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

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    U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks to law enforcement officers at the Thomas Eagleton U.S. Courthouse in St. Louis Missouri, U.S. March 31, 2017. REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant - RTX33LAF

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday during a speech at Georgetown University that the Department of Justice would renew its commitment to “enforce federal law, defend free speech, and protect students’ free expression from whatever end of the political spectrum it may come.” File photo by REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday during a speech at Georgetown University that the Department of Justice would renew its commitment to “enforce federal law, defend free speech, and protect students’ free expression from whatever end of the political spectrum it may come.”

    It was unclear whether policy changes would follow, though Sessions noted the DOJ was “filing a Statement of Interest in a campus free speech case this week and we will be filing more in the weeks and months to come.”

    Sessions remarks come as tensions over free speech on campus run high. A student group at the University of California-Berkeley canceled their plans for a free speech week after they claimed university officials put “extraordinary pressure and resistance, if not outright hostility” on them for inviting controversial writer Milo Yiannopoulos to speak.

    The group told the Washington Post it had filed a claim against the university with the DOJ this week for what it claimed was several First Amendment violations.

    The university said claims that canceling the event was “somehow the outcome desired by the campus are without basis in fact.”

    “The University was prepared to do whatever was necessary to support the First Amendment rights of the student organization,” a spokesman told the Post.

    Read Sessions’ full remarks as prepared below.

    Thank you for that kind introduction. I am so pleased to be here at Georgetown Law and to be speaking at the Georgetown Center for the Constitution where the exchange of ideas is both welcomed and encouraged. Thank you, Professor Barnett for that introduction and for hosting me here with your students. And thank you students for letting me take part in this important conversation with you.

    As you embark on another school year, you and hundreds of your peers across this campus will, we hope, continue the intellectual journey that is higher education. You will discover new areas of knowledge; you will engage in debates great and small; many of your views will be challenged and some changed. You will—if your institutions follow our nation’s historic cultural and education traditions—pursue truth while growing in mind and spirit. In short, we hope you will take part in the right of every American: the free, robust, and sometimes contentious exchange of ideas.

    As you exercise these rights, realize how precious, how rare, and how fragile they are. In most societies throughout history and in so many that I have had the opportunity to visit, such rights do not exist. In these places, openly criticizing the government or expressing unorthodox opinions could land you in jail or worse.

    Let me tell you about one such example. It occurred one autumn when a few idealistic university students came together as a group to advocate for a deeply felt political creed. Wanting to recruit others to their cause, they staked out some ground on a campus walkway popular with students and approached them as they passed.

    They said things like: “Do you like freedom? Do you like liberty?” and then they offered to these passersby a document they revered and believed stood for these ideals: the U.S. Constitution. These young proselytizers for liberty did not block the walkway, did not disrupt surrounding activities, and did not use intimidation or violence to press their cause.

    Nevertheless, a local government official labeled this behavior “provocative” and in violation of government policy. When the young people bravely refused to stop, citing their right to free speech, the local official had them arrested, handcuffed, and jailed.

    This troubling incident could have occurred under any number of tyrannies where the bedrock American ideals of freedom of thought and speech have no foothold. But this incident happened right here in the United States, just last year, at a public college in Battle Creek, Michigan. A state official actually had students jailed for handing out copies of the United States Constitution.

    Freedom of thought and speech on the American campus are under attack.

    The American university was once the center of academic freedom—a place of robust debate, a forum for the competition of ideas. But it is transforming into an echo chamber of political correctness and homogenous thought, a shelter for fragile egos.

    In 2017, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education surveyed 450 colleges and universities across the country and found that 40 percent maintain speech codes that substantially infringe on constitutionally protected speech. Of the public colleges surveyed, which are bound by the First Amendment, fully one-third had written policies banning disfavored speech.

    For example, at Boise State University in Idaho, the Student Code of Conduct prohibits “[c]onduct that a reasonable person would find offensive.” At Clemson University in South Carolina, the Student Code of Conduct bans any verbal or physical act that creates an “offensive educational, work or living environment.”

    But who decides what is offensive and what is acceptable? The university is about the search for truth, not the imposition of truth by a government censor.

    Speech and civility codes violate what the late Justice Antonin Scalia rightly called “the first axiom of the First Amendment,” which is that, “as a general rule, the state has no power to ban speech on the basis of its content.” In this great land, the government does not get to tell you what to think or what to say.

    In addition to written speech codes, many colleges now deign to “tolerate” free speech only in certain, geographically limited, “free speech zones.” For example, a student recently filed suit against Pierce College, a public school in southern California, alleging that it prohibited him from distributing Spanish-language copies of the U.S. Constitution outside the school’s free speech zone.

    The size of this free speech zone? 616 square feet—an area barely the size of a couple of college dorm rooms. These cramped zones are eerily similar to what the Supreme Court warned against in the seminal 1969 Tinker v. Des Moines case about student speech:

    “Freedom of expression would not truly exist if the right could be exercised only in an area that a benevolent government has provided as a safe haven.”

    College administrators also have silenced speech by permitting “the heckler’s veto” to control who gets to speak and what messages are conveyed. In these instances, administrators discourage or prohibit speech if there is even a threat that it will be met with protest. In other words, the school favors the heckler’s disruptive tactics over the speaker’s First Amendment rights. These administrators seem to forget that, as the Supreme Court put it in Watson v. City of Memphis more than 50 years ago, “constitutional rights may not be denied simply because of hostility to their assertion or exercise.”

    This permissive attitude toward the heckler’s veto has spawned a cottage industry of protestors who have quickly learned that school administrators will capitulate to their demands.

    Protestors are now routinely shutting down speeches and debates across the country in an effort to silence voices that insufficiently conform with their views.

    A frightening example occurred this year at Middlebury College. Student protestors violently shut down a debate between an invited speaker and one of the school’s own professors. As soon as the event began, the protestors shouted for 20 minutes, preventing the debate from occurring.

    When the debaters attempted to move to a private broadcasting location, the protestors—many in masks, a common tactic also used by the detestable Ku Klux Klan—pulled fire alarms, surrounded the speakers, and began physically assaulting them. In short, Middlebury students engaged in a violent riot to ensure that neither they nor their fellow students would hear speech they may have disagreed with.

    Indeed, the crackdown on speech crosses creeds, races, issues, and religions. At Brown University, a speech to promote transgender rights was cancelled after students protested because a Jewish group cosponsored the lecture. Virginia Tech disinvited an African American speaker because he had written on race issues and they worried about protests disrupting the event.

    This is not right. This is not in the great tradition of America. And, yet, school administrators bend to this behavior. In effect, they coddle it and encourage it.

    Just over a week ago, after the Orwellian-named “anti-fascist” protestors had successfully shut down numerous campus speaker events in recent months with violent riots, Berkeley was reportedly forced to spend more than $600,000 and have an overwhelming police presence simply to prove that the mob was not in control of the campus.

    In advance, the school offered “counseling” to any students or faculty whose “sense of safety or belonging” was threatened by a speech from Ben Shapiro—a 33-year-old Harvard trained lawyer who has been frequently targeted by anti-Semites for his Jewish faith and who vigorously condemns hate speech on both the left and right.

    In the end, Mr. Shapiro spoke to a packed house. And to my knowledge, no one fainted, no one was unsafe. No one needed counseling.

    Yet, after this small victory for free speech, a student speaking to a reporter said in reaction, “I don’t think Berkley should host any controversial speakers, on either side.” That is, perhaps, the worst lesson to take away from this episode.

    I know that the vast majority of students like you at the Constitution Center need no lecture on the dangers of government-imposed group think. But we have seen a rash of incidents often perpetrated by small groups of those students and professors unable or unwilling to defend their own beliefs in the public forum.

    Unfortunately, their acts have been tolerated by administrators and shrugged off by other students. So let us directly address the question: Why should we worry that free speech is in retreat at our universities?

    Of course, for publicly run institutions, the easy answer is that upholding free speech rights is not an option, but an unshakable requirement of the First Amendment. As Justice Robert Jackson once explained: “If there is a fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.”

    But even setting aside the law, the more fundamental issue is that the university is supposed to be the place where we train virtuous citizens. It is where the next generation of Americans are equipped to contribute to and live in a diverse and free society filled with many, often contrary, voices.

    Our legal heritage, upon which the Founders crafted the Bill of Rights, taught that reason and knowledge produced the closest approximation to truth—and from truth may arise justice. But reason requires discourse and, frequently, argument. And that is why the free speech guarantee is found not just in the First Amendment, but also permeates our institutions, our traditions, and our Constitution.

    The jury trial, the right to cross-examine witnesses, the Speech & Debate Clause, the very art and practice of lawyering—all of these are rooted in the idea that speech, reason, and confrontation are the very bedrock of a good society. In fact, these practices are designed to ascertain what is the truth. And from that truth, good policies and actions can be founded.

    The Federalists against the Anti-federalists, Abraham Lincoln against Stephen Douglas, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. against George Wallace. Indeed, it was the power of Dr. King’s words that crushed segregation and overcame the violence of the segregationists. At so many times in our history as a people, it was speech—and still more speech—that led Americans to a more just, more perfect union.

    The right to freely examine the moral and the immoral, the prudent and the foolish, the practical and the inefficient, and the right to argue for their merits or demerits remain indispensable for a healthy republic. This has been known since the beginning of our nation.

    James Madison knew this when, as part of his protest against the Alien and Sedition Acts—the speech codes of his day—he said that the freedom of speech is “the only effectual guardian of every other right.”

    And, in a quote that I am reminded of daily in this job, Thomas Jefferson knew this when he said in words now chiseled in the stone of his memorial, “I swear upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

    Soon you will be the professor, the university president, the Attorney General, and even the President of the United States. And you will have your own pressing issues to grapple with. But I promise you that no issue is better decided with less debate, indifference, and with voices unheard.

    There are those who will say that certain speech isn’t deserving of protection. They will say that some speech is hurtful—even hateful. They will point to the very speech and beliefs that we abhor as Americans. But the right of free speech does not exist only to protect the ideas upon which most agree at a given moment in time.

    As Justice Brandeis eloquently stated in his 1927 concurrence in Whitney v. California: “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”

    And let me be clear that protecting free speech does not mean condoning violence like we saw recently in Charlottesville. Indeed, I call upon universities to stand up against those who would silence free expression by violence or other means on their campuses.

    But a mature society can tell the difference between violence and unpopular speech, and a truly free society stands up—and speaks up—for cherished rights precisely when it is most difficult to do so.

    As Justice Holmes once wrote: “If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought—not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.” For the thought that we hate.

    And we must do so on our campuses. University officials and faculty must defend free expression boldly and unequivocally. That means presidents, regents, trustees and alumni as well. A national recommitment to free speech on campus is long overdue. And action to ensure First Amendment rights is overdue.

    Starting today, the Department of Justice will do its part in this struggle. We will enforce federal law, defend free speech, and protect students’ free expression from whatever end of the political spectrum it may come. To that end, we are filing a Statement of Interest in a campus free speech case this week and we will be filing more in the weeks and months to come.

    This month, we marked the 230th anniversary of our Constitution. This month, we also marked the 54th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham. Four little girls died that day as they changed into their choir robes because the Klan wanted to silence the voices fighting for civil rights. But their voices were not silenced.

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would call them “the martyred heroines of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity,” and I urge you to go back and read that eulogy and consider what it had to say to each of us. This is the true legacy of free speech that has been handed down to you. It was bought with a price. This is the heritage that you have been given and which you must protect.

    So I am here today to ask you to be involved to make your voices heard—and to defend the rights of others to do the same.

    For the last 241 years, we have staked a country on the principle that robust and even contentious debate is how we discover truth and resolve the most intractable problems before us.

    Your generation will decide if this experiment in freedom will continue. Nothing less than the future of our Republic depends on it.

    The post This is what Jeff Sessions just said about free speech appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says it’s time for all nations “to join forces to isolate to the North Korean menace.”

    He says all nations must act now for the denuclearization of North Korea.

    Trump repeated praise he offered last week for China’s reported breaking off of banking relations with North Korea. There has been no official confirmation from China of such a step. China is North Korea’s most important trading partner.

    The Trump administration on Tuesday announced new sanctions against North Korean banks.

    READ MORE: North Korea calls Trump comments a ‘declaration of war’

    The remarks came at a news conference Tuesday with Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. The leaders are meeting at the White House on Tuesday, days before a critical secession vote Sunday in Spain.

    The region of Catalonia, which includes Barcelona, wants to separate from Spain. Spain’s federal government says such a vote would be illegal.

    Neither leader mentioned the vote during brief remarks as they appeared before journalists in the Oval Office.

    Rajoy says the two countries have good cooperation on defense and terrorism issues.

    The post WATCH: Trump says all nations must isolate ‘North Korean menace’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Sen. Bill Cassidy announces there will be no vote on the latest Republican health care bill.

    WASHINGTON — Facing assured defeat, Republican leaders decided Tuesday not to even hold a vote on the GOP’s latest attempt to repeal the Obama health care law, surrendering on their last-gasp effort to deliver on the party’s banner campaign promise.

    Leaving a lunch of Republican senators who’d gathered to discuss their next steps on the issue, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other leaders decided that “the votes are not there, not to have the vote.” Another lawmaker leaving the gathering, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., shook his head and said, “No,” when asked if a roll call would occur.

    READ MORE: What Republicans just changed in their health care bill

    The decision marked the latest defeat on the issue for President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. In July, the Republican-controlled Senate rejected three similar GOP measures, a failure that infuriated conservatives and prompted Trump to spend much of his summer tweeting criticism at McConnell for falling short.

    One of the measure’s sponsors, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the GOP fight to erase President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care overhaul would continue.

    “We’re going to get there,” he said. “We’re going to fulfill our promise.”

    Watch Republicans’ full news conference in the player above.

    Rejection became all but inevitable on Monday after Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins announced she opposed the legislation. She joined Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Texas’ Ted Cruz who’d already said they opposed the measure. Cruz aides said he was seeking changes that would let him vote yes.

    Because of their narrow majority and unified Democratic opposition, Republicans can lose just two GOP votes and still push the legislation through the Senate. A vote or a decision by McConnell, R-Ky., to forego a roll call was needed this week because procedural protections against a bill-killing filibuster by Democrats expire Sunday.

    In choosing whether to hold the roll call, McConnell had to pick between some Republicans arguing that lawmakers can’t be seen as abandoning a pledge that Trump and countless GOP have run on, and others challenging the value of shining a fresh spotlight on their inability to pass the bill.

    The abandoned bill would transform much of “Obamacare’s” spending into grants that states could spend on health programs with few constraints.

    Associated Press congressional correspondent Erica Werner and writers Ken Thomas and Marcy Gordon contributed to this report.

    The post WATCH: Republicans say no vote this week on health care appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he holds a joint news conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - HP1ED9Q1EVSQ3

    President Donald Trump, speaking in the Rose Garden on Tuesday, said North Korea must no longer be allowed to “threaten the entire world with unthinkable loss of life.” Photo by REUTERS/Joshua Roberts.

    WASHINGTON — New U.S. sanctions will punish eight North Korean banks and 26 bank workers living abroad, the Trump administration announced Tuesday, in the first use of new sanctioning powers granted by President Donald Trump.

    The sanctions rely on an executive order Trump signed last week to target North Korea’s access to the international banking system. They come as the United Nations has also recently passed its toughest sanctions package targeting North Korea.

    The sanctions are part of a Trump administration effort to show it’s still committed to using economic pressure and diplomacy to resolve the North Korea nuclear crisis, rather than the military threat that Trump has repeatedly issued.

    Trump, speaking in the Rose Garden on Tuesday, said North Korea must no longer be allowed to “threaten the entire world with unthinkable loss of life.”

    “All nations must act now to ensure the regime’s complete denuclearization,” Trump said.

    The eight banks are all in North Korea. The Treasury Department said the 26 individuals are North Korean nationals employed by those banks. Of the 26, 19 of them live in China, while three live in Russia and two each in Libya and the United Arab Emirates.

    “This is a clear message to Chinese banks: We can find these individuals, so can you,” said Anthony Ruggiero, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which advocates for tough sanctions on North Korea.

    READ MORE: North Korea calls Trump comments a ‘declaration of war’

    The sanctions are part of a Trump administration effort to show it’s still committed to using economic pressure and diplomacy to resolve the North Korea nuclear crisis, rather than the military threat that Trump has repeatedly issued. After Trump tweeted that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “won’t be around much longer, his administration clarified on Monday that the U.S. is not seeking his overthrow.

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that diplomacy was still the preferred option. And Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in announcing the new sanctions, described them as part of the broader effort to isolate North Korea.

    “We are targeting North Korean banks and financial facilitators acting as representatives for North Korean banks across the globe,” Mnuchin said.

    The U.S. also used an additional designation to emphasize that two banks in North Korea are actually part of Kim’s government: the Foreign Trade Bank of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Central Bank of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Both banks had been previously targeted under earlier sanctions authorities.

    The post New U.S. sanctions target 8 North Korean banks, 26 individuals appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Dollar sign as handuffs on businessman

    They’ve got you where they want you. Now you must decide whether you’re willing to walk away entirely if you believe you’re worth far more, Nick Corcodilos tells a reader. Illustration by Getty Images

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

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

    Question: I work in the finance office of a nonprofit organization. A few months ago the finance manager resigned under very acrimonious circumstances. My director tipped me off that she would promote me, subject to board approval. The finance manager earned three times more than my pay, so I expected to get somewhere close to that too.

    After several weeks, my director came to me with an offer of just a tiny increase to take up the finance manager role. I was shocked. I take this as an insult to my abilities and commitment to the organization.

    How can I best can address this issue with my director? She pointed to the fact that it’s a new role and I will need to prove myself and they “might” consider revising my pay after six months. I want to highlight that I’d be getting considerably less than all the managers in our organization. I have almost 10 years work experience and people that have just come out of university have been offered very handsome salaries.

    If you’re not willing to walk away, then it’s very difficult to negotiate.

    Nick Corcodilos: You need to think very carefully about this and use your best judgment. If you believe you’re worth far more for this job, you must decide whether you’re willing to walk away entirely if they won’t pay you properly. That’s the main decision.

    There’s no way to negotiate effectively if you’re not prepared to quit if they don’t come up with what you require. That doesn’t mean you should not be flexible – but you must decide in advance where you will draw the line.

    READ MORE: Why does my co-worker get paid more?

    If you’re not willing to walk away, then it’s very difficult to negotiate. They’ve got you where they want you. I’m not insulting you when I say you may be willing to live with that, if you want this new assignment and are willing to live with the salary they offered. That’s up to you. My goal is to make sure you’re honest with yourself.

    If you’re ready to walk away, then you have leverage. I’d meet with the director face to face, explain what salary range you’re looking for, and then outline how you will do the job effectively and profitably. It’s sort of a business plan to justify the pay. You can’t just ask for more money because you think you deserve it. You must show why you will be worth it. Can you do that?

    (Here’s another perspective: “Promotion, raise, bad vibes… How to Say It.”)

    What they’re telling you is that just because they paid your predecessor a lot more doesn’t mean you’re worth more. So you have to make your case. (We might argue that you deserve more because they paid someone else more, but that’s not going to help you here. You asked me how to change their mind.)

    If the director refuses, after you’ve done all that, you must be ready to shake hands, smile, and say good luck, and that you’re resigning.

    READ MORE: Why employers can afford to be rude to you

    That’s when you’ll see just how much they really want you. (You’ll also see what’s most important to you.) Just keep in mind that this could cost you your job at this organization. Decide how you feel about that first.

    (For a negotiating tip, see “Make the employer WANT to raise your job offer.”)

    Last thing: Never take anybody’s advice about what to do, including mine, as gospel. I offer a perspective and some suggestions, but only you know the situation and yourself. If I’ve said something useful that you can bend and shape so it’s useful to you, great. But decide what’s most important to you and use your own best judgment.

    I’d love to know what you decide to do either way. And I wish you the best.

    Dear Readers: How far would you go to negotiate the raise you think you deserve? Would you quit? What should this reader do?

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

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

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

    The post Ask the Headhunter: The question you must ask yourself if you want higher pay appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RC11952B21A0

    U.S. President Donald Trump says that “we are totally prepared” for a military option, but it’s not the preferred one. He says: “If we have to take it, we will.” Photo by REUTERS/Joshua Roberts.

    President Donald Trump says if the U.S. takes a military option in dealing with the threat from North Korea “it will be devastating.”

    Trump says that “we are totally prepared” for a military option, but it’s not the preferred one. He says: “If we have to take it, we will.”

    Trump spoke at a White House news conference Tuesday. He was asked about comments from North Korea’s foreign minister, who on Monday said that Trump’s recent threatening statements toward the North were a declaration of war and it would have the right to shoot down U.S. warplanes.

    Trump said the North Korean leader was behaving “very badly.”

    Trump blamed previous U.S. presidents for failing to deal with the North Korean threat. He declared: “I will fix this mess.”

    WATCH: Trump says all nations must isolate ‘North Korean menace’

    The post Trump says military strike on North Korea is not top option, but ‘if we have to take it, we will’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Soldiers of Puerto Rico's national guard distribute relief items to people, after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico September 24, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC1F1B442920

    Soldados de la Guardia Nacional de Puerto Rico distribuyen víveres a la gente después de que el área fue golpeada por el Huracán María en San Juan, Puerto Rico. REUTERS/Alvin Baez.

    Las islas del Caribe están comenzando un largo camino hacia la recuperación después de que varios huracanes poderosos devastaron el Atlántico. Pero Puerto Rico se enfrenta a lo que los funcionarios locales han descrito como una crisis humanitaria, con una devastación que llaman “apocalíptica.”

    Menos de dos semanas después de que el huracán Irma llegó a la isla, Puerto Rico fue golpeado por el huracán María, el peor desastre natural que la isla ha visto en casi un siglo. Según la Prensa Asociada, 16 personas han muerto como resultado de la tormenta — un número que los funcionarios locales creen que subirá. La isla prácticamente no tiene agua corriente ni electricidad; alrededor del 80 por ciento de la cosecha de la isla ha sido destruida. Decenas de puertorriqueños se están reuniendo alrededor de lo que queda de las torres celulares, con la esperanza de contactar a sus seres queridos.

    Casi todos los 3,4 millones de habitantes del territorio estadounidense necesitan ayuda para recuperarse de la tormenta. Así es como Usted puede ayudar:

    Dinero en efectivo. La mayoría de las organizaciones están pidiendo dinero en efectivo, en lugar de suministros, para que puedan enviar ayuda a donde se necesita más rápidamente. Estos son algunos de los grupos más grandes con campañas ya en marcha:

    • Unidos por Puerto Rico (dirigido por la primera dama de Puerto Rico)
    • UNICEF
    • Centro de Democracia Popular
    • La página “Unidos” de la Federación Hispana
    • Ex presidentes de los Estados Unidos han expandido la solicitación “One America Appeal” para incluir esfuerzos de recuperación en Puerto Rico y las Islas Vírgenes de los Estados Unidos
    • All Hands Volunteers
    • Catholic Relief Services
    • Americares
    • Direct Relief
    • Save the Children, se enfoca en las necesidades de las familias y sus hijos.
    • Global Giving tiene el objetivo de recaudar 2 millones de dólares para las víctimas del huracán María
    • GoFundMe también ha creado un centro que incluye todas las campañas para el huracán María. También puede encontrar campañas para familias que buscan ayuda para sus seres queridos.

      Suministros. El gobierno de Puerto Rico también ha lanzado una guía que detalla cómo individuos o empresas pueden donar suministros de emergencia y construcción. National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters(VOAD) está coordinando muchas de estas donaciones aquí (y donaciones corporativas aquí).

      Voluntarios. Después de que la infraestructura esté estable, la isla también necesitará voluntarios. VOAD es un buen lugar para comenzar. Te muestra las organizaciones con los esfuerzos ya en marcha.

      Hacer correr la voz. Parte del problema es que gran parte de Puerto Rico y el Caribe no pueden pedir ayuda, debido a la pérdida de electricidad e infraestructura.

      Facebook tiene una página para que las víctimas y sus familias se comuniquen entre ellos. También pueden utilizar el buscador de personas de Google Docs. Si Usted o un ser querido tiene acceso a cualquier tipo de servicio celular o servicio de internet, la Cruz Roja Americana también tiene una aplicación de emergencia para registros de seguridad y actualizaciones. Univision lanzó una página interactiva donde puede buscar actualizaciones en los municipios individuales. Los funcionarios de Puerto Rico están pidiendo a la gente que reporten a los ciudadanos estadounidenses que necesitan asistencia de emergencia al Departamento de Estado a través de su program, Task Force Alert. Vaya a http://tfa.state.gov y seleccione “2017 Storm Maria”.

      Encontrar maneras confiables de donar puede ser abrumador. Esta lista es un buen lugar para comenzar, pero como siempre, haga su propia investigación para asegurar que su dinero vaya a la dirección correcta. Visite Charity Navigator si no está seguro si una organización es confiable.

      You can find the English version of this story here.

      The post Así es como puedes ayudar a las víctimas de los huracanes en Puerto Rico appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Saudi Arabia announced Tuesday that it was ending a long-established policy that prevented woman in the country to drive, according to state media.

    The Saudi Press Agency reported that the state government will start issuing driver’s licenses to women in June 2018. Before the decision to change its policy, Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world to bar women from driving.

    “The royal decree will implement the provisions of traffic regulations, including the issuance of driving licences for men and women alike,” BBC quoted state media as saying.

    The ban in Saudi Arabia, which is governed by Shariah law, has long been a part of conservative rules that limit how women in the country lived their daily lives. But under its “Vision 2030” plan, developed to ween the country off its dependence on oil, the government has been enacting reforms to their economic and social policies, including some on women.

    Days before today’s announcement, the government also allowed women into its national sports stadium for the first time.

    When Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi Arabian native and activist, videotaped herself driving a car in 2011, the decision landed her in jail for nine days. No longer living in the country, she wrote a new book, “Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening,” about the moment.

    “Nothing will emancipate women in my country like driving, because it gives them a sense of independence. It gives them a sense of liberty and freedom,” she told the NewsHour in August.

    “And that breaks all the things they have been learned and brainwashed with, that we have to be obedient to these unjust laws, and we’re weak, we cannot take decisions by our own. This will give independence to women,” she added.

    As NewsHour’s own Judy Woodruff pointed out on Twitter that Saudi Arabia ranked 141 out of 144 countries in the world for gender parity, according to the World Economic Forum.

    WATCH: Why this Saudi activist says driving is the ultimate female emancipation

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    Eric Bates talks with other alumni between sessions at the Antioch College reunion weekend in Yellow Springs, Ohio Saturday, July 15, 2017. Bates graduated from Antioch College in 1983 and is currently the editor of the “New Republic.” Eric Bates, an Antioch alumnus and the editor of New Republic, on the campus for a reunion with his fellow alumni. Bates calls Antioch a canary in the coal mine for much of the rest of higher education. Photo: Meg Vogel for The Hechinger Report

    YELLOW SPRINGS, Ohio — The summer gathering of alumni at Antioch College was not your conventional reunion.

    Sure, there was the enthusiasm of returning classmates and the babble of nostalgic conversation over dinner in a big white tent erected on the campus quad.

    Then the president convened a town hall-style meeting to discuss the state of the college.

    At a typical reunion, “What you’d usually hear now is a rundown of statistics that underscore all the wonderful accomplishments we’ve made,” the president, Tom Manley, began.

    But very little about Antioch is typical.

    Instead, Manley proceeded to share the news that the college was short of its enrollment goals. It was too heavily dependent on alumni contributions for its operating budget. It had borrowed against its endowment to refurbish the campus.

    Antioch is, in fact, doing surprisingly well just by still being open, considering it was revived by these alumni after being shut down in 2008 under a previous board of trustees that had diverted many of its assets into a chain of satellite graduate campuses.

    Now its near-death experience has become a textbook case for the many other small colleges that are following it into similar financial and enrollment straits.

    “When you look at folks who are alumni, the good works they have done, what this college is doing — who doesn’t want to save that?” -Craig Johnson, Antioch Class of ’91

    Antioch provides a cautionary tale about the risks of chasing new sources of income too hastily. It attests to the importance for these colleges in a crowded marketplace of emphasizing what makes them unique. It proves the value of building loyalty among alumni.

    And it shows that being frank about problems — as Manley was at the reunion — can help forestall them before they’ve grown too big to fix.

    In fact, many financially shaky small colleges are doing the opposite of these things.

    Antioch’s decline and rebirth make it more willing to do something else that has historically come hard to higher education: be entrepreneurial and take risks. Founded in 1850, it likes to call its reinvented self a 167-year-old startup.

    For example, Manley said, sharing bad news and not just good “is easier for us because we’ve already been closed. What are we afraid of?”

    There’s been a lot of bad news for many small, private colleges like Antioch. More than half reported that their number of students last year stayed flat or fell, according to a survey by the National Association of College and University Business Officers, or NACUBO.

    Angel Nalubega, senior at Antioch College, and Jeanne Kay, alumni relations coordinator, organize registration cards for at the Antioch College reunion weekend in Yellow Springs, Ohio Saturday, July 15, 2017. Eric Bates, an Antioch alumnus and the editor of New Republic, on the campus for a reunion with his fellow alumni. Bates calls Antioch a canary in the coal mine for much of the rest of higher education. Photo: Meg Vogel for The Hechinger Report

    More than 70 percent have tried new strategies to counteract this — including by giving discounts and financial aid that sucked up 51 cents of every dollar they took in last year in tuition from freshmen. That means their revenues didn’t even keep up with inflation.

    And more than 40 percent of chief business officers told NACUBO that discounting is financially unsustainable. The bond-rating firm Moody’s predicts that small colleges’ cash flows will continue to weaken.

    Some of those other schools, too, are closing. The number of private, nonprofit colleges eligible to award federal financial aid declined last year by 33, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

    Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana, suspended operations in May. Mills College in Oakland, California, declared a financial emergency and announced in June that it would lay off some faculty and restructure. Federal data show that Sweet Briar College in Virginia, which was also famously threatened with closing two years ago but stayed open, has seen its enrollment shrink by more than half. (The people who led the charge to save Antioch say Sweet Briar alumni called them for advice.)

    “This is a very challenging environment for all colleges and universities,” said Manley, former president of a small college of art in Oregon and administrator at the Claremont Colleges in California.

    Antioch, whose first president was the education reformer Horace Mann, got into trouble ahead of the rest, thanks to a tiny enrollment and endowment and a zealous expansion that spun off more than 30 graduate campuses under the name Antioch University.

    “When you cease to exist, you have to have some tough conversations about who you are and how you want to be seen.” Vicki Baker, a professor of economics and management at Albion College who has studied the Antioch story

    Running short of cash, trustees embarked on an ambitious fundraising effort, but fell short. The college stayed shut for three years until angry alumni came up with enough money to buy and reopen it. (All but five of those satellite campuses, now legally separate but still known collectively as Antioch University, have closed.)

    For much of its history, Antioch was ahead of its counterparts in more enviable ways, including its legacy of promoting social justice. “A hippie school,” its own students, alumni and faculty call it fondly. At the reunion, many of the alumni sported Birkenstocks and tie-dye, the men with their gray hair worn long. Even the surrounding community of Yellow Springs gives off a hippie vibe, with a sign at the town entrance that reads, “Find Yourself Here,” and a banner over the main street that says, simply, “Kindness.”

    Coretta Scott King went here. So did Rod Serling, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Stephen Jay Gould. Antioch publishes the prestigious literary magazine The Antioch Review. Its campus is planted with wildflowers, and it grows some of its own food on a farm. The college motto: “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”

    There were student strikes over civil rights and other social issues well before unrest arose on other campuses. A policy requiring that both parties verbally consent to sexual acts as a means of curbing sexual offenses, mocked on “Saturday Night Live,” has since been widely emulated.

    “Antioch has always been a bit of a canary in the coal mine,” said Eric Bates, who graduated from here in 1983 and has been among the alumni leaders who stepped in to keep the college afloat.

    Barbara Slaner Winslow poses for a portrait at Antioch College, during the reunion weekend in Yellow Springs, Ohio Saturday, July 15, 2017. She graduated from Antioch College in 1968. Eric Bates, an Antioch alumnus and the editor of New Republic, on the campus for a reunion with his fellow alumni. Bates calls Antioch a canary in the coal mine for much of the rest of higher education. Photo: Meg Vogel for The Hechinger Report

    “But we were also a canary in the mine when it came to our mistakes,” said Bates, editor of The New Republic. “And one of our mistakes was we reached outside our core and got too big for ourselves.”

    The satellite campuses, at first intended to spread Antioch’s unique form of education to inner cities, soon became a principal focus, and the original campus grew neglected.

    “You can’t just burn off your seed corn. We jumped in way too fast, too far, and didn’t have the business principles in place,” said Catherine Jordan, a former nonprofit executive and another Antioch alumna (class of ’72).

    There’s a parallel in this to other colleges’ leaps into online higher education, touted as a cheap way to deliver instruction and a new means of income. Yet, according to the Babson Survey Research Group, while an impressive 6 million students took at least one online course in fall 2015, the most recent period for which the figure is available, almost half were served by only about 5 percent of colleges and universities. Other institutions have seen little growth in this area.

    Antioch’s detour into those graduate campuses was “a lesson 30 or 40 years ahead of its time for how disastrous those mistakes can be if you don’t pay attention to what it is you do and what it is you do well,” Bates said.

    This is not to say that Antioch, like other colleges, isn’t still looking for other new streams of revenue. It has to, dependent as it is on contributions from supporters for a disproportionate 71 percent of its operating budget. Only about 11 percent comes from tuition and fees, the college reports. That’s almost exactly the opposite ratio of other higher education institutions, and an amount Antioch supporters are concerned cannot continue.

    It’s planning to build the first 34 of an eventual 300 homes on land it owns; residents will be able to take courses and use the recreation, library and dining facilities. It’s considering hosting yoga retreats, the college says. It wants to sell produce to the public from its farm.

    Although Antioch reports having raised more than $13 million in the year just ended, from more than 3,000 donors — including $260,000 at the reunion alone — alumni can’t supply the bulk of the budget forever, Manley said. “We do need to get some balance.”

    More than half of colleges report that their enrollment is flat or down.

    It has also drastically cut costs. The number of faculty is down to 37, and there are 96 other employees, a spokesman said, including at the campus-affiliated public radio station and an adjacent 1,000-acre nature preserve over which Antioch has jurisdiction. Job vacancies have gone unfilled, and in January high-level staffers took pay cuts. Alumni not only contribute money; they help do paperwork, wax floors, paint walls and plant gardens using tools they store in their own designated workshop in a former fire station.

    Along with addressing the need to financially diversify, economies like these offer yet another lesson other colleges are gradually coming to understand, said Vicki Baker, a professor of economics and management at Albion College who has studied Antioch: “More and more institutions are realizing and appreciating — particularly small colleges — that we are a business.”

    In that respect, said Baker, Antioch’s struggles alone provide a critical lesson. “It’s an important gut check for us that, oh, look, higher education institutions aren’t immune” from existential fiscal pressures.

    Like any business, colleges need to sell themselves — in their case to a shrinking supply of prospective students. The number of American 18-year-olds is down, and an improving economy has drawn older students back into the workforce. On top of all their other problems, colleges are competing for 2.4 million fewer students than there were five years ago. (Antioch enrolled only 45 new students last fall, compared to a goal of 80; its total enrollment now is 115, down from a 1960s peak of 2,000 and a post-reopening high of 266 in 2015.)

    Tom Manley, president of Antioch College, answers questions from alumni, after delivering the State of the College address in the South Gym at the Antioch College reunion weekend in Yellow Springs, Ohio Saturday, July 15, 2017. Eric Bates, an Antioch alumnus and the editor of New Republic, on the campus for a reunion with his fellow alumni. Bates calls Antioch a canary in the coal mine for much of the rest of higher education. Photo: Meg Vogel for The Hechinger Report

    Many schools are adding academic offerings they think will attract applicants. Thirty-seven percent of colleges have added or changed their academic programs to boost enrollment, that NACUBO survey found.

    Observers contend that this has blurred what makes each college special or distinctive.

    “At the same time you’re saying, ‘Look at how unique we are,’ you’re saying, ‘Notice how we’re as good as they are,’” said Michael McPherson, former president of Macalester College and an economist who studies the economics of education. “‘We match them point for point, and we’re really different.’ What’s your message here?”

    The strongest moral of the Antioch story? Standing out trumps blending in.

    “It’s all about differentiating your brand,” said Baker. “If I’m looking at a college with the same curriculum at a higher price, why would I want to pay for it?” Yet “institutions in search of survival are kind of doing the opposite. They’re trying to be all things to all people.”

    Even Antioch did this, said McPherson. “They confused the hell out of their brand when they created Antioch University and all of these separate identities.”

    But it recovered, and refocused on its singular identity. “They’ve done that brilliantly,” said Baker. “They’re playing it perfectly.” That’s because, “When you cease to exist, you have to have some tough conversations about who you are and how you want to be seen.”

    Bates characterized Antioch’s distinctiveness with an anecdote from his own time here.

    When a professor from an Ivy League school came to teach at the college, “He had his first class and told the students what he was going to be teaching them, and when he got done he asked if there were questions. And a woman in the back of the class who had her feet up on the desk and was a bit of a hippie raised her hand, and he called on her, and she said, ‘What qualifies you to teach this course?’”

    The story speaks to Antioch’s long legacy of involving students in their own educations and encouraging them to challenge authority.

    “When you’re in a crowded and competitive market the question always is, from a business standpoint, how do you stand out? What is the value proposition?” Bates said.

    “We don’t tend to talk about higher education in those terms,” he said. “But that’s the reality. You’re running a business and you’re asking people to spend a whole lot of money, and you’re asking parents to spend a whole lot of money. What [other] small liberal arts colleges can learn is to find your core and to focus on your core identity.”

    “Antioch has always been a bit of a canary in the coal mine.” -Eric Bates

    Instead, said Baker, other colleges “have been a little too comfortable in thinking that the right students will find them, and they haven’t been thoughtful enough about their branding and how they differentiate themselves.”

    Even those that try may not succeed. As a college president, McPherson said, he learned that “everybody thinks the key is to be unique. And that’s definitely right — if you have an honestly defensible distinction. It’s not very hard to come up with a press release. The question is, are you walking the talk?”

    Antioch walks the talk, McPherson said. It “can cash the check on this.”

    And cashing checks, it does. That’s because alumni value the legitimacy of Antioch’s uniqueness, they said, and are willing to invest in it.

    “Just make sure you have dedicated, rich alumni,” Barbara Slaner Winslow, a historian, 1968 Antioch grad and chair of the board of trustees, said, only half joking.

    “When you look at folks who are alumni, the good works they have done, what this college is doing — who doesn’t want to save that?” said Craig Johnson, a member of the Class of ’91 who has worked at two universities since graduating from Antioch in 1991. What other colleges could learn, he said, “is that goodwill goes a long way.”

    Yet alumni loyalty is being tested elsewhere by high costs and by the fact that more than half of students who earn bachelor’s degrees today transfer at least once, attending more than one institution over the course of their educations, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

    “It’s hard to expect the same level of loyalty. It’s a big challenge,” said McPherson, who also co-authored the book “Lesson Plan: An Agenda for Change in American Higher Education.”

    Only 20 percent of alumni feel strongly emotionally attached to the universities or colleges they attended, a Gallup poll found. Only one in five has given money in the last 12 months.

    Alana Guth, senior at Antioch College, talks to volunteers at the Antioch College reunion weekend in Yellow Springs, Ohio, while wearing Antioch earrings Saturday, July 15, 2017. Photo: Meg Vogel for The Hechinger Report

    “If you didn’t have a supported, highly engaged student experience, you don’t become an engaged alum later,” said Brandon Busteed, Gallup’s executive director for education polling. “There is no such thing as alumni engagement, only student engagement that lasts a lifetime.”

    The most devoted alumni in the Gallup survey said they had professors who cared about them as people and “encouraged [their] hopes and dreams.”

    You can’t impose that on a campus culture, or hire a consultant to create it, said Angel Nalubega, a senior from New Jersey, who at other colleges saw large lecture classes and less interaction between students and faculty than she said she found at Antioch.

    “Students want to go to a college where they can feel heard, where they can grow into themselves,” Nalubega said. “Colleges can say, ‘Oh, we have shiny new buildings,’ but if they don’t have professors who will text you when you’re not in class, then they’re at a deficit and their students are at a deficit.”

    That’s what sold Antioch student Marcell Vanarsdale on the college, too. “The relationship [with faculty] doesn’t end in the classrooms. It’s in the coffee shops, it’s passing them on the bike paths,” said Vanarsdale, a senior from Chicago. “Who we are, what is our identity — it’s nothing you can force. It has to be real.”

    All of these things interconnect, said Baker. Being unique attracts students and transforms them into committed alumni. Being honest keeps them faithful.

    But, for other colleges, addressing their challenges “doesn’t involve copying Antioch,” said Manley. “It involves considering who you are and what you bring to the world.”

    That may have come easier here.

    Colleges and universities in general “tend not to be built for that, when you have layers of culture and hundreds of years of tradition behind you,” Manley said.

    At Antioch, said Alana Guth, a senior psychology major from Michigan, “We’ve already closed. So what do we have to lose?”

    This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education, in collaboration with the Educate podcast.

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    An image of Earth taken by the OSIRIS-REx MapCam on Sept. 22. The view shows the Pacific Ocean, with Australia in the lower left and Baja California and the southwestern U.S. in the upper right. The dark streaks at the top are due to short photo exposure times, which are need to capture an object as bright as Earth. Photo by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona

    An image of Earth taken by the OSIRIS-REx MapCam on Sept. 22. The view shows the Pacific Ocean, with Australia in the lower left and Baja California and the southwestern U.S. in the upper right. The dark streaks at the top are due to short photo exposure times, which are need to capture an object as bright as Earth. Photo by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona

    Looking at Earth from 106,000 miles miles away, it’s easy to forget the complexity of our planet and the 6 billion people that live there. A new image from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx probe offers such a vantage point.

    The photo was captured during OSIRIS-REx’s flyby of Earth on Friday. The probe, which passed within 11,000 miles of Earth, needed a boost from the planet’s gravity to reach the orbital plane of its destination: the near-Earth asteroid Bennu.

    Asteroid Bennu’s orbit around the Sun is tilted at a six-degree inclination (or angle) from Earth’s orbit. On Sept. 22, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will use the Earth’s gravity to boost itself onto Bennu’s orbital plane. Photo by University of Arizona

    Asteroid Bennu’s orbit around the Sun is tilted at a six-degree inclination (or angle) from Earth’s orbit. On Sept. 22, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft used the Earth’s gravity to boost itself onto Bennu’s orbital plane. Photo by University of Arizona

    OSIRIS-REx will reach Bennu in 2018, where it will spend a year mapping the surface of the carbon-rich rock. Scientists hope to ultimately land the probe on Bennu with the aim to collect two ounces of the asteroid, which may offer clues to the origins of the solar system.

    The mission will also beam back calculations of Bennu’s orbit, given the asteroid has a relatively high probability of impacting Earth in the late 22nd century. The probe aims to return its rock collection to Earth by 2023.

    For now, you can scope out this shot for our planet taken by the space miner. The dark streaks at the top are due to the short exposure times — less than three milliseconds — that are needed to take a photo of an object as bright as the Earth.

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    Negar Jourabchian looks at her mother Niloufar's passport, after she traveled to the U.S. from Iran following a federal court's temporary stay of U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order travel ban, at Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. February 6, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder - RTX2ZWEY

    Negar Jourabchian looks at her mother Niloufar’s passport, after she traveled from Iran to Logan International Airport in Boston earlier this year. On Sunday, President Donald Trump announce new travel restrictions. File photo by REUTERS/Brian Snyder

    On Sunday, President Donald Trump issued a new travel ban, the latest in a series of moves aimed at stopping travel from certain countries to the United States. Here’s a breakdown of the new ban.

    Number of travel bans the president has issued so far, including Sunday’s: 3.

    Number of countries included in travel ban 3.0: 8: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen, though the restrictions themselves differ by country.

    When does the ban go into effect? Oct. 18.

    How long will it last? The bans are indefinite, but can be lifted according to the president’s proclamation when the listed countries “satisfactorily address the identified inadequacies” in their vetting procedures for travelers. By contrast, the previous travel ban, which expired Sept. 24, was only a 90-day suspension.

    Number of majority-Muslim countries on the list: 6. According to the CIA World Factbook, the populations of Iran, Yemen and Libya are all at least 96 percent Muslim, while Syria’s is 87 percent. Chad’s population is 52.1 percent Muslim. Data for Somalia is unknown.

    How many terrorists have come from these countries? According to one researcher at the right-leaning CATO Institute, between 1975 and 2015, there have only been nine people from these eight countries to have either carried out an attack in the United States or have been convicted of planning one. Another figure from that same research: There have been zero fatal acts of terrorism conducted by an individual from any of these countries.

    Number of refugees affected by ban 3.0: The latest ban doesn’t include any new rules on refugees — yet. The federal government says it will announce revised limits on travelers who enter the U.S. in the coming days. In the meantime, refugee restrictions from travel ban 2.0 are set to expire by Oct. 24 – likely the very latest Trump will come up with a replacement for the refugee ban.

    Trump tweets this week on the travel ban: 1

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    David Shulkin testifies before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee during his confirmation hearing on his nomination to be Veterans Affairs secretary on Capitol Hill in D.C. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    David Shulkin, seen here earlier this year, said last week that “this fall, our major legislative focus is getting the Choice program working right.” Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Weeks after a veterans’ health initiative received $2.1 billion in emergency funding, the Trump administration says the private-sector Veterans Choice health care program may need additional money as early as December to avoid a disruption of care for hundreds of thousands of veterans.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs said in a statement Tuesday that it hoped to move quickly on a proposed long-term legislative fix that would give veterans even wider access to private doctors. The proposal, under review by the White House Office of Management and Budget, would seek money to keep Choice running for much of next year as VA implements wider changes.

    In its statement to The Associated Press, VA said it could not say for certain when Choice funds would be depleted, but acknowledged that it could be as early as December or as late as March.

    On Capitol Hill, the House Veterans Affairs Committee was already anticipating that the emergency funding approved in August may not last the full six months, according to spokespeople for both Republican and Democratic members on the panel. They cited the VA’s past problems in estimating Choice program cost. That committee and the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee said they were closely monitoring the situation.

    “It’s disheartening,” said Carlos Fuentes, legislative director of Veterans of Foreign Wars, citing his group’s continuing conversations with VA about Choice funding. “Imagine if a veteran has to cease chemotherapy treatment during Christmas.”

    READ MORE: How the massive, pioneering and embattled VA health system was born

    Garry Augustine, executive director of Disabled American Veterans’ Washington headquarters, said recent discussions with VA also gave him little confidence.

    “It’s always a concern,” Augustine said. “Legislative action needs to be done sooner rather than later.”

    In its statement to The Associated Press, VA said it could not say for certain when Choice funds would be depleted, but acknowledged that it could be as early as December or as late as March. Earlier this year, the VA began limiting referrals to outside doctors as money began to run low and veterans reported delays in care.

    The VA proposal for a long-term fix is expected to be released in the coming weeks.

    “We have a long agenda, a lot more to do,” VA Secretary David Shulkin told veterans last week at an event near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. “This fall, our major legislative focus is getting the Choice program working right.”

    WATCH: Trump announces new ways to help veterans get medical care

    The latest funding woes come amid political disagreement over the future direction of VA and its troubled Choice program, which was passed by Congress in 2014 in response to a wait-time scandal at the Phoenix VA medical center that spread nationwide. Some veterans died while waiting months for appointments as VA employees manipulated records to hide delays. The controversy spurred Congress to establish Choice as a pilot program designed to relieve pressure at VA hospitals.

    Choice currently allows veterans to receive outside care if they must wait 30 days or more for an appointment or drive more than 40 miles to a VA facility. But the program has encountered long delays of its own.

    In a sign of a political divide, the left-leaning VoteVets ran a $400,000 ad campaign earlier this month in 13 states that warned viewers, “Don’t let Trump privatize my VA.” The American Federation of Government Employees has been staging rallies to bring attention to VA job vacancies left unfilled.

    The VA said it remains committed to filling VA positions even as it finalizes plans to revamp Choice. VA said it had about 34,000 vacancies, which they attributed in part to a shortage of health professionals.

    Legislative proposals to fix VA have run the gamut, including one backed by the conservative Concerned Veterans for America that would give veterans almost complete freedom to see an outside doctor. Another plan could create a presidential commission to review closing some VA medical centers.

    READ MORE: Rural veterans face long paths to health care

    “Congress can either double-down on the failed VA policies of the past or they can go in a different direction and empower veterans with more choice over their health care,” said Dan Caldwell, policy director of Concerned Veterans for America.

    During the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly pledged to fix the VA by bringing accountability and expanding access to private doctors, criticizing the department as “the most corrupt.” At an Ohio event in July, Trump promised to triple the number of veterans “seeing the doctor of their choice.”

    More than 30 percent of VA appointments are made in the private sector.

    Carrie Farmer, senior policy researcher for the RAND Corp., said the Choice debate raises broader questions about the role of government-run health care in treating veterans. To many former troops, the VA health system is a “medical home” where patients feel more understood by doctors specially trained to treat battlefield injury, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Significantly expanding Choice could upend that government role as caretaker, she said.

    “The big question is ultimately who will be responsible for our veterans’ care?” Farmer said.

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    Senator Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, makes an opening statement during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing n Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, July 23, 2015. Corker, a key player in the congressional debate over the nuclear deal with Iran, told Secretary of State John Kerry that the Obama administration is engaging in hyperbole to sell it. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the chairman of the powerful Foreign Relations Committee and a political force on financial issues, announced Tuesday he would not seek re-election.
    File photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

    WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the chairman of the powerful Foreign Relations Committee and a political force on financial issues, announced Tuesday he would not seek re-election.

    The 65-year-old lawmaker, who recently had been encouraged by President Donald Trump to seek a third term, made the surprise announcement hours before a showdown vote in an Alabama Senate runoff that pitted the establishment favorite against firebrand Judge Roy Moore.

    “After much thought, consideration and family discussion over the past year, Elizabeth and I have decided that I will leave the United States Senate when my term expires at the end of 2018,” Corker said in a statement.

    Corker has helmed the Foreign Relations panel, playing a significant role on Russia and Iran sanctions, and was considered a possible secretary of state in the Trump Cabinet before the president tapped Rex Tillerson. A member of the Banking Committee, Corker had his hand in major financial legislation.

    The announcement quickly set off heavy speculation in Tennessee about which Republicans could run to replace him, ranging from former NFL and University of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning to term-limited Gov. Bill Haslam.

    Despite expressing doubts about another bid, Corker had a $6.5 million balance in his campaign account at the end of the last reporting period, the most among GOP senators facing re-elections next year. Corker has increased his cash on hand by $1 million, according to his office.

    The senator had criticized Trump after he blamed both white nationalists and anti-racist protesters for the violence at an August rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Corker questioned whether Trump had shown the “stability” and “competence” to succeed in office.

    Trump responded on Twitter, “Strange statement by Bob Corker considering that he is constantly asking me whether or not he should run again in ’18.” Trump added, “Tennessee not happy!”

    The announcement quickly set off heavy speculation in Tennessee about which Republicans could run to replace him, ranging from former NFL and University of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning to term-limited Gov. Bill Haslam.

    Manning, Corker and President Trump went on a highly-publicized golf outing earlier this year, and the quarterback also attended a Republican congressional retreat.

    Corker and Haslam are close family friends, and the senator helped persuade the popular governor to first run for public office when he made a successful bid for mayor of Knoxville in 2003.

    READ MORE: What to watch in Alabama’s GOP Senate primary runoff

    Earlier Tuesday, when he was pressed on whether the Republicans should hold a vote on a health care bill, he put off the question by saying: “I’m not much of a politician, as you know. So I’ll let people who worry about politician-y things decide that.”

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., praised Corker as an “integral member of our team and confidant of mine during his time in the Senate. His leadership on important issues has helped guide our conference and had a real impact at home and abroad.

    Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s top Democrat, called Corker a “model senator, adding, “We all regret him leaving.”

    Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate, but establishment candidates backed by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have come under fire from the right, with critics questioning their fealty to Trump. Republican incumbents in Nevada and Arizona face primary challengers.

    Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate, but establishment candidates backed by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have come under fire from the right, with critics questioning their fealty to Trump. Republican incumbents in Nevada and Arizona face primary challengers.

    The biggest test for the GOP establishment is in Alabama, where Sen. Luther Strange is locked in a runoff Tuesday against Moore.

    Corker took over as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in 2015 after Republicans took control of the Senate. The panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, gave Corker high marks for running the committee in an inclusive, bipartisan way.

    But Corker emerged as one of the most vocal critics of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. At a September 2016 hearing on Syria, Corker assailed President Barack Obama and his administration for refusing to take the necessary steps to get humanitarian aid into Syria and to deter Bashar Assad’s military forces from targeting civilians. He considered Obama to be unreliable on foreign affairs, declaring that the president wasn’t willing to “roll up sleeves and deal with the tough issues that we have to deal with.”

    Corker also could be an iconoclast. In 2015, as Republican criticism of the Obama administration’s nuclear talks with Iran escalated, Corker was one of a handful of Republicans who declined to sign a letter circulated by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., that was addressed directly to Iran’s leaders warning them that any accord Obama struck could be undone.

    He was first elected to the Senate in 2006 and two years later became a member of the Banking Committee. He played a key role in the negotiations that bailed out the collapsing financial industry with the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. But he’d later disparage the program as a slush fund and vote to shut it down and use any of the remaining money to pay down the federal debt.

    Corker criticized the major U.S. automakers who also sought a multi-billion dollar bailout in late 2008. He’d offer an alternative proposal that imposed stiffer requirements on the auto companies that Detroit opposed but which eventually were followed by the Obama administration’s task force on the auto industry.

    He reached across the aisle in 2010, joining Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., on provisions for the orderly liquidation of financial firms deemed “too big to fail” that were included in Dodd-Frank, the banking law created after the 2008 economic crisis.

    Associated Press writer Erik Schelzig in Tennessee contributed.

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    U.S. President Donald Trump signs an executive order to impose tighter vetting of travelers entering the United States, at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., January 27, 2017. The executive order signed by Trump imposes a four-month travel ban on refugees entering the United States and a 90-day hold on travelers from Syria, Iran and five other Muslim-majority countries. Picture taken January 27, 2017. Photo By Carlos Barria/Reuters

    U.S. President Donald Trump signs his first travel ban in this file photo from January. The Trump administration will allow no more than 45,000 refugees into the United States next year, officials said Tuesday, in what would be the lowest admission level in more than a decade. File photo By Carlos Barria/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The Trump administration will allow no more than 45,000 refugees into the United States next year, officials said Tuesday, in what would be the lowest admission level in more than a decade.

    President Donald Trump is expected to announce the cap on refugee admissions following a lengthy debate within his administration about whether to go higher or lower. The figure represents the maximum number of refugees the U.S. would be willing to accept. The actual number of refugees who move to the United States could actually be much lower.

    The administration had been considering a ceiling somewhere between 40,000, which the Homeland Security Department recommended, and 50,000, the State Department’s preferred level, according to officials. The new figure appears to be a compromise that Cabinet officials felt would be palatable to the president.

    READ MORE: Trump’s new travel ban, by the numbers

    Still, Trump’s stated hostility to accepting refugees and opposition among others in his administration mean the U.S. may not intend to fill all 45,000 slots in the 2018 fiscal year that starts Sunday. The U.S. hasn’t taken in so few refugees in a single year since 2006, when 41,223 were allowed entry.

    All of the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss internal deliberations. They said no decision was final until formally announced by the president. The State Department declined to comment on potential figures ahead of a presidential announcement.

    Trump has until Sunday to determine how many refugees to admit. The U.S. welcomed 84,995 in fiscal year 2016, and former President Barack Obama had wanted to raise that number to 110,000 in 2017. But the strong preference among aid groups and governments has been to seek conditions so refugees can return to their homes, rather than being permanently resettled in host countries.

    Trump has until Sunday to determine how many refugees to admit. The U.S. welcomed 84,995 in fiscal year 2016.

    Trump has made limiting immigration the centerpiece of his policy agenda. He temporarily banned visitors from a handful of Muslim-majority nations, has rescinded an Obama-era executive action protecting young immigrants from deportation and insisted he’ll build a wall along the southern border with Mexico.

    During his campaign, Trump pledged to “stop the massive inflow of refugees” and warned of terrorists smuggling themselves into naive countries by posing as refugees fleeing war-torn Syria. He said last October that “thousands of refugees are being admitted with no way to screen them and are instantly made eligible for welfare and free health care,” even as American military veterans can’t get such care.

    Trump has advocated keeping refugees closer to their homes.

    MORE: How Trump’s travel ban changed and what comes next

    In a speech to the United Nations last week, he thanked Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon for taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Syrian conflict, and described the United States as a “compassionate nation” that has spent “billions and billions of dollars in helping to support this effort.”

    “We seek an approach to refugee resettlement that is designed to help these horribly treated people, and which enables their eventual return to their home countries to be part of the rebuilding process,” Trump said.

    For the cost of resettling one refugee in the United States, he said, the U.S. can assist more than 10 migrants in their home regions.

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    U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (L) listens as acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg (R) speaks during a news conference on the dangers law enforcement and first responders face when encountering fentanyl at DEA Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., June 6, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RC1A61B3F610

    U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (L) listens as acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg (R) speaks during a news conference on the dangers law enforcement and first responders face when encountering fentanyl at DEA Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. File photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque.

    WASHINGTON — The acting chief of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is stepping down while the agency awaits the nomination of its permanent leader.

    A person familiar with the move says Chuck Rosenberg will leave the post Oct. 1. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters, says Rosenberg notified employees of his decision in a Tuesday email.

    Rosenberg made news when he rejected President Donald Trump’s comments suggesting police should treat suspects roughly when arresting them.

    Rosenberg had been running the agency since 2015. The Trump administration has not nominated a replacement. But the person who spoke to AP says Col. Joseph Fuentes of the New Jersey State Police is a front-runner for the position. Fuentes had been a vocal critic of some of Obama administration policies.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Private e-mails are back in the news this week, after multiple news reports disclosed that at least six advisers to President Trump have used them to discuss government business.

    Of course, Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server was one of the most frequent points of attack for the Trump campaign in the 2016 election.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: People have been — their lives have been destroyed for doing one-fifth of what you have done, and it’s a disgrace. And, honestly, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

    This is bigger than Watergate. This is bigger than Watergate, in my opinion.


    VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: It’s a serious mater, and we commend the FBI for reopening the case and following the facts, because, in America, no one is above the law.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Joining me now discuss these latest revelations is Richard Painter. He served as the chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush.

    Richard Painter, welcome back to the program.

    We should say that an investigation by the Justice Department was closed with regard to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server.

    But now, with regard to this new information, what does the law say about the ability of people working in the White House to use their own private e-mail accounts?

    RICHARD PAINTER, Former Associate Counsel to President George W. Bush: Well, they are not supposed to. And that’s a violation of White House policy going back to the Clinton administration in their White House staff manual.

    And in our staff manual, we made it clear, I made it clear, the Bush White House, that you’re not supposed to do it. But people did. A number of political people were using Republican National Committee e-mail, and we got in trouble for that, got a lot of grief from the House Oversight Committee over that.

    And there was a big flap. None of it was criminal. No one brought in the FBI.

    And then Hillary Clinton made the same mistake, had her own personal e-mail server. And I think that was a stupid mistake. It wasn’t criminal. That was blown way out of proportion, the Clinton situation.

    Some people sent some classified stuff to her, and that’s one of the risks you take when you use a personal e-mail, but, once again, no precedent for prosecuting somebody. And that was foolishness to blow that that far out of proportion. I don’t know why the FBI took so long with it.

    And now, of course, we see what’s happening in the Trump administration. It’s the same thing. It’s a foolish thing to do.

    This is not something that calls for criminal investigation, but it really is atrocious that we went through a whole election season trying to make a high crime or something out of what Hillary Clinton had done with her e-mail, which everybody else in the administration is well aware of, because they were receiving e-mails from her on a personal server.

    It’s a very bad idea. They shouldn’t be doing it, but we shouldn’t be accusing people of crimes and say, well, lock her up, and these political rallies where they’re screaming and yelling, as if they’re in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1933 or something.

    It really is embarrassing for our country, how far this thing has been taken.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Richard Painter, remind us why these rules are in place saying to government officials, White House officials that they shouldn’t use their private account.

    RICHARD PAINTER: Well, there are two problems.

    One is, you could lose the records. And the Presidential Records Act require the records to be retained. Now, since 2014, Congress has amended the statute, and it’s now required that if you do use another account, you must copy an official United States government account, so the record is retained.

    And that was after the Clinton episode. That’s one problem.

    The second problem is that someone might send you something that is classified. It’s very foolish to send somebody something that’s classified. It never crossed my mind that that would have happened in the case of Karl Rove’s e-mail or any of the e-mail situations we had at the Bush White House, where personal or Republican National Committee e-mail was used.

    But that’s a big risk that you take if you are doing official business on a personal e-mail server.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The point you’re making, among others, is that this is not a criminal act. It’s not a legal problem.

    So, given that, how serious are these disclosures, do you think?

    RICHARD PAINTER: I think it shows the continuing disregard for standards of good judgment in this administration.

    There are — there is evidence of some serious crimes in this administration, obstruction of justice and lying about contacts with the Russians, that I’m a lot more worried about than Jared Kushner’s e-mail.

    But, once again, I think that the attack on Clinton, particularly after the election, and what happened at that rally in Huntsville, Alabama, last week, that’s a fundamental threat to our democracy, and we ought to be thinking about that and the totalitarian rhetoric, rather than worrying about the e-mail.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, and you’re referring, of course, to the investigation into acts, alleged acts, that are under investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller.

    It looks, Richard Painter, as if this new information has come out because Mr. Mueller and his team are asking the White House to turn over all communications, all the documents they have that could in any way be connected the this Russia investigation.

    If it weren’t for that, do you think it’s possible this could have stayed secret for a long time?

    RICHARD PAINTER: Oh, it could have.

    I mean, as I say, we have had people use their personal e-mail in prior administrations. No matter how many times the ethics lawyers tell them not to do it, they go ahead and do it, and despite all of these risks.

    But I have to say, once again, on the scale of things, this is not the big deal in terms of potential criminal activity in this administration. I think the sheer hypocrisy of it is important to note. But, once again, I don’t think hypocrisy is anything new in politics, and certainly not for this administration.

    But the Mueller investigation is, I think, going to uncover a lot. They have consistently lied about collaboration with the Russians, and it’s clear they were collaborating with the Russians. We just need to find out whether that was legal or illegal. Now, if they’re using personal e-mail, by the way, to cover up their illegal activity, that’s a whole ‘nother ball game.

    But we don’t know at this point that that’s what they were doing.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, again, all that is under investigation.

    But, just finally, do you think this should be covered by a law, that it should be against the law to use private e-mail communications once someone works in government at any level?

    RICHARD PAINTER: I think we should probably tighten up the law even further.

    In 2014, after the Clinton episode, they did require you to copy the government e-mails. So, that is the law. It’s not a criminal law, once again, but it is the law. And that’s what they are supposed to do.

    I hope that these six people did that, copied the United States government e-mail at the time they sent the e-mail. But we perhaps ought to tighten up the law even further, although I continue to emphasize that the whole e-mail thing for the past couple of years has been turn into a lot bigger deal than it really ought to be.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Richard Painter, thank you for joining us once again.

    RICHARD PAINTER: Thank you.

    The post Why Trump advisers using private email is a ‘very bad idea,’ according to an ethics lawyer appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A combination photo of U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Photos by Kevin Lamarque and KCNA/Handout via Reuters

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The rhetoric between North Korea and the United States has long been bellicose and acrimonious. But over the past few weeks, the back-and-forth has escalated even further, and grown arguably more ominous.

    Nick Schifrin has the story.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: For decades, North Korea has rallied its population with propaganda, calling U.S. an existential threat. This weekend, more than 100,000 North Koreans, scripted, staged and suited, pledged allegiance to leader Kim Jong-un.

    The banner reads: “If the U.S. attacks us, wipe them out forever.”

    The propaganda machine goes even further. Videos show North Korea targeting the White House and destroying the Capitol. Up until recently, the U.S. has tried not to match bombastic threats with threats. But, today, name-calling brinkmanship is mutual.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Rocket Man should have been handled a long time ago.


    NICK SCHIFRIN: And a Kim Jong-un statement read by a North Korean TV presenter:

    WOMAN (through interpreter): “I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.”

    NICK SCHIFRIN: The war of words has been escalating all year. On January 2, President Trump tweeted: “North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won’t happen.”

    By July, the North Koreans did test an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States. The next month, the president laid down a new red line.

    DONALD TRUMP: North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury, like the world has never seen.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: North Korea crossed that line some 24 hours later, threatening to envelop U.S. territory Guam.

    MAN (through interpreter): Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy, bereft of reason, who is going senile.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: The tit-for-tat continued at the United Nations General Assembly:

    DONALD TRUMP: Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.

    RI YONG HO, Foreign Minister, North Korea (through interpreter): It’s an absurd reality a person like Trump, a mentally deranged person full of megalomania and complacency, holds the nuclear button.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Over the weekend, President Trump tweeted that if North Korean officials repeated specific threats, they won’t be around much longer.

    And the North Korean foreign minister responded:

    RI YONG HO, (through interpreter): Since the United States declared war on our country, we have every right to take countermeasures, including shooting down the United States’ strategic bombers. The question of who will be around much longer will be answered then.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Today, President Trump repeated his threats and said Kim Jong-un started it.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He’s saying things that should, never ever be said, and we’re replying to those things, but it’s a reply. It’s not an original statement. It’s a reply.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: To talk about whether the president’s rhetoric really is a reply, and whether the war of words increases the chances of war, we get two views.

    Kathleen Stephens was a career diplomat and served as U.S. ambassador to South Korea and undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. She joins us from Stanford University, where she is a fellow. And Balbina Hwang was a special adviser to the assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs, and is now a visiting professor at Georgetown University.

    And thank you to you both.

    Ambassador Stephens, let me start with you.

    Do you believe that President Trump might actually be reducing U.S. options, perhaps bringing us either closer to war or proving U.S. threats meaningless?

    KATHLEEN STEPHENS, Stanford University: Well, I am really baffled and very concerned about this engagement by, for the first time, I think, by an American president in this kind of tit-for-tat rhetoric, I think you called it brinksmanship, with the North Korean leader.

    I think this is beneath us. I subscribe to Teddy Roosevelt’s speak softly and carry a big stick if you’re a great power like the United States.

    There’s a lot of things about the Trump administration’s policies toward North Korea which I think have been very sound and being pursued by Secretary Mattis and Secretary Tillerson. And this war of words is undermining those efforts. It’s going to make diplomacy more difficult. It’s confused our allies.

    It’s strengthened, I think, Kim Jong-un’s assertion to his own people that he was right. In fact, this is what he said in reply to President Trump’s U.N. statement about totally destroying North Korea: He was right to pursue nuclear weapons, and he’s not going to stop.

    So, I think this is complicating the administration’s own efforts, ironically, and, even more immediately, making it very, very difficult to manage that situation on the Korean Peninsula. This has always been about managing escalation and preventing escalation and preventing misunderstanding.

    We have been close to war many times on the Korean Peninsula in the past years, and we have had to work very quietly, I think, to manage that. This kind of war of words between two leaders makes it much more difficult.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Professor Hwang, are the threats ineffective, or could they actually be effective?

    BALBINA HWANG, Georgetown University: Well, I actually think, rather oddly, that, in fact, they will — they are being effective.

    We have to remember, it’s not so much that I disagree with Ambassador Stephens, but I do think that President Obama, for example, for eight years, did take the high road.

    But I do think that President Obama, for example, for eight years, did take the high road. And I think he was being very firm. And he did try negotiations, but essentially had a policy of being tough where he needed to be.

    But actually carrying the soft sick didn’t work, in the sense that it didn’t deter North Korea. It didn’t bring North Korea to the negotiating table. And so, of course, going down to sort of schoolyard level in this kind of matching rhetoric may not necessarily help, but, on the other hand, it does set very clear what U.S. intentions are and what this president is not willing to tolerate.

    That’s not the worst thing as far as North Korea is concerned.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: But what about that, Professor Stephens? Perhaps these threats are effective deterrents.

    KATHLEEN STEPHENS: You know, I’m not for a soft stick. I’m for a hard stick.

    And I think that — and I do support the steps both the previous administration has taken and that President Trump has taken to strengthen deterrents, to strengthen defense, to demonstrate a determination to defend our allies, as well as our homeland.

    But we’re a big country. We’re a great power. And I think we need to — and our words matter. One thing that strikes me, from my many years in Asia, is that the words that an American president says, the words that any American official says are pored over and analyzed, whether it’s in Seoul or Tokyo or Pyongyang.

    And I have heard that there are units of bright young diplomats in analysts in both Pyongyang and Seoul whose sole task is to read everything that President Trump tweets and says, particularly with relation to the region, and try to figure out what it is he’s saying.

    And it seems so completely at odds with things that are said sometimes by himself the day before and the day after, and certainly by Secretary Mattis, Secretary Tillerson, who have outlined a strategy of, as they put it, maximum pressure, maximum engagement.

    What President Trump is doing, in this very ad hominem tit-for-tat with someone who is way beneath us is demeaning, I think, his own position, the position of the United States, and the efforts of his own diplomats and military leaders.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Professor Hwang, are these threats undermining some of the other members of the administration?

    BALBINA HWANG: Well, there does seem to be some confusion about that.

    On the other hand, again, yes, a president’s words matter, but taken in the context of what this president says and does in terms of tweeting, I think, again, even our foreign audience does understand that every single statement that comes out of the president may not necessarily need to be taken so seriously.

    And, in fact, the confusion might also convince the North Korean leaders that they need to act with more caution. I think the more important point is what is behind the actions. What actions are we taking and what actions are North Korea taking?

    And right now, there are no actual military actions that indicate that either is on the brink of waging war with the other. That’s actually more important.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: And, Ambassador, to that point, could these threats be effective, where, frankly, a lot of the diplomacy in the past was not?

    KATHLEEN STEPHENS: I don’t think the threats are effective.

    And I think, as the discussion before we started this talk demonstrated, the problem with threats is — and certainly red lines is, if you draw red lines — and it’s not just the Trump administration that’s seen this, but others — and then the North Koreans cross it, what happens?

    It’s a problem of credibility. It’s a problem. And I think there is a big problem if the words of our president are not taken seriously. It really, really reduces our ability to influence and shape events.

    That said, I do agree with Balbina that my own assessment — and this — there may be some hopeful thinking in this — is that neither side wants a war. I’m worried about the inadvertent miscalculation that can happen in what is a highly militarized environment, one in which President Trump, for the first time — and even putting aside the kind of childish ad hominem attacks on each other — but where he has strayed — well, he has demonstrated no awareness of the kind of traditional kind of clarity of deterrents, how we deter each other, how we signal intentions.

    I don’t think that uncertainty is a good thing. No one, perhaps the president himself, knows, is he really talking — when he talks about a response the world has never seen before, is he talking about a nuclear response or not? We don’t know.

    Yes, I think that gives Pyongyang pause, but that doesn’t give me any comfort, because I think it also, as I mentioned, says to Kim Jong-un, he says, well, I was right to try to develop my own nuclear deterrent.

    I think the challenge now is to find a way to go forward and deter each other.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Quickly, Professor Hwang, giving Kim Jong-un pause, isn’t that part of the point?

    BALBINA HWANG: That’s exactly right.

    And, in fact, uncertainty, while it does make us anxious, uncertainty is what drives North Korea’s insecurity. And I think, in this case, insecurity is what is going to push North Korea back to the negotiating table, if anything does.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Professor Hwang, thank you very much, and Ambassador Stephens. Thanks to you both.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: President Trump called for the world to act in concert to rein in North Korea. And he said again that military action is still an option.

    Meanwhile, the top U.S. military officer said there’s no sign that North Korea is gearing up for war. But at a Senate hearing, Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chair of the Joint Chiefs, said the North’s missile threat is real.

    GEN. JOSEPH DUNFORD, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff: There are some technical elements of the program that haven’t been fully tested, from a reentry vehicle to some of the ability to stabilize a missile in flight, but I view all those as engineering solutions that will be developed over time.

    And, frankly, I think we should assume today that North Korea has that capability and has the will to use that capability.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We will return to the war of words between North Korea and the U.S. right after the news summary.

    Senate Republican leaders threw in the towel today on the latest Obamacare repeal effort. The Graham-Cassidy bill was pulled in the face of certain defeat. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate is moving on, but Republicans are not abandoning the idea of repeal.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R- Ky., Majority Leader: We haven’t given up on changing the American health care system. And we are not going to be able to do that this week, but it still lies ahead of us, and we haven’t given up on that.

    We do think it’s time to turn to our twin priority, reforming the tax code.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The tax reform effort formally kicks off tomorrow, when President Trump unveil proposals for a major overhaul.

    Republicans in Alabama voted today in a primary runoff for a U.S. Senate seat. Interim Senator Luther Strange campaigned with strong support from President Trump against challenger and former Alabama State Chief Justice Roy Moore.

    Meanwhile, Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee announced today that he will not run for reelection next year, making him the first sitting senator to do so. He’s been at times openly critical of President Trump.

    There’s word that the acting head of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, Chuck Rosenberg, is stepping down. The Washington Post reports that he will leave on October 1. Rosenberg was a holdover from the Obama administration. He’d been at odds with President Trump over treatment of criminal suspects and on other issues.

    In Iraq, the president of the Kurdish region claimed victory for supporters of independence in Monday’s referendum. Kurds had celebrated through the night after early returns showed overwhelming approval of breaking away from Iraq. Both Iraq and Turkey opposed the vote.

    And, today, Turkish’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to block Kurdish oil shipments.

    PRESIDENT RECEP TAYYIP ERDOĞAN, Turkey (through interpreter): When we start imposing our sanctions, they will be left in the lurch. It will be over when we close the oil taps. All revenues will vanish, and they will not be able to find food when our trucks stop going to Northern Iraq.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Erdogan’s government fears that this vote will embolden Turkish Kurds in their desire for autonomy.

    A Palestinian man shot and killed an Israeli policeman and two private guards near a West Bank settlement today. Police said the gunman opened fire with a handgun at close range, before he was killed. In addition to the dead, a fourth guard was wounded.

    In Saudi Arabia, state-run TV has announced the end of a longstanding government ban on women driving cars. The conservative Muslim kingdom was the only country in the world with such a policy. The new rule will not take effect until next June.

    Back in this country, health officials report a new record for three sexually transmitted diseases. The Centers for Disease Control said that there were more than two million new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis last year. All three are treatable with antibiotics, but the number of cases has been rising for several years.

    And a quiet day on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 11 points to close at 22284. The Nasdaq rose nine, and the S&P 500 added a fraction.

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