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

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    Novartis

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: As we reported yesterday, an experimental heart drug developed by the Swiss pharmaceutical company, Novartis, shows promising results.

    The new drug currently referred to by its codename “L C Z 696″ may change the course of treatment and prolong the lives of patients suffering from heart failure.

    The results of the study on the new drug are being presented this weekend in Spain at an international cardiology conference and were also published yesterday by The New England Journal of Medicine.

    For some insight, we’re joined via Skype from Windham, New Hampshire by Clyde Yancy, he’s a professor of medicine and chief of cardiology at Northwestern University.

    So, Professor Yancy, there are millions of people around the world, who suffer from heart disease and heart failure, what’s so different about this drug and why does it work better than what’s available today?

    CLYDE YANCY: Well Hari, thanks for your interest. Those millions of people you talked about should be elated because there is a new therapy now.

    It’s not just an additional therapy, but it is a significant improvement over what we already had. This really is better and brings a lot of hope to a lot of people.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And without getting too far into the details of the science, what’s it doing to the heart to make it more efficient or less prone to fail?

    CLYDE YANCY: So that’s a great question. It takes what we originally were doing, which was to use drugs to help make the heart smaller and stronger, but then takes it a step further.

    So not only does it help to make the heart smaller and stronger, but it reverses or minimizes some of the scar that happens over time.

    By combining these two effects together, it really has a profound influence, a new benefit on living longer and feeling better.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Now would this replace the type of treatments we have today? I mean we’re familiar with a category of drugs called ace inhibitors and beta blockers.

    CLYDE YANCY: So Hari that’s why there’s so much excitement. Rarely are we able to change the foundation of how we do things.

    This changes the foundation, which means it raises the bar for all patients. We do think that many patients will  have their ace inhibitors replaced by this new ”L C Z” drug once it’s developed further.

    But it’s also important to realize that the background therapy still includes drugs that we know make a big difference like beta-blockers, like MRA’s, so lots of reason for enthusiasm here.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So while this one company has kind of a lead here, how long until this category of drugs gets on the markets and on store shelves so to speak, where doctors can write a prescription for them in the U.S.?

    CLYDE YANCY: I really think we can go beyond which company has what proprietary input here and realize that this really is a breakthrough for patients and so it means we have to change the dynamic here.

    We have to look to the F.D.A., work with the F.D.A. and say how can we bring this development to the table, sooner and better than we’ve ever done before.

    I’m excited about the possibility of helping to galvanize interest and get this drug to patients as soon as possible.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You know some people are concerned that perhaps it’s too quick.

    I’m mean I don’t know what the medical ethics of it is when you have this kind of medical efficacy and want to get this drug out there and help more people, but are there side effects that we don’t know about, particular populations that haven’t been studied enough?

    CLYDE YANCY: You know what Hari, the answer is yes and yes, but it doesn’t drop our enthusiasm or quell our interests.

    Here’s the story, we need to move forward with something for heart failure, that’s pretty clear.

    Yes, there are patients that we wish we knew more about, like African American patients, like more U.S.-based patients, like more patients with more advanced heart failure, but nevertheless, there are ways used in contemporary research methodologies that we can get those questions answered, while still bringing this to the table.

    This really isn’t about a company. This is about a brand new approach, a brand new way to take care of people that have a pretty compelling disease.

    If the disease wasn’t so compelling, sure we could slow down, take some more time, get some more data.

    But we’ve got a disease, where people are coming up short despite getting everything that we have available now.

    We really should think about bringing this forward as soon as we can.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Alright, Clyde Yancy of Northwest University, thanks so much for your time.

    CLYDE YANCY: Thank you for your interest, I appreciate it.

    The post New drug may ‘change the foundation’ for treating heart failure appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    ukraine_conflict

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: For the latest we are joined via Skype from Mariupol, Ukraine, by James Marson of The Wall Street Journal. Let’s start talking about that prisoner exchange… is this a signal that tensions are easing?

    JAMES MARSON: Well, it’s certainly a sign that the Ukrainian army is on the back foot. They had been on the front foot for several weeks. But what the Ukrainian officials and soldiers on the ground are saying is there’s been a huge influx of Russian fighters, of Russian heavy weapons, and even of Russian regular troops which has really turned the tide.
    And suddenly where Ukraine had been advancing, they are now retreating. A lot of soldiers have got trapped. A lot of soldiers have become prisoners. And several dozens and dozens of Ukrainian soldiers have been killed.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: There was a Russian spokesman who said that eastern Ukraine should remain a part of Ukraine. How does a comment like that play in this climate?

    JAMES MARSON: Well, I believe you’re referring to the President’s spokesman, because President Vladimir Putin said that Kiev should begin talks on the potential statehood of some of this region, which he refers to as Novorossiya, New Russia. Now there are many interpretations you can make of that, but that seems to indicate that he is in favor of this part of the country becoming an independent state not part of Ukraine. And then this comment by this spokesman appear to say the opposite, so it’s not really clear what’s going on here.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, you were on the front lines reporting yesterday. What did you see versus with what the Kremlin was saying?

    JAMES MARSON: Well, it seems to be the Ukrainian army is in a very difficult state now. I was in one town very close to the frontlines, a town called Komsomolsk. And residents were telling me that through the entire day soldiers, Ukrainian soldiers, had been limping back from behind the front lines because a lot of Ukrainian soldiers had got trapped by this rebel new advance. And some of them had been trying to make it back through fields and forest. And they said that these soldiers were in a terrible state. Very bloody, lots of injured people. And they were simply trying to make it out on foot.

    As we were leaving, we saw a convoy of about 10 ambulances stuffed full of injured Ukrainian soldiers who looked in a terrible state. Now they still have significant forces in other parts, to the North and the West, but they seem to be moving very slowly to back up the units that have been pushed backward.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You also spoke with Ukrainians who were losing some faith in help from the West. What are they interested in?

    JAMES MARSON: Well, they’ve said that they have made their European choice as a country. There were protests several months ago that overthrew a pro-Russian president who was corrupt and unpopular. They say we’ve made our European choice. We’ve made our western choice. But where is the support now from the West, from Europe, from the United States? They say they need weapons that will enable them to push back what they say is an advance by Russian regular troops against tanks, against artillery, against very powerful weapons. As some fighters here have said to me, we have enthusiasm and we have rifles, but they don’t help you very much against tanks.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: James Marson of The Wall Street Journal, joining us via Skype from Mariupol, thanks so much.

    JAMES MARSON: A pleasure.

    The post From the front lines: Ukraine army in ‘very difficult state’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Firefighters search through the rubble of a four-storey residential building that collapsed following a blast in Rosny-sous-Bois in the eastern suburbs of Paris on August 31, 2014. A four-storey residential building collapsed in a Paris suburb following an explosion possibly due to a gas leak, killing at least one child and an elderly woman, local emergency services said. Ten people were also wounded, including four in serious condition, while 11 others are still unaccounted for. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND GUAY (Photo credit should read BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)

    Firefighters search through the rubble of a residential building that collapsed following a blast in Rosny-sous-Bois in the eastern suburbs of Paris on Sunday. Credit: Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images

    At least four people died Sunday following an explosion and collapse of a four-story building in a northeastern Paris suburb, Reuters reported.

    The deaths included an 8-year-old child and an 80-year-old woman who died as emergency workers carried her out of the rubble.

    A woman in her forties and her child were found dead later in the afternoon. Four adults are still missing.

    Eleven people were injured in the incident.

    About 150 emergency workers were on scene searching for missing people, some working with dogs to locate the missing, according to the Associated Press.

    Speaking to reporters on the scene in Rosny-Sous-Bois, Reuters reports Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the explosion appeared to have been caused by a gas leak.

    The post Paris explosion leaves at least four dead, 11 injured appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Jeff Vespa/WireImage

    Jennifer Lawrence, seen here at the Academy Awards in March, has called for an investigation into the theft and distribution of her personal photos. Photo by Jeff Vespa/WireImage

    A hacker posted pictures of nude female celebrities without their consent on Sunday, prompting a call for a change in how we talk about the hacking of personal photos.

    The photos, which the perpetrator posted on popular photo-sharing site 4Chan, purport to show dozens of female celebrities naked. Several women, including Ariana Grande and Victoria Justice, have denied that the photos depict them, but actress Mary E. Winstead confirmed that the photos of her are not fabricated.

    “To those of you looking at photos I took with my husband years ago in the privacy of our home, hope you feel great about yourselves,” Winstead tweeted.

    Hundreds of headlines have called the event a “scandal” and a “leak,” but these words imply that victims are to blame for the photos going public, critics have argued.

    “The theft via cell phone hacking of countless nude photos, real or doctored, of various female celebrities is not a ‘scandal’ to be mocked and teased about as if it were a public wardrobe malfunction or a gaffe … It is a crime that has turned the entire online community into potential peeping Toms,” Forbes writer Scott Mendelson wrote.

    Writer Jessica Valenti said that the public reaction to the photos shows that many people consider women’s bodies public property.

    “The underlying premise is that these women have consented to being there for public entertainment — whether they like it or not,” she wrote in The Atlantic.

    Jennifer Lawrence, another reported victim of the hack, has called for an investigation into what is only the latest high-profile instance of the distribution of nonconsensual nude photography, also called “revenge porn.”

    Anti-revenge porn legislation gained prominence in 2012 after federal officials charged Hunter Moore and Charles Evens for hacking women’s email accounts, stealing nude pictures and posting them on the site “Is Anyone Up?” The now-closed site posted the names and personal information of the women in the photos — in some cases, it posted their addresses. Moore was indicted in January and faces up to 42 years in prison.

    Eleven states have enacted laws against revenge porn, including California, where many of the recent hack’s victims live.

    But critics of the California law say that it is insufficient to address many instances of revenge porn. The law does not ban distributing “selfie” photos and requires proof that a person posted the images with the intent to cause emotional distress in the victim.

    Mary Anne Franks, a law professor at the University of Miami who has helped draft anti-revenge porn legislation, released a set of recommendations in July for lawmakers who are addressing similar bills.

    The post Why calling stolen celebrity nudes a ‘leak’ is wrong appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Mark Ford reads “In Loco Parentis” from his collection “Selected Poems.”

    In Loco Parentis

    were some quite creepy men—one
    used to lie down
    on the dayroom floor, then get us all
    to pile on top of him—and a basilisk-
    eyed matron in a blue unifrom with a watch
    dangling
    beneath her right
    collarbone. Thump thump
    thump
    went her footsteps, making
    the asbestos ceiling tiles shiver, and me
    want to hide, or run like a rabbit
    in a fire…
                         What we lost, we lost
    forever. A minor
    devil played at chess
    with us, forcing
    the pieces to levitate
    and hover, flourishing swords, in midair. I’d grasp
    them now, the orotund bishop, the stealthy
    knight, the all-
    knowing queen,
    but they dissolve
    in my fingers, refuse
    to return to the board, to their squares.

    Photo by Mark Hinkley courtesy Coffee House Press.

    Photo by Mark Hinkley courtesy Coffee House Press.

    Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Mark Ford is the author of four collections of poetry, including “Soft Sift” and “Six Children.” “Selected Poems” is his most recent work. Ford is also the author of the biography “Raymond Roussel and the Republic of Dreams,” and a translation of Roussel’s last poem, “Nouvelles Impressions d’Afrique.” That translation was the runner up for a PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. Ford has also written criticism. He published two collections, “A Driftwood Altar” and “Mr and Mrs Stevens and Other Essays” and has had his work published in journals such as the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books. Ford earned his BA and Ph.D. from the University of Oxford and he received a Kennedy Scholarship from Harvard University. He currently teaches at University College, London.

    Excerpts from Selected Poems by Mark Ford courtesy of Coffee House Press.

    The post Weekly Poem: Mark Ford reads ‘In Loco Parentis’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A CH-53E Super Stallion with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 163 (Reinforced), 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, takes off from the flight deck of the USS Comstock  Aug. 25. The 11th MEU and Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group are deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations as a sea-based, expeditionary crisis response force capable of conducting amphibious missions across the full range of military operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Melissa Wenger/Released)

    A CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter, like this one pictured here on Aug. 27 on the flight deck of the USS Comstock, crashed Monday in the Gulf of Aden. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Melissa Wenger

    WASHINGTON — A Marine Corps helicopter with 25 aboard crashed Monday in the Gulf of Aden, and all aboard were rescued, the Navy said.

    The 17 Marines and eight Navy sailors were recovered and were on board the USS Mesa Verde, and some who sustained minor injuries were treated on the ship.

    The CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed as it attempted to land on the ship, which has a big landing deck on the back. The Navy said the crash was not the result of hostile activity, but the aircraft was transferring troops back to the ship from training in nearby Djibouti.

    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the USS Mesa Verde, an amphibious transport dock ship based at Norfolk, Virginia, into the Persian Gulf earlier this summer as concern grew over the Islamic State terrorist group’s advance on Iraq’s capital, Baghdad.

    The ship transports and lands Marines and other troops, their equipment and supplies, aided by helicopters and vertical takeoff and landing aircraft.

    The post Marine Corps helicopter crashes in Gulf of Aden; all rescued appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    As Labor Day winds to an end and the rigors of school and work start to gather speed once again, we here at the PBS NewsHour thought it would be nice to share some of the books that we’ve been reading this summer.

    And we want to know what you’re reading. Leave your comments below. And in the meantime, check out these titles, hand picked by the NewsHour staff:

    From our anchors:

    “Family Life” by Akhil Sharma
    “I was drawn to this gripping work of fiction, based on Sharma’s own life, after I heard him talking about it in an interview. It’s the story of a family of Indian immigrants and how they coped after the older son suffered a terrible accident. I was curious to see how his family managed compared to my own, after a different sort of tragic incident. Sharma spares no one in describing how lives and relationships were altered in unexpected ways that transcend culture. By the end of the book, I felt as if I too were part of his family.”
    – Judy Woodruff, Co-Anchor and Managing Editor

     

    “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    “The book splits the story between the U.S. and Nigeria, but chronicles the same cultural divide and conflict that I recognize from my childhood growing up as the child of immigrants.”
    – Gwen Ifill, Co-Anchor and Managing Editor

     
     
     

    From the rest of the staff:


    “The Directive” by Matthew Quirk
    “It’s the follow-up to his debut thriller, ‘The 500.’ The main character, Mike Ford, tries to shed his small-time crook past, but discovers respectable people in Washington, D.C.’s power circles can be violently deceitful. This time, Quirk, a former reporter for The Atlantic, blends suspense with well researched facts about the Federal Reserve.”
    – Mike Melia, Senior Broadcast Producer

    allthebirdssinging“All the Birds, Singing” by Evie Wyld
    “Set on a remote island off the coast of England, Wyld tells the story of Jake Whyte, a rugged woman whose journey from the Australian outback lands with her sheering sheep (a job dominated by men) and fleeing a violent past.” — Mike Melia, Senior Broadcast Producer

     
     

    71Pae2HrUVL“Elizabeth Is Missing” by Emma Healey
    “An elderly woman, slipping into dementia, discovers a note in her pocket that her friend Elizabeth is missing … it’s dark but rings true especially for those of us who are taking care of elderly parents and relatives.”
    – Peggy Robinson, Senior Producer

     
     

    gone-girl-book-cover-med“Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn
    “It’s a psychological thriller that takes place in Missouri during the summertime about a ‘marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong.’ Read it before it hits theaters this October.”
    – Colleen Shalby, Social Media Editor

     

    91zcwPTtHQL._SL1500_

    “The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood” by Irving Finkel
    “The book details recent discoveries of Babylonian and Assyrian cuneiform tablets that served as the origin for the Hebrew story of Noah’s ark and the flood. It provides a great historical insight into the time period and the culture that produced many legendary stories. Also, you’d be surprised to find that the original ark story features a round, thatch vessel closely tied to another Assyrian myth concerning Sargon the First who was floated into a river by his mother in a basket.”
    – Brian Ragle, IT Support Specialist

     

    51RDfuIApZL“The Worst Hard Time” by Timothy Egan
    This book was published back in 2006 and much of the material later found its way into the 2012 Ken Burns documentary “The Dust Bowl.” Nevertheless, I only came to it recently and was captivated by the vivid portraits of individuals living through the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression and the agricultural and economic policies that led to both. Particularly with the extreme heat, drought and floods that now arrive annually with summer, this book is a reminder of the way people impact the earth and the earth, in turn, impacts us.
    – Frank Carlson, Reporter/Producer, Culture Desk

     

    5183RyDfNFL“Special Topics In Calamity Physics” by Marisha Pessl
    “Named one of ‘The 10 Best Books of 2006′ by the New York Times, ‘Special Topics in Calamity’ is an enjoyable, intelligent read that truly has something for everyone — a coming-of-age tale filled with romance, dark comedy, mystery and murder. It’s one of my favorite novels and I highly recommend it!”
    – Sarah Corapi, Production Assistant

     

    51LDiNtTKyL

    “The Burgess Boys” by Elizabeth Strout
    Pulitzer Prize winning-author Elizabeth Strout animates a web of family and societal drama that runs from trendy Park Slope up I-95 to a fictionalized version of the Maine mill town where she (and I) went to college. The landmarks are unmistakable, as is the tension between the longtime Franco-American settlers and the recently resettled Somali refugees, which comes to the fore when the protagonist’s nephew tosses a pig head through the door of the local mosque. It’s a story about the pain family members, particularly siblings, inflict on each other and one town’s efforts at coexistence.
    – Simone Pathe, Web Producer

     

    billmauldin

    “Up Front” by Bill Mauldin
    “This book provides a unique perspective of World War II by the way of editorial cartoonist Bill Mauldin, who, while serving as a U.S. infantryman, drew cartoons for the army newspaper about the war as seen through the eyes of regular soldiers. The book features many of Mauldin’s original wartime cartoons — which can be both dark and humorous — alongside his own personal recollections of World War II.”
    – Justin Scuiletti, Digital Production Manager

     

    51kzYFPB4JL“On Chesil Beach” by Ian McEwan
    “This is probably my favorite book and I read it almost every summer. It’s the beautifully written tale of an English couple, Edward and Florence, on their wedding night in the 1960s. Though utterly in love they find themselves burdened by marital duties. McEwan takes the reader through flashbacks of their loving relationship while also describing the painful present. It’s a short novel — you could finished it in a weekend, but you will think about it all summer long.”
    – Sarah McHaney, Reporter/Producer, National Affairs

     

    51o-JQnLkiL“The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” by Michael Chabon“This novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001. Chabon writes about two Jewish cousins — Joe Kavalier and Sam Clay — before, after, and during World War II. They become cartoonists as the comics industry enters its ‘Golden Age.’ The novel weaves in and out of the stories they create about ‘the Escapist’ and the story they are living themselves. It’s an intense, entertaining and insightful look at Jews in New York City during World War II and the many ways we try to escape the present.”
    – Sarah McHaney, Reporter/Producer, National Affairs

     

    71uz03MbHBL“American Gods” by Neil Gaiman
    “Read it if you have even a passing interest in religion, mythology, tall tales or Americana. If you like all that stuff and also looking at pictures, check out Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novel series.”
    – Zachary Treu, Script Production Assistant/Desk Assistant Coordinator

    The post What we’ve been reading this summer appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    newswrapimage

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The head of NATO is calling for a spearhead force to deter any Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced the plan today in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine. It calls for several thousand troops ready to move on short notice. Alliance leaders will consider the plan on Thursday. We will turn to the day’s events in Ukraine after the news summary.

    The United Nations Human Rights Council today condemned the Islamic State group for what it called abuses on an unimaginable scale. The council approved an investigation of the militants’ actions in Iraq, from mass killings to sexual abuse to forced conversion. This came after Iraq’s human rights minister appealed for help, saying, “We are facing a terrorist monster.”

    MOHAMMED SHIA’ AL-SUDANI, Minister of Human Rights, Iraq (through interpreter): From here, I call upon countries all over the world to take a responsible stand in line with the international conventions, norms and humanitarian principles and values to take a clear-cut and strong action against the Islamic State group. It is not an Iraqi phenomenon. It is a terrorist organization that jeopardizes the security and peace of countries all over the world.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, Iraq’s caretaker prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, visited the small town of Amirli today. It was retaken by Iraqi forces on Sunday, after a two-month siege by the Islamic State group. Maliki toured the streets and spoke with Shiite Turkmen townspeople. He branded the militants beasts and killers and pledged that Iraq will send them all to their deaths. The siege was broken with the help of U.S. airstrikes.

    In Afghanistan, talks on a power-sharing deal between rival presidential candidates have collapsed. Abdullah Abdullah’s camp said today that he and Ashraf Ghani failed to agree on the powers for a chief executive in a national unity government. The deadlock raises the risk of chaos, as U.S. and other combat troops are leaving.

    Heavy fighting erupted today in Syria’s Golan Heights between the Syrian army and militants linked to al-Qaida. Government troops are trying to recapture a crossing point that the Nusra Front rebels captured last week. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji were abducted in the area last week. Their whereabouts remain unknown.

    In North Korea, three American detainees were allowed to speak with U.S. and foreign news media today. They appealed for a high-ranking U.S. representative to negotiate their release. Kenneth Bae is a missionary convicted of trying to bring down the state. He’s serving 15 years. Jeffrey Fowle and Matthew Miller are due to face trial soon on similar charges.

    President Obama vowed this Labor Day to keep pushing Congress for a higher minimum wage. He wants to raise the federal minimum to $10.10 an hour.

    Today, in Milwaukee, he said persistence is the key to winning over Congress, and he joked the same is true in affairs of the heart.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There is no denying a simple truth: America deserves a raise.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: And I think, eventually, Congress is going to hear them. We will break those folks down. We will just stay on them.

    (LAUGHTER)

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We will just keep at it. That’s how I got Michelle to marry me. I just wore her down.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Republicans have blocked a minimum wage increase, on the grounds that it will hurt small business and job growth.

    The post News Wrap: UN approves investigation of the Islamic State in Iraq appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    starbucks

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to a Labor Day story about the changing nature of the job market in this country.

    As workers seek more flexibility in their hours, and employers seek more control over labor costs, the number of part-time jobs is soaring.

    NewsHour economics correspondent Paul Solman looks at some of the consequences. It’s all part of his ongoing reporting Making Sense of financial news.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Nearly 11:00 on a Saturday night, and 24-year-old Onieka O’Kieffe is leaving the Brooklyn apartment she shares with her mother, sister and 1-year-old niece for Manhattan. It’s an hour-long trip, between the walk to the subway station and then three train rides to Midtown. But O’Kieffe isn’t going to a party or pub. She’s heading to work, to get her part-time schedule for the coming week, and she might be on the Sunday midnight shift, which begins in an hour.

    ONIEKA O’KIEFFE, Part-Time Worker: I’m not sure if I’m working, so I’m going to go there and see my schedule, and if I have to work, at least I’m ready.

    PAUL SOLMAN: O’Kieffe works the graveyard shift in the stockroom at American Eagle in Times Square, earning $8 an hour, her choice, she says, so that this job won’t interfere with her other part-time gig, a day shift in the stockroom at Crocs shoes in Herald Square. Between the two part-time jobs, O’Kieffe worked 60 hours the prior week. On August 6, she’d gone to the E.R. with a 104-degree fever.

    ONIEKA O’KIEFFE: With the lack of sleep and, you know, not enough time to take care of myself, that my immune system was compromised, and I got sick. Everyone tells me that it’s not good for you to, like, overexert yourself to that degree, but, like, the money’s necessary for rent, utilities and things like that.

    PAUL SOLMAN: While more Americans are now employed than before the downturn began, O’Kieffe represents one of the most startling statistics of the post-great recession period: three million more part-time workers who report that they want full-time jobs, but can’t find them.

    The total is up by more than 50 percent since 2007. Why the part-time explosion? Because so many would-be full-timers are competing for the same jobs, and have to take what businesses offer, and, says MIT business Professor Zeynep Ton:

    ZEYNEP TON, MIT Sloan School of Management: The dominant view in business is to see labor as a cost to be minimized and pay employees as little as possible.

    PAUL SOLMAN: So, companies hire part-time, and use the latest computer technology to get maximum efficiency from every part-timer, with scheduling software that programs workers as interchangeable parts.

    ZEYNEP TON: Sometimes, there are lots of customers. Sometimes, there are a few customers. And they can measure this in as short as 15-minute increments now with technology. So their view is: Why don’t we match the number of people that we have as closely as possible to customer traffic?

    That way, when customers are there, we can serve them better and when they’re not there, we don’t have anybody idle, standing around doing nothing.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Makes sense.

    ZEYNEP TON: Makes sense. However, when the mind-set is to see labor as a cost to be minimized, retailers and lots of other companies find themselves in a vicious cycle. And this vicious cycle is downright brutal for employees.

    These are from repetitive strain injuries.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Starbucks barista Liberte Locke is in hand splints, the result, she says, of trying to supplement her 20 scheduled hours the prior week with enough additional shifts to get by.

    LIBERTE LOCKE, Bartista, Starbucks: You never can find it, like, spread out as a regular person would work, you know? It’s — you end up just having to just take what you can. So I did a 12-hour shift one day and then 11 hours the next day, and by the end, both arms were just so cramped up, I could barely close my hands.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Locke, who’s been at Starbucks eight years, says she’s seen the advent of optimal scheduling.

    LIBERTE LOCKE: When I was hired, managers would be fired if they weren’t putting out schedules three weeks in advance, but now it’s every week, and I believe it’s the new automatic system only allows them to do a week in advance. But we’re required to give six months in advance of availability of when we’re available to work.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Moreover, she says, baristas wanting to work at least 32 hours a week have to make themselves available 70 percent of the hours the store is open.

    LIBERTE LOCKE: This store is only closed three hours out of the day. So it makes you have to be available for over 100 hours, in the hopes of getting 32. So it makes it extremely impossible to go to school, impossible to work a second job.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Starbucks’ scheduling practices, and the havoc that they can wreak on workers, were highlighted in a recent New York Times article about San Diego barista Jannette Navarro, a single mother whose life was falling apart, largely because of her erratic work schedule.

    Almost immediately, Starbucks president Cliff Burrows announced a change of policy: “We will work quickly to update to our scheduling software to give store managers greater ability to provide stability and consistency in schedules week-to-week for our partners.”

    But Starbucks is far from the only company using so-called just-in-time scheduling software. And some retailers go a step further, says union representative Janna Pea, with on-call scheduling.

    JANNA PEA, Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union: You have to be available to work, but if they call you and say, we don’t need you, you don’t get paid for making yourself available for what you thought would have been a shift of money. That is the kicker, and that is what’s most unfortunate, on-call along with just-in-time scheduling, because the workers literally have to be available at the snap of the retailer.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Melody Pabon became fed up enough to quit. A cashier at Zara in Midtown Manhattan, she asked not to work weekends, when it was hardest to find affordable child care. So, instead, she was often assigned to close on weeknights, putting her back home in Brooklyn past midnight. Sometimes, she didn’t see her 4-year-old Mason for days.

    MELODY PABON, Former Part-Time Worker: My son is well-mannered for his age, but working those hours, the whining and the crying, like temper tantrums here and there, which that’s something he rarely did. So I was like, you know what? This is actually taking a toll on him as well.

    PAUL SOLMAN: When she asked for further accommodation, she says her hours started to dwindle. So when the store closed for renovation last month and Pabon was given the choice of a transfer or a layoff, she opted for the latter and the relative security of a regular unemployment check.

    MELODY PABON: Am I going to be playing juggling with my money, and work two days a week, three days a week, four days a week not knowing, especially if it’s only maybe a few days in advance? And I have rent to pay. I can’t do that.

    PAUL SOLMAN: The problem, says business Professor Ton, is that, in squeezing employees, companies are shooting themselves in the foot.

    ZEYNEP TON: When you see labor as just a cost to be minimized, the outcome of that is high employee turnover, absenteeism, bad morale, bad customer service, operational problems, low sales, and low profits.

    When sales are low, then labor budgets are reduced, and this vicious cycle continues.

    PAUL SOLMAN: So why do they do it?

    ZEYNEP TON: Excellence is a lot harder to achieve than mediocrity.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Now, no company would speak to us about this. But Mollie Lombardi, a human capital management consultant, says the software itself is not nefarious, because without it:

    MOLLIE LOMBARDI, Workforce Management Analyst, Brandon Hall Group: Managers end up spending a lot of time in the backroom sort of looking at bits and pieces of paper of people’s vacation requests, and looking at delivery schedules, and trying to find the balance between the right number of staff and the right number of slots available in the shift.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But, Lombardi says:

    MOLLIE LOMBARDI: If a manager is told, you need to operate at the least labor cost possible, they may take that to heart a little too literally, and start to schedule down to bare-bones and actually not be delivering the customer experience or the employee experience that the company wants.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Meanwhile, Onieka O’Kieffe did have to work at American Eagle on Sunday, midnight to 6:00 a.m.

    ONIEKA O’KIEFFE: I can’t complain because it’s hours, but I was hoping to have today off.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Then 7:00 a.m. to noon at Crocs, back to American Eagle at midnight on Monday, and on to Crocs for the noon-to-8:00 p.m. shift. And so it went last week, until she’d put in 24 hours at American Eagle, 33.5 at Crocs, 57.5 hours in all.

    ONIEKA O’KIEFFE: It’s been extremely difficult, more so than I imagined. I would like a full-time job, but I realize they’re very few and far between. You got to do what you got to do.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Online, you can find Paul’s extended conversation with MIT’s Zeynep Ton, author of “The Good Jobs Strategy.” That’s on our Making Sense page.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We turn now to another take on today’s economic picture.

    Jeffrey Brown has that story.

    JEFFREY BROWN: For many months now, the number of new jobs created has risen and the jobless rate has fallen substantially, all part of what looks like a slow, but steady recovery.

    But a new study finds that Americans are hardly upbeat; 71 percent say they believe the economy has permanently changed for the worse. And that’s compared to 49 percent who thought so just after the economic crisis had hit.

    Political scientist Cliff Zukin of Rutgers University worked on the survey, and joins us now.

    Welcome to you.

    Well, let’s start with the big picture, this idea that more people feel there’s been permanent damage now than even a few years right after the recovery. They’re more pessimistic now?

    CLIFF ZUKIN, Rutgers University: They’re more pessimistic now.

    I think they’re unhappy and I think they’re anxious. What we found is that the notion that there’s been a permanent change in the economy has grown, not receded, as we have now hit almost five years of continuous growth. And the key to understanding this is, it’s just not showing up in their personal life.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, that’s what I wanted — that’s what I wanted to ask you. What kind of experiences are they pointing to?

    CLIFF ZUKIN: Well, they’re pointing to what they have in savings and salary and things that have changed around them. So they have now — 42 percent say they have less in savings and salary now than they did five years ago.

    And they say that their current economic status for three out of five of them is either fair or poor. And so they have had some diminution of the quality of life. We asked two questions that allow us to try and frame this, whether they have had a major or minor change in the quality of their life and whether it’s been temporary or permanent.

    And we have one-third in the country — so that’s 80 million people — who say there has been a permanent impact or their quality of life, either major or minor. So whatever has happened in the stock market and other indicators is not getting through to Main Street at all. People are struggling, and there’s been no letup really in the last five years.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And did that pessimism cut across both class, ethnic lines, geography, as much as you could tell?

    CLIFF ZUKIN: Yes, absolutely.

    I mean, I think you can call it a generalized sort of malaise and upset. It’s so pervasive that it is not — it doesn’t break by the usual demographics, because it affects pretty much everybody.

    JEFFREY BROWN: There was also a negative portrait of the American worker, by and large, as — as well as unhappy. I mean, that’s one way to just look at it generally.

    CLIFF ZUKIN: Well, one of the things we wanted to do for Labor Day was to take a snapshot of how Americans view the American worker. And so we gave them 12 adjectives and asked them to check off things that they thought fit very well.

    And the lowest was happy at 14 percent. Well-paid came in the next lowest at 18. Two that came in the highest are fearful or insecure in their jobs, and then highly stressed in their work. One of the interesting things was the picture of the American worker is not at all attractive or what we might think. Only 20 percent say that they’re innovative, only 30 percent ambitious. Only a quarter say that they’re well-educated.

    And I think the statistic that surprised us the most out of all of this is just one in three said the American worker is better than workers in other countries.

    JEFFREY BROWN: There was some new Gallup polling suggesting that with wages finally starting to creep up a little bit, that there was some — some new confidence in the economy.

    Did you — did you see any signs of hopefulness?

    CLIFF ZUKIN: Not really.

    I mean, we have the same number as Gallup when you ask workers if they are satisfied with their own jobs. But when the focus is on the economy, the U.S. economy as a whole, only one-third tell us that it’s gotten better in the last year. And only one-quarter thinks it’s going to get better next year. It’s very, very hard to go through the numbers that we went through and find a lot of encouragement or upside.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And let me ask you briefly, finally, you’re a political scientist. Did you see a direct political impact in terms of who people blame for all of this?

    CLIFF ZUKIN: Well, I think they blame partly — for workers, partly just the economy, but they certainly are not enamored with government. We asked them how much confidence they had in Washington’s ability to solve problems. Just 2 percent said a lot. Another 20 percent said some.

    If they had to choose between President Obama or the Republicans in Congress to handle the economy, they said neither of the above at 40 percent. And they don’t think unemployment is going to get better even if the Republicans take both houses of Congress in the fall.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, well, not a pretty picture for this Labor Day.

    Cliff Zukin of Rutgers University, thank you so much.

    CLIFF ZUKIN: Thanks for having me.

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    Anti-government protests in Islamabad

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: To help us better understand what all these developments mean for Pakistan, we are joined by Husain Haqqani. He was Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington from 2008 to 2011. He’s now director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute. His latest book is “Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding.” And Moeed Yusuf is the director of South Asia programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace. He just returned from a trip to Pakistan.

    And we welcome you both to the program.

    Ambassador Haqqani, to you first.

    Prime Minister Sharif has been in office over a year. What is behind all these protests?

    HUSAIN HAQQANI, Hudson Institute: Well, what we have essentially is several characters in the Pakistani play wanting everything according to their script and not willing to compromise.

    The military doesn’t want the civilian government to be able to change policy, especially in relation to India. They also want General Pervez Musharraf to be released without trial for treason, which the civilian government wants.

    Mr. Nawaz Sharif rules more like a monarch, giving critical positions to people close to him by family tie, and so even though he is democratically elected, not really acting like a Democrat. And then we have spoilers like Mr. Imran Khan, who believes he should be prime minister, but, except for a cultlike following, he doesn’t seem to have the strength to win an election.

    It’s a bit like Al Gore coming 14 months after the presidential election and saying, oh, and, by the way, that presidential election was rigged. So I am going to protest in front of the White House and occupy it, occupy it forcibly.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So it sounds like a number of different forces at play.

    Moeed Yusuf, the army is clearly a part of this, and yet they are not overtly leading these protests.

    MOEED YUSUF, United States Institute of Peace: Mm-hmm. They are not, and I don’t think they will.

    This is one moment in Pakistan’s history where an overt coup, nobody is really seriously contemplating that at this point. The military essentially has put the civilian government on the back foot, and they are very much in the mix. People are talking about the possibility of a coup.

    I would say that when you formally ask the military, as the government did, to come in and mediate between two political rivals, you have already given them the front seat, and the soft coup has happened as we speak. And so the military is not going to go any further. They have got what they need.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So is this something, Mr. Ambassador, that’s been building for a long time? Was there something that happened that…

    HUSAIN HAQQANI: Not really.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: … that changed…

    HUSAIN HAQQANI: Not really.

    In fact, there are many people, including the president of Mr. Imran Khan’s party, who say that some people in the military may have given a wink and a nod to orchestrate this, which is very bad for Pakistan. It means an elected prime minister who wins an election with millions of votes can actually be made a virtually ineffective leader with a few thousand people demonstrating against it and holding a sit-in.

    And I agree with Moeed that the military is unlikely to take over. It doesn’t want to take over. But what it has done is, it has done a non-coup coup, meaning not appearing to take power directly, but trying to take over policy. And that is where the confrontation is really coming from.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Moeed Yusuf, where does the — where is the public in all of this. Is the public with the military? Is the public with Mr. Sharif or someone else?

    MOEED YUSUF: It’s a good question.

    I spent about two weeks following this very closely, including being at the protests. And the interesting part is, there are about 70,000, 80,000 people on the streets in Islamabad. That’s neither here nor there for a country of 180 million. The real issue here is that there is a lot of latent sympathy for these protests and the protesters when you talk to people in drawing rooms, on the streets, or when you listen to media.

    But that’s not linked to what these people are asking for, which is election rigging and a reelection. That’s really built around the situation of the country, people thinking that the government hasn’t delivered on governance counts, poverty, et cetera.

    So all of that is being conflated now and people are rallying the crowds to say that, look, things are really bad, we need to get rid of this government. That is where the sympathy is coming from. That is why the government is on the back foot, even though there are only 70,000 people on the street.

    HUSAIN HAQQANI: And there is no evidence that the general public supports the protests.

    I think that there are television channels that actually encourage people, incite them and say, why aren’t you coming out? There are — it looks very orchestrated. It’s not like the whole country has broken down and everybody has decided, we hate this government and should be removed.

    If there is an election held tomorrow, I think the results will still be a mixed parliament compromising different political parties. What is happening is a classic example of intransigent political actors trying to insist that they will get through street protests and a combination of conspiracies what they could not get through an election.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So what would happen then? If you don’t have change of leader, if you don’t have Mr. Sharif out and someone else in, what do you have? Well…

    MOEED YUSUF: Look, what I can tell is, Mr. Sharif is not leaving without a fight. He’s not going anywhere.

    What I can also tell you is people close to Imran Khan tell us that he is not going to give up on this demand for resignation. So what you are looking to — at this point is more violence perhaps, this dragging out, and the military ultimately having to come and blow the whistle and decide who they are going to back, who is going to stay, who is going to go home.

    HUSAIN HAQQANI: Which is what Imran Khan says he has wanted from day one. He has been talking about a third empire coming and making…

    MOEED YUSUF: Although he says that…

    HUSAIN HAQQANI: Well, that is something he has made up later.

    But he definitely has been talking about having the military behind him. And that is not good for Pakistani democracy. The people of Pakistan should be able to elect the government. And if the government doesn’t perform well, they should be able to vote it out at the next election.

    Unfortunately, they’re not being allowed to do that, and that doesn’t augur well either for Pakistani democracy or for stability in Pakistan.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The rest of the world is looking at this, Moeed Yusuf, and among other things, they’re saying, what — how does this affect the region? And especially people in the United States are saying, how does it affect Afghanistan? And Pakistan clearly plays a big role, the Pakistani Taliban.

    What is the effect on what’s going on in Afghanistan, or is there an effect?

    MOEED YUSUF: The very simple effect is that Pakistan and Pakistanis have had no chance for the past two weeks to focus on the real things Pakistan needs to worry about.

    That includes the Pakistani Taliban fighting the Pakistani army. That includes the Afghan situation next door. That includes the relationship with India. That includes all the problems internally. Anything that you look at on the Pakistani television is about the political crisis, which is not moving an inch for the past two weeks.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, where does that leave Pakistan’s relations with the region and with the United States? The United States has said very little about this, we should point out.

    HUSAIN HAQQANI: In limbo.

    And the fact remains that Pakistan has a deep domestic crisis. One-third of school-going-age children do not go to school. Its economy is a shambles. It depends largely on foreign assistance. Its relationship with India is something that needs to be settled.

    And its future in relation to Afghanistan is also something the Pakistani government needs to pay attention to. But if, every few months, or if every time a civilian government is elected, there will be orchestrated protests, with the help of the media, as well as behind-the-scenes manipulation by the military, Pakistan will not find the stability that it needs to focus on those problems.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But just very quickly, both of you see this continuing for some time before it’s resolved?

    MOEED YUSUF: I do. I don’t see anything that is going to end this very, very quickly, in a day or two. I don’t see — see that happening.

    HUSAIN HAQQANI: And I don’t see it ending in a good solution or outcome.

    MOEED YUSUF: True.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, on that sobering note, former Ambassador Husain Haqqani, Moeed Yusuf, we thank you both.

    MOEED YUSUF: Pleasure.

    The post What’s going on in Pakistan? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The recent unrest in Pakistan escalated again today, as protesters temporarily took control of state broadcasting facilities.

    We have a report narrated by Jonathan Sparks of Independent Television News.

    JOHN SPARKS: The battle raged on Constitutional Avenue today, police and protesters moving back and forth, seizing ground in Pakistan’s capital, then ceding it.

    Here, the police take flight, pursued by thousands of demonstrators carrying sticks and stones and slingshots. The trouble broke out on Saturday when they tried to storm the residence of the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif. He’s accused of electoral fraud, and the protesters want him out, a sense of crisis amplified by Pakistan’s energetic news channels.

    And one station found itself in the firing line today. The state broadcaster, Pakistan TV, was overrun by 300-odd protesters. They marched into the transmission room and cut the wires, taking two channels off the air.

    MAN: Protesters have managed to barge their way into PTV headquarters, and they have even made their way into some of the newsrooms, and they’re armed with sticks and batons. And the important thing is that we remain calm right now. There’s no reason to panic at this stage.

    JOHN SPARKS: The situation was diffused by the army, a sign of their strength. Soldiers walked into the station and asked the protesters to go.

    This afternoon, the leaders of the protests tried to distance themselves from the raid. Former cricketer Imran Khan said he was sorry if any of his followers were involved, while the cleric Tahir-ul Qadri assured the nation it had nothing to do with him.

    Both men command thousands of supporters, but that’s not enough to sweep the government from power. They need the military’s help to force Nawaz Sharif to resign. The country’s all-powerful army chief, Raheel Sharif, has sounded diplomatic so far, but relations with the prime minister, who he met with this afternoon, are thought to be tense, the army unhappy with a number of government policies. They don’t want closer relations with India or the prosecution of former Army Chief Pervez Musharraf.

    And as the crisis continues, they may exact a heavy price.

    The post Unrest in Pakistan drives protesters to take over state TV network appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Talks aimed at restoring peace in Ukraine opened today, with Ukraine, Russia and Ukrainian rebels taking part.

    The gathering in Belarus played out against the backdrop of battlefield gains by the rebels.

    And as Matt Frei of Independent Television News reports, the parties on the ground seem to be bracing for more conflict, despite the new dialogue.

    MATT FREI: The first day back at school in Ukraine, always a big deal, but especially here in the embattled east of the country, where defiance is measured in the size of bows, and where the war on their doorstep is dismissed like an unruly classmate.

    MYKHAILO SUKHAREV: We can see that Donetsk is totally destroyed. And we, the children of Ukraine, we do not want to see our native town destroyed. We want to live in peace, and we want to say to all other children in world that we really want to have a peaceful life like you have.

    MATT FREI: First day back at school here too. In recent years, the army had been an afterthought. But these fresh-faced recruits are likely to see action on the country’s new eastern front, in a war that at best is a civil conflict and at worst a regional one.

    The assumption since the end of the Cold War, that conflict in Europe was well-nigh impossible, has evaporated in heat of a Ukrainian summer.

    A tired-looking President Poroshenko today didn’t mince his words.

    PRESIDENT PETRO POROSHENKO, Ukraine (through interpreter): Direct and open aggression has been launched against Ukraine from a neighboring state. This has changed the situation in the zone of conflict in a radical way and raises new and more difficult questions for our security forces. We are thoroughly analyzing the events of the last week. Conclusions will be serious.

    MATT FREI: These are the pro-Russian rebels tooled up allegedly by Russia for another attempt to take back Donetsk Airport in the military ping-pong that has defined this limited, but increasingly vicious war.

    The big question this week is whether Russia itself is now getting more openly involved, something which Moscow continues to deny, but which the rest of Europe and America increasingly believe.

    The Ukrainians use this as evidence, on the horizon, a Ukrainian naval patrol boat and then an explosion. Was it Russian artillery, as Kiev claims, or an airstrike? We don’t know, but this is what it looked like up close and personal, the naval vessel ablaze, seven crew members injured, two missing.

    The ghosts of European history are knocking on the door in what looks at times like a grim reenactment of Europe’s grimmest past. Here, Ukrainian prisoners of war were paraded in front of pro-Russian civilians, exposed to anti-Ukrainian anger. There are thought to be 700 prisoners of war now. And treatment like this is against the Geneva Convention.

    We don’t know the number on the other side, but we do know that the civilian population in the pro-Russian areas is increasingly becoming prisoner to Ukrainian artillery. The cellars of Donetsk have become bomb shelters. A year ago, such scenes would have been dismissed as outlandish fantasy. Now they are becoming the new normal.

    The post Despite Ukraine peace talks, military tensions escalate appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: At the meeting in Minsk today, the rebels softened their demand for outright independence. Instead, they offered to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty in exchange for a measure of autonomy.

    For more on today’s developments, I talked a short while ago with Fred Weir of The Christian Science Monitor, reporting in Moscow.

    Fred Weir, thank you very much for talking with us.

    Before I ask you about the diplomacy, give us an update on the situation on the ground. Does one side or another now have — clearly have the upper hand?

    FRED WEIR, The Christian Science Monitor: Well, yes, it has shifted back and forth over the past several months.

    But it appears that the Ukrainian armed forces overextended themselves. They surrounded the two rebel capitals. And the rebels did give up a lot of territory. Turns out they were kind of enticing the Ukrainians into a trap. And they appear to have encircled several concentrations of Ukrainian forces.

    They have apparently taken 700 prisoners just in the last few days. So, at the moment, in that area — that is the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk — the rebels clearly have the upper hand. They are on the offensive, and Kiev forces are retreating. It doesn’t mean that they’re going to march on Kiev any time soon, but they certainly seem to have reversed their fortunes. And they may now be in a very, very strong position to bargain for some kind of autonomy or even independence.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And that’s what I wanted to ask you about, because it appears that they have changed their position somewhat. Instead of asking for complete independence, if looks as if they’re asking for something else.

    What’s your understanding of what the rebels are asking for in these talks going on in Belarus?

    FRED WEIR: Well, it’s very likely that they are synchronizing their position with Moscow.

    I think that it’s — it is basically Vladimir Putin who is deciding what the endgame is here. And he doesn’t want to invade Ukraine or annex Eastern Ukraine or anything like that.

    And so the rebels now in these semi-official talks that are going on in Belarus, in Minsk, have dropped their demand for full independence and are saying that they would settle for some kind of sweeping autonomy, which would give them control over the language they use, the right to elect their own leaders, to appoint their own armed law enforcement officials, and, more crucially, to make their own economic arrangements, which means that they would be able to continue dealing with Russia across the border, regardless of Moscow’s relations with Kiev.

    As I say, they’re winning on the battlefield now. It does look like there won’t be any military solution, which was plan A in Kiev, to liberate this territory and restore Kiev. Kiev’s — their — that doesn’t look set to happen, so probably negotiations are the only way out.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And how does what they’re asking for, the rebels, square with what the government of Ukraine is prepared to do?

    FRED WEIR: Well, you know, if we could separate ourselves from the passions we all feel about what’s going on there, it isn’t that hard, I think, to see that Ukraine could accept Moscow’s conditions.

    I don’t mean that they would like to be dictated to by Moscow, but Moscow’s conditions are basically, Ukraine must be nonaligned, never join NATO. Two, the Russian language should have official status in Ukraine, particularly in Eastern Ukraine, and, third, that there is this sweeping autonomy for the eastern provinces.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

    FRED WEIR: Those are not that hard to live with.

    It would be some kind of status like, say, Finland had during the Cold War or something, which is what Moscow, I think, sees as the endgame.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So is the thinking that there could be an accommodation here?

    FRED WEIR: Well, if neither side can actually win on the battlefield, then what is the alternative? They can’t go on bleeding themselves the way they are.

    Ukraine’s economy is imploding. There has to be — this has to break somehow. And if ever there was an opening for diplomacy and for some kind of compromise to settle this thing, I think that would probably be now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Fred Weir with “The Christian Science Monitor,” reporting in Moscow, we thank you.

    FRED WEIR: Thank you.

    The post Why negotiations are likely ‘the only way out’ of Ukraine crisis appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Our next report looks at an innovative summer school program here in the U.S. designed to motivate its students to apply for college.

    Special correspondent Terry Rubin reports from Minnesota.

    TERRY RUBIN: It’s the middle of the summer in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and these sixth, seventh and eighth graders are hopscotching their way into school. These students are not taking summer school because they have to, but because they want to.

    Instead of going to a classroom, they go for a rousing game of dodgeball.

    MAN: The final point.

    TERRY RUBIN: This unusual start to a day is actually quite normal for a program called Breakthrough, an eight-hour-a-day, five-day-a-week summer enrichment program for middle schoolers and soon-to-be high school freshmen. They take courses in math, English, science, and social studies, and say they have fun doing it, especially when music cues them to dance from class to class.

    Breakthrough is a unique summer program, with the sole focus of showing low-income, under-resourced middle school students how to get to college.

    Mikisha Nation is the executive director of Twin Cities Breakthrough.

    MIKISHA NATION, Executive Director, Breakthrough Twin Cities: Breakthrough’s mission, at its core, it’s about two really important issues. The first is preparing under-resourced students for college success, and the second is engaging and inspiring the next generation of educators. And we do this through a unique model of students teaching students.

    TERRY RUBIN: Nation says it is this idea of students teaching students that has led to Breakthrough’s success in getting these middle schoolers to believe they can go to college.

    Breakthrough executive directors around the country say there are two elements that make this program unique: It implants the idea of attending college while students are young and impressionable, and it shows them what they have to do for the next six years to get there.

    Jeff Ochs has been connected to Twin Cities Breakthrough for more than 10 years. He says they make sure students are on the right track from the beginning.

    JEFF OCHS, Former Executive Director, Breakthrough Twin Cities: The first thing that we do is, we really work to make sure that these students are in honors courses during their school year. What we want to make sure is that inside those schools, they’re in the courses that are preparing them the best for college and so, you know, that not only are they getting academic support, but they’re also in a culture, a college-going culture with their peer group that’s really going to support them on that journey.

    TERRY RUBIN: The middle schoolers say the learning experience itself is different.

    Dynasty Anderson is in her first year at Breakthrough.

    DYNASTY ANDERSON, Breakthrough Student: They, like, teach in a different way. They just don’t, like, stand in front of the class and say, oh, you’re going to do this, this and this, like regular school. They give you options, and they ask do we have any questions in between almost everything they say, instead of, like school, we have to wait until the end, and we might forget our questions.

    TERRY RUBIN: Another difference, according to soon-to-be high schooler Becky Stark, homework is called Booyah.

    BECKY STARK, Student: A lot of people associate homework with boring, not fun, and just something you have to do that just takes up your time. But like here, it’s — every time someone says Booyah, you have to respond with Booyah. Like, you have to repeat it. And it just keeps the energy up, and it makes everyone feel welcome and together.

    TERRY RUBIN: In the Twin Cities, 100 percent of the students who attended the middle school summer program in addition to the weekend enrichment sessions throughout high school are attending college this fall.

    Thirteen-year-old Luciano Munoz is back for a second year and says Breakthrough has made him a better student.

    LUCIANO MUNOZ, Breakthrough Student: When I was in sixth grade, well, they didn’t really give us grades, but I’m pretty sure I might have had C’s. And when I came back from Breakthrough, I started getting A’s and B’s during seventh grade.

    TERRY RUBIN: Site director Ben Bauer cited studies that show, without the support or guidance of programs like Breakthrough, 85 percent of students like these are not likely to attend college.

    BEN BAUER, Site Director, Breakthrough Twin Cities: Even those kids who are high-achieving and highly motivated in elementary, going into middle school can drop off.

    And a lot of that is because it’s not the norm, it’s not cool to like learning. And kids want to fit in, at that age especially, and liking learning and being smart isn’t fitting in. We want to create a place where they are fitting in. And, especially in the middle school years, that’s really powerful.

    TERRY RUBIN: Neesha Moore says her peers were surprised she was already talking about college in middle school.

    NEESHA MOORE, Breakthrough Student: My friends, it was a surprise to them. They were like, why are you looking at colleges and stuff?  We’re in seventh grade. And I was like, it doesn’t really matter. It’s never too early to start, because we learned that here at Breakthrough.

    TERRY RUBIN: Students must apply to get into this program. This summer, Breakthrough served more than 4,000 students nationwide, although, at various sites, they turned away anywhere from 40 to 60 percent of applicants, based on a lack of funding or lack of facilities.

    Twin Cities Breakthrough became one of the few cities to have multiple facilities, as they have partnered with Minneapolis and Saint Paul public schools, opening up two more sites in low-income neighborhoods. Still, the program could only accept 150 out of more than 400 applicants.

    Nationally, Breakthrough leaders say it costs on average more than $2,500 per student to run the six-week program. Their funding comes from corporate sponsors, grants, and individual donations. To create this distinct culture, Breakthrough directors award about 800 hands-on teaching fellowships at 27 sites across the country each year.

    They say the fellows are the key to the program’s success. College junior Denise Quintanilla was a Breakthrough student, and is now teaching science. Hanan Farah is entering her senior year of high school and is teaching social studies this summer. Both these teaching fellows say the system works because they relate to the kids.

    DENISE QUINTANILLA, Breakthrough Teacher: It’s just understanding how they work and how you work, because you’re not too far apart in age, which is really nice. And you’re also able to build a relationship that is based on friendship as well, and you’re a role model to them. So you have a very beautiful connection with them because you’re their teacher, but their friend and role model as well.

    HANAN FARAH, Breakthrough Teacher: They know that you’re going through the same thing, that you have homework, and that you have classes you need to get to in the morning. We wake up at the same time during the school year. That’s why students can really relate to us.

    TERRY RUBIN: Daniel Bernal used to be a teaching fellow, and now is a full-time teacher in Saint Paul public schools. He trains the current crop of young educators.

    DANIEL BERNAL, Former Breakthrough Teacher: One of the reasons that our teachers are so successful at Breakthrough being teachers is because of the support that they get from the staff and from the coaches like me, who work with them to make sure every lesson is high-quality, every lesson is going to work for their students, is going to be engaging.

    It’s interesting because we get a lot of college students who think, oh, I would love to do something fun in the summer, something academic, something with kids, and they have never thought of teaching before. They find out about Breakthrough, and it’s just infectious, in a good way.

    TERRY RUBIN: More than 70 percent of the Twin Cities Breakthrough teaching fellows ultimately choose a career in education. Ben Bauer is one of those. He has spent five years with Breakthrough.

    BEN BAUER: When I got this opportunity, one thing that really stuck out was just being with kids, and actually getting that hands-on experience, and not even just kids in general, but the specific Breakthrough students. I fell in love with the students we have here, and it made me want to go teach in a low-income school, and that’s something that wasn’t even on my radar before.

    TERRY RUBIN: While the executive director is looking for ways to expand and reach more kids, teaching fellows say they end each day the same way they started, showing these middle schoolers the path to college, with a little dancing.

    The post Summer school motivates college dreams for middle school students appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Super Bowl XLVIII Seattle Seahawks v Denver Broncos

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The football season is just getting under way, with huge interest, big bucks, and lots of questions.

    Jeffrey is back with our look at how football relates to our culture.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It’s by far the most popular sport in America, but football also continues to garner headlines beyond the sports page, for its violence and health risks from concussions and for cases of domestic abuse by players.

    Last week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced a tougher policy to deal with players involved in such cases. Just this weekend, there was another case, as San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald was arrested for domestic violence against his fiancee.

    What to make of this sport that has such a grip on American culture? Well, the new book “Why Football Matters: My Education in the Game” is one response. Its author, University of Virginia Professor Mark Edmundson, joins me now.

    Football, as a kind of training ground — you started this as a personal thing — a training ground for you.

    MARK EDMUNDSON, Author, “Why Football Matters: My Education in the Game”: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Teaches you when you’re knocked down to get up.

    MARK EDMUNDSON: Knocked down, to get up.

    I mean, I think there is a lot of truth in what the coaches say, that it can help you develop courage, it can help you develop loyalty, it can help you develop character.

    But there’s a downside to all those things. There’s a dark side to the game. And some of what my book is about is trying to let the better stuff come through and make people more away of the dark side, so they can be a little vigilant about it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And the better stuff starts with your own experience.

    MARK EDMUNDSON: Yes. Yes.

    I was in pretty rough shape when I was a junior in high school. My family was in very, very rough condition. My sister just died. My father was taking it hard. My mother was very close to breaking down. And, you know, we needed something. And I’m not saying football saved my life or anything, but it was darn helpful to have someplace to go where I could try to improve, try to get better at.

    I didn’t care much about school. But football gave me some focus and gave me some attention and really helped me to develop at a time when I didn’t have much else going on for me.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So part of the book is about your own personal experience and then you get big, football as our national pastime…

    MARK EDMUNDSON: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: … but also signifying a country that is a more warlike country now, right?

    MARK EDMUNDSON: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Has it changed from when we were — when baseball was the pastime…

    MARK EDMUNDSON: Well, you have hit it. That is the Mary McGrory quote. You know, baseball is what we were; football is what we have become.

    And what is that? You know, a country more perhaps willing to own to its own warlike nature. And that’s a little bit distressing. At the same time, you know, the preparation to be a soldier, the preparation to be brave, that can be valuable for a young man or a young woman. There is a lot of paradox involved in football at this point.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So the kind of headlines that I was referring to, the domestic violence, do you see things like that as part of the culture or the breeding ground of the game?

    I mean, how do you…

    MARK EDMUNDSON: I think there’s — you know, Plato talked about this quality thumos, spiritedness, passion, intensity. And he valued it, but he saw that it really needed to be educated.

    And when you send people out in the field and say hit as hard as you can, block as hard as you can, they are going to develop a strong dose of spiritedness. And you have got to help them to understand that there is an on the field and an off the field, and it’s not easy.

    But there’s a good side to it. Spirited people are the sorts of people who, outside of football, they get things done. They write books and they start businesses and they teach school and they become physicians. And so you are getting a really important quality into play, this thymotic thing, this spirited thing. But it’s also really dangerous.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So do you see the culture inside football trying to address things like that? And the larger culture, looking in at it, does it — is there a chance of people turning away from that violent culture?

    MARK EDMUNDSON: I think it’s a tough one, you know?

    I think that progress is getting made. There’s more thoughts about — you see the headlines about domestic violence. You see the NFL taking some steps. There’s a lot more thoughts about concussions and how to deal with those and how to limit them.

    I think the NFL could probably go further, though I’m no policy — no policy expert. But, at the same time, you do see people sit down on Sunday afternoon and watch other people do extraordinary deeds and watch those people be very brave in certain ways that can be moving to everyday people.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What about the argument — and here I’m thinking about high schools.

    MARK EDMUNDSON: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: When I have talked on the program here to people about the crisis in public education…

    MARK EDMUNDSON: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And I’m thinking in particular of the book called “Smartest Kids in the World,” where she was — Amanda Ripley was comparing high schools around the world, and where kids do better in high schools where in most cases there’s not much emphasis on sports.

    So, one argument is, we need less sports in high school, not more.

    MARK EDMUNDSON: Yes, right.

    Well, you know, it may be that you can develop your intelligence better isolated from sports. But we’re not just human intelligence, right? We’re more than intelligence. We’re also that spirited part. And you have got to develop that too and help wake it up and then help channel it. And that’s what sports does. I would like to see a little more dialogue between sports and the academic life or the intellectual life, but I wouldn’t want to lose the sports part.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes, but that — that is both sides of your life, huh?

    (LAUGHTER)

    JEFFREY BROWN: Because you are an English literature professor…

    MARK EDMUNDSON: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: … writing a book about football and about your past playing in high school.

    MARK EDMUNDSON: Yes, that is both sides of my life.

    And, you know, I continue, and I owe it really a great debt of gratitude the fact that I can still get out there and exercise and have a good time. I play basketball three or four times a week, or, as I tell people — they say, did you go play basketball? I say, the other nine guys did.

    (LAUGHTER)

    MARK EDMUNDSON: But that’s part of — that’s part of the legacy of having trained my body a little bit and seeing what benefits can come from it when I was very young. It stuck with me. And I’m grateful for it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right.

    The new book is “Why Football Matters: My Education in the Game”

    Mark Edmundson, thank you so much.

    MARK EDMUNDSON: Thank you.

    The post Football’s grip on America is a double-edged sword appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The Morning Line

    Today in the Morning Line:

    • We get you ready for the post-Labor Day sprint
    • The GOP is favored this fall
    • Democrats’ path to holding a narrow majority
    • Obama to Estonia to reassure Eastern bloc allies

    The scales tip toward Republicans: Welcome to the campaign. Post-Labor Day, the table is set for what is on pace to be the most expensive midterm in history. It could lead to a Republican majority in both the House and Senate for the last two years of President Barack Obama’s time in office. So why do Republicans have the advantage starting out? First, with primary season all but wrapped up — Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island hold the last primaries next Tuesday — Republicans have done all they can structurally to prevent problematic candidates from emerging, unlike in years past. But most importantly, it’s where these races are taking place — largely in conservative-leaning states. In fact, of the 12 states with competitive Senate races that are likely to decide the outcome of control of the Senate, Republican Mitt Romney won nine of them in the 2012 presidential election by an average of 16 points. And that’s in a year when Republicans lost the Electoral College by 126 votes. (Republicans need to net six states seats to wrest control.) What’s more, if you add in the three states won by President Obama, Republicans still have an 11-point advantage. Democrats are defending more states — 10 of the 12 are seats held by Democrats. And the two Democratic targets are in states Romney won by an average of 15 points. Plus, the demographics of who shows up in midterm elections favor Republicans. The electorate in midterms is generally whiter, older, more likely to be married and have better paying jobs.

    election-results-2012-2014

    Why Democrats can still win: Republicans are only favored, though, to win between four and eight seats. And Democrats still have a chance of retaining the Senate. But how can that be with the fundamentals described above and a president with among his lowest approval ratings, and even lower in these 12 states on average? Because candidates matter. Incumbents traditionally have an advantage because voters in those states have already elected them statewide, giving them natural bases — and fundraising networks and turnout operations — to get 50 percent. What’s more, the candidates Democrats have in some of these red states are legacy candidates. In other words, not only are they personally well known, their families are too. The Landrieus, Pryors, Begiches, and Udalls are near political royalty in their respective states. But will their personal dynasties pay the dividends needed this fall and be enough to overcome the national environment? It could be for some but not for others. How many survive could be the difference between a Democratic and Republican Senate for the last two years of Obama’s presidency.

    The $4 billion campaign: Steve Austin’s mouth would hit the floor. For those of you more familiar with him as a wrestler than a 1970s TV character, he was the $6 Million Man. Even in 2014 terms — his limbs would be worth $29 million in today’s dollars — that would pale in comparison to the money flooding politics. Get this: the AP reports that $1 billion has already been spent on campaign ads, and “Before it’s all over, the bill for the first midterm election since both Democrats and Republicans embraced a historic change in campaign finance is likely to grow to $4 billion or more.” Almost a quarter of that money could likely be untraceable. So-called “dark money,” dollars spent by groups that don’t have to disclose its donors, has already hit $50 million, but is projected to get close to $1 billion and surpass the record set in the 2012 presidential election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    Impact of wealthy donors: The Washington Post’s Matea Gold reports that wealthy donors have embraced their newfound freedom to give more than the previous limit of $123,200 to federal candidates and party committees wiped away earlier this year by the Supreme Court’s ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. “Together, 310 donors gave a combined $11.6 million more by this summer than would have been allowed before the ruling. Their contributions favored Republican candidates and committees over Democratic ones by 2 to 1,” Gold writes. This one quote from a big GOP donor popped out from Gold’s story: “You have to realize, when you start contributing to all these guys, they give you access to meet them and talk about your issues,” Andrew Sabin, the owner of a precious metals refining business, told the Post.

    Obama heads overseas: The only time President Obama will be seen in public Tuesday is his departure from Washington on his way to Estonia to reassure Baltic allies that the U.S. will stand with them even as Putin flexes his muscle in Ukraine. “Part of the reason I’ll be going to Estonia is to let the Estonians know that we mean what we say with respect to our treaty obligations,” Obama said last week. The AP’s Julie Pace filed this curtain-raiser on the president’s trip, which will include a meeting with the leaders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on Wednesday before departing for this week’s NATO summit in Wales. The sessions Thursday will include Afghanistan and Ukraine. The president will also hold a press conference on Friday before returning to the U.S.

    Immigration delay? President Obama promised to unveil immigration executive action by the end of the summer if Congress didn’t act. Labor Day came and went with no executive action. Yes, summer technically doesn’t end until Sept. 22nd, but President Obama on Thursday hinted that he might delay action even further. Remember, we noted Thursday that because of the terrain this midterm is being played on, any action by the president on immigration could serve to only fire up the conservative base and further imperil Democrats’ chances of holding the Senate. With an internal White House conflict on what to do about immigration given Democrats’ chances this fall, don’t be surprised if the decision is, in fact, punted until after the midterms. The president already seemed to be hanging it on the lower number of unaccompanied minors coming across the border in the last few months. “We’re seeing a significant downward trend in terms of these unaccompanied children,” President Obama said in his news conference Thursday. “And what that, I think, allows us to do is to make sure that those kids are being taken care of properly with due process.” The tie to the unaccompanied children seemed to come out of left field, especially considering this border crisis was never the real reason for weighing action.

    Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1944, future president George H.W. Bush, while serving as a Navy pilot during World War II, took out a Japanese radio tower before his plane was hit and he was forced to eject. What rank did Bush achieve in the U.S. Navy? Be the first to Tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to Carole Ann Kronberg (@Marsh_Owl) for guessing Thursday’s trivia: What reason did John Hinckley give for shooting President Reagan? The answer was: to impress actress Jodie Foster.

    LINE ITEMS

    • Starting Tuesday, Justice Department officials will try to prove that the 2011 Texas voter ID law discriminates against blacks and hispanics. If the DOJ is successful, it would put oversight of the Lone Star state’s voting laws back into the hands of the federal government for the first time since the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act last year.

    • The administration has freed just one low-level prisoner from Guantanamo Bay this year, raising doubts, the New York Times reports, about whether Mr. Obama will be able to close the prison before he leaves office, which was a campaign promise.

    • Mr. Obama officially notified Congress of last week’s airstrikes and humanitarian aid drops in Iraq.

    • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was a prime target at this weekend’s Americans for Prosperity summit in Dallas.

    • Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes seizes on the release of Senate Minoity Leader Mitch McConnell’s recorded speech before the Koch brothers, but she’s also out with a positive biographical spot.

    • McConnell hits back against Grimes’ attack ads and on the alleged misuse of campaign funds for her campaign bus.

    • New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s new ad criticizes Republican Scott Brown for false attack ads and touts her loyalty to the Granite State.

    • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is out with an ad slamming New York Rep. Michael Grimm on his multiple criminal charges.

    • North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis and Sen. Kay Hagan will debate for the first time Wednesday. The debate will be moderated by CBS’s Norah O’Donnell.

    • In Alaska’s gubernatorial race, Democrat Byron Mallet and Republican Bill Walker are joining forces on the Independent Party line to take on GOP Gov. Sean Parnell.

    • The jury in the public corruption trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife is expected to begin deliberations Tuesday.

    • There are fewer women poised to take over governors’ mansions than originally projected. In the past decade, they’ve held nine governorships twice, but now only hold five now and are expected to pick up only one or two more.

    • The closest Senate races this year are the ones where candidates are furthest apart ideologically, according to the New York Times political rating system.

    • Recently defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor will serve as a vice chairman and member of the board of investment firm Moelis & Co., for which he will open a Washington office. The Financial Times reports that he’s receiving a $1.4 million sign-on bonus and at least $2 million in annual pay.

    • A federal judge in Louisiana temporarily blocked a new abortion law that would require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

    • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is trying to build up his foreign policy chops, traveling to Mexico this week to prove he’s ready for the international stage. So far, however, his foreign policy has emphasized “the personal projection of authority,” with little substance.

    • An image depicting Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg as the Dos Equis man was tweeted from Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s personal account Sunday. The photoshopped meme pokes fun at the DA’s drunk driving arrest, for which Perry tried to have Lehmberg removed from her position.

    • Congress is very unpopular nowadays, but they weren’t always seen in such a bad light.

    • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.

    TOP TWEETS

    For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

    Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.

    Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Terence Burlij at tburlij-at-newshour-dot-org.

    Follow the politics team on Twitter:

    The post Why Republicans have the advantage this fall appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Undated handout image courtesy of the U.S. Air Force shows a MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft. Image courtesy of Reuters/Air Force/Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt/Handout

    Undated handout image courtesy of the U.S. Air Force shows a MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft. The Pentagon said that U.S. military forces targeted the al-Shabab network Monday in a drone operation. Image courtesy of Reuters/Air Force/Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt/Handout

    WASHINGTON — U.S. military forces targeted the Islamic extremist al-Shabab network in an operation Monday in Somalia, the Pentagon said.

    Spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said the U.S. was assessing the results and would provide more information when appropriate. No further details were available.

    A senior Somali intelligence official said a U.S. drone targeted al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane as he left a meeting of the group’s top leaders.

    The Somali official, speaking on condition of anonymity since the official was not authorized to speak to the media, said intelligence indicated Godane “might have been killed along with other militants.”

    The official said the attack took place in a forest near Sablale district, 105 miles (170 kilometers) south of Mogadishu, where the group trains its fighters.

    The governor of Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region, Abdiqadir Mohamed Nor, told The Associated Press that as government and African Union forces were heading to a town in Sablale district, they heard something that sounded like an “earthquake” as drones struck al-Shabab bases.

    “There was an airstrike near Sablale, we saw something,” Nor said.

    The U.S. action comes after Somalia’s government forces regained control of a high-security prison in the capital that was attacked Sunday by seven heavily armed suspected Islamic militants who attempted to free other extremists held there. The Pentagon statement did not indicate whether the U.S. action was related to the prison attack.

    Somali officials said all attackers, three government soldiers and two civilians were killed. Mogadishu’s Godka Jilacow prison is an interrogation center for Somalia’s intelligence agency, and many suspected militants are believed to be held in underground cells there.

    The Somali rebel group al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the attack that shattered a period of calm in Mogadishu after two decades of chaotic violence. The attack started when a suicide car bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle at the gate of the prison, followed by gunmen who fought their way into the prison.

    It was al-Shabab gunmen who attacked the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, with guns and grenades last September, killing at least 67 people. Al-Shabab had threatened retaliation against Kenya for sending troops into Somalia against the extremists. Godane said the attack was carried out in retaliation for the West’s support for Kenya’s Somalia invasion and the “interest of their oil companies.”


    Associated Press writer Abdi Guled in Mogadishu, Somalia, contributed to this report.

    The post U.S. targeted drone strikes at al-Shabab leader appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Obama spoke in Estonia on Wednesday, underscoring U.S. commitment to Nato and addressing threats from Islamic State militants. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

    President Obama spoke in Estonia on Wednesday, underscoring U.S. commitment to NATO and addressing threats from Islamic State militants. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

    TALLINN, Estonia — President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the United States will not be intimidated by Islamic State militants after the beheading of a second American journalist and will build a coalition to “degrade and destroy” the group.

    Obama still did not give a timeline for deciding on a strategy to go after the extremist group’s operations in Syria. “It’s going to take time for us to be able to roll them back,” the president said at a news conference during a visit to Europe.

    The president’s comments came after he said the United States had verified the authenticity of a video released Tuesday showing the beheading of freelance reporter Steven Sotloff, two weeks after journalist James Foley was similarly killed.

    Obama vowed the U.S. would not forget the “terrible crime against these two fine young men.”

    “We will not be intimidated. Their horrific acts only unite us as a country and stiffen our resolve to take the fight against these terrorists,” Obama said.“We will not be intimidated. Their horrific acts only unite us as a country and stiffen our resolve to take the fight against these terrorists,” Obama said. “And those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget, and that our reach is long and that justice will be served.”

    Separately, Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement: “Barbarity, sadly, isn’t new to our world. Neither is evil.”

    “We’ve taken the fight to it before, and we’re taking the fight to it today,” Kerry said. “When terrorists anywhere around the world have murdered our citizens, the United States held them accountable, no matter how long it took. And those who have murdered James Foley and Steven Sotloff in Syria should know that the United States will hold them accountable too, no matter how long it takes.”

    Obama also sought to clean up the damage from his statement last week that “we don’t have a strategy yet” for dealing with the Islamic State group in Syria. Republicans quickly seized on the remark to argue the president lacks a coherent approach to fighting the extremist group.

    “It is very important from my perspective that when we send our pilots in to do a job, that we know that this is a mission that’s going to work, that we’re very clear on what our objectives are, what our targets are,” Obama said. “We’ve made the case to Congress and we’ve made the case to the American people, and we’ve got allies behind us so that it’s not just a one-off, but it’s something that over time is going to be effective.”

    In the Sotloff video, a masked militant warns Obama that as long as U.S. airstrikes against the militant group continue, “our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.”

    Obama responded that the airstrikes have been effective in blunting the militant threat and he will continue to battle the “barbaric and ultimately empty vision” that the Islamic State represents. He said he will be consulting with NATO allies at a summit in Wales Thursday and Friday on a strategy to combat the Islamic State and other militant networks that arise.

    “Our objective is clear, and that is to degrade and destroy ISIL so that it’s no longer a threat — not just to Iraq, but also the region and to the United States,” he said, using an acronym for the militant group.

    Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, appearing alongside Obama, expressed solidarity in the fight. “We see ISIS as a serious threat to all of us, and stand together with the United States and our allies on this issue,” Ilves said, using an alternative name for the group.

    Sotloff, a 31-year-old Miami-area native who freelanced for Time and Foreign Policy magazines, vanished a year ago in Syria and was not seen again until he appeared in the video that showed Foley’s beheading. Dressed in an orange jumpsuit against an arid Syrian landscape, Sotloff was threatened in that video with death unless the U.S. stopped airstrikes on the Islamic State.

    In the video distributed Tuesday and titled “A Second Message to America,” Sotloff appears in a similar jumpsuit before he is apparently beheaded by a fighter with the Islamic State, the extremist group that has conquered wide swaths of territory across Syria and Iraq and declared itself a caliphate.

    British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told the BBC Wednesday that the masked, British-accented jihadist appears to be the same person shown in the Foley footage. In the video, the organization threatens to kill another hostage, this one identified as a British citizen.

    Last week, Sotloff’s mother, Shirley Sotloff, pleaded with his captors for mercy, saying in a video that her son was “an innocent journalist” and “an honorable man” who “has always tried to help the weak.”

    Obama said the prayers of the American people are with the family of the “devoted and courageous journalist” who deeply loved the Islamic world and whose “life stood in stark contrast to those who have murdered him so brutally.”

    “His killers try to claim that they defend the oppressed, but it was Steven who traveled across the Middle East, risking his life to tell the story of Muslim men and women demanding justice and dignity,” Obama said. “Whatever these murderers think they’ll achieve by killing innocent Americans like Steven, they have already failed. They have failed because, like people around the world, Americans are repulsed by their barbarism.”

    State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday that it is believed that “a few” Americans are still being held by the Islamic State. Psaki would not give any specifics, but one is a 26-year-old woman who was kidnapped while doing humanitarian aid work in Syria, according to a family representative who asked that the hostage not be identified out of fear for her safety.

    The post Beheadings won’t intimidate U.S., Obama says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Enrollment Specialist Horacio Castaneda, left, helps Rosa Ayala Cruz, right, apply for health benefits at the Denver Health Westside Family Health Center on Oct. 1, 2013 in Denver. Photo by Chris Schneider/Getty Images

    Enrollment Specialist Horacio Castaneda, left, helps Rosa Ayala Cruz, right, apply for health benefits at the Denver Health Westside Family Health Center on Oct. 1, 2013 in Denver. Photo by Chris Schneider/Getty Images

    DEARBORN, Mich.–Signing people up for health insurance is the easy part of Rawha Abouarabi’s job ministering to immigrants and Arab Americans in this manufacturing hub along the Rouge River.

    But many of those she’s enrolled are surprised and indignant when they go to the doctor and are asked to a pay a bill— perhaps a copayment. They insist they’ve already paid their monthly insurance premium.

    “They call us and say, ‘it’s a scam’,” says Abouarabi, an insurance navigator for the Arab Community Center for Economic & Social Services (ACCESS), a nonprofit agency that specializes in helping the largest Arab-American population in any U.S. city.

    That’s just one example of the confusion immigrants face as they try to navigate the U.S. health care system. Even after signing up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act, advocates find that explaining to clients that they will still have to pay out of their own pockets each time they go to the doctor or get lab tests requires more than translating words like “premium” and “deductible” for non-English speakers.

    “This whole concept of insurance doesn’t exist in the Eastern world,” said Madiha Tariq, public health manager for ACCESS. “People are always confused about the health care system when they come to this country.” “This whole concept of insurance doesn’t exist in the Eastern world,” said Madiha Tariq, public health manager for ACCESS. “People are always confused about the health care system when they come to this country.”

    Problems like this are arising all over the country where Latino, Asian and other immigrant populations face cultural as well as language barriers.

    Non-citizens are three times more likely to be uninsured than U.S.-born residents, according to the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. As many as 10 million non-citizens living legally in the U.S. are expected to gain health insurance through the Affordable Care Act although it’s unclear how many have gained coverage so far.

    Mandate Covers Legal Immigrants

    Many of these immigrants are getting insurance because the ACA requires them to do so just as it does for U.S. citizens and because it may be affordable for the first time. Like citizens, legal immigrants can use the law’s online exchanges to sign up for coverage and find out if they are eligible for government subsidies. They also face a tax penalty if they don’t sign up.

    Immigrants who are not in the country legally, however, are barred from using the exchanges and aren’t required to have coverage.

    ACCESS clients typically hail from places such as Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, Bangladesh and Syria. Besides training navigators and helping clients enroll, the center offers primary care services, cancer screenings and various public health awareness workshops in the community.

    Some of them are not easy to convince that they should enroll in health coverage.

    “Iraqis don’t believe in insurance,” said Hasanain Al Ani, a case manager at ACCESS and a refugee from Iraq, who says people from his country are accustomed to government-sponsored health care. “…They don’t know about it [health insurance] and they don’t want to know about it.”

    Tariq said another challenge has been helping clients understand how access to doctors works in the U.S.

    “In their country, the wait time depends on socioeconomic status … the lower the status, the longer the wait time,” she said.

    Barra K., 27, who didn’t wish to be identified by her full name, came to Dearborn as a refugee from Baghdad in February and developed a severe sore throat. She was shocked at the prices for the medication, let alone what it costs to see the doctor as someone without health insurance.

    “Here I have to pay $70 to see a doctor, but in Iraq I only have to pay $15 and do not have to wait as long,” she said.

    She couldn’t afford the doctor or the medication so she had to wait the illness out. She does not qualify for full Medicaid services because she hasn’t been in the country for five years, but Michigan’s Medicaid program does give her access to some limited emergency services.

    Cultural Issues Can Be Barrier To Care

    But toughing it out is harder for people with chronic diseases, which are a big problem among ACCESS clients who suffer from diabetes, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease and, oftentimes among refugees, depression.

    Cultural barriers also make it difficult to get some clients to come in for care.

    “We have ladies who have never had a mammogram,” Tariq said. “Cancer is stigmatized in the Arab culture. [Women] were scared no one would marry their daughters if others found out they were diagnosed.” That’s because people worry the cancer is hereditary and can be passed down from mother to daughter.

    To persuade women to come in for mammograms, Tariq said, ACCESS has an unmarked door that allows them to slip in and out of the testing area without being identified. ACCESS also distributes a special pamphlet for Arab American women, explaining the importance of mammograms and how to examine themselves. It also pairs women diagnosed with cancer with survivors who can help them navigate the system and give them support. Public health workshops have also helped get others to come in regularly for testing and physicals.

    ACCESS also helps people with chronic illness navigate how to pay for their care.

    “As a diabetic I was walking on eggshells,” said Najwa Dahdah, 48, as she talked about paying for the insulin she needed to manage her diabetes.

    She had had insurance but after getting diagnosed with diabetes while she was pregnant with her third child in 2005, her premium skyrocketed from $400 a month to almost $900 a month. She canceled the policy and started paying for doctors’ appointments out of pocket. She clipped manufacturer coupons and constantly asked her doctors for insulin samples to help her manage her ailment.

    But since signing up again under the health law, which prohibits charging higher premiums to those with health issues, Dadah and her husband receive $430 in subsidies toward their monthly insurance premium, while her children qualify for Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for the poor.

    The premium “is now $133 for both my husband and I through Blue Care Network,” Dahdah said. “It’s a blessing.”


    Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

    The post First-time health care enrollees often don’t understand how coverage works appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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