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

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    An attendee leaves flowers for Nabra Hassanen, a teenage Muslim girl killed by a bat-wielding motorist near a Virginia mosque, during a vigil in New York City. Photo by Brendan McDermid/Reuters

    An attendee leaves flowers for Nabra Hassanen, a teenage Muslim girl killed by a bat-wielding motorist near a Virginia mosque, during a vigil in New York City. Photo by Brendan McDermid/Reuters

    A grand jury has formally charged a 22-year-old man with capital murder and rape in the death of Nabra Hassanen, who was killed on her walk back to a Virginia mosque.

    The Fairfax County Circuit Court indicted Darwin Martinez-Torres of Sterling, Virginia, on Monday on four counts of capital murder for killing Nabra, who was with friends while they had a meal before Ramadan services. Dozens of people had gathered outside the courthouse today, chanting “Justice for Nabra.”

    Virginia law has specific conditions for pursuing the death penalty, but the Associated Press reported that the grand jury’s indictment described in graphic detail how Nabra’s killing was grounds for a death penalty against Martinez-Torres. The indictment appears to acknowledge for the first time that the 17-year-old Muslim teen was raped. Under state law, the combination of a rape charge with a premeditated murder charge means the death penalty can be pursued.

    Police have said that Martinez-Torres, who is an undocumented immigrant, got into a confrontation on June 18 with a group of teens walking back to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society after grabbing a late meal. He is accused of returning later and beating Nabra with a baseball bat. Police said Nabra’s body was later discovered in a pond. A search warrant affidavit revealed that Martinez-Torres admitted to killing Nabra and had led authorities to where he dumped her body, AP reported.

    Nabra’s parents and Muslim advocates have said that Nabra’s death was motivated by hate, but police has said that they will not treat the killing as a hate crime. Instead, police have said it was a road rage incident.

    “The reason this guy he hit my daughter is because she’s Muslim,” Nabra’s father Mahmoud Hassanen told WAMU. “Why [didn’t he] hit the boy who bothered him?”

    Nabra’s father added that he hoped for the death penalty, while her mother said she wanted Martinez-Torres to serve life in prison.

    “I just want people to remember her, and don’t forget her,” Mahmoud told WAMU. “I think nobody can forget her too, for what she did in her life.”

    A preliminary hearing for Martinez-Torres reportedly turned emotional on Friday, with Nabra’s parents both shouting at the suspect in court. Nabra’s mother Sawsan Gazzar apparently threw a shoe at Martinez-Torres during the proceedings.

    READ MORE: D.C. memorial for slain Muslim teen was set on fire, officials say

    The post Man accused of killing Muslim teen indicted on capital murder charges appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    File photo of President Donald Trump by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    File photo of President Donald Trump by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — For U.S. presidents, meeting the families of military personnel killed in war is about as wrenching as the presidency gets. President Donald Trump’s suggestion Monday that his predecessors fell short in that duty brought a visceral reaction from those who witnessed those grieving encounters.

    “He’s a deranged animal,” Alyssa Mastromonaco, a former deputy chief of staff to President Barack Obama, tweeted about Trump. With an expletive, she called Trump’s statement in the Rose Garden a lie.

    Trump said in a news conference he had written letters to the families of four soldiers killed in an Oct. 4 ambush in Niger and planned to call them, crediting himself with taking extra steps in honoring the dead properly. “Most of them didn’t make calls,” he said of his predecessors. He said it’s possible that Obama “did sometimes” but “other presidents did not call.”

    The record is plain that presidents reached out to families of the dead and to the wounded, often with their presence as well as by letter and phone. The path to Walter Reed and other military hospitals, as well as to the Dover, Delaware, Air Force Base where the remains of fallen soldiers are often brought, is a familiar one to Obama, George W. Bush and others.

    Bush, even at the height of two wars, “wrote all the families of the fallen,” said Freddy Ford, spokesman for the ex-president. Ford said Bush also called or met “hundreds, if not thousands” of family members of the war dead.

    READ MORE: What Trump said about his drug czar pick, health care fixes

    Obama’s official photographer, Pete Souza, tweeted that he photographed Obama “meeting with hundreds of wounded soldiers, and family members of those killed in action.” Others recalled his frequent visits with Gold Star families, and travels to Walter Reed, Dover and other venues with families of the dead and with the wounded.

    Retired Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed these contacts, tweeting: “POTUS 43 & 44 and first ladies cared deeply, worked tirelessly for the serving, the fallen, and their families. Not politics. Sacred Trust.”

    Trump addressed the matter when asked why he had not spoken about the four soldiers killed in Niger. They died when militants thought to be affiliated with the Islamic State group ambushed them while they were patrolling in unarmored trucks with Nigerien troops.

    “I actually wrote letters individually to the soldiers we’re talking about, and they’re going to be going out either today or tomorrow,” he said, meaning he wrote to the families of the fallen soldiers. He did not explain why letters had not been sent yet, more than a week after the attack.

    “If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls,” Trump said.

    Pressed on that statement later, he said of Obama: “I was told that he didn’t often, and a lot of presidents don’t. They write letters.” He went on: “President Obama, I think, probably did sometimes, and maybe sometimes he didn’t. I don’t know. That’s what I was told. … Some presidents didn’t do anything.”

    Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said later that Trump “wasn’t criticizing predecessors, but stating a fact.” She argued that presidents didn’t always call families of those killed in battle: “Sometimes they call, sometimes they send a letter, other times they have the opportunity to meet family members in person.”

    She said anyone claiming a former president had called every family was “mistaken.”

    Bush’s commitment to writing to all military families of the dead and to reaching out by phone or meeting with many others came despite the enormity of the task. In the Iraq war alone, U.S. combat deaths were highest during his presidency, exceeding 800 each year from 2004 through 2007. The number fell to 313 in Bush’s last year in office as the insurgency faded. Bush once said he felt the appropriate way to show his respect was to meet family members in private.

    READ MORE: What the Bannon vs. McConnell fight means for Trump and the GOP

    Obama declared an end to combat operations in Iraq in August 2010 and the last U.S. troops were withdrawn in December 2011. As Obama wound down that war, he sent tens of thousands more troops into Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010, and the death count mounted. From a total of 155 Americans killed in Afghanistan in 2008, which was Bush’s last full year in office, the number jumped to 311 in 2009 and peaked the next year at 498. In all, more than 1,700 died in Afghanistan on Obama’s watch.

    Among other rituals honoring military families, the Obamas had a “Gold Star” Christmas tree in the White House decorated with hundreds of photos and notes from people who had lost loved ones in war. Gold Star families visited during the holidays, bringing ornaments.

    Trump visited Dover early in his presidency, going in February with his daughter Ivanka for the return of the remains of a U.S. Navy SEAL killed during a raid in Yemen, William “Ryan” Owens.

    Trump’s relations with Gold Star families have not always been smooth, dating from his belittlement of the parents of slain U.S. soldier Humayun Khan, who was Muslim. Trump was angered when the soldier’s father, Khizr Khan, was given a platform to criticize him at the Democratic National Convention.

    Owens’ grieving father said he didn’t want to talk with Trump at Dover. But the sailor’s widow, Carryn, attended Trump’s address to Congress and wept as he thanked her.


    Associated Press writers Robert Burns and Jesse J. Holland contributed to this report.

    The post Trump’s claim about predecessors, fallen troops disputed appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Monitor in Tokyo shows news of North Korea firing a ballistic missile on July 4. File photo by Toru Hanai/Reuters

    Monitor in Tokyo shows news of North Korea firing a ballistic missile on July 4. File photo by Toru Hanai/Reuters

    TOKYO — U.S. and Japanese diplomats agreed Tuesday to maximize pressure on North Korea to resolve tensions over its nuclear program, while citing the need to be prepared for the worst if diplomacy fails.

    U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, after meeting his Japanese counterpart, Shinsuke Sugiyama, told reporters that the focus at the State Department is still on diplomacy to solve the problem and eventually denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

    “We must, however, with our allies in Japan and South Korea and elsewhere, be prepared for the worst should diplomacy fail,” he said. The U.S. must be prepared to defend itself and its allies, he said.

    Sugiyama, briefing reporters separately, reiterated Japan’s support for President Donald Trump’s policy of keeping all options open, but stressed the need for a diplomatic solution by bolstering cooperation among Japan, U.S. and South Korea, as well as via cooperation with China and Russia.

    The two diplomats will join their South Korean counterpart in Seoul for further talks Wednesday on North Korea.

    READ MORE: Rex Tillerson says continue diplomacy with North Korea ‘until first bomb drops’

    The talks come as the U.S. and South Korea hold joint naval drills this week. They regularly conduct joint exercises, though North Korea condemns them as an invasion rehearsal.

    North Korea’s deputy U.N. ambassador warned on Monday that the situation on the peninsula “has reached the touch-and-go point and a nuclear war may break out any moment.”

    Kim In Ryong told the U.N. General Assembly’s disarmament committee that North Korea has been subjected to a direct nuclear threat from the United States and has the right to possess nuclear weapons in self-defense.

    He pointed to military exercises and what he called a U.S. plan to stage a “secret operation aimed at the removal of our supreme leadership.”

    Kim’s speech follows increasingly tough U.N. sanctions. Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country is curtailing economic, scientific and other ties with North Korea in line with U.N. sanctions, and the European Union announced new sanctions as well.

    The post U.S., Japan agree to maximize diplomatic pressure on North Korea appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    File photo of Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

    File photo of Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

    President Donald Trump says the Pennsylvania congressman he chose to be the nation’s drug czar is withdrawing from consideration for the job.

    “Rep. Tom Marino has informed me that he is withdrawing his name from consideration as drug czar. Tom is a fine man and a great Congressman!” the president tweeted.

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

    The announcement on social media came two days after an investigation by the Washington Post and CBS News’ “60 Minutes” revealed that Marino, a Republican from Pennsylvania, forged 2016 legislation that that prevented the Drug Enforcement Administration from using its full power to prevent the opioid crisis from worsening. Trump had nominated Marino to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which coordinates the country’s strategies and resources for combatting drug use.

    READ MORE: America Addicted

    Democrats had called on Trump to withdraw the nomination. Marino could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had said confirming Marino as the nation’s drug czar would be like “putting the wolf in charge of the henhouse.”

    Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, whose home state of West Virginia has been among the hardest-hit by the opioid epidemic, said he was horrified at the accounts of the 2016 law and Marino’s role in it.

    Manchin scolded the Obama administration for failing to “sound the alarm on how harmful that bill would be for our efforts to effectively fight the opioid epidemic,” which kills an estimated 142 people a day nationwide.

    In a letter to Trump, Manchin called the opioid crisis “the biggest public health crisis since HIV/AIDS,” and said, “we need someone leading the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy who believes we must protect our people, not the pharmaceutical industry.”

    The Post reported Sunday that the drug industry worked behind the scenes with lobbyists and key members of Congress, including Marino, pouring more than a million dollars into their election campaigns. The major drug distributors prevailed upon the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Justice Department to agree to the industry-friendly law, which undermined efforts to restrict the flow of pain pills that have led to tens of thousands of deaths.

    Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the bill’s lead Senate sponsor, defended the measure Monday, calling allegations that he or Marino “conspired” with drug companies “utterly ridiculous.” Hatch, a 40-year veteran of the Senate, said he was “no patsy” of the drug industry.

    The language affecting DEA enforcement authority was suggested by DEA and the Justice Department, Hatch said, adding that the agencies could have tried to stop the bill at any time — or recommended that Obama veto the measure.

    “Let’s not pretend that DEA, both houses of Congress and the Obama White House all somehow wilted under Representative Marino’s nefarious influences,” Hatch said.

    In a released statement, Senator Claire McCaskill said she supported the decision for Marino to step aside from his nomination as drug czar. McCaskill, a top-ranking Democrat from Missouri, launched an investigation in March that explored ways the pharmaceutical industry used unethical tactics to market and distribute fentanyl, further fueling the nation’s opioid crisis.

    “I look forward to the Administration nominating a leader that can aggressively bring to bear every tool the government has to confront what is unquestionably a national public health crisis.”

    In 2016, an estimated 64,000 people fatally overdosed on drugs in the United States, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 91 Americans die daily from opioids. And the president’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis in July recommended that he declare this public health epidemic a national emergency. Trump said he would but has not yet done so. During a press conference Monday, Trump signaled that he would make the declaration next week.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    The post Trump: Drug czar nominee Tom Marino withdraws his name appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Businesswoman carrying briefcase in mid-air

    When you respond to a tantalizing job ad, you’re on your own — and that can lead to trouble. 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.

    Question: My son interviewed with a sales company. There were six applicants all interviewed at the same time. He was one of two offered a job on the first interview. When he questioned them on benefits, he was told that it would be discussed in training.

    He showed up for his first day at work, where he was supposed to start training, and he asked again about benefits. He was told that no one was officially hired the first week, and that there were no benefits.

    READ MORE: If you’re expected to jump through hoops to get an interview, here’s what to say

    These people are a scam with deceptive hiring practices. I want to pursue some kind of action on this and I do not know where to go. They promised him the world and now his world is crushed!

    Nick Corcodilos: If I published nothing but readers’ stories about job scams, I could do a daily column on the subject and keep it going month after month. The loosey-goosey behavior that online “recruiting” tools promote and enable has turned online job hunting into a very risky proposition.

    If I published nothing but readers’ stories about job scams, I could do a daily column on the subject and keep it going month after month.

    You have no idea whom you’re dealing with.

    When you respond to a tantalizing job ad, you’re on your own. And that can lead to trouble. It’s up to you to verify that you’re dealing with a legitimate job opportunity. Do not assume that because it’s on some job board it’s real — and that it’s not a scam.

    Here are some clear signals that may reveal problems.

    A company with no people
    Do basic research. Look up the company or the recruiter. Does the website “About” section list the names of people who run the company or recruiting firm? Can you verify those people by looking them up on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other common social media sites? If the site lists no people’s names that you can verify, run.

    Any legitimate business is proud of its owners, managers and employees and will feature biographies that are easily verified elsewhere online. Some of the biggest employment scams I’ve found online were readily identified this way.

    Group interviews
    Does the employer or recruiter tell you you’ll be interviewed along with several other applicants at the same time? Run.

    A legitimate job interview is between you and a hiring manager. If a group of applicants are interviewed together, that’s usually a sales pitch. The “company” wants to efficiently do its pitch to as many people as possible at the same time. This is what happened to your son.

    One-sided interviews
    Does the interviewer spend the entire meeting talking about the business without ever asking you good, relevant questions to assess your skills and abilities? Run.

    It’s a sales pitch. They don’t need to assess you because they don’t need workers. They need suckers who will “qualify” to part with their money when the “interviewer” gets around to explaining that you have to pay for training, special materials, or for the “opportunity to proceed.”

    Oral offers
    They like you and want to hire you and tell you you’re hired — without giving you a written, signed offer that includes full details about the job, the title, the pay and benefits? Run.

    I can’t tell you how many people report they got an oral offer and assurance of employment, quit their old jobs, cancelled the lease on their apartment, and moved — only to learn the job offer was never finalized. See “Get it in writing.”

    What your son should do

    Even legitimate companies are sometimes guilty of promoting jobs without fully disclosing the job, the compensation or the benefits. It’s up to the applicant to check and verify each step of the way. If something doesn’t seem right, ask questions. If the answers are inadequate or don’t make sense, walk away. The suggestions above apply to any job situation—not just to obvious scams. Your son should have done due diligence. See “When job offers are bad for you.”

    READ MORE: How to spot a job recruiter without standards

    There are two legal approaches you can pursue for your son. (Mind you, I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.) Contact your state attorney general’s office and the department of consumer affairs to file a complaint. Or, hire a lawyer who specializes in consumer fraud.

    My advice is to talk to the authorities, because I think you’re going to have a heck of a time getting a legal remedy for your son’s poor judgment. In the future, please tell your son to use his best judgment, and to run when he encounters the tip-offs listed above.

    Dear Readers: These are just a few tip-offs to job scams. Have you been scammed into an interview that turned out not to be what you expected? Did you bail out of an “opportunity” because you smelled a rat? Please share your job-scam stories and signals so we can all learn what to look for to avoid getting ripped off.

    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: 4 signs that you should run from a job scam appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Police officers work on a crime scene after 10 undocumented immigrants being smuggled into the U.S. were found dead inside a sweltering 18-wheeler trailer parked behind a Walmart store in San Antonio. Photo by Ray Whitehouse/Reuters

    Police officers work on a crime scene after 10 undocumented immigrants being smuggled into the U.S. were found dead inside a sweltering 18-wheeler trailer parked behind a Walmart store in San Antonio. Photo by Ray Whitehouse/Reuters

    A 61-year-old San Antonio man pleaded guilty to two federal charges in the human smuggling incident that led to the deaths of 10 undocumented immigrants this summer.

    James Matthew Bradley Jr., who appeared before a U.S. magistrate judge Monday, pleaded guilty to “one count of conspiracy to transport aliens resulting in death and one count of transporting aliens resulting in death,” according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas.

    The office added that Bradley’s “admission of guilt” meant he packed dozens of unauthorized immigrants into a tractor-trailer for financial gain, adding that the suspect confirmed that details from court documents were “factually correct.”

    On July 23, San Antonio Police Department officers responded to a call from a Walmart employee shortly past midnight. Once officers arrived, they found 39 immigrants at the scene. Of those carried in the tractor-trailer, eight were found dead in the rear of the trailer, while two died later at nearby hospitals, the statement said.

    Survivors of the incident said there was no air conditioning in the overheated trailer and had to take turns to breath through a hole in the back of the truck for air. Bradley also initially told investigators that he was unaware of the immigrants in the trailer until he had stopped at the Walmart in San Antonio for bathroom break.

    The attorney’s office also said Bradley faces up to life in prison with the charges and that he is scheduled to be sentenced in January 2018. Immigrants said there were up to 200 people transported on the trailer and that different fees were quoted to them for the ride north from the U.S.-Mexico border, the statement added.

    Jason Buch of San Antonio Express-News told the NewsHour earlier this year that Border Patrol agents in Laredo, Texas, reported an uptick of immigrants using tractor-trailers to get pass checkpoints at the border.

    “People are usually going on to major metropolitan areas or regions of the country that employ a lot of immigrant laborers, so, areas with large agriculture industries or construction booms,” Buch said.

    The NewsHour’s John Yang learned more about the July human smuggling case and immigration politics from Jason Buch of San Antonio Express News.

    Shane M. Folden, special agent in charge of homeland security investigations in San Antonio, said in the statement that the proceeding “helps to close the door on one of the conspirators responsible for causing the tragic loss of life and wreaking havoc on those who survived this horrific incident.”

    “This case is a glaring reminder that alien smugglers are driven by greed and have little regard for the health and well-being of their human cargo, which can prove to be a deadly combination,” he added.

    Bradley’s co-defendant Pedro Silva Segura was also indicted last month with faces two counts of conspiracy and two counts of transporting undocumented immigrants resulting in serious bodily injury and placing lives in jeopardy.

    Segura, 47, is an undocumented immigrant who resides in Laredo, Texas.

    The post San Antonio truck driver pleads guilty in fatal human smuggling case appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is welcoming Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to the White House to address a range of economic and security issues — and perhaps make amends.

    You can watch their joint press conference scheduled for 1:30 p.m. EDT on Tuesday in the video above.

    Trump was meeting with the Greek leader in the Oval Office for talks Tuesday that are expected to cover defense cooperation, economic investment and energy security.

    They also may talk about the past. During the 2016 election, the left-leaning Greek premier warned that Trump represented an “evil” set of ideas.

    Trump tweeted in 2012 that Greece should get out of the euro and go back to its own currency, adding, “they are just wasting time.”

    Greece has relied on international bailouts since 2010 to address hardships during the economic recession. In exchange, the country imposed painful spending cuts, tax hikes and reforms.


    The post WATCH LIVE: Trump and Greek prime minister hold joint press conference appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Fighters of Syrian Democratic Forces celebrate after Raqqa in Syria was liberated from Islamic State militants on Oct. 17. Photo by Erik De Castro/Reuters

    Fighters of Syrian Democratic Forces celebrate after Raqqa in Syria was liberated from Islamic State militants on Oct. 17. Photo by Erik De Castro/Reuters

    U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces announced Tuesday that they had captured the city of Raqqa from Islamic State militants.

    “Everything is finished in Raqqa, our forces have taken full control of Raqqa,” SDF spokesman Talal Sello told AFP. A formal declaration would be announced after operations to clear any remaining sleeper cells and to remove landmines in the city were completed, Sello added.

    The move is a major setback for the Islamic State which considered Raqqa the de-facto capital of its self-declared caliphate. It comes on the third anniversary of the global effort to defeat ISIS.

    Raqqa was the first provincial capital to fall from government control in March 2013 after it was captured by a rebel army. The army included both Syrian opposition groups and more hard line  parties including al-Nusra and the Islamic State.

    A civilian government  that was established in the city divided two months later, and less than a year later ISIS recaptured Raqqa and named the the capital of their caliphate.

    About 900 civilians have been killed since the the start of the five-month operation, including 570 people in coalition air raids, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the civilian death toll at 1,130 people. American journalist James Foley was beheaded in the mountains south of the city.

    SDF fighters pulled down the Islamic State’s black flag from the city’s National Hospital near the city’s stadium, according to a Reuters report.

    Special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Brett McGurk said in August that the U.S. would attempt to perform a “stabilization” in Raqqa — including demining, removing rubble from major pathways to allow trucks and equipment through, and “basic electricity, sewage, water, the basic essentials to allow populations to come back to their home.”

    It is not clear when the 300,000 civilians who have fled Raqqa since April during the operation will be able to return.

    The post U.S.-backed Syrian forces recapture Raqqa from Islamic State group appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    (L-R) U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) shake hands after U.S. President Barack Obama (not pictured) signed the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act into law in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington, December 10, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    (L-R) U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) shake hands after U.S. President Barack Obama (not pictured) signed the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act into law in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington, December 10, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst – GF10000261349

    WASHINGTON — A key Republican senator said Tuesday he’s reached a deal with his Democratic counterpart on resuming federal payments to health insurers that President Donald Trump has blocked. At the White House, the president spoke favorably about the bipartisan pact.

    The agreement would involve a two-year extension of federal payments to insurers that Trump halted last week, said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. Unless the money is quickly restored, insurers and others say that will result in higher premiums for people buying individual policies and in some carriers leaving unprofitable markets.

    Alexander and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., have been working for weeks on health care legislation, separate from repeated and unsuccessful efforts by GOP leaders to dismantle Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

    Emerging from a closed-door GOP luncheon on Tuesday, Alexander said, “Senator (Patty) Murray and I have an agreement,” and added that Trump has encouraged them and the “president likes this idea.”

    READ MORE: Trump plans to ‘immediately’ stop ACA payments to insurers

    While the agreement is a breakthrough, they still need to secure the support of fellow Republicans and Democrats.

    In brief comments at the White House, Trump spoke favorably about the effort.

    “It is a short-term solution so we don’t have this very dangerous little period,” the president said.

    Murray and Alexander began talks on extending the payments months ago, when Trump was frequently threatening to stop the subsidies. Both had said they were close to a deal, but GOP leaders shut the effort down in September when the Senate revisited the Republican drive to repeal Obama’s law. The repeal effort failed, as did an earlier GOP attempt to dismantle the law in July.

    Trump’s halt of the payments and worries about its impact have galvanized lawmakers in both parties to take action to prevent it.

    Even so, strong opposition by some conservatives means the congressional fate of a compromise would be uncertain. For their part, Democrats believe Republicans in control of Washington will be blamed by voters for future health care problems and are reluctant to bend too far toward GOP demands for opening loopholes in Obama’s law.

    Alexander said Trump has twice in recent days urged him to reach a deal with Murray.

    “He says he doesn’t want people to be hurt in this interim,” said Alexander, a reference to Trump’s desire to revisit the effort to scrap Obama’s statute next year.

    Trump repeated his gloomy assessment of a law that’s expanded health coverage to 20 million people and required insurers to cover specified services and limit costs, but has also seen premiums rise and limited competition in some regions.

    “Obamacare is virtually dead. At best you could say it’s in its final legs. The premiums are going through the roof. The deductibles are so high that people don’t get to use it. Obamacare is a disgrace to our nation and we are solving the problem of Obamacare,” he told reporters in the Oval Office.

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Trump’s stoppage of the payments “showed that he’s willing to take a wrecking ball to our nation’s health care for the sake of politics.” He said congressional support for an agreement between Alexander and Murray would show lawmakers have “no intention of going along with President Trump’s reckless sabotage of the nation’s health care law.”

    Under Obama’s 2010 overhaul, the government must pay insurers for reducing out-of-pocket expenses for lower-earning customers.

    A federal judge has ruled that Congress hadn’t legally approved the payments, but Obama — and initially Trump — continued them anyway. Trump halted them last week, even though by law insurers must continue reducing costs for lower-income consumers.

    Trump and some Republicans consider the payments to be bailouts to carriers. But Democrats and some Republicans say halting them will create chaos in insurance market places.

    The so-called cost-sharing reductions cost around $7 billion this year and lower expenses like co-payments and deductibles for more than 6 million people.

    The post Bipartisan plan extends payments to health insurers that Trump blocked appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    An international passenger arrives at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia after the Supreme Court granted parts of the Trump administration's emergency request to put its travel ban into effect later in the week pending further judicial review. Photo by James Lawler Duggan/Reuters

    An international passenger arrives at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia after the Supreme Court granted parts of the Trump administration’s emergency request to put its travel ban into effect later in the week pending further judicial review. Photo by James Lawler Duggan/Reuters

    HONOLULU — A federal judge in Hawaii blocked the Trump administration Tuesday from enforcing its latest travel ban, just hours before it was set to take effect.

    U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson granted Hawaii’s request to temporarily block the policy that was to be implemented starting early Wednesday. He found Trump’s executive order “suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor.”

    The judge, appointed by former President Barack Obama, said the new restrictions ignore a federal appeals court ruling that found President Donald Trump’s previous ban exceeds the scope of his authority. The latest version “plainly discriminates based on nationality in the manner that the 9th Circuit has found antithetical to … the founding principles of this nation,” Watson wrote.

    The Trump administration in September announced the restrictions affecting citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen — and some Venezuelan government officials and their families.

    The government has said the new policy was based on an objective assessment of each country’s security situation and willingness to share information with the U.S.

    Hawaii argued in court documents that the updated ban is a continuation of Trump’s “promise to exclude Muslims from the United States” despite the addition of two non-majority Muslim countries.

    Other courts are weighing challenges to the latest travel restrictions.

    In Maryland, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups are seeking to block the visa and entry restrictions in the president’s latest proclamation.

    Washington state, Massachusetts, California, Oregon, New York and Maryland have challenged the policy before U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle, who struck down Trump’s initial ban in January.

    That policy led to chaos and confusion at airports nationwide and triggered several lawsuits, including one from Hawaii.

    When Trump revised the ban, state Attorney General Doug Chin changed the lawsuit to challenge that version. In March, Watson agreed with Hawaii that it amounted to discrimination based on nationality and religion.

    A subsequent U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowed the administration to partially reinstate that 90-day ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and a 120-day ban on all refugees.

    But it said the policy didn’t apply to refugees and travelers with a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the U.S.

    Hawaii then successfully challenged the federal government’s definition of which family members would be allowed into the country. Watson ordered the government not to enforce the ban on close relatives such as grandparents, grandchildren, uncles and aunts.

    The judge’s order Tuesday prevents acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson from implementing the latest travel ban.

    Watson said he would set an expedited hearing to determine whether the temporary restraining order should be extended.

    The post Judge in Hawaii blocks latest version of Trump’s travel ban appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Outside Washington, D.C., in an airplane hangar filled with dozens of aircraft from eras long past, sits a rusty-looking, cone-shaped time capsule.

    Nearly 50 years ago, that capsule — the 9,000-pound Command Module Columbia — carried astronauts Neil Armstrong, Neil Collins and Buzz Aldrin to the moon and back.

    When the Apollo 11 crew blasted off from Cape Kennedy, Florida, in July 1969, the hopes of a nation rested on their shoulders. Eight days later, with human footprints marking another celestial body for the first time, it was the Columbia module that Armstrong, Collins and Aldrin trusted for the journey home.

    The Apollo 11 crew and a Navy underwater demolition team swimmer float near the Columbia Command Module as they await pickup by a helicopter from the USS Hornet on July 24, 1969. Photo courtesy: NASA

    The Apollo 11 crew and a Navy underwater demolition team swimmer float near the Columbia Command Module as they await pickup by a helicopter from the USS Hornet on July 24, 1969. Photo courtesy: NASA

    Today, the spacecraft and 455 other Apollo 11-flown artifacts live in the Smithsonian Institution’s 150 million-piece collection.

    “We are preserving a time in history when it was the only time when this space flight happened,” said National Air and Space Museum object conservator Lisa Young. “Making sure that these objects are around for future generations is probably the most important part of our job.”

    For the past few years, Young’s job has focused on preparing the module for its latest journey: a two-year, four-stop tour across America. The “Destination Moon: the Apollo 11 Mission” exhibition marks the first time Columbia will be outside the U.S. capital since a nationwide tour in 1971.

    “Many people don’t get a chance to come to the Smithsonian. It’ll be great to tour it around the country and show it to other people who might not otherwise get to see it,” said Michael Neufeld, the lead curator of Destination Moon.

    But moving the Columbia module across the country isn’t as easy as transporting your family across town.

    Since 2016, Young’s team has been carefully cleaning and conserving the spacecraft and nearly two dozen Apollo 11 objects for the new tour. Selected artifacts include the crew’s medical kit, the visor Aldrin wore on the moon’s surface and the chronograph watch Collins attached to his spacesuit.

    “These are sensitive fabrics,” Young said. “They are mylars and velcro. Things that we have today, and we use everyday, but in the 1960s, that was not common. So we needed to look at how they are degrading [and] stabilize them for the tour.”

    The Smithsonian must also ensure safety during transport.

    Custom crates mounted on vibration-limiting cushions will transport most artifacts from one location to another. The boxes are specially fitted for each object’s shape and surrounded by marvelseal linings and silica gel packets. The linings keep out harmful vapors, while the silica gel helps maintain humidity at levels appropriate for each artifact’s makeup.

    But not everything is high-tech, explained tour registrar Viki Possoff. One step of the packing process is simply to tape photos outside of each box.

    “Before you open the box, [the photos] help in identifying what it is,” Possoff said. “And in some cases, it is so you’ll know the orientation of putting boxes back into the crate.”

    Moving the command module, however, is a completely different challenge.

    “It’s an awkward heavy object with fragile surfaces,” Young said. “We can’t wrap it like a traditional museum object. We can’t put it in a box and sort of pick it up.”

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    Instead, the team hoists the Columbia into its climate-controlled container using a custom-built stand that repositions the spacecraft without ever touching it. A specially fitted “raincoat” then covers the module during any outdoor transits.

    “Anything could at that point happen,” Young said. “You could have a bird fly by. You could have pollen in the air, all of those things that can get on the surfaces from our environment outside. Worst-case scenario, you could have a rain cloud. So we don’t want any of that to happen.”

    A custom raincoat protects the Columbia command module during transit. Photo courtesy: Jennifer Schommer/SITES

    A custom raincoat protects the Columbia command module during transit. Photo courtesy: Jennifer Schommer/SITES

    Ultimately, the goal for Young is to strike the right balance between conservation and public access.

    “We don’t want to be the last people to see these. We want this to be another 50 years worth of time that they get to spend in the public eye”

    “Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission” is now on display at Space Center Houston. The tour, which will coincide with Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary, will then travel to St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Seattle before returning to a new exhibit space at the National Air and Space Museum in 2020.

    The post Apollo 11’s capsule went to the moon. Here’s how the Smithsonian prepares it for a shorter trip appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Credit: Kay Chernush

    Credit: Kay Chernush

    Where does human trafficking take place? In Russia, China, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo and… all over the United States. Labor trafficking occurs in elder care, nail salons, babysitting. Sex trafficking is happening to runaway teens, an issue highlighted earlier this year after the Washington D.C. Police Department began posting images of D.C.’s missing girls online.

    According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, some 57,700 citizens and immigrants in America are victims of human trafficking. Around the world, some 45.8 million people are affected.

    Now, Kay Chernush, a photojournalist who captured victims of human trafficking for the U.S. State Department, is trying to change that, by blanketing Washington D.C. with photographs, drawings, essays, theater, film screenings, panel discussions and more on the realities of human trafficking today. Her nonprofit, ArtWorks for Freedom, which seeks to fight human trafficking through art, has previously shown work in the Netherlands, Singapore, Florida, Georgia and Wisconsin.

    “NGOs already know about this problem. So we’re interested in taking it to the girl on her bike, the mother taking her child to the park, the guy with his dog,” Chernush said. “We’re trying to catch people and give them an entry point to this very dark subject, so that they’re bowled over by the art in a visceral way — so that people can taken their own creative actions to fight it.”

    Passersby stop at the ArtWorks for Freedom exhibit "Bought and Sold" in Dupont Circle, Washington D.C., in October 2017.

    A woman stops to look at an image in the ArtWorks for Freedom exhibit “Bought and Sold” in Dupont Circle in Washington D.C., in October 2017. Courtesy of Kay Chernush / ArtWorks for Freedom

    On a recent Friday in D.C.’s Dupont Circle, where ArtWorks for Freedom had set up “Bought and Sold,” an outdoor exhibit of more than a dozen images depicting victims of and participants in human trafficking, passersby stopped and somberly took in the work.

    One image showed an American woman who was trafficked at age 13 from Washington D.C. to New York; in an accompanying caption, she described being held by “mental chains that were just as thick and heavy as any metal chain would have been.” Another depicted a Brazilian woman trafficked to Surinam and then a club in the Netherlands, where she said she was “forced to go with a certain number of men everyday — keep them happy, keep them drinking.” And a third image quoted a sex tourist in Thailand, who, after being photographed by Chernush, asked: “Why do you care if older men are with younger women?… How do I know she’s being forced?”

    Jennifer Barton, a Maryland resident who passed by the exhibit on her way to the bank, and stopped to read all of them, said seeing the images and accompanying stories was humbling. “You know these things happen, you watch Law & Order on TV,” she said. “But just to the read the stories about how it happens is very different. To read how people from different countries were deceived.”

    Credit: Kay Chernush

    Credit: Kay Chernush

    The exhibit also gives voice to victims of labor trafficking, which make up the majority of human trafficking cases. One image depicts a Central American migrant trafficked to the U.S., who said he was forced to work 11 or 12 hour days, live in a shack, and paid poorly for the work.

    “People want their food cheap. Without people willing to pay a fair price for their food, will there ever be fair working conditions?” he said.

    The images in “Bought and Sold” are photo collages, instead of traditional portraits, which Chernush said she hoped would reveal more about what human trafficking was actually like. She made the images in collaboration with human trafficking survivors.

    “People may be bruised or battered but that doesn’t say much about what trafficking is,” she said. “That people are underage and exploited and sold on the streets…. That it’s all around us, not hidden, but we don’t know what to look for… That if a man buys sex he doesn’t know if that person is there of their own volition. And that it’s happening in the U.S. as well.”

    Credit: Kay Chernush

    Credit: Kay Chernush

    “Bought and Sold” is on display in Washington D.C.’s Dupont Circle until October 20, and the ArtWorks for Freedom events continue until November 10. The exhibits will then travel elsewhere in the United States.

    WATCH MORE: After viral story on DC girls, understanding the real perils for missing children of color

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    Author George Saunders poses for photographs during a photo-call in London for the six Man Booker shortlisted fiction authors, on the eve of the prize giving in London. Photo by Hannah McKay/Reuters

    Author George Saunders poses for photographs during a photo-call in London for the six Man Booker shortlisted fiction authors, on the eve of the prize giving in London. Photo by Hannah McKay/Reuters

    Texas-born author George Saunders, known for his short story collections, is the winner of the 2017 Man Booker Prize for his first full-length novel, “Lincoln in the Bardo.”

    Saunders’ novel focuses on a night in 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln buried his 12-year-old son Willie, who died of typhoid fever, in a Washington, D.C. cemetery. From there, the novel builds on the factual to tell the story of ghosts who are unable to recognize that they’re dead. The ghosts dawdle around the graveyard in a “Bardo,” a Tibetan term for a state of “transition,” the 58-year-old author told the NewsHour in March.

    “They’re stuck,” Saunders said of the ghosts that populate his story. “They’re stuck kind of in the condition they were in at the moment of death. So, if they were worried about something or feeling shortchanged or in love or in hate, they suddenly are in this other place, and desperately trying to stay there, which they do by repeating their grievances.”

    Jeffrey Brown spoke with George Saunders about the challenge of writing about Lincoln and the importance of being baffled.

    “Lincoln in the Bardo” doesn’t have any one, designated narrator. The voices that weave through the story were assembled from snippets of real and made-up historians, a narrative choice that made for a book that the chair of judges Lola Young said in a statement was “utterly original.”

    “This tale of the haunting and haunted souls in the afterlife of Abraham Lincoln’s young son paradoxically creates a vivid and lively evocation of the characters that populate this other world. ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ is both rooted in, and plays with history, and explores the meaning and experience of empathy,” she said.

    Sanders, upon accepting the award, said it was a “wonderful honor,” The Guardian reported.

    “If you haven’t noticed, we live in a strange time,” he told the audience. “So the question at the heart of the matter is pretty simple: Do we respond to fear with exclusion and negative projection and violence? Or do we take that ancient great leap of faith and do our best to respond with love? And with faith in the idea that what seems other is actually not other at all, but just us on a different day.”

    Saunders is the second American ever to win the prize after author Paul Beatty, who was awarded the prize by the U.K. judging panel last year for his novel “The Sellout.” The rules for the prize were expanded before Beatty’s win to allow writers of any nationality whose books were published in the U.K. to be considered. The decision was met with some backlash. A second consecutive win for an American author will add more fuel to the criticism that the award has become too Americanized.

    But Young addressed the question of Saunders’ nationality, saying that the panel’s vote was unanimous after five hours of deliberation.

    “We don’t look at the nationality of the writer. Honestly it’s not an issue for us. We’re solely concerned with the book, what that book is telling us,” the Guardian quoted her as saying.

    Saunders’ book beat out five other book finalists, two of whom were also written by American authors. Saunders will receive a cash prize of 50,000 pounds, or more than $66,000, along with a trophy and a special edition of the book.

    The post George Saunders wins the Man Booker Prize for a genre-bending ghost story appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally, a conversation about education reform and some of its shortfalls.

    It is the subject of a new book by a familiar face, who joins Jeffrey Brown for tonight’s Making the Grade.

    JEFFREY BROWN: For close to two decades now, or even longer, depending on your perspective, education reform has been on the agenda of Democrats and Republicans alike, school leaders around the country and major philanthropists who have influenced the debate.

    It’s all led to big changes, new laws and programs, tougher requirements and additional funding, lots more testing, and occasional school closings and teacher layoffs. But what has it all brought?

    Our former education correspondent John Merrow chronicled these efforts for our program for many years. He now looks back and into the future with a critique and with prescriptions in his new book, “Addicted to Reform: A 12-Step Program to Rescue Public Education.”

    And, first, hello again, John.

    JOHN MERROW, Author, “Addicted to Reform: A 12-Step Program to Rescue Public Education”: Nice to see you, Jeff.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Nice to see you.

    Addicted to reform means what?

    JOHN MERROW: Well, reform are attempts at changing that really don’t change things.

    What I’m saying is, for many, many years now, we have been tackling small problems which are really symptoms, not the real issues.

    I can give you a quick example.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Go ahead.

    JOHN MERROW: The Obama administration focus was on raising graduation rates, to get it from 70 percent way up.

    Four things happened. One was good. People came in and tutored. They identified failing kids. They gave them help. And those kids did well.

    Three other things happened, all of which were bad.

    One was credit recovery, which is basically a computer scam. You sit in front of a computer for a week and you get a semester’s credit. And almost every school district in the country relied heavily on computer — on credit recovery to get kids to graduate.

    The second thing that happened, schools, officials would say, Jeff, I think you could do well if you got a GED. Why don’t — you don’t have to — just go get a GED.

    And so you or I, not doing well, would be helped out the door. We wouldn’t be dropouts. But the graduation rate would go up, because I’m gone, but the school wouldn’t see that I did the GED.

    The third bad thing, adults cheated. They gave kids answers. They had erasure parties, all to get kids over the bar.


    JOHN MERROW: That’s a superficial reform, because the problem wasn’t graduation rate. The problem was much deeper.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I mentioned Republicans, Democrats alike, so many different players involved in this.

    And I was wondering, as I was looking at the book, is it even agreed upon what we’re after anymore? Do people kind of go back to first principles like that?

    Do we know what we’re trying to do?

    JOHN MERROW: No, we don’t have that conversation. We needed that conversation.

    And I thought Barack Obama would lead us down that road, but it didn’t happen. I mean, look, the fundamental purpose of school is to help grow adults.

    And if you look at the three words, help is — it’s a team effort. And grow, it’s a process. You can’t just take a test score and say we’re done.

    And then adults, that’s the key issue. What do we want adults to be — what do we want our kids to be capable of doing as adults? Fill in bubbles or engage in debate and so on and so forth?

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, take one big issue that you have covered a lot, testing, right?

    It does look as though there’s been some — even some of the people who have been pushing that over the years, the Gates Foundation, Arne Duncan, the former secretary, they’re perhaps stepping back a little bit, or feeling like perhaps it was overemphasized?


    JEFFREY BROWN: What do you see there?

    JOHN MERROW: I think they have pulled back little bit, but nowhere near enough.

    We’re still basically the only country in the world that says let’s use test scores to judge teachers. Most countries test kids to see how the kids are doing.

    So, we have a kind of test and punish. What we should do is assess to improve.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You have got 12 prescriptions, which we can’t go through all of them.

    But what is the main idea?

    JOHN MERROW: It’s a paradigm shift.

    Right now, schools — we think of school, where the teacher is the worker and the kid, the student, is the product.

    I’m saying, no, no, no, students are the workers, and knowledge is the product, which means they will work on real projects, they will work — they will create knowledge. They will learn, figure out stuff that they don’t know, that the teacher may not even know the answer to.

    The second goes back to Aristotle. And I’m not an original thinker. I have stolen a lot from Maria Montessori and Aristotle and so on.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, stealing from Aristotle is allowed, right?


    JOHN MERROW: But we are what we repeatedly do.

    Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. So, what do our kids repeated do in school? Well, in an awful lot of poor schools, kids do test prep. But if kids are actually the workers, creating knowledge, that’s what they — and they repeatedly do that, they will be ready for life in a democracy.

    They will be ready to be workers, to participate, be good citizens.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But how practical is that? That sounds great, but how do you do it economically strapped schools?

    JOHN MERROW: I don’t think this will cost more money.

    I think a judicious use of technology will help. I think there are 100 schools doing this. We have 10,000 schools — 100,000 schools. So, we have a long way to go.

    But it’s not going to be easy. But there are 12 steps. You have to acknowledge that these reform efforts have been superficial. You have to say — look at each kid and say, how is this child smart? What can we do to bring out that kid’s strengths?

    We have to measure what matters.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Let me just ask you finally a more personal question, because you covered these things for so long. Right?

    So when you went back to look, are these things that — these are things you were feeling at the time? Did you — did it kind of bubble up for you to look at, you know, I want to now take a big-picture look at all the problems I have seen?

    JOHN MERROW: I think it bubbled up toward the end of, you know, the 41 years, most of which were with you guys.


    JOHN MERROW: I don’t think I — I was committed to hearing everybody, and giving everybody — even if I had had strong feelings, the “NewsHour” would never have let me put them on the air.

    But I don’t think I really had them until I started toward the end thinking about all the marvelous people who have worked so hard to try to change things, and then seeing things had not really hadn’t changed.

    Why was that? And then I started analyzing, well, maybe we’re just going at superficial problems, you know, raising test scores. That shouldn’t be the end of schooling.


    JOHN MERROW: You know, people talk about the achievement gap.

    Well, first, we should say, wait a minute, there’s an expectations gap. There is also an opportunity gap. If you close those two gaps, the outcomes will take care of themselves.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, the new book is “Addicted to Reform.”

    John Merrow, thanks very much.

    JOHN MERROW: Thank you very much, Jeff.

    The post Why education reform keeps failing students appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The hashtag #MeToo has millions of women sharing stories of abuse, shining a spotlight on a troubling reality in our society.

    It was first used in 2007, but when actor Alyssa Milano tweeted it Sunday night to talk about sexual harassment and assault in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein story, it went viral. The hashtag was tweeted nearly a million times in just 48 hours. Facebook reported 45 percent of its users have friends who posted #MeToo, as women wrote about their experiences about the workplace and culture, and what should change.

    We explore some of those issues with Fatima Goss Graves. She’s president of the National Women’s Law Center. Lisa Senecal wrote about her own experience for the online news site Daily Beast. She’s with the Vermont Commission on Women. And Melissa Silverstein is the founder of the blog and Web site Women and Hollywood.

    Thank you all for joining us.

    Lisa Senecal, I’m going to start with you.

    You have had a personal experience with sexual harassment. That’s in part what has drawn you to this #MeToo campaign movement.

    Just tell us briefly about what happened.

    LISA SENECAL, Member, Vermont Commission on Women: Sure.

    Like most women, I have had a number of experiences with sexual harassment, beginning with my first job, when I was 15 years old. And it’s really been a threat off and on throughout my entire professional career.

    The most egregious offense was an actual assault that occurred with a male executive. Unfortunately, because of an NDA — and we can go into the evils of nondisclosures another time — but because of that, there isn’t a lot that I’m able to say about the specific event.

    But the issue of sexual harassment and finally having this come to the fore, so many women are already familiar with it from being on the receiving end. And I think, especially with the #MeToo campaign, it’s been really wonderful and an eye-opening experience for men to realize just how pervasive an issue this is.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, in your experience, it was a business setting.

    Melissa Silverstein, you have been writing about women in Hollywood for 10 years. Of course, that’s where the Harvey Weinstein story came from.

    If it’s been going on in Hollywood forever, why hasn’t it been talked about more before now?

    MELISSA SILVERSTEIN, Founder, Women and Hollywood: Well, I think there was a culture of silence created around this man and also within this industry.

    People were afraid. People are afraid for their jobs. It’s a very relational industry, where if someone is going to blacklist you, you are not going to get your next job.

    So I think the way that a person was able to conduct himself for 30 years like this was to build a culture of fear, to make people sign nondisclosure agreements, and to get them to shut up.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Fatima Goss Graves, here with me in Washington with the National Women’s Law Center, we have been talking about Hollywood.

    We have talking about the business workplace. Is there any field of work where this isn’t going on?

    FATIMA GOSS GRAVES, President, National Women’s Law Center: Right.

    The issue of harassment and assault, it’s a Hollywood problem, but really it’s an everywhere problem. It infects industries across the board, whether you’re high-wage jobs, low-wage jobs, male-dominated fields, but also female-dominated fields.

    Restaurants are some of the areas where you have some of the highest rates of EEOC charges. And that’s not a male-dominated field.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: EEOC, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

    Lisa Senecal, some people are saying that they’re uncomfortable with this #MeToo campaign movement because they’re saying, once again, women are being asked to go public with what happened to them, but there is no promise that there is going to be anything done about it. How do you see this?

    LISA SENECAL: I don’t necessarily believe that women are being asked to come forward.

    I think this is an opportunity to come forward, if that’s something that women want to do, but there’s no obligation to do it. And there’s been a lot of support for letting women know that if this isn’t something you’re comfortable with at this time, no one is obligated to tell their story, and no one is allowed to force you to tell your story before you’re ready.

    But the stories are important. Without them, the degree to which this happens across all industries, across genders as well — we know that this happens to men. This happens to the transgender.

    It’s not specific to women, although it affects us most frequently. Until we have a critical mass of women who are able to get the men in their lives, the men that they work with to understand how pervasive a problem it is, and then can get men to begin to act on this, because this isn’t a women’s issue.

    This is a violence issue, and an issue of power and who has the power. So until the people who still primarily do hold the power, which is primarily men and primarily white men, until they’re going to begin to act, then the problems are going to persist.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Melissa Silverstein, how do you see that? What is it going to take for this to be a change?

    MELISSA SILVERSTEIN: The fact that we’re having a global conversation about sexual harassment — I have been doing media for the last week all over the world.

    People are really enthralled by this and want to see change. This is a global issue. And, also, Hollywood is a global industry. Seventy cents of every dollar of Hollywood studio movies are made outside the United States.

    So what people are looking for is Hollywood to step up. And, today, we had a leader in Hollywood, Kathleen Kennedy, to say we need to have a commission, cross-industry commission, of people who are going to look into this and put a stop to it once and for all.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And pick up on that, Fatima Goss Graves. Just across the board, what is it going to take?


    We know that there are things that would make a difference here. If employers had processes that their employees actually use, you wouldn’t have harassment in the shadows. Right now, most people don’t report harassment to anyone. And it’s because they think their employers won’t do anything, or, worse, that they would experience retaliation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And that’s — because that’s been what happened.

    FATIMA GOSS GRAVES: And that is. They’re right to believe that they will experience retaliation, because they do. They’re shamed. They’re blamed.

    But employees could make a difference. Right? They can be — take it seriously and communicate that to their workplace. They can also have the right policies that are in place. And, finally, they could, when someone comes forward, be really clear that they take it seriously and that they will not tolerate retaliation.

    Those are things that aren’t happening among employers frequently enough.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Lisa Senecal, as somebody who had it happen to you in a business environment, what changes need to be made in the workplace? What has to happen?

    LISA SENECAL: Well, I agree completely with what was just said.

    Too often, the workplace education that goes on is incredibly insufficient. It’s more of companies wanting to be able to check the box and say that they did their sexual harassment training. And it isn’t truly something within the culture of companies that they believe that this is a problem and that it is a right of all people working at that company not to be harassed.

    So, until it starts to be taken more seriously, and when a woman or anyone comes forward with an accusation, it does have to be taken so much more seriously. And the knee-jerk response, as was in my case, cannot be to shame the woman, can’t be to blame her for somehow bringing this on herself, and putting women back in a position of being victimized a second time because they’re not taken seriously when they come forward.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Melissa Silverstein, yes, go ahead.

    MELISSA SILVERSTEIN: I just wanted to add, one of the things that’s so fundamental about this is how this — how it’s so normalized for all of us to go through this kind of harassment, especially in Hollywood, and how people kind of laugh off, oh, you know, that’s locker room talk, or, you know, this is the movie business, get used to it.

    And what we need to do is really pierce that veil of the normalization of this kind of conduct, because it starts with, you know, the comments, and then it can escalate very quickly.

    So we really need to just change people’s attitudes and get rid of the toxic masculinity. Hollywood has no much institutionalized sexism that sometimes I feel like we need to just start over, if possible.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Joining us also is Leigh Gilmore, a professor at Wellesley College who’s written a book about why — titled “Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives.”

    Leigh Gilmore, why don’t women — why haven’t women been believed and taken seriously on this, and could we now be at a moment when they are?

    LEIGH GILMORE, Wellesley College: It’s good to be with you, Judy.

    I think we have a persistent and a pervasive culture of doubting what women say, especially when they’re bringing forward accounts of harm into the public sphere. So we have these pre-made default cultural narratives of women’s unreliability. We have he said/she said, which is a false equivalence narrative.

    We have that notion that nobody knows what really happened. We have that notion that you can’t really trust what women say. None of these are based in fact, but they are part of a kind of cloud that enables us to doubt any woman before she speaks up.

    And it’s quite intimidating. And so, if we’re at a point of change, we really are at a moment where I think we have a new level of visibility, and we have the opportunity to amplify the voices of women who are speaking out.

    So, insofar as we have that opportunity, there is a form of solidarity, and more women speaking can lead to change.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Fatima Goss Graves, as somebody who works on these issues from a legal standpoint, are we, could we be at a watershed point, or is it just a whole lot more complicated?

    FATIMA GOSS GRAVES: Well, the culture change typically has to go together with both the enforcement of the laws and the policy change.

    And so we’re at a tipping point, surely, on culture change. But I will tell you, you know, the National Women’s Law Center runs a hot line. And over the last two weeks, we have had double the intake on harassment.

    And we have a new network called the Legal Network for Gender Equity, so we’re — attorneys are joining with us and will be ready to take these cases. But those people who are making these calls and contacting us, I think that that shows that you have people who are ready to come forward on social media, and there is power there, but it seems like there are people who are ready to come forward in other ways, too.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to quickly go around and ask each one of you about the role of men in all of this.

    Lisa Senecal?

    LISA SENECAL: Oh, I think it’s critical for men as allies to be coming forward and supporting women who do come forward.

    Men also need to be willing to call out other men, whether that’s one-on-one, whether it’s in a group setting within a company, or socially. If a man hears, sees someone doing something inappropriate, they need to have the courage to stand up, even in front of other men, and say, it’s not OK, it’s inappropriate behavior, and it’s not going to be tolerated.

    And until it’s also men joining in, women can’t do this by themselves. There is an organization, A Call to Men, that I’m a big fan of. And one of their mantras is, if women could have stopped abuse and assault, they would have done it already.

    And that’s completely true. It’s not something that women are going to be able to do alone. It shouldn’t be looked at as only a women’s issue. And until people look at this on a larger scale and understand that this affects the bottom line of companies, it affects productivity, it affects, you know, absenteeism, just across the board, this is not a women’s issue.

    It is a human issue.


    Melissa Silverstein, what about that?

    And we should point out that men are themselves the victims of sexual harassment and abuse at times.

    MELISSA SILVERSTEIN: I feel that this is on men.

    The men are most of the perpetrators. They’re also the collaborators. And, at The Weinstein Company, their board was all men, and they were all complicit in creating an environment that allowed this to thrive.

    In Hollywood, there’s not a single woman, even the people at the tippy-top of the industry, who don’t report to men. This is also about getting more women into leadership positions and getting the men — and holding the men accountable.

    The men in this industry need to step up. They need to say, we want to be — we want to create this industry in a way that women can thrive and don’t have to experience this anymore.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Leigh Gilmore?

    LEIGH GILMORE: We’re talking about awareness and accountability.

    So, as wonderful as it is to have increased visibility, and it enables us to connect the dots and to see the long histories of sexual abuse, harassment and discrimination, we need new levels of accountability.

    I will echo the notion that Harvey Weinstein’s board certainly knew about these accusations. There’s a DA who failed to charge him. We have ample examples of failures.

    And what we really need to do is to correct those. The role of men is certainly important here. Minimally, they can show up and be witnesses.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, Fatima Goss Graves, the role of men and how we prevent this.

    FATIMA GOSS GRAVES: We have had a little bit of conversation about men as survivors, but the conversation we haven’t really had is about what happens when men are abusers or enablers or allow this to happen in the workplaces, in schools, or in women’s everyday lives?

    And so now we have an opportunity culturally for that conversation. That culture is going to have to hit where policy-makers are. It’s going to have to hit where employers are in order to make a real difference.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it’s clear that everyone is hoping this is a watershed moment, that things will change as a result of what’s happened here. But we will see.

    And we appreciate all of you joining us in this conversation, Fatima Goss Graves here with me in Washington, Lisa Senecal, Melissa Silverstein, and Leigh Gilmore.

    We thank you all.

    FATIMA GOSS GRAVES: Thank you.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: But first: Sunday’s elections Austria were the latest ample of a shift to the right Europe’s politics, as 31-year-old Christian Kurz was elected chancellor on an anti-immigration platform.

    He may now form a government with a far-right party founded in the 1950s by former Nazis.

    That follows recent elections in Germany, where a far-right party roiled the race and dealt a blow to returning leader Angela Merkel.

    In Sweden, too, there is a strong challenge from the right and a neo-Nazi group that looks stand in elections next year.

    Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant ha been surveying the political landscape in Germany and Sweden, and he begins his report in Scandinavia.

    MALCOLM BRABANT, Special Correspondent: In a Gothenburg parking lot, supporters of the Nordic Resistance Movement form up for what they hope will be their biggest-ever march, to propagate an ideology espoused by mother of eight Paulina Forslund.

    PAULINA FORSLUND, Nordic Resistance Movement: When white becomes the minority, they will be destroyed. I want my children to have a secure future. I want them not only for them to have a secure Sweden. I want them to have a secure world. And I want other people to fight for the same thing.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: When addressing her fellow neo-Nazis, Forslund’s rhetoric sharpens.

    PAULINA FORSLUND (through interpreter): I’m the welder’s daughter, the forester’s grandchild. My line consists of hardworking men and women. It’s people like them we can thank for the welfare system that our lying politicians are now giving away to imported scum.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Clearly expecting trouble, the movement’s leaders have a muscular protection detail, marching past a silent protest. The sign reads “No Nazis on our streets.”

    This protester would only give her name as Johanna.

    JOHANNA, Anti-Nazi Protester: They are racist people. They are people who think that certain people are better than others, and I will not stand for that. It’s not something I think has a place in a modern society.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Experts say the resistance movement is recruiting aggressively, and believe this demonstration is emblematic of the rise of the far right.

    It took place on Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement.

    Allan Stutzinky is leader of Gothenburg’s Jewish community.

    ALLAN STUTZINKY, Jewish Community Leader (through interpreter): Nazism has returned. The descendants of the murderers are organizing the same marches today, waving the same flags, shouting the same slogans, and have the same racist agenda.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Anna Johansson is a member of the governing Social Democrat Party. It’s considering outlawing the Nordic Resistance Movement.

    ANNA JOHANSSON, Swedish Social Democratic Party: In Sweden and in Denmark, and in other countries, extreme parties are growing, and the hatred is spreading around.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: “Go home to mama,” he shouts. “Nazi pigs,” chant the anti- fascist protesters, as a bottle flies through the air.

    DAMON, Nordic Resistance Movement: If someone calls themselves a Nazi, most of us would dissociate with that person. That’s nothing we stand for ourselves. I never call myself a Nazi. I’m a national socialist.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Hitler’s party was also called National Socialist, but Damon, a 40-year-old welder, insists he’s a nonviolent family man.

    DAMON: The demographic landscape of our — of the whole of Europe is changing, so, basically, it’s a concern on preserving my heritage for my family and our kin.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: This demonstration has been stopped short of its destination. The Nordic Resistance Movement is currently trapped between a line of police and anti-fascist protesters. And it looks as though this demonstration isn’t going any further.

    Violence briefly erupts as the resistance movement tries to break through police lines, and several marchers are arrested.

    PAULINA FORSLUND: We are not your enemy. We are the government’s enemy.

    They say we live in a democracy, but we have never had an election about if we want to take all these people in.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: When Europe’s refugee crisis began in 2015, Sweden copied Germany’s open-door policy, and 160,000 migrants entered the country. Two years on, Sweden has tighter borders and has begun deporting some of the newcomers.

    The new atmosphere alarms Floid Gumbo, entertaining an anti-Nazi rally.

    FLOID GUMBO, Singer Originally from Zimbabwe: I came to Sweden over 20 years ago. The climate in Sweden, the people were so friendly, and things were completely different, more welcoming. And I feel like things have sort of gradually changed.

    I’m very concerned, because I have children, because I’m thinking what I experienced here is not the same kind of climate, atmosphere that they are going to experience here.

    ANNA JOHANSSON: It’s not so long ago that the Nazis ruined Europe. And that makes me very worried. The German elections were terrifying, I think.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Johansson is referring to last month’s success of the right-wing Alternative For Germany Party, or AFD, when it entered Parliament for the first time with 13 percent of the vote.

    HUGH BRONSON, Alternative For Germany Party: The AFD only came into existence because Merkel deserted the traditional conservative Christian voters. They were looking for a home, and the AFD has offered them a safe place.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Hugh Bronson is deputy leader of the AFD in Berlin.

    Now his party, the third largest in Parliament, is demanding that Angela Merkel imposes tougher immigration rules.

    Your opponents claim that you are a party of hate. What’s your response to that?

    HUGH BRONSON: We embrace foreigners who respect our laws, pay their taxes, send their children to school, and go about their normal life. The problem is with people who abuse the system to have a better life, or let others pay for their better lives, or who are criminals.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Outside the opera house in Dresden, former East Germany, singer Luca Bergelt is dismayed by the political landscape shifting to the right.

    LUCA BERGELT, Singer: My fear is that they will tear Europe apart. They are going to raise up the walls again. They’re going to build new walls between the countries, and that Europe will get more close into itself.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Anti-immigrant sentiment is strong in Dresden. The city was the birthplace of a pan-European anti-Islamic movement, and it delivered the largest number of votes for the right-wing party.

    On a holiday to celebrate German unification after the fall of communism, retired engineer Wilfried Schmidt explained why he sent a message to Angela Merkel.

    WILFRIED SCHMIDT, Retired Engineer (through interpretor): Let’s put it this way. We all need to recognize that Germany is undergoing social changes that are becoming harder to control. For one, there is mass immigration from difficult regions that is increasingly uncontrollable, of people with entirely different concepts of life, from fundamental differently structured societies that are problematic.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: About one million migrants poured into Germany in 2015. Chancellor Merkel consistently defended her pro-refugee policies, but now she has been punished by voters who believe she ignored their concerns.

    Chancellor Merkel has promised to listen to the people who voted for the AFD, and she says she’s going to try to win them over with what she calls good politics. But she will not countenance having the party in her coalition.

    But the chancellor needs to find new partners who are prepared to be tough on immigration.

    As she tries to forge a coalition, the chancellor has agreed to put an annual cap of 200,000 on the number of immigrants, something she previously refused to do. But will it be enough to woo back people who deserted her at the election?

    A question for Werner Patzelt, a political scientist at Dresden University.

    WERNER PATZELT, Dresden University: Since Chancellor Merkel has made so many U-turns in German domestic politics, it wouldn’t be a surprise if she would try to do a U-turn, also winning back AFD voters.

    But this is a really hard political task, because so many of them are so much disappointed by the Christian Democratic Union in general, and by Chancellor Merkel in particular, that they will do anything to avoid going back.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Back in Sweden, the governing party is horrified at the concept of conceding ground to right-wingers, and is trying to isolate them.

    ANNA JOHANSSON: Experience shows that, when you adopt the ideas from these right-wing parties, they spread. These parties have their agenda implemented by other parties. And I wouldn’t want to see that happen in Sweden.

    FLOID GUMBO: We’re all human beings. We share this world. We’re all here. There’s enough space for us all.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: But that’s an appeal that an increasing number of Swedes are rejecting, as the country and much of Europe go through a crisis of identity.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Malcolm Brabant in Gothenburg.

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    A local resident refreshes himself with water from a pipe on the side of a road days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, near Ciales, Puerto Rico October 4, 2017 REUTERS/Carlos Barria - RC13D5E83670

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s been almost a month since Hurricane Maria destroyed much of Puerto Rico and killed at least 48 people. The island and its residents are still coming to grips with the scale of the devastation.

    William Brangham brings us the latest.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Many Puerto Ricans are still in the dark, without electrical power. Hundreds of thousands still have no access to running water, and the rebuilding of the countless damaged homes, roads and facilities is just beginning.

    The Associated Press reported yesterday that almost half the sewage treatment plants on the island are still out of service, increasing the risk of contamination and disease.

    I’m joined now by David Begnaud. He’s a correspondent from CBS News who’s been doing some very strong reporting there from since when the storm hit, and is just back from his latest trip to the island.

    David, welcome to the NewsHour.

    I wonder. We saw many of your reports and others of people still three weeks out from the storm who are still drinking from streams and creeks. You heard — I mentioned this AP report about fears of contamination.

    Can you just tell us what is going on there? How are people getting water now?

    DAVID BEGNAUD, CBS News: Well, let me tell you this.

    The governor of Puerto Rico said this morning that he’s aware of those reports and that they’re looking into it. What’s concerning, William, is that three weeks after the storm and at least a week after the allegations first surfaced that people might be trying to drink from toxic wells at what’s known as Superfund sites, the governor of Puerto Rico is still saying, we’re looking into it and telling people to stay out of rivers where sewage may be spilling into the river.

    And, he said, we want them to stay away from the coastal areas.

    How are people doing? They’re still desperate to get water. No one seems to be able to figure out how to get enough water to every single person on that island who needs it. And as long as people need water, it’s still an emergency phase.

    Nearly four weeks later, no one seems to be able to move from the emergency to the recovery.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, people who are — we see them drinking out of these PVC pipes that they have kind of rigged and sort of poked into the side of a creek.

    People are just drinking that water straight, without purification, without boiling it; is that right?

    DAVID BEGNAUD: Absolutely.

    Look, they have got the PVC pipes tapped into the mountains so that it’s coming out of the stream that way. And they literally are — I saw a woman walk up to a potable water tank that the military had brought in, and she had a Clorox bottle.

    And I said, “Ma’am, you’re putting drinkable water in a Clorox bottle?”

    And she said, “It’s all I have got.”

    Now, that was a good scenario. The other scenarios are people right now who are drinking from streams and creeks and rivers who have no water filters, who have nothing, right? They’re just taking this water.

    Now, listen, the government got a million water-purifying tablets within the last week. It took almost three weeks to get those. Now there’s a large push to bring in water filters.

    I have got to tell you, most of the water filters I’m seeing brought in are coming from the private sector, and civilian samaritans who are getting 1,000 or more from the mainland and flying them over to Puerto Rico and personally hand-delivering them.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That’s really incredible.

    Medical facilities were another big — just a huge devastation on the island. I know you have been doing a lot of reporting on the USS Comfort.


    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This is the huge Naval hospital that is now just offshore Puerto Rico.

    But I understand it hasn’t been fully utilized. Can you tell us what your reporting has found there?

    DAVID BEGNAUD: The two men running the ship told us that nearly 87 percent of the ship is empty. Sounds alarming, right? They have 200 beds, and 87 percent are empty.

    Now, here’s what they said: We stand ready for whatever the government wants to do. We are waiting to be told by the government.

    So, I went to the governor, and said exactly what’s happening. And he said: “Look, I’m not satisfied with what the protocol was from the beginning.”

    He said, initially, they were prioritizing only the most critically ill patients go to the Comfort. And he said there was a layered process that was complicating things.

    So, the governor, Ricardo Rossello, said: “I started to take out some of those layers, and I, said, listen, take people on the ship who may not be critically ill, but need good medical care and can’t get it at the hospital, where the lights are flickering and the A.C. is not running.”

    That’s what the governor said.

    Within a matter of hours, I got a tweet from a third-year medical student who said: “Let me tell you what a nightmare it has been to reach the Comfort.”

    He said: “We have got a pediatric patient who desperately needs to get off this island, either to a hospital on the mainland or to the Comfort.”

    And he said: “I went through Google and the local newspaper to find the number. I couldn’t find it.”

    Now, here is how things work. Within about 30 minutes of that tweet going out and that medical student’s story being posted, the governor’s spokesperson responded with numbers that should be able to help.

    The bottom line here, William, is that asking relentless questions and the good work of journalism is what’s making a difference there. It’s no one person. There’s no heroic work that’s being done by any journalist, other than people who are going back to the same officials and asking some of the same questions, relentlessly seeking the right answer that will make a difference.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: One of the other pieces of reporting that you did that was very early in the story was this backlog of supplies trapped in container ships on the ports in Puerto Rico.

    I understand some of that — some of those supplies are now moving. Can you tell us, are they getting to where they need to be throughout the island?

    DAVID BEGNAUD: So, the shipping containers you’re talking about, about 3,000 sitting in the Port of San Juan, have been moved out, not all of them, but a majority of them.

    And they were intended for grocery stores around the island. Right? So, those were private companies that had brought in these shipping containers, paid for the supplies, but couldn’t move them because their truck drivers were either at home, because the home had been destroyed, or the road was impassable.

    More and more supplies are getting out. But let me tell you, the grocery stores around the island, they have a lot of nonperishables, Pringles, candy, cookies, all on the shelf.

    But when you go to the meat section, it’s nearly 75 percent empty at the stores we have been to, the produce section 90 percent empty. And finding bottled water there is almost like playing a game.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: David Begnaud, CBS News, thank you so much for your reporting. Thanks for your time.

    DAVID BEGNAUD: You bet.

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    President Donald Trump addressed tax reform in his speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. Watch his remarks in the player above.

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is taking his tax plan sales pitch to the conservative Heritage Foundation.

    Trump is expected to tell the group’s President’s Club on Tuesday evening that his plan will be a boon to the economy, resulting in a $4,000 pay raise for the average American.

    That claim has been met with skepticism from tax experts and Democratic lawmakers who say the administration’s math is flawed.

    Trump is also expected to talk about other issues important to the group, including the Constitution, his appointment of conservative judges, border security and his “peace through strength” foreign policy approach.

    That’s according to a senior administration official who previewed the speech earlier Tuesday on condition that he not be named.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: new questions surrounding the deaths of four Green Berets in the Western African nation of Niger and the role of the president as consoler in chief.

    John Yang has the story.

    JOHN YANG: Sending young Americans into harm’s way can be the most serious decision a president makes. Consoling the families of the fallen has become the latest controversy to engulf President Trump.

    To bolster his claim that he does more than his predecessors, Mr. Trump today invoked the dead son of his chief of staff, retired Marine general John Kelly.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: To the best of my knowledge, I think I have called every family of somebody that’s died. Now, as far as other representatives, I don’t know. I mean, you could ask General Kelly, did he get a call from Obama?

    JOHN YANG: Kelly’s 29-year-old son, Robert, a Marine lieutenant, was killed in 2010 when he stepped on a land mine in Afghanistan, an episode Kelly rarely talks about publicly. Kelly and his wife did attend a 2011 Memorial Day breakfast President Obama hosted for Gold Star families.

    President Trump ignited the furor when he was asked about his public silence on four Green Berets killed two weeks ago in Niger.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls. A lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it.

    JOHN YANG: Reporters pressed him to back up the claim.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I don’t know. That’s what I was told. All I can do — all I can do is ask my generals.

    JOHN YANG: The response from former Obama officials was swift and forceful.

    Former Attorney General Eric Holder tweeted this photo and insisted: “Stop the damn lying. I went to Dover Air Force base with 44 and saw him comfort families,” a reference to one of Mr. Obama’s late-night trips to pay his respects to troops killed in Afghanistan.

    Mr. Obama and President George W. Bush often visited wounded warriors at Walter Reed and Bethesda hospitals, a practice Mr. Trump has continued. In February, the president and his daughter Ivanka went to Dover for the return of the remains of a Navy SEAL killed in Yemen, the first casualty of his administration.

    So far this year, the Pentagon says 16 Americans have been killed in action. Another 17 sailors died in accidents. In the first year of the Obama presidency, 344 were killed in action.

    During last year’s campaign, Mr. Trump publicly feuded with the Khans, the parents of a Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq, after they criticized him at the Democratic Convention.

    Today, the Khans said: “President Trump’s selfish and divisive actions have undermined the dignity of the high office of the presidency.”

    The current controversy comes as questions are being raised about how and why the four soldiers died in Niger.

    Senator Jack Reed is the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee.

    SEN. JACK REED, D-R.I.: I think the administration has to be much more clear about our role in Niger and our role in other areas in Africa and other parts of the globe.

    JOHN YANG: The Pentagon is investigating the deaths. Reportedly among the questions, did commanders adequately assess the risk, and was there ready access to medical support?

    Today, President Trump called the families of the four dead Green Berets.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m John Yang.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And in the day’s other news: A federal judge in Hawaii struck down the Trump administration’s latest travel ban.

    That temporarily blocks enforcement of the order nationwide, but the Justice Department says it will appeal. The ban extended to six mostly Muslim nations, plus North Korea and Venezuela.

    Pennsylvania Congressman Tom Marino withdrew today from consideration to be President Trump’s drug czar. That followed an investigation by The Washington Post and CBS News. They found Marino was key in passing a 2016 law that limits the Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to rein in opioid distribution.

    A new verbal battle has broken out between the president and Republican Senator John McCain. It began last night in Philadelphia, when the Arizona senator and former Vietnam POW appeared to criticize Mr. Trump and his followers. He cited a list of failings.

    SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-Ariz.: To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters-of-a-century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: The president answered by saying, “At some point, I fight back, and it won’t be pretty.”

    In turn, McCain said, “I have faced tougher adversaries.”

    In Afghanistan, Taliban bombings and shootings left at least 74 people dead today. The worst was Paktika province in the east, where two car bombs killed dozens, including the provincial police chief, and wounded more than 100 others. Taliban militants also staged attacks in the south and west of the country.

    In Syria, militia forces backed by the U.S. say they have retaken the Islamic State group’s de facto capital. The city of Raqqa had been under ISIS control since 2014. The battle to recapture it began in June. Today, Kurdish-led fighters celebrated as they moved into the city center. The U.S. military said 90 percent of Raqqa has been taken, with pockets of militants remaining.

    There’s word that U.S. airstrikes in Yemen killed dozens of Islamic State fighters on Monday. The strikes were apparently carried out by drones. The Pentagon says the targets were training camps for recruits.

    In Northern Iraq, Kurdish forces withdrew from more territory today, as Iraqi government troops advanced. It came on the heels of the Kurds’ vote for independence. Federal forces and allied militia had already forced the Kurds to leave the area in and around Kirkuk and its oil fields.

    Iraq’s prime minister said that paves the way for talks.

    HAIDER AL-ABADI, Prime Minister, Iraq (through interpreter): I call for dialogue on the basis of partnership in one country and under the Constitution. The referendum is finished and has become a thing from the past. We hoped that they would cancel it, but we have finished it on the ground.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, insisted that the referendum will not be in vain.

    Another 10,000 to 15,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Buddhist Myanmar for Bangladesh over the weekend. Drone video showed snaking lines of refugees making the trek to already crowded camps. Many told of villages torched by mobs and soldiers. Others said they were starved out of their homes.

    Back in this country, a new fire broke out in the San Francisco Bay Area, just as crews had made major progress against other fires in Northern California. Thick smoke billowed from the new site early today, as it burned through forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Weary fire crews said they’re calling in more help.

    ROB SHERMAN, Division Chief, Cal Fire: So, the idea is to hit it pretty hard with aircraft and then go ahead and hit it with the ground resources at the same time. We have had north winds, a lot of drying, and everything’s really, really dry. So it’s challenging.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In Southern California, yet another fire spread on Mount Wilson, about 25 miles north of downtown Los Angeles. It threatened a historic observatory and communications towers.

    President Trump’s overall wealth has taken a hit, as his New York real estate loses some of its luster. Forbes ranks him 248 this year on its list of the 400 wealthiest Americans. That’s down nearly 100 points from last year. His estimated worth is $3.1 billion.

    Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates again tops the list. He’s worth nearly $90 billion.

    And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average traded above 23,000 for the first time. In the end, it gained 40 points to close at 22997. The Nasdaq fell a fraction, and the S&P 500 added one point.

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