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

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    A fan of Lebanese alternative rock band Mashrou' Leila holds a rainbow flag during an Aug. 12 concert at the Ehdeniyat International Festival in Ehden town, Lebanon. Photo by Jamal Saidi/Reuters

    A fan of Lebanese alternative rock band Mashrou’ Leila holds a rainbow flag during an Aug. 12 concert at the Ehdeniyat International Festival in Ehden town, Lebanon. Photo by Jamal Saidi/Reuters

    Since last month, Egyptian police have arrested at least 54 people in what’s considered to be the widest ever crackdown of LGBTQ citizens in that country, according to an organization that advocates for civil liberties in Egypt.

    The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said the crackdown is in response to the raising of rainbow flags in the audience of a September 22 concert by popular Lebanese rock band Mashrou’ Leila. The band’s lead singer is gay.

    Images of the flags were spread across social media in the days that followed.

    Egyptian police have responded with a series of arrests since that concert, the rights group said. They have since convicted 10 people to between one and six years in prison for “debauchery.” The Supreme Council for Media Regulation, a media regulatory body, has also prohibited the promotion of what it calls “homosexual slogans.”

    “Egypt should immediately halt this vicious crackdown on a vulnerable group simply for waving a flag,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa director said in a statement Friday condemning the crackdown. “Repression will not turn gay people straight – it will only perpetuate fear and abuse,” she said.

    Unlike some other countries in the region, homosexuality is not illegal in Egypt. Instead those suspected are often charged with “debauchery” or “promoting sexual deviancy.”

    Human Rights Watch said at least six detained individuals were also given forced anal examinations.

    Najia Bounaim, the North Africa campaigns director at Amnesty International, said the examinations as “tantamount to torture” and something that “cannot be justified under any circumstances.”

    Amnesty International says it hasn’t seen any international response to these events.

    Egyptian media, which is dominated by pro-government channels, condemned the rainbow flags. “Homosexuality is a crime that’s as terrible as terrorism”, prime-time TV host Ahmed Moussa said. Poet Mohsen al-Balasy was kicked off al-Mehwar TV after publicly defending LGBTQ people.

    The number of arrests has surpassed the Queen Boat incident in 2001, which was once the largest crackdown of LGBTQ citizens in the country. Then, under Egypt’s ex-President Hosni Mubarak, police raided a floating nightclub called the Queen Boat, arresting 52 people. They were charged with “habitual debauchery” and “obscene behavior.”

    In the months following the 2011 Tahrir Square protests, LGBTQ advocates had hoped the country would become more accepting of gay rights, but the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian military put a damper on those ambitions, PRI reported. And since the 2013 coup that established a new government under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi a crackdown on members of the LGBTQ community has renewed.

    Three years ago, 26 men were arrested in another police raid of a Cairo bathhouse. The raid was aired in a TV special that framed the police action as an effort to combat the “spreading of AIDS in Egypt.”

    After an outpouring of support on social media, the men were found innocent.

    Homosexuality is widely unpopular in Egypt, a predominantly Muslim country. According to a 2013 Pew Research poll, 95 percent of Egyptians said society should reject homosexuality.

    Lawmakers in Egypt’s Parliament are currently debating criminalizing homosexuality with punishment of up to 15 years in prison, The Guardian reported. It’s not clear when or whether such legislation will reach a vote.

    The post There has been a surge in arrests of LGBTQ people in Egypt. Here’s why appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long speak to reporters about Hurricane Maria relief efforts after meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S. September 26, 2017.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RC1725EE05D0

    Political differences are hurting the U.S. government’s response to victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, Brock Long, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Monday. File photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst.

    WASHINGTON — Political differences are hurting the U.S. government’s response to victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Monday. He did not identify which individual officials he blamed, but the mayor in San Juan has drawn the ire of President Donald Trump for her criticism about how quickly aid is reaching people on the island.

    “The unity is not where I want it to be,” FEMA Administrator Brock Long said. “When you cannot get elected officials at the local level [to] come to a joint FEMA office because they disagree with the politics of the governor, it makes things difficult and the information fragmented.”

    Earlier Monday, Long said in television interviews that he had “filtered out” San Juan Mayor Carmen Cruz, Trump’s most vocal critic about the hurricane response. Cruz’s spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment; his phone rang unanswered and his voicemail was full.

    READ MORE: White House calls San Juan mayor’s latest criticisms of Trump ‘sad’

    Cruz complained Monday morning via Twitter that “San Juan legislators arrived to the Emergency Operations Center to discuss debris and flooding. The mayor was not invited.”

    On Sunday she had tweeted: “Power collapses in San Juan hospital with 2 patients being transferred out. Have requested support from @FEMA_Brock NOTHING!”

    Cruz backs the independence of Puerto Rico from the United States but is a member of the Popular Democratic Party, which supports maintaining the territorial status quo.

    READ MORE: How you can help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico

    Gov. Ricardo Rossello supports the island becoming another U.S. state.

    Long on Monday expressed frustration with the criticism his agency has faced. He attributed the criticism to the inability to disseminate messages to the population via social media or cell phones because the telecommunications were disabled.

    “That is a lesson learned,” Long said.

    Long said 16,000 federal and military assets are on the ground in Puerto Rico and about 350,000 Puerto Ricans have registered so far in the FEMA system to receive financial assistance. As of Sunday, FEMA said, nearly 12 percent of customers have electricity on the island and about 57 percent of customers of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority have drinking water.

    READ MORE: After first tour of Puerto Rico, top general calls damage ‘the worst he’s ever seen’

    The post Political disputes are hurting Puerto Rico relief, FEMA chief says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A view through a construction fence shows the Kremlin towers and St. Basil's Cathedral on a hot summer day in central Moscow, Russia, July 1, 2016.  REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev/File Photo - RTSK9HC

    The Kremlin towers and St. Basil’s Cathedral are seen on a hot summer day in central Moscow, Russia. Photo by REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev/File Photo.

    MOSCOW— U.S. government-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said Monday that Russia has warned of possible restrictions on some of its operations.

    The broadcaster said that the Russian Justice Ministry warned its Russian service, known as Radio Svoboda, the Russian-language Current Time television and Idel Realii, a Russian-language website run by the broadcaster’s Tatar-Bashkir service, that their operations fall under a Russian law on foreign agents and could be restricted.

    The move follows the Kremlin’s warning that Moscow could respond if Washington restricts the operations of Russian state-funded RT television network and Sputnik news agency in the U.S.

    READ MORE: Google uncovers ads bought by Russian operatives, report says

    The U.S. intelligence agencies allege that RT and Sputnik served as tools for the Kremlin to meddle in the U.S. presidential election. Russia has denied any interference with the vote.

    RT said it faces a U.S. demand to register as a foreign agent and provide detailed personal data for its staff, a request it said amounts to an attempt to push it out of the U.S.

    Current Time Director Daisy Sindelar said that “we have no concrete information about any moves being taken against RT in the United States, and have no reason to expect reciprocal action.”

    Current Time is run by Prague-based RFE/RL with help from Washington-based Voice of America.

    “Current Time, Radio Svoboda, and Idel Realii are journalistic organizations. We trust we will be able to continue our work,” RFE/RL Vice President and Editor in Chief Nenad Pejic said in a statement.

    The post Russia warns some U.S.-funded media outlets of possible restrictions appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: What is a monument? And who or what should be honored? These are the questions many Americans are asking in the wake of recent protests over Confederate statues.

    They are also the questions one art exhibition is trying to answer.

    Jeffrey Brown reports from Philadelphia.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Benjamin Franklin is here, of course. William Penn sits atop City Hall. And people line up for a shot with the fictional, but ever popular fighter Rocky Balboa.

    Philadelphia is a city of statues and monuments, history everywhere. But why is one person honored and another not on the pedestal? A citywide project called Monument Lab is asking those questions and more.

    At Washington Square Park, we met Jane Golden, head of the mural arts organization that’s putting on the exhibition.

    Is there a problem with this?

    JANE GOLDEN, Founder, Mural Arts Philadelphia: No, I don’t think there’s a problem. I think we need to broaden our definition of what a monument is. And we need to make sure that everyone’s story is heard.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Golden’s organization commissioned 20 artists to make works that respond to a not-so-simple question: What is an appropriate monument for today’s Philadelphia?

    Each will stand for nine weeks, and laboratory kiosks are set up for the public to comment and create their own designs. The project was conceived three years ago, but now, after the violence in Charlottesville this summer, it opens amid a national debate about monuments and history, one that’s embroiled Philadelphia as well, where there have been calls to take down a prominent statue of Frank Rizzo, a former mayor and police chief both loved and hated for heavy-handed police tactics.

    JANE GOLDEN: In some ways, monuments have been glorious and are uplifting, and, in some way, very clearly, they have failed us and our society. This is what is coming to fruition now, so I think this exhibition is incredibly timely.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It’s also stretching the idea of what a monument might look like.

    Rowhouse stoops constructed of materials salvaged from abandoned buildings become symbols for neighborhood life. And then there’s this sculpture of an Afro pick by Hank Willis Thomas.

    HANK WILLIS THOMAS, Artist: Well, I have always been inspired by public art and wanted to find ways to put things in the public space that haven’t been seen in public before. And an Afro pick like you see behind me is something that is part of everyday life for a lot of people.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Another absence, women. In a city of some 1,500 monuments, just a handful honor historical women, including Joan of Arc.

    In Rittenhouse Square, the city’s beautiful downtown park, Sharon Hayes took that as her theme. She cast pedestals and inscribed names of women throughout the city’s history that could have been honored. But the pedestals themselves remain empty.

    SHARON HAYES, Artist: For me, the empty pedestals are a pointer, a kind of indicator of the absence that, for me, feels as impactful as then the presence of all of these names of people who contributed.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Who decides, right? This is sort of what it comes down to. Who decides what should be in our parks?

    SHARON HAYES: One of the things that I think could come out of this moment that we’re in, where there’s such public contestation about monuments, is that we find sort of more equitable processes, sort of more equitable ways to…

    JEFFREY BROWN: What do you mean, a vote, or, because that…

    SHARON HAYES: More like a town hall.

    JEFFREY BROWN: A town hall?

    SHARON HAYES: I think a town hall.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What if the town hall changes next year? I mean, every time you put it to a public consensus, that changes.

    SHARON HAYES: Well, this is the conundrum and a kind of challenge to all of the fundamental principles we understand about them, that they’re permanent, that they’re fixed, that they’re unmovable, that they’re our history.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In North Philadelphia’s Germantown, the question of change and impermanence is raised in a different way. There, in Vernon Park. artist Karyn Olivier, a local resident, took a monolith dedicated to a Revolutionary War battle, and wrapped it in mirrored acrylic, creating a literal reflection of the neighborhood as it is now.

    KARYN OLIVIER, Artist: I think the fact that it’s a temporary monument works for this piece in particular, because, in three months, it’ll be gone, and now you kind of have to reckon and interrogate what was there. And now, what does that monument now mean?

    JEFFREY BROWN: Part of this is when you take — unwrap it?

    KARYN OLIVIER: Yes, because now this monument that everyone presumed they knew, because, marginally, on the periphery, they see it every day, now they have to go up to it and say, well, what does this mean? What does that mean to me today?

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    KARYN OLIVIER: So, like, in a way, I’m also protecting this monument. It’s a fortress around it as well.

    So, it’s playing — it’s to me that paradox. It’s invisible at moments. I’m protecting it. It’s enclosed. It’s reflecting you. So monuments speak about people, at the end of the day.

    JEFFREY BROWN: At Philadelphia’s City Hall, sculptor Mel Chin took a more playful approach to his serious subject of American democracy, the individual me and the public we.

    Chin set up two high pedestals for people to become monuments themselves. And he and I, two statues come to life, talked about it.

    I am celebrated?

    MEL CHIN, Artist: You are celebrated. In the age of Instagram and selfies, you are — you predominate. You’re there, except I’m to your right. I’m also me.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What does that mean? Why put two?

    MEL CHIN: The other monumental document that was created here was the Constitution, and it says we, we, the people.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Whose history’s being celebrated? You have to see this in that context also.

    MEL CHIN: Why not the people? And when you celebrate a person or an individual, do you leave out others? This is what this project is intending to do.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All fine, but skeptics might wonder if this is just imposing a particular social activism into our public life.

    Somebody could say, and probably will say, why are you putting that in my public space?

    JANE GOLDEN: Oh, sure. There’s always a curatorial strategy.

    However, how this is different is, there is a component for public discussion. It’s not just these are here passively. You have something to say? Then go into the laboratory and create a design. Come and take part in the public programs. Be part of the conversation.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Philadelphians can now decide for themselves.

    The Afro pick and other works in the Monument Lab project will be packed up in a few months. As for the Rizzo statue, the city set up a Web site for proposals and will hold public hearings. A city commission will ultimately decide its fate.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Jeffrey Brown in Philadelphia.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A lot to think about there.

    The post Philadelphia public art project ponders the meaning behind monuments appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now a look at the winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in economics, announced today.

    Richard Thaler is a professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. The award acknowledged his groundbreaking work in establishing the field of behavioral economics, which blends psychology with economics to better understand human decision-making.

    We start with a little bit of background from our economics correspondent, Paul Solman.

    It’s part of his weekly series Making Sense.

    PAUL SOLMAN, Economics Correspondent: In Chicago’s Millennium Park two-and-a-half years ago, Richard Thaler, the academic revolutionary who won this year’s Nobel Prize for insisting, for decades now, that his field, economics, is wedded to distorted view of human behavior.

    Economics teaches that we’re all rational maximizers, mathematical machines, who use our big, brainy heads to carefully calculate every decision as we strive to reach concrete objectives, creating.

    But look, Thaler explained:

    RICHARD THALER, 2017 Nobel Laureate in Economics: After the ’87 crash, when the market fell 20 percent in a day, and the Internet bubble, when the Nasdaq went from 5000 to 1400, and then the real estate bubble, which led to a financial crisis from which we’re still trying to extricate ourselves, the idea that markets work perfectly is no longer tenable.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Thaler has been running his revolution from inside the belly of the beast, the University of Chicago, which boasts 28 other Nobel laureates practiced in traditional economics.

    Collectively, they have created what’s known as the Chicago School, predicated on the perfect efficiency of markets, in which prices rationally reflect all available information.

    But Thaler started noticing market irrationality early in his career as an economist.

    WATCH: How economists think differently from other humans

    RICHARD THALER: The market would be up in January. It would go up on Fridays, down on Mondays. It would go up on the day before holidays. None of this made any sense.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But it was only when Thaler began doing experiments and publishing them that doctrinaire economists, whom he calls e-cons, began to admit some of the error of their ways.

    Take the concept of sunk costs, time and money already spent. An e-con assumes everyone knows when to quit, cut their losses, move on. This group of Cameroonian students at first seemed to just as economics would predict.

    RICHARD THALER: Let’s suppose you bought tickets to go to a concert over here at this fancy bandshell 40 bucks each. And the group is OK, but then it starts to rain. How long do you think you’re going to stick around this concert?

    MAN: Not much.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Not much?

    RICHARD THALER: Not much.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But what if the sunk costs had been much higher?

    How many of you would have a different decision about staying or leave leaving, if it was $500, as opposed to $40? Every single one of you.

    MAN: I have to make my money worth it.

    PAUL SOLMAN: You have to make your money worth it.

    MAN: Yes.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And your point here?

    RICHARD THALER: Well, economists would say how much you paid for the ticket, tough luck, if it’s $40 or $500.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Doesn’t matter.

    RICHARD THALER: You should just decide whether the music is worth the annoyance of the rain.

    PAUL SOLMAN: In the past few years, Thaler’s behavioral economic insights have been applied by governments around the world, including ours. And how did he feel about being called the inventor of behavioral economics?

    RICHARD THALER: One guy can’t create a field, but you can get people thinking.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And so he has.

    This is economics correspondent Paul Solman.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: For more, we turn to Richard Thaler himself.

    He got the call that he won the Nobel at 4:00 a.m.

    I spoke to him just a short time ago and began by noting, as we just heard, that he has been honored for recognizing that people don’t always act rationally when making economic decisions, and asking if that is the way he sees his contribution.

    RICHARD THALER: Well, yes, although pointing that out is kind of obvious to everybody, except economists.

    (LAUGHTER)

    RICHARD THALER: So, in some ways, it’s pointing out the obvious.

    But I think the contribution that I have made, and the young economists following in my footsteps have made, is saying, OK, what follows from there? How should we do things differently if people aren’t perfect? And there’s a lot of things we can do better.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you think the main consequence of your research has had on economics and on policy?

    RICHARD THALER: Well, on economics, I think it’s made especially young economists more open to thinking outside the box.

    I coined the phrase supposedly irrelevant factors for the kinds of things that economists are sure don’t matter, like the way a letter is worded or what the default option is.

    And these kinds of things are supposedly irrelevant because they’re actually really important. So I think, on the professional side, that’s the most important thing.

    On the policy side, the work I did with Cass Sunstein, my former colleague, now Harvard law professor, in our book “Nudge” really shows how you can help people if you grant that they’re not saving enough for retirement or they’re overweight or they’d like to do more to save the environment, but aren’t sure how to do it. What are the steps you can take to help people make better decisions?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Was your finding or set of findings as much a psychological-sociological observation as it was an economic one?

    RICHARD THALER: Well, I was borrowing findings from psychology and trying to incorporate them into economics.

    So, economic models are pretty sterile, and there are these agents that really could be robots that calculate at lightning speed and aren’t absent-minded and never eat too much or drink too much, kind of just like you and me.

    But by fleshing out the way real people behave and our weaknesses, as well as strengths, people are nicer than economists give us credit for. We’re more likely to contribute to charity. Or look at all the volunteers in these are hurricanes and other natural disasters. Economists have no explanation for why people would work for days trying to clear away rubble in an earthquake.

    So, that’s the nature of humans. I guess we call it human nature. And incorporating human nature into economics is what I have been trying to do for 40 years.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Someone said to me that part of what you have done is take the fringes of economics and make it respectable, bring it into the mainstream.

    RICHARD THALER: Yes, a lot of team have thought of me as a fringe player.

    (LAUGHTER)

    RICHARD THALER: But, yes, I think — I often say I work in the gap between economics and psychology.

    Psychologists know a lot, but most of them aren’t very interested in public policy problems, and certainly wouldn’t have a clue what to say about Federal Reserve policy or taxes or any of the other bread-and-butter issues that economists think about.

    And most economists don’t have any interest in psychology. So, there was a lot of ripe fruit for the plucking.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, I’m going to take advantage of having you here.

    Everybody’s watching the stock market shoot up over the last several months. If you could spend a few minutes with every family in this country right now trying to make tough decisions about spending and saving and investment, what would you say to them about the market and about the economy in general?

    RICHARD THALER: Well, look, I think that the economy is strong. We have been on a nice ride since the depths of the great recession.

    As far as the stock market goes, personally, I’m a little worried about it. There’s no real explanation for why it keeps going up, other than interest rates are low and people aren’t sure where to put their money.

    So, if I were giving advice to people, it would be to say not to spend the 10 percent or 15 percent you have made most recently in the stock market, and maybe even take a little of that money off the table, if you’re likely to need it any time soon.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Some advice from the latest Nobel Prize winner in economics.

    Professor Richard Thaler, congratulations again. Thank you very much.

    RICHARD THALER: Thank you, Judy.

    The post Economics Nobel winner Thaler shed light on how real people behave appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump engaged in yet another social media feud over the weekend, this time with a leading member of his own party.

    Bob Corker may now be a retiring Republican senator from Tennessee, but his criticism of President Trump is ramping up. The latest escalation came in a New York Times interview, with Corker asserting Mr. Trump’s reckless threats toward other countries could set the U.S. — quote — “on the path to World War III.” He added he knows for a fact that, every day at the White House, “it’s a situation of trying to contain the president.”

    Of his Senate Republican colleagues, Corker said: “The vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here.”

    Corker previously took issue with Mr. Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    And, last week, he had this to say:

    SEN. BOB CORKER, R-Tenn.: I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis, and Chief of Staff Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A Sunday Twitter feud followed between Corker and Mr. Trump. On one side, the president, saying Corker begged for his endorsement before opting not to run for reelection, an account that a Corker aide then denied.

    The president also alleged Corker was largely responsible for the Iran nuclear agreement. Corker replied: “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center.”

    The soured relationship is a far cry from the campaign, when Corker said he was voting for Trump and was even considered as a vice presidential running mate.

    At an event in Kentucky today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would only say that Corker is a valuable member of the Senate GOP Caucus and a particularly important part of the budget debate looming on Capitol Hill.

    Of course, the Tennessee Republican also still wields the gavel in the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    And for more now on the president’s fight with Senator Corker, the White House push for stricter immigration policies, and more, it’s time for Politics Monday, with Tamara Keith of NPR and Stu Rothenberg, senior editor for Inside Elections.

    Politics Monday. Welcome to you both.

    Tam, I’m going to start with you.

    Have we ever seen — and I know you’re young.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But in your young, your few years covering American politics, have you ever seen this kind of dispute between the president and a leading member of his party in Congress?

    TAMARA KEITH, NPR: Well, I mean, if you count the disputes of John McCain that the president was in just a few weeks ago.

    (LAUGHTER)

    TAMARA KEITH: This is a different kind of president.

    And, no, this is not normal. It is not normal to pick a fight with someone whose vote will be absolutely critical for that tax bill President Trump wants to push through. It’s not normal to have a leading senator, the head of the Foreign Relations Committee, tweeting about adult day care. This is highly unusual.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, Stu, you have been around one or two…

    (CROSSTALK)

    (LAUGHTER)

    STUART ROTHENBERG, Inside Elections: Let’s remember hat this feud that this feed goes back to the middle of August, when, after Charlottesville, Senator Corker commented about the president’s leadership.

    He said — Corker said, “The president has not demonstrated that he understands what has made this nation great,” so forth and so on. Trump fired back.

    So, this has been going on for a while.

    And, no, this doesn’t happen. This never happens. There are private disagreements and there are examples where legislators have a problem with the White House, the president has a problem with a legislator.

    But blowing open in public like this, no, this doesn’t happen.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Does it help anybody? Who is it — what does it mean for the Republican Party, Tam?

    TAMARA KEITH: Yes, President Trump is a counterpuncher. He has said this time and again. It was in “The Art of the Deal.”

    He believes that it’s good for him to fight back, and that Bob Corker is part of the establishment, and so he can fight back.

    There’s not a good for the Republican Party interpretation of this, but it is an indication of where the party is going. Bob Corker is retiring. Roy Moore, the very conservative firebrand, religious right candidate is the one who made it out of the primary in Alabama. This is becoming the party of President Donald Trump.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Does it help his agenda?

    (CROSSTALK)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, go ahead, yes.

    STUART ROTHENBERG: Traditionally — and I always have to preface things, because we may be in a different era — traditionally, the voters want the governing part to be in control, to govern, to act as though there is an agenda that they’re pursuing and accomplishing.

    And so to the extent you have chaos, I don’t think it’s helpful. I don’t — I actually don’t think this hurts the president, even though you would think that all this swirling controversy would hurt him.

    He’s now able to run against not only the media and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, but now he’s been running against the Republican legislative leadership. And now he can run against establishment Senator Corker. That’s what he will do.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of that, the president seems to be making, Tam, in pretty much rapid succession, a series of moves that seemed designed to reach his supporters.

    We have been reporting earlier on the program these new hard-line immigration guidelines, the contraception mandate that was handed down last week by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Iran nuclear deal, which is coming, we believe, may be — may be decertifying that, and on and on.

    There’s the clean power announcement that is coming out. And I could name others.

    Designed apparently to appeal to the Trump base? Is that what this is all about?

    TAMARA KEITH: Well, and what all these of things have in common is, they are not major legislative accomplishments. They are things that the president can do through executive action and administrative action that undo parts of what President Obama did.

    And a big part of what President Trump ran on is undoing the Obama presidency. And so that is what he’s doing. Of course, his base would also like it if he would build the wall.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

    TAMARA KEITH: But here, with this proposal last night, he’s saying, I’m still working on that wall.

    That’s the message that he was sending there.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, is this is a — how do you see this? Is this an effective technique for the president?

    STUART ROTHENBERG: Well, I think the president enjoys to govern this way, if you want to call it governing.

    He’s all about creating and deepening the fissure inside the Republican Party. He’s a disrupter. He likes doing things like this. And I think his supporters like the fact that he’s taking on the system. So it’s less about, has he accomplished this or this?

    You would think that many of his supporters would be upset that the wall is nowhere and a lot of his agenda hasn’t been enacted, repeal and replace, but they seem to viscerally enjoy the fact that he’s taking on the system. And I think that is his greatest strength, appealing to those kinds of voters.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But when you say deepening the fissures inside the Republican Party, that has to set the teeth of other Republicans on edge.

    STUART ROTHENBERG: Oh, it certainly does. And it makes it difficult, more difficult for him to accomplish what he wants.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Another move we saw over the weekend, Tam, was Vice President Pence flew to Indianapolis to attend his home state Indianapolis Colts football game against the San Francisco 49ers.

    It was pretty much expected that some of the 49ers were going to kneel during the anthem in a statement of protest. The vice president said — left the game, and made a statement and said: I’m not staying.

    TAMARA KEITH: Yes.

    So, he went there because he is — it’s hometown team, and Peyton Manning was being honored that night. But President Trump had made it very clear for weeks that he felt that all flag-loving Americans should walk out of NFL games if players kneel.

    So, Vice President Pence was sort of in a tough spot. He wanted to go to this game, apparently. But the stated position of the president of the United States is that, if you are patriotic, you should turn for the exits.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Where is this NFL dispute going, Stu?

    STUART ROTHENBERG: Well, I think it’s part of the larger division in the Republican Party and in the country.

    Two points, Judy. One, it reminds me of Claude Rains in the movie “Casablanca.”

    (LAUGHTER)

    STUART ROTHENBERG: I’m shocked that there this is gambling going on here, he says, in the casino.

    And, second of all and most importantly, to me, this reminds me of the 1988 presidential race. Remember, George H.W. Bush ran on the pledge of allegiance, flag burning, and patriotism and loyalty.

    These kind of themes divide the country. And the president thinks that is good for him. We will see in the midterms and then in 2020 if it is.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, just because somebody comes back, Tam, and says, well, these flights cost the taxpayers $200,000, they’re making a point.

    TAMARA KEITH: Well, and Vice President Pence’s staff is arguing, well, he was either going to have to go to D.C. or he was going to go to Indianapolis, and there you go.

    However, there are a lot of people who say, as you say, it cost a lot of money, and this was one heck of a stunt, a stunt that didn’t really play all that well.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, how many more weekends of football do we have? We will keep watching this one, this one play out.

    (CROSSTALK)

    (LAUGHTER)

    STUART ROTHENBERG: Ten or 11, maybe 12.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We will ask you next week.

    Stu Rothenberg, Tamara Keith, thank you both.

    STUART ROTHENBERG: Thanks.

    TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.

    The post How Trump’s feud with Corker reflects the GOP’s shifting direction appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Pain and pleasure rank among nature’s strongest motivators, but when mixed, the two can become irresistible. This is how opioids brew a potent and deadly addiction in the brain.

    Societies have coveted the euphoria and pain relief provided by opioids since Ancient Sumerians referred to opium poppies as the “joy plant” circa 3400 B.C. But the repercussions of using the drugs were ever present, too. For centuries, Chinese patients swallowed opium cocktails before major surgeries, but by 1500, they described the recreational use of opium pipes as subversive. The Chinese emperor Yung Cheng eventually restricted the use of opium for medical purposes in 1729.

    Less than 100 years later, a German chemist purified morphine from poppies, creating the go-to pain reliever for anxiety and respiratory conditions. But the Civil War and its many wounds spawned mass addiction to the drugs, a syndrome dubbed Soldier’s Disease. A cough syrup was concocted in the late 1800s — called heroin — to remedy these morphine addictions.

    Today, prescription and synthetic opioids crowd America’s medicine cabinets and streets, driving a modern crisis that may kill half a million people over the next decade. Image by Lead Pipe Productions Pty Ltd

    Today, prescription and synthetic opioids crowd America’s medicine cabinets and streets, driving a modern crisis that may kill half a million people over the next decade. Image by Lead Pipe Productions Pty Ltd

    Doctors thought the syrup would be “non-addictive.” Instead, it turned into a low-cost habit that spread internationally. More than 70 percent of the world’s opium — 3,410 tons — goes to heroin production, a number that has more than doubled since 1985. Approximately 17 million people around the globe used heroin, opium or morphine in 2016.

    Today, prescription and synthetic opioids crowd America’s medicine cabinets and streets, driving a modern crisis that may kill half a million people over the next decade. Opioids claimed 53,000 lives in the U.S. last year, according to preliminary estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — more than those killed in motor vehicle accidents.

    How did we arrive here? Here’s a look at why our brains get hooked on opioids.

    The pain divide

    Let’s start with the two types of pain. They go by different names depending on which scientist you ask. Peripheral versus central pain. Nociceptive versus neuropathic pain.

    The distinction is the sensation of actual damage to your body versus your mind’s perception of this injury.

    Your body quiets your pain nerves through the production of natural opioids called endorphins.

    Stuff that damages your skin and muscles — pin pricks and stove burns — is considered peripheral/nociceptive pain.

    Pain fibers sense these injuries and pass the signal onto nerve cells — or neurons — in your spine and brain, the duo that makes up your central nervous system.

    In a normal situation, your pain fibers work in concert with your central nervous system. Someone punches you, and your brain thinks “ow” and tells your body how to react. Stress-relieving hormones get released. Your immune system counteracts the inflammation in your wounded arm.

    Your body quiets your pain nerves through the production of natural opioids called endorphins. The trouble is when these pain pathways become overloaded or uncoupled.

    One receptor to rule them all

    Say you have chronic back pain. Your muscles are inflamed, constantly beaming pain signals to your brain. Your natural endorphins aren’t enough and your back won’t let up, so your doctor prescribes an opioid painkiller like oxycodone.

    Prescription opioids and natural endorphins both land on tiny docking stations — called receptors — at the ends of your nerves. Most receptors catch chemical messengers — called neurotransmitters — to activate your nerve cells, triggering electric pulses that carry the signal forward.

    Opioids and their receptors are inhibitory. Rather than spark electric pulses in our nerves, opioids dampen them. Image by Adam Sarraf

    Opioids and their receptors are inhibitory. Rather than spark electric pulses in our nerves, opioids dampen them. Image by Adam Sarraf

    But opioid receptors do the opposite. They stop electric pulses from traveling through your nerve cells in the first place. To do this, opioids bind to three major receptors, called Mu, Kappa and Delta. But the Mu receptor is the one that really sets everything in motion.

    The Mu-opiate receptor is responsible for the major effects of all opiates, whether it’s heroin, prescription pills like oxycodone or synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

    The Mu-opiate receptor is responsible for the major effects of all opiates, whether it’s heroin, prescription pills like oxycodone or synthetic opioids like fentanyl, said Chris Evans, director of Brain Research Institute at UCLA. “The depression, the analgesia [pain numbing], the constipation and the euphoria — if you take away the Mu-opioid receptor, and you give morphine, then you don’t have any of those effects,” Evans said.

    Opioids receptors trigger such widespread effects because they govern more than just pain pathways. When opioid drugs infiltrate a part of the brain stem called the locus ceruleus, their receptors slow respiration, cause constipation, lower blood pressure and decrease alertness.

    Addiction begins in the midbrain, where opioids receptors switch off a batch of nerve cells called GABAergic neurons.

    GABAergic neurons are themselves an off-switch for the brain’s euphoria and pleasure networks.

    When it comes to addiction, opioids are an off-switch for an off-switch. Opioids hold back GABAergic neurons, which in turn keep dopamine from flooding a brain's pleasure circuits. Image by Adam Sarraf

    When it comes to addiction, opioids are an off-switch for an off-switch. Opioids hold back GABAergic neurons in the midbrain, which in turn keep another neurotransmitter called dopamine from flooding a brain’s pleasure circuits. Image by Adam Sarraf

    Once opioids shut off GABAergic neurons, the pleasure circuits fill with another neurotransmitter called dopamine. At one stop on this pleasure highway — the nucleus accumbens — dopamine triggers a surge of happiness. When the dopamine rolls into amygdala, the brain’s fear center, it relieves anxiety and stress. Both of these events reinforce the idea that opioids are rewarding.

    These areas of the brain are constantly communicating with decision-making hubs in the prefrontal cortex, which make value judgments about good and bad. When it hears “This pill feels good. Let’s do more,” the mind begins to develop habits and cravings.

    Taking the drug soon becomes second nature or habitual, Evans said, much like when your mind zones out while driving home from work. The decision to seek out the drugs, rather than participate in other life activities, becomes automatic.

    The opioid pendulum: When feeling good starts to feel bad

    It is the surge of withdrawal from opioids that makes the drugs so inescapable.

    Opioid addiction becomes entrenched after a person’s neurons adapt to the drugs. The GABAergic neurons and other nerves in the brain still want to send messages, so they begin to adjust. They produce three to four times more cyclic AMP, a compound that primes the neuron to fire electric pulses, said Thomas Kosten, director of the division of alcohol and addiction psychiatry at the Baylor College of Medicine.

    That means even when you take away the opioids, Kosten says, “the neurons fire extensively.”

    The pendulum swings back. Now, rather than causing constipation and slowing respiration, the brain stem triggers diarrhea and elevates blood pressure. Instead of triggering happiness, the nucleus accumbens and amygdala reinforce feelings of dysphoria and anxiety. All of this negativity feeds into the prefrontal cortex, further pushing a desire for opioids.

    While other drugs like cocaine and alcohol can also feed addiction through the brain’s pleasure circuits, it is the surge of withdrawal from opioids that makes the drugs so inescapable.

    Could opioid addiction be driven in part by people’s moods?

    Chronic pain patients have a very high risk of becoming addicted to opioids if they are also coping with a mood disorder. Photo by 	Roy Morsch/via Getty

    Chronic pain patients have a very high risk of becoming addicted to opioids if they are also coping with a mood disorder. Photo by Roy Morsch/via Getty

    Cathy Cahill, a pain and addiction researcher at UCLA, said these big swings in emotions likely factor into the learned behaviors of opioid addiction, especially with those with chronic pain. A person with opioid use disorder becomes preoccupied with the search for the drugs. Certain contexts become triggers for their cravings, and those triggers start overlapping in their minds.

    “The basic view is some people start with the pain trigger [the chronic back problem], but it gets partially substituted with the negative reinforcement of the opioid withdrawal,” Cahill said.

    That’s why Cahill, Evans and other scientists think the opioid addiction epidemic might be driven, in part, by our moods.

    Patients on morphine experience 40 percent less pain relief from the drug if they have mood disorder.

    Chronic pain patients have a very high risk of becoming addicted to opioids if they are also coping with a mood disorder. A 2017 study found most patients — 81 percent — whose addiction started with a chronic pain problem also had a mental health disorder. Another study found patients on morphine experience 40 percent less pain relief from the drug if they have mood disorder. They need more drugs to get the same benefits.

    People with mood disorders alone are also more likely to abuse opioids. A 2012 survey found patients with depression were twice as likely to misuse their opioid medications.

    “So, not only does a mood disorder affect a person’s addiction potential, but it also influences if the opioids will successfully treat their pain,” Cahill said.

    Meanwhile, the country is living through sad times. Some research suggests social isolation is on the rise. While the opioid epidemic started long before the recession, job loss has been linked to a higher likelihood of addiction, with every 1 percent increase in unemployment linked to a 3.6 percent rise in the opioid-death rate.

    Can the brain swing back?

    As an opioid disorder progresses, a person needs a higher quantity of the drugs to keep withdrawal at bay. A person typically overdoses when they take so much of the drug that the brain stem slows breathing until it stops, Kosten said.

    Many physicians have turned to opioid replacement therapy, a technique that swaps highly potent and addictive drugs like heroin with compounds like methadone or buprenorphine (an ingredient in Suboxone).

    These substitutes outcompete heroin when they reach the opioid receptors, but do not activate the receptors to the same degree. By doing so, they reduce a person’s chances for overdosing. These replacement medications also stick to the receptors for a longer period of time, which curtails withdrawal symptoms. Buprenorphine, for instance, binds to a receptor for 80 minutes while morphine only hangs on for a few milliseconds.

    Science correspondent Miles O’Brien discovers future pain treatments may rely on virtual reality.

    For some, this solution is not perfect. The patients need to remain on the replacements for the foreseeable future, and some recovery communities are divided over whether treating opioids with more opioids can solve the crisis.

    Plus, opioid replacement therapy does not work for fentanyl, the synthetic opioid that now kills more Americans than heroin. Kosten’s lab is one of many working on a opioid vaccine that would direct a person’s immune system to clear drugs like fentanyl before they can enter the brain. But those are years away from use in humans.

    And Evans and Cahill said many clinics in Southern California are combining psychological therapy with opioid replacement prescriptions to combat the mood aspects of the epidemic.

    “I don’t think there’s going to be a magic bullet on this one,” Evans said. “It’s really an issue of looking after society and looking after of people’s psyches rather than just treatment.”

    The post How a brain gets hooked on opioids appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Link to our complete series, America Addicted.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, we continue with our America Addicted series, looking at the opioid epidemic.

    Roughly 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. And most health officials agree that legal painkillers, prescribed by doctors and filled by pharmacies, triggered a tidal wave of addiction throughout the U.S.

    Recent guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urge doctors to avoid or dramatically limit these prescriptions in most cases. But where does that leave the chronic pain sufferers?

    Special correspondent Cat Wise has our report from Orange County.

    AMY CRAIN, Kaiser Permanente Patient: Let’s go to the park.

    CAT WISE: In many ways, Amy Crain’s story has followed the same path as hundreds of thousands of other chronic pain sufferers caught up in the opioid epidemic.

    There was the accident, in her case, getting slammed in the family car… the hospitalization and surgeries that saved her from paralysis…

    AMY CRAIN: Ready? One, two, three, jump.

    CAT WISE: And a resulting dependency on prescription painkillers — OxyContin, methadone, and Norco, that had left her foggy and barely functional.

    AMY CRAIN: I couldn’t lift my daughter, couldn’t care for her.

    CAT WISE: But then Crain’s story took a dramatic turn that has led her on a very different path, thanks to this doctor and a new effort by one of the country’s largest health care providers to tackle this national emergency.

    Dr. Anh Quan Nguyen is a Kaiser Permanente pain specialist who has been prescribing Crain and other patients alternative therapies, all covered by Kaiser’s insurance plan. The treatments include needles in the back, carefully placed by an acupuncturist; mindfulness at the clinic; yoga training, which she often practices in a local park.

    And, perhaps most importantly, she’s been prescribed fewer and fewer pain pills. In fact, Crain is now taking just a small percentage of the meds she was once on … a result at first she didn’t think was possible.

    AMY CRAIN: How am I going to do this? How am I going to, you know, get to clean my house? How am I going to, you know, get up in the mornings? And it was terrifying. But it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was, with the other tools.

    CAT WISE: Crain knew the stakes were high; 33,000 people died in the United States in 2015 from opioid overdoses, and early estimates from last year indicate that the numbers are up significantly.

    As communities and health care providers around the country seek solutions, some are turning here, to Southern California, where Kaiser Permanente’s program has led to a big drop-off in opioid prescriptions.

    DR. ED ELLISON, Southern California Executive Medical Director, Kaiser Permanente: We have seen between 2010 and 2015 a reduction of more than 80 percent in the use of OxyContin, the long-acting opioid.

    CAT WISE: Eighty percent?

    DR. ED ELLISON: Eighty percent.

    CAT WISE: Dr. Ed Ellison is the executive medical director for the Southern California Permanente Medical Group.

    DR. ED ELLISON: Across the program, we have seen more than a 30 percent reduction in opioid prescribing. So, we’re seeing significant movements being made.

    CAT WISE: Ellison says getting those reductions wasn’t easy — a sign that far too many of the drugs were being prescribed in the first place. In fact, in 2009, when a small group of Kaiser leaders gathered in Pasadena to look at recent prescription numbers, they were stunned. They expected to see diabetes and hypertension medications top the list.

    DR. STEVEN STEINBERG, Southern California Family Medicine Chief, Kaiser Permanente: And instead, we saw hydrocodone, oxycodone, OxyContin, fentanyl, methadone.

    CAT WISE: Dr. Steven Steinberg is the lead physician for the medical group’s controlled substance task force.

    DR. STEVEN STEINBERG: And we saw these just massive numbers of prescriptions, massive numbers of refills. And not just that, huge numbers at one time. People were getting 800 or 1,000 pills at a time.

    CAT WISE: Kaiser Permanente may have been among the first to spot the problem, but its numbers reflected a deep national trend.

    Billions of pills have been prescribed over the past two decades. Addictions and overdoses have surged, both for prescription painkillers and a growing number of people turning to illegal opioids like heroin.

    So, in 2010, Kaiser decided the new approach for patients like Crain, and their doctors, was needed. They called it the Safe and Appropriate Opioid Prescribing Program.

    DR. ED ELLISON: Pain is very subjective. And I can’t sit here and tell you you’re not in pain. My job is to help alleviate that pain. The key is to understanding that all roads don’t lead to an opioid.

    CAT WISE: It started with data assembled from the organization’s nearly 12 million members and 21,000 physicians. Doctors were given reports of their prescription habits and their patients’ histories with pain killers.

    And Kaiser Permanente’s computer system was reprogrammed to make it harder for physicians to prescribe certain high-risk opioids or dangerous combinations.

    DR. STEVEN STEINBERG: Type in OxyContin. You cannot proceed without answering various questions. Are there any other drugs that you tried first that are safer? Are you aware this is a dangerous drug?

    And what we found is, people do change their behavior. It’s one thing when you know it, and one thing when you have to commit it to print.

    CAT WISE: Pharmacists have been trained to spot high-risk activity, duplicate prescriptions, excessive quantities or early refills, and to contact the prescriber or a supervisor to discuss their concerns.

    DR. ANU SINGH, ER Chief Physician, Kaiser Permanente: And on a scale of 10 to zero, where would you put your pain right now? It was eight?

    CAT WISE: In emergency departments, where it was once the norm for patients to be handed scripts for 30 to 50 pain pills, patients have been put on notice that the rules have changed.

    DR. ANU SINGH: We have posters in every room. We have handouts we give out to our patients where we don’t give out prescriptions for more than a three days’ supply. We don’t refill lost or stolen prescriptions. So, all those guidelines are made clear to every patient when they walk in.

    CAT WISE: Dr. Nguyen and his colleagues have regular training sessions on opioids and meetings to discuss difficult cases. But they still worry about creating “opioid refugees,” pain patients who turn to street drugs like heroin when their medications are yanked away quickly.

    That’s a sensitive subject for Crain and many other patients.

    AMY CRAIN: I resent it when doctors treat us like we’re some kind of drug addicts, because I didn’t put myself in this situation.

    CAT WISE: Dr. Nguyen says one of the first steps, with all his patients, is to build trust. And so he’s developed what he calls the difficult pain conversation.

    DR. ANH QUAN NGUYEN, Pain specialist, Kaiser Permanente: The first thing I will tell patients is, ‘I know you have pain. I believe you. I’m going to examine you today, and figure out what I can do for you.’

    After the examination, I say, ‘Look, I happen to notice that you’re on these medications, and I really want to have an open conversation with you about the dangers of these medications. Can we have this conversation?’

    CAT WISE: George Teter has had that difficult pain conversation with Dr. Nguyen. Teter found himself on high levels of prescription fentanyl and other opioids after two surgeries on his elbow.

    GEORGE TETER, Kaiser Permanente Patient: I would have to kind of schedule around, like, make sure I wasn’t doing any driving or anything like that.

    CAT WISE: Dr. Nguyen’s slow and steady regimen of reducing his opioid intake made him feel more like his old self. Teter’s off fentanyl completely now and has cut his other opioid pain med by about 75 percent.

    These days, when his pain surges at work, he finds relief by meditating at a fountain near his office. He says the process wasn’t always easy, but he credits Dr. Nguyen’s careful approach with saving his life.

    GEORGE TETER: He told me one thing that really stuck in my head, that the pain will never kill you.

    DR. ANH QUAN NGUYEN: But if you keep these medications up, it will kill you. These medications tell you to go to bed at night, ‘Stop breathing. Stop breathing.’ And eventually your brain listens to it, and then you don’t wake up in the morning.

    So it’s not a painful way to die. It’s just very sad.

    CAT WISE: But some doctors say the nationwide crackdown on pain pills has gone much too far.

    In West Covina, California, just outside L.A., pain specialist Dr. Forest Tennant says patients are now flying in to see him from all over the country, like Gary Snook of Montana.

    Tennant says a small fraction of pain patients, about 3 to 5 percent, have rare chronic conditions, like Snook, and need high doses of opioids to function, but can’t get them elsewhere.

    DR. FOREST TENNANT, Pain Specialist: There’s no question about it. The pendulum has swung too far.

    CAT WISE: After reviewing details on Kaiser Permanente’s program, Tennant had some praise for its depth and general approach. But he said there’s still a very good chance that the type of patients he sees most frequently would be left behind.

    DR. FOREST TENNANT: It takes a lot of work to treat these people. It takes a special clinic, special time. And I hate to say it, but I’m afraid a lot of parties just don’t want to treat these folks.

    CAT WISE: But, for chronic pain patient Amy Crain, Kaiser’s program, she says, was exactly what she needed, when others might have written her off. And it’s helped her learn to cope.

    AMY CRAIN: You just kind of acknowledge the pain. You know, ‘OK, you’re there. I’m working with you today.’

    CAT WISE: She now marks progress in the simple things, rides on the swing, trips down the slide, and in the laughter that makes her feel like she’s gotten her life back.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Cat Wise in Anaheim, California.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Online, you can find all of the stories in our America Addicted series. Just go to PBS.org/NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: the unraveling of a Hollywood mogul.

    Harvey Weinstein has been ousted from his perch atop his eponymous movie company after numerous allegations of sexual harassment that span decades have come to light.

    William Brangham has the story.

    HARVEY WEINSTEIN: Well, I worked for 25 years here.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: One of the most powerful men in Hollywood, Harvey Weinstein, has been fired from the influential film company he founded.

    He was out just three days after this bombshell report in The New York Times detailed three decades of sexual harassment allegations against him from scores of women who worked with or for his company.

    Among those going public, actresses like Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd, both of whom detailed unwanted sexual advances and harassing behavior.

    The Times reported that Weinstein has reached private settlements with at least eight different accusers over the years.

    LAUREN SIVAN, Journalist: I was so shocked. I could not believe what I was witnessing.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This morning, journalist Lauren Sivan went on Megyn Kelly’s show alleging that Weinstein cornered her a decade ago and performed an obscene sexual act in front of her.

    LAUREN SIVAN: But more than the disgusting act, which, of course, was gross, it was the demeaning part of it all that, just 20 minutes earlier, he was having this great conversation with me, and I felt so great and flattered about it.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: His first company, Miramax, founded by Weinstein and his brother Bob, was a groundbreaking force in movies in the 1990s, churning out independent hits like “Pulp Fiction,” “Shakespeare in Love,” and “Good Will Hunting.”

    Weinstein was considered a star-maker in Hollywood, launching the careers of directors like Quentin Tarantino and actors like Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck.

    Even Meryl Streep joked about Weinstein’s outsized power in her 2012 Golden Globe acceptance speech.

    MERYL STREEP, Actress: I just want to thank my agent, Kevin Huvane, and God, Harvey Weinstein.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    MERYL STREEP: The punisher. Old Testament I guess.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Today, Streep released a statement to Huffington Post saying: “The disgraceful news about Harvey Weinstein has appalled those of us whose work he championed, and those whose good and worthy causes he supported. One thing can be clarified. Not everybody knew.”

    Besides Streep, however, many of Weinstein’s longtime collaborators have thus far remained silent on the allegations. But younger stars, like writer and director Lena Dunham, have spoken out, asking why it took so long for this story to break when many in Hollywood allegedly knew of his behavior all along.

    In a tweet, Dunham wrote: “Easy to think Weinstein company took swift action, but this has actually been the slowest action, because they always, always knew.”

    Even President Trump, who’s rejected accusations of his own sexual harassment, didn’t seem shocked at the allegations against Weinstein.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I have known Harvey Weinstein for a long time. I’m not at all surprised to see it.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In a statement to The New York Times last week, Weinstein apologized for the pain his past behavior has caused.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m William Brangham.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The partisan divide over immigration recently had appeared to narrow, after President Trump stunned Republicans by reaching a deal with Democratic leaders to protect so-called dreamers last month.

    But that agreement may be in jeopardy now that the White House has spelled out its demands.

    John Yang begins our coverage.

    JOHN YANG: At the time, it was hailed as a triumph of bipartisanship.

    SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y., Minority Leader: It was a very, very positive step for the president to commit to DACA protections without insisting on the inclusion of or even a debate about the border wall.

    JOHN YANG: Over Chinese food at the White House last month, President Trump and Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi reached what both sides said was the framework for a possible deal, protect young people illegally brought to the United States as children, the so-called dreamers, in exchange for a package of border security measures.

    But the future of efforts to preserve President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is uncertain after the administration unveiled a long list of hard-line immigration demands.

    At the top of the list? The signature campaign promise that is a nonstarter for Democrats and some border state Republicans.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: A Trump administration will also secure and defend the borders of the United States. And, yes, we will build a great, great wall.

    JOHN YANG: Among the other demands, strengthening enforcement of immigration laws, barring people from bring extended families to the United States, and basing permanent residence status on immigrants’ skills.

    Whether the items are absolute requirements or an opening bargaining position, they would represent a major tightening of immigration laws. The list drew an immediate rebuke from Schumer and Pelosi.

    In a joint statement, they said: “If the president was serious about protecting the dreamers, his staff has not made a good effort to do so.”

    Both Mr. Trump and Democratic leaders are under growing pressure over immigration from their respective bases. Last month, Congressman Steve King of Iowa, one of the Republicans’ biggest immigration hawks, slammed talk of a bipartisan deal that wouldn’t include a border wall.

    “If true,” he said, “the Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible.”

    At a Pelosi town hall meeting in San Francisco last month, a group of young immigrants protested any deal that would link protecting dreamers with increased border security.

    Before the administration’s announcement, there had been signs of possible compromise.

    Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley at a hearing last week.

    SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, Chair, Senate Judiciary Committee: Any potential deal on DACA has to include robust border security, and, by that, I don’t mean a wall. Of course, tactical infrastructure like fencing is a part of the answer, but border security is more than that.

    JOHN YANG: Now the president’s immigration wish list lies in Congress’ hands, with five months to go before DACA recipients begin losing their protections.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m John Yang.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Here to break down the road ahead for immigration reform on Capitol Hill is our own Lisa Desjardins.

    So, Lisa, you spent today talking to your sources in Congress. How are they interpreting this?

    LISA DESJARDINS: Interestingly enough, Judy, there are members of both parties who told me the same thing today. They interpret what the president said last night as the opposite of what they heard from him last month.

    So, then, what do you do? I heard from Republicans who are more optimistic, those who are trying to be positive. They still want to repair this DACA situation. They say one thing to me. They said, they do think this is a negotiating position only. They think this might be an attempt by the president and move the debate to the right. They felt like Democrats might have had an upper hand here.

    There were others who said: We think this president in the end will sign anything we can pass.

    As for Democrats, they said they’re taking it very seriously. They see this as undermining their deal that they had with him last month.

    And one more point, Judy. One member of Congress said he is just frustrated because of how this happened and worries that this undermines the future of other things, like tax reform, if the president is going to drop demands like this so suddenly.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, given all that, what are the prospects that these principles that the president’s laid out could actually become law?

    LISA DESJARDINS: At this moment, there’s no chance that full funding of the border wall would pass in this Congress.

    Now, we know that, right now, there’s not a single Republican who represents the border who supports full funding. There are those in Congress that you heard Senator Grassley refer to that would fund partial building of the wall.

    But for the most part, the talk about border security is about broader infrastructure and technology and more Border Patrol agents.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, the other thing we’re hearing, Lisa, from the president in all of this is he not just wants to go after DACA and illegal or undocumented immigrants, but he’s talking about going after legal immigration. What’s the reaction there?

    LISA DESJARDINS: To me, that was such an important part of what we saw last night. This is a debate over the identity of America. What should our identity be going forward?

    Here, the president was taking a very firm side with some, like his adviser Stephen Miller, who believe that we should limit legal immigration very seriously. Now, in Congress, that is not the majority opinion right now.

    However, talking to sources today, they feel like there is momentum in that direction. And the president might be feeling that. It is something to watch very carefully over the next few months to see if that happens.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And your sources are saying that’s — why do they think that’s the case?

    LISA DESJARDINS: I think because of this move from the right, that there’s an outcry from the right.

    And we also have a moment right now in American history, Judy, where we’re at near historic highs for the percentage of people in this country who are first-time immigrants as a part of our population.

    And we see this kind of backlash against immigration, conversations about how high it should be, at times like this.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Lisa Desjardins, reporting from Congress, thank you very much.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Pleasure.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Appreciate it.

    The post Will Trump’s immigration wishlist derail the DACA deal? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The head of the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed it today: He’s ending President Obama’s Clean Power Plan that limited carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. Scott Pruitt announced that he will sign a new order tomorrow. And he declared, “The war on coal is over.”

    More than a dozen wildfires swept across Northern California’s wine country today. Officials estimated 1,500 homes and other buildings were destroyed, and 20,000 people forced to evacuate. One person died in a fire farther north. Most of the fires started overnight, and daylight illuminated the burned ruins of homes across the Napa and Sonoma Valleys.

    Some people said they’d had to run for their lives.

    WOMAN: I drew my blinds and I just saw flames all up on the hill behind my house. So, of course, I panicked. I’m still shaking. Went out, and they were all screaming fire, fire, fire, get out, get out.

    MAN: We took about an hour to gather what we thought was important. And as we were leaving, the flames were kissing the tops of the hillside in back of us, and we got the news a couple of hours later that it was burning.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: California’s Governor Jerry Brown today declared emergencies in Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties.

    Heavy rain and gusty wind followed the remains of Hurricane Nate across the East Coast today. The storm quickly weakened after making landfall in Louisiana and Mississippi over the weekend. It still triggered flooding and widespread power outages, but much of the power was quickly restored.

    Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Ophelia formed today, far out in the Atlantic.

    The governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, says that he’s ordering an investigation into distribution of supplies since Hurricane Maria. Rossello says that food and water is being sent to hard-hit towns, but that people aren’t receiving the supplies. He told CNN there will be — quote — “hell to pay” for those who mismanage the aid.

    Two more deaths are now linked to a nursing home that lost air conditioning during Hurricane Irma. Police in Hollywood, Florida, say a pair of women, one, 90 years old, the other, 95, have died. They’d been found in the overheated facility days after the storm. A criminal investigation is proceeding.

    A new surge of Rohingya refugees crossed into Bangladesh today. They said they had been set upon by Buddhist mobs and government soldiers in Myanmar. Drone footage showed the sprawling camps in Bangladesh, where more than half-a-million people have fled. One boat of refugees capsized last night, killing at least 12.

    SAYED HOSSAIN, Boat Wreck Survivor (through interpreter): There were seven of us, my three kids, wife, my father-in-law, my old mother and me. Among them, I survived alone. We all faced so much difficulty for food and survival. They killed people and burnt down the villages, houses. We came here to save our lives.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Myanmar’s government has rejected the charges of ethnic cleansing. They claim that a group of Rohingya militants is causing the violence.

    Google says it’s investigating, after reports that Russian operatives placed thousands of dollars in advertisements during the 2016 election. The Washington Post says that the disinformation campaign exploited YouTube, Google Search, Gmail, and other Google products. Facebook and Twitter have also reported Russian meddling. And now Microsoft says it’s checking Russian ads on its platforms.

    On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 12 points to close at 22761. The Nasdaq fell 10, and the S&P 500 slipped four.

    And Hall of Fame pro quarterback Y.A. Tittle passed away last night near his home in Northern California. Tittle played 17 seasons and was most valuable player with the New York Giants in 1963. The next year, an iconic photo captured him kneeling in pain, blood dripping from his head in his final season. Y.A. Tittle was 90 years old.

    The post News Wrap: Scott Pruitt says he’s ending EPA’s Clean Power Plan appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Rohingya Muslims, fled from ongoing military operations in Myanmars Rakhine state make their way through muddy water after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border to reach in Teknaff, Bangladesh on October 08, 2017. Bangladesh said it would be one of the world's biggest refugee cam to house all the 800,000 plus Rohingya muslims who have sought asylum from violence in Myanmar. (Photo by Zakir Hossain Chowdhury/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

    Rohingya Muslims flee from ongoing military operations in Myanmars Rakhine state, making their way through muddy water after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border to reach in Teknaff, Bangladesh. Photo by Zakir Hossain Chowdhury/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

    It’s been just more than a week since a gunman opened fire at a country music festival along the Las Vegas strip, killing 58 people and wounding nearly 500 more.

    Days later, several stores began pulling bump stocks — an accessory used by the gunman to turn semi-automatic weapons into guns capable of firing hundreds of rounds per minute — from their shelves, PBS NewsHour’s Kamaria Roberts and Gretchen Frazee reported. (Frazee explains here in depth how the mechanisms work, and why they’re not illegal).

    Meanwhile, a renewed debate over gun control continues in Washington, though it’s unclear whether the deadly attack will prompt new gun legislation.

    As police continue to piece together what happened in the moments leading up to the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history, here are five stories that you might have missed.

    1. A Boat carrying Rohingya migrants overturns near Bangladesh

    An elderly man and a child are carried as Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar make their way through the rice field after crossing the border in Palang Khali, Bangladesh October 9, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj - RC1E02A14090

    An elderly man and a child are carried as Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar make their way through the rice field after crossing the border in Palang Khali, Bangladesh. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj.

    A boat carrying dozens of Rohingya migrants capsized late Sunday, killing at least 12 people, including five children, as they tried to make their way to Bangladesh. The exact number of people on board was unclear as rescuers continued looking for survivors on Monday, the BBC reported.

    Who are the Rohingya? As PBS NewsHour’s Larisa Epatko wrote earlier this year:

    The Rohingya are an ethnic mostly Muslim minority group living in Rakhine state on the western coast of Myanmar. The government said they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and does not recognize them as one of the country’s 135 ethnic groups. A 1982 law prevented the Rohingya from gaining citizenship, which restricts their job opportunities.

    More than 500,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state since late August, when a government crackdown on insurgents erupted into violence. The Myanmar government has said its actions are justified since its police stations had come under attack.

    The boat that capsized Sunday on the Naf River follows a similar in September when a boat overturned, killing 23 people and leaving 40 more missing.

    Why it matters

    Rohingya refugees walk in a rice field after crossing the border in Palang Khali, Bangladesh October 9, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Silva - RC1D4F758440

    Rohingya refugees walk in a rice field after crossing the border in Palang Khali, Bangladesh. Photo by REUTERS/Jorge Silva.

    U.N. officials called the ongoing Rohingya exodus from Myanmar the “world’s fastest developing refugee emergency.” Makeshift camps popping up in Bangladesh raise the risk of disease outbreaks and challenges of providing basic food, water and sanitation, they said.

    The European Union is considering ending contact with Myanmar’s top military leaders and possibly imposing sanctions because of the violence in civilian areas.

    2. The plague is spreading rapidly in Madagascar

    ANTANANARIVO, MADAGASCAR - OCTOBER 03 : Workers from Department of Emergency and Response to Epidemics and Disasters (SURECA) within the Ministry of Health of Madagascar implement a desinsectisation in a public school in Antananarivo, Madagascar as plague spreads rapidly in cities across the country on October 3, 2017. Twenty people have died so far from plague in Madagascar while more than 100 other suspected cases have been registered across the country. (Photo by Henitsoa Rafalia/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

    Workers from Department of Emergency and Response to Epidemics and Disasters (SURECA) within the Ministry of Health of Madagascar implement a desinsectisation in a public school in Antananarivo, Madagascar as plague spreads rapidly in cities across the country. Photo by Henitsoa Rafalia/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

    The plague is spreading rapidly in Madagascar, putting the African island nation on high alert.

    The infectious disease has already killed more than 40 people and infected almost 400 since August. The Madagascar Ministry of Public Health first reported the outbreak in September, and subsequent investigations have determined that patient zero was a 31-year-old man with “malaria-like” symptoms traveling by public transportation back to his home on the coast.

    Since then, schools have closed and the government has halted public gatherings to prevent further outbreak.

    Plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis and comes in three forms. Bubonic plague was the scourge of the Middle Ages, killing 60 percent of Europe’s population. The form of plague currently spreading in Madagascar, pneumonic, is technically deadlier. It occurs when bubonic plague goes untreated and bacteria spreads to the lungs.The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated the outbreak as a grade 2 emergency, in a second external situation report, meaning response will be coordinated for “a single or multiple country event with moderate public health consequences.”

    WHO plans to send 1.2 million doses of antibiotics and $1.5 million in emergency funding to Madagascar to fight the spread of the disease. Medicine will be distributed to health clinics throughout the country to treat victims, as well as those at risk for exposure.

    Why it’s important

    Madagascar usually reports around 400 deaths annually from bubonic plague, but this outbreak has spread more quickly, already approaching the usual number for an entire year. While the bubonic plague is spread between humans through infected flea bites, pneumonic plague can be spread from human to human through unprotected contact with bodily fluid and victims can show symptoms in just 24 hours.

    Madagascar is also one of the poorest countries in the world, according to the World Bank Group. Infrastructure on the island, including basic road, water and power systems, has suffered following a decrease in international aid, natural disasters and budget cuts. Money for disease research is also hard to come by. These factors could make it more difficult for Madagascar to handle a disease outbreak like the one it’s experiencing now.

    3. Egypt has had a surge in arrests of LGBTQ people

    A fan of Lebanese alternative rock band Mashrou' Leila holds a rainbow flag during an Aug. 12 concert at the Ehdeniyat International Festival in Ehden town, Lebanon. Photo by Jamal Saidi/Reuters

    A fan of Lebanese alternative rock band Mashrou’ Leila holds a rainbow flag during an Aug. 12 concert at the Ehdeniyat International Festival in Ehden town, Lebanon. Photo by Jamal Saidi/Reuters

    Egypt has for years made clear it does not approve of its LGBT population. (A 2013 Pew poll, for instance, showed just 3 percent of its population thought society should accept homosexuality).

    Over the past few weeks, one advocacy group says, the government has arrested 54 LGBT people, part of the fallout from a concert at which rainbow flags were flown.

    As PBS NewsHour’s Michael Boulter reports, the surge in arrests came after a performance from popular Lebanese rock band Mashrou’ Leila, whose lead singer is gay.

    “The number of arrests has surpassed the Queen Boat incident in 2001, which was once the largest crackdown of LGBTQ citizens in the country. Then, under Egypt’s ex-President Hosni Mubarak, police raided a floating nightclub called the Queen Boat, arresting 52 people. They were charged with “habitual debauchery” and “obscene behavior,”” Boulter wrote.

    Why it’s important

    Even as arrests continued last week, the international community has remained mum on the issue of LGBT rights in Egypt, advocacy group Human Rights Watch says.

    Aside from the risk of more arrests following last week’s concert, Egypt is also currently considering legislation that would criminalize homosexuality. (Currently, homosexuality is not a crime, but homosexual acts in public are, The Guardian says). It’s not clear, as Boulter pointed out, whether that legislation will come up for a vote.

    4. St. Louis police officers under scrutiny for how it’s handled protests after the Stockley verdict last month.

    A protester stands with his hands in the air as police officers dressed in riot gear watch as protests erupt the day after the not-guilty verdict in the murder trial of Jason Stockley, a former St. Louis police officer, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Joshua Lott/Reuters

    A protester stands with his hands in the air as police officers dressed in riot gear watch as protests erupt the day after the not-guilty verdict in the murder trial of Jason Stockley, a former St. Louis police officer, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Joshua Lott/Reuters

    Protesters immediately took the streets of St. Louis, Missouri, last month after a judge acquitted white, ex-officer Jason Stockley in the 2011 fatal shooting of black motorist Anthony Lamar Smith.

    More than 300 arrests have been in the weeks since, with the St. Louis Police Department criticizing subgroups of protesters within otherwise largely peaceful demonstrations for violent clashes with police and property damage.

    However, the police department has now come under intense scrutiny for how it’s handled the protests since mid-September. Acting U.S. Attorney Carrie Costantin has passed on a request from St. Louis officials who want the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to conduct an independent federal investigation into police conduct reported in recent weeks, including reports of excessive use of force and the use of chemicals during arrests, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

    Buzzfeed went into detail on what advocates have said about the St. Louis officers and their reportedly unlawful use of force and mass arrests of people, and how those things have affected protesters and journalists.

    Why it’s important

    The Trump administration has repeatedly hawked its law-and-order goals and de-emphasized federal civil rights enforcement, as seen with Attorney General Jeff Sessions criticism of consent decrees, the court-enforced agreements between U.S. cities and their troubled police departments with the government.

    With this as a backdrop, it’s unclear if DOJ will launch an investigation into St. Louis, a city currently under a consent decree after the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown.

    On Monday, dozens of protesters met with a pair of city judges, as well as police representatives, local media reported.

    5. Malala’s first day at Oxford

    Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai waves as she arrives for an event with students at Tecnologico de Monterrey University in Mexico City. Photo by Edgard Garrido/Reuters

    Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai waves as she arrives for an event with students at Tecnologico de Monterrey University in Mexico City. Photo by Edgard Garrido/Reuters

    Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist who was once targeted for assassination by the Taliban, attended her first lectures today at the University of Oxford.

    The 20-year-old tweeted a photo of a handful of books next to a laptop, saying, “Five years ago, I was shot in an attempt to stop me from speaking out for girls’ education. Today, I attend my first lectures at Oxford.”

    There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.

    Why it’s important

    Yousafzai was shot in the head by militants because of her advocacy for girls’ education. Since then, she has become an international figure, who was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. (And, a young woman who can go to college with her peers).

    The post 5 overlooked stories that are worth your time appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Donald Trump is hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins — last year’s National Hockey League Stanley Cup Champions — on Tuesday at the White House.

    Trump is expected to speak around 3 p.m. ET. Watch live in the player above.

    PBS NewsHour will update this story as it develops.

    The post WATCH LIVE: Trump to welcome Pittsburgh Penguins to White House appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Businessman squinting at desk in office

    Some employers think what they’re doing a clever “pre-assessment” of job applicants, laying the burden on you while avoiding putting their own skin in the game, explains Ask the Headhunter columnist Nick Corcodilos. Photo by Getty Images

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

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


    This is my 250th Ask The Headhunter column for NewsHour, which debuted five years ago in October 2012. Thanks to all our readers for your provocative questions and comments about job hunting and hiring!

    Question: I really enjoy your direct and honest feedback to job hunters each week. I’d like to get your thoughts on jobs that make you do “assessment tests” to prove you are qualified.

    My favorite was for a company in the San Francisco Bay Area that needs to fill a marketing and web content position. Two hours before the phone interview, the marketing director sends me an email saying that I need to prove my research skills and she will send me a question 10 minutes before our interview time. I have to research the question and have it submitted before the interview.

    I was ready to walk but did it just to see if I could. (I succeeded). After the talk, I was unimpressed with her abilities and withdrew my application.

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

    Recently, during my first in-person interview for another job, I was asked to write a five-page press release by the next day. I politely told the manager that my extensive work experience speaks for itself and I would be happy to send links to my previous press releases. She said that wasn’t good enough and I said, “I’m withdrawing my application.”

    As you can tell, I’m ready to walk away from imposing situations like this, that, for the most part, waste your time. What is the proper way to say “no” to these assessments? Thanks!

    Nick Corcodilos: My compliments for walking away from these kinds of abusive hurdles. Such employers undoubtedly think what they’re doing is a clever “pre-assessment” of job applicants. That is, they want to assess whether it’s worth their time to meet and assess you. They lay the burden on you, while they avoid putting their own skin in the game.

    READ MORE: 5 tips for avoiding terrible employers

    My guess is they add this step because some HR consulting firm charged them a bundle for “best methods” in recruiting. But there’s nothing “best” about abusing the job candidates those same employers complain are in short supply! Talk about trying to appeal to a candidate!

    Assessment tests are often bogus
    Job assessment tests come in many flavors. Tests and assessments can be useful tools for employers and job seekers. But more often than not, they’re misused. Some assessment methods are transparently ridiculous and unreasonable — and they’re not assessments at all. They’re bogus. (See “An insider’s biggest beefs with employment testing.”)

    I think the way you’re dealing with unreasonable demands is just fine. And I don’t think anything you say to employers or recruiters is going to make them stop insisting that you jump through hoops, participate in totally one-sided “interviews,” and do free work. These employers have established a policy and a process. You’re not likely to change any of it. But it may be fun to make a point to them — a point that may hit home after they lose lots of good job applicants to their competitors.

    (For an in-depth look at this topic, see Dr. Erica Klein’s short book, ”Employment Tests: Get The Edge”.)

    READ MORE: How to win any job

    I love your story about the marketing director. I wonder if she instructs her company’s salespeople to pre-assess potential customers by making them submit a five-page statement about “Why I’m worthy to listen to your sales pitch.”

    It gets worse
    Readers recently shared stories of pre-interview demands for all kinds of extensive “screening” — all to be done by the job seeker on their own time with no pay while the employer does nothing.

    • One employer tries to cajole applicants with this phony challenge, “to help us find the top 1% of talent,” then tells the job seeker to spend ”8 to 10 hours” on a “sample project” prior to moving on to the next step of the selection process. When the applicant fails, they are directed to a “partner company” that will sell them “training” to bring them up to the 1 percent level.
    • Another job ad — for an administrative assistant — requires you to spend an entire week performing sample tasks to qualify for interviews. With no pay.
    • Yet another reader got suckered into producing several pieces of sample work that required several hours of her time. She had never even had a real interview — just three phone calls. She was ready to do even more to get the highly prized “in-person interview.”

    But you asked me how to say no to these “assessments.”

    When you’re asked to jump through hoops that you think are unreasonable, be ready to respond. Here are my suggestions about how to say it, ranked by snarkiness. Decide how far you want to go.

    Meet, or beat it.

    How to say it:

    “I’d be happy to invest my time to meet with you so we can determine whether we should work together. If there’s serious mutual interest, I’d be glad to show you how I’d do the job profitably. But without a corresponding investment of time from a serious employer, it’s just not prudent for me to do what’s essentially a one-sided assessment. I’m currently in discussions with three other employers and I expect to choose one in the next X days. If you’d like to meet to explore working together, I’d be glad to come in on one of these dates and times: [list 2 or 3 dates]. If those are not convenient, please suggest some others and I will look forward to talking shop.”

    That’s pretty assertive, but so is an employer’s demand that you do work before just a phone interview. I’m a big believer in showing how you’ll do the work to win the job — in a face-to-face meeting. But if the employer isn’t investing its own time and effort, it’s presumptuous of them to expect you to do so.

    Pay me for the work.

    Sometimes it helps to put a price on what the employer is demanding. (See Why employers should pay to interview you.)

    How to say it:

    “Just as I’m sure you don’t charge prospective customers to do a sales call, or to provide product samples for their evaluation, I don’t charge for interview meetings or samples of my work. I’d be more than happy to meet with you. But if you want me to work solo while you attend to other matters, my hourly rate is $X. If you’re willing to invest a couple of hours of your time, I’ll invest mine, too — no charge.”

    Don’t do free work.

    I’ll do it if you’ll do it.

    Sometimes it helps to put the shoe on the employer’s foot. You’ll win only the most honorable fans with this, but please understand that this is the shoe the employer is trying to get you to walk miles in.

    How to say it:

    “Attached is a psychological assessment test to be completed by the manager I’d be working for if your company were to hire me. If you’ll please have him or her complete it, to help me ensure I’d be working for a properly qualified manager, then I’d be glad to take your assessment, too. Since you already have my resume, kindly forward a copy of the manager’s resume so I can review it. Since time is of the essence, please be aware that I’m at the offer stage with two of your leading competitors.”

    I don’t perform tricks.

    This one’s pretty snarky but, hey, would you go on a blind date with someone who’s not going to show up?

    How to say it:

    “An interview is called that because ‘inter-‘ means between, mutually, reciprocally, together — not one-sided. I’m looking for a good employer, and that means one that respects me enough to invest time together and reciprocally. I don’t jump for treats. Do you really have so many great candidates that you can afford to ask them all to do tricks before you’ll interview them? I’m ready to interview you if you’re ready to interview me.”

    You’re not worth my trouble.

    This one requires no explanation.

    How to say it:

    Talk to the hand.“

    Why do employers do this?

    You know such jump-through-the-hoop job assessments are inappropriate and usually offensive. So do I. Why don’t employers know it?

    It’s pretty simple. These are employers who don’t know how to recruit job candidates. They want you to do the work, preferably with no investment on their part. These employers want you to incur costs before they do. They want you to pay for hiring managers’ (and HR’s) ineptitude. They’re all telling you one thing: “You don’t want to work here because we have no idea how to hire.”

    Dear Readers: What are the most ridiculous or offensive “pre-interview” hurdles you’ve been asked to jump? How have you responded?


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

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

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

    The post Ask the Headhunter: If you’re expected to jump through hoops to get an interview, here’s what to say appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Mount Saint Lawrence cemetery — In Ireland, the suicide rate is declining, but among young males it is going up. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    The newer graves at Mount Saint Lawrence cemetery in the quiet outskirts of Limerick, Ireland, are easy to distinguish. They are mini carnivals of color; angel statues beam from beds of daisies, and in the corners, pinwheels spin. “A lot of young people are buried here,” a visitor notes to a groundskeeper who nods. “A lot of suicides,” he says.

    If the city of Limerick were a beating heart, its main artery would be the Shannon River. It is a life source for generations of fishermen who hook salmon and pike. It is a source of fun for schoolchildren paddling kayaks.

    But people in their darkest hours also “go to the river,” as the locals say, to end their lives.

    •••

    One of the scariest things in Limerick is the sound of the rescue helicopter flying overhead, Limerick Councilmember John Loftus said. “You think ‘oh no, there’s somebody in the river.’”

    According to the National Office for Suicide Prevention’s latest figures, the suicide rate for Limerick was more than twice the national average between the years 2013 and 2015 (22.4 per 100,000 people, compared to 10.1 nationally). For comparison, the World Health Organization says the suicide rate worldwide is 16 of every 100,000 people — one person every 40 seconds. Across the U.S., the suicide rate is 13.026 per 100,000 people.

    In Ireland as a whole, the suicide rate is slightly declining. But among males age 15 to 34, the rate is climbing, said Brendan Kelly, a professor of psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin and consulting psychiatrist at Tallaght Hospital.

    Alcohol and drugs might be drivers, along with peer pressure and bullying. Youth itself may even be a factor; a young person might not have reflected on the finality of death the way an older person has had time to do, Kelly said.

    Loftus is among the city residents whose lives have been upended by suicide.

    The upbeat Scotsman moved to the Republic of Ireland’s third largest city 17 years ago and gradually got involved in local politics. His wife is from Hungary and he likes to joke, with a nod to the Beatles, “She grew up with Lenin and Marx. I grew up with Lennon and McCartney.”

    The city of 100,000 residents has come a long way, he says, since its days known as “stab city” for the gang violence of the 1980s, ’90s and even 2000s. Police have arrested many of the gang bosses and the streets feel relatively safer at night. Limerick has a growing immigrant population, mostly from Poland, along with other nations of the EU, Asia and Africa. It is a sports-loving town — everything from rugby to hurling — and the University of Limerick ranks among Ireland’s top 10 schools.

    When talking about Limerick’s suicide rate, however, Loftus visibly deflates. He recalls the day his stepson killed himself seven years ago. “I’ve got two daughters. He was my son.” An avid musician, the young man returned from visiting friends in Hungary and killed himself a few weeks later. Like many families of suicide, Loftus didn’t see it coming. When he told his wife the crushing news, “she wanted to die, too.”

    Nowadays, says Loftus, “we remember the funny, intelligent guy he was. That’s how you get through life.”

    •••
    Life preservers are located along the Shannon River in Limerick. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    Life preservers are located along the Shannon River in Limerick. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    In 2008, Nora Conway was working as a bereavement therapist and she noticed many clients were grief-stricken by suicide. “Families were doing everything they could to prevent suicide. As a society, I didn’t feel we were doing enough.”

    She contacted Joan Freeman, the founder of Dublin’s Pieta House, which provides face-to-face counseling to people in suicidal distress. Conway told her Limerick needed its own chapter — in fact, she “demanded” it, Freeman recalled.

    Soon, the community got behind it, Conway said. “They wanted to look suicide in the eye. The rates at that particular time were very high and there weren’t enough services to respond to the need.” In December 2010, the Limerick center opened its doors with a staff of 15.

    Pretty soon, people were coming to the Limerick office from all over the region. So far, about 3,000 people, age 6 and up, have attended counseling sessions there.

    “We’re helping people understand their emotions and not become overwhelmed by them. It involves recognizing the triggers and learning other ways to cope,” Conway said. “People we see here come to us with only reasons for dying. Our work is to help them look at reasons for living.”

    Along with the Pieta House, Ireland has set up an office dedicated to suicide prevention, and local governments like Limerick help fund non-governmental groups, such as Samaritans, which runs a 24-hour hotline.

    Now, Pieta House has 13 suicide and self-harm crisis centers around the country. It hosts “Darkness into Light” community walks to raise awareness and funds. “In order to lift the stigma around suicide and self-harm, we need to be aware. We need to talk about it,” she said.

    “They wanted to look suicide in the eye. The rates at that particular time were very high and there weren’t enough services to respond to the need.” — Nora Conway, clinical manager of Pieta House Midwest

    There still is a stigma connected to suicide, although it’s diminished, Kelly said. Since 1993, suicide is no longer a crime in Ireland — which is why the preferred phrase is “died by suicide” rather than “committed suicide” — and it’s no longer regarded as a sin in the Catholic Church.

    People contemplating suicide tend to close themselves off to others and lose interest in things that once brought them joy, said Kelly, the psychiatrist. They might give away possessions and become sleep-deprived.

    Suicidal people get tunnel vision — or in more clinical terms “cognitive constriction” — a failure to see other options. Families often will ask why their loved one chose death rather than talking to them about their anguish, but over time the person loses sight of other options, he said. “They’re not choosing to die by suicide, they don’t see it as a choice. Their attitude of death is that it’s the only option.”

    Even with increasing awareness, however, people still find it difficult to talk about suicide. Young males in particular tend not to seek help. They are five times more likely to choose suicide than females in their age range, said Dr. Cian Aherne, a clinical psychologist and clinical coordinator at Jigsaw Limerick.

    Daragh De Klein (second from left) with his rowing teammates in Limerick. Photo by their coach Roger Kiely

    Daragh De Klein (second from left) with his rowing teammates in Limerick. Photo by their coach Roger Kiely

    Teenage males are just developing their identity and seeing social ideals of status, money and fame. But when they don’t achieve those goals, and realize life is much harder than they thought, they might feel like a failure and disconnected from society, Aherne said.

    His organization provides free individual talk therapy for 12- to 25-year-olds at chapters across Ireland. Since the Limerick branch opened at the end of June, they have gotten 80 cases.

    “We did not expect that many,” Aherne said. “I think parents are very relieved and grateful that they have somewhere that they can get their children some support on short notice” without needing a doctor’s order.

    Actually listening to someone helps — but “often people will say “it’s not that bad,” or “that happened to me once, here’s what I did,” Aherne said. That can make people in distress feel like they’re not being heard. Instead, listen in a nonjudgmental way, ask direct questions and avoid clichés, his group recommends.

    Anyone can lend a helpful ear, not just a trained professional. Daragh De Klein, a 16-year-old high school student in Limerick, said he is fortunate to know he can always turn to his friends. “I feel like we’re comfortable enough with each other that if there really was a problem they would mention it to me, or vice-versa.”

    •••

    The Limerick Suicide Watch headquarters is in a historically industrial part of town, mostly deserted on a rainy Saturday night in late June. Eight people suit up in tangerine jackets with glowing reflective trim. They buckle on life vests and flashlights, and pack first aid kits. A poster on the wall reads: “Life is what you make it.”

    Members of Limerick Suicide Watch suit up to patrol the Shannon River for people in distress. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    Members of Limerick Suicide Watch suit up to patrol the Shannon River for people in distress. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    These volunteers — who alternate nights with another group in the city — are preparing to patrol the four bridges crossing the Shannon River. By foot or bike, the teams look for people who might be considering ending their lives in the river’s powerful current.

    The patrols, which began in May 2016, receive the same suicide intervention training as police officers and fire and ambulance crews. They learn how to quickly connect with someone in a life-threatening situation and provide help.

    In the past year, Limerick Suicide Watch has had more than 100 of what they call “interventions” with people in distress, said the group’s leader and lifelong Limerick resident Ger McNamara.

    Limerick Suicide Watch helped more than 100 people over the past year who were at risk of suicide. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    Limerick Suicide Watch helped more than 100 people over the past year who were at risk of suicide. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    The suffering people he meets “may not have spoken to anybody. They may just have made the decision to end their lives within the previous couple of days or weeks prior to us finding them on the river’s edge,” he said. “They may open up to us, or they may not. Nine times out of 10 they will open up and speak to us.”

    One of the other volunteers, Niamh Hastings, says volunteers “ask them the hard questions that maybe a family member or friend wouldn’t ask them.” For instance, “‘Are you thinking about suicide?’ That would be very hard to say to somebody that you love,” said Hastings, who herself lost a loved one to suicide. “I know what it does when you enter that dark place.”

    The group takes particular notice when someone walks alone by the river, rather than as a part of a group.

    Sometimes people wander down to the river just to talk to the patrols. The team encourages it by posting on Facebook where they will be each night.

    One man approaches the group. “Are you well?” a volunteer asks him.

    “-ish,” he replies. He talks about the troubles in his life and then asks a rhetorical question: “When you save someone, are you saving a life or extending torment?”

    Niamh Hastings is one of the volunteers who scouts the Shannon River for people who might be considering suicide. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    Niamh Hastings is one of the volunteers who scouts the Shannon River for people who might be considering suicide. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    They chat a bit until a call comes on the radio that a woman has just tried to run to the river, but has fallen on the slippery pavement before she can climb the railing. The volunteers race over to help. They treat her for some cuts and scrapes until an ambulance arrives.

    Afterward, the patrols take a break and talk about what happened. They sip coffee and tea with milk, provided by a local restaurant for free as a show of gratitude. A new volunteer, Sean Sheil, said he expected such dramatic situations when he joined the group, but in responding to the woman who tried to jump, “I didn’t think I’d be so scared.” He shakes his head. “I couldn’t get over how quick she was.”

    In an ideal world, McNamara says, the patrols would be able to bring troubled individuals directly to trained counsellors and psychologists, rather than turning them over to police or sending them to hospitals, which treat their visible wounds. “It can be a revolving door system at times,” he said. In some cases, after taking them to the hospital, “we see them the next night.”

    Volunteer Maire Carroll describes an encounter during the patrols that’s stayed with her.

    Maire Carroll, a volunteer in her 50s, has seen her share of attempted suicides and the tragedy of those who do end up taking their own lives, including her own cousin. The 27-year-old appeared to have everything going for her — good job, nice clothes, Carroll said. But unbeknownst to her parents, the woman was planning every detail of her funeral, including a video she wanted to show images from her life.

    “It was such a shock,” said Carroll, who now volunteers several nights a week for the patrol. She sings the group’s praises but also recognizes the limits of their interventions. “We’re basically giving them another 24 hours with their family,” she said. “If you really want to take your own life, you will.”

    There is no predictable pattern to the incidents, the volunteers say, though they do seem to come in waves. Maybe people see others doing it and it triggers something inside. High-risk times include Christmas, New Year’s Eve and other holidays that involve drinking.

    Equally puzzling is why people sometimes use the river to seal their fate. The Shannon is the longest river in Ireland and gets its name from the Celtic goddess Sionna. As Hastings observes, “It’s there, and it’s bewitching.”

    It is now 4 a.m., and the volunteers wrap up their Saturday night patrol. They walk back to home base, rain-soaked and relieved. They had no more interventions that night.

    •••

    For many years, if someone did “go to the river,” Tony Carmody, 55, would answer the call. He worked on a search and rescue team for three decades in Limerick and other cities in Ireland.

    For local boatmen Tony Carmody (left) and Andrew Duhig, the Shannon River is a source of work and a place of fun. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    For local boatmen Tony Carmody (left) and Andrew Duhig, the Shannon River is a source of work and a place of fun. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    “What we did was easy. The hard part was meeting the family,” he said. “All they wanted was their loved one, their husband, their daughter or son. They just wanted them back, and that’s what we would do.”

    Local fishermen, from long ago up to the present day, have also lent a hand in finding the bodies. They are intimately familiar with the tides, currents and mudflats. “They knew the river like the back of their hands, and they were always willing to help,” said Carmody.

    Sharon Slater, a historian for the Limerick Archives, has interviewed hundreds of fishermen first for her thesis and now for an archival project for the city. “There wasn’t as much of a rush for the fishermen to go out and look for the body if it was a suicide as opposed to an accident,” they told her. The response was quicker if someone fell off the pier or had an accident, which the town considered more “natural,” she said.

    The Abbey men fished up river from Limerick City, and the Strand men fished down river (until 2006), according to historian Sharon Slater. Photo courtesy of the Limerick Archives

    The Abbey men fished up river from Limerick City, and the Strand men fished down river (until 2006), according to historian Sharon Slater. Photo courtesy of the Limerick Archives

    “I never treated them as suicide,” Carmody said. “Every person who went into the river as far as I’m concerned, fell in. I’m not there to judge these people, whether they jumped in. The way I looked at it, they fell in, they had an accident.”

    On a recent overcast Monday, Carmody and another local boatman, Andrew Duhig, were chatting at the Curraghgour Boat Club. It was along this riverbank that Vikings came ashore in the 800s and eventually built a settlement. In Limerick, they staged their marine operations.

    Limerick these days still suffers from a lingering reputation as a tough town, despite its efforts to clean up. The global downturn of 2008 delivered a gut-punch. Dell computer company closed its Limerick plant in 2009, and 1,900 workers lost their jobs.

    “Limerick is not booming compared to what it was,” Duhig said. “Work has to come back. There are a lot of unemployed tradesmen.”

    The city of Limerick now sees the Shannon River, once considered a gloomy place, as key to its revitalization. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    The city of Limerick now sees the Shannon River, once considered a gloomy place, as key to its revitalization. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    Even health care professionals can’t tell who will take that final step. So the key is to address the possible contributing factors society-wide, like alcoholism, drug abuse, poverty and unemployment, and make sure counseling is available to everyone.

    “There are a lot of disadvantaged areas in Limerick, and you have to wonder what kind of a part that plays,” Aherne said.

    A 21-year-old member of the Limerick-based rap group Same D4Ence, who goes by the name Hazey Haze, said one of his friends tried to kill himself three times. “He was sick of whatever was going on. He didn’t really tell anyone about it.”

    Haze and fellow band members Sizzler and MCB address the issue of suicide directly in one of their songs, “A Beauty Named Shannon.”

    “The song brings you into the moment: ‘You can’t breathe … you can’t see.’” When someone dies by suicide, people often will ask, “Why would you do that to your family? There’s so much they left behind,” said Haze. “But you don’t know what’s going on in someone’s mind.”

    Many consider the mighty Shannon as the heart of Limerick’s revitalization and sense of pride. The city has decked out the bridges with large planters of flowers. There’s talk of building a riverwalk. Over the past few years, city organizers have started enticing people into the river itself, with kayak rentals and organized weekly swims.

    “Limerick built the city looking away from the river,” Carmody said. “It’s just starting to turn around.”

    The post How the people of Limerick are battling a spike in suicide appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Smoke and flame rise from the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country during the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa, California, U.S., October 9, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC1BEAD35E70

    Smoke and flame rise from the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country during the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa, California. Photo by REUTERS/Stephen Lam.

    Clusters of wildfires continue to rip through Northern California and Anaheim, propelled by powerful winds and dry conditions.

    The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) reported Tuesday that 17 fires are currently charring more than 110,000 acres across the region, though some of the smaller fires are up to 50 percent contained. Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in eight counties. Fire officials have yet to determine a cause for the fires in Northern California.

    How did this happen?

    The fires began Sunday and grew within a matter of hours, prompting thousands to flee. Some of the largest blazes have burned through through Sonoma, Mendocino and Napa counties in Northern California. The speed of the blaze took fire officials by surprise, burning through 20,000 acres in 12 hours on Monday night. Further south, residents of Anaheim Hills and Orange County were also forced to evacuate as a brush fire, now 25 percent contained, burned through 7,500 acres and destroyed 24 structures.

    The intensity of the Napa firestorm over a span of a few hours make it one of the worst in the state’s history.

    Though the cause of these fires aren’t yet known, research continues to find human activity to blame for a majority of nationwide fires. From leftover campfires to wayward fireworks, it is said that up to 84 percent of fires are human caused.

    What’s the damage?

    Officials told media outlets at least 15 people died in the fires and more than 1,500 homes and business have been destroyed.

    As of Monday, more than 100 people were also injured by the fires, officials told CNN. Most patients were treated for smoke inhalation. The destroyed businesses include at least two wineries in Napa and Sonoma Counties, the Associated Press reported.

    Santa Rosa, home to 175,000 people, saw some of the worst damage. Some residents told The New York Times, they “couldn’t even find the street” to their neighborhood once the fire had burnt through the area.

    Sonoma County Sheriff has received more than 200 missing person reports and have located 45, according to their Facebook page. Damage to the area’s communications infrastructure, including cell towers and fiber optic lines, may make it harder for friends and family to locate loved ones on their own.

    What officials are saying

    An aerial photo of the devastation left behind from the North Bay wildfires north of San Francisco, California, October 9, 2017.  California Highway Patrol/Golden Gate Division/Handout via REUTERS  ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY - RC18CCD58570

    An aerial photo of the devastation left behind from the North Bay wildfires north of San Francisco, California. Photo by California Highway Patrol/Golden Gate Division/Handout.

    Cal Fire incident commander Ron Bravo told reporters in a Tuesday morning press conference in Mendocino County that the situation is “dynamic,” and called for residents of the area to be prepared for evacuation as conditions continue to evolve.

    “I just don’t want you guys to believe that this fight is done, ’cause it’s not,” Bravo said. “We’ve got a lot of work left to do.”

    Amy Head, spokesperson for Cal Fire told The Guardian that this multiplicity of fires is “unprecedented,” adding that the majority of the fires started within the same period of time Sunday evening.

    “It’s not under control by any means,” California Gov. Jerry Brown said of containment efforts Tuesday.

    Why it’s important

    October is considered Northern California’s worst month of the fire season due to the combination of dry conditions and heavy winds, or “diablo winds,” that are a hallmark of the area. Heather Williams, spokesperson for Cal Fire, said an active rainy season provided an abundance of vegetation that proceeds to dry out around this time of year. Dry plants provide fuel for fires to grow quickly, especially when strong winds can carry flames over larger distances rapidly.

    The western U.S. has experienced a record fire season this year,with nearly 40 active fires engaging more than 4,000 fire personnel nationwide, according to the latest report from the National Interagency Coordination Center.

    As of last month, fire suppression costs exceeded $2 billion for federal government, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said. The same report also said that during the peak of this year’s fire season “there were three times as many uncontained large fires on the landscape as compared to the five-year average.”

    But, as Stateline pointed out, states affected by wildfires have to also spend millions for recovery efforts that often leave budgets imbalanced. When fires earlier this year burned through a million acres in Montana, the cost contributed to a $200 million budget shortfall for the state. Calling it Montana’s “most expensive fire season in state history,” Gov. Steve Bullock said in a September statement.

    What’s next?

    Brown urged President Donald Trump to declare a major disaster in a request issued Monday, calling the damage “extraordinary.” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Mr. Trump has approved Gov. Brown’s request for major disaster declaration and has also ordered federal aid be sent to supplement aid efforts.

    Williams told the NewsHour that winds have died down since the peak of the fire’s spread, hopefully allowing “significant progress to be made.” Williams also said that the three largest are fires are not currently contained. However, the second largest fire, Atlas, has not continued to grow as of this afternoon and Williams said they remain optimistic that “firefighters can keep increasing containment.” She said it is too soon to tell when the crisis will abate completely.

    Evacuation orders and road closures remain in effect in affected counties. California authorities have brought in additional fire personnel from other areas of the state, and have requested crews from U.S. Forest Service in Nevada.

    The post Wildfires are sweeping through California. Here’s what you need to know appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    NewsHour shares web small logoIn our NewsHour Shares series, we show you things that caught our eye recently on the web. What about you? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or tweet to @NewsHour using #NewsHourShares. We might share it on air.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We have heard the harrowing tales of migrants making their way to Greece. Many do not survive the trip across the Aegean Sea.

    Tonight, as part of our NewsHour Shares, a look at trying to get refugees comfortable with water and the sea to help alleviate stress.

    Independent producer Micah Garen sent this report from Lesbos, Greece.

    ISIDOROS LAPSATIS, Lifeguard Hellas: My name is Isidoros Lapsatis. I’m Greek. I’m from an island called Kefalonia.

    And I work with Lifeguard Hellas on Lesbos. We do swimming lessons here for the refugees.

    I think it’s important for the refugees to enjoy the water. You know, it’s something. They have had traumatizing experiences. Most of them, some of them, if not many of them, can’t swim.

    I believe these people deserve to have fun and relax, and appreciate the water, you know, the sea, the way we do.

    Have you ever been in the sea?

    MAN: Yes, in the boat. Not like this, man. I’m scared sometimes, when I think about getting in the boat and driving. Different from being in the water.

    ISIDOROS LAPSATIS: Isn’t this better?

    MAN: This is much better.

    MAN (through interpreter): We risked our lives to find a place where we can be assured that there is security. We do that because, back home, there is war. There is suffering. There are a lot of things that happen in our country that we can’t live with.

    MAN (through interpreter): Here it’s good, because we can swim a little. It takes away stress.

    NINA GASSMANN, Swimming Instructor, Lifeguard Hellas: Many are scared of water, so we try that they relax in water, because you can really only swim when you really, like, are relaxed, your body, and you can concentrate on swimming and doing the movements.

    So, we first do something like that. And it’s surprisingly — like, many people are fascinated how easy it is to do, but it’s really relaxing.

    And it helps them a lot to gain trust in water and how to swim. And then we slowly start by always with a floatie or some kind of thing, so they float on water with their upper chest. We hold their hands and then try to do with their feet like this.

    LIA STAVROPOULOU, Coordinator, Lifeguard Hellas: It’s really important for the people to be connected with the water, to feel like the sea is part of them, and not something that took away their family.

    So, it’s like a way to get free people out. It’s like no borders you see everywhere, no borders. If people are afraid of the water, it’s something like the border for them.

    So, what we do here is come to get the people familiarized with the water and feel comfortable and play games, because water is fun.

    MAN (through interpreter): Yes, it’s good. The water is good. We should continue like this. People should help us do this. We do have water in Africa, but here it is good, better. It’s good to swim.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you, Micah Garen, a little bit of good news in a very tough part of the world.

    The post Swim lessons help refugees put trust in once-perilous seas appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And now for a different kind of media story, and a question: Does it matter who owns the TV station that delivers your local news?

    Polls show that many Americans trust local news more than other sources. The largest owner of local stations in the country, Sinclair Broadcasting, planning a merger that would make them even bigger.

    It is a move that is raising concerns because of Sinclair’s policy of combining news with partisan political opinion.

    William Brangham has that story.

    MAN: A train derailment in Tennessee.

    MAN: Some routine road maintenance has led to a squabble.

    WOMAN: We have some breaking news to tell you about. This is out of Bethesda tonight.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Night after night, the country’s largest owner of local TV stations, the Sinclair Broadcast Group, reaches over a third of homes across the nation.

    WOMAN: A compromise plan for the controversial Conesus Inn.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Most of us think of local news as just that, local. Stations run local stories, produced and reported by local people.

    But if, recently, you tuned in to, say, WVTV, which is Sinclair’s station in Milwaukee, you saw this:

    BORIS EPSHTEYN, Former Senior Adviser, Trump Campaign: Does the president have to repeat that fact day in and out for us to believe it?

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That’s Boris Epshteyn, former member of the Trump administration, and now chief political analyst for Sinclair.

    And here he was again on WEAR in Pensacola:

    BORIS EPSHTEYN: The president is stating the fact that the fringes of the left and the right…

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And on KSAS in Wichita:

    BORIS EPSHTEYN: Are both capable of hate and violence doesn’t mean he is condoning any of it.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And, again and again on every single one of the 173 Sinclair stations across the country. On those stations, you might also see these:

    MARK HYMAN: We should only tear down the bad statues, one viewer told me. But who decides what is bad?

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That’s Sinclair executive Mark Hyman.

    MARK HYMAN: What responsible adult hasn’t pointed to a scar as a reminder to not repeat a foolish act from their youth?

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Or these, the weekly so-called Terrorism Alert Desk.

    ALISON STARLING: From the terrorism alert desk in Washington, I’m Alison Starling.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Sinclair mandates that these clearly conservative editorials and features get broadcast on every one of their local stations. In some cases, stations have to run them as often as nine times a week.

    Eric Lipton is a reporter for The New York Times who’s been covering Sinclair.

    ERIC LIPTON, The New York Times: They have what they call must-runs, which include Boris Epshteyn, who is a surrogate for Trump, who is on the air, talking about conservative issues.

    While the local news stations largely decide what their local news is going to be, you know, covering local government, crime and local issues, there are these must-runs that go on their networks across the United States, which have a decidedly conservative flavor.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This partisan tilt has many free speech advocates alarmed, because not only does Sinclair own such a large chunk of the marketplace already, but it’s hoping to get bigger still.

    If a proposed $4 billion merger with Tribune Media goes forward, Sinclair would now reach three out of four American households.

    Journalism professor and former Milwaukee station manager Lewis Friedland:

    LEWIS FRIEDLAND, University of Milwaukee-Madison: It is a real step in a very different direction to begin to say the most trusted news source of most Americans is going to be allowed to be turned into an opinion organization, an opinion machine for a very narrow, narrowly conservative point of view night after night in local communities.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Television remains the main source of news for many Americans. In 2016, 46 percent of adults said they got their news from local TV stations.

    And it’s information they trust; 41 percent of registered voters said they trust local news to tell the truth, while just 27 percent trust national news.

    Sinclair disputes having any kind of political bent. Its executives declined to talk with us on camera for this report. But the record shows that the Maryland-based company has used its ownership of stations to push partisan conservative viewpoints for years.

    For example, after the 9/11 attacks, Sinclair required anchors and reporters to read messages supporting President George Bush’s efforts against terrorism.

    TED KOPPEL: The names and the faces of the fallen tell their own story.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In 2004, when ABC News’ “Nightline” devoted an entire show to reading the names of U.S. service members who’d died in Iraq, Sinclair, which owned seven ABC affiliates at the time, barred those stations from showing the broadcast.

    Later that year, in the midst of the presidential campaign between John Kerry and President George Bush, Sinclair mandated all its stations run a special that included clips from a distinctly one-sided documentary that questioned John Kerry’s Vietnam War service.

    MAN: I was outraged, and still am, that he willingly said things which were untrue.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And, more recently, Sinclair had its stations run this segment, which called the national media purveyors of fake news.

    SCOTT LIVINGSTON, Vice President of News, Sinclair: Unfortunately, some members of the national media are using their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Sinclair even caught the eye of HBO’s John Oliver, who poked fun at how Sinclair sometimes forces conservative talking points into the scripts that their local news anchors read.

    WOMAN: Did the FBI have a personal vendetta in pursuing the Russia investigation of President Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn?

    MAN: Did the FBI have a personal vendetta?

    WOMAN: … in pursuing the Russia investigation of…

    MAN: … President Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn?

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This blurring of news and opinion is one criticism of the company. The blurring of news and advertising is another.

    MAN: Hey, is it too early to get a fish sandwich?

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: There are numerous examples of Sinclair stations running what are largely paid promotions masquerading as news pieces.

    MAN: More and more patients at Huntsman Cancer Institute are recording their life stories.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Like in this case, where Sinclair stations across the country ran these segments about the Huntsman Cancer Institute. They looked like news spots, but were in fact funded by the cancer center, something viewers weren’t told.

    The FCC is still investigating that case.

    Sinclair’s bid to buy Tribune Media, and thus expand its reach dramatically in the local news market, has drawn plenty of criticism. Sinclair says critics have it wrong.

    They say it’s about economics — quote — “The proposed merger will advance the public interest by helping to shore up an industry buffeted by well-known economic challenges.”

    Traditionally, to protect against any one company becoming too dominant, Congress has set certain caps on how many media outlets any one corporation can own in a given market, but the FCC recently changed those rules.

    Under the new leadership of Trump appointee Ajit Pai, the FCC has now made it easier to approve Sinclair’s expansion.

    Tom Wheeler is the former chair of the FCC. He thinks these new changes are a blow to a free and vibrant press.

    TOM WHEELER, Former Chair, Federal Communications Commission: The Trump FCC has, in one very short period, moved to change three basic rules that have been in place to protect the diversity of voices and avoid monopolization of broadcast television market.

    We have a society in which the flow of information is crucial to a democracy. And when that free flow of information gets choked off by corporate consolidation, we ought to all worry.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Eric Lipton of The New York Times discovered meetings and correspondence between Ajit Pai and Sinclair executives that he says raise questions about the company’s influence with the Trump administration.

    ERIC LIPTON: He met with the executive officers of Sinclair just a few days before Trump was inaugurated, where they made clear to him that they were looking for the Trump administration to roll back some of these restrictions that were essentially limiting their ability to get bigger.

    And it was just a matter of a couple of weeks when, all of a sudden, Pai was named chairman and he was actually rolling back the same rules that they had approached him on. And only as a result of rolling back these rules is Sinclair merger was going to be able to go through.

    LEWIS FRIEDLAND: It’s not just, as Chairman Pai is suggesting, a simple shift in ownership regulations. It’s actually a shift in our entire broadcast ecosystem.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: A final FCC decision on the Sinclair-Tribune deal is expected later this year.

    In Washington, D.C., I’m William Brangham for the PBS NewsHour.

    The post How Sinclair Broadcasting puts a partisan tilt on trusted local news appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: There are growing allegations of sexual harassment, and now outright assault, by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

    The New York Times, which broke the original story, followed up with more allegations of harassment, including from Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie.

    Paltrow said that she was petrified and refused his advances as a 22-year-old when Weinstein allegedly put his hands on her and suggested they go to the bedroom for massages.

    The New Yorker magazine went even further. It published a long report that included allegations by three women, including actress Asia Argento, who say that Weinstein raped them. The report also included numerous allegations of harassment of other women, including actress Rosanna Arquette.

    Weinstein’s spokeswoman said he — quote — “unequivocally denied any allegations of non-consensual sex or acts of retaliation against woman refusing his advances.”

    Journalist Ronan Farrow wrote the New Yorker article. And he joins me now.

    Ronan Farrow, thank you for joining us.

    First of all, just quickly, how did you come to this story, and how long did you spend reporting it?

    RONAN FARROW, The New Yorker: The story was assigned to me. And it’s been about 10 months.

    I mean, look, multiple news organizations over 20 years, Judy, have really circled this, and there hasn’t been reporting that has met the right evidentiary standard until very recently. But, in the last few years, I think there has been a cultural shift around this.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, as we said a moment ago, you have information that builds on what The New York Times reported.

    You talked to at least 13 women, three of whom said that Harvey Weinstein forced himself on them, forced himself — them to have sex with him. How would you sum up what you learned about him?

    RONAN FARROW: Look, this is clearly an incredibly widespread set of allegations. We’re talking about 13 women in this “New Yorker” story that we ran today. These are clearly incredibly serious allegations, Judy. We’re talking about three allegations of rape.

    In addition to the discussion of what these women went through, there’s an incredible uprising of people within his companies talking for the first time in decades about what they said was a culture of complicity, about a pattern of meetings that they said were thin cover for predatory advances on young women.

    This is a tipping point where a lot is being exposed right now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, The New Yorker made available an audiotape recording of an exchange that Weinstein had with this Italian woman I mentioned, Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, who, after he groped her, she contacted the New York Police Department.

    And then, the next day, when — she agreed to wear the microphone when she saw him.

    We are going to play that right now, part of that.

    AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ, Model: I’m feeling very uncomfortable right now.

    HARVEY WEINSTEIN, Co-Founder, The Weinstein Company: Please come in. And one minute. And if you want to leave when the guy comes with my jacket, you can go.

    AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ: Why yesterday you touch my breast?

    HARVEY WEINSTEIN: Oh, please. I’m sorry. Just come on in. I’m used to that.

    AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ: You’re used to that?

    HARVEY WEINSTEIN: Yes, come in.

    AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ: No, but I’m not used to that.

    HARVEY WEINSTEIN: I won’t do it again. Come on, sit here. Sit here for a minute, please?

    AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ: No, I don’t want to.

    HARVEY WEINSTEIN: If you do this now you will (INAUDIBLE). Now go. Bye. Never call me again. OK? I’m sorry, nice to have — I promise you I won’t do anything.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Ronan Farrow, Harvey Weinstein was never prosecuted. The New York police didn’t act on this. There were some complications around Ms. Gutierrez.

    But that was an important moment, wasn’t it?

    RONAN FARROW: It was a critical moment, and reveals a lot.

    I mean, first of all, we include in full in this story the decision by the DA’s office not to pursue charges. But we also spoke to a lot of sources close to this investigation. And we quote one officer on the police force involved in this operation saying how angry she was, saying that they had the evidence.

    But — so, look, this reveals a lot about the system around allegations like this, too.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, again, what Harvey Weinstein’s office is saying is that he denies having any non-consensual relations with any of these women.

    RONAN FARROW: And, of course, we include his statement in full.

    And, you know, this is “The New Yorker.” He had a very full and fair opportunity to respond and engage with us on this.

    He is saying that there was no non-consensual sex. He’s saying that he never retaliated against women. And, in this group of women, with allegations, again and again, they say otherwise.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How much of what Harvey Weinstein is accused of was enabled by people who worked around him or by agents who worked in Hollywood, worked in the industry?

    RONAN FARROW: You know, Judy, again and again, I heard from a group of 16 former employees in his companies that they felt guilty, that they felt a sense that they needed to speak out earlier and they had been too afraid for many years.

    And they did a very brave thing speaking in this story. And one after another, they described exactly what you refer to, a culture of complicity, and ways in which they were asked to, they felt, aid and abet some of this predation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Which, I think, plays into right the next question I have, which is, how did he get away with this, if he did? Again, it’s allegations, but the evidence is pretty damning.

    How did he get away with this for so long?

    RONAN FARROW: You know, the thing that you run into reporting on this story — and I have been very immersed in it over the last year — is, there is a vast machine set up to silence these women.

    We’re talking about legal settlements where women were paid to sign very restrictive nondisclosure agreements. We’re talking about a public relations team that plants negative items about women.

    These are all allegations that were made to us by women in this story. And, obviously, these are allegations that have checked out to a very great extent, or you wouldn’t be reading about them in “The New Yorker” right now.

    So, what these women have done, in confronting that machine, is incredibly important. And I can tell you, from having had these conversations with them, very brave. These were all women who were very, very afraid to speak.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is this, finally, a story about Harvey Weinstein and the people around him, or is it a story broadly about Hollywood and the way the movie industry works?

    RONAN FARROW: I think it’s bigger than either of those stories, Judy.

    I think this is a story about the abuse of power. It’s a phenomenon we see across multiple industries. It’s a story about the difficulty of speaking out about the topic of sexual harassment and assault.

    You know, these women talked at length about their struggle over many years with the decision over whether to speak, you know, women with these restrictive nondisclosure agreement, women’s whose careers were on the line, women who really feared for their personal safety.

    They made a very tough call here. And that reveals what every survivor everywhere is up against when they decide whether to speak about this. So, you know, I think what you’re seeing now in terms of the public support for these women is indicative of something of a turning point.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is it your expectation that still other women are going to come out? And is there any sort of consensus about what’s going to happen to Harvey Weinstein and to other men or women who may be doing something like what he did?

    RONAN FARROW: Look, Judy, I don’t want to comment on pieces of reporting that didn’t make it into our final text. Our story speaks for itself and is very, very extensive.

    Obviously, when you work on a story for 10 months of this size, there is a lot of other sourcing out there, but it’s probably best to not get into that for now.

    In terms of the future, look, we have seen how this has unfolded in multiple other cases, and it’s going to be very much in the hands of these women how they want to proceed.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Ronan Farrow, the author of this disturbing piece in “The New Yorker” magazine, thank you very much.

    RONAN FARROW: Thank you so much, Judy.

    The post Widespread allegations suggest Weinstein was long protected by ‘culture of complicity’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    House Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Ranking Member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) speak with the media about the ongoing Russia investigation on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S. March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein - RC1ABEC21B30

    Subpoenas
    for Fusion GPS, the research firm behind a dossier of allegations about Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, were signed by Rep. Devin Nunes, though the Republican committee chairman stepped aside months ago from leading the panel’s Russia probe. Photo by REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein.

    WASHINGTON — A political research firm behind a dossier of allegations about President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia says it’s been subpoenaed by the House intelligence committee.

    A lawyer for Fusion GPS said in a statement Tuesday that the subpoenas were signed by Rep. Devin Nunes even though the Republican committee chairman stepped aside months ago from leading the panel’s Russia probe.

    MORE: What’s been happening in the Russia probe? Here’s what we know

    The lawyer, Joshua Levy, said the subpoenas were a “blatant attempt to undermine” the credibility of the dossier and came even as the firm was in the process of cooperating with the committee.

    Nunes stepped aside in April amid a House ethics committee investigation into whether he improperly disclosed classified information. He did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

    The post Political research firm behind Trump-Russia dossier subpoenaed by House intelligence committee appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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