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- 10/01/17--12:43: _Trump says envoy ‘w...
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- 10/01/17--14:37: _The military promis...
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- 10/02/17--15:30: _The grim political ...
- 10/02/17--15:35: _Puerto Ricans who l...
- 10/02/17--15:40: _News Wrap: Trial be...
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- 10/01/17--12:43: Trump says envoy ‘wasting his time’ talking to North Korea
- 10/01/17--14:37: The military promised to crack down on sexual assault. Have they?
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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Sunday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was “wasting his time” trying to negotiate with North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs, raising speculation about whether Trump could be undermining efforts to maintain channels of communication or somehow bolstering the diplomat’s hand in possible future talks.
It was not immediately clear what prompted Trump’s tweets, among a series of weekend posts that ranged from hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico to NFL players’ allegiance to the national anthem, and at whom they were aimed: Tillerson, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, those pushing for continued diplomacy, those favoring a military response to repeated provocations.
Tillerson had acknowledged on Saturday, after meetings in Beijing with Chinese leaders, that the Trump administration was keeping open direct channels of communications with North Korea and probing the North’s willingness to talk.
He provided no elaboration about those channels or the substance of any discussions. After he left China, his spokeswoman issued a statement saying that North Korean officials “have shown no indication that they are interested in or are ready for talks regarding denuclearization.”
And then Trump weighed in the next day with tweets that included his usual personal dig at Kim.
“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man … Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!”
Trump offered no further explanation, but last month he told the U.N. General Assembly that if the U.S. is “forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”
Later, after Trump arrived at an international golf competition at a northern New Jersey course, a new tweet appeared: “Being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it work now? Clinton failed, Bush failed, and Obama failed. I won’t fail.”
To a senior Tillerson adviser, there was no ambiguity in Trump’s earlier posts.
“The President just sent a clear message to NK: show up at the diplomatic table before the invitation gets cold,” R.C. Hammond tweeted. “Message to Rex? Try message to Pyongyang: Step up to the diplomatic table.”[Watch Video]
U.S.-North Korean communications are long-standing. They include the two nations’ U.N. missions, regular exchanges between senior diplomats, and unofficial discussions between North Korean officials and former U.S. officials. Diplomats say there have been no new channels established recently, or any dramatic shift in Trump administration policy.
Some commentators seized on Trump’s tweets as evidence that he was either undermining Tillerson personally or his diplomacy, or both. Others said the tweets might represent a “good cop-bad cop approach” to North Korea that may or may not be misguided or bear fruit.
Still others saw Trump’s words as an attempt to give Tillerson diplomatic cover and potentially strengthen his hand in persuading North Korea to come to the table by declaring the effort a “waste of time” that the U.S. could abandon at any time in favor of tightening sanctions even further or a military response.
Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the U.S. “absolutely” should step up diplomatic efforts. “We’re moving to a place where we’re going to end up with a binary choice soon,” Corker told NBC’s “Meet the Press” in an interview before Trump had tweeted.
“I think Tillerson understands that every intelligence agency we have says there’s no amount of economic pressure you can put on North Korea to get them to stop this program because they view this as their survival,” Corker said.
He added: “If we don’t ramp up the diplomatic side, it’s possible that we end up cornered.”
The main goal of the initial contacts through the diplomatic back-channel between the Trump State Department and North Korea’s mission at the United Nations was the freedom of several American citizens imprisoned in North Korea, although U.S. officials have told The Associated Press there were broader discussions about U.S.-North Korean relations.
Those contacts, however, have failed to reduce the deep mistrust between the adversaries.
North Korea has in recent months tested long-range missiles that potentially could reach the U.S., and on Sept. 3 conducted its largest nuclear test explosion to date. The standoff has entered a new, more dangerous phase since then as Kim and Trump have exchanged personal insults and threats of war.
The post Trump says envoy ‘wasting his time’ talking to North Korea appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JEFF GREENFIELD: On a recent Tuesday evening, dozens of Wisconsin voters gathered in a Milwaukee public library, to hear about a campaign — aimed not at protecting the right to vote, but about where those votes are cast.
The featured speakers were Dale Schultz and Tim Cullen, both former state senators, both leaders of opposing political parties in the state senate — but with a common cause: redistricting.
TIM CULLEN, (D) FORMER STATE SENATOR: He’s Republican and I’m a Democrat — a lot of things we don’t agree on. We agreed that this issue was a problem. It was just inherently wrong that you can use your raw political power to guarantee yourselves a job. And guarantee yourselves power.
DALE SCHULTZ, (R) FORMER WISCONSIN STATE SENATOR: We need to put the people first. Give them the opportunity to pick their representatives. That’s what this boils down to. And it’s the difference between being a good partisan as opposed to a good patriot.
JEFF GREENFIELD: They’re talking about “gerrymandering”— when legislative maps are drawn to advantage one party over the other during redistricting… which happens every 10 years after the census.
It’s a practice almost as old as our country. In 1812, Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry signed off on a highly misshapen district that a newspaper lampooned as a salamander, and labeled it a “gerrymander.”
In Wisconsin, the power to redistrict hadn’t belonged to one party for 100 years…
But in 2010, Republicans won control of the state assembly, the state senate, and the governor’s office, and like parties have done throughout American history, they used that power to maximize their political advantage.
Listening at the library meeting was retired school principal Helen Harris. She lives on the northwest side of the city with her husband, Curt. The 2011 redistricting plan placed their heavily democratic Milwaukee neighborhood into a Republican-leaning district that stretches far to the northwest past the suburbs into farm country.
HELEN HARRIS: We live in the city. And now we — our little neighborhood — I think it’s like six or seven thousand people were taken and attached to a very strongly Republican district.
JEFF GREENFIELD: The new district line was just two blocks from her house.
So when the district line was redrawn, anything this side of it was moved into the new district?
CURT HARRIS: That’s correct.
HELEN HARRIS: Mmm-hmm.
JEFF GREENFIELD: In the 2012 election for her district, the Republican candidate ran unopposed – winning almost 99 percent of the vote.
HELEN HARRIS: I don’t feel that I have a voice in this district. If every single Democrat in this district voted, it wouldn’t change anything. And many of the districts have been specifically aligned and created so that that Democratic voice will not be heard.
JEFF GREENFIELD: Moving the Harris’s from a Democratic, Milwaukee district into a larger Republican area was part of a strategy known as “packing and cracking.” Heavily Democratic Milwaukee voters were “packed” together in fewer districts, while other sections of Milwaukee were “cracked” and added to several Republican districts… diluting that Democratic vote. The result? Three fewer Democrats in the state assembly representing the Milwaukee area.
In 2015, Helen Harris and eleven other Wisconsin Democrats sued in federal court, alleging the partisan gerrymandering was unconstitutional and deprived their candidates of a fair chance to win. The plaintiffs won in Wisconsin and now the Supreme Court will decide whether the maps went too far.
In 2011, Republican leadership hired consultants to use mapping software to draw new district lines behind closed doors — in secrecy — and without any input from any Democrats. Even when Republican assembly members were shown their new districts, they had to sign non-disclosure agreements.
The impact was clear in 2012, when Republicans won 49 percent of the votes for the state assembly, but captured 61% of the seats. Republican State Senator Dale Schultz voted for the plan, but he’s since had a change of heart.
DALE SCHULTZ, (R) FORMER WISCONSIN STATE SENATOR: When I realized the Democrats had won by over 100,000 votes in Wisconsin and yet in the State Assembly the Republicans ended up with 60 seats. It just didn’t make sense to me.
JEFF GREENFIELD: Helen Harris’ former state representative, Democrat Fred Kessler, was drawn out of his district. He decided to move to stay in the assembly.
FRED KESSLER, (D) STATE REPRESENTATIVE: We had about a 3,500 square foot house, brand new, that we built in 2005, and then they put the whole subdivision out. And my border was four blocks away. We had to sell a house and we had to buy another house and I know it was deliberate on their part.
JEFF GREENFIELD: Helen Harris’ new representative was Republican Don Pridemore, who lives near the town of Hartford, 20 miles west of Milwaukee County. He said he was pleased his district included sections of the city.
DON PRIDEMORE, (R) FORMER STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Some people in the district admitted to me that they were Republicans, but they were they didn’t want me to let anybody know that especially their neighbors. But that’s just the way it is the Republicans in those wards. We’re very happy now that they had somebody to represent them, even though they may have been in the minority.
JEFF GREENFIELD: And Pridemore says gerrymandering is just normal part of politics.
DON PRIDEMORE, (R) FORMER STATE REPRESENTATIVE: I have no doubt that Democrats would do the same thing, if not even a little worse than what was done, when we had the opportunity.
JEFF GREENFIELD: Across the country, state legislatures in the majority use mapping software to protect their incumbents and enable their candidates to win as many seats as possible.
So, in some states where Republicans dominate — like North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania — gerrymandering has helped Republicans win a greater percentage of seats than their statewide share of votes. It’s happened in democratically drawn states too, like Maryland and Massachusetts.
The Supreme Court has allowed partisan gerrymandering in the past, as long there was no intent to racially discriminate, and districts had roughly the same number of people.
Wisconsin’s Republican Attorney General, Brad Schimel, thinks the case is motivated by sour grapes.
BRAD SCHIMEL, (R) WISCONSIN ATTORNEY GENERAL: That’s what Democrats in Wisconsin are doing is using this as a tool to try to convince voters, ‘Hey, Republicans aren’t really winning because of their message or because their candidates, they’re winning because they cheated.
JEFF GREENFIELD: In winning their case in Wisconsin, attorneys for Helen Harris and her fellow plaintiffs convinced the district court of the republican majorities intent.
They also introduced a new metric called the efficiency gap, which measures the number of so-called “wasted” votes in each district, in other words, the number of votes beyond the majority needed to win an election plus the votes cast for the loser. It attempts to quantify the amount of “packing and cracking” in a legislative map.
The argument was designed to appeal to Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote in a 2004 redistricting case that “… We have no basis on which to define, clear, manageable, and politically neutral standards…”
JEFF GREENFIELD: If a state legislature chooses to draw the lines to maximize its political advantage, are there any circumstances under which that would cross a constitutional line?
BRAD SCHIMEL, WISCONSIN ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well the United States Supreme Court hasn’t found that line. The majority of the court has concluded that political consequences are both predictable and intended in redistricting efforts. So as long as the legislative body follows traditional redistricting principles like compactness, avoiding dividing municipalities, population equity. The fact that there’s a political gain built into it as well is not problematic from the Court.
JEFF GREENFIELD: As for that split between the statewide vote and the large Republican majority in the assembly, Schimel says that’s because of “clustering”—Democrats win by massive majorities in Milwaukee and Madison, while Republican votes are spread out more evenly.
BRAD SCHIMEL, WISCONSIN ATTORNEY GENERAL: It is very much a factor that people choose to live in particular places that they are with people who vote like them. I live in the very Republican county of Waukesha. I’m glad that we aren’t close in my county.
JEFF GREENFIELD: Schimel also argues — if the Supreme Court adopts the efficiency gap as a standard for measuring partisan gerrymandering, it would create chaos for legislative maps all over the country.
BRAD SCHIMEL, WISCONSIN ATTORNEY GENERAL: One third of the maps drawn across the last 45 years across America would fail. Those consequences are enormous. The litigation will be endless and fruitless. And we’ll constantly be back in the court looking at it again, and again, and again until you satisfy whatever judge or judges you’re in front of.
JEFF GREENFIELD: The Supreme Court will hear the case this week. And a decision could have implications not only here in Wisconsin, but across the country.
The post Supreme Court to hear case testing the limits of partisan gerrymandering appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
“MOVE DESPACITO. VALIDATE DATA. HELP PUERTO RICO.”
That’s the message on a whiteboard at the front of a small room in Columbia University’s Butler Library in New York on a Friday afternoon, as dozens of people settle into desks, open their laptops and begin pulling up satellite images of Puerto Rico.
While island officials continued to call for aid this week amid shortages of food, water and other basic necessities, organizations delivering relief are asking for help with a lesser-known resource: map data. In particular, they need more details on the island’s roads and buildings, in part to give them information about who needs help and how to get there.
More than 1,500 roads and bridges were damaged after the hurricane, and Puerto Rico’s transportation chief noted than rebuilding them could cost $240 million. And while some supplies have arrived at the port in San Juan, there are conflicting reports about how much aid is reaching Puerto Rico’s more-isolated communities, where mapping data can be the most helpful.
The scale of the need is “sort of unprecedented,” said Dale Kunce, who is in Puerto Rico, leading the international information and communication technology and analytics teams at the Red Cross. “We normally don’t have the mappers engaged in this way in the United States.”
Thousands of people are trying to help, while sitting at their computers hundreds of miles away, logging a clear digital path for aid.
About 60 of them gathered at Columbia on Friday, with five other universities — Boston University, Trinity College, Miami University, Rutgers University and University of Nebraska Omaha — holding simultaneous “mapathons” for Puerto Rico on their own campuses.
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They used OpenStreetMap, an open-source mapping platform that some members of the American Red Cross and FEMA are using in Puerto Rico because it lets anyone edit maps from all over the world.
The data for OpenStreetMap is collected from surveys, GPS devices, aerial photography, volunteers and other free sources, and it can display maps that show information on crime rates, temperatures, census data and more.
And in the last few years, these platforms have proven to be useful for aid organizations after natural disasters as a place to aggregate public knowledge about areas affected.
Kunce said, “Navigation is one of the things we’re seeing the most requests for” from teams on the ground in Puerto Rico.
“This is something that we know can have a direct impact on relief efforts,” said Alex Gil, Digital Scholarship Coordinator at Columbia University Libraries and one of the organizers of Columbia’s mapathon.
Additional map data helps teams “get to the places where they need to be, safely,” Kunce said.
Kunce said he anticipates that completing all the map requests could take several more weeks.
“We’ve been on this huge adoption curve and huge volunteer curve” when it comes to volunteer mapping in recent years, he said. Following recent hurricane damage in the Dominican Republic, Bahamas and Virgin Islands, “All of these areas are getting completely mapped for maybe the first time ever.”
Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., began humanitarian mapping efforts in 2010 after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti after receiving satellite imagery of the country from the U.S. government. It began filling in areas where buildings, roads and other features did not appear on existing maps.
On many publicly-available online maps, “once you really start to zoom in, a lot of the local-level detail is missing,” Tyler Radford, executive director of the humanitarian OpenStreetMap team, said. “You won’t have the smaller villages and you won’t have the smaller towns. You won’t see the individual buildings on the street. It’s hard to know how many people live in an area and how many people have been affected by a disaster.”
Those are important details to aid groups who need to know the quickest routes to reach vulnerable communities, or the number of people whom a disaster has affected, he added.
A handful of times a year, the OpenStreetMap team will identify an area in crisis and talk to aid organizations like the Red Cross, who are working on the ground, to determine what kind of data they need, Radford said.
Then, it will put out a call for volunteers.
About 45,000 people since 2010 have contributed to OpenStreetMap, including after major earthquakes in Chile in 2010 and Nepal in 2015. This year, between the earthquake in Mexico, Hurricanes Irma and Maria and other events, it has already put out a call for volunteers more than in all of 2016.
“Just like many of the other humanitarian orgs, we’re struggling with how to manage all this at one time,” Radford said.
At Columbia and other universities this week, beginners worked to validate existing data on OpenStreetMap by looking at satellite imagery and confirming that buildings and roads were marked correctly. More-advanced mappers filled out new data. The room was buzzing with clusters of 4 or 5 people, who murmured advice to each other while zooming in and out on a map of northeast Puerto Rico.
Javier Otero Peña, a Ph.D candidate in environmental psychology at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center, has studied mapping software extensively but “this is the first time I actually get a chance to do something meaningful with this,” he said.
“It feels good to try to help,” Otero Peña, who is from Venezuela, said.
Luisina Silva, who is from Uruguay and a student at the CUNY Graduate Center, said she prefers to contribute time and effort rather than money when “you don’t know where it’s going.” Mapping “only takes a couple of hours … this is very useful,” she said.
Most of the organizers who hosted events at other universities said they had never planned mapping events before, but that it was a valuable opportunity for students to learn more about Puerto Rico and contribute to the response.
Jason Jones, Director of Educational Technology at Trinity College, noted in an email that Puerto Ricans make up 35 percent of the population in Hartford, where Trinity is located.
But whether or not someone has ties to the island, mapping “can help people understand what’s going on in a more visceral way,” he wrote. “It also is a meaningful response at a time that can otherwise feel overwhelming.”
This article has been updated to reflect that Miami University participated in the event, not the University of Miami.
The post Volunteers are helping Puerto Rico from home, with a map anyone can edit appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: For more than a decade, the Pentagon has promised to do better handling cases of sexual misconduct in the ranks of the U.S. military, but progress has been slow. While service members are more willing to come forward, the Pentagon estimates that nearly 15,000 military members experienced a sexual assault last year.
Today’s “Washington Post” highlights how a complaint against one senior air force officer was handled, in secret, as 90 percent of the cases are, and resulted in very little punishment.
Reporter Craig Whitlock wrote that article and joins me now from Washington.
Let’s kind of talk about the bigger picture first before we get down to this example for a second. How prevalent are sexual assaults? Are they getting better or worse?
CRAIG WHITLOCK, REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, that’s a good question. We don’t know. Last year, there were over 6,000 reported, a new high. The Pentagon says that is a sign of confidence in the system that more people are willing to come forward, at the same time their survey shows that that’s only a fraction, maybe one-third of the number of people who actually experience sexual assault. The Pentagon talks about how it has zero tolerance, but still, several thousand people a year report sexual assault.
SREENIVASAN: All right. In this particular case, you focus in on an air force colonel. What happened?
WHITLOCK: So, in this case, it’s an air force colonel named Ronald Jobo. You know, colonel is a pretty senior officer in the military, one step down from a general. And he was harassing a woman under his command. And he started out harassing her with texts saying he wanted to have a relationship. And it escalated pretty quickly to the point where he was forcefully grabbing her in the office, to the point where he left bruises on her arms.
She reported it to the Air Force. They investigated it promptly. But in the end, rather than take this colonel to a court martial and charge him with a crime, which is what the investigators thought the evidence warranted, a three-star general who under the military system of justice decided that it was more appropriate to give him a light punishment, discipline, which resulted in him being forced to retire from the Air Force. But no criminal charges, no jail time, nothing like that.
And because it’s a disciplinary case, it was all handled behind closed doors, and there was no public record of it.
SREENIVASAN: You know, when I read this story, the thing that leapt out at me was sometimes I saw these parallels between, so the Spotlight investigation and how it revealed the malpractices in the Catholic Church.
WHITLOCK: The echoes with the church scandal, the Catholic Church, are there. I mean, the Catholic Church leadership repeatedly assured the public and the faithful that they were handling these cases. They were going to be strict and not sweep them under the rug.
And we’ve heard the same thing from the military leadership. They are imploring sexual assault victims to report the crimes by reassuring them that they will be taken seriously.
And yet as the case we found, the woman originally was reluctant to report it. Others in the Air Force told her, no, look, you have to report this. You have to trust the system. If you don’t, we will.
So she did, and in the end, the colonel got off with a very light punishment. It wasn’t held accountable in a court of law and she ended up having to transfer to a new job for the Air Force. So, she feels like– she suffered in the end by reporting it.
SREENIVASAN: And besides the actual assaults that she faced and in this specific case, it almost seems to cause a rift in the trust that people have of an institution.
WHITLOCK: This is something the military I think has struggled with. A lot of people in the military see up front that these cases once they are involved in it, or they are aware of it are not handled how they are supposed to be. So, of course, that does undermine trust in the system and leads to people either not reporting it or leaving the military or suffering.
WHITLOCK: But it certainly doesn’t lead to trust.
SREENIVASAN: Craig Whitlock of “The Washington Post” joining us today, thanks so much.
WHITLOCK: Thank you so much.
The post The military promised to crack down on sexual assault. Have they? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Good evening and thanks for joining us.
As more troops and materials arrive in Puerto Rico, relief workers are struggling to distribute desperately-needed supplies.
The U.S. territory that three and a half million American citizens call home is still trying to get back to basics, 11 days after Hurricane Maria made landfall.
According to the federal emergency management agency, FEMA, Telecommunications are available to a third of the island. 45 percent of residents now have drinkable running water. 60 percent of gas stations are open and providing fuel. 11 major highways are cleared of debris and open. Power has been restored to 59 hospitals
Today, FEMA director Brock Long said signs of routine life are coming back, but there’s a long way to go fixing roads and restoring infrastructure.
FEMA DIRECTOR BROCK LONG: The bottom line is, this is the most logistically challenging event the United States has ever seen. We have been moving and pushing as fast as the situation allows. Every day we make progress, every day we have some setbacks.
SREENIVASAN: About 9,000 people remain in more than 100 shelters on the island.
From his golf club in New Jersey today, President Trump defended the federal response led by FEMA and the military:
We have done a great job with the almost impossible situation in Puerto Rico. Outside of the fake news or politically motivated ingrates, people are now starting to recognize the amazing work that has been done by FEMA and our great military. All buildings now inspected.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said today Mr. Trump’s statements about building inspections are untrue, telling CNN:
GOV. RICARDO ROSSELLO: I’m not aware of such inspections, there are areas of Puerto Rico where we really haven’t gotten contact.
SREENIVASAN: Rossello said it’s important for the president to see the damage firsthand, as he is scheduled to do on Tuesday.
Today, the mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital city San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, defended herself. She reiterated: all she did was ask for more help.
MAYOR CARMEN YULÍN CRUZ: Lets just talk about saving lives right now. Putting back the power grid as soon as we can. Because that has an immediate effect on our ability to recover financially.
SREENIVASAN: U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Jeff Buchanan, who arrived Thursday to oversee troop efforts, tells the NewsHour this is the worst storm damage he’s ever seen.
GEN. JEFF BUCHANAN: The roads are now clear on the outside of the island, and we are slowly working our way in, but we obviously need to get all the roads cleared so we can get supplies into people who need them.
SREENIVASAN: For more on the situation on the island, I’m joined now from Cidra, Puerto Rico, by “NewsHour” special correspondent Monica Villamizar.
Let’s first talk about what has happened in the past 24 hours, the relief effort has become highly politicized.
The people that you’ve met there, are they feeling this tension?
MONICA VILLAMIZAR, PBS NEWSHOUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Absolutely. I think some people were already outraged with what they saw was a very slow federal government response in comparison with Florida and Texas. And then on top of it all, President Trump’s tweets saying that Puerto Ricans want everything done, quote/unquote, for themselves, has been very, very badly well-received here.
And there is also a broader political debate here where there is a lot of finger-pointing, a lot of blame. So, the municipalities blaming the federal government, the mayors’ perspective.
So, as it sadly happens often, the relief effort is turning very political on the ground.
SREENIVASAN: Monica, you were also able to spend a little time with the U.S. military on the ground who are trying to improve the situation there. And we posted some of your interview with Lieutenant General Buchanan, who’s the military liaison to FEMA. Can you give us an idea of how the military has ramped up operations in the past couple of days?
VILLAMIZAR: General Buchanan took, that was actually the first flight he took in broad daylight. So, for the first time, he really saw from the air the scope of the devastation here and he said, it was really as bad as he had anticipated and the worst he has seen after a hurricane in all of his career.
So, as you say, the military are definitely ramping things up here. But there definitely is a colossal path ahead of them and that includes reaching places that are still cut off and rebuilding the whole power grid, almost from scratch.
SREENIVASAN: The people you have spoken to, are they thinking about moving off of Puerto Rico, back to the U.S. mainland and perhaps not coming back?
VILLAMIZAR: Some of them are definitely trying to move to the U.S. mainland. Most of them seem to say that it is a temporary solution. They want to come back here eventually.
But it’s interesting, for our viewers that we saw sowed today, sort of the first normal life resuming in the island. We saw people jogging, some were surfing this morning, and a few restaurants are now opened and Uber drivers are starting to pick up clients in San Juan, at least.
So, there is a lot of resilience and certainly people, some of them want to stay here and rebuild.
The post As small hints of normal life return, Puerto Rico faces a colossal task to rebuild appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
President Donald Trump says he’s dedicating the Presidents Cup golf trophy to the people of Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida still recovering from recent hurricane devastation.
“On behalf of all of the people of Texas, and all of the people, if you look today and see what is happening, how horrible it is but we have it under really great control. Puerto Rico and the people of Florida who have really suffered over this last short period of time with the hurricanes, I want to just remember them,” Trump said.
“And we’re going to dedicate this trophy to all of those people that went through so much that we love, a part of our great state, really part of our great nation.”
Earlier Sunday, Trump dismissed those he calls “politically motivated ingrates” who’ve questioned his administration’s commitment to rebuilding Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
The president spent much of the weekend at his New Jersey golf club and then attended the international golf competition near New York City.
Trump presented the trophy to Team U.S.A., the first sitting president to present the tournament’s winning team with a trophy.
The president says the players are “a tremendous group of folks” and calls them “great champions.”
The post Trump dedicates golf tournament trophy to hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Watch all Las Vegas police updates in the player above.
Latest updates from the 11:30 a.m. ET police briefing:
A gunman fired into the crowd at an outdoor concert Sunday night along the Las Vegas strip, killing at least 58 people and wounding 500 others, said Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo.
It is considered the deadliest mass shooting in modern history. The June 2016 shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub left 49 people dead.
Warning: Some viewers may find video footage associated with this shooting disturbing.
Around 10:10 p.m. local time on Sunday, as country music artist Jason Aldean was performing at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a gunman began to fire from the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay Hotel onto the crowd of more than 22,000 people. Members of the audience began screaming and running to find cover. The gunfire lasted about 5 to 10 minutes, witnesses said.
Aldean posted on Instagram that he and his crew were OK. “It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night,” he said.
“It was the craziest stuff I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” concertgoer Kodiak Yazzie, 36, told the Associated Press. “You could see a flash- flash- flash- flash.”
The AP posted the following raw video of the scene (WARNING: Some viewers may find the video disturbing):
A SWAT team from the Las Vegas police department located the room from which the suspect had been shooting. The team found the suspect dead, according to a statement from police. Lombardo said he believed the suspect killed himself before police arrived.
Who is the shooter?
Lombardo identified the gunman as Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite — a town outside of Las Vegas. Lombardo said police located more than 10 rifles inside the hotel room. They did not yet have a motive.
Police do not believe Paddock was associated with a militant group, Lombardo said. Authorities had early Monday regarded Paddock’s roommate as a person of interest, but later that morning said they no longer believed she was related to the case, according to CNN and Fox News, citing police sources.
Reuters reported police had discovered two vehicles they believe belong to the suspect.
Police in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite, Texas told the Associated Press that Paddock lived there from 2004 to 2012, though he may have resided there longer. Lt. Brian Parish told the AP that he had no indication officers interacted with Paddock during that time.
The shooting is being actively investigated by the FBI. Anyone with videos or photos from the shooting should call 1-800-CALLFBI or (800) 225-5324.
At least 58 people have died so far from the attack, police said. The Clark County Fire Department estimated around 515 people were injured in the shooting.
Lombardo said several Las Vegas police officers were killed or injured in Sunday’s attack. The AP reported some off-duty officers from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department also were wounded.
Las Vegas police have set up a phone number to call for those looking for their loved ones: 1-866-535-5654. Lombardo said identifying the victims would be a “long, laborious process,” the AP reports.
For families looking to locate missing loved ones, please call 1-866-535-5654.
— LVMPD (@LVMPD) October 2, 2017
Hours after the shooting, people in Las Vegas lined up to donate blood, with lines wrapping around the building outside, news outlets reported.
— INSIDER (@thisisinsider) October 2, 2017
If you would like to donate blood for the injured victims of the Strip shooting visit the Labor Health & Welfare Clinic, 7135 W. Sahara.
— LVMPD (@LVMPD) October 2, 2017
How lawmakers are reacting
President Donald Trump sent his condolences to those affected via Twitter:
My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2017
Mr. Trump expressed his support for the people of Las Vegas in an address to the nation later in the day. “We know that God lives in the hearts of those who grieve,” he said. “In moments of tragedy and horror, America comes together as one. … Our unity cannot be shattered by evil.”
He held a moment of silence at the White House on Monday afternoon.
The president plans to travel to Las Vegas on Wednesday to meet with families of the victims, law enforcement officials and first responders.
“My hearts aches for the victims, their loved ones, and our community,” Nevada Democratic Rep. Dina Titus said in a statement Monday. “I am grateful for law enforcement’s swift response and the many good Samaritans whose selfless acts of bravery showcased Las Vegas’ values to the world.”
My full statement on the shooting. pic.twitter.com/BMNQa0R0Be
— Dina Titus (@repdinatitus) October 2, 2017
Titus also said Las Vegas is a “resilient and benevolent town that will not be intimidated by acts of violence.”
Trump ordered flags to be lowered half-staff at the White House, public buildings and at military posts until Friday night in honor of the victims in the Las Vegas shooting.
“As we grieve, we pray that God may provide comfort and relief to all those suffering,” he said in a statement.
Several lawmakers on Capitol Hill offered their condolences, offering support to the people of Las Vegas and the families of the victims.
“America woke up this morning to heartbreaking news. This evil tragedy horrifies us all,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement. “The whole country stands united in our shock, in our condolences, and in our prayers.”
Nevada Democratic Rep. Ruben J. Kihuen tweeted, “Very horrible news. Praying for everyone’s safety.”
Titus told reporters at a police briefing this morning that she and other local politicians stayed out of the way of first responders and officers “because you don’t want to turn a personal tragedy into a political event.”
Titus also urged people to donate blood because the donation centers “appreciate your thoughts and prayers, but what they need is blood.”
Several Democrats, however, raised the issue of gun control in the wake of the shooting. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney of New York called on Congress to act to “prevent the next senseless tragedy.”
“As we wait for answers as to how this happened and what the shooter’s motivations were, one thing is clear: enough is enough,” she said in a statement. “It is time for Congress to act. It is time for us to stop just sending our ‘thoughts and prayers’ and time for us to get serious about gun safety,” she added.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, sent Ryan a letter asking him to create a select committee on gun violence. She also asked Ryan to bring legislation that would close the federal background check loophole on gun purchases to the house floor for a vote.
Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee tweeted that Democrats were on the “NRA hit list.” “Why do we lead the world in non Isis mass killings? Too many crazies?too many #guns?laws to keep crazies from guns?” he also posted to Twitter.
— Steve Cohen (@RepCohen) October 2, 2017
— Steve Cohen (@RepCohen) October 2, 2017
PBS NewsHour will update this story as it develops. PBS NewsHour reporters Nsikan Akpan, Vanessa Dennis, Gretchen Frazee and Erica R. Hendry reported for this story.
The post LIVE UPDATES: Gunman kills at least 58 people, wounds more than 500 others in Las Vegas shooting appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young won the 2017 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine on Monday for their research into what controls circadian rhythms — the internal clock that governs how humans, animals and plants behave throughout the day and night.
Thanks in part to their discoveries, scientists and doctors now know these day-and-night cycles keep creatures alive by regulating our alertness, sleep patterns, blood pressure, hormones, body temperature and when we eat.
Who are the winners: All three recipients are Americans who made their Nobel prize-winning discoveries by working with fruit flies, a popular animal model for neurobiology and genetics experiments.
Jeffrey C. Hall, 72, is currently a geneticist at the University of Maine, but conducted his groundbreaking work with biologist Michael Rosbash, 73, at Brandeis University near Boston. In the 1980s, the pair collaborated with geneticist Michael W. Young, 68, of Rockefeller University in New York to characterize what are known as the “period” and “timeless” genes.
A decade earlier, geneticists Seymour Benzer and Ronald Konopka had discovered that mutations of the period gene disrupted the cycle of regular movements and egg hatching that fruit flies normally go through during a 24-hour period. Some flies went through their activities on shortened, nine-hour loops, while the schedule for others lengthened to 28 hours.
Hall, Rosbash and Young wound up pinpointing the location of the period and timeless genes within the fruit fly genome and working out what their proteins do. (Reminder: Genes located on our DNA make proteins. Proteins make up our cells, our bodies and everything we do).
What they did: Scientists had known about circadian rhythms since 1729, when astronomer Jean Jacques d’Ortous de Mairan placed a mimosa plant into a dark room and noticed that the plant’s leaves still opened and closed at the same times every day.
Through a series of breakthroughs, Hall, Rosbash and Young showed these internal clocks are self-regulated. In the morning, sunlight switches on the “period” gene, which begins to produce its protein. This protein accumulates in the cytoplasm, the chunky space in our cells that surrounds the nucleus where our DNA and the period gene are housed.
“I just thought it was a terrific problem,” Michael W. Young said about why he decided to take on the mystery of circadian rhythms.
Hall and Rosbash found that period proteins built up throughout the day until nightfall, when their levels began to gradually drop. When dawn broke, period proteins disappeared, and the cycle repeated itself. They hypothesized that the period protein was somehow crossing into the nucleus to shut off its own gene, in what they dubbed a transcription-translation feedback loop.
Young extended the work by uncovering two additional protein, named “timeless,” which was responsible to escorting the period protein into the nucleus. Young’s lab also identified a third protein — called doubletime — that controlled the timing of the destruction of the period proteins.
Why it matters: Their combined work launched a subgenre of molecular biology that focused on circadian rhythm proteins. Though the genes differ from species to species, transcription-translation feedback networks for circadian rhythms were ultimately found in a bevy of organisms — from algae to plants to Homo sapiens.
In humans, these clock genes control the production of insulin and other hormones involved in maintaining how our bodies process food. Disruption of the genes through sleep deprivation or mutation alters brain functions and has been tied to sleep disorders, depression, bipolar disorder and memory defects. Out of whack circadian rhythms also increase a person’s risk for cancer, obesity, diabetes and other metabolic disorders.
Michael Rosbash describes the moment he learned about co-winning the 2017 Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine.
The post Three Americans win 2017 Nobel Prize in medicine for research on circadian clocks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
The president addressed the deadly Las Vegas shooting at 10:30 a.m. ET today. Watch his remarks in the player above.
President Donald Trump said the mass shooting on the Las Vegas strip late Sunday that left at least 50 people dead and more than 400 injured was “an act of pure evil.”
In a Monday morning address to the nation, the president offered his support for the city of Las Vegas, saying, “our unity can not be shattered by evil, our bond cannot be broken by violence.”
Trump also said he plans to travel to Las Vegas on Wednesday to meet with the families of the victims, as well as local law enforcement officials and first responders.
A gunman, identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel into the crowd of 22,000 concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest outdoor music festival, police said.
Videos from the scene show country singer Jason Aldean performing when rapid-fire shots rang out. Shortly after, Aldean stopped playing and the crowd went silent, appearing to make sense of what sounded like fireworks, several witnesses said. Then, the gunfire continued.
Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters Monday morning that officers found the suspect dead in the hotel room before they entered. Paddock, who was originally reported as a local resident, is from Mesquite, Nevada, which is about an hour away.
Sunday’s attack is considered to be the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Earlier today, Mr. Trump tweeted his “condolences and sympathies” to the victims and their families.
PBS NewsHour will update this story as it develops.
The post WATCH: Trump calls Las Vegas shooting an ‘act of pure evil’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — A trial of the suspected mastermind of the 2012 Benghazi, Libya, attacks will unfold this week in a federal courtroom in Washington, three years after he was captured by U.S. special forces in Libya and brought to the U.S. on a 13-day trip aboard a Navy ship.
Opening statements will take place Monday in the case against Ahmed Abu Khattala, whom prosecutors describe as the ringleader of the attacks at a diplomatic compound that killed four Americans and became a political flashpoint given its timing weeks before President Barack Obama’s re-election.
It’s one of the most significant terrorism prosecutions in recent years in a U.S. civilian court at a time when the Trump administration has said terror suspects are better sent to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
An 18-count indictment against Abu Khattala arises from a burst of violence that began the night of Sept. 11, 2012, at a State Department compound, a rampage prosecutors say was aimed at killing American personnel and plundering maps, documents and other property from the post.
U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed in the first attack at the U.S. mission, along with Sean Patrick Smith, a State Department information management officer. Nearly eight hours later at a CIA complex nearby, two more Americans, contract security officers Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, died in a mortar attack. Abu Khattala has pleaded not guilty to his charges, including murder of an internationally protected person, providing material support to terrorists and destroying U.S. property while causing death.
The case became instant political fodder, with Republicans accusing the Obama administration of intentionally misleading the public and stonewalling congressional investigators, though officials denied any wrongdoing. Some in Congress were particularly critical of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s handling of the matter.
And the trial itself could have political ramifications, as it is likely to be held up as an example of the effectiveness of trying terror suspects in federal court, at a time when the Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have said they should be sent instead to Guantanamo.
It could also renew focus on U.S. interrogation strategies that Abu Khattala’s lawyers have argued were illegal. During his trans-Atlantic trip, he faced days of questioning aboard the USS New York from separate teams of American interrogators, part of a two-step process designed to obtain both national security intelligence and evidence usable in a criminal prosecution.
He was questioned for days about national security matters before being advised of his rights. A new team of FBI investigators then pressed him some more, this time to produce evidence prosecutors could present at trial. Abu Khattala waived his rights, but his attorneys argued that the trip was so coercive, the waiver shouldn’t count.
The judge rejected that, and is allowing the statements to be used as evidence.
The post Trial begins for suspected mastermind of Benghazi attacks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords echoed other Democratic lawmakers’ calls on Monday for Congress to take action on gun control following a Sunday mass shooting in Las Vegas that left at least 58 people dead and more than 500 others wounded.
Giffords, who is a survivor of a 2011 shooting in Arizona, spoke at a news conference with her husband and retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly about concerns over gun violence.
Both Giffords and Kelly are co-founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions, a gun control advocacy organization.
“I know this feeling of heartbreak and horror too well,” Giffords said in a statement. “The massacre in Las Vegas is a grave tragedy for our nation. This must stop — we must stop this.”
Gun violence is “not normal, it’s not inevitable, it’s an epidemic that needs to be cured,” Kelly said.
Kelly said thoughts and prayers won’t stop the next shooting.
“Only action and leadership will do that,” he said.
Watch Kelly and Giffords’ comments in the player above.
The post WATCH: Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, retired astronaut Mark Kelly call for stronger gun laws appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is expected to address the deadly shooting in Las Vegas in Monday’s news briefing.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is scheduled to hold a news conference at 2 p.m. ET today. Watch her remarks in the player above.
Earlier today, President Donald Trump called the Las Vegas shooting that left at least 58 people dead and more than 500 wounded an “act of pure evil.”
The president also ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff at public buildings, military posts and the White House until Friday. Mr. Trump, joined by the first lady, will also lead a moment of silence later today on the White House grounds in honor of the victims in the mass shooting.
The post WATCH LIVE: White House expected to address Las Vegas shooting appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Just because someone experiments with opioids doesn’t mean that he or he will become addicted. However, there’s risk with any opioid use, even when it’s medically warranted. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency classifies opioids as a Schedule II drug, a substance with medically accepted use but a high potential for abuse.
Many parents and guardians don’t think their child is at risk for misusing opioids. While that may be true, consider this: In 2013, one in eight U.S. high school seniors reported using opioids for nonmedical reasons. In 2015, 122,000 teens under 17 and 427,000 adolescents between 18 and 25 had a pain reliever use disorder, meaning that they had a problem with the drug.
I’ve studied substance use prevention for 15 years, including time in rehabilitation centers with teenagers addicted to heroin, so I understand how critical it is to prevent opioid use at a young age. Fortunately, there’s a lot of research on this topic, as well as numerous resources to help parents figure out where to start.
What parents need to know
First, parents should educate themselves about opioids: what they are, how they work in the brain and body, risk factors for using them and how to spot signs of use.
Parents shouldn’t convey misinformation about opioids to their children. If their children find out that what they’ve been told isn’t accurate, they may turn instead to their peers for information.
There are excellent online resources available for parents and their children, such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens website and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids’ Parent Drug Guide.
It’s particularly important to note the long-term effects that nonmedical use of opioids can have on adolescents. Around puberty, the brain starts a massive restructuring process. Neural connections get stronger and stronger, helping adolescents go from the emotional decision-making of youth to rational decision-making in early adulthood. This process continues until the mid- to late 20’s.
During this time, what adolescents do can get “hard-wired” into the brain. So, for example, if a young person is engaged in academics, sports or learning a musical instrument, those connections get set in the brain. If they spend a lot of time using drugs, those could be the connections that stick. That means they’d have an increased chance of developing a substance use disorder later in life.
In adolescence, many people learn important life skills, including how to cope with adversity. However, long-term drug use that starts during adolescence can affect our memory and learning. Because drugs, particularly opioids, help alleviate both physical and emotional pain, adolescents may then continually turn to this drug as a way to cope, rather than using more adaptive coping skills that are usually learned during this time.
Starting the conversation
One of the most important tools that parents have is the ability to talk to their child about substance use. While talking about drugs with young people isn’t always comfortable, research has shown that it’s critical for prevention.
Chances are good that even young teenagers will have heard about opioids and overdose deaths at some point. Pretending that opioid use is not a problem – or thinking that a child is a “good kid” and therefore doesn’t need to hear and talk about it – is a mistake. Being a “good kid” does not mean that an adolescent will not be curious or be tempted by peers.
Starting the conversation can be difficult. I advise parents to keep an eye out for a time when the topic can naturally come up. For example, if a celebrity is found to be using opioids or other drugs, or if the problem comes up in the child’s school or neighborhood, or even on the child’s social media account, this could provide the opening for a discussion.
Parents could ask their children if they have heard about opioids and, if so, what they know. That could be a good starting point and an opportunity to do the research together.
There are also helpful online resources that provide tips and advice on how to have these types of conversations, such as the Parent Talk Kit, which provides advice on what to say in specific scenarios with kids of different ages. For example, the beginning of high school is an incredibly important time for parents to bring up how some teens use opioids and to let their child know that, if she ever makes a mistake or gets stuck in a bad situation, she should come and talk to them.
These conversations aren’t a one-shot deal. They should happen often, ideally repeating parents’ expectations and adding new information when relevant.
Parents should make an effort to get to know their children’s friends. Having friends who use drugs is very strongly associated with adolescents’ own drug use.
Additionally, children are less likely to use prescription drugs if their parents monitor where they are when they’re not at home.
About two-thirds of teenagers who use prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons report getting the drugs from friends or family members, including taking them from medicine cabinets without people knowing. So, parents should properly and safely secure their prescription medication, especially opioids.
Finally, if parents suspect that their child is using or has a problem with opioids, it’s imperative to get help as soon as possible. The best outcomes often come from intervening early.
For more information, the Partnership for Drug Free Kids has a resource hotline with advice on how to confront children about suspected drug use, as well as additional resources to help parents navigate getting children help with a substance use disorder.
The good news is that nonmedical opioid use among adolescents is on the decline. However, it’s still a significant problem that needs attention. Parents have the power to help – and talking to their children is an important first step.
HARI SREENIVASAN: But first: The political storms keep raging around the Trump White House, from Puerto Rico to North Korea.
Lisa Desjardins has more.
LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right. Thanks, Hari.
It means it’s time for Politics Monday.
We’re joined, of course, by our regulars, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR.
What a privilege to be with Walter and Keith.
Thank you for joining us.
AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Thank you, Lisa.
LISA DESJARDINS: We start with the topic that obviously we have had to touch on before, a sad one, mass shootings again.
We have been on this territory for before. But yet we still have the obligation to really check in with what our leaders are doing and saying.
Tam, what are the dynamics at play tonight for our leaders in Washington when it comes to gun violence?
TAMARA KEITH, NPR: Tonight, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, the senator, Democratic senator, is giving a floor speech. He’s given these floor speeches before.
And he is talking about that in the floor speech, saying that gun violence continues. He believes, he firmly believes that now is the time to have a conversation about gun control. And he is really not satisfied by what his colleagues have been doing.
Meanwhile, I was at the White House press briefing earlier today, and it is very clear the White House doesn’t want to have that conversation. Sarah Sanders said it is time for condolences, it’s time for grief, and that it would be premature to talk about policy.
And if this sounds familiar, it is because it is. We have had this political dance so many times before that it is hard to keep track.
AMY WALTER: Yes.
And the divide too politically goes beyond just what is going to happen in Congress, among Americans as well, that NBC/Wall Street Journal had earlier sent around some social trend polling that they would be looking at before the shooting in Las Vegas.
And what they found when they asked the question about, do you think government is going to go too far in restricting gun rights or not go far enough, you won’t be surprised to know that it is incredibly polarizing. If you voted for Donald Trump, you overwhelmingly think that the government is going to go too far; 78 percent of Trump voters believe that.
If you voted for Hillary Clinton, 74 percent of them think that you aren’t going far enough, the government isn’t going far enough. And so I suspect that we will fall back into that pattern, which is what makes it very hard to meet in the middle.
If most people think one side is going to go way too far, then they’re never going to be willing to meet them somewhere where they can both agree to lose a little bit of something.
LISA DESJARDINS: You know, We did see Hillary Clinton tweet, and also Democrats in Congress now tweet about a Republican bill that Republicans would like to pass this month, at least in the House.
And that is a bill that would make it easier, remove one less background check, if you want to buy a silencer. Republicans I talked to said, well, they think this issue is misunderstood, that it would still make a rifle loud, it would just make it not so loud that it harms your hearing.
Of course, Democrats feel very differently. They think that’s not safe to make it easier to buy silencers.
I want to ask both of you. We have Democrats speaking on the floor tonight, but what can Democrats do more than protest? And what can Republicans do? Do they need to wait on a bill like this, Tam?
TAMARA KEITH: Well, clearly, Democrats are having the same conversation that they have had again and again and again.
And they are responding to the idea that it is not time to politicize by saying , this is exactly the time to politicize.
And I — I mean, I hate to repeat myself, but Republicans are doing what they do and say, you know, mostly quiet about gun control for the moment, and then at some point, it will return to the conversation of defending the Second Amendment, and around and around and around.
AMY WALTER: This bill will be very difficult to get through the Senate. The House, obviously, you have a bigger margin for Republicans. In the Senate, to get 60 votes on something like this will be very unlikely.
TAMARA KEITH: But let me make a prediction. If there is gun legislation that gets a vote sometime in the next few months, it is more likely to be the silencer measure than it is to be expanded background checks or some of the other things that Democrats like Nancy Pelosi are calling for.
LISA DESJARDINS: We see a theme, obviously, and we have seen it for years now, which is Americans looking for leadership, hoping for more leadership.
Tam, you were looking back at what past presidents in recent memory have said after mass shootings. What are the lessons there? What worked, what helped, or what didn’t?
TAMARA KEITH: Yes, there is sort of a grim routine that develops in the hours immediately following a mass shooting.
I went back and watched President Clinton after Columbine, President Bush after Virginia Tech, President Obama after Sandy Hook. And they all talk about the shock and the sadness. And they all cite Scripture.
And President Trump today very much followed that same formula.
The one break from that is President Obama after Sandy Hook began saying, and we need to do something about it.
That is certainly not something that President Trump said in his remarks today.
LISA DESJARDINS: Amy, I want to ask you about crisis in general.
This is not the only crisis on this president’s desk right now. He has Puerto Rico, as we saw many Americans still struggling there, still needing a lot of help. And, obviously, this is a president who tweeted — he praised Puerto Rico’s governor, but sharply criticized San Juan’s mayor.
And then, at the same time, he also has North Korea. And he has criticized or at least he’s said that his efforts by his own secretary of state to try and broker a deal with North Korea are a waste of time.
AMY WALTER: Right.
LISA DESJARDINS: What have we learned in the last week about the way this president manages crisis?
AMY WALTER: Well, we have learned, especially by his Twitter habit, that he tweets as a president much like he did as a candidate, which is, it is impulsive, it is unpredictable.
There is — doesn’t seem to be any sort of strategic message in this.
AMY WALTER: I know there’s a lot of — it is going to make headlines.
I know there is a lot going around about whether he does this strategically, as a way to get his base fired up and keep them engaged, especially when he’s maybe moving — moving too far to the left for some people on the left, or when he has been — for some people on the right, or he has been unsuccessful legislatively.
I don’t mow if I necessarily buy that. I think that he really does react and instantly gets onto his phone, and then it gets onto your screen.
And I think the biggest example of this is the fight with the mayor of San Juan, where I think this was simply about he saw somebody that was being critical of him. We know that he reacts instantly to criticism. Usually, he does it by critiquing or going after that person over Twitter.
But what we also know — and this is where we are getting into watching this polarization happen beyond the president. Just scrolling through my social media over the weekend, already, the folks in my feed who are on the right siding with the president, the folks on my feed in the left siding with the mayor.
And so this becomes then for the president a way to once again polarize America, even at a time when what folks are looking for, as you pointed out, is unity. And this is what is going — it will be very interesting.
The president, after tweeting a lot of stuff over the past couple of weeks, whether it is the NFL, Puerto Rico or, of course, Rex Tillerson, now is trying to go to places like Las Vegas this week and Puerto Rico.
LISA DESJARDINS: And speaking of Puerto Rico, tomorrow.
TAMARA KEITH: Yes.
LISA DESJARDINS: Tamara Keith, you cover this White House, you cover this president.
What should we watch for when he actually lands in Puerto Rico?
TAMARA KEITH: So, he says that he’s going to be meeting with military observations, first-responders, FEMA.
The White House says that the mayor of San Juan has been invited to some of the events around the president’s visit. We will certainly be watching to see if she is there and how their interaction goes.
And the president said that, more importantly than all of those people that he is supposed to meet with, he is also supposed to meet people in Puerto Rico on the ground who have been affected by this storm, like real people.
And President Trump in the past has been very affected by the conversations that he has with real people.
AMY WALTER: Well, and he got high marks for his performance in the aftermath of the hurricanes in Florida and Texas.
Over 60 percent of voters said they approve of the job that he was doing and the government was doing in response there.
We haven’t seen any polling in the wake of the most recent response in Puerto Rico. But I will be very curious to see…
LISA DESJARDINS: After.
AMY WALTER: … after he goes down there and what the reaction is.
TAMARA KEITH: This storm is about to get a lot less abstract for President Trump.
LISA DESJARDINS: One last quick question.
All these headlines, there is other news that we’re not able to cover in depth. What are watching politically, quickly, that you think might be overshadowed right now, Tam?
TAMARA KEITH: It has been 52 days since President Trump said that the opioid crisis was an emergency and that he was declaring an emergency. That emergency has never actually technically been declared, and now there is no HHS secretary.
LISA DESJARDINS: And Amy?
AMY WALTER: In all of the debate about what is happening to health care, the one thing that got lost or fell through the cracks was the child health…
LISA DESJARDINS: Health insurance.
AMY WALTER: The CHIP, the child health insurance.
There are a lot of states that aren’t going to be able to bring low-income children in. Congress needs to fix this quickly. But there could be some consequences.
LISA DESJARDINS: Excellent.
Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report, Tamara Keith of NPR, thank you both very much.
AMY WALTER: You’re welcome.
TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.
The post The grim political routine of responding to a mass shooting appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN: President Trump is planning to visit Puerto Rico tomorrow. It will be nearly two weeks since the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria.
Puerto Rico’s governor said today that supplies of fuel and other needs are picking up.
But as our special correspondent Monica Villamizar reports many residents don’t see much progress yet, and are struggling with the very basics.
KEVIN MONTALBAN, Home Destroyed in Hurricane: The hurricane started. It ripped up from here first.
MONICA VILLAMIZAR, Special Correspondent: Kevin Montalban is just one of thousands of Puerto Ricans who lost everything when Hurricane Maria swept across this island 13 days ago. He hunkered down and tried to wait out the storm with his 12-year-old son in this room.
KEVIN MONTALBAN: We were right here, my son and I, when it happened. And it happened just in the wink of an eye. When we heard the whoosh, we jumped over here. And we stood like this. And I’m like, stay back, stay back.
And I have him here cupped in here. Cupped in here. Cupped in here. And we stood in here. He hid here. He was hiding there with his feet out. And I was standing right there like blocking him.
MONICA VILLAMIZAR: Was he scared? Terrified?
KEVIN MONTALBAN: He was terrified.
MONICA VILLAMIZAR: Almost two weeks later, his community in central Puerto Rico still looks like this. The road has caved in. Power and phone service nonexistent.
Neighbors remain in wait of any assistance. His uncle, Ceferino Gonzalez, said that we were the first outsiders he’d seen there since the storm.
CEFERINO GONZALEZ, Uncle of Kevin Montalban (through interpreter): No one has come to help us. That’s why I’m so mad. If we hadn’t been here, my daughter and granddaughter would be homeless. I had to clear all the trees and debris myself. No one helped.
MONICA VILLAMIZAR: We have been driving around Puerto Rico, and it’s incredible to see that a paradise island was reduced to this. Everything you see is dead trees, downed power lines, and endless queues to get gas.
It will be an enormous challenge to rebuild.
Over the weekend, we joined Lieutenant General Jeffrey Buchanan in his first aerial tour of the damage. He was named on Thursday to lead all military efforts in response to Maria, an appointment that many welcomed, but said had come a week too late.
Why the whole week that elapsed? I mean, this is part of the U.S.
LT. GEN. JEFFREY BUCHANAN, U.S. Army North: Yes. So, it is, absolutely.
We have had elements here on the ground since the 4th of September. And they were here at first for Irma. Sometimes, we don’t know what’s going to happen until the storm actually hits. And this is the worst I have ever seen.
MONICA VILLAMIZAR: This is the worst you have ever seen?
LT. GEN. JEFFREY BUCHANAN: And so — it is.
MONICA VILLAMIZAR: On the island’s East coast, Buchanan receives a briefing from Marines already deployed there in a hangar without power or cell phone reception.
2ND. LT. SAM STEPHENSON, U.S. Marine Corps: What’s great about, you know, the Marine Corps being here and working with the local population is that these are Americans. We’re normally a war-fighting organization. So we have all this heavy equipment that normally are abroad doing engineering-type efforts. But now we can bring those to a U.S. territory and help local Americans.
MONICA VILLAMIZAR: General Buchanan says the biggest challenges now are electricity, fuel and transportation.
LT. GEN. JEFFREY BUCHANAN: Some things, especially, I think, the electrical grid, are going to take a long time. I’m not an electrician.
But I know it’s going to take a long time. And, right now, where we’re having the biggest problems are in the interior of the island. And it’s because of roads. We obviously need to get all the roads cleared, so we can get supplies to the people who desperately need them.
MONICA VILLAMIZAR: And he is avoiding getting caught up in the political storm or commenting on the president’s tweets criticizing the San Juan mayor and local Puerto Ricans.
LT. GEN. JEFFREY BUCHANAN: I’m not a Republican. I’m not a Democrat. I’m not a member of the blue party. I’m not a member of the green party. I’m a soldier. And I’m here to help people.
MONICA VILLAMIZAR: Many organizations have come here to help. But the task remains daunting.
Meanwhile, millions of Puerto Ricans remain without water. And food is limited. Basic services, like reliable power and phone service, are nonexistent.
Kevin Montalban had not talked to his mother in 13 days. She is 70-years-old and lives in Boston, Massachusetts. He is now living in a school that was turned into a shelter and is run by local authorities.
It is far enough inland where the military has not yet arrived, and they are still waiting on power, water, phone service, and trash collection.
On a hilltop in his neighborhood, we lend him our satellite phone to call his mother for the first time and let her know that he is still alive.
KEVIN MONTALBAN: I miss you, mommy.
(through interpreter): I miss you. We’re OK, yes. Yes.
MONICA VILLAMIZAR: In total, the call lasts less than five minutes.
KEVIN MONTALBAN: She said that she hasn’t slept since Maria and that she’s just been worried. She thought that I was dead. She’s been calling news stations. She said she called CBS yesterday. She called NBC Boston. And she’s been calling everybody, and nobody could get in touch with me.
But she’s happy. She’s happy. And she said she’s going to pray right now.
MONICA VILLAMIZAR: But, for now, he remains sheltered in the school, with neighbors like Lydia Martinez and Reynaldo Torres, a couple from the countryside.
REYNALDO TORRES ORTIZ, Puerto Rico Resident (through interpreter): Oh, my God. all of Puerto Rico is destroyed. With all the trees and cables that fell, it’s a disaster.
LYDIA MARTINEZ MALDONADO, Puerto Rico Resident (through interpreter): The avocados, the mangoes, every crop is gone. But we have to keep faith that God will provide. Birds will plant the seeds.
MONICA VILLAMIZAR: Since the storm, Montalban now lives with little more than his son’s asthma medicine, a few changes of clothes, and a prayer.
KEVIN MONTALBAN: The first thing I grabbed, besides my son, was the Bible.
MONICA VILLAMIZAR: There are thousands of others across this island who lost everything.
Back in his community, neighbors were already back at work, fixing their homes.
KEVIN MONTALBAN: We will get out of this. Puerto Ricans always do. We will. We will build again, even if we don’t get no help. As you hear, people are building again.
MONICA VILLAMIZAR: But as it stands, the road to recovery will be a long one.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Monica Villamizar in Cidra, Puerto Rico.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: In the day’s other news: Federal prosecutors began making their case in Washington against Ahmed Abu Khattala. He’s the alleged organizer of the attack on American outposts in Benghazi, Libya. The 2012 assault killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Abu Khattala was captured by U.S. special forces three years ago.
In opening statements today, prosecutors charged he was motivated by a hatred of America that boiled over.
Another trial began today in Malaysia for two women accused of killing Kim Jong-nam. He was the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The women were escorted into court amid tight security. They pleaded not guilty to poisoning Kim with a nerve agent at an airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur. North Korea has denied any role in the killing.
In Spain, crowds protested in Barcelona today, after widespread police violence during Sunday’s independence referendum. Almost 900 civilians, and more than 400 police, were injured in Catalonia.
Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News is there.
JONATHAN RUGMAN, ITN: Police intervention at polling stations left hundreds injured yesterday. Catalan nationalists are now trying to capitalize on this violence to get Europe to intervene to achieve the independence they want.
CARLES PUIGDEMONT, President, Catalonia (through interpreter): The situation needs mediation, and the mediation, as I have said, is the presence of a third party. And it must be an international actor in order to be effective.
JONATHAN RUGMAN: But the Catalan leader knows he’s likely to be disappointed, after the European Commission said the vote was illegal and urged both sides to talk. Despite jubilation in Barcelona last night, just 42 percent of the Catalonian electorate voted, though it was overwhelmingly for the keys to their own state.
The Catalan authorities say that the confiscation of ballot boxes and the closing of polling stations meant that three-quarters-of-a-million votes could not be counted. Madrid has refused to apologize for what happened yesterday. The prime minister said the state had responded firmly and serenely. His government has threatened to suspend local autonomy if independence goes ahead.
MARIANO RAJOY, Prime Minister, Spain (through interpreter): There has been no referendum on self-determination in Catalonia. All Spaniards have seen that the rule of law is still strong and in force, that it responds to those who breach it.
JONATHAN RUGMAN: There seems to be no dialogue to avert a crisis here, no mediation that we know of. A general strike has been called for tomorrow. And independence could be declared within days.
HARI SREENIVASAN: That report from Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News.
Three American scientists will share this year’s Nobel Prize for medicine. Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young for isolating a gene that controls the body’s biological rhythms.
Young works at Rockefeller University in New York City. He says the news completely took him by surprise.
MICHAEL YOUNG, Co-Winner, Nobel Prize for Medicine: I really had trouble even getting my shoes on this morning.
MICHAEL YOUNG: I would go and I would pick up the shoes, and then I would realize I need the socks, and then I realize I need to put my pants on first.
MICHAEL YOUNG: But you get here and see all this, and I guess you realize it must be true.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The Americans’ work has helped researchers study sleep disorders, and has raised awareness about the health benefits of sleep.
The Interior Department’s inspector general is now investigating Secretary Ryan Zinke’s use of chartered flights. He acknowledged last week that he’s taken three such flights, including one that cost $12,000. Health Secretary Tom Price resigned over his use of numerous chartered flights.
And on Wall Street today, record highs all around. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 152 points to close at 22557. The Nasdaq rose more than 20 points, and the S&P 500 added nine.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Just a short time ago, the Clark County sheriff reported that investigators found 18 additional firearms and explosives and thousands of rounds of ammunition at the suspect’s home.
For a look at some of the broader questions now raised by this event, Jeffrey Swanson is joining us. a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University School of Medicine who has written widely on the subject of violence and mental illness. And security expert Russ Simons, he is managing partner at Venue Solutions Group, a facility management firm near Nashville.
Mr. Swanson, let me start with you.
This is not someone who, I guess, fits the profile of what we have come to expect. This is not a lone gunman, a young man that stuck to himself.
JEFFREY SWANSON, Duke University School of Medicine: Well, what an absolutely heartbreaking day this is for all the family members and the loved ones of those who died, but it is also a soul-searching day for the entire country, as we look into our society and ask ourselves yet again, why did this happen, and how did it happen, and what could we have done, anyone, to prevent it?
There’s two parts to that question, the answer. And one, of course, is what you are alluding to. And that is, can we predict the behavior of someone who would be inclined to do such a horrible thing? What is the profile of someone like that?
And the problem with that is that the risk factors for mass shooting are many, and they interact with each other, and they’re nonspecific. They tend to apply to many more people who are not going to do this than who do.
That’s a very, very difficult thing to do. The other part of the question, of course, is if we assume that we may always have some people like this, for whatever motive it’s very hard to fathom, what could we do to limit the harm, to limit the damage and the mayhem that occurred today?
HARI SREENIVASAN: Russ Simons, you think about that for a living. You think about how to design venues that are safer. What possibly could have been done to try to keep this from becoming as soft a target as it was?
RUSS SIMONS, Security Expert: Well, there are situations that occur every day around the world, in fact, three significant terror incidents on Sunday that have somehow now, because of the magnitude of what we faced yesterday, have just kind of gone unnoticed.
But the industry that secures public assembly facilities, fairs, festivals and special events is working tirelessly, and has for the last 17 years, to not only recognize and understand the incidents that occur, but also collaborate with first-responders and other resources to make sure that we’re training in a way so that we can react to the unexpected things that occur, like yesterday.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Russ Simons, staying with you for a second, I mean, thinking about somebody at a high vantage point and shooting people below, this happened 50 years ago at the University of Texas. How do you protect against that?
RUSS SIMONS: Well, it is something that is a vulnerability, as you said, since 1966. Everyone is aware of that.
I think what will happen in the analysis of this event is we will look at how that expresses itself into our vulnerabilities. We will look at ways to mitigates those risks and we will react to that. It is not a check a box and be done situation.
We’re going to be under constant pressure to make sure that we’re staying abreast of the situations that we face and that we’re flexible or adaptable enough to change to the circumstances that we face in the future.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Jeffrey Swanson, a lot of people point to mental illness as the cause of this sort of violence.
But you study this for a living. Give us the correlation between violence and mental illness.
JEFFREY SWANSON: We like to point to mental illness as some kind of master explanation. But the truth of the matter is, a mass shooter is really atypical of most people with serious mental illnesses, the vast majority of whom are not violent, never will be.
And the vast majority of the perpetrators of gun crimes all over this country — a hundred people probably today will lose their lives as a result of a gunshot — those people, typically, do not have mental illness, with the exception of those who have suicide.
So, you know, mental illness is — it is important. It is not the place you start from a population and public health perspective to try to address our problem with violent behavior.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Mr. Simons, coming back to you, what have we learned in previous events?
It seems that, just in the past couple of years, especially across Europe, we have seen these different types of soft target, these different types of attacks. What is law enforcement now keeping in mind even in something as simple as staging a concert?
RUSS SIMONS: Well, information and collaboration, sharing of intelligence is critical.
I would say that one of the key learnings from this is that all of us are personally responsible for our own safety, our situational awareness, understanding what could happen in these circumstances, particularly in an unexpected environment, and that we have to take note of what is going on around us.
We can’t just treat see something, say something as a convenient phrase. We have a responsibility to actually contribute to the solution. And all of us are better than any one of us. So in this regard, we should take those responsibilities seriously.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Jeffrey Swanson, put it also in perspective for us, if you could, guns and violence in the way that the CDC looks at it.
JEFFREY SWANSON: Right.
Well, if you look at the CDC statistics and you look at this from a public health point of view, 36,000 people die every year as a result of a gunshot. It is a very difficult problem in our society because we have a lot of guns. They’re embedded in our culture. They’re constitutionally protected, the right to own a firearm.
And so it’s a difficult problem. Gun control in our country is really about people control after the Heller decision. But there are things we could do. We could have better criteria for limiting the purchase of a gun by people who are really risky. The criteria we have now are probably too broad and too narrow at the same time.
We could also have a legal tool that would give law enforcement officers clear legal authority to actually remove firearms from people who are known to be risky and dangerous, with due process protections.
And we could do things to try to address the problem of illegal gun trafficking in this country. This is not a one-thing problem. It is not a one-thing solution. And I think it’s going to take a long time, but we need to think about there very broadly.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Russ Simons, when you work in one jurisdiction to the next, there are different sets of rules across state lines on who can carry, how they can carry, what kind of weapon.
How does law enforcement deal with that sort of challenge, or even somebody who is creating a venue to say, OK, well, this is the kind of people that I’m going to have at this concert, these are all the different issues?
RUSS SIMONS: Well, you are exactly correct. Every jurisdiction is different. And then there are some commonalities.
And what we learn in those can be shared. But ultimately you really have to understand the situation on the ground and then move to mitigate any risks. Threats, risks, vulnerabilities, they are the key to identifying how we would respond.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Russ Simons, Jeffrey Swanson, thank you both.
JEFFREY SWANSON: Thank you.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Investigators in Las Vegas are searching for answers tonight. The main question, what drove a barrage of bullets that left at least 58 dead, another low point in the annals of American killings?
William Brangham begins our coverage.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: It was an evening of country music in Las Vegas, fans recording the scene with cell phones.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Then the rapid fire of gunshots. There was momentary confusion, as country music singer Jason Aldean ran off the stage.
MAN: Jason Aldean left the stage, and then everybody started fleeing. And we started fleeing. We had to hop a gate to get out. It was crazy. I have never seen anything like that in my life.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: For approximately 10 minutes, bullets rained down on the crowd of 22,000 people. Some ducked for cover. Some tried to shield loved ones. Others ran for shelter in nearby hotels on the famed Strip.
The gunman had taken up position on the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay Hotel and had a clear view of the open concert down below. Police scrambled to identify his position, amid the chaos.
OFFICER: We got shots fired, 415 ASF. Sounded like an automatic firearm.
2ND OFFICER: We have an active shooter. We have an active shooter inside the fairgrounds.
OFFICER: I see the shots coming from Mandalay Bay, halfway up.
CONTROL: One suspect down inside the room. Zebra 20 has one suspect down inside the room.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The suspect, who was found by a SWAT team, was identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock from nearby Mesquite, Nevada. Police say he shot himself as they approached. There are reports he had as many as 19 rifles with him in the room.
Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said Paddock had no known criminal background.
JOSEPH LOMBARDO, Sheriff, Clark County: We have no investigative information or background associated with this individual that is derogatory. The only thing we can tell is he received a citation several years ago, and that citation was handled as a matter of normal practice in the court system.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Investigators also searched Paddock’s home, and appealed to the public for information and video from the shooting. But the sheriff wouldn’t speculate on motive.
JOSEPH LOMBARDO: I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath at this point.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In Orlando, Florida, the gunman’s brother said Paddock was — quote — “not a normal guy,” and that he frequently played high-stakes video poker.
ERIC PADDOCK, Brother of Gunman: I used to fix thing for a living, and my job was to find the answers. And this is like, what? This is — an asteroid fell out of the sky.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: As news of the tragedy spread, many in Las Vegas joined long lines to donate blood for the wounded. And condolences poured in from across the country.
Singer Jason Aldean posted on his Instagram this morning, saying: “Tonight has been beyond horrific. It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night.”
Other country music stars who performed at the festival also sent out words of sympathy. Flags across the country were lowered to half-staff, and President Trump called for unity.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We pray for the day when evil is banished and the innocent are safe from hatred and from fear. May God bless the souls of the lives that are lost. May God give us the grace of healing, and may God provide the grieving families with strength to carry on.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Later, the president and first lady, Vice President and Mrs. Pence, and White House staff observed a moment of silence on the White House lawn.
The mayor of Orlando also offered support. Last year, 49 people died in a nightclub shooting in his city, what had been the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, until last night.
MAYOR BUDDY DYER, Orlando, Florida: When I first heard the news this morning, my heart sunk. And it immediately took me back to June the 12th of last year.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The Las Vegas attack also reopened the gun control debate. In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called for Republicans to take up gun control legislation.
And outside the Capitol, former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot by a gunman in 2011, joined by her husband, Mark Kelly.
MARK KELLY, Husband of Gabrielle Giffords: We have been working to overcome this with the resources we have, right, to put the people in office that will accept this as a public health issue, that will work to come up with responsible and sensible solutions.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: At the White House this afternoon, spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said it’s much too early to get into the gun issue.
SARAH SANDERS, White House Press Secretary: Before we start trying to talk about the preventions of what took place last night, we need to know more facts. And right now we are simply not at that point.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: A House committee has already approved a bill making it easier to purchase silencers for guns and to relax other gun restrictions. There’s no word on when it might come to the floor for a vote.
For PBS NewsHour, I’m William Brangham.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Congressman Ruben Kihuen represents part of the city of Las Vegas. He’s been responding with other public officials throughout the day and visited a hospital where patients were taken.
REP. RUBEN KIHUEN, D-Nev.: Yes, I arrived at the hospital around 3:00, 4:00 in the morning, you know, right in the middle of the disaster that we saw last night.
And, you know, I walked in and I got a tour. And let me just say this, that I have never seen anything like this in my life before, not even in movies. Every single bed was taken. Almost every single hallway was occupied with a bed.
Every single emergency room was filled with multiple people. And every single doctor, every single nurse, every single paramedic was doing everything possible to save lives.
And so I just want to say thank you to all the first-responders, to the law enforcement, and also to the doctors and nurses who are still right now at this moment still saving lives. And to everyone who has been very generous in donating blood here in our community, we’re very grateful to each and every one of you.
HARI SREENIVASAN: You were also at the command center today, where there was the coordination of different agencies. Describe that for us. How many different people, how many different groups were working on figuring out the background or the details on how we came to this event?
REP. RUBEN KIHUEN: Yes, so this is the fusion center, where local, state and federal law enforcement agencies came together since early this morning to strategize on the best response possible.
We have the FBI, the DEA, Las Vegas Metro Police, the fire department, North Las Vegas Police, Henderson Police, elected officials, the governor, the attorney general, and so on and so on. And let may just say this. I am so proud of the work that they did, especially law enforcement. Within minutes that this shooter came out and caused chaos, they had the situation contained.
So, I want to say thank you to all the law enforcement who risked their lives to protect us and to save so many lives, and also again to the doctors who are right now working tirelessly, many of them who haven’t slept in almost 24 hours, trying to save lives.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Are any of the hotels that are on the Strip rethinking security tonight in light of what happened?
REP. RUBEN KIHUEN: Look, the hotels have always been very secure.
Las Vegas has always been a very safe place. And, look, today reassured me that we continue being a safe place, because we saw our law enforcement come together, contain a situation that again in many ways would have been very hard to predict it was going to happen.
You know, this gentleman out of nowhere, you know, was able to obtain weapons, take them up to a hotel room and cause this horrific incident. And so, again, I am very thankful that law enforcement acted very quickly, very swiftly and were able to contain the situation.
But, you know, Las Vegas has always been a strong city. We will recover from this and we’re going to continue being the entertainment capital of the world, and we’re going to continue being the safe city that we have always been.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Congressman Ruben Kihuen, joining us from Nevada tonight, thanks so much.
REP. RUBEN KIHUEN: Thank you so much.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Let’s stay in Nevada for more on the response to the attack and how the community is coping.
Heidi Swank is the state assemblywoman for the district in Las Vegas where the shooting happened. She’s been at donation centers today to help victims of the shooting. I spoke with her a short time ago.
Ms. Swank, you have been able to speak to your constituents today. Give us the range of the reactions that they have been having to what happened.
HEIDI SWANK, Nevada State Assemblywoman (D): Yes, I would say that, of course, there is a lot of shock, a lot of disbelief.
A lot of us who live in Las Vegas really embrace the idea that we have this very special piece of real estate called the Las Vegas Strip that makes up such a large part of our community. And I did spend the morning with a lot of my constituents at a blood bank making sure we had an outpouring of folks with concern and worry for everyone that was injured on the Strip today, over 500 people at the location I was at wanting to give blood.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Tell us a little bit about that. I saw some of your tweets. The lines looks incredibly long. They were almost running out of orange juice in some places?
HEIDI SWANK: Yes, I think that there was a huge outpouring across the entire valley.
It is a very tight-knit community, and we really do embrace our tourists. And a lot of us do spend a lot of time at shows on the Las Vegas Strip, so I think this was very important to folks. And at the location, I was at we had more than enough juice and food and water. And people were bring lunch when I was leaving.
So there was definitely a huge outpouring both on the — behalf of businesses bringing in goods for folks waiting in line, as well as hundreds of people waiting in line to give blood this morning.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Well, is there anything new that you’re learning from perhaps communications that you are in with authorities about the shooter or how he did this?
HEIDI SWANK: You know, from what I have heard, I mean, we have really been kind of stepping back and letting the authorities get the work done that they need to get done today.
And I have been really just focusing on what the needs of my constituents are. From what I have heard is that it seems very surprising that this man from Mesquite, Nevada, traveled to Las Vegas and committed this horrendous crime.
I think we’re all looking for answers at this point and hoping — that we just need to give police time to find those answers for all of us.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Is there anything that could have been done to prevent this?
HEIDI SWANK: You know, I think that is the question that always comes up whenever there is any of these mass shootings.
And I think that looking at our gun laws is always something that we should eternally be doing, that we need to just make sure that we’re finding a good balance between safety and allowing people’s freedoms to have to still keep their freedoms.
But I think that we should eternally be having these discussions, not just when something horrendous happens, although it does seem that is when most of us kind of take that up again.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Heidi Swank of the Nevada State Assembly, thanks so much for joining us.
HEIDI SWANK: Thank you so much.
The post An outpouring of sorrow and help after Las Vegas shooting massacre appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
When the first notifications about the Las Vegas shooting were sent late Sunday, the death toll stood around two people. That number jumped to 59 dead and hundreds wounded late Monday as investigators pieced together why 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada, opened fire from a hotel onto a crowd of about 22,0000 people attending a concert along the Las Vegas strip.
President Donald Trump said he would visit the city Wednesday, adding another trip a day after he is scheduled to visit Puerto Rico to survey the damage from Hurricane Maria. His administration continued to receive criticism about its response to the aftermath of the hurricane over the weekend; Mr. Trump called his critics “politically motivated ingrates.”
In the rush of this and other news, here are some stories you may have missed.
1. Puerto Ricans continue to rebuild as they await a visit from Washington
FEMA administrator Brock Long said Puerto Rico is making good progress in recovering from damage sustained during Hurricane Maria.
FEMA said that almost half of residents now have drinking water, with hospitals, gas stations and highways also becoming functional again.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said Monday that the island is expected to receive more than 400,000 barrels of diesel and gasoline by Wednesday, Reuters reported. Much-needed fuel supplies have been slow in coming due to decimated roadways connecting the ports with the interior. And at least 95 percent of electricity customers are still without power, the Associated Press reported.
President Donald Trump addressed the devastation in Puerto Rico on Sunday, this time from a golf tournament in New Jersey where he spent most of the weekend. He dedicated the tournament trophy to U.S. hurricane victims. Trump also took to Twitter to defend his administration’s unpopular response to relief efforts and lambast what he called “politically motivated ingrates.” The president has been in a war of words with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz since Friday, when she said the federal response as “inefficient” and criticized the acting head of Homeland Security for calling the recovery effort a “good news story.”
Mr. Trump is slated to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday before traveling to Las Vegas on Wednesday in response to that city’s deadly mass shooting.
Why it’s important
Lt. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, the Department of Defense’s primary military liaison with FEMA, told PBS NewsHour that Hurricane Maria left “the worst damage” he’s ever seen following a storm. Buchanan said bad roads and poor infrastructure pose the biggest challenges to aid delivery.
PBS NewsHour Weekend reported that, although the rebuilding process is underway, relief efforts are “turning political” on the ground following slow aid progression and statements from the White House. Rossello said that aid is progressing to the island’s rural residents, but he was unaware of the successful “inspections” Trump tweeted about last week. We may learn more after the president’s visit to the island Tuesday.
2. After violent clashes and no Spanish support, what’s next for the independence referendum in Catalonia?
Following violent clashes between Spanish police and voters that left more than 900 injured, the rest of Europe is chiming in on Sunday’s referendum for independence in Catalonia, a region in northeastern Spain that includes Barcelona.
There hasn’t been much support from the rest of Spain for the independence bid, which has been blocked by Madrid’s government and the country’s Constitutional Court. The region is not recognized as autonomous by the country’s constitution.
French President Emmanuel Macron offered his support for Spanish unity in a phone call with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. The European Commission condemned police clashes and pushed for open dialogue, but said the referendum as “not legal” under Spain’s constitution.
The president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, called for international mediation. He said he does not want a “traumatic” split from Spain, and seeks “a new understanding with the Spanish state,” but that Catalonians have “earned the right to have an independent state.” Later Monday, the New York Times reported he planned to push for an investigation of Spanish police and to make the independence vote binding.
The problem: While Catalonia officials said just under 90 percent of voters favored independence, it’s impossible to verify those votes, the BBC reported, or account for some 750,000 votes that may have been confiscated at the ballot box.
Why it’s important
Spanish stocks, Catalan shares and the euro fell today as a result of the referendum fallout.
Despite Puigdemont’s pledges to make the vote official, that may not be so easy, as the New York Times writes:
Rafael Catalá, Spain’s justice minister, warned Monday morning that the central government in Madrid was prepared to use its emergency powers to prevent a unilateral declaration of independence. Under Spanish law, the government could suspend Mr. Puigdemont from office, and take full administrative control of Catalonia.
3. The trial for Benghazi terror suspect Ahmed Abu Khattalah began this week
The trial of the man believed to be the mastermind behind the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, began Monday. Ahmed Abu Khattallah faces 18 charges, including murder, terrorism, helping turn away emergency responders, and supervising the plunder of documents and computers in the compound. Abu Khattala waived his rights to have a lawyer present and to remain silent, but his attorneys argued that the waiver should not be granted. The judge rejected that argument.
Why it’s important
The Associated Press described the trial as “one of the most significant terrorism prosecutions in recent years in a U.S. civilian court.” The Trump administration has said terrorism suspects should be sent to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, rather than prosecuted in a U.S civilian court by the Justice Department.
4. There are now 9 million kids at risk of losing health insurance
Congress allowed the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to expire this weekend, the Washington Post reported. States are expected to continue offering coverage with funds they have left over, but eventually that money will run out if Congress does not re-authorize the program.
Why it’s important
CHIP provides low-cost health insurance to 9 million children. Before CHIP was created in 1997, 15 percent of children were uninsured. After CHIP, that number dropped to 5 percent. A spokesperson for the House Energy and Commerce Committee told The Hill that the committee “continue[s] to have bipartisan negotiations” on CHIP. It wasn’t clear when those negotiations would conclude, or whether they would reach the House or Senate floor. Meanwhile, though funding for the program won’t immediately dry up, Kaiser Health News has reported 10 states will be out of money by the end of the year.
5. ISIS’ elusive leader returns in audio recording
The little seen, seldom heard leader of the Islamic State group resurfaced in a 46-minute audio recording last week, The New York Times reported. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi hasn’t been heard from since November of last year, and there have been multiple reports falsely reporting his death as ISIS fought the U.S.-backed coalition for control of Iraqi cities of Mosul and Raqqa earlier this year.
Why it’s important
As the U.S. woke up to the latest developments of the Las Vegas shooting, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, in which a gunman killed at least 58 people and wounded more than 500 others at an outdoor concert. But the FBI has said that there’s no known connection, currently in the investigation, between the suspect and the terrorist group.
WASHINGTON — Only days ago, the United States and Cuba maintained dozens of diplomats in newly re-opened embassies in Havana and Washington, powerful symbols of a warming relationship between longtime foes. Now both countries are poised to cut their embassies by more than half, as uncanny, unexplained attacks threaten delicate ties between the Cold War rivals.
The Trump administration will tell Cuba on Tuesday to withdraw 60 percent of its diplomats from Washington, American officials said. The move is a direct consequence of last week’s U.S. move to cut its own embassy staff in Havana by a similar proportion.
The request marks yet another major setback for relations between the two neighbors, less than three years after they renewed diplomatic relations. It comes as the U.S. seeks to protect its own diplomats from unexplained attacks that have affected at least 21 Americans in Havana, in some cases harming their hearing, cognition, balance and vision.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson discussed the plan Monday with President Donald Trump. The State Department was expected to formally announce the decision Tuesday, officials said, though they cautioned no decision was formalized until publicly announced. The officials weren’t authorized to discuss the plan publicly and requested anonymity.
The United States will formally tell Cuba to pull the diplomats, but won’t expel them forcibly unless Havana refuses, the officials said.
Cuba’s Embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.
Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, applauded the administration’s step, saying in a Twitter post that the move to expel two-thirds of “Castro regime employees” from the Cuban Embassy in Washington “was the right decision.”
President Raul Castro’s government denies involvement in the attacks, and is likely to view the move as unwarranted retaliation. Yet U.S. officials said the goal wasn’t to punish the communist-run island, but to ensure both countries have a similar number of diplomats in each other’s capitals.
Tensions between the two neighbors have been escalating amid serious U.S. concern about the unexplained attacks.
On Monday, The Associated Press reported that U.S. spies were among the first and most severely affected victims. Though bona fide diplomats have also been affected, it wasn’t until intelligence operatives, working under diplomatic cover, reported bizarre sounds and even stranger physical effects that the United States realized something was wrong, several individuals familiar with the situation said.
The mysterious “health attacks” started within days of President Donald Trump’s election in November, the AP has reported. But it wasn’t until last Friday that the United States ordered more than half its embassy staff to return home.
Delivering a one-two punch to U.S.-Cuba relations, the U.S. last week also delivered an ominous warning to Americans to stay away from Cuba, a move that could have profound implications for the island’s travel industry. The U.S. said that since some workers had been attacked in Havana hotels, it couldn’t assure Americans who visit Cuba that they wouldn’t suffer attacks.
“Because our personnel’s safety is at risk, and we are unable to identify the source of the attacks, we believe U.S. citizens may also be at risk and warn them not to travel to Cuba,” the United States said in a formal travel warning.
Cuba had called that “hasty” and lamented that it was being taken without conclusive investigative results. But several U.S. lawmakers had said the move by Washington didn’t go far enough, because President Raul Castro’s government was being permitted to keep all of its diplomats in America. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., had called the one-sided action “an insult” in an AP interview.
Ultimately, the U.S. decided to take reciprocal action, too, bringing the two countries yet closer to the chilly state of relations they endured for decades until 2015, when they restored formal ties and re-opened embassies in Havana and Washington.
The U.S. previously had roughly 50 American workers at its embassy in Havana, so the 60 percent reduction will bring the figure down to roughly 20. It wasn’t immediately clear how many Cuban diplomats will have to leave Washington to bring the two countries’ rosters to parity.
At least 21 U.S. government workers in Havana and their relatives have been affected. Diagnoses include permanent hearing loss and mild traumatic brain injury.
The State Department ordered all non-emergency embassy staff in Cuba to leave the island on Friday after 21 workers suffered mysterious ailments, including hearing loss, dizziness and headaches. Hari Sreenivasan speaks with Josh Lederman of the Associated Press and María de Los Angeles Torres of the University of Illinois to discuss the latest move and what is plaguing U.S. diplomats in Cuba.
Although at first the U.S. called them “incidents” and avoided the word “attacks,” the terminology changed last week and the United States is now comfortable asserting that they were deliberate attacks that targeted Americans, officials said.
Still, the administration has pointedly not blamed Cuba, and officials have spent weeks weighing how to minimize the risk for Americans in Cuba without unnecessarily harming relations or falling into an adversary’s trap. After all, there are several countries in addition to factions of Cuba’s government that would have an interest in driving a wedge between Washington and Havana.
Two years ago, President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro restored diplomatic ties, ordered embassies re-opened and eased travel and commerce restrictions. Trump has reversed some changes but has broadly left the rapprochement in place.
To medical investigators’ dismay, symptoms have varied widely. In addition to hearing loss and concussions, some people have experienced nausea, headaches and ear-ringing. The Associated Press has reported that some now suffer from problems with concentration and common word recall.
The incidents stopped for a time. They recurred as recently as late August.
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