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- 09/13/17--19:45: _Schumer, Pelosi say...
- 09/14/17--03:37: _In Cuba, mystery de...
- 09/14/17--03:56: _To prevent identity...
- 09/14/17--04:09: _Trump denies he mad...
- 09/14/17--05:15: _How diverting mothe...
- 09/14/17--06:48: _WATCH LIVE: Pelosi ...
- 09/14/17--07:16: _Trump to visit Flor...
- 09/14/17--14:32: _8 soldiers injured ...
- 09/14/17--14:39: _How tech giants hav...
- 09/14/17--15:00: _The Terry Gross you...
- 09/14/17--15:03: _Let Cassini live fo...
- 09/14/17--15:20: _Why America is stil...
- 09/14/17--15:21: _Trump repeats there...
- 09/14/17--15:25: _Are big tech compan...
- 09/14/17--15:30: _Ailments that plagu...
- 09/14/17--15:35: _Smashed by Irma, St...
- 09/14/17--15:40: _After Irma, restori...
- 09/14/17--15:45: _News Wrap: Trump ag...
- 09/14/17--15:50: _Trump and Democrats...
- 09/14/17--16:35: _North Korea fired a...
- 09/14/17--03:37: In Cuba, mystery deepens over attacks on U.S. diplomats
- 09/14/17--03:56: To prevent identity theft, government will issue new Medicare cards
- 09/14/17--04:09: Trump denies he made DACA deal with top Democrats in Congress
- 09/14/17--07:16: Trump to visit Floridians after Hurricane Irma
- 09/14/17--14:32: 8 soldiers injured in training explosion at Fort Bragg
- 09/14/17--15:00: The Terry Gross you don’t see on the radio
- 09/14/17--15:20: Why America is still raw over the Vietnam War
- 09/14/17--15:25: Are big tech companies trying to control our lives?
- 09/14/17--15:30: Ailments that plagued diplomats in Cuba puzzle investigators
- 09/14/17--15:35: Smashed by Irma, St. Martin draws startling response from France
- 09/14/17--15:40: After Irma, restoring power for millions won’t be easy. Here’s why
- 09/14/17--15:45: News Wrap: Trump again defends Charlottesville comments
- 09/14/17--16:35: North Korea fired another missile over Japan. Here’s what we know
WASHINGTON — The top House and Senate Democrats said Wednesday they had reached agreement with President Donald Trump to protect thousands of younger immigrants from deportation and fund some border security enhancements — not including Trump’s long-sought border wall.
The deal announced by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi following a White House dinner would enshrine protections for the nearly 800,000 immigrants brought illegally to this country as kids who had benefited from former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. The program provided temporary work permits and protection from deportation.
Trump ended the program earlier this month and had given Congress six months to come up with a legislative fix before the statuses of the so-called “Dreamers” begin to expire.
“We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement.
It was the second time in two weeks that Trump cut out Republicans to reach a deal with Pelosi and Schumer. A person briefed on the meeting, who demanded anonymity to discuss it, said the deal specifies bipartisan legislation called the DREAM Act that provides eventual citizenship for the young immigrants.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but said in its own statement that the president had had “a constructive working dinner” with Schumer, Pelosi and administration officials “to discuss policy and legislative priorities,” including DACA.
“This is a positive step toward the President’s strong commitment to bipartisan solutions for the issues most important to all Americans,” the White House said.
NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff spoke with Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin about the prospects of collaboration and what Congress should do on immigration and DACA.
During a White House meeting with moderate House members from both parties earlier Wednesday, Trump had urged lawmakers to come up with a bipartisan solution.
“We don’t want to forget DACA,” Trump told the members at the meeting. “We want to see if we can do something in a bipartisan fashion so that we can solve the DACA problem and other immigration problems.”
The apparent deal is the latest example of Trump’s sudden pivot to bipartisanship after months of railing against Democrats as “obstructionist.” He has urged them to join him in overhauling the nation’s tax code, among other priorities.
Trump, who was deeply disappointed by Republicans’ failure to pass a health care overhaul, infuriated many in his party when he reached a three-month deal with Schumer and Pelosi to raise the debt ceiling, keep the government running and speed relief to states affected by recent hurricanes.
“More and more we’re trying to work things out together,” Trump explained Wednesday, calling the development a “positive thing” for both parties.
“If you look at some of the greatest legislation ever passed, it was done on a bipartisan manner. And so that’s what we’re going to give a shot,” he said.
The “Kumbaya” moment now appears to extend to the thorny issue of immigration, which has been vexing lawmakers for years. Funding for Trump’s promised wall had been thought to be a major point of contention between Republicans and Democrats as they attempted to forge a deal.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said earlier Wednesday that Trump was “committed to the wall. It doesn’t have to be tied to DACA but its important and he will get it done.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, who also sat down with Pelosi to talk immigration Wednesday, said during an AP Newsmaker interview that deporting the so-called “Dreamers” was “not in our nation’s interest,” and said the president had “made the right call.”
“I wanted him to give us time. I didn’t want this to be rescinded on Day One and create chaos,” Ryan said, arguing the time would allow Congress to “come up with the right kind of consensus and compromise to fix this problem.”
The post Schumer, Pelosi say they’ve reached a deal with Trump to protect ‘dreamers’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — The blaring, grinding noise jolted the American diplomat from his bed in a Havana hotel. He moved just a few feet, and there was silence. He climbed back into bed. Inexplicably, the agonizing sound hit him again. It was as if he’d walked through some invisible wall cutting straight through his room.
Soon came the hearing loss, and the speech problems, symptoms both similar and altogether different from others among at least 21 U.S. victims in an astonishing international mystery still unfolding in Cuba. The top U.S. diplomat has called them “health attacks.” New details learned by The Associated Press indicate at least some of the incidents were confined to specific rooms or even parts of rooms with laser-like specificity, baffling U.S. officials who say the facts and the physics don’t add up.
“None of this has a reasonable explanation,” said Fulton Armstrong, a former CIA official who served in Havana long before America re-opened an embassy there. “It’s just mystery after mystery after mystery.”
Suspicion initially focused on a sonic weapon, and on the Cubans. Yet the diagnosis of mild brain injury, considered unlikely to result from sound, has confounded the FBI, the State Department and U.S. intelligence agencies involved in the investigation.
Some victims now have problems concentrating or recalling specific words, several officials said, the latest signs of more serious damage than the U.S. government initially realized. The United States first acknowledged the attacks in August — nine months after symptoms were first reported.
It may seem the stuff of sci-fi novels, of the cloak-and-dagger rivalries that haven’t fully dissipated despite the historic U.S.-Cuban rapprochement two years ago that seemed to bury the weight of the two nations’ Cold War enmity. But this is Cuba, the land of poisoned cigars, exploding seashells and covert subterfuge by Washington and Havana, where the unimaginable in espionage has often been all too real.
The Trump administration still hasn’t identified a culprit or a device to explain the attacks, according to interviews with more than a dozen current and former U.S. officials, Cuban officials and others briefed on the investigation. Most weren’t authorized to discuss the probe and demanded anonymity.
In fact, almost nothing about what went down in Havana is clear. Investigators have tested several theories about an intentional attack — by Cuba’s government, a rogue faction of its security forces, a third country like Russia, or some combination thereof. Yet they’ve left open the possibility an advanced espionage operation went horribly awry, or that some other, less nefarious explanation is to blame.
Aside from their homes, officials said Americans were attacked in at least one hotel, a fact not previously disclosed. An incident occurred on an upper floor of the recently renovated Hotel Capri, a 60-year-old concrete tower steps from the Malecon, Havana’s iconic, waterside promenade.
The cases vary deeply: different symptoms, different recollections of what happened. That’s what makes the puzzle so difficult to crack.
In several episodes recounted by U.S. officials, victims knew it was happening in real time, and there were strong indications of a sonic attack.
Some felt vibrations, and heard sounds — loud ringing or a high-pitch chirping similar to crickets or cicadas. Others heard the grinding noise. Some victims awoke with ringing in their ears and fumbled for their alarm clocks, only to discover the ringing stopped when they moved away from their beds.
The attacks seemed to come at night. Several victims reported they came in minute-long bursts.
Yet others heard nothing, felt nothing. Later, their symptoms came.
The scope keeps widening. On Tuesday, the State Department disclosed that doctors had confirmed another two cases, bringing the total American victims to 21. Some have mild traumatic brain injury, known as a concussion, and others permanent hearing loss.
Even the potential motive is unclear. Investigators are at a loss to explain why Canadians were harmed, too, including some who reported nosebleeds. Fewer than 10 Canadian diplomatic households in Cuba were affected, a Canadian official said. Unlike the U.S., Canada has maintained warm ties to Cuba for decades.
Sound and health experts are equally baffled. Targeted, localized beams of sound are possible, but the laws of acoustics suggest such a device would probably be large and not easily concealed. Officials said it’s unclear whether the device’s effects were localized by design or due to some other technical factor.
And no single, sonic gadget seems to explain such an odd, inconsistent array of physical responses.
“Brain damage and concussions, it’s not possible,” said Joseph Pompei, a former MIT researcher and psychoacoustics expert. “Somebody would have to submerge their head into a pool lined with very powerful ultrasound transducers.”
Other symptoms have included brain swelling, dizziness, nausea, severe headaches, balance problems and tinnitus, or prolonged ringing in the ears. Many victims have shown improvement since leaving Cuba and some suffered only minor or temporary symptoms.
After the U.S. complained to Cuba’s government earlier this year and Canada detected its own cases, the FBI and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police traveled to Havana to investigate.
FBI investigators swept the rooms, looking for devices. They found nothing, several officials briefed on the investigation said.
In May, Washington expelled two Cuban diplomats to protest the communist government’s failure to protect Americans serving there. But the U.S. has taken pains not to accuse Havana of perpetrating the attacks. It’s a sign investigators believe that even if elements of Cuba’s security forces were involved, it wasn’t necessarily directed from the top.
Cuba’s government declined to answer specific questions about the incidents, pointing to a previous Foreign Affairs Ministry statement denying any involvement, vowing full cooperation and saying it was treating the situation “with utmost importance.”
“Cuba has never, nor would it ever, allow that the Cuban territory be used for any action against accredited diplomatic agents or their families, without exception,” the Cuban statement said.
[nhpullquote] “Had they thought the Cuban government was deliberately attacking American diplomats, that would have had a much more negative effect. We haven’t seen that yet.”
After half a century of estrangement, the U.S. and Cuba in 2015 restored diplomatic ties between countries separated by a mere 90 miles of water. Embassies were re-opened and restrictions on travel and commerce eased. President Donald Trump has reversed some of those changes, but left others in place.
Mark Feierstein, who oversaw the Cuba detente on President Barack Obama’s National Security Council, noted that Cuban authorities have been uncharacteristically cooperative with the investigation.
If the Trump administration felt confident Raul Castro’s government was to blame, it’s likely the U.S. would have already taken major punitive steps, like shuttering the newly re-established American Embassy. And the U.S. hasn’t stopped sending new diplomats to Cuba even as the victim list grows.
“Had they thought the Cuban government was deliberately attacking American diplomats, that would have had a much more negative effect,” Feierstein said. “We haven’t seen that yet.”
The post In Cuba, mystery deepens over attacks on U.S. diplomats appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — Medicare cards are getting a makeover to fight identity theft.
No more Social Security numbers plastered on the card. Next April, Medicare will begin mailing every beneficiary a new card with a unique new number to identify them.
“Criminals are increasingly targeting people age 65 and older for medical identity theft,” Medicare chief Seema Verma told The Associated Press. “We are committed to preventing fraud.”
Medicare is revealing the cards’ new design on Thursday as the government gears up for a massive transition that will involve coordination with 58 million beneficiaries and their family members, plus hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, pharmacies and state governments.
While the first mailings of new cards begin next April, Congress has set an April 2019 deadline for all beneficiaries to have received one.
One goal is to make sure seniors know what’s coming so they’re not confused by the change — and in the meantime, are reminded to guard their old cards that, if lost or stolen, can leave them vulnerable to financial and legal consequences. The government recorded 2.6 million cases of identity fraud involving seniors in 2014, up from 2.1 million in 2012.
Verma said one woman reported her Medicare card was stolen, got a replacement and thought no more about it until two years later when she learned she might be arrested: The thief had impersonated her to get opioid painkillers.
Medicare has set up a website — www.cms.gov/newcard — and is beginning ads to tell beneficiaries what to expect starting next spring. Medicare will automatically mail beneficiaries their new card. They’ll be instructed to destroy their old cards after they get a new one. New cards may be used right away.
Private insurers already have stopped using Social Security numbers on ID cards.
While the Medicare change is crucial for seniors, the transition period also is a time when crooks may pounce, warned AARP’s Amy Nofziger, a fraud prevention expert.
“If anyone calls you to say you need to pay for your new Medicare card, it is a scam,” she said. “If anybody is calling you and asking you to verify your Social Security number in order to issue your new Medicare card, it is a scam.”
The post To prevent identity theft, government will issue new Medicare cards appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump denied Thursday an assertion by Congress’ top two Democrats that they reached an agreement with him that would preserve protections for young immigrants in the U.S. illegally while providing border security enhancements, but not the Southern wall he has coveted.
“No deal was made last night on DACA,” known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Trump tweeted before daybreak Thursday, contracting a characterization of a private White House dinner Wednesday night by his guests, Sen. Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
“Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent. Would be subject to vote,” Trump said in one of a series of posts to his Twitter account.”
There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.
Hours earlier, shortly after the conclusion of the dinner, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had pushed back against the Schumer-Pelosi statement embracing the claim of a deal. Sanders reiterated that point Thursday, saying, “While DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to.”
It was a bizarre turn of events for a president who’s been inclined recently to turn to Democrats to jump-start legislative imperatives, and it came just days after Trump and the Democratic leaders agreed to back a three-month extension of the debt limit in order to speed federal financial assistance to hurricane-ravaged Southern states.
“The WALL, which is already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls, will continue to be built,” Trump said in one of Thursday’s stream of tweets. But he also voiced sympathy for the hundreds of thousands of younger immigrants vulnerable to deportation even though they were brought to the United States as toddlers or young children. He had announced last week that his administration was rescinding the DACA program, launched by President Barack Obama, and gave Congress 60 months to address the issue.
“Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military, really?” he tweeted. “They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own – brought in by parents at a young age. Plus BIG border security.”
The agreement claimed by Schumer and Pelosi represents the latest instance of Trump ditching his own party to make common cause with the opposition.
“We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides,” Pelosi and Schumer said in their joint statement.
In response to the White House’s initial dissent to the Democratic statement, elosi spokesman Drew Hammill said that “the president was clear he would press for the wall but separate from this agreement.”
Either way, it was the second time in two weeks that Trump cut out Republicans to reach a deal with Pelosi and Schumer. A person briefed on the meeting, who demanded anonymity to discuss it, said the deal specifies bipartisan legislation called the DREAM Act that provides eventual citizenship for the young immigrants.
House Republicans would normally rebel over such an approach, which many view as amnesty for law-breakers. It remains to be seen how conservatives’ loyalty to Trump will affect their response to a policy they would have opposed under other circumstances.
The House’s foremost immigration hardliner, GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa, made clear that he, for one, was not happy.
Addressing Trump over Twitter, King wrote that if the reports were true, “Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible.”
Earlier Wednesday, during a White House meeting with moderate House members from both parties, Trump had urged lawmakers to come up with a bipartisan solution for the “Dreamers.”
“We don’t want to forget DACA,” Trump told the members at the meeting. “We want to see if we can do something in a bipartisan fashion so that we can solve the DACA problem and other immigration problems.”
Foreshadowing what was to take place later that evening, Trump had said he would be open to separating the wall issue from the question of the younger immigrants, as long as the wall got dealt with eventually.
The apparent deal is the latest example of Trump’s sudden pivot to bipartisanship after months of railing against Democrats as “obstructionist.” He has also urged them to join him in overhauling the nation’s tax code, among other priorities.
Trump, who was deeply disappointed by Republicans’ failure to make good on years of promises to repeal “Obamacare,” infuriated many in his party last week when he reached a three-month deal with Schumer and Pelosi to raise the debt ceiling, keep the government running and speed relief to states affected by recent hurricanes.
“More and more we’re trying to work things out together,” Trump explained Wednesday, calling the development a “positive thing” for both parties.
“If you look at some of the greatest legislation ever passed, it was done on a bipartisan manner. And so that’s what we’re going to give a shot,” he said.
The “Kumbaya” moment now appears to extend to the thorny issue of immigration, which has been vexing lawmakers for years. Funding for Trump’s promised wall had been thought to be a major point of contention between Republicans and Democrats as they attempted to forge a deal — yet by Thursday, Trump was apparently ready to deal even on that issue, the one that most defined his campaign for president last year.
The post Trump denies he made DACA deal with top Democrats in Congress appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
When Stephanie Petitt was arrested for violating probation for prior drug and robbery convictions, she learned two things: She was 16 weeks pregnant, and she would probably deliver her baby while incarcerated at an Oklahoma prison.
In most places, an incarcerated woman who gives birth almost immediately hands over her newborn to a social worker, who places the child with a relative or with foster parents. Petitt said she was told she would have an hour to hold her newborn.
Just a few states offer alternatives that allow mother and child to stay together longer. At least eight states have so-called prison nurseries where nonviolent female offenders live with their children for a few months to several years.
But in Oklahoma City, pregnant women who are facing imprisonment for nonviolent offenses can avoid doing time and stay with their children by participating in a program known as ReMerge. The program, which is also open to mothers who have already lost custody of their children, includes two years of intensive therapy, parenting classes and job training. Women who graduate have their charges dropped.
Similar pretrial diversion programs for expecting women and mothers are scattered across the country, many formed at the city or county level. It’s difficult to determine exactly how many there are.
But the idea behind them is clear: Diverting women from prison and keeping families together can save money and help break the intergenerational cycle of incarceration. Researchers say separating children from their mothers causes significant distress, and that children are more likely to end up in prison if they have parents there. And with the number of incarcerated women — and the cost of imprisoning them — on the rise in some states, the programs are drawing new attention.
Oregon began a pilot diversion program in 2015, basing it on a Washington state program that serves both mothers and fathers facing incarceration. This year, Oregon extended its program to pregnant women, too. Supporters say it will allow the state to avoid paying $17 million to construct a new women’s facility.
Oklahoma City launched its program in 2011, spurred by Oklahoma’s high incarceration rate for women — the highest in the nation, both then and now.
Petitt was 27 and addicted to methamphetamines when she was arrested. She had already lost custody of her first two children, and planned on putting her next one up for adoption. But, she said, “as I sobered up, I felt the baby move, and I wanted to keep it.”
A judge sent her to ReMerge, and she had her baby while she was participating in the program.
“The whole time I was getting high, I wanted to stop and be a mom again, but I just couldn’t stop,” said Petitt, now 30. “This gave me a second chance at being a mom.”
Foundations interested in reducing the number of incarcerated women in Oklahoma pay for most of ReMerge, with the state covering the rest. The program serves up to 50 women at a time and costs $17,000 a woman a year. That’s a bit more than the roughly $15,000 it would cost to incarcerate each of them, but if the women were behind bars, they wouldn’t get the same level of treatment and support.
Program officials say ReMerge graduates have a 5 percent recidivism rate after three years, compared with about 13 percent for women who leave the state prison system. The low recidivism rates, however, don’t include the 30 percent of women who leave the program — many of whom end up back in custody.
Support and Rules
On one recent morning, 40 or so ReMerge participants sat in a florescent-lit conference room in the basement of a downtown building and started sharing personal details from their lives.
One woman with cherry-red hair cried as she described taking her 6-year-old son to the dentist to get several teeth pulled. Before she had custody of the boy, she urged his paternal grandmother, who was taking care of him, to make him brush his teeth. Now he’s missing so many it’s difficult for him to talk and eat. The woman next to her tried to comfort her by wrapping an arm around her shoulder.
From there participants scatter to a variety of parenting programs and therapy sessions. Women who need dental care get it. Those who smoke are enrolled in a cessation program. They also get help finding jobs.
The women aren’t permitted to own a cellphone until they’ve spent a month in the program. All of the women without a high school diploma must work toward a GED diploma, and nearly all of them spend the first 90 days in supervised housing. Participants also are barred from seeing people who aren’t vetted by ReMerge staff until they are months into the program.
Dusty Tate, a formidable woman with excellent posture, several tattoos and bright blonde hair, is the onsite probation officer for all the women. She administers random drug tests and stays in constant contact with the women, texting at all hours. Some texts are good news — “I got a job!” — others are bad news — “I’m thinking about relapsing.”
Much of the program is geared toward helping the women beat their drug addictions. Nearly 60 percent of women in federal institutions are serving time for drugs, as are a quarter of women in state facilities. Others have committed crimes such as theft or prostitution in to pay for a drug habit.
Preparing to Graduate
On Monday afternoon, after the rest of the women have gone home, about a dozen who are set to graduate from the program at the end of this month gathered for their hourlong weekly meeting. Most work full time and have regained custody of their children. Several came with them in tow.
Reuniting families is an emotional challenge as much as a legal one. Some children had to be reintroduced to mothers they had forgotten. Some mothers had to resist what they call “parenting out of guilt,” trying to make up for their absence by giving in to children’s demands.
But as they near graduation, they all say they’ve re-established bonds with their children and tasted a better life that will keep them motivated.
“I never had my own car; now I’ve got one in my name. I never had my own apartment; now I’ve got my own apartment. I went to cosmetology school. I had never had a job; now I have a career,” said Kamber Caulkins, 34. “I knew I wanted it, but I had to start accumulating enough stuff that I wasn’t willing to lose it anymore.”
The post How diverting mothers from prison may break the cycle of incarceration appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Top-ranking House Democrat Nancy Pelosi of California is scheduled to offer remarks Thursday morning.
Watch Rep. Pelosi’s remarks live in the video player above at 10:45 a.m. ET.
Her remarks are slated to come the day after she and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer dined with President Donald Trump and announced they had forged a deal over how the United States should handle undocumented immigrants brought to this country while they were children, a deal the president early Thursday morning denied on Twitter.
No deal was made last night on DACA. Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent. Would be subject to vote.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 14, 2017
Within three hours of sending that tweet Thursday morning, and before the president was scheduled to leave for Naples, Florida, to survey damage from Hurricane Irma, Trump then said he was “very close” on reaching a deal over legislation regarding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the Associated Press reported.
The post WATCH LIVE: Pelosi gives briefing amid confusion over top Democrats’ DACA deal with Trump appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is going to hear firsthand from people affected by Hurricane Irma as he makes his third visit in less than three weeks to survey storm damage and recovery efforts.
For Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, the visit Thursday to Naples and Fort Myers on Florida’s southwestern coast offered the chance to see how people were coping and how the Federal Emergency Management Agency has responded.
“Historically there’s never been anything like this,” Trump told reporters before leaving the White House. “But the United States Coast Guard, FEMA, working along with Gov. (Rick) Scott, they’ve really done an amazing job,” adding that “power is being turned on rapidly,” he said.
After Harvey struck Texas, Trump drew criticism for having minimal interaction with residents during his first trip in late August. He saw little damage and offered few expressions of concern.
On his second visit, to Texas and Louisiana, he was more hands-on. He toured a Houston shelter housing hundreds of displaced people and walking streets lined with soggy, discarded possessions.
The president monitored Irma over this past weekend from Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.
Nearly half of Florida was engulfed by Irma, which left flooded streets, damaged homes and displaced residents in its wake. The Keys felt Irma’s full fury when the hurricane roared in after wreaking devastation in the Caribbean, but the extent of the damage has been an unanswered question because some places have been unreachable.
Florida’s southwestern coast is a haven for retirees seeking warm weather and beautiful sunsets across the Gulf of Mexico. Many communities there are still cleaning up or without power or air conditioning.
As of Thursday morning, the number of homes and businesses without electricity in Florida was 2.69 million, according to the state’s Division of Emergency Management. That’s 25.6 percent of all customers in the state.
Eight special operations soldiers were injured Thursday morning during an explosion at Fort Bragg, near Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Army officials confirmed eight people were wounded and transported by air and ground to hospitals in the area, including the Army base’s Womack Army Medical Center, according to WTVD-TV. The extent of the injuries is not known.
The explosion occurred during a demolitions training exercise involving students and instructors of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, located at Fort Bragg, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command said in a statement.
ABC affiliate WTVD-TV reported the explosion took place when a vehicle rolled over on a remote part of the base. Details are still unclear. Fort Bragg has not released an official statement, but the U.S. Army Special Operations Command said an investigation into the incident is underway.
The incident is the latest in a series of accidents this week that injured soldiers in training. On Wednesday, Marines at Camp Pendleton in California were conducting a battalion training when an amphibious landing vehicle caught fire, wounding 15, the Marine Corps said in a statement. The Marines were rushed to hospitals. Six of them were in critical condition. On Tuesday, a soldier at Fort Hood in Texas was killed during a helicopter hoist training.
The U.S. special operations forces are part of approximately 53,700 troops on post at Fort Bragg. The Special Operations Command has about 23,000 soldiers at other sites.
More information will be released as the investigation continues, Special Operations Command said.
The post 8 soldiers injured in training explosion at Fort Bragg appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Editor’s note: Franklin Foer, a former editor of the “New Republic,” is the author of the new book, “World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech.” Foer argues that the corporate ambitions of four major technology companies — Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple, or “GAFA” — are “shredding the principles that protect individuality. Their devices and sites have collapsed privacy.”
NewsHour business and economics correspondent Paul Solman sat down recently with Foer at his home in Washington, where he offered his thoughts on the big tech corporations, the media, “fake news” and what we can do about it.
In his words:
On Google’s influence:
Google’s ability to pick winners and losers in the information world is a menace. These companies have the ability to determine which media companies are successful and which ones are failures. If I adopt a business plan that doesn’t line up with Google’s, then they’re not going to reward me. If I produce content in a way that somehow doesn’t accord with the values of their algorithms, they’re not going to reward me … That gives them incredible power in our society.
Google likes to pretend that it’s neutral. That it’s this scientific search engine that’s just about the mathematics that leads it to say one thing is more important than another … Who knows why those are better than others? Only Google. They don’t explain their algorithm to anybody else. It’s highly un-transparent.
On Facebook’s algorithms:
If I’m reading my Facebook feed, it’s using algorithms, procedures and methods to give me what I want, or what it thinks that I want, or what suits its business plan.
Right now, Facebook wants to make money off of video. So, even though I prefer words to video, it’s giving me video constantly. And even though I’m somebody who likes to read conservatives, likes to read people on the far left, it’s essentially only giving me screeds against Donald Trump because that’s what, based on my data, it thinks that I want.
On our dependence on Amazon:
Booksellers initially thought of Amazon as their best friend. They were coming in and they were challenging Barnes and Noble, and Borders, which were the big, dominant corporations of the day, and that they would disrupt them and make them less powerful, but they could never envision that Amazon would overtake them all.
The problem is that, as producers of books, we’re utterly dependent on Amazon. And Amazon has the ability to pick winners and losers in the book world just as Facebook and Google pick winners and losers in the information world. And that’s just too much power to be invested in one company.
On Apple’s disruption of the music and TV industries:
I’m a little bit less hard on Apple in the book because they’ve been less successful at being an informational gatekeeper in some ways than Google or Facebook.
Apple was very important in terms of disrupting the music business and remaking the television business. They made it harder for people to make money on the things that they produce. In news, they’ve created Apple News and they’ve tried to steer people towards information. It is important, and it is powerful, but it’s not quite the same power that Google and Facebook have when it comes to the distribution of information.
On the media:
Our media companies — even the New York Times and the Washington Post — are extremely dependent on Google and Facebook for their traffic. Their readership has declined in terms of subscribers. So, in order to thrive, they have to get viewers and readers through Facebook and Google. They adopt the techniques that Google and Facebook reward. And, in the case of politics, the thing that they reward are the things that tell us what we want to hear …
Media companies are profit making enterprises. But they’re also companies that serve an important democratic function, and at a certain point there’s tension between their profit making motive and their democratic motive.
On fake news:
When you see an article on Facebook, it’s an article on Facebook. It’s not necessarily an article from the New York Times or Fox News.
People stopped paying attention to the source. They stopped thinking about the authority of the source, and it just becomes this stew. We’re constantly taking spoonfuls from the stew, not really thinking about what vegetables we’re putting in our mouth and what pieces of meat we’re putting in our mouth.
That’s the problem. That’s why fake news, or less credible theories, are able to flourish.
These companies are using our data. They act as if they own that data, but really that data is ours. It’s a reflection of our psyches, it’s a reflection of our personal history. It’s ourselves in numeric form.
I think the fact that they’re using something that doesn’t fully belong to them requires certain obligations of them. It’s like the environment. We allow companies to degrade the environment. The environment doesn’t belong to them, but we say, “Okay, you can do a little bit of polluting. You can do a little bit of logging. You can do these things that we all suffer from to a certain extent because that’s capitalism.” But, on the other hand, we say, “because you’re using the environment, there’s certain obligations that you have. You can’t abuse the environment too much.”
I think the same thing should be true for our data. These companies should be allowed to exploit our data to some extent, but we need to put more severe restrictions on them about how they can degrade our data because it does not belong to them …
This conversation, edited for length and clarity, is part of a longer interview with Foer about his new book. Watch the full report on Thursday’s NewsHour broadcast.
The post How tech giants have shredded our privacy and what we should do about it appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
TERRY GROSS, Host, “Fresh Air”: The only woman I ever heard on the radio when I was growing up was Alison Steele, The Nightbird, who was an FM disc jockey in New York on WNEW, the progressive rock station.
And she had this kind of late-night, like, sexy voice. And I never listened to that and thought like, yes, someday, that’s going to be me.
I fell in love with radio the moment I started doing it. It had everything I wanted. I was probably like 23 when I started. I felt very young and inexperienced. And the earliest tape I have of myself is from 1974.
I kind of sound like this. I find it both like surprising and in a way deeply upsetting…
TERRY GROSS: … when I listen to old tapes, because I think, like, they let me on the air? How did that happen? And the answer is because it was mostly an all-volunteer operation.
When I’m preparing for an interview, I do as much research as I can in the limited time that I have. I like the questions to have a narrative arc, so, at the end of the interview, you feel like, I have heard the story of somebody’s life or the story of their work and how they came about doing it.
It’s pretty nonstop, but, you know, on the weekends, I try to take time out, in addition to doing the food shopping and stuff like that, to go to the movies or to a concert. And, of course, what I’m thinking is, who might I want to interview from this movie?
TERRY GROSS: But that’s a good thing, because it makes the movie even more interesting to think about the possibility of talking to somebody about it.
One of the many reasons why I’m on radio and not TV is that, when I’m listening, my face goes just slack, like this. When I was a kid and I would walk around lost in thought — and I was usually lost in one thought or another — strangers would come up to me and say, oh, dear, what’s wrong? Are you lost?
And I would go, damn, no, I’m thinking. Like, what’s your problem?
My kind of interview, the kind I do, is about the person I’m talking to. Now, I have listened to a lot of interviewers, like Marc Maron, who talk a lot about himself in the interview. And that’s part of the reason why I listen, because I love hearing Marc Maron talk about himself.
But if I were to talk about myself a lot in my interviews, you would be hearing me, like, talk on and on about why I love Charles Laughton in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” and why I love Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd,” and what it’s like to be married to my husband, Francis.
And as great as that stuff is, it would get a little old.
MAN: I bet there’s an audience for that, though.
TERRY GROSS: There are several advantages to doing a long-distance interview.
One is, if you’re a little bit of a coward, which I confess I am, and you want to ask some challenging questions, it’s easier to do when you’re not looking the person in the eye.
Another nice thing about long-distance interviews is that you’re not judging each other by your clothing. Like, I’m wearing my favorite leather jacket today. Usually, I’m just wearing a schmatta, because it just doesn’t matter what I look like, and I like it that way.
I’m Terry Gross, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on interviewing.
After 20 years and 5 billion miles traveled, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will plummet Friday into Saturn, the planet it knows best.
Since 2004, Cassini has orbited the ringed behemoth more than 290 times, getting up-close looks at the planet, its moons and icy rings like no other man-made object has before. Its instruments beamed back more than 450,000 beautiful — and scientifically revealing — images during its lonely mission beyond the asteroid belt.
But as Cassini death dives into Saturn’s atmosphere and melts into oblivion, you can keep the mission going by adding some of these NewsHour-crafted backgrounds to your computers and smartphones. Click each photo to access the wallpapers.
The post Let Cassini live forever with these desktop and smartphone wallpapers appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN: This Sunday night, PBS will air the first of 10 episodes of the new Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary “The Vietnam War.”
It’s been 10 years in the making.
And Judy Woodruff met with the co-directors at the Vietnam Memorial recently to talk about why this topic and its resonance now.
LYNN NOVICK, Co-director, “The Vietnam War”: Thinking about every single name here as a story.
JUDY WOODRUFF: That’s the tall older of the latest Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary, “Vietnam.”
LYNN NOVICK: We just tell a few of them.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The team culled hundreds of hours of footage into 18. It’s a flash point in history that’s been examined countless times, but they say it’s still not fully understood.
KEN BURNS, Co-director, “The Vietnam War”: There’s one way to think about it, is there’s really only one name on the wall here, which is your name, your story, your brother, your uncle, your father. That’s the important thing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Vincent Okamoto is the most highly decorated surviving Japanese American veteran of the Vietnam War.
VINCENT OKAMOTO, Vietnam War Veteran: The real heroes are the men that died, 19-, 20-year-old high school dropouts. They didn’t have escape routes that the elite and the wealthy and the privileged had. And that was unfair. They weren’t going to be rewarded for their service in Vietnam.
And yet, their infinite patience, their loyalty to each other, their courage under fire was just phenomenal. And you would ask yourself, how does America produce young men like this?
JUDY WOODRUFF: After tackling the Civil War and World War II, Novick and Burns vowed:
KEN BURNS: We’re not going to do any more wars.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But as they realized hundreds of Vietnam War veterans were dying each day, they decided to take on what they call the most important event in the second half of the 20th century for Americans.
KEN BURNS: There’s an interesting thing, having done these three wars, that the Civil War and the Second World War are really encrusted with the barnacles of sentimentality.
And that’s not a problem with Vietnam. And so, in a way, we get it raw. Nobody’s going to sentimentalize Vietnam. It defined who we were. It was this horrible loss. And I think a lot of the divisions that we experience today had their seeds in the Vietnam conflict, and we haven’t really gotten over them.
LYNN NOVICK: It’s still with us in this very present way.
I think we came across a quote after we finished the film that all wars are fought twice, on the battlefield and in our memory.
I think we’re still fighting the Vietnam War in many, many ways. The great gift for this project was that so many of the people who lived through it are in their 60s and 70s, and they’re here today, and they remember it very, very well. And they told their stories to us in the most generous and brave way.
People took tremendous risks to kind of open themselves up and just tell us what it was really like.
ROGER HARRIS, Marines: You adapt to the atrocities of war. You adapt to killing and dying. After a while, it doesn’t bother you. Let’s just say it doesn’t bother you as much.
I was made to realize that this is war and is what we do. And that stuck in my head. This is war. This is what we do.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The documentary comes at the war from all sides, the divisions among Americans and the divisions among Vietnamese. Burns and Novick say they wanted to include all voices, but avoid passing judgment themselves.
KEN BURNS: In addition to a whole cast of American characters, every possible stripe, we have also got North Vietnamese soldiers, and Vietcong guerrillas, and North Vietnamese civilians, and South Vietnamese civilians, and South Vietnamese soldiers, and South Vietnamese diplomats.
But we’re not putting the thumb on the scale of any kind of political agenda. We are just interested in sharing the stories of a remarkable set of people.
NARRATOR: As many as 230,000 teenagers, many of them volunteers, worked to keep the roads open and the traffic moving. More than half of them were women.
Le Minh Khue, who had left her home in the North with a novel by Ernest Hemingway in her backpack, observed her 17th birthday on the trail.
LE MINH KHUE, Youth Volunteer (through interpreter): We all had to endure. The jungle was humid and wet. Bombs fell day and night. We women had to find a way to survive. We thought it was terrible.
LE QUAN CONG, Viet Cong (through interpreter): My brother, the seventh child in our family, joined the local resistance. The Americans came through on a sweep and killed him. Another brother was ambushed while he slept, shot through the heart.
BILL ZIMMERMAN, Antiwar Activist: I never considered the Vietnamese our enemy. They had never done anything to threaten the security of the United States. They were off 10,000 miles away, minding their own business. And we went there to their country, told them what kind of government we wanted them to have.
JUDY WOODRUFF: There have obviously been hundreds, if not thousands of books…
LYNN NOVICK: Indeed.
JUDY WOODRUFF: … written on this here and, I’m sure, in Vietnam.
Do you think you now understand this war, Ken?
KEN BURNS: No, I think there’s something — just like you can be married for years and years and years, and that other person remains kind of inscrutable to the end, this is the arrogance of history and biography, that we think that we can know, go into the past, and do it.
Every day was a daily humiliation of what we didn’t know. We always had not just scholars, but veterans present. And their B.S. meters are so fine. And they would go, you know what, I’m not so sure about that. And they’d say, in my experience, it was like this.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The documentary team shot about 40 times the footage they eventually used, and spoke with more than 1,000 witnesses in the U.S. and Vietnam, one-third of them Vietnamese or Vietnamese-American.
Research took them to almost 20 countries. Facts were checked and rechecked. In addition to sorting through 5,000 hours of historical footage and photos — one took a year to locate — they wove 120 pieces of music from the period in with original music, led by composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who did the soundtrack for hit movies like “The Social Network” and “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” as well as from Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble.
The filmmakers say they hope that, by airing this documentary, what happened will become clearer, even if the why continues to provoke debate.
The documentary comes out at a moment in American history when we’re thinking a lot about America’s role in the world and how important Americans are and America compared to the rest of the world. And judgments are being made. So there’s a timeliness here, isn’t there?
LYNN NOVICK: Yes, people ask us how — what does it feel like to have the film coming out in this moment?
And it’s just the sense that we live in this extraordinarily polarized and divisive moment, and we don’t seem to be able to talk. We don’t seem to be able to listen. We don’t seem to be able to agree about basic facts. And yet so much of that really started escalating during the Vietnam War.
The resonances of where we are in the world and who we are in the world, especially — we have been in several wars that are not unlike the Vietnam War for the last 15 years.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, inevitably, there are the questions of lessons from this war, so many lessons that may or may not have been learned.
What do you think they are?
KEN BURNS: Well, they’re legion, but the one that we could agree on is that we’re not going to blame the warriors anymore.
History is the set of questions we in the present ask of the past. If we can’t talk about the current toxicity, let’s go back and look at the other one, and maybe, with the kind of courageous conversations you can have, permitting people to have and hold views opposite of your own, you could really begin to have something, and not just the talking at or the shouting over that we do today.
MAN: For years, nobody talked about Vietnam. It was so divisive. And it’s like living in a family with an alcoholic father. Shh, we don’t talk about that.
Our country did that with Vietnam. And it’s only been very recently that I think that the baby boomers are finally starting to say, what happened? What happened?
JUDY WOODRUFF: You can see more of my conversation with the filmmakers in our next piece.
The documentary will air for the next two weeks.
HARI SREENIVASAN: “The Vietnam War” premieres Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on most PBS stations.
You will find more online information right now, including an excerpt about a Navy pilot who spent more than eight years in captivity, making him the second longest held American prisoner of war.
That’s at PBS.org/NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump repeated Thursday that he thought there were “bad dudes” among the people who assembled to oppose a white nationalist protest in Virginia, a day after the Senate’s lone black Republican spoke with him about blaming “many sides” for the violence and death around a Confederate statue.
Trump met with Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina on Wednesday at the White House, where he explained his comment, and why he said there were “very fine people” among the nationalists and neo-Nazis protesting the possible removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month.
Scott said he told the president that there was no comparison. “We had three or four centuries of rape, murder and death brought at the hands of the (Ku Klux Klan) and those who believe in a superior race,” Scott told reporters later at the Capitol. “I wanted to make sure we were clear on the delineation between who’s on which side in the history of the nation.”
But the day after the meeting, Trump reiterated that he thought some of the protesters who opposed the white supremacists were “bad dudes” and people were beginning to agree with him.
“You have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also and essentially that’s what I said,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One Thursday while returning from viewing hurricane damage.
“In fact a lot of people have actually written ‘gee, Trump might have a point,'” the president added.
Scott is not one of them. He bluntly criticized Trump for assigning blame in a way that put white supremacist protesters on equal footing with counterdemonstrators who turned out for the Aug. 12 protests, sparked by Charlottesville officials’ decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
That remark, Scott said, compromised Trump’s moral authority as president.
On Wednesday, Trump told Scott that he just meant to convey “that there was an antagonist on the other side” — to which Scott replied, “The real picture has nothing to do with who is on the other side.”
Scott continued: “I shared my thoughts of the last three centuries of challenges from white supremacists, white nationalists, KKK, neo-Nazis, so there is no way to find an equilibrium when you have three centuries of history.”
The president said that he got the point, Scott said. Asked if the president can regain his moral authority, Scott responded, “That will take time.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump and Scott had an “in depth” discussion about the Charlottesville comments, “but the focus was primarily on solutions moving forward.”
“That was what both people came to the meeting wanting to discuss,” Sanders said during a White House briefing. “What we can do to bring people together, not talk about divisions within the country.”
Scott said Trump also brought up Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, who has accused Las Vegas police of using racially motivated excessive force against him.
Bennett sat on the bench during the national anthem before Sunday’s game at Green Bay, one of several NFL players protesting in support of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who remains unsigned after starting the protests last year to bring attention to police brutality against minorities.
“I believe he found it unsettling and challenging,” Scott said.
This came as several athletes, activists and celebrities signed a letter of support for Bennett.
“Michael Bennett has been sitting during the anthem precisely to raise these issues of racist injustice that are now an intimate part of his life. Now we stand with him,” the letter said.
It was signed by Kaepernick; tennis legend Martina Navratilova; academic Cornel West; John Carlos, a U.S. Olympic champion who famously raised his black-gloved fist during a 1968 medal ceremony, and other athletes and activists.
The post Trump repeats there were ‘bad dudes’ among those protesting white supremacists in Charlottesville appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN: But first: Tech giants are increasingly under scrutiny from politicians, regulators and experts on the left and the right. Some are concerned about their growing power, even calling them monopolies.
And the tension keeps building, whether over privacy, politics or the displacement of workers by automation. Yet their role in contemporary life certainly isn’t shrinking.
We, too, at the NewsHour have worked and collaborated with Facebook, Google and many other new media businesses. A new book zeros in on some of these criticisms.
Economics correspondent Paul Solman has a conversation for his weekly series, Making Sense.
PAUL SOLMAN: So, what’s the problem?
FRANKLIN FOER, Author, “World Without Mind”: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple are among the most powerful monopolies in the history of humanity.
PAUL SOLMAN: Journalist Franklin Foer, former editor of “The New Republic” magazine, author of the new book “World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech.”
FRANKLIN FOER: So, the problem is, is that they have tremendous ability to shape the way that we think, the way that we filter the world, the way that we absorb culture.
And if they were just companies, maybe we shouldn’t be so concerned about them, but they play an incredibly vital role in the health of our democracy.
PAUL SOLMAN: The most powerful gatekeepers ever, Foer calls them, the first, second, fourth and fifth most valuable companies on the U.S. stock market. Microsoft is third.
Add them together, and they account for some 10 percent of the stock price of the S&P 500.
FRANKLIN FOER: And it’s not just the size of these companies that we should be worried about. Their ambitions are to essentially control the entirety of human existence.
And I know that sounds outrageous, but it’s true. They’re trying to stay with us from the moment that we wake up in the morning until the moment that we go to bed at night. They want to become our personal assistants. They want to become the vehicles to deliver us news, entertainment, to track our health. They want to obey our every beck and call through Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
PAUL SOLMAN: And Siri.
FRANKLIN FOER: And Siri.
PAUL SOLMAN: But corporate titans have always wanted to control everything. John D. Rockefeller, oil, but the trains that bring you the oil.
FRANKLIN FOER: Yes. You’re right. We have always had ambitious corporations, but we have never had everything stores and everything companies in quite this sort of way.
And I think the crucial difference is that John D. Rockefeller never really set out to control the way that you think or to shape the way that you think.
PAUL SOLMAN: Worse still, Foer claims, we don’t realize what’s happening to us as a result.
FRANKLIN FOER: Fifty years ago, the way that we consumed food was revolutionized. We began eating processed foods, and it seemed amazing.
And then we woke up many, many decades later, and we realized that food was engineered to make us fat. And I think that these companies are doing the same thing with the stuff that we ingest through our brains. They’re attempting to addict us, and they’re addicting us on the basis of data.
So, right now, Facebook wants to make money off of video. And so, even though I prefer words to video, it’s giving me video constantly when I look at my Facebook feed. And even though I’m somebody who likes to read conservatives, likes to read people on the far left, it’s essentially only giving me screeds against Donald Trump, because that’s what, based on my data, it thinks that I want.
PAUL SOLMAN: So, it’s actually even funneling you. I mean, it’s narrowing your vision in terms…
FRANKLIN FOER: It’s funneling my vision. It’s leading me to a view of the world. And it may not be Facebook’s view of the world, but it’s the view of the world that will make Facebook the most money.
PAUL SOLMAN: You use the word pander several times in the book, pander to our taste. But what could be better, says economics, than that we get exactly what we want.
FRANKLIN FOER: Yes.
PAUL SOLMAN: That’s consumer preference. That’s the whole point.
FRANKLIN FOER: Sure.
Well, that’s fine when it comes to picking out socks and diapers, but it’s different when it comes to the information that we use to understand and process democracy. We exist right now in two separate political tribes. And those tribes are delivered information that confirms their biases, and that does pander to their instincts.
It tells them what they want to hear.
PAUL SOLMAN: Well, wait a second. I have got The New York Times here. I subscribe. The New York Times is a gatekeeper kind of pandering to my interests, isn’t it?
FRANKLIN FOER: Well, The New York Times and PBS are gatekeepers of a sort. And they perform that role of gatekeeping with a set of rules and aspirations about where they want to lead their viewers and their readers.
They value objective facts, and they attempt to transmit a comprehensive view of the world. And they do have values. And they do lead their viewers and their readers to certain conclusions. But it’s different than these companies which are dissecting information into these bits and pieces, which they’re then transmitting to people. And it’s about — really, it’s about clicks.
PAUL SOLMAN: A vivid example, Cecil the lion.
FRANKLIN FOER: So, Cecil the lion was killed by a hunter from Minnesota who posted a picture on the Internet, and this picture went viral.
It became — it generated 3.2 million articles, according to The New York Times.
PAUL SOLMAN: Articles. This is not hits?
FRANKLIN FOER: Articles. Articles.
And so every publication saw that this was a topic that was trending on Facebook, and they tried to glom onto it. And so everybody wanted their piece of this traffic rush. And so even publications that we couldn’t respect more, like “The New Yorker” or “The Atlantic,” ended up writing pieces about Cecil the lion.
And the reason that this is important is, it shows the way in which something that’s kind of relatively trivial can go viral, and it also shows the way in which we have a certain amount of conformism in our culture.
And my argument is that Donald Trump started off as a curiosity and a joke, but the media glommed onto Donald Trump and covered him, perhaps even when he didn’t deserve coverage, because he brought clicks.
PAUL SOLMAN: In your book, you say this all began with hippies, basically, a hippy, Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Catalog.
FRANKLIN FOER: Yes.
So, one of the fantastic things about Silicon Valley is that it’s both the birthplace of technology and it was one of the birthplaces of the counterculture. The Internet and the personal computer were going to be like the communes, where we would all be networked together, and we would be able to achieve this state of global consciousness.
PAUL SOLMAN: And it was utterly benign. It was a benign vision, right?
FRANKLIN FOER: It was a beautiful vision. And so, the idea of this network in one context could be this hippy dream, but in another context could be the basis for the biggest monopolies in human history.
PAUL SOLMAN: And that’s what we have got?
FRANKLIN FOER: That’s what we have got.
PAUL SOLMAN: Shortly after we talked, Foer’s fears appeared to be supported. The liberal Washington-based think tank New America, recipient of millions in funding from Google, announced it’d fired scholar Barry Lynn, just after he criticized Google’s monopoly power.
New America denied that Google forced the firing.
But Foer, once a New America fellow himself, wrote to say it’s a prime example of the abuse of power he’s worried about.
Finally, how do the tech companies respond to Foer and his concerns? We solicited their thoughts on Foer’s book. Amazon declined to comment on the record. Google, Facebook, and Apple didn’t respond.
For the PBS NewsHour, economics correspondent Paul Solman, reporting from Washington, D.C.
The post Are big tech companies trying to control our lives? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Headaches, nausea, ringing in the ears, even brain swelling, all symptoms of unexplained illnesses that have afflicted more than 20 American diplomats in Cuba since late 2016.
Some have been left with speech, memory and hearing impairment. Were they victims of some spy games gone awry? No one seems to know, but the FBI is on the case. Cuba’s government is reportedly cooperating, and denies any involvement.
For more on this Cuban mystery, I’m joined by Associated Press diplomatic correspondent Josh Lederman.
Thanks for joining us.
I mean, are those descriptions pretty accurate of the people that you have been speaking with?
JOSH LEDERMAN, Associated Press: Those descriptions of symptoms that have been experienced by diplomats in Cuba are accurate.
But what we have to emphasize is, they’re not consistent. That isn’t the set of symptoms that all of these people have had. And that’s why this is such a difficult puzzle for investigators to crack.
There’s inconsistencies. Some people heard things. Some people felt vibrations. Some people felt and heard nothing at all. Some people heard — had symptoms like mild traumatic brain injury, permanent hearing loss, nausea.
But without a clear pattern where you can say, OK, in this circumstance, this happened, investigators are really at a loss to be able to reverse-engineer what might have caused this and try to stop it.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Was there any consistency on where it happened? Did it happen in their office? Did it happen in their home, a hotel?
JOSH LEDERMAN: Well, we know that many of these diplomats had these incidents take place in their homes in Havana where they live with their spouses and families.
But new details that we’re reporting at the AP today show that also there was at least one incident in a Havana hotel, the Hotel Capri, which is a Spanish-run hotel in downtown Havana.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And did this also happen to Canadian diplomats? So it’s not just the U.S. that were targeted?
JOSH LEDERMAN: We know there were several Canadian diplomats that were confirmed to have some type of incidents. Some of them went back the Canada for treatment. Others were treated in Havana.
It doesn’t appear that the Canadian incidents were as severe as some of the American incidents. But the fact that Canadians were hit, despite the close ties that Canada has long had with Cuba, has really made it more difficult for investigators to try to figure out, what was the motive for this attack?
HARI SREENIVASAN: We have heard about technologies like sound cannons before that militaries have used, but when you talk to scientists, what could cause something like this?
JOSH LEDERMAN: That’s really the mystery here.
Nothing they have been able to point to could cause most of this or really all of it. There are sound cannons. There is something called an LRAD, which beams sound at long distances, high-powered, in narrow directions.
But it creates really irritating noises to try to disperse people. It doesn’t cause traumatic brain injury. Actually damaging brain tissue is something that researchers say isn’t really you can do with sound waves. And that’s why the initial explanation of a sonic weapon has become so much less fathomable now that we know that there were people that experienced mild traumatic brain injury or concussion.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And this wasn’t over a large area at the same time? One of the things that you describe in the report is that people almost felt like they can walk into and out of it?
JOSH LEDERMAN: This is the part that really feels like it’s ripped from a sci-fi novel.
We had investigators telling us that patients would say, I would wake up in bed. I would hear this grounding, excruciating noise. I would jump out of bed. Two feet to the left, I wouldn’t hear anything. It would disappear. I would move back, and then, bam, there it is again, as if there was some type of invisible wall that was separating part of the room from another part of the room.
So, that really casts doubt on the typical speaker that you would think of in a room, where the sound would go everywhere.
HARI SREENIVASAN: This also was only made public months after the incidents took place. What’s the administration doing about it now?
JOSH LEDERMAN: The administration is not doing anything different than they were doing before. The U.S. knew about this at least since late last year.
They first raised it with the Cubans in February. They have been trying to get to the bottom of it. They have offered that if American diplomats don’t feel comfortable serving in Havana while this is unsolved, they can have a different job elsewhere.
But, meanwhile, they’re continuing to staff the embassy. They’re continuing to have a full mission there. And people are going about their business while investigators continue to search every avenue to try to get to the bottom of it.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Josh Lederman from the Associated Press, thanks so much.
JOSH LEDERMAN: Thanks.
The post Ailments that plagued diplomats in Cuba puzzle investigators appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Now the latest from the Northeast Caribbean, where Irma hardest.
Thousands of people are still desperate for help on St. Martin and Anguilla.
We get more from Alex Thomson of Independent Television News.
ALEX THOMSON, ITN: The jetty’s broken on this Anguilla beach. Most pumps are wrecked. So you fill up by hand. But, as we do, people arrive desperate to help their families over in St. Martin.
MAN: It’s not good news, what we’re hearing about St. Martin, so it’s about getting my family over here right now.
ALEX THOMSON: The British Anguillans keep saying that French St. Martin, up ahead, was far worse hit, but the French government responded quicker. We want to find out.
Approaching St. Martin, the waterside concrete buildings gutted, as if some passing army has done its worst and moved on. The entire green forest slopes burned brown by blown seawater, every leaf stripped by Irma’s passing. And, as ever, the poorest get hit hardest.
ALEX THOMSON: What is the biggest problem?
FRANCISCO VASQUEZ, St. Martin Resident: I was living there.
ALEX THOMSON: You live in there?
FRANCISCO VASQUEZ: I was.
ALEX THOMSON: What are you going to do?
FRANCISCO VASQUEZ: What can I do? Nothing.
ALEX THOMSON: Are you getting help?
FRANCISCO VASQUEZ: How?
ALEX THOMSON: The government?
FRANCISCO VASQUEZ: We don’t know. I cannot tell you nothing. I don’t know nothing yet.
ALEX THOMSON: For now, Francisco’s sleeps at a friend’s, his shock, bewilderment a week on mirrored everywhere here.
But here in the poorer, low-lying suburbs of St. Martin, the damage is worse because of two factors. First, the eye of the hurricane pushed over this whole area, which means they were hit by extreme winds from one direction, then a pause, a calm, then extreme winds from the opposite direction, but not only that. This low-lying area close to the sea was also demolished by a sea surge, at least a meter deep.
The brutal calling card of the surge and tsunami everywhere here, cars cast about randomly by the water, then garlanded with debris.
At the town’s tennis court, Thomas Urigsa’s vehicles, taken without consent by the joyriding Caribbean, then dumped.
Tell me, what’s the most — your biggest problem right now?
THOMAS URIGSA, Plumber: My biggest problem is now that’s my van to work. No have a van, I no can work.
ALEX THOMSON: Right, no van, no business.
THOMAS URIGSA: No business, everything done. All my materials inside my van, all the things damaged.
ALEX THOMSON: Some might laugh at the playthings of the rich smashed by Hurricane Irma, smirk at the even bigger playthings of the even richer also dispatched, except, like the wrecked hotels, these reporter jobs lost for local people who are not wealthy and depend on tourism. Not quite so amusing., but rightly not part of the clear-up priority.
The damage on St. Martin is way worse than Anguilla, but the scale of the French response is, frankly, startling. French warships patrol against piracy and secure their marine frontiers. You don’t see British warships doing that. The French energy giant EDF everywhere, trenching cables. We saw no major British power company on Anguilla.
Roads long since reopened, even bridge railings patched up, and already a vast operation to dump the continents of a shredded town and the plan to do it. Nothing on this scale in Anguilla.
And, yes, people have noticed it.
THOMAS URIGSA: For now, it’s OK. Now they start to clean the place. After they clean the place, maybe today, they open the gas station.
JOHN FRANCIS, St. Martin Resident: It just start coming in, like the water, but no food yet, but I think it will come.
ALEX THOMSON: The evidence of a difference in approach is all around you. This isn’t scientific, but on St. Martin, we couldn’t find anybody who felt the French government had done too little too late.
On British Anguilla, with half the damage, it’s hard to find anybody who doesn’t feel that.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The hurricane headlines out of Florida tonight: new efforts to safeguard some of the state’s most vulnerable and a presidential visit.
William Brangham begins with this report.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: With new urgency, emergency workers moved more elderly residents out of Florida facilities that lost power, and air conditioning, in the hurricane. The state health care association estimated at least 60 nursing homes still lacked electricity.
The state’s main utility company said it’s doing everything it can.
BRYAN GARNER, Spokesman, Florida Power and Light: Getting hospitals and other critical facilities online is essential to getting a community back on its feet following a disaster like this one.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All of this after eight patients died Wednesday at a sweltering rehabilitation center in Hollywood, Florida, on the Atlantic Coast. City officials said a criminal investigation is still under way, and police executed a search warrant, but there’ve been no arrests.
RAELIN STOREY, Spokeswoman, City of Hollywood, Florida: We’re looking into the temperature inside the facility, the staffing inside the facility, and all of the conditions inside the facility in the hours leading up to this situation.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: President Trump visited the state’s southwestern coast, where Hurricane Irma came ashore last weekend. He got a first-hand look at recovery efforts in Fort Myers and Naples.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The job that everybody has done in terms of first-responder and everybody has been incredible. And, by the way, that includes the people that live here because you see the people immediately getting back to work to fix up their homes.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Mr. Trump also spoke of his well-known fondness for Florida. He has an estate in Palm Beach.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We are there for you 100 percent. I will be back here numerous times. I mean, this is a state that I know very well, as you understand. And these are special, special people and we love them.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The president was joined by first lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Together, they helped hand out food and water to storm victims in a mobile home park.
To the south, parts of the Florida Keys remained inaccessible, but more reports emerged of extensive property damage.
LARRY CUMISKEY, Keys Resident: We were in a big house on the ocean which we thought was going to be safe because it was three stories. And the house basically caved in. I mean, we barely made it.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Meanwhile, the U.S. Virgin Islands are also in desperate need after being blasted by Irma, when the storm was at full strength.
People on St. John and St. Thomas have been living off military food rations distributed by U.S. Marines and the National Guard.
WILLIAM MILLS, U.S. Virgin Islands Resident: It’s not enough, but it’s better than nothing at all. You know, it’s something that you can eat for the day. You know, it keeps you sustained for the day if you don’t have much. Much of the stores aren’t still open.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: A Royal Caribbean cruise ship brought more than 500 evacuees into Puerto Rico today. It’s loading up supplies to take to French St. Martin tonight.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m William Brangham.
HARI SREENIVASAN: As we heard, the Florida Keys are still reeling from a devastating hit. They’re largely inaccessible and conditions remain very difficult.
To get a sense of what communities are dealing with, I spoke by phone this afternoon with the vice mayor of Marathon, Florida, Michelle Coldiron, and asked her how her city was doing.
VICE MAYOR MICHELLE COLDIRON, Marathon, Florida: We received a lot of damage. We currently do not have our electric on. We do not have water services. We do not have cell services. We don’t have Internet connections.
So it is pretty sketchy right now. However, we do have a very collaborative, structured team on the ground. They’re working in collaboration with Monroe County. We have a well-trained recovery effort in progress as we speak.
HARI SREENIVASAN: What are your greatest needs right now?
VICE MAYOR MICHELLE COLDIRON: Right now, our greatest needs are food, fuel, and water. Our Marathon Airport has been cleared so that official planes can arrive. They are coming in. We have C-130s that are arriving with the needs our city is requiring to rebuild. We have the Florida Department of Transportation is working tirelessly.
The electric company is working, first-responders. So we really are doing our best to get our city back open again.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Are residents being allowed back in?
VICE MAYOR MICHELLE COLDIRON: No, sir, they are not yet. It is still too unsafe for them to come back in.
Currently, we have, as you know, the Florida Keys, we have one road in and one road out. We had to do a cut-and-clear to get all of US-1 Highway open. Then the Florida Department of Transportation had to check the integrity of all of those bridges. They’re all cleared and are passable.
Now our crews on the ground, our city staff, Marathon city staff and the utility department are going street by street to do the search-and-rescue and to continue with the cut-and-clears. So until that is finished and until we get our electric and until we get our water running, i.e., toilets to flush, it will not be safe for our residents to return.
HARI SREENIVASAN: We have heard some are angry trying to get back in. What would you tell people who are probably anxious, homeowners, business owners?
VICE MAYOR MICHELLE COLDIRON: And I understand that anxiety level, as I too am off-site. And it is very frustrating, and it’s heart-wrenching.
However, we need to let the 2,000 volunteers that are professional volunteers, the lines men, the first-responders, we need them there so that they can get our city safe to open up again. We currently — our hospital is not open right now. So if all of our residents came back in and somebody got hurt, there would be no way for them to get medical services.
Even though we have set up a walk-in clinic behind Marathon City Hall, it is still too soon. It’s four days. We need to put it in perspective. We’re four days out of a catastrophe, and we’re doing a remarkable job.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The folks who decided to ride out the storm, when you say there’s no food, fuel or power, what’s the condition of people in the shelters on the ground?
VICE MAYOR MICHELLE COLDIRON: They’re doing all right.
We have had some food delivery. We had — FEMA is on the ground now. Red Cross is on the ground now. We have a shelter set up. And we’re doing distribution of food and water at the Marathon High School is one of the stations.
We do have a base camp set up in Marathon. So there is some fuel and water. It’s just that is what is in high demand for all of the professional staff and folks that are there working on the ground.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Michelle Coldiron, thanks for joining us.
VICE MAYOR MICHELLE COLDIRON: Thank you so much. Appreciate the call.
HARI SREENIVASAN: As we heard, there are still millions of people without power in Florida and Georgia, close to six million as of this evening.
The pace of restoring power has undoubtedly been picking up speed. But it’s a difficult situation, given the magnitude of the outages.
To help us understand the scope of the challenges, we’re joined by Scott Aaronson of the Edison Electric Institute, which represents investor-owned utilities.
I have covered a few hurricanes, and never seen a rollout this big with, this many different agencies, this many volunteers. How’s it going?
SCOTT AARONSON, Edison Electric Institute: That’s exactly right.
It is a huge rollout. It was an historic storm, as you’re seeing from all of the footage. It’s historic impact, and it’s requiring a historic response.
So, I want to update the number. You said close to six million outages. We’re actually right now, as of just about an hour ago, 2.1 million outages still in Florida.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Now, are those customers or people?
SCOTT AARONSON: So, those are customers.
HARI SREENIVASAN: OK.
SCOTT AARONSON: And so a little bit more on the people side, but, to say the least, we started with 7.8 million outages just three days ago. We’re at 2.1 million now. You see the pace of progress is really picking up.
HARI SREENIVASAN: I often realize that the last 5 percent, 10 percent are the hardest ones to get to. Are there dates, are there goals that you have on when everybody in this region is going to have their power back on?
SCOTT AARONSON: So, the estimated times of restoration, yes, in the less hard-hit areas, we’re looking for most people by the end of this weekend at the latest.
By the really hard-hit areas, you’re talking about places that had flooding, catastrophic flooding, places that hard tornadoes, maybe toward the end of next week. But, again, 60,000 workers from all over North America are descending on the affected area to respond to this historic storm.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Give us an idea of the complexity here. We saw in some pictures that it’s not just about getting the person there, that there is sort of a tangled web of things that have to happen in order for the light to come back on.
SCOTT AARONSON: That’s exactly right.
It’s an interconnected system. There’s a lot of things that have to happen, sort of gating items, if you will. First, we have to make sure that generation is on, up and running. Fortunately, with this storm, that wasn’t an issue.
But then we go for the biggest swathe that we can possibly get. And that’s going to be the transmission system, the interstate highway system of the electric grid, if you will.
And then from there, you get into the neighborhoods. And that’s where sort of the onesies, twosies that are going to take a little bit more time to get to.
But because of the way that companies practice this and because of just the absolutely monumental effort from all across North America to come support the companies in Florida and Georgia, by the way, we’re seeing that pace quicken.
HARI SREENIVASAN: What are the areas that are going to be hardest to get to? Is it the edge of the Keys, where this vice mayor was talking to us from?
SCOTT AARONSON: I think that’s right.
I think you’re going to see some of those barrier islands, some of the Keys, some of those places that were hit by tornadoes, some of those places that were hit by catastrophic flooding. There is going to be an instance where a customer simply can’t take power because their homes have been damaged too much.
And so we’re seeing that in the restoration from Hurricane Harvey over in Houston as well, so much flooding, we’re going to have the wait until those homes can actually accept electricity.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And it doesn’t also just seem like it’s just about the power poles. It seems like a lot of these trucks, the debris needs to be cleared before they can even get there safely.
SCOTT AARONSON: In this particular case with Florida, Mother Nature had not done a house-cleaning in Florida in about a decade. And we are seeing a lot of vegetation on the ground.
In the business, it’s known as vegetation management. And so what we’re doing actually was one of the impressive things about this particular restoration. There was a need for more veg management folks, as they’re known in the business. And we were able to bring them into the affected area, get more of them, so we can start clearing that debris and then ultimately restore the power.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Scott Aaronson of the Edison Electric Institute, thanks for joining us.
SCOTT AARONSON: Thanks so much for having me.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: In the day’s other news: Power crews across Florida worked all-out for another day, trying to turn the lights back on. By this evening, just under five million people were still in the dark.
Meanwhile, the confirmed death toll for Hurricane Irma rose to 70, and President Trump made a day trip to see storm damage up close. We will have a full report after the news summary.
The president is also defending, again, his views on the violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. He drew fire last month for saying opposing protesters shared the blame.
Today, he said that, since then — quote — “A lot of people have actually written, gee, Trump might have a point. I said, you got some very bad people on the other side also, which is true.”
In Iraq, Islamic State attackers killed at least 60 people and wounded 80 today. Gunmen and suicide bombers struck near the city of Nasiriyah, attacking a police checkpoint and a restaurant. Burned-out cars and debris littered the area after the assault. The Sunni militants said they targeted Shiite pilgrims.
The Trump administration has again extended sanctions relief for Iran, temporarily, under the 2015 nuclear deal. Today’s announcement came as President Trump said Tehran continues to violate the spirit of the deal.
In London, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explained it’s about more than nuclear activities. He pointed to Syria and other issues.
REX TILLERSON, Secretary of State: Their actions to prop up the Assad regime, to engage in malicious activities in the region, including cyber-activity, aggressively developing ballistic missiles, and all of this is in defiance of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, thereby threatening, not ensuring, but threatening the security of those in the region, as well as the United States itself.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The administration is still reviewing whether to withdraw from the nuclear deal completely.
Russia has begun large-scale military exercises, putting its European neighbors on edge. Russian state television showed tanks and missile launchers on maneuvers in Belarus today. It said 12,000 Russian troops, plus 7,000 Belarusians, are taking part. NATO said the numbers of Russians could actually be as high as 100,000. Moscow insisted the war games are purely defensive.
Myanmar came under new international pressure today to stop the violence against Rohingya Muslims. Aung San Suu Kyi, the Buddhist nation’s leader, faced appeals from both the European Union and the United States. Separately, the U.N. pleaded for major increases in aid for Rohingya refugees. Some 400,000 have fled into Bangladesh since late August.
Back in this country, Motel 6 says it didn’t know that employees at two locations around Phoenix, Arizona, were sharing guest lists with immigration officers. Agents arrested at least 20 people at the motels between February and August. The sharing of guest information wasn’t illegal, but Motel 6 says it has ordered the practice stopped.
On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 45 points to close at 22203. The Nasdaq fell 31 points, and the S&P 500 slipped two.
And the world’s oldest giant panda has died in China. Caretakers say the female named Basi had liver and kidney problems. She was 37 years old, nearly twice the age that wild pandas usually reach. Thirty years ago, Basi visited San Diego on a goodwill tour and drew more than two million visitors.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: There’s not a full-scale deal yet, but it looks like one’s in the works.
The president talked with top Democrats last night on replacing DACA, the Obama initiative that shielded youthful migrants from deportation. That, in turn, touched off a long day of verbal maneuvering.
John Yang begins our coverage.
JOHN YANG: Leaving the White House to survey Hurricane Irma damage, President Trump said he wants to find agreement.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, we are working on a plan, subject to getting massive border control. We are working on a plan for DACA. People want to see that happen. You have 800,000 young people brought here, no fault of their own.
JOHN YANG: Later, when he returned, Mr. Trump said even a though a border wall, a signature campaign promise, doesn’t have to be in the DACA bill, it’s still a requirement.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: DACA now and the wall very soon. But the wall will happen.
JOHN YANG: The president talked about the way forward on DACA over dinner Wednesday night with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. An open mic on the Senate floor captured Schumer talking about the dinner.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y., Minority Leader: He likes us. He likes me anyway.
Here’s what I told him. I said, “Mr. President, you’re much better off if you can sometimes step right and sometimes step right. If you have to step just in one direction, you’re boxed.” He gets that.
JOHN YANG: Then, speaking for public consumption, Schumer was measured in his optimism.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER: There is still much to be done. We have to put meat on the bones of the agreement. Details will matter.
JOHN YANG: On Capitol Hill, the challenges to ultimately agreeing on those details were evident. Democrats focused on Mr. Trump’s commitment to DACA.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER: I think it was a very, very positive step for the president to commit to DACA protections without insisting on the inclusion of or even a debate about the border wall.
JOHN YANG: Republicans focused on stemming the tide of undocumented immigrants.
REP. PAUL RYAN, R-Wis., Speaker of the House: If we don’t fix problems we have with border security and enforcement, and we would only fix DACA, we’re going to have another DACA problem a decade for now.
JOHN YANG: Reaching a final deal is also complicated by divisions among Republican lawmakers, especially in the House. After initial reports, Representative Steve King of Iowa, an immigration hard-liner, tweeted: “Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible.”
But Representative Pete King of New York told the conservative Freedom Caucus: “Trump base is the American people, not a small faction of obstructionists.”
Criticism from conservative commentators was brutal.
Breitbart News, run by former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, accused the president of caving.
And Ann Coulter tweeted: “If we’re not getting a wall, I would prefer President Pence.”
Administration officials say the president’s recent alliances with Democrats are strictly pragmatic, an approach even some staunch opponents of illegal immigration understand.
REP. LOU BARLETTA, R-Pa.: Does he have much of a choice? If he can’t get things done with the Republican Party, then he has no choice but then to sit down and talk with the Democrats.
JOHN YANG: Democrats seem eager to respond.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-Calif., House Minority Leader: There are plenty of areas to find common ground. This is one of them. And maybe on some other issues, we won’t find common ground.
JOHN YANG: The contentious issue of immigration will be a big test of how much common ground is enough.
To talk more about how all this is playing on Capitol Hill, we’re joined by Yamiche Alcindor of The New York Times.
Yamiche, welcome. Always good to see you and talk to you.
The president flying back on Air Force One from Florida said, “If the Republicans are unable to stick together, then I’m going to have to get a little help from Democrats.”
You have been talking to Republicans all day long. How did they respond to that? What does that make them feel?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, The New York Times: Well, that common ground has really left Republicans on the Hill both confused and on the defense today.
Republicans that I talked to said that they still support the president and want to see something that has to do with border security, but even Representative Dave Brat from the House Freedom Caucus told me that he still is interested in having a wall built.
So, really, the idea that Democrats, who don’t control the White House, who don’t control either House of Congress, may actually be the people who are passing this legislation really has a lot of Republicans on the Hill frustrated. In interview after interview, people were telling me that they really don’t understand why the president is in some ways going this direction.
But I should say that Leader McConnell might actually want this to happen, because if President Trump owns the issue of immigration, if he is the one that then becomes the point person on this issue, he will own it if anything fails, and, of course, the last two presidents, both President Bush and President Obama, tried to pass immigration legislation and both failed.
JOHN YANG: Yes, I wanted to ask you about the leaders. Speaker Ryan said he didn’t know about this or wasn’t briefed on this until after the president left for Florida. Leader McConnell’s statement rather snippily said, I’m looking forward to seeing the legislative proposal.
How are they responding to this?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, they’re understandably frustrated. Both of them are somewhat caught off-guard. This doesn’t look good if Democrats are going to the White House and over Chinese food and over chocolate pie are talking to the president and making deals without Republicans in the room.
But Paul Ryan said today at his press conference, and his aides are telling The New York Times, that while the Republican leaders might be upset or even frustrated with what’s going on, they’re going to support the president and their members are going to have to support the president. And whatever Republicans end up putting on the floor and whatever legislation is presented will have to be legislation that is supported by the president.
And I should say that when I talked to aides for both of those leaders, they are telling me on background essentially that Republican leaders are OK again with the president playing point, if he ends up owning this, because, if it fails, then it’s his problem.
So, in some ways, it’s a double-edged sword. Republicans don’t want the look as if they’re not part of the deal, as if they’re not at the table when all these decisions are being made, but they also now understand that they are protecting themselves if for some reason this falls through.
JOHN YANG: We have less than a minute left. Are there any Democrats who have reservations about this?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Yes, the members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Asian-Pacific American Caucus all met today.
And the members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have a lot of reservation, because they’re fearful that they’re going to have to vote for something that might enhance border security measures, and as a result hurt the parents of dreamers.
I talked to the chairwoman of the caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, today, and she told me that she would be OK with having two separate bills, one that deals specifically with the DREAM Act, and another one that deals with border security. And I’m told by aides that would be the case, because they would want their members to be able to vote for the DREAM Act, while also not being able to vote for the border security measure.
JOHN YANG: Yamiche Alcindor of The New York Times, thanks so much.
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North Korea fired another missile over Japan early Friday, the second launch over Japan in recent weeks.
The missile was fired eastwards from the capital Pyongyang, the South Korean military says. Japan initially warned its residents to take shelter. The missile appeared to fly over Hokkaido, according to government alerts, landing around 7:16 a.m. local time in the Pacific Ocean — a similar path to the missile fired by North Korea over Japan in late August.
Details were still being analyzed by the U.S. and South Korea, that country’s military said in a statement.
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What kind of missile was launched?
In the August launch over Japan, North Korea blasted the Hwasong-12, “an intermediate-range ballistic missile technically capable of flying 3,000 miles.”
A statement from the Pentagon said the latest test used an intermediate range ballistic missile, but that it did not pose a threat to either North America or Guam.
How does this compare to the August launch over Japan?
The BBC reported the missile traveled about 2,229 miles with a peak altitude of 478 miles, “considerably higher and further” than the missile launched in August.
Guam is about 2,130 miles from North Korea. (Here’s what else you should know about the U.S. territory.)
What provoked this test?
Friday’s launch is the latest attempt by North Korea to test the technology the country would need to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting the United States.
On Sept. 3, North Korea launched its strongest test yet, deploying what U.S. military officials later characterized as a hydrogen bomb. (It was so powerful, the Washington Post pointed out, it “reshaped the mountain above it.”)
The test “[crossed] a key threshold in its weapons development efforts,” Reuters reported, and prompted the U.N. Security Council to pass a new round of sanctions against Kim Jong Un’s regime. The new sanctions limited North Korea’s oil supply and banned textile exports, among other restrictions.
Many believe these sanctions prompted Friday’s missile launch. North Korea’s ambassador to the U.N. said they would make the U.S. “suffer the greatest pain it has ever experienced in its history.” But others say the test would have happened with or without action from the U.N.
Tension between the U.S. and North Korea escalated in August after a new report indicated North Korea may have developed a miniaturized nuclear warhead. Trump said he would respond with “fire and fury” if threats escalated from North Korea. North Korea responded by threatening an attack on the U.S. territory of Guam; Trump tweeted the U.S. military was “locked and loaded.”
The State Department said it agreed with Trump’s strategy to pressure North Korea. But many world leaders said the harsh words were aggravating tensions — not easing them.
“I think escalating the rhetoric is the wrong answer,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the Associated Press at the time.
How is the U.S. responding?
In a statement, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. “call[s] on all nations to take new measures against the Kim regime.”
“These continued provocations only deepen North Korea’s diplomatic and economic isolation,” he added.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump was briefed on the launch Thursday evening. The Pentagon said in a statement that the U.S. remains “prepared to defend ourselves and our allies from any attack or provocation.”
The launch comes as the U.N. General Assembly prepares to meet next week for its annual summit in New York, where the group will discuss, among other issues, how to deal with the growing threats from Pyongyang.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. security council, saying “global peace is threatened by North Korea’s dangerous provocations.”
“The international community should unite against such conduct to send a clear message … The recent sanctions and resolutions must be fully complied with and implemented. That is now ever more clear. If North Korea continues to walk this road, there will be no bright future. We need to get North Korea to understand that,” he said in a statement.
South Korea has called an emergency meeting of its own security council, the Guardian reported.
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