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- 07/12/14--08:00: _Dead and online: Wh...
- 07/12/14--08:28: _Digitally departed:...
- 07/12/14--08:48: _Kerry meets again w...
- 07/12/14--10:02: _End of an era: Last...
- 07/12/14--11:50: _GOP governors may b...
- 07/12/14--12:30: _Tracy Morgan sues W...
- 07/12/14--12:50: _Costly copper: Dang...
- 07/12/14--13:14: _Amazon files petiti...
- 07/12/14--13:33: _Ukraine faces const...
- 07/12/14--13:57: _Is a ground offensi...
- 07/12/14--15:22: _Death toll mounts a...
- 07/13/14--08:44: _Amid spying accusat...
- 07/13/14--09:48: _Two African cities ...
- 07/13/14--10:36: _Local ‘World Cup’ t...
- 07/13/14--10:46: _Scrapping by: How m...
- 07/13/14--11:47: _Maestro Lorin Maaze...
- 07/13/14--13:17: _International milit...
- 07/13/14--13:58: _Malala’s birthday w...
- 07/13/14--14:52: _Residents flee nort...
- 07/13/14--14:56: _Doctors a ‘death se...
- 07/12/14--08:00: Dead and online: What happens to your digital estate when you die?
- 07/12/14--08:48: Kerry meets again with rival Afghan candidates for diplomatic talks
- 07/12/14--10:02: End of an era: Last surviving member of the Ramones is dead
- 07/12/14--11:50: GOP governors may be evolving message on same-sex marriage
- 07/12/14--12:30: Tracy Morgan sues Wal-Mart over N.J. crash
- 07/12/14--12:50: Costly copper: Dangerous scrap metal thefts on the rise
- 07/12/14--13:14: Amazon files petition to test drive package-carrying drones
- 07/12/14--13:33: Ukraine faces constant political tension as conflict intensifies
- 07/12/14--13:57: Is a ground offensive next in the fighting between Israel and Hamas?
- 07/12/14--15:22: Death toll mounts as Israeli bombs hit Gaza strip
- 07/13/14--08:44: Amid spying accusations, US, Germany pledge cooperation on Iran
- Hong Kong
- 07/13/14--10:36: Local ‘World Cup’ tournament brings Rio’s fervor to New York City
- 07/13/14--10:46: Scrapping by: How much metal would it take to make minimum wage?
- 07/13/14--11:47: Maestro Lorin Maazel, celebrated conductor, is dead at 84
- 07/13/14--13:17: International military aid to Iraq may offer little help
- 07/13/14--13:58: Malala’s birthday wish: Bring back the Nigerian schoolgirls
- 07/13/14--14:52: Residents flee northern Gaza as Israel warns of more strikes
HARI SREENIVASAN: Do you have an email account? How about a Facebook page? Bank online? Shop online? Pay your gas, light, or cable TV bill over the internet?
I’ve just laid out more than a half-dozen accounts that many of us have, likely each with its own password.
These accounts don’t die with us. The passwords to each of them are oftentimes locked away with only one person — the deceased. Which means that valuable online assets could be lost forever — or be found by those looking to exploit them.
Take the case of Glenn Williamson, a tech entrepreneur in Portland, Oregon. Two years ago, he got the worst news possible.
GLENN WILLIAMSON: I was in the Philippines speaking at a conference and, you know, when your phone goes off 15 times and it’s 3:00 in the morning in the United States, you have a bad feeling. You know it’s not a good call.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Glenn’s 73-year-old mother Lee had died. As her fiduciary and as a 25-year veteran of the tech world, it fell to him to manage her online accounts.
GLENN WILLIAMSON: I knew my mom, being a cool grandma, was on Twitter. So, I knew she was on Twitter and I knew she had a Yahoo account, so we had a baseline to start, but that’s all we knew.
HARI SREENIVASAN: After 20 hours of searching, Glenn found 13 different accounts belonging to his mother, including email, social media and shopping accounts.
GLENN WILLIAMSON: So we broke it down into categories: travel, sentimental value, security, and basically we searched on about 75 different sites
HARI SREENIVASAN: Some had real value.
GLENN WILLIAMSON: We got to United, and United did indeed have my mom as a customer and there was 54,000 miles that we were able to retrieve for our family.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All this while he was grieving.
GLENN WILLIAMSON: And it’s a painful, it’s a long process, and everybody means well, but if one more person tells you they’re sorry—it’s like, okay, I just need to know, did she have an account or not.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Williamson and his wife are online savvy, relatively young and it was still tough to find all those accounts.
GLENN WILLIAMSON: So, the average person, especially if the average person is doing it in their 60s, it’s a very, very difficult process.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Glenn’s problems managing his mother’s online estate helped inspire him to start a business solution called “WebCease” — an online service that helps people search for their deceased loved ones’ digital assets.
It uses a person’s basic information — like an email address — and finds the major online accounts that are linked to it. And although WebCease won’t shut down an account for you, it will tell you what can be done under a website’s specific terms-of-service.
GLENN WILLIAMSON: My mom had an asset inventory of her financial accounts. But she didn’t have an asset inventory of all things digital, and that’s really what we provide to the family, is we provide them at — a high level — a digital asset inventory. So, you can look through it and say, “Oh, my mom was on Amazon and she had iTunes and Marriott and Hyatt, et cetera.” So, that’s really the value we provide.
HARI SREENIVASAN: WebCease is one of a handful of websites that has sprung up over the last few years—sites like Navigatr, the Doc Safe, Capsoole, My Cyber safe, and Afternote—all of them trying to tackle what is becoming an increasingly common problem.
SUZANNE WALSH: Nowadays, everyone keeps their filing cabinets on their computers and they may not have shared the access to that with their families.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Suzanne Walsh is an estate lawyer in West Hartford, Connecticut.
SUZANNE WALSH: I have received panicked calls from family members who don’t know passwords, don’t know the nature of the online accounts. They simply know mom paid the bills online and they may not even be sure about the bank.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Walsh says that the main problem is one of access. In many cases, we have made it virtually illegal for anyone else to use our online accounts.
It starts with those terms-of-service agreements; the fine print of the online world. Once the “I agree” button is pressed, it’s as good as a contract.
SUZANNE WALSH: Many of them prohibit the sharing of passwords and they prohibit third-party access. So, right now, they tend to bar anybody but the account holder accessing the account.
HARI SREENIVASAN: That means even if the account-holder is dead.
Internet service providers say they’re following the letter of the law as spelled out in the 1986 Stored Communications Act, which prohibits anyone from accessing private information online without permission.
SUZANNE WALSH: The problem with fiduciary access now is that it may be a violation of federal privacy law or a computer fraud and abuse act. It may be an actual criminal act to violate the terms of service agreement.
HARI SREENIVASAN: But being unable to access or shut down a deceased loved one’s accounts could have unforeseen risks, as Glenn Williamson—who spent 20 years in online security—will tell you.
GLENN WILLIAMSON: The year after somebody passes is one of the most vulnerable times for identity theft. It’s a heinous crime, but what the bad guys do, because death is public record, they’ll go out there and they’ll comb through recently deceased and they’ll create a fake identity, because the deceased don’t check email and they don’t get the mail.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Every year, more than 2 million Americans are the posthumous victims of identity fraud.
Thieves can use a dead person’s information to rack up credit card charges, apply for loans, or even file false tax returns.
And much of this information can be found on the internet through something as simple as a shopping account.
To date, only seven states have any laws on the books governing online estate planning.
Suzanne Walsh, who chairs a committee on the Uniform Law Commission—an organization which drafts laws which it hopes to standardize in all 50 states—is hoping to change that.
Over the past two years, Walsh’s committee has been drafting the Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, which would give fiduciaries the same rights over online estates as they now have over physical estates.
SUZANNE WALSH: Fiduciaries, traditionally, have access to everything in admin—especially in administering estates. And that used to mean opening up the mailbox, opening up the file cabinet, rifling through the desk. Our act is designed to continue that and facilitate that, given the different nature of the digital assets.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The bill is currently being reviewed by the Uniform Law Commission and will be voted on for approval on Wednesday. After that, it will be up to the state legislatures to propose it. On average, current acts that have been approved by the ULC have achieved enactment in a little more than twenty different states and territories. But Suzanne Walsh is hopeful that her committee’s proposed legislation will be more widely received.
SUZANNE WALSH: Widespread enactment is our goal. That’s our primary goal. Certainly we hope and expect that it won’t take more than a year or two for most of the states to adopt this product.
HARI SREENIVASAN: For now, there are steps that people can take now to make the process of digital estate management easier on next of kin.
First, create an inventory list of all your online accounts and passwords for your fiduciary. Stipulate what to do with your email accounts in a will, and read the terms-of-service agreements, so you can understand how or even if access to your accounts can be granted to someone else.
But Glenn Williamson says, no matter what steps you take or what laws are eventually passed, managing a digital estate for a loved one will always be a long, arduous, and painful process.
The post Dead and online: What happens to your digital estate when you die? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
When someone dies, he or she inevitably leaves behind a digital footprint composed of social media profiles, e-mail accounts, photos and other documents that may otherwise hang in an online limbo.
As our digital lives become more complicated, one important question begs asking: How can we tie up all of our loose ends to avoid being haunted by a digital afterlife?
The answer may surprise you.
Because of varying terms of service, only some websites offer end-of-life options. And dozens of commercial websites have emerged over the last few years to help.
Facebook provides “memorialized” profiles
The social media giant allows user profiles to be “memorialized”, which limits the account from popping up on news feeds and blocks it from outside use.
It also lets friends and family leave posts of remembrance on the page of the deceased. Facebook does look at requests from immediate family members to remove a deceased user’s account, but they must provide proof of their relationship to the person who has died.
Google offers “end-of-life” service
Last year, Google began offering an end-of-life service called Inactive Account Manager, which allows users of many of its products the option of deciding what happens to their data. Users can specify when their account is treated as inactive and add trusted contacts who should be notified to delete or share data with specific people after a set period of inactivity.
Posthumous messages greet loved ones on special occasions
Sites such as Afterwords and My Goodbye Message allow users to write messages to friends and family to be sent after the user has died. Some sites like To Loved Ones even allow users to time messages to be sent on specific occasions, such as birthdays or anniversaries.
Digital vaults keep online information secure
End-of-life services like TheDocSafe and Death Switch allow people to place important information, such as bank statements, usernames, and passwords, into secure online storage. The user designates one or more trusted people to release the information to, once he or she has passed away.
Online memorials keep memories alive in the digital space
Memorial sites allow loved ones to set up web pages devoted to a deceased person’s memory. Some sites like Bcelebrated actually allow the user to set up their own memorial page ahead of their death.
For more end-of-life services, visit TheDigitalBeyond.
For more from NewsHour on digital death and online estate planning, including an interview with TheDigitalBeyond.com co-author, Evan Carroll — see our earlier reporting: Law Lags Behind in Defining Posthumous Protocol for Online Accounts.
The post Digitally departed: How to avoid being haunted by an online afterlife appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
KABUL, Afghanistan — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was engaged Saturday in a difficult round of shuttle diplomacy between Afghanistan’s rival presidential candidates, hoping to secure a path out of the country’s postelection crisis.
Kerry was meeting separately at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul with former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah. They negotiations centered on the details of a United Nations audit of last month’s contested presidential election runoff.
The precise sticking points were unclear. But a joint news conference between Kerry and the two candidates at the U.N. compound was more than three hours behind schedule. Kerry’s planned trip Saturday evening to Vienna for nuclear talks also faced a possible delay.
The prolonged uncertainty about the outcome of the election has jeopardized a central plank of President Barack Obama’s strategy to leave behind a stable state after the withdrawal of most U.S. troops at year’s end.
Preliminary runoff results, released earlier this week against U.S. wishes, suggested a massive turnaround in favor of the onetime World Bank economist Ghani, who lagged significantly behind Abdullah in first-round voting.
Abdullah, a top leader of the Northern Alliance that battled the Taliban before the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, claims massive ballot-stuffing. He was runner-up to Karzai in a fraud-riddled 2009 presidential vote before he pulled out of that runoff, and many of his supporters see him being cheated for a second time. Some, powerful warlords included, have spoken of establishing a “parallel government.”
Kerry was meeting for the second day with Ghani and Abdullah after discussions Friday proved inconclusive, even though both candidates have acknowledged fraud in the election and agreed in principle to a U.N. investigation. He also met with current Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the U.N. chief in Afghanistan, Jan Kubis.
The bitter dispute over who is Karzai’s rightful successor has alarmed Afghanistan’s U.S. and Western benefactors, creating a political crisis that risks undermining more than a decade of efforts to build an Afghan government capable of fighting the Taliban on its own and snuffing out terrorist groups like al-Qaida.
Extended instability would have more immediate consequences for Afghanistan. If no process is established and both Ghani and Abdullah attempt to seize power, the government and security forces could split along ethnic and regional lines.
And the winner amid all the chaos could be the Taliban, whose battle against the government persists despite the United States spending hundreds of billions of dollars and losing more than 2,000 lives since invading the country after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Kerry repeatedly has stressed that Washington isn’t taking sides. Instead, it is focused on creating a process that ensures Afghanistan’s next leader is viewed as legitimate. “But I can’t tell you that’s an automatic at this point,” he told reporters at one point Friday.
Senior U.S. officials said the talks in Kabul had focused on the technical particulars of a U.N. audit and hammering home the point that whoever proves the winner, the new government must bridge Afghanistan’s many ethnic and regional divides.
However, one of the officials said only the “beginnings of conversations” had occurred over the first day, and offered no prediction of any breakthrough. The officials briefed reporters on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to be quoted while the talks were ongoing.
Ghani and Abdullah have differed on some of the fine points of the U.N.’s audit plan. Abdullah, for example, wants more voting districts examined. Other questions center on who would be included among the investigators, where they’d travel and how they’d assess the level of fraud.
With Iraq wracked by insurgency, Afghanistan’s postelection chaos is posing a new challenge to Obama’s effort to leave behind two secure governments while ending America’s long wars.
Both Ghani and Abdullah have vowed to sign a bilateral security pact with Washington, which says it needs the legal guarantees in order to leave behind some 10,000 troops in Afghanistan after most of the American military pulls out over the next five months.
If no clear leader emerges, the U.S. may have to bring home all its forces, an unwanted scenario that played out in Iraq just three years ago. In recent months, a Sunni Islamist insurgency has conquered a series of Iraqi cities and the country has shown signs of fracturing.
Karzai has refused to sign a U.S.-Afghan agreement, leaving it in the hands of his successor.
The post Kerry meets again with rival Afghan candidates for diplomatic talks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
The last surviving original member of the punk band the Ramones, Tommy Ramone, has died. He was 65.
Ramone, a drummer, was a co-founder of the band in 1974.
Andy Schwartz, publisher of New York Rocker magazine told Rolling Stone that Ramone died at his home in Ridgewood, Queens. The drummer had been in hospice care following treatment for cancer of the bile duct, Schwartz said.
Rolling Stone had this to say about band’s legacy:
The Ramones were pure, unadulterated — and hardly adult in their adolescent concerns of sniffing glue and beating on brats with a baseball bat, even if the brats were themselves. Their sibling rivalry meshed like any television reality show.
Johnny was the stern older brother, disciplined, military; Dee Dee was the blunt instrument; Tommy was the producer who knew the record business, and like any good producer, knew that you build a great track from the drums out. Joey was the beating heart.
The popular punk band’s hit songs included “I Wanna Be Sedated,” and “Blitzkrieg Bop.”
Ramone was born in Budapest, Hungary. Before he adopted the pseudonym Tommy Ramone, his name was Erdélyi Tamás.
The post End of an era: Last surviving member of the Ramones is dead appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Deep in the nation’s Bible Belt, new signs emerged this weekend of an evolution among Republican governors on gay marriage, an explosive social issue that has divided America’s families and politics for years.
While the Republican Party’s religious conservatives continue to fight against same-sex marriage, its governors appear to be backing off their opposition- in their rhetoric, at least. For some, the shift may be more a matter of tone than substance as the GOP tries to attract new voters ahead of the midterm elections. Nonetheless, it is dramatic turn for a party that has long been defined by social conservative values.
“I don’t think the Republican Party is fighting it,” Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker said of gay marriage. He spoke with The Associated Press during an interview this weekend at the National Governors Association in Nashville.
“I’m not saying it’s not important,” continued Walker, who is considering a 2016 presidential bid should he survive his reelection test this fall. “But Republicans haven’t been talking about this. We’ve been talking about economic and fiscal issues. It’s those on the left that are pushing it.”
Walker, like other ambitious Republican governors, is trying to strike a delicate balance.
His comments come just days after he formally appealed a federal judge’s ruling striking down Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriages, a ban he supported. But after his party’s disastrous 2012 election, the Republican National Committee commissioned a report calling for more “inclusive and welcoming” tones on divisive social issues – particularly those “involving the treatment and the rights of gays.”
Walker explained his court appeal as simply as his obligation as governor to defend the state’s constitution.
Other Republican governors, however, including New Jersey’s Republican Gov. Chris Christie, opted against appealing a similar ruling in his state, clearing the way for gay marriage to become legal there.
“That is a very controversial and divisive issue,” said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, suggesting that Republicans are better served by focusing on economic issues. “I’m a religious conservative, I’m a Catholic, I’m pro-life. (But) I think the people of Iowa look to me to provide leadership in bringing good jobs and growing the Iowa economy.”
A Gallup poll found in May that national support for same-sex marriage reached an all-time high of 55 percent. That includes 30 percent of Republicans and nearly 8 in 10 young adults from both parties.
Courts across the nation repeatedly have struck down gay marriage bans in recent months. The latest such ruling came Wednesday in Colorado, but it’s on hold pending an appeal. At least 20 states now allow gay marriage, although the issue may be headed for the Supreme Court.
The high court’s landmark ruling last summer allowed married same-sex couples to receive the same federal benefits as other married people but did not specifically address whether gay marriage is a constitutional right.
Democratic governors serving in Republican-leaning states that have banned gay marriage also appear to have softened their stands on the issue. Many said they were looking to the Supreme Court to resolve the issue once and for all.
Like Walker, Kentucky’s Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear is appealing a recent court ruling that struck down his state’s gay marriage ban.
“My goal is to get that issue to the United States Supreme Court and get a final decision that will tell us all what the law is going to be in the future, and then Kentucky will abide by it,” Beshear said.
Walker, too, said that Republican governors would be “legally obligated” to support gay marriage should the Supreme Court rule in its favor.
For now, the Republican Party’s official platform, as adopted in 2012, calls for a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as “the union of one man and one woman,” while formally supporting Republican-led campaigns to make the same change in state constitutions.
And despite the softening rhetoric, several states are continuing to fight.
Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky are scheduled to present arguments against recent gay marriage rulings in their states before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on Aug. 6.
Associated Press reporters Steve Peoples and Erik Schelzig wrote this report.
The post GOP governors may be evolving message on same-sex marriage appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Actor Tracy Morgan is suing Wal-Mart for negligence after a New Jersey Turnpike crash last month left him critically injured and killed his comedian friend, James “Jimmy Mack” McNair.
The lawsuit filed in a New Jersey federal court on Thursday came a few weeks after a National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report found that Wal-Mart truck driver, Kevin Roper, was driving approximately 20 miles higher than the speed limit. The report alleges Roper was also nearing the maximum amount of driving time when he rear-ended Morgan’s limo bus.
According to the Associated Press, the complaint said Wal-Mart was aware or should have been aware that federal regulations meant to combat driver fatigue were being violated, stating Roper had been awake for more than 24 hours leading up to the crash. The suit also claims it was “unreasonable” that Roper had driven 700 miles from his home state of Georgia to work in Delaware.
In response to news of the lawsuit Wal-Mart said in a statement, “We are deeply sorry that one of our trucks was involved,” adding that, “As we’ve said, we’re cooperating fully in the ongoing investigation.”
Truck driver Kevin Roper pled not guilty on June 11 to criminal charges of vehicular homicide and assault-by-auto.
Three other passengers in the limo bus suffered injuries in the crash including comedian Ardie Fuqua, Jeffrey Milea and his wife Krista Milea, and were also named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
The group was returning with Morgan after performing in a comedy show in Delaware on June 7.
The “30 Rock” star was transferred to a physical rehabilitation site last month after spending two weeks in the hospital. He was released from the rehab facility on Saturday.
RICK KARR: Angela Day’s landline kept going dead in 2012. She didn’t have a cell phone she could use instead because cell coverage is spotty in the Appalachian region of Ohio where she lives. And at the house where she was living with her daughter and her parents, there’s no cell signal at all. So whenever she had to be away from home, she worried. Especially about her father.
ANGELA DAY: He had a heart condition and he had had several open-heart surgeries. He had triple-bypass surgery.
RICK KARR: A few days after Christmas, he said he wasn’t feeling well.
ANGELA DAY: He called over to talk to a nurse. And he was having problems with the phone.
RICK KARR: His condition deteriorated, and finally he said he needed an ambulance. The family called 911, but the line was so bad that they finally gave up and Day’s brother rushed their father to doctors. But it was too late. He died that evening.
ANGELA DAY: It was really frustrating close to the whole week afterwards we couldn’t even call out to plan the funeral. We couldn’t even call and tell family that he had passed. I had to go to my workplace to use the phone to even call the funeral home.
RICK KARR: Angela Day’s phone didn’t work because thieves were stealing telephone wires all over the county. It’s one of the poorest in Ohio, and the copper in the lines was valuable. There could be hundreds of dollars’ worth in the cables strung between two utility poles. At the time, thieves were stealing all kinds of metal throughout Ohio; parts from farm equipment and electrical substations, manhole covers, grave markers. For five years running, the state has led the nation in metal thefts. And from one corner of Ohio to another, thieves have put the public in danger.
RICK KARR: According to police here in Akron, there was an accident on that interstate highway behind me because of an attempt to steal copper wire from the high tension lines beyond it. The would-be-thieves climbed up and cut the line so it dangled over the interstate under thousands of volts of tension. When an SUV got too close there was a bright flash that blew out the windshield and knocked the driver unconscious.
RICK KARR: The driver survived. But thieves themselves aren’t always so lucky.
RICK KARR: I’m struck by the idea of somebody climbing up a utility pole and cutting something like this down. I mean this is gonna be carrying a lot of juice. This is gonna be a dangerous crime to commit.
DETECTIVE BOB MEADER: Let me be very clear on this. We have people dying regularly for this.
RICK KARR: Commander Bob Meader’s been dealing with metal theft for more than two decades as a Columbus cop. Metal prices have come down recently, but copper is still more than twice as valuable as it was a decade ago. In 2007, Columbus became the first city in the state to crack down on metal theft. Police couldn’t keep an eye on every piece of metal thieves might steal. But the city could make it harder for them to sell it.
DETECTIVE BOB MEADER: We know that it’s not gonna go to the center of the city and put a sign out and say, “I have scrap metal for sale.” There’s one location in the state of Ohio, and throughout the United States, that they can get money for it and that is a scrap yard.
RICK KARR: Columbus enacted a new ordinance requiring scrap yards to follow rules a lot like the ones that apply to the city’s pawn shops. Scrap dealers have to check every customer’s ID against an online database of convicted thieves — who might be trying to sell what they’ve stolen. Dealers have to record every detail of every purchase they make so that law enforcement can investigate thefts. Columbus officials say anecdotal evidence suggests the rules have cut down on metal theft. Ohio legislators used the city ordinance as the basis of a new state law. Ohio scrap dealer Josh Joseph says when Columbus cracked down, thieves went to scrap yards outside the city limits. Now that the whole state is cracking down they’ll just go to scrap yards across the state line.
JOSH JOSEPH: For someone to steal it, drive someplace where they know there are really laxed laws or laxed enforcement of the laws, and sell it, is a really easy thing to happen. The uniformity of the law, the uniformity of the way that it is enforced from an industry perspective, we see as paramount to the success of the law.
RICK KARR: Joseph has a lot of other concerns about the law. For one thing, he worries about what the cost of complying with it will do to family-owned small businesses in the industry.
JOSH JOSEPH: It’s anywhere from probably $20,000 or $30,000 up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. You know, we’ve spent six figures to, to maintain, upgrade, and train our people in order to be compliant.
RICK KARR: And training might not be enough to keep some employees honest.
RICK KARR: How can you be sure that if somebody steals, say, a bunch of copper wire, brings it in, slips one of your employees a hundred bucks, how do you ensure that your employee’s not susceptible to that?
JOSH JOSEPH: I would say that our employees are susceptible to that. We think we’ve had some instances of that happening in the past.
RICK KARR: Have you ever had to fire anybody?
JOSH JOSEPH: We have.
RICK KARR: There could also be consequences to the environment, according to scrap dealers. They’re in the recycling business. The metal they take in gets melted down and reused. The law in Ohio makes it a crime for scrap dealers to buy certain items unless sellers can prove something’s theirs to sell, electrical lines, for instance, and telephone cables. But the list also includes items homeowners might bring in. And it could end up in a landfill if a scrap dealer refuses it to stay on the safe side of the law, according to Robin Weiner, who runs the scrap industry’s Washington-based trade group.
ROBIN WEINER: I’ve gotten emails from citizens who’ve complained that they’ve gone to one of our members and the members, and then the member asked for proof of ownership and they don’t have that. You know, how are they gonna, they wanna do the right thing and recycle.
RICK KARR: Josh Joseph’s family’s been in the scrap business for four generations. He doesn’t like his business being compared to a pawn shop. And he’s not sure his industry should have to bear the burden of cracking down on metal thieves.
Thieves will keep stealing metal, according to Angela Day, as long as it’s valuable. A couple of months after her father died, police arrested two men who were charged with stealing phone lines, including the one that law enforcement officials say affected the call to 9-1-1 the day her father died. She’d known one of the men as a kid. And she understands what motivated the crimes.
ANGELA DAY: Growing up here you realize how desperate people are and how much in need this area is. I mean, there’s not a lot of resources. They’re still gonna be stealing things. I mean, that’s just a part of life. I don’t care where you at, live in the Unites States. You’re gonna have that. You’re gonna have people desperate or stealing, to make you know, to survive.
RICK KARR: Both men are serving prison terms for stealing the telephone lines.
The post Costly copper: Dangerous scrap metal thefts on the rise appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
What was first designed to be predator of war may soon be your new mailman – that is, if Amazon gets its way.
The company filed a petition with the Federal Aviation Administration on July 10 to get clearance for testing its package-carrying drones.
The popularity of drones for commercial and civilian use has skyrocketed – occasionally resulting in criminal charges.
On July 8, two men in New York City were arrested and charged with reckless endangerment for flying a drone within 800 feet of an NYPD helicopter above the George Washington Bridge. The drone could have collided with the helicopter, officials said.
Flying drones recreationally is legal, the FAA has said, as long as pilots don’t operate them within five miles of an airport or above 400 feet. But these restrictions haven’t stopped some pilots from pushing the limits.
“Just go onto YouTube and you’ll see tons of examples of people using these things irresponsibly,” Daniel Schwarzbach, the executive director of the Airborne Law Enforcement Association told the New York Times.
Across the country, the widespread use of drones by amateur filmmakers was on display during the Fourth of July weekend, when dozens of videos of fireworks recorded by drones hundreds of feet in the air were posted to YouTube. The FAA is investigating several of these flights to determine whether they violated the current airspace restrictions for drones.
The FAA plans to release regulations for recreational and commercial drone use by September of next year, but some businesses eager to use them aren’t waiting for the rules to be in place before they take flight.
“We see other people in the real estate industry using them, and my feeling is it just seems like too good of a tool not to use,” Steve Bruere, president of the central Iowa land brokerage firm, People’s Co, told the Des Moines Register. “We just figure we’ll ask for forgiveness later.”
Drones have also been reportedly used without federal approval for professional filmmaking, agriculture and journalism.
The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International said the FAA’s delay in setting drone regulations is also delaying an industry that could generate up to 70,000 jobs and add $13.6 billion to the economy in three years. The FAA has received pressure from 33 industries considered to be commercial drone advocates, calling for a faster establishment of drone guidelines.
Whatever the case, the FAA claims it has made “significant progress” in preparing the U.S.’s skies for drones, the Associated Press reports.
But aviation authorities have said the transition from remote-controlled war machine will likely rely on the safety of the system.
“We support the use of this technology, but we support its responsible use,” Schwarzbach said.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: After a recent lull, the conflict in eastern Ukraine once again is intensifying. Ukrainian government troops are now massing near Donetsk, a city of approximately one million people, for a likely ground offensive against pro-Russian separatists who recently retreated there.
Ukrainian warplanes bombed rebel sites there today. This, a day after the rebels killed more than 20 government troops in a missile attack. For more about the situation there, we are joined once again by Anthony Cordesman. So what are the pro-Russian separatists’ chances without Russian involvement?
ANTHONY CORDESMAN: They seem to be limited, they’re still not unified, they’re now concentrated in one major urban area. They at least, are complaining that they are running out of ammunition, running out of supplies, they have money problems, their weapons simply don’t compete in any sense with the Ukrainian forces.
And these do not seem to be the trained forces in any sense that existed in the Crimea. Many of them seem to be people with no real military background or capability of fighting irregular warfare. The problem is, however, for the Ukrainian forces, moving into urban warfare is a massive problem. You have to worry about the population, you have to worry about buildings, you have very short areas, ranges, lines of sight, where your weapons are hard to use. So it is a problem for both sides.
In balance, however, the evidence seems to be Russia is pulling back, it’s not actively supporting the pro-Russian forces, the independence forces. It seems to be moving towards a position where basically it can leave the Ukraine in a state of almost constant tension in the east, poor, without enough aid from the outside to help its economy recover. And essentially fight more of a political than a military battle.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And briefly what about the economic costs, the long-term economic costs to Ukraine if Russia wants to increase natural gas prices as they say they do?
ANTHONY CORDESMAN: Well, the natural gas prices that Russia’s proposed would bankrupt the country but then the country is already bankrupt. One thing to remember about the Ukraine is that it has had one of the worst governments in Eastern Europe.
It has seen a steady decline in development, it has failed to meet the needs of the people through either improved services or economic development. So you had a crisis point that led to an overthrow of the previous government, and it doesn’t take much to keep the Ukraine very poor and very unstable.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Anthony Cordesman, thanks so much.
ANTHONY CORDESMAN: My pleasure.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: To try to put the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas in a broader context, we are joined tonight by Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
Cordesman previously served in the State Department and was the Director of Intelligence Assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. So let’s try to lay out the options for both sides here, let’s start with the Israeli side.
ANTHONY CORDESMAN: Well, the Israelis at this point have flown well over 1,000. Basically with their power they can go on, but it’s a slow process of attrition. The Palestinians and Hamas have had plenty of time to relocate and move. They can now also launch a ground offensive and that can take two forms.
One would be a limited ground offensive aimed at Hamas targets outside the city. The other would be one which would try to take control of populated areas which would mean a lot more fighting but give them direct control over the government, the structure inside Gaza.
The problem with both of those offensives is that they’d have to stay there for a considerable amount of time at a minimum to have an impact and control a very large Palestinian population. But the problem with stopping is they probably have not really intimidated Hamas to make it stop for a long period of time and most Israeli estimates indicate that the bulk of its rockets and missiles are still there and have not been destroyed.
HARI SREENIVASAN: What about the options for Hamas?
ANTHONY CORDESMAN: Hamas’ options are very limited. They’ve tried to do some limited raids outside of Gaze, they failed. Frankly, Israeli security is too tight. They can keep launching rockets and they’ve done that the past few days in spite of all of the air strikes. But these have more of a psychological than a military effect.
Basically they keep sending signals to Israel that Hamas can strike deep. But they’re not lethal or accurate enough to really hit key targets and so far they haven’t produced either casualties or strategic results. Hamas can declare a ceasefire, regroup, try to capitalize on the fighting, politically.
Accuse Israel of war crimes and a whole litany of charges they’ve made in the past, but that has not given Hamas any real benefits to date. The one thing that is potentially ominous is that there have been strikes, potentially from Lebanon, evidently from Hezbollah. Now, a two-front war would have a very different character and the missiles in Hezbollah hands are a great deal more accurate and more lethal.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And what about the costs here? I mean these airstrikes over time not just cost munitions, but obviously they cost human lives and possible civilian casualties as well?
ANTHONY CORDESMAN: Well, the human lives and the casualties are very serious. You have over 100 dead, over 600 wounded and the numbers keep counting. But the thing to remember about Gaza is those direct casualties are only a small part of the problem. There are 1.8 million people. Actually more than that. Most of them are very young, it’s a very young population.
They’ve already been isolated for years as a result of the last round of fighting. The schools, the medical services, the job opportunities are terrible. And you see basically in the area around Gaza you have a per capita income which is about half that in the west bank.
You have far less development. This is a problem where every round of fighting does more damage to the Palestinians in Gaza. And the question for Hamas is can you get the people to put up with this? Can you keep them focused and angry at Israel? Or do they become focused and angry at you?
HARI SREENIVASAN: Alright, Anthony Cordesman, thanks so much.
ANTHONY CORDESMAN: My pleasure.
The post Is a ground offensive next in the fighting between Israel and Hamas? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Good evening, thanks for joining us.
The latest round of Middle Eastern violence triggered by the kidnapping and murder of those three Jewish teenagers escalated again today when Israeli bombs destroyed a mosque on the Gaza strip. Israel said weapons were being stored there. At least 125 Palestinians have died during the recent fighting.
For the latest we are joined once again tonight from Jerusalem via Skype by Josef Federman of the Associated Press. So what’s the latest you’re hearing about the bombing of that mosque?
JOSEF FEDERMAN: Yeah what Israel says is that the area was used to store rockets and other weapons and this has been a challenge for Israel I think from day one. It says that a lot of the weapons that it’s attacking are hidden in civilian areas like mosques, schools, residential areas, and it says it’s taking precautions to avoid damage to these buildings and to civilians but still sometimes these attacks take place.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And what about the pace of rocketfire from Gaza?
JOSEF FEDERMAN: The situation in the South was a little more calm in Southern Israel which is the hardest hit area — that said there still have been dozens of rockets today. I think over sixty the last time I checked, including one that said off air raid sirens here in Jerusalem.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And what more are we hearing about the civilian casualties in Gaza?
JOSEF FEDERMAN: Well the death toll now overall in this operation has exceeded 125, I think it’s up to 127 at this point. But many dozens — we don’t even know the exact number, many of the dead are civilians.
In some cases they are relatives of men who were targeted by Israel and other times it’s accidental. This is an issue and it’s always been a challenge for Israel because of the landscape in Gaza. You’re dealing with a very densely-populated urban landscape where it’s very difficult to pinpoint as hard as Israel tries, it’s very difficult to avoid these types of casualties.
So today for example, we saw an attack that hit a center for the disabled and two women who were severely disabled were killed.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Now is there an active conversation or even a debate happening in Israel about how long this operation should take?
JOSEF FEDERMAN: Yeah there seems to be. There are signs that diplomacy is starting to take hold. We see a meeting of the security council today calling on Israel or calling on both sides for a ceasefire.
An interesting statement came out of London from the British foreign minister also calling for an immediate ceasefire expressing concerns about civilian casualties on the Palestinian side and announcing that a number of his counterparts will be meeting tomorrow in Vienna to discuss ceasefire efforts
HARI SREENIVASAN: Even if there are these options to mediate a settlement whether it’s from the U.S. whether it’s from Arab League, would Prime Minister Netanyahu consider this?
JOSEF FEDERMAN: I’ve been in touch with his office I’ve been speaking to Israeli officials all day and they say it could go in either direction. They are ready to keep on pounding targets in Gaza. Israel says it’s going to keep on pushing forwards, it’s not going to be deterred by international pressure, but when all of its allies keep on ganging up and saying enough is enough, it’s going to have to listen and I think over the next day or two you’re going to see that.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Josef Federman of the Associated Press, thanks so much.
JOSEF FEDERMAN: Thank you.
VIENNA — The United States and Germany are vowing to work closely together on global matters despite strains in their relationship linked to recent espionage accusations.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier delivered a joint statement on the sidelines of Iranian nuclear talks in Vienna.
They each stressed the vital importance of U.S.-German cooperation on global matters ranging from Iran’s nuclear program to violence in the Middle East.
Steinmeier acknowledged recent problems in their ties, without going into detail. Kerry emphasized the great friendship between the nations and their strategic partnership.
Relations have been rocked by numerous reports of U.S. spying in Germany, prompting a request for the CIA chief in Berlin to leave the country.
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Luanda, Angola is the most expensive city in the world for Americans to live, according to Mercer’s 2014 Cost of Living Rankings released this month. N’Djamena, Chad, took the second-place spot.
The survey determined cost of living by looking at the prices of 200 items, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. The survey then compared those costs to prices in New York, which was ranked the most expensive American city at 16.
In a press release, Mercer said some Africans cities like Luanda are expensive for Americans because most goods are imported and come at a premium cost.
Here is the top ten:
Chinese cities including Shanghai and Hong Kong rose in this year’s ranking, as the yuan strengthened against the dollar and apartment rents increased. Tokyo, which held third place in last year’s rankings moved to seventh place because the yen fell in value.
Switzerland has three cities in this year’s top ten list with Bern ranking eighth, Geneva ranking sixth and Zurich coming in fifth, making it one of the most expensive countries in the world for Americans.
Russian cities on the other hand fell because of the ruble’s depreciation against the dollar.
On the other end of the list, three of India’s cities, Chennai, Kolkata and Bangalore, ranked among the fifty least expensive cities for American expatriates.
Karachi, Pakistan was listed as the most affordable among the 211 cities ranked by the survey.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Here in New York City, one of the most diverse cities in the world, a local soccer tournament – partially-sponsored by a professional soccer club – is giving 40 international teams the chance to claim their own trophy.
Welcome to Cosmos Copa — a mini-World Cup, if you will. The all-male teams are local groups, comprised of amateur, semi-pro and former professional athletes representing their national heritage.
NICK PUGLIESE: What makes this tournament special is sort of this celebration of all the ethnicities and nationalities in New York.
HARI SREENIVASAN: American Nick Pugliese is a member of team NYC-Afghanistan; having been the first American to play professional soccer in Kabul, he got the unique opportunity to re-join some soccer colleagues from Afghanistan here at Cosmos Copa.
NICK PUGLIESE: It’s an opportunity to come together with your community and play soccer and hopefully have, you know, have a good time and achieve something together.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The tournament attracts some of the best hidden soccer talent in the tri-state area. From Ireland, to Argentina, Guyana to Greece, any group can be represented as long as they can field a team of 18 players. And similar to the world cup, political differences are temporarily set aside with national pride at stake.
MOHAMMAD YUSEF MASHRIQI: I’m taking this tournament very seriously to represent Afghanistan, and if we do well I’m sure all Afghans around the world will hear about it in social media.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Mohammad Yusef Mashriqi is captain of the NYC-Afghanistan team. He was born and raised in Queens, NY…but has spent the past three years playing for the Afghan National Team – which won a major south Asian tournament in 2013 – creating a frenzy back in Kabul.
Today, team NYC-Afghanistan is hoping to create a frenzy of their own as they have advanced to the next round of the tournament. Cosmos Copa will conclude August 2 at Hofstra University.
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In what became one of the largest thefts in the history of Washington state, two men last summer were charged with stealing more than four miles of copper wire from the underside of an elevated train line over an eight-month period between 2010-2011.
Before they were caught, the men netted more than $40,000 from the pilfered metal.
Crimes like these, though usually of a much smaller scale, have soared in recent years, according to a report by the Council of State Governments, as the rise in the value of copper, iron and aluminum has spurred the thefts of objects like manhole covers, air conditioners and telephone cables.
And while illegal scrapping typically makes the headlines, there are legal ways to scrap, which many people use as a source of income. So NewsHour wondered: How much metal would a scrapper need to collect to make minimum wage?
A lot, said Sean Davidson of the American Metal Market, a trade journal that lists metal price points.
Davidson said copper is in high demand this year and can be sold, on average, for just over three dollars per pound. And catalytic converters, which contain valuable metals like palladium and platinum can net anywhere between $40 to several hundred dollars. Other metals, like steel and aluminum, are sold for much less.
So, in order to make the federal minimum wage of $58 a day, a scrapper would need to find one catalytic converter or up to 111 pounds of stainless steel, according to data from the AMM.
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Conductor, composer and former child prodigy Lorin Maazel, died Sunday at his home in Virginia. He was 84.
A conductor from the age of nine, Maazel directed the Munich Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic over the course of his career.
In July of 2012, PBS Newshour’s Jeffrey Brown sat down with the maestro and spoke with him about the festival he founded, Castleton.
Castleton is a month-long program of recitals, concerts and operas, that is both a traditional summer music festival as well as an opportunity for students to train with music greats in rural Virginia.
The festival posted the following quotation from the celebrated conductor on its website:
I have always believed that the arts, per se, and their exponents, artists, have a broader role to play in the public arena. But it must be totally apolitical, nonpartisan and free of issue-specific agendas. It is a role of the highest possible order; bringing peoples and their cultures together on common ground, where the roots of peaceful interchange can imperceptibly but irrevocably take hold.
Maazel was preparing for the sixth-annual Castleton Festival before he died.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Now more about the situation in Iraq. Yesterday I interviewed Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He’s the former director of Intelligence Assessment in the office of the Secretary of Defense. I began by asking him about the offers of military aid from Iran, the United States and Russia.
ANTHONY CORDESMAN: The problem right now is, military aid providing more equipment and more weapons can have a very limited effect. There’s all kinds of claims being made about air power but they’re really only flying a handful of sorties a day. Most of the claims of effects are by people who have no military background.
No capabilities to target and no ability to access the damage, and providing more weapons to an army that has basically a political structure tied to the prime minister that’s deeply corrupt. Often a hallow force with officers who aren’t doing their job or simply aren’t there.
The problem is not weapons the problem isn’t supply and there is very little that outside advisors can really do. To the extent that the Iraqi army has improved, it basically is, it’s now fallen back on some of the more effective units.
It has a friendly population in shiite areas and it has shiite volunteers. But that doesn’t make it an effective force or one that can defeat the Islamic State in the north and in the west.
HARI SREENIVASAN: What are the chances of displacing the Islamic State group?
ANTHONY CORDESMAN: Well the Islamic State group presents a serious problem for itself. It isn’t simply that Iraq is fighting other Islamic groups in Syria at the same time. So it needs time to build up control over the areas that it has taken, if it can do so. Because it does face strong rivals and certainly a lot of tribal resistance.
HARI SREENIVASAN: What about the impending refugee crisis into neighboring countries?
ANTHONY CORDESMAN: Well there already is a refugee crisis, you’ve seen at least a million Iraqis move out. Understand this adds to something like 20 percent of the population of Syria. Which has gone into Lebanon, into Turkey, into Jordan and other areas.
HARI SREENIVASAN: We also see troops amassing along the border of neighboring countries. Are they concerned that Iraq cannot stay together as a single country anymore?
ANTHONY CORDESMAN: Well I think everyone is concerned that Iraq may not stay together as a single country but the more serious problem is that having a single country where you have sectarian and ethnic groups that hate each other. That drive people who are in the minority out of their homes or kill them, is not a form of unity.
It doesn’t really provide any basis for stability and development. There also is the fact this is not one war, its directly connected to the Syrian civil war and at least in terms in the Islamic Extremist movements you have volunteers coming in as extremist from places as far away as Britain and China and the United States. And that’s really why the Jordanian and Saudi forces and to a lesser extent the Lebanese forces in the north of Lebanon, Turkish forces have built up on the border.
It isn’t to try to unify the country, it’s to stop the flow of extremist and terrorist and any expansion of either the Islamic state or the fighting into other countries.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Are these countries concerned that the Islamic State Group could spill over into Jordan or Saudi Arabia?
ANTHONY CORDESMAN: Well it’s not just the Islamic State. It’s the Islamist and many other movements. At least two others in Iraq, something like eight different movements of different sizes in Syria and this is a key reason why countries like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia changed their terrorist laws, because they see this fear as very serious.
When you look at what is happening counter terrorism in Europe and the United States. You have a whole new focus on what happens to the volunteers that have been going into Iraq and Syria when they come back. And this is an issue virtually everywhere in the Middle East.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Anthony Cordesman joining us from Washington, thanks so much.
ANTHONY CORDESMAN: Pleasure.
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Malala Yousafzai, who survived being shot by the Pakistani Taliban in 2012, said it is her birthday wish to help bring back Nigeria’s kidnapped schoolgirls.
The 16-year-old Nobel Peace Prize-nominated activist turns 17 on Monday. She told families in Nigeria that she hopes to take an active role to bring the girls home safely.
“I can see those girls as my sisters … and I’m going to speak up for them until they are released,” Yousafzai said, speaking with family members of the kidnapped girls and activists who make up the “Bring Back Our Girls” movement in Abuja.
Yousafzai said she would take the families’ messages to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who she will meet with on Monday.
Yousafzai was shot in the head in October of 2012 on her way home from school in Swat Valley in Pakistan.
Prior to the shooting, Yousafzai had received international attention for writing a blog for the British Broadcasting System about life under Taliban rule.
Yousafzai was flown to the U.K. for treatment following the attack.
She has since become a leading voice in the international fight for girls to receive an education.
She told NewsHour’s Margaret Warner in an interview last year that the Pakistani Taliban “are misusing the name of Islam for their own personal benefits.”
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HARI SREENIVASAN: For the latest we are joined once again tonight via Skype by Josef Federman of The Associated Press. Josef, your story today was about the people who were fleeing Gaza.
JOSEF FEDERMAN: Yes, overnight Israel sent out warning leaflets, they dropped them out of the sky, telling people in the Northern Gaza strip to clear out. Israel is planning heavy bombardment.
We’ve seen a few airstrikes this evening already. In the meantime somewhere 15 and 20 thousand residents of that area have cleared out. They’re on there way to shelters and U.N. schools in safer areas of Gaza.
HARI SREENIVASAN: We’d heard about the commando raid operation inside Gaza but we’d also heard that there was a police chief’s house that was bombed.
JOSEF FEDERMAN: Yes these were two separate incidents. The commando raid took place overnight, it’s the first time that Israel has sent ground forces into Gaza. It was a very brief pinpoint type operation.
They went after or they say they went after a rocket launching site that couldn’t be reached through aerial attacks so they sent in a small team of naval commandos and they were in and out, there were some light injuries actually on the Israeli side.
As for the police chief there was an airstrike last night this was considered a senior target by Israel he is the Hamas police chief of Gaza. The airstrike hit the home where he was staying. Seventeen members of the man’s family were killed but the police chief as of now is still alive.
HARI SREENIVASAN: What about on the diplomatic front any news, any progress?
JOSEF FEDERMAN: There seems to be a lot of movement behind the scenes it’s very hard to figure out what exactly is going on.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who’s in Vienna meeting with many of his Western counterparts right now, called the Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu today, expressed his concerns about the escalating tensions and said that he’s been in touch with some of the key players in the region.
So the U.S. is involved in the behind the scenes efforts. Other members are also involved. Egypt put out a statement, they’re in touch with the UN secretary general other players ranging from Qatar to Turkey, even France, Tunisia–they’re all involved. It’s hard to figure out what exactly is going on. A lot of people are involved.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Alright, Josef Federman of the Associated Press. Thanks so much.
JOSEF FEDERMAN: Thank you.
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Healthcare workers treating West Africa’s Ebola epidemic are having difficulty fighting the disease due to the mistrust of doctors among the members of infected communities.
In Guinea and Sierra Leone, where more than 500 people have died from the virus, patients have started hiding from health workers, under the impression that hospitalization is a “death sentence,” Reuters reports.
In Guéckédou, a town in southern Guinea, 24 patients with suspected cases of Ebola fled a Médecins Sans Frontières treatment center, and villages in Guinea’s southeast Forest Region have started shutting out medical workers by blocking off roads and bridges.
“We are seeing a lot of mistrust, intimidation and hostility from part of the population,” Marc Poncin, emergency coordinator for MSF in Guinea said in an interview with Reuters.
In some cases, African communities’ fear of medical workers has escalated to violence.
Earlier this month PBS NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown spoke with Laurie Garrett of the Council on Foreign Relations about various health organizations brought under attack.
In Lofa County Liberia, recently, doctors attempting to screen communities for the virus were chased away by villagers wielding knives, swords and stones.
UNICEF’S Regional Director for West and Central Africa Manuel Fontaine said doctors must build relationships with African communities in order to gain their trust.
“We have to knock on every door, visit every market and spread the word in every church and every mosque,” Fontaine told Reuters.
Unsanitary burial rituals have also fueled the Ebola epidemic’s persistence. Many West African communities’ traditional funeral ceremonies involve washing the bodies of the dead, which despite warnings from local and international health organizations, continue to put people in direct contact with the virus.
In Sierra Leone, police used tear gas to stop a group from gathering bodies for a family burial. Sierra Leone authorities now instruct citizens to bury the bodies of their relatives in sealed plastic bags.
Ebola has infected 888 people and killed 539 since the outbreak began in February.
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