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- 10/06/17--10:40: _Human activity can ...
- 10/06/17--11:53: _The unemployment ra...
- 10/06/17--12:04: _‘We will be with yo...
- 10/06/17--12:43: _Sessions issues Jus...
- 10/06/17--12:56: _Fourth U.S. soldier...
- 10/06/17--13:15: _Wounded congressman...
- 10/06/17--13:30: _Democrats give poli...
- 10/06/17--15:40: _Keeping a promise t...
- 10/06/17--15:45: _News Wrap: Hurrican...
- 10/06/17--15:50: _Activist group aimi...
- 10/06/17--16:03: _Lawmakers are angry...
- 10/07/17--06:24: _Trump reaches out t...
- 10/07/17--08:09: _Traffic deaths spik...
- 10/07/17--09:31: _Trump hits back at ...
- 10/07/17--10:39: _Rallies in Barcelon...
- 10/07/17--11:43: _Losses at Trump’s S...
- 10/07/17--12:43: _Urban noise polluti...
- 10/07/17--12:46: _Ohio sues big pharm...
- 10/07/17--13:34: _Facebook begins ‘hu...
- 10/07/17--13:55: _Could DOJ’s ‘religi...
- 10/06/17--11:53: The unemployment rate and jobs total went down? What’s up?
- 10/06/17--12:56: Fourth U.S. soldier found dead after attack in Niger
- 10/06/17--13:15: Wounded congressman Scalise to throw out first pitch in playoff game
- 10/06/17--15:45: News Wrap: Hurricanes deal temporary blow to U.S. job market
- Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has co-sponsored a bill that would allow consumers to freeze their credit reports for free, said Equifax was profiting “off its own screw-up.”
- Republican Rep. Greg Walden asked why one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies could allow such a hack to happen. “I don’t think we can pass a law that … fixes stupid,” he said.
- And Republican Sen. John Neely Kennedy referenced Lindsey Lohan to express shock over Equifax’s recent $7.5 million no-bid contract with the Internal Revenue Service: “You realize, to many Americans right now, that looks like we’re giving Lindsay Lohan the keys to the mini-bar.”
- Identity theft can cost victims, on average, $1,343 in stolen assets and costs associated with the damage, like legal fees and overdraft charges, according to a Department of Justice survey released in 2015.
- Once the information is exposed, it’s out there, Justin Shipe, vice president of information security at CardConnect, told the Washington Post.
- Any sensitive information gleaned from the hack could have repercussions that could take years to resolve.
- 10/07/17--06:24: Trump reaches out to Democrats in bid for ‘great’ health law
- 10/07/17--08:09: Traffic deaths spiked in 2016, including pedestrians killed
- 10/07/17--09:31: Trump hits back at late night shows critical of Republicans
- 10/07/17--11:43: Losses at Trump’s Scottish resorts doubled last year
- 10/07/17--12:46: Ohio sues big pharma over increase in opioid-related deaths
- 10/07/17--13:34: Facebook begins ‘human review’ of potentially sensitive ads
Earthquakes — once culturally and legally dubbed an “act of God” — are now set off by humans. Fracking, drilling and wastewater disposal can trigger these tremors, but just how common are these events?
A new database, created by geophysicists at Durham and Newcastle Universities in the United Kingdom, has tracked down 730 cases of man-made earthquakes over the last 150 years. The Human-Induced Earthquake Database (HiQuake) is the most comprehensive collection of these quakes to date and might be used to predict future ones.
“Although incomplete, HiQuake provides a more global picture than people have had access to before,” Miles Wilson, a Durham geophysicist and the study’s lead author, said via email. “Humans are increasingly making changes to the Earth to meet greater resource demands, which is why it’s so important to understand the effects these changes might have.”
Wilson and his colleagues began developing the database in 2016 with support from the Dutch oil and gas company Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM). NAM operates one of the largest gas fields in the world — the Netherlands’ Groningen gas field — where the company’s gas extraction work caused a magnitude 3.6 earthquake in 2012.
For Huizinge, a local village on the outskirts of Groningen, this was the largest induced earthquake they ever felt. In their report, published in Seismological Research Letters, the researchers noted that the company contacted them in order to find a way to inform the public and resource-extraction industries of earthquake risks. PBS NewsHour contacted NAM multiple times, but they did not provide a comment.
The team combed through academic papers, media coverage, government records and industry documents to find as many reports of human-caused earthquakes as possible. The documented incidents dated as far back as 150 years, and many of the tremors were between magnitude 3 and 4.
Mining was the most common quake-trigger, accounting for 37 percent of human-made cases. Water contained behind reservoir dams made up 23 percent of these events, while conventional oil and gas extraction caused 15 percent.
The worst case in the HiQuake database happened in 2008, when a magnitude of 7.9 earthquake rocked Sichuan province, China. Nearly 87,000 people died, and many blamed the Zipingpu Reservoir because that large body of contained water may have seeped into the fault and caused it to slip. However, debate persists over whether the reservoir caused the quake or it was purely natural.
“The Sichuan earthquake might be more of a speculative connection and not quite an induced earthquake,” said Art McGarr, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earthquake Science Center, who wasn’t involved with the study. “Studies show that the rupture of the earthquake was initiated somewhere between 14 to 19 kilometers deep in the Earth’s crust. Normally, you would expect to see a connection in terms of earthquake activity between the reservoir itself and the point when the rupture initiated. And that was not found.”
Cases like the Sichuan earthquake might originate naturally, Wilson explained, but then human activity is the “final straw” that releases built-up stress in the fault. So, this earthquake may have been bound to happen, but the reservoir expedited the process.
Fracking and waste-fluid disposal, which has seriously affected American states not known for ground shakes, is rising on the list of human-made triggers.
“Earthquakes are the price paid in places like Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Kansas, where fluid-injection activities cause the biggest contribution to seismic hazard,” McGarr said.
During fracking or other fluid-injection projects, it is cheaper to pump any leftover wastewater back down into deep wells. Most of the time, McGarr explained, nothing happens. But the water’s weight can cause a fault to slip, leading to damaging earthquakes.
Human-made tremors have skyrocketed in the U.S. since 2001 from a previous average of 21 quakes a year to 188 documented in 2011. As this number continues to rise, the USGS now makes annual forecasts on both natural and induced earthquakes. About 3 million people in Oklahoma and southern Kansas face potential damages in the next year from induced earthquakes that resemble the number of natural earthquakes from rattle-prone areas like California, the USGS reported.
Beyond common energy industry practices leading to the most human-made earthquakes across the globe, other quake-causing activities include building construction, carbon capture and storage, nuclear explosions, geothermal operations and research experiments that test fault stress.
Now with the database up and running, the team will continue to revise and add to it as old reports resurface and when new quakes hit. For Wilson, this information may be just the insight needed to push people to finally strike a balance with the planet.
“As the database grows, it may be possible to improve our understanding of induced earthquakes and to manage their impact on society,” he said.
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The unemployment rate dropped from 4.4 percent to 4.2 percent in September, while the economy lost 33,000 jobs. Impossible, right?
Well, no. As we’ve explained here for years, the two numbers, released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its September jobs report, come from two completely different monthly surveys:one of households (a sample of 60,000), and the other of “establishments” — places that employ folks (a sample of 147,000 businesses and government agencies). The unemployment number comes from the household survey; the jobs created figure, by contrast, comes from the establishment or “payroll” survey.
So why did they differ so dramatically last month? Two probable reasons. One may be that September’s storms and hurricanes put many jobs on hold, but didn’t eliminate them permanently. Employment in “food services and drinking places” alone dropped by 100,000, after adding an average of 24,000 a month since last fall. But those jobs-on-hold presumably didn’t show up in the household survey, because people on temporary hiatus due to disruptions like a storm are still reported as employed.
The second reason for the discrepancy is one we’ve pointed out again and again: you can’t trust any one month’s numbers. In fact, this message is drummed home every month when the Bureau of Labor Statistics itself not only reports last month’s data, but revises the data from the previous two months. The revisions Friday? As the BLS put it: “The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for July was revised down from +189,000 to +138,000, and the change for August was revised up from +156,000 to +169,000.”
In other words, the supposedly gratifying payroll total reported in August was actually paltry, and in the following month it was better than reported.
Another number pops out in the latest household survey, a number somewhere between weird and implausible: 900,000 more Americans were reported as “employed” in September than the month before. Really? When the number of jobs went down by 33,000? So when interpreting data from any given month — and especially one battered by extreme weather, it’s best to exercise extreme caution and not overreact to supposed trends or anomalies.
One of our go-to economists on the monthly numbers, the University of Michigan’s Justin Wolfers, tweeted: “That six-or-seven year run — the longest ever run of consecutive positive payroll growth — looks to be over.”
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This last comment refers to frequent accusations President Donald Trump made as a candidate that the BLS data willfully camouflaged a sagging economy under former President Barack Obama. And though he’s now changed his tune and taken credit for the jobs reports under his administration, Mr. Trump may have succeeded in cowing the agency. This month’s written summary of data included a curious sentence about the dramatic reversal in the payroll number: “Total nonfarm payroll employment changed little (-33,000),” the agency noted (italics mine). For an economy that has added well over 100,000 jobs a month for years now, “changed little” could be viewed as timorous understatement.
But again, let’s not overreact. Wolfers had tweeted that he anticipated “a not-very-interpretable jobs report,” and that’s just what we got. Which means we should also be careful not to wax enthusiastic over the apparently healthy wage increase included in the September numbers.
Finally, as regular readers know, when the jobs numbers come out the first Friday of every month, we have for years added our own more inclusive reckoning of un- and underemployment, U-7, which includes people who say they want a full-time job but can’t find it. The U-7 was 11.4 percent in September, down from 11.8 percent the previous month.
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FREDERIKSTED, U.S. Virgin Islands — Vice President Mike Pence took in the damage wrought by Hurricane Maria in the U.S. Virgin Islands and delivered a message of comfort Friday from his boss, the president: “We will be with you every day until the Virgin Islands comes all the way back.”
Air Force Two flew over homes stripped of their roofs, toppled trees and debris strewn in yards as it arrived on St. Croix, where the vice president attended a briefing on recovery efforts at an Army National Guard hangar before visiting a church to meet with people affected by the storm. President Donald Trump had hoped to visit earlier in the week, but the White House said difficult logistics in the aftermath of the storm prevented his trip.
“He wanted us to be here in the U.S. Virgin Islands to say very plainly and simply we are with you today, we will be with you tomorrow, we will be with you every day until the U.S. Virgin Islands comes all the way back,” Pence told local officials. “That’s our pledge to each and every one of you.”
Visiting with locals at a church, Pence invited his wife, Karen, the family “prayer captain,” to lead the congregation in prayer. She cited a reading from Colossians that spoke to the island’s resilience.
Construction worker Jose Sanchez, 33, said the Pences’ visit “builds morale, it gives us hope.”
As for Maria, Sanchez said: “It was a whipping that we received. It is something that people are never going to forget, like Katrina.”
Kenneth E. Mapp, the governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, said the federal government had hurricane response efforts “down to a science.”
“There is no country that responds to disasters like the United States of America,” he said, adding that the island was making progress in its recovery from Hurricane Maria and expected schools to reopen on Tuesday.
The vice president was traveling to San Juan, Puerto Rico, later in the day. The trip comes days after Trump visited Puerto Rico and praised relief efforts without mentioning the criticism that the federal response has drawn.
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WASHINGTON — In an order that undercuts protections for LGBT people, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a sweeping directive to agencies Friday to do as much as possible to accommodate those who say their religious freedoms are being violated.
The guidance, an attempt to deliver on President Donald Trump’s pledge to his evangelical and other religious supporters, effectively lifts a burden from religious objectors to prove that their beliefs about marriage or other topics are sincerely held.
Under the new policy, a claim of a violation of religious freedom would be enough to override concerns for the civil rights of LGBT people and anti-discrimination protections for women and others. The guidelines are so sweeping that experts on religious liberty are calling them a legal powder-keg that could prompt wide-ranging lawsuits against the government.
“This is putting the world on notice: You better take these claims seriously,” said Robin Fretwell Wilson, a law professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “This is a signal to the rest of these agencies to rethink the protections they have put in place on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Trump announced plans for the directive last May in a Rose Garden ceremony where he was surrounded by religious leaders. Since then, religious conservatives have anxiously awaited the Justice Department guidance, hoping for greatly strengthened protections for their beliefs amid the rapid acceptance of LGBT rights. Religious liberty experts said they would have to see how the guidance would be applied by individual agencies, both in crafting regulations and deciding how to enforce them. But experts said the directive clearly tilted the balance very far in favor of people of faith who do not want to recognize same-sex marriage.
“Except in the narrowest circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law,” Sessions wrote. “To the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, religious observance and practice should be reasonably accommodated in all government activity.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian law firm, called it “a great day for religious freedom.” The Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT-rights group, called the guidelines an “all-out assault” on civil rights and a “sweeping license to discriminate.”
The new document lays the groundwork for legal positions that the Trump administration intends to take in future religious freedom cases, envisioning sweeping protections for faith-based beliefs and practices in private workplaces, at government jobs, in awarding government grants and in running prisons.
In issuing the memo, Sessions is injecting the department into a thicket of highly charged legal questions that have repeatedly reached the U.S. Supreme Court, most notably in the 2014 Hobby Lobby case that said corporations with religious objections could opt out of a health law requirement to cover contraceptives for women.
The memo makes clear the Justice Department’s support of that opinion in noting that the primary religious freedom law — the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 — protects the rights not only of people to worship as they choose but also of corporations, companies and private firms.
In what is likely to be one of the more contested aspects of the document, the Justice Department states that religious organizations can hire workers based on religious beliefs and an employee’s willingness “to adhere to a code of conduct.” Many conservative Christian schools and faith-based agencies require employees to adhere to moral codes that ban sex outside marriage and same-sex relationships, among other behavior.
The document also says the government improperly infringes on individuals’ religious liberty by banning an aspect of their practice or by forcing them to take an action that contradicts their faith. As an example, Justice Department lawyers say government efforts to require employers to provide contraceptives to their workers “substantially burdens their religious practice.” Separately Friday, the Health and Human Services Department allowed more employers with religious objections to opt out of the birth control coverage rule in the Affordable Care Act.The department’s civil rights division will now be involved in reviewing all agency actions to make sure they don’t conflict with federal law regarding religious liberty.[/nhpullquote
Session’s directive affirms Trump’s earlier directive to the Internal Revenue Service not to enforce the Johnson Amendment, which bars churches and tax-exempt groups from endorsing political candidates. The policy has only rarely been enforced in the past.
The department’s civil rights division will now be involved in reviewing all agency actions to make sure they don’t conflict with federal law regarding religious liberty. Tony Perkins, head of the conservative Family Research Council, in a statement lauding Trump, said his group has set up a hotline for federal employees and others who feel they’ve faced discrimination over their religious beliefs.
Zoll reported from New York.
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WASHINGTON — After an extensive search, a U.S. soldier who had been missing for nearly two days in Niger has been found dead, a result of a deadly ambush by dozens of Islamic extremists on a joint patrol of American and Niger forces, U.S. officials said Friday.
The soldier, whose name has not been released, was one of four U.S. troops and four Niger forces killed in the attack.
His body was found by Niger forces on Friday near where the ambush occurred, and then transferred into U.S. custody at a safer location further from the attack site. U.S. officials said his body was moved onto an American helicopter by U.S. forces in a somber ceremony and then taken away for formal identification.
Eight Niger soldiers and two U.S. troops were wounded in the attack, but they were evacuated from the area on Wednesday after the attack unfolded.
U.S. officials described a chaotic assault, as 40-50 extremists in vehicles and on motorcycles fired rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns at the patrol, setting off explosions and shattering windows. The soldiers got out of their trucks, returning fire and calling in support from French helicopters and fighter jets that quickly responded to the scene, according to officials. The officials weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.
U.S. officials say they believe extremists linked to the Islamic State group were responsible for the attack about 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of Niger’s capital, Niamey.
The U.S. and Niger forces were leaving a meeting with tribal leaders when they were ambushed. Most of the U.S. troops were Army special forces.
According to a statement by Niger’s army chief of staff, the joint patrol was attacked by “terrorist elements” in a dozen vehicles and about 20 motorcycles.
The statement said the deaths and injuries came “after intense fighting, during which elements of the joint force showed exemplary courage.”
U.S. special operations forces have been routinely working with Niger’s forces, helping them to improve their abilities to fight extremists in the region. That effort has increased in recent years, the Pentagon said.
Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad are putting together a 5,000-strong G5 Sahel force to fight the growing threat from extremists in the vast Sahel region. The first units are expected to deploy in October and all battalions should be on the ground by March 2018.
The Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution in June welcoming the deployment, but at U.S. insistence it did not include any possibility of U.N. financing for the force.
That force will operate in the region along with a 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali, which has become the deadliest in the world for U.N. peacekeepers, and France’s 5,000-strong Barkhane military operation, its largest overseas mission.
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WASHINGTON — A spokeswoman for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise says the Louisiana Republican plans to throw out the first pitch before Friday night’s playoff game between the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs.
Scalise made a triumphant return to the House last week — more than three months after he was wounded while practicing for an annual charity baseball game featuring members of Congress.
Scalise and four others were wounded when a gunman opened fire at the practice.
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WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and potential 2020 presidential contender Elizabeth Warren among them — are starting to give charities thousands of dollars in donations they had received from the disgraced Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein.
Weinstein and his family have given more than $1.4 million in political contributions since the 1992 election cycle, nearly all of it to Democratic lawmakers, candidates and their allies, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
The party’s effort to separate itself from the 65-year-old film executive came after The New York Times reported that he has settled sexual harassment lawsuits with at least eight women.
Weinstein’s contributions are tiny compared to the biggest political donors, not even placing him among the top 100 funders. But he’s been a fixture among Democratic supporters for decades, making the revelations especially embarrassing for a party that touts itself as pushing progressive policies for women.
The biggest recipients of Weinstein’s largesse were the Democratic National Committee, the party’s senatorial and House campaign committees, and Hillary Clinton, the party’s 2016 presidential candidate and former senator, the Center’s data showed.
The GOP jumped on the episode, happy to force Democrats to return the funds or associate themselves with Weinstein.
“Returning this dirty money should be a no-brainer,” said Republican Party Chair Ronna McDaniel.
Schumer, D-N.Y., is donating thousands of dollars to several charities supporting women, said spokesman Matt House.
Warren spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said the senator is giving $5,000 to Casa Myrna, Boston’s largest provider of services to domestic violence victims.
Another possible presidential contender, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., will not accept any future Weinstein contributions, said senior adviser Glen Caplin. He said Gillibrand will donate $11,800 to RAINN, an organization that helps survivors of sexual violence.
“Kirsten invites the right-wing activists using this terrible story as a political tool to join her in actually working to combat sexual assault and sexual harassment in our society,” Caplin said.
Other Democratic recipients of Weinstein contributions who say they’re donating to charitable groups include Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey — another possible presidential hopeful — as well as Sens. Al Franken of Minnesota, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.
Demands to return campaign dollars are a staple of Washington politics practiced by both parties.
Republicans pressured Democratic candidates in 2011 to return donations from former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., who had resigned when his lewd online behavior became public.
Democrats did the same after former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., was sentenced to prison last year in a hush-money case that stemmed from decades-old sexual abuse during his years as a wrestling coach.
The report on Weinstein came almost exactly a year after the election-campaign release of audio from 2005 in which now-President Donald Trump made offensive, lewd comments about women.
Associated Press writer Kevin Freking contributed to this report.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The Trump administration today announced a change in health care policy that could affect hundreds of thousands of women’s access to contraception.
Lisa Desjardins explains.
LISA DESJARDINS: These new rules about contraception policy are long, 163 pages. Read through it all, and there are two key points.
One, this takes effect immediately. Two, now, most employers can be exempted from providing birth control coverage for their workers, if they have either religious or moral objections. This is part of a pledge the president made to conservatives.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: For too long, the federal government has used the power of the state as a weapon against people of faith.
LISA DESJARDINS: Under the Affordable Care Act, contraception must be covered as preventative care, and it must be no-cost to patients.
More than 60 million American women ages 15 to 44 use contraception, and, for them, Obamacare has meant it is covered and free. It has also been a hot topic in court. The Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that one group of businesses, Hobby Lobby and private closely-owned businesses, could also drop contraception coverage.
But under today’s rule, essentially, all employers with objections can drop that coverage. For female employees, it would go from no-cost contraception to full retail cost.
How many people would be affected? Not clear. The Health and Human Services Department says 160,000. Women’s health groups say it could be much higher. Those on the right say this doesn’t block access to contraception. It just means it will not be free. Those on the left argue that, for low-income women, adding cost does block access.
The Trump administration says it changed the rule, in part, to end lawsuits from those who say it attacks religious rights. But, already, there are new lawsuits from those who say it attacks women’s rights.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Lisa Desjardins.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: And in a piece of related news, the White House wouldn’t confirm or deny that President Trump will decertify the Iran nuclear deal before the October 15 deadline. It is being widely reported that he will take that step, and leave it to Congress to consider to reimpose sanctions.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says Mr. Trump is evaluating what she calls all the bad behavior of Iran.
SARAH SANDERS, White House Press Secretary: Not just the nuclear deal as bad behavior, but the ballistic missile testing, destabilizing of the region, number one state sponsor of terrorism, cyber-attacks, illicit nuclear program. He wants to look for a broad strategy that addresses all of those problems, not just one-offing those.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The president says that Tehran has violated the spirit of the agreement, if not the actual provisions.
Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have dealt a temporary blow to the U.S. job market. The storms shuttered thousands of businesses and forced evacuations in Texas and Florida last month. As a result, the Labor Department reports that the economy shed 33,000 jobs in September.
Even so, the unemployment rate improved. It fell to 4.2 percent, its lowest level since 2001.
A new storm warning is up for Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, ahead of Tropical Storm Nate. It is on track to brush past Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula tonight, and then strike the U.S. late Saturday, as a hurricane. People along the Louisiana shoreline are already stockpiling supplies and trying to protect power lines. Officials are hoping that the storm will pass quickly, limiting its total rainfall.
Vice President Mike Pence got his first up-close look at the hurricane damage in Puerto Rico today, and vowed that more help is on the way. He first toured the destruction in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and then went on to San Juan. He told a church congregation that the federal government is in it for the long haul.
VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: When one part of America cries out for help, we come together. And I believe in my heart that, when the history of this time and this crisis is recorded in Puerto Rico, this will be a chapter when Americans stood by Americans and delivered on that promise.
JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump visited Puerto Rico earlier in the week, amid criticism that the federal response had been too slow.
Another U.S. commando has been found dead in the African nation of Niger. The Pentagon says he was killed Wednesday, along with three other special operations troops, in an ambush by Islamist extremists. The Americans were patrolling with soldiers from Niger.
Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is expected to plead guilty to desertion for leaving his post in Afghanistan in 2009. The Associated Press reports that he will also admit to a charge of misbehavior before the enemy. Taliban militants held Bergdahl hostage for five years, before he was freed in a prisoner swap. He is 31 years old now. He could face life in a military prison.
Las Vegas police say they still don’t know the motive behind Sunday night’s mass shooting that left 58 dead. Today, the county undersheriff, Kevin McMahill, said investigators are having trouble getting a fix on Stephen Paddock.
KEVIN MCMAHILL, Undersheriff, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department: In the past, terror attacks or mass murder incidents, motive was made very clear, very clear in most of those cases, by a note that was left. By a social media post. By a telephone call that was made. By investigators mining computer data.
Today, in our investigation, we don’t have any of that uncovered. I wish we did.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Paddock killed himself as police closed in on his location.
Australia today ended a three-month amnesty for turning in illegal firearms. The government says the public turned in 51,000 weapons to be destroyed, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says that the country’s gun laws have prevented mass killings. Australia enacted strict curbs after a gunman killed 35 people in Tasmania back in 1996.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions today ordered federal government agencies to put new emphasis on religious freedom, even if it means overriding civil rights protections. Those could include same-sex marriage, transsexual rights and equal opportunity provisions for women and others. Civil liberties groups responded right away, charging that the new rule could lead to discrimination.
Wall Street was little changed today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost one point to close at 22773. The Nasdaq rose four points, and the S&P 500 slipped two.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: A tiny group that works to prevent nuclear war is this year’s winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, based in Geneva, was honored today. The announcement in Oslo, Norway, cited North Korea’s actions that have sparked verbal assaults from President Trump.
BERIT REISS-ANDERSEN, Chair, Norwegian Nobel Committee: We live in a world where the risk for nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time. Some states are modernizing their nuclear arsenals, and there is a real danger that more countries will try to procure nuclear weapons, as exemplified by North Korea.
JUDY WOODRUFF: For more on the work of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, or ICAN, I’m joined by John Burroughs. He is the executive director of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy. It’s a group that has worked closely with ICAN.
John Burroughs, welcome to the program.
What does this winning this Nobel Peace Prize mean for the work that you do?
JOHN BURROUGHS, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy: It brings much more attention, of course. It’s really going to give momentum to getting states to join the treaty.
It will be a real boost for ICAN in its work and, hopefully, it will refocus attention on the terrible risks posed by nuclear weapons and the very real possibilities of moving forward to a world without them.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But when you have the nine countries that are known to have nuclear weapons refusing to sign this treaty to abolish them and saying they’re not going to change their mind, how do you make progress?
JOHN BURROUGHS: Right.
It was quite a spectacle at the U.N. this past summer. Over 120 countries, mostly countries from the global south, like Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, joined by some European countries, Austria, Ireland, were saying enough is enough. There hasn’t been progress on reducing and eliminating their arsenals.
We are going to show the way by negotiating this treaty. So, at a minimum, it is a powerful statement of expectations that the countries that have them must stop relying on them, must stop threatening to use them and must move toward their elimination.
At a maximum, it provides and it is intended to provide a framework for global nuclear disarmament. It provides pathways for nuclear-armed states to join the treaty by agreeing to the verified, irreversible disarmament of their arsenals.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And yet all this is taking place in real time as North Korea, we are seeing a regime that looks at nuclear weapons as absolutely essential for its survival, and then the United States, President Trump, looking at North Korea and saying, you make a false move and we’re going to come back at you, we’re going to come at you.
How do you inject this argument into what’s going on in practical terms right now?
JOHN BURROUGHS: It’s absolutely a contrast, what you described.
The spirit of the negotiations and of the group ICAN that played a major role in this entire effort is one of, we must look to humanitarian values. We must realize that the consequences of use of just one nuclear weapon in a city are totally unacceptable, tens or hundreds of thousands or even more lives lost.
And so that was a constant theme, the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and the desire to live in a world without that threat. And part of the approach was to say we are rejecting a view of the world in which you talk about nuclear weapons in terms of security and deterrence. We want to have a human-centered view of the world.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But do you, in essence, John Burroughs, have to give up on the idea of making progress in the short term?
JOHN BURROUGHS: No.
And the reason I say that is that this treaty, first of all, once it enters into force in the next year or two, it’s going to exert a lot of pressure on countries that are allies of the United States, particularly in Europe and also in the Pacific, to say, we — their publics are already saying you should join this treaty.
And so — but to do so, they would have to renounce reliance on U.S. nuclear umbrella, but it also can stimulate the nuclear-armed states to take steps that are very well-known, so that they could move closer to the abolition of nuclear weapons.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, just quickly, to those who would look at what you’re doing and saying this is well-meaning, well-intentioned, but it’s not practical, what’s the answer?
JOHN BURROUGHS: The answer is we have to think about the world in new ways.
And, you know, one of the inspiring things about ICAN is, it was really a young movement, and they were saying we want to think about the world we’re going to live in, in terms of humanitarian values protecting human rights.
JUDY WOODRUFF: John Burroughs with the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, a group that worked with the organization ICAN and today was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, John Burroughs, thanks very much.
JOHN BURROUGHS: Thank you.
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Richard Smith went to Washington this week to face panel upon panel of angry lawmakers who questioned the former Equifax CEO on the hows and whys of last month’s massive data breach, which compromised the financial and personal information of more than 145 million Americans.
In the span of three days, Smith faced a barrage of questions from House and Senate committees in four separate congressional hearings, each providing several moments of political theater.
(The Monopoly Man even photobombed Smith during one of the Senate hearings, pulling on his fake mustache and holding up a monocle to his right eye.)
Amid the sharp criticism, Smith repeatedly offered up apologies, saying he was “truly, deeply sorry” for what happened.
The pomp and circumstance, entertaining as it was, was fairly predictable — and it’s not clear if the sharp words will translate into legislation that sets better security protocols for safeguarding consumer data, such as phone numbers, Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable information (PII) found on a credit report.
We asked two cybersecurity experts about what we should take away from this week’s hearings — and what’s next.
A quick refresh on the breach
The Equifax breach was unprecedented in its reach, affecting nearly half of the U.S. population, along with at least 400,000 people in the United Kingdom and another 100,000 across Canada.
Initial reports mentioned that hackers possibly plundered critical data through a software vulnerability. The condensed timeline is that Equifax originally reported that it was breached sometime mid-May; the company first discovered the hack on July 29; and the public was notified of the problem on Sept. 7 — six weeks between when Equifax discovered the breach, and when it alerted the public.
This week’s hearings were designed to be educational, with lawmakers hoping to shed more light on what exactly led to the Equifax hack.
Smith, who had stepped down as CEO in late September, said the breach was both a technological error and a human one. But Wired, who was also watching the hearings, noted that the timeline Smith painted was “pretty leisurely.” Lawmakers grew increasingly frustrated with Smith’s explanation of the hack, which appeared to show a lack of urgency on the company’s part.
Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas wasn’t having any of it. “You’re just required to notify everybody and say, ‘So sorry, so sad,'” he said to Smith, while consumers are left to deal with the real-life consequences.
Why you should (still) care
The Equifax hack follows a series of high-profile breaches of consumer data at Target, Home Depot and Yahoo, which, during the same week of the Equifax hearings, announced its 2013 hack actually affected all three billion of its customers. Yahoo originally reported it affected one billion. That’s a separate breach from the one in 2014, which affected 500 million accounts. This week, Equifax, too, updated the number of people affected in its hack, from 143 million to 145.5 million.
The Yahoo breaches have been much bigger than the latest at Equifax, Anthem and the Office of Personnel Management. But these smaller breaches involve more vulnerable information, the Social Security numbers in particular, which are the most valuable for thieves.
What we learned in the hearings (and what we didn’t)
Smith’s 4,000-word prepared testimony added more details to the timeline, but it didn’t fully explain how a company who is legally allowed to sell consumers’ personal data to lenders wasn’t able to adequately safeguard the sensitive information.
Smith has maintained that he didn’t know the scope of the breach. And that’s part of the problem. “Every major company holding consumer data should assume ‘the frontline will always be breached’ at one time or another,” said Avi Chesla, co-founder and chief executive of empow cyber security.”Companies like Equifax should always anticipate a breach. The question is: What are they doing to identify what happened and contain it as soon as they can?” he added.
Can one person be blamed for a hack this size? Smith placed the problem squarely on an “individual” who failed to promptly fix the software before the hack could take place. But experts, including Chelsa, say one person isn’t to blame.
Rep. Barton said that Equifax may have “paid more attention to security” if the company had to pay a penalty for everyone that was hacked. Smith didn’t respond to that suggestion.
We don’t know enough about Equifax’s infrastructure for responding to hacks.
Chesla told the NewsHour that Smith’s explanation for the hack had some gaps and, overall, was “not good enough.”
“[T]hey never provided the details of their architecture,” he said in an email. “If an air bag fails and the passenger dies, we can analyze the air bag to determine what went wrong. Equifax needs to reveal their security architecture as a service to the world, so that won’t happen again,” he added.
What can be done?
There ought to be more rigor in setting standards for data companies, said Mark Testoni, president and CEO of SAP National Security Services. He cited the financial services industry as a model, including banks, where there’s some level of government oversight and industry collaboration. “[Those institutions] know we’re all in this together,” he said. Testoni doesn’t see the same level of regulation and collaboration within the cyber arena.
One approach to making that happen: The government creates a set of standards that is paired with peer evaluation and other methods to help individual companies get better at cyber security.
It’s not a perfect answer to the problem, but it’s at the least a model to improve on, Testoni said.
But the threat is getting exponentially greater and our response has to be greater — and legislation is only a part of the equation, Testoni said.
“We don’t want Congress to tell us how to protect something. We want Congress a framework to evolve security overtime,” Testoni said. “Personal databases are part of our critical infrastructure in our country. We need to acknowledge that and apply some standards on how this needs to be protected,” he added. The breach, Testoni hopes, can be a “call to action.”
At the end of the day, a lot of the problem also lies with us.
“Ultimately, most cyber penetrations are because somebody let them in inadvertently,” he said. This would mean spear-phishing emails, visiting bad websites, among other ways hackers can lure unsuspecting people into compromising their information.
“There needs to be education that’s not so different from when we started educating people on tobacco use, littering and pollution, he said.
That way we can raise our collective IQ around cyber as Americans, he said.
Where do we go from here?
The hearings have come and gone. But how do we translate the lessons of this hack into legislation that properly addresses the changing notions around cybersecurity?
Despite all the negative consequences, the breach fallout has provided an opportunity to also have a conversation over how we evolve beyond the “static” identifiers, like Social Security numbers, which are highly vulnerable in these types of cyberattacks.
Testoni doesn’t think the country will get rid of static identifiers like SSNs, created in 1936, anytime soon, but he says the country could “augment” them by requiring additional identifiers or authenticators.
Part of the response now partly requires the average consumer to learn a “new ‘self-defense,'” Chesla said. “The processes of cybersecurity are simply too complex for the average consumer, however that does not preclude the fact that they should be aware of the threats that exist,” he said in an email to NewsHour.
There have been a wave of lawsuits filed by state attorneys against Equifax. There have also been new calls for legislation. By The Wall Street Journal’s count, there are at least eight bills that hope to push the credit reporting industry toward better cybersecurity practices and quicker responses to breaches. A Republican-controlled Congress could complicate that process. As a reminder, the sweeping Cybersecurity Act of 2015 was years in the making and had several false starts.
Should consumers have greater control over their credit reports? Also, months before the breach was disclosed, Equifax was lobbying to relax the “legal liability of credit-reporting companies,” the Journal reported. During one of the hearings, there were calls for consumers having greater control over their credit reports. Smith agreed. He announced that the company was going to offer customers the ability to lock their reports next year, available for free. He then urged the company’s competitors TransUnion and Experian to do the same.
“It’s time we change the paradigm and give the power back to the consumer to control who accesses his or her credit,” he said.
Any paradigm-shifting path forward was quickly dashed hours later. Experian issued a response: No.
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WASHINGTON — Trying to revive health care talks, President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday that he had spoken to the Senate’s Democratic leader to gauge whether the minority party was interested in helping pass “great” health legislation.
The answer back: Democrats are willing to hear his ideas, but scrapping the Obama health law is a nonstarter.
Trump’s latest overture to Democrats follows GOP failures so far to fulfill their yearslong promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act despite controlling the White House and Congress since January.
The president tweeted that he called New York Sen. Chuck Schumer on Friday to discuss the 2010 law, which Trump said “is badly broken, big premiums. Who knows!” Trump said he wanted “to see if the Dems want to do a great HealthCare Bill.”
Schumer said through a spokesman Saturday that Trump “wanted to make another run at repeal and replace and I told the president that’s off the table.” Schumer said if Trump “wants to work together to improve the existing health care system, we Democrats are open to his suggestions.”
Trump has suggested before that he would be open to negotiating with Democrats on health care, but there have been no clear signs of a compromise between Republicans who have sought to scrap former President Barack Obama’s law and Democrats who want to protect it.
Schumer said a starting point could be negotiations led by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., who have been discussing a limited bipartisan deal to stabilize state-level markets for individual health insurance policies. People covered under the health law represent about half of those who purchase individual policies.[Watch Video]
Trump irritated GOP leaders in Congress when he reached a deal with Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on a spending bill and the debt ceiling. The president has referred to those two Democrats as “Chuck and Nancy.”
But the Trump administration announced Friday that it would allow more employers to opt out of no-cost birth control to women by claiming religious or moral objections. The move was one more attempt to roll back Obama’s health overhaul, prompting Democrats to question whether Trump is committed to avoiding sabotaging the law.
Trump floated the potential talks as he approved an emergency declaration for a large part of Louisiana and ordered federal assistance for the state as Hurricane Nate approached the central Gulf of Mexico.
The president was also headlining a fundraiser on Saturday night in Greensboro, North Carolina, to benefit his Trump Victory joint fundraising committee with the Republican National Committee. The event was expected to raise $2 million, with donors paying up to $35,000 per couple to serve as co-hosts.
Before leaving for North Carolina, Trump repeated his assertion that trying to negotiate with North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs is a waste of time.
In a two-part tweet, he said: “Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid … hasn’t worked, agreements violated before the ink was dry, makings fools of U.S. negotiators. Sorry, but only one thing will work!”
Trump’s tweets Saturday and earlier in the week were seen directed either at undermining Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s efforts to maintain channels of communication or at somehow bolstering the diplomat’s hand in possible future talks.
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WASHINGTON — Traffic fatalities rose 5.6 percent last year, with the biggest spikes in pedestrian and motorcyclist deaths, the government said Friday.
There were 37,461 people killed on U.S. roads in 2016 as Americans continue to drive more, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said. That’s the highest number of deaths since 2007.
The fatality rate was 1.18 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, a 2.6 percent increase from the previous year.
Traffic deaths have been increasing since late 2014, as gas prices have fallen and people started driving more. In 2016, the total number of miles driven in the U.S. rose 2.2 percent.
Last year’s increase in deaths follows an 8.4 percent surge in deaths in 2015. The last time the U.S. had similar back-to-back increases of that magnitude was more than five decades ago.
Pedestrian deaths last year hit their highest level since 1990, with 5,987 people killed. That figure represents a 9 percent increase from the previous year.
Motorcyclist deaths were up 5.1 percent, reaching their highest level — 5,286 killed — since 2008.
Together, they accounted for more than a third of the increase in fatalities compared with 2015.
Pedestrians “are unprotected and, in most cases, outnumbered,” said Deborah Hersman, CEO of the National Safety Council.
“We must not forget that the risks we are all facing extend to the sidewalks, too,” she said. “Everyone deserves safe passage, and these numbers are yet another indication that we must do more to keep each other safe.”
Bicycle deaths increased only slightly, 1.3 percent, but were at their highest number — 840 killed — since 1991.
Deaths related to distracted and drowsy driving declined. Those declines were more than offset by other dangerous behaviors, including speeding, alcohol impairment and not wearing seat belts, the safety administration said.
Data on fatalities attributed to distracted or drowsy driving have limitations. The information is drawn from police reports, but it’s not always obvious to police if a driver was distracted or fell asleep. Also, if it’s clear that a driver was at fault in a crash, police may not investigate further to determine if the driver was distracted or drowsy.
Traffic deaths declined significantly during the Great Recession and during the economic recovery as Americans cut back on their driving. Increased seat belt use, reductions in alcohol impairment, and improved auto safety equipment like air bags and electronic stability control also contributed to the decline.
The large increases in fatalities of 2015 and 2016 eliminated more than a third of the progress over the past decade in reducing the number of people killed on the roads each year.
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President Donald Trump lashed out Saturday against late night television show hosts who have been sharply critical of his administration and Republicans.
Trump took to Twitter to argue that the GOP should be given “equal time” because of the “one-sided” coverage, an apparent reference to Federal Communications Commission rules dealing with political candidates during elections.
“Late Night host(s) are dealing with the Democrats for their very ‘unfunny’ & repetitive material, always anti-Trump!” he tweeted. “Should we get Equal Time?”
Trump also suggested “more and more people” are clamoring for more coverage of Republicans, who control the White House and Congress
Seth Myers, who has been among the most vocal Trump critics, immediately tweeted back that he’d “love” to have Trump on his NBC show. Myers jokingly provided his studio address as “15 Penguin Avenue, Antarctica.”
Others on Twitter pointed out to the president that “equal time” is meant for campaign season, not to protect elected officials from being the butt of television humor.
“That’s not how it works. You’re not campaigning. You’re the president,” Mike DiCenzo, a writer and producer for NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” tweeted. “Now kindly stop tweeting nonsense and go do your job for once.”
The FCC rule says political candidates should be treated equally by broadcast television stations when it comes to selling or giving away air time during an election. Over the years, the commission has broadly exempted news programs, including late night talk shows, from the provision.
Trump’s tweets followed shortly after a segment on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” that said many late show hosts have taken “a hard turn to the left.”
The president’s reference to “dealing with Democrats” appears to allude to recent reports by Fox and others that ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel consulted with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, before delivering a series of emotional and personal monologues against Republicans’ attempts to repeal and replace the health care law that was championed by former President Barack Obama.
Kimmel’s son, Billy, who was born this year with a congenital heart defect, a pre-existing condition the late night host argued would have prevented the boy from getting health insurance if not for the Affordable Care Act that Obama signed in 2010.
Trump’s ire for his late night critics— who also include CBS’ Stephen Colbert and even Fallon at times — is not totally unfounded.
A study by researchers at George Mason University in Virginia found that Trump in on pace to “easily eclipse” the most jokes about any person tracked by its Center for Media and Public Affairs since it began monitoring in 1988.
The New York billionaire was the target of more than 1,000 jokes during his first 100 days in office, surpassing the 936 jokes made at Obama’s expense in his first year in office in 2009 and more than the 546 about George W. Bush in his first year as president in 2001, according to the study.
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Nearly one week after Spanish police tried to violently shut down Catalonia’s vote to become independent from the country, thousands of people rallied in Madrid and Barcelona on Saturday in a more peaceful show of support and opposition.
People who were wearing white were backing the slogan, “Shall we talk?” which Jordi Cuixart, president of one of the one of the grassroots groups driving Catalonia’s separatist movement, told the Guardian was a call to Spanish politicians.
“There has to be a commitment to dialogue,” Cuixart said. “We will continue to demand a commitment that the referendum law be fulfilled.”
Meanwhile, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has denied requests for mediation, vowing to block independence, which could signal more ruptures to come in the European Union. Thousands of supporters of the union counter-protested the sea of white with Spanish flags.
The demonstration was a much more peaceful scene than what happened on Oct. 1, when 90 percent of Catalans who voted in an outlawed referendum favored secession from Spain. There was a 43 percent turnout.
Spanish police tried to sabotage the vote by raiding polling stations, beating voters and firing rubber bullets into the crowds. The Catalan government said hundreds of people were injured. Spain’s government representative in Catalonia apologized on Friday, but still blamed Catalonia for the unrest.
Catalonia, the birthplace of Salvador Dalí, is a prosperous region in northeastern Spain with its own language and culture and a population of about 7.5 million. Barcelona is its capital.
It has its own parliament and is autonomous, but the national government oversees areas of security such as immigration, the airports and the ports.
And while it has long sought independence, the most recent push came after a Spanish court overturned an agreement that gave it more autonomy in 2010 amid a global economic downturn.
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who took office in 2011, posed the referendum in defiance of Spanish law at the risk of losing autonomy.
In an interview with the BBC following the police violence, he said, “I think we’ve won the right to be heard, but what I find harder to understand is this indifference – or absolute lack of interest – in understanding what is happening here. They’ve never wanted to listen to us.”
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NEW YORK — Donald Trump boasts of making great deals, but a financial report filed with the British government shows he has lost millions of dollars for three years running on a couple of his more recent big investments: his Scottish golf resorts.
A report from Britain’s Companies House released late Friday shows losses last year at the two resorts more than doubled to 17.6 million pounds ($23 million). Revenue also fell sharply.
In the report, Trump’s company attributed the results partly to having shut down its Turnberry resort for half the year while building a new course there and fixing up an old one.
His company has faced several setbacks since it ventured into Scotland a dozen years ago, and its troubles recently have mounted.
The company has angered some local residents near its second resort on the North Sea with what they say are its bullying tactics to make way for more development. The company also has lost a court fight to stop an offshore windmill farm near that resort, drew objections from environmental regulators over building plans there in August and appears at risk of losing a bid to host the coveted Scottish Open at its courses.
Amanda Miller, a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, declined to comment about the results.
Trump handed over management of his company to his two adult sons before becoming U.S. president, but still retains his financial interest in it.
It’s not clear how big a role Trump’s setbacks in Scotland have played in the losses. In addition to the Turnberry shutdown, the company also noted in its report that it took an 8 million pound ($10 million) loss due to fluctuations in the value of the British pound last year.
The company reported that revenue at the two courses fell 21 percent to 9 million pounds ($11.7 million) in 2016 from 11.4 million pounds ($15 million) a year earlier.
Trump’s golf business is closely watched because he has made big investments buying and developing courses in recent years, a risky wager in a struggling industry. It is also a bit of departure for the company. Trump has mostly played it safe in other parts of his business, putting his name on buildings owned by others and taking a marketing and management fee instead of investing himself.
Much of the anger toward Trump in Scotland is centered around his resort outside Aberdeen overlooking the North Sea coast and its famed sand dunes stretching into the distance. Called the Trump International Golf Links, it is here that a local fisherman became a national hero of sorts for refusing a $690,000 offer from Trump for his land and where footage was shot for a documentary on Trump’s fights with the residents, called “Tripping Up Trump.”
Many locals praise the course for bringing in more tourists to the area and helping the local economy, but Trump’s critics there are outspoken and now, with their target the U.S. president, playing to a worldwide audience.
The same day that the financial report on the resorts was released, an online petition by a global corporate watchdog group fighting Trump’s plans for a second 18-hole course to the North Sea resort got signature number 94,860.
When Trump visited his North Sea resort in June last year, two local residents ran Mexican flags up a pole in protest against the then-candidate’s immigration policies. It was a snub that came just after the U.K. Supreme Court ruled unanimously against Trump’s efforts to stop the wind farm, a Scottish government decision to strip him of his title as business ambassador for Scotland and the revocation of an honorary degree from Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University.
Both the Scottish government and the university cited Trump’s comments about Muslims during the campaign.
In July, the CEO of a major sponsor of the Scottish Open was quoted in a local newspaper casting doubt on Trump’s chances of hosting the event.
“There’s no decision made but, look, there are clear issues,” Aberdeen Asset Management CEO Martin Gilbert was quoted saying. He added, “Politics aside, Trump would be an ideal venue — but you can’t put politics aside.”
Asked for clarification on Friday about what Martin meant by “issues” and “politics,” Aberdeen Asset spokesman James Thorneley told the AP: “It’s pretty kind of obvious, right?” Pressed, he said he would not comment further.
This summer, Scotland’s Environmental Protection Agency and the Scottish Natural Heritage, a conservation group, sent letters to the Aberdeenshire Council urging it to reject Trump’s plans for the second course if he did not make certain changes. A vote by the local government, expected in August, was postponed.
The global watchdog group behind the online petition, SumofUs, used the environmental objections in its plea for signatures. It also seized on Trump’s reaction to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, to muster support, arguing that Trump’s rhetoric has “bolstered white supremacists” across the globe.
Its argument on its website: “Now we have a chance to reject Trump’s hatred and protect our environment in one fell swoop.”
Still, the two courses are widely praised for their beauty, and tourists on buses like to stop by the North Sea course for a round.
Whether any of this will hurt profits at Trump’s Scottish business in the long run is another matter.
In the financial report, Eric Trump, the president’s son and a director of British subsidiary that owns the two resorts, included a letter expressing confidence that the resorts will attract plenty of golfers. He said Turnberry has received “excellent reviews” from its guests, and that the reopening of the resort is ushering in an “exciting new era” for the company.
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Most Americans think of cities as noisy places – but some parts of U.S. cities are much louder than others. Nationwide, neighborhoods with higher poverty rates and proportions of black, Hispanic and Asian residents have higher noise levels than other neighborhoods. In addition, in more racially segregated cities, living conditions are louder for everyone, regardless of their race or ethnicity.
As environmental health researchers, we are interested in learning how everyday environmental exposures affect different population groups. In a new study we detail our findings on noise pollution, which has direct impacts on public health.
Scientists have documented that environmental hazards, such as air pollution and hazardous waste sites, are not evenly distributed across different populations. Often socially disadvantaged groups such as racial minorities, the poor and those with lower levels of educational attainment experience the highest levels of exposure. These dual stresses can represent a double jeopardy for vulnerable populations.
Our research shows that like air pollution, noise exposure may follow a similar social gradient. This unequal burden may, in part, contribute to observed health disparities across diverse groups in the United States and elsewhere.
Mapping city sounds
In 2015 we stumbled across a Smithsonian Magazine post about the National Park Service sound map. The sound estimates are meant to represent average noise levels during a summer day or night. They rely on 1.5 million hours of sound measurements across 492 locations, including urban areas and national forests, and modeling based on topography, climate and human activity. National Park Service colleagues shared their model and collaborated on our study.
By linking the noise model to national U.S. population data, we made some interesting discoveries. First, in both rural and urban areas, affluent communities were quieter. Neighborhoods with median annual incomes below US$25,000 were nearly 2 decibels louder than neighborhoods with incomes above $100,000 per year. And nationwide, communities with 75 percent black residents had median nighttime noise levels of 46.3 decibels – 4 decibels louder than communities with no black residents. A 10-decibel increase represents a doubling in loudness of a sound, so these are big differences.
Why worry about noise?
A growing body of evidence links noise from a variety of sources, including air, rail and road traffic, and industrial activity to adverse health outcomes. Studies have found that kids attending school in louder areas have more behavioral problems and perform worse on exams. Adults exposed to higher noise levels report higher levels of annoyance and sleep disturbances.
Scientists theorize that since evolution programmed the human body to respond to noises as threats, noise exposures activate our natural flight-or-fight response. Noise exposure triggers the release of stress hormones, which can raise our heart rates and blood pressure even during sleep. Long-term consequences of these reactions include high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and lower birth weight.
As with other types of pollution, multiple factors help explain why some social groups are more exposed to noise than others. Factors include weak enforcement of regulations in marginalized neighborhoods, lack of capacity to engage in land use decisions and environmental policies that fail to adequately protect vulnerable communities. This may lead to siting of noise generating industrial facilities, highways and airports in poorer communities.
Segregated communities are louder
We also found higher noise levels in more racially segregated metropolitan areas, such as Milwaukee, Chicago, Cleveland, Trenton and Memphis. This relationship affected all members of these communities. For example, noise levels in communities made up entirely of white Americans in the least segregated metropolitan areas were nearly 5 decibels quieter than all-white neighborhoods in the most segregated metropolitan areas.
Segregation in U.S. metropolitan areas is a process that spatially binds communities of color and working-class residents through the concentration of poverty, lack of economic opportunity, exclusionary housing development and discriminatory lending policies. But why would even all-white neighborhoods in highly segregated cities be noisier than those elsewhere? Although we did not find conclusive evidence, we believe this happens because in highly segregated cities, political power is often unequally distributed along racial, ethnic and economic lines.
These power differences may empower some residents to manage undesirable land uses in ways that are beneficial to them – for example, by forcing freeway construction through poorer communities. This scenario can lead to higher levels of environmental hazards overall than would occur if power and the burdens of development were more equally spread across the community.
Segregation can also physically separate neighborhoods, workplaces and basic services, forcing all residents to drive more and commute farther. These conditions can increase air pollution and, potentially, metro-wide noise levels for everyone.
Curbing noise pollution
The U.S. government has done relatively little to regulate noise levels since 1981, when Congress abruptly stopped funding the Noise Control Act of 1972. However, Congress did not repeal the law, so states had to assume responsibility for noise control. Few states have tried, and there has been scant progress. For example, in 2013-2014 New York City received one noise complaint about every four minutes.
Without funding, noise research has proven difficult. Until recently the United States did not even have up-to-date nationwide noise maps. In contrast, multiple European countries have mapped noise, and the European Commission funds noise communication plans, abatement and health studies.
In 2009 the World Health Organization released a report detailing nighttime noise guidelines for Europe. They recommended reducing noise levels when possible and reducing the impact of noise when levels could not be moderated. For example, the guidelines recommended locating bedrooms on the quiet sides of houses, away from street traffic, and keeping nighttime noise levels below 40 decibels to protect human health. The agency encouraged all member states to strive for these levels in the long term, with a short-term goal of 55 decibels at night.
The most successful U.S. noise reduction efforts have centered on the airline industry. Driven by the introduction of new, more efficient and quieter engines and promoted by the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990, the number of Americans affected by aviation noise declined by 95 percent between 1975 and 2000.
Moving forward, our findings suggest that more research is needed for studies on the relationship between noise and population health in the United States – data that could inform noise regulations. Funding and research should focus on poorer communities and communities of color that appear to bear a disproportionate burden of environmental noise.
Joan A. Casey receives funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the University of California at San Francisco Preterm Birth Initiative. Peter James receives funding from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Aging, and the Boston Nutrition Obesity Research Center. Rachel Morello-Frosch receives funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, US EPA, the California Air Resources Board, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, and the California Breast Cancer Research Program. She is affiliated with Grist as the board of directors chair and the Switzer Environmental Leadership Program as a board member.
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CHRIS BURY: In Ohio, the climbing costs of the opioid epidemic are reflected in the shattered lives of people like Ashley Taylor. For the 26-year-old single mother of three, the road to addiction began in high school with pain pills often stolen from parents of friends. By 16, she was snorting, then shooting, heroin, because it was cheaper and easy to buy in the small southern Ohio town of Jackson, where she lives.
CHRIS BURY: When did you know that you were addicted?
ASHLEY TAYLOR: I’d say probably within a couple of weeks of doing them. Because you know, your body starts hurting and aching really bad, like you’re just so sick that you have to have it.
CHRIS BURY: Ashley says she’s been clean and sober for just over a year, but the costs to her — and to Ohio– are still piling up. To begin, she lost custody of her three children after police raided her home on suspicion she was selling drugs.
ASHLEY TAYLOR: They kicked in my doors, and my kids were home at the time. And there was multiple other people in my house. And they just kind of threw their needles on the floor. And so of course I was the one that got arrested, and they took my kids at the exact same time.
CHRIS BURY: Ashley was charged with child endangerment and spent two weeks in jail. But in a deal with Jackson county’s drug court — set up to handle a deluge of opioid cases — ashley’s guilty plea is on hold while she follows judge mark musick’s orders on treatment over two years.
The costs of compliance are high: every day, Ashley gets a ride to her aunt’s house to visit her three kids. Ohio’s child protective services — or CPS — placed Ashley’s 7-year-old daughter and two boys, 4 and 6, in the custody of Ashley’s aunt. CPS pays her 474 dollars a month to help raise the kids.
Foster care for children placed because of their parents’ drug addiction — mainly from opioids — costs Ohio 45 million dollars a year.
Ashley’s youngest child was born drug dependent; treatment for such children costs Ohio another 130 million dollars a year.
Counselor: And they’re still a hundred percent sober and supportive of your sobriety right?
Ashley: Yeah, very, actually.
CHRIS BURY: Every week, Ashley must attend multiple counseling sessions — and get tested for drugs. And for eight months, Ashley needed shots of the anti-addiction drug, Vivitrol. They cost more than $1,000 per injection. Overall, such medications — and the counseling — cost ohio medicaid 216 million dollars last year.
And that doesn’t include the costs of Ohio’s opioid epidemic to its hospitals, prisons and police…Or the rising death count.
In 2016, 4,050 people in ohio died of accidental overdoses, chiefly painkillers, heroin and fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid.
That was a 33-percent increase over 2015…And a 642-percent increase since 2000.
MIKE DEWINE: Think about this. We’re losing 10 people, we think, every single day in the state of Ohio.
CHRIS BURY: Those staggering losses and rising costs led Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine — a former U.S. Senator now running for Governor — to sue five major producers of opioid painkillers.
DEWINE: “…companies that we conclude spent millions of dollars to deceptively market their drugs…”
CHRIS BURY: Ohio’s lawsuit levels an explosive charge: that the pharmaceutical companies deliberately misled doctors and the public to downplay the addictive qualities — and hyped the benefits — of painkillers that earn them billions of dollars a year.
MIKE DEWINE: The evidence, we think, is overwhelming. We think it shows that what they did, they did on purpose. They told physicians and spent millions, hundreds of millions of dollars, to get this message across to physicians that these opioids were not very addictive.
CHRIS BURY: The companies sued include purdue pharma, which makes the widely prescribed painkiller, oxycontin… johnson and johnson, teva pharmaceuticals, endo health solutions, and allergan.
The pharmaceutical companies filed a joint motion to dismiss the lawsuit. None agreed to our requests to be interviewed.
Purdue pharma told “newshour weekend”: “…While we vigorously deny the allegations, we share the attorney general’s concerns about the opioid crisis and we are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions…”
In a statement to us, Jannsen, a Johnson and Johnson subsidiary, noted its painkiller pills “…Are FDA-approved and carry fda-mandated warnings about possible risks on every product label….”
CHRIS BURY: Is that going to be difficult for you to convince a jury that this was harmful, when the FDA was very clear in its approval?
MIKE DEWINE: Merely because the FDA approves something does not mean that a pharmaceutical company cannot mislead people. And I think the evidence is clearly going to show they did consistently over a number of decades.
CHRIS BURY: Attorney Jodi Avergun is a former chief of staff for the Drug Enforcement Administration. Now she represents drug companies, though she’s not involved in this lawsuit.
JODI AVERGUN: The people that pharmaceutical reps market to are doctors; they’re trained physicians. And an opioid is an addictive drug. So it’s hard for me to believe that there is a naïve population of doctors out there to whom pharmaceutical sales representatives were able to lie and mislead to the extent that’s alleged in the lawsuit.
CHRIS BURY: As evidence, the lawsuit cites pamphlets and educational guides…And claims companies paid sales reps and doctors millions of dollars to promote opioids and play down the risks of addiction. This video was produced by purdue pharma.
Purdue Pharma video: And so these drugs, which I repeat, are our strongest pain medications should be used much more than they are for patients in pain.
CHRIS BURY: Dr. Dona alba treats addicts in jackson ohio. She was a family physician for 20 years — and says pharma company representatives frequently pushed opioids.
DONA ALBA: They often came to the office, they pitched the product as the best possible
analgesic for your patients, irrespective of the source of their pain, whether it was acute
or whether it was chronic.
CHRIS BURY: And what kind of risk did they talk about or warn about?
DONA ALBA: None.
CHRIS BURY: And what about the risk of addiction?
DONA ALBA: None. And they said these products did not cause people to become
addicted. So they were safe to use.
CHRIS BURY: In its lawsuit, Ohio also accuses big pharma of “taking a page” from big tobacco in the way they minimized risks of addiction.
Now, Ohio has hired Michael Moore, the former Mississippi Attorney General who helped win a 246 billion dollar settlement with tobacco companies in the 1990s.
MICHAEL MOORE: It’s just like the tobacco case. You have folks who made billions of dollars by lying to the American public and causing a huge public nuisance and in this case killing 60,000 people a year. Who should pay for that? The taxpayers or the companies who made the billions of dollars? In my view, the companies ought to pay for it.
JODI AVERGUN: The critical difference here is that this case is involving medicine; it’s involving something that people in the health care business are making and distributing. Tobacco was a product that people enjoyed and smoked, and there was no claim that it was good for you. So I think that that’s a very huge difference.
CHRIS BURY STANDUP: Ohio’s attorney general filed the lawsuit here in Chillicothe, in the southern part of the state bordering the Appalachian Mountains. In this county of 77,000 people, the lawsuit claims, more than 1.6 million opioid pills were prescribed in 2015 alone. That’s the equivalent of 21 pills for every man, woman and child here in Ross County.
Bud Lytle: Well, we got him into treatment, and he doesn’t have a ride today.
CHRIS BURY: Chillicothe police detective bud lytle leads a team that tries to get overdose survivors into treatment. In this county- fatal overdoses from prescription painkillers have now been overtaken by those from heroin and fentanyl. But Lytle sees a strong tie.
CHRIS BURY: Do you see a direct connection from the opioids to heroin and fentanyl?
BUD LYTLE: 70 to 80 percent of the individuals that I deal with, their addictions started with a legitimate prescription from a doctor, and them taking it the way the doctor had originally prescribed until they became addicted. And eventually what happens is the pills are much more expensive than heroin, much more expensive than fentanyl to buy on the street.
Bud Lytle: Hey, Logan what’s up, man?
CHRIS BURY: Lytle’s entire job is to battle the opioid epidemic. Every wednesday, his team visits the homes of everyone in the county who overdosed the week before. During our visit, he checked up on 21-year-old logan mcgraw at his mother’s home. He had overdosed six times on heroin and fentanyl over the last month.
Logan: I was at my house and my mom found me unconscious
CHRIS BURY: Detective lytle takes logan to a treatment center. His bill will cost Ohio more than $5,000 a month. Overall, the state claims, fatal overdoses, medical expenses, and lost work cost Ohioans 4 billion dollars a year.
CHRIS BURY: A cascade of opioids lawsuits against big pharma — by Ohio and nine other states — raises the odds of a settlement according to Michael Moore. He’d like to see any money recovered used to help addicts and prevent opioid use.
MICHAEL MOORE: A prevention and education program will cost at least $100 million a year, similar to what we did in the tobacco cases to reduce youth smoking.// (16:01) We also hope and learned a lesson from tobacco that we can get court orders that money has to go into treatment; money has to go into prevention.
CHRIS BURY: Ashley taylor agrees. After years of not working because of her addiction and arrests, she now has a part time job at this fast food outlet. She’s saving to rent a 3-bedroom home big enough to fit her three kids. If she does that — and stays clean — she can get her children back in legal custody, again.
ASHLEY TAYLOR: I graduated a parenting class. I give them all my drug screens. So as long as I’m clean and I graduated the parenting and get a house for them, then they can come home with me.
CHRIS BURY: You’re looking forward to that?
ASHLEY TAYLOR: Yes, I am. I’m so excited.
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Facebook says it will begin manually reviewing advertisements that target certain groups and address politics, religion, ethnicity and social issues.
The company has informed some advertisers about the new “human review” requirement, warning them that it might cause delays before their ads can appear on the social media platform.
Facebook has had to apologize amid recent revelations of rampant abuse of its automated advertising process to broadcast false news or promote divisive and hateful messages, such as ads aimed at people who’ve expressed anti-Semitic views. The company is also under increasing congressional scrutiny after revealing that ads linked to a Russian internet agency were seen by an estimated 10 million people before and after the 2016 election.
Axios first reported on the written notice to advertisers. Facebook confirmed it Saturday.
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The post Could DOJ’s ‘religious freedom’ guidance give license to discriminate? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.