy and information must be fully utilized to address this direct threat to the United States and our allies,” he added. At Tuesday’s hearing, the committee will explore what strategies the U.S. can take to “exert maximum pressure” on North Korea, Royce said.

    The United Nations Security Council voted to impose new sanctions against North Korea on Monday that will ban textile exports and restrict oil imports, though they were not as harsh as the U.S. had hoped.

    Ambassador Nikki Haley called the package the toughest threat against North Korea yet. North Korea has rejected the sanctions, warning that the U.S. would see the “greatest pain” it has ever experienced.

    Lawmakers will hear from Susan A. Thornton, the acting assistant secretary of the State Department’s East Asian and Pacific affairs, and the Hon. Marshall Billingslea, assistant secretary in the Department of Treasury’s terrorism and financial intelligence office.

    PBS NewsHour will update this story as it develops.

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    Mice are a common host to ticks. Here a tiny tick is found on the ear of a mouse. Photo by: Dave Timko

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    JOHN YANG: But first: Lyme disease is on the rise. It’s being spread by a growing tick population and has become a particular problem for the Massachusetts islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

    But an MIT scientist thinks he might have a long-term solution, and it comes from where you might least expect it.

    From PBS station WGBH in Boston, Cristina Quinn reports.

    CRISTINA QUINN: On the island of Nantucket, people walk their dogs and runners weave their way down the trail of Ram Pasture. It’s a popular spot, and it’s easy to see why. Hundreds of acres of untouched conservation land surround the trails. It’s a peaceful setting where deer are often spotted in the early hours grazing.

    It’s also lush territory for ticks.

    ROBERTO SANTAMARIA, Director, Nantucket Health Department: If you’re in an area like this, you want to stay on the beaten path to stay away from the tall grass. Right now, it’s a nice, cool day. We had rain last night. It’s perfect tick questing season.

    CRISTINA QUINN: Roberto Santamaria would know. As director of the Health Department, he’s familiar with the concerns of the community; 40 percent of Nantucket’s 10,000 year-round residents have either had Lyme disease or are currently afflicted.

    ROBERTO SANTAMARIA: It’s become part of their daily life here. Every time you go out, you go to a pasture, you go to a hike, you go to the beaches into the dunes even, you want to go home and do a tick check.

    Tick checks are pretty arduous, and they take a while, and even then, you don’t even catch all the ticks. So it’s a big burden.

    CRISTINA QUINN: The problem isn’t unique to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. A study last year from the Centers for Disease Control illustrates the spread of the tick population nationwide over the last two decades.

    The northern part of the U.S. has seen a significant spike. And MIT scientist Kevin Esvelt says the solution may start with one of the main culprits, mice.

    KEVIN ESVELT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Mice are a problem. You might say, what do mice have to do with Lyme disease?

    Well, ticks aren’t born infected. They get infected when they bite an infected host, which is usually a mouse.

    CRISTINA QUINN: The white-footed mouse, to be exact.

    Scientists aren’t sure why, but these Northeast natives are more susceptible to contracting Lyme disease than any other animal around here. They are also abundant. Esvelt’s solution? Genetically engineer them so that their immune response prevents them from being infected.

    KEVIN ESVELT: So, our idea is, well, how about we take mice that are naturally immune, identify the DNA in their genomes that makes them immune, and then take the best such elements and put them all into one engineered strain of mice?

    CRISTINA QUINN: He and his team would do this using gene editing technology. But to really make a difference, it’s going to take a lot of mice.

    KEVIN ESVELT: So, we’re talking maybe up to 100,000 mice on each island.

    CRISTINA QUINN: The idea is that when the genetically engineered mice mate with the native mice, their offspring would also be immune to Lyme disease. Over time, this would reduce the prevalence of the disease.

    But how do Nantucket residents feel about releasing 100,000 genetically engineered mice onto the island? For longtime resident and town selectman, Jason Bridges, his initial reaction was one of disbelief.

    JASON BRIDGES, Nantucket Selectman: It sounded like a bad sci-fi movie, and people kind of laughed. But the more presentations that we have in front of the Board of Selectmen, articles in the newspaper, people like, oh, this is a really — this is a real thing.

    I think everyone is getting used to the idea. But the initial visceral reaction was, serious? Are you serious about that?

    CRISTINA QUINN: If all goes as planned, it will be seven years until these resistant mice are released. But the town is so serious, it has formed a steering committee to work closely with Esvelt on best practices.

    Esvelt expects there will be opponents along the way, but he welcomes skepticism and says he thinks major scientific endeavors like this need to be as transparent as possible.

    KEVIN ESVELT: I’m particularly passionate about that, because I view this as an opportunity to work out how we, as a society, are going to handle these technologies.

    I mean, we have certainly been able to engineer the environment before. It’s just, we tend to do it with bulldozers or spraying lots of chemicals.

    CRISTINA QUINN: For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Cristina Quinn on Nantucket.

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    Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. Photo by PBS NewsHour

    The leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus on Tuesday downplayed rumors of a rift with House Speaker Paul Ryan and praised President Donald Trump’s spending deal with Democratic leaders.

    Members of the influential Freedom Caucus “support Speaker Ryan” and hold meetings with him on a “weekly basis,” Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told PBS NewsHour’s John Yang in an interview.

    The House Freedom Caucus chairman has been at the center of recent reports suggesting his group is working with former White House senior advisor Steve Bannon to oust Ryan from his post as House speaker.

    Last week, the Wall Street Journal editorial board dared Meadows to run against Ryan for the speakership. In 2015, Meadows led the conservative House Republicans’ push to remove then-Speaker John Boehner from power.

    But Meadows dismissed the speculation in the PBS NewsHour interview, saying he only wanted to see Ryan deliver on the GOP’s legislative agenda.

    “It’s not a question about leadership, it’s the lack of results,” Meadows said.

    Ryan and other GOP leaders were criticized by some rank-and-file Republicans last week after Mr. Trump cut a deal with Democratic leadership on a short-term spending and debt ceiling bill.

    Meadows voted against the legislation.

    READ MORE: America’s long, complicated history with tax reform

    But Meadows on Tuesday spoke positively of the deal, which funded the government for three months, provided Harvey disaster aid and raised the debt ceiling until Dec. 8.

    “The president is going to make a deal,” Meadows said. “He’s going to make a deal with anybody who can actually put legislation on his desk.”

    The North Carolina Congressman also touched on tax reform, a top priority for Trump and Republicans this fall.

    Meadows said the House Freedom Caucus would like to lower the corporate tax to the mid-teens, a rate in line with what Trump has called for. But Meadows acknowledged that if Republicans reach a consensus on tax reform, the final corporate rate “doesn’t appear that it will be that low.”

    In an interview with the New York Times last week, Ryan said the corporate tax rate would likely be lowered to the mid-20-percent range.

    The ambitious tax overhaul effort — Congress has not passed comprehensive tax reform in three decades — comes as lawmakers also face a deadline to come up with a legislative fix for the program protecting young undocumented immigrants from deportation.

    The Trump administration last week announced that the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program, or DACA, would end next March, giving Congress six months to enact a law to replace it. Nearly 800,000 people are protected under the program, which former President Barack Obama put in place in 2012.

    Meadows said a deal on DACA would have to include stricter immigration enforcement measures.

    “It really all starts with a secure southern border,” Meadows said. But Meadows demurred when asked if conservatives would push for funding for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, saying the border wall could take the form of tighter security measures, not necessarily the physical structure that Trump promised as a candidate.

    Meadows said he spoke to Trump on Monday about the need for a comprehensive and bipartisan bill that will secure the border and enact reforms in a “fair and compassionate way.”

    The post House Freedom Caucus chairman downplays rumored rift with Ryan appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    FBI Director Robert Mueller pauses after making an opening statement at the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. in June 2013. Photo by Larry Downing/Reuters

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    JOHN YANG: The recent string of natural disasters in the South and political divides in Washington have overshadowed developments in the Russia investigation. But the probe is far from over, and in many ways, it’s just ramping up.

    William Brangham is here to bring us up to speed — William.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That’s right, John.

    There have been several recent developments in the Russia probe. Some reveal tools Russia might have used to meddle in the election. Others provide new information about Mr. Trump’s business interests in Russia before he became president. And there are also fresh clues about where those various investigations are going.

    Earlier today, I talked with our own Nick Schifrin, who’s been reporting on all this.

    I asked him what we know about who is actually the target of this probe.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: So, when we talk about the target of these probes, we have to know that the special counsel, Rob Mueller, is not talking.

    So, we know this from the targets themselves. And target number one seems to be Paul Manafort, former chairman of the Trump campaign. And we know that FBI agents raided his home in late July, and reportedly a P.R. firm connected to him has also been subpoenaed.

    Target number two, Michael Flynn, the retired general, former national security adviser, we know that a lobbying firm connected to him has been subpoenaed.

    And target number three, Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, recently testified to Congress about a meeting he had in Trump Tower last summer that turned out to be with a Russian lawyer who has some vague connections to the Kremlin.

    And in a statement from Donald Trump Jr. to Congress, he said: “I didn’t collude with any foreign government and do not know of anyone who did,” but he admitted that he was willing to collude — quote — “To the extent they had information concerning the fitness, character, or qualifications of a presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, I believed I should at least hear them out.”

    And now certainly that meeting is part of the investigation.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: OK, so those are the targets.

    Second avenue is some questions about the president’s business interests. And there have been some reports out that the president, while he was running to be president, wanted a hotel deal in Russia. Tell us about that.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Those reports are true.

    The Trump Organization admits that while Trump was the candidate, they were considering the possibility of building Trump Tower Moscow — sorry — while he was running for president.

    Trump met three times with his lawyer, Michael Cohen, and the second time that they met, they signed a letter of intent. And that letter included details like the hotel, residential space, commercial space, even details about a high-end spa.

    And Cohen has released a statement saying this was one of many development opportunities that came through the Trump Organization, and Cohen says he terminated it in late January 2016 because it wasn’t feasible and that he terminated himself and didn’t ask Trump first, but, nonetheless, certainly part of the story, because they were considering that while Trump was saying nice things about Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: As you well know, the question in Washington is always, is the cover-up worse than the crime?

    And the question that’s been swirling around the president in this regard is about whether obstruction of justice was going on here. And one of the main ways they talk about that is the firing of James Comey.

    I want to play a little bit from what Steve Bannon had to say about the firing of Comey.

    Let’s take a look at that.

    STEVE BANNON, Former Chief White House Strategist: I don’t think there’s any doubt that if James Comey had not been fired, we wouldn’t have a special counsel.

    CHARLIE ROSE: Someone said to me that you described the firing of James Comey — you’re a student of history — as the biggest mistake in political history.

    STEVE BANNON: That would be — that would probably be too bombastic even for me, but maybe modern political history.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, is Mueller investigating whether the firing of James Comey was, in fact, obstruction of justice?

    NICK SCHIFRIN: We know that Mueller is investigating the process by which Comey was fired.

    And we know that because he asked for and received a letter that the president and his aides wrote that justified Comey. This was the original draft of the letter, according to a senior administration official. And that official tells me that that letter wasn’t that demonstrably different from the final letter, which was written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was overseeing the Russia investigation.

    But a reminder here, William, that it the president’s own words that the people who are asking about obstruction cite. He told NBC’s Lester Holt that it was the Russia investigation he was thinking of when he fired Jim Comey, and not, as Rosenstein’s letter said, about Hillary Clinton’s e-mails.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: With regard to this investigation, we know it’s also — it’s not just collusion. It’s not just obstruction of justice.

    It’s also what role did Russia actually play in our election and how and whether they meddled. Facebook came out this week with some evidence saying they have a piece of this puzzle. Explain.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Yes, this is actually the main thrust of the investigation.

    What Facebook says that it got $100,000 from a troll farm in Russia in ad sales. And it just so happens that I have been to the building where that — we believe that troll farm is. It’s called the Internet Research Agency. It’s in St. Petersburg.

    And I have talked to former trolls about how they were given instructions on how to denigrate the U.S. and celebrate Russia. Now, Facebook says these ads, bought by the Internet Research Agency, were designed to — quote — “amplify divisive social and political messages.”

    So Facebook is not quite saying what the ads were, but I will say this. U.S. intelligence says that the person who funds the Internet Research Agency is a businessman. He’s got a catering firm and, he’s so close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, he’s known as Putin’s personal chef.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Nick Schifrin, thanks for keeping us up to date on all these different threads.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Thanks very much.

    The post What’s been happening in the Russia probe? Here’s what we know appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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