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

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    Syrian Kurds walk by Turkish soliders after crossing into Turkey near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province, on September 19, 2014. Several thousand Syrian Kurds began crossing into Turkey on Friday fleeing Islamic State fighters who advanced into their villages, prompting warnings of massacres from Kurdish leaders. AFP PHOTO/ILYAS AKENGIN (Photo credit should read ILYAS AKENGIN/AFP/Getty Images)

    Dozens of Syrian Kurds walk on Friday near Suruc, a southeastern province in Turkey. Thousands of Syrian Kurds began crossing into Turkey on Friday after Islamic State fighters attacked their villages in northern Syria. Credit: Ilyas Akengin/AFP/Getty Images

    Thousands of Syrian Kurds have fled to Turkey since Friday after Islamic State fighters attacked dozens of villages, and are said to be planning attacks on a north Syrian border town, according to a Reuters report.

    About 60,000 residents have left their homes as Islamic State fighters moved closer to the town of Kobani. The Islamic State group was said to be within six miles of the town on Saturday.

    The Islamic State has killed at least 11 Kurdish civilians in the villages it has invaded near Kobani, with more than 300 Kurdish fighters having crossed into Syria from Turkey late Friday to help deter the jihadists, according to Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

    “Islamic State sees Kobani like a lump in the body,” Abdulrahman told Reuters. “They think it is in their way.”

    Kurdish forces have evacuated at least 100 villages since the attacks began on Tuesday, with the region’s Kurds fearing a massacre in Kobani.

    A farmer who crossed into Turkey said the Islamic State attacked his village, Celebi, with heavy weapons as Kurdish forces attempted to fight them off with light arms, Reuters reported.

    “Clashes started in the morning and we fled by car,” said farmer Lokman Isa in an interview with Reuters. “We were 30 families in total.”

    As of Saturday night, officials said thousands more were still waiting to cross the border into Turkey.

    The post Thousands of Syrian Kurds flee to Turkey after Islamic State attacks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    2009-04-12_The_Home_Depot_in_Knightdale

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Turning now to yet another major security breach at one of America’s largest retailers — this time, at Home Depot. What went wrong? And why can’t hackers be stopped?

    For more, we are joined now by Mike Riley. He is a reporter with Bloomberg. So, we’ve heard reports about this hack weeks ago – what happened at Home Depot?

    MICHAEL RILEY: So, it wasn’t different than what happened at Target. Basically the hackers got into the network, and were able to use Home Depot’s own system to put malware on each of the registers.

    So basically when you went to Home Depot, swiped the card, they were stealing the card almost as quickly as Home Depot was getting it.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: After seeing what happened to Target, I mean, this is a company that almost has $80 billion of revenue, 2,000 plus stores in the U.S. — didn’t they learn from it?

    MICHAEL RILEY: Yeah, I mean, that’s the thing. It’s one thing to be Target and watch this relatively kind of new attack; it’s another thing to be Home Depot, watch Target get taking down, watch them lose 40,000 credit cards, not learn or at least not learn enough to act quickly so that doesn’t happen to you.

    And I — retails generally don’t have great security, and Home Depot did seem to take the steps quickly anyway. In one case, they, they bought an encryption system to encrypt the data from the register, so even if the hackers had stolen it, but they just didn’t install it until about six, seven days ago.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Well, compared this to the rest of the world, we don’t necessarily hear about these hacking things happen, let’s say, in Europe or Asia nearly as much.

    MICHAEL RILEY: Yeah, the differences that Europe and Asia just about any advance economy use a credit card with a chip in it. The funny thing about the chip — it doesn’t make it harder to steal the data, it makes hard, harder to make money from the data.

    Basically, what the chip in the card does — what the ecosystem works is you steal the credit card, you sell them to people, they buy the card, create the fake card, going to Best Buy to buy a giant TV, whatever it is.

    But it’s much harder to, to create a fake card if it’s got a chip in it. So, anything that’s got a chip on it just makes it harder for thieves to make the money off the data.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, this is also a climate, where the consumers are getting a little fed up. Just saying, where did my credit card get used and what was that store that got hacked and how do I keep track of all this.

    MICHAEL RILEY: It’s just one hack after the next. I think it’s, it’s, I mean, I think one of the things I saw in Target is it was Christmas season hack and customers stopped going to the store.

    Now I don’t know if that’s gonna happen to Home Depot, maybe that the… they handle it differently, maybe that, that it’s just a different kind of customer. But I think generally retail brands are taking hits because they, they’re not protecting consumers’ data.

    They basically, something that…. you walk in to store, you buy something, you expect the store to protect your data — that clearly isn’t happening.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Now this also seems to be we are in a, a different point of the evolution of how we transact business. I mean, credit cards kinda came around, say “hey, it’s so much more secure than walking around with a big buzz of cash,” and now the cards seem to be getting replaced by our phones, with NFC and other technology, maybe the Apple Pay thing.

    I mean, how quickly is the U.S. kind of moving towards the digital currencies or maybe even just putting those chips in the cards.

    MICHAEL RILEY: So, next year basically, the U.S. is scheduled to start to catch up with the rest of the world, and transition into, basically, a chip system in their credit cards.

    The banks and the retailers have gotten together and said, look, we’re gonna set October next year, 2015, as the deadline where the liability will shift whichever side of the, the equation doesn’t allow the chip transaction.

    So if the retailers don’t have the readers in their stores that can read the chips and they get hacked, liability is on them; if banks don’t put chips in their cards and retailers get hacked, the liability is on them. It’s.. It’s gonna quit a lot of incentives to shift over, uh, and that could explain what is going on now.

    There seems to be kind of Feeding Frenze. You’re seeing a lot of retail hacks — might be that they see this as their last opportunity before the transition starts in the place.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And in the process, you’ve got the people that are victims of identity theft, which is kind of the worse case, not just the credit card lost.

    MICHAEL RILEY: Right. It’s not the… the credit card numbers are not the only data these guys are stealing. In the case of Target, for example, they take a lot of personal data as well: names. addresses, a lot of things these retailers store up.

    Target is really good at targeting specific kinds of sales and merchandising as to their customers, but all that is based on a huge amount of data they collect from their customers as they move around the stores, as they swipe their cards, as they send them stuff.

    You know, all of that is in their databases, so the hackers can, even if they can’t get the cards, they can steal that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Alright, Michael Riley at Bloomberg. Thanks so much.

    The post ‘One hack after the next’: After Home Depot breach, why can’t hackers be stopped? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Green Bay Packers v Seattle Seahawks

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell once again fell on a sword late yesterday afternoon when he told reporters that his response to the Ray Rice incident had been inadequate. In the meantime, the league is coming under increasing pressure from advertisers to crack down on criminal behavior among its players.

    For the latest we’re joined by Kevin Clark, he’s a sports reporter with The Wall Street Journal. A Friday afternoon press conference that often gets buried in the news cycle. What was the most newsworthy thing – they created another commission?

    KEVIN CLARK: The most newsworthy thing is there was no news. He came out and sort of had the crisis management playbook, he had a committee that he was ready to form, he had launched an investigation previously – sort of hid behind that, so I can’t answer specific questions there’s an investigation going on.

    He came out with not a lot of specifics. He was prepared to say the right things about ‘it starts with me and I’m to blame’ but he didn’t have anything real and tangible that people can point to and say here’s what he’s doing to address these problems.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: At the same time there was a pretty significant report ESPN detailing how the Baltimore Ravens organization knew about what happened inside that elevator hours after it happened, how they obfuscated the investigation even by the NFL.

    KEVIN CLARK: What this does, it takes the scandal and broadens it to levels we didn’t even imagine. Initially this was a Ray Rice, Roger Goodell scandal, now it involves the NFL club, it involves owner Steve Bisciotti, owner Dick Cass, the president of the Ravens.

    Apparently he had some conversations with the lawyer that came off pretty poorly in that story. So, now you’ve basically got three entities in that story, the league office on Park Avenue, the Baltimore Ravens, and Ray Rice, and they’re all looking quite bad right now. It’s going to be amazing to see the fallout from this. Now it’s almost like a league-wide scandal at this point.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Speaking of fallout, what is the momentum, where is that momentum among sponsors, who actually have a pretty enormous influence on what happens to not just these specific incidents but in the NFL in general.

    KEVIN CLARK: As we speak right now, the NFL doesn’t have much to worry about. There are kind of rock solid deals with these sponsors. They’re not going to pull out. They can’t get 17 million eyeballs on a random Sunday with anything else. They can’t invest that in basketball or hockey, the viewers just aren’t there. They’re going to wait until the last possible second.

    Did Goodell order a cover up? Did he see that newly emerged video tape? That’s the sort of thing they’re going to want to know. Rob Mueller, the ex FBI chief is investigating. They’re probably going to wait for the results of that. See if Goodell had some really tangible, awful things that he did and then they’ll pull it.

    I don’t feel like they’re going to pull it just because of social media pressure, or whether it’s hurting the brand to be associated with it, because that’s short term. These deals are six to seven-year deals worth over a billion dollars in a lot of cases. They’re going to wait and see.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: A lot of these owners, especially even the two that are helping with the investigation have profited handsomely under the Goodell years.

    KEVIN CLARK: Yeah. It’s a $9 billion a year business. Franchise values are at an all-time high. One thing that helped Goodell was last week the Buffalo Bills’ mid-tier market, mid-tier team sold for $1.4 billion.

    That helps Roger Goodell because if you’re in San Diego, you’re in Oakland, you don’t have one of the marquee teams, and you’re saying whatever happens, happens, I’m still going to get $1.4, $1.5 billion out of this deal.

    So, they like Roger Goodell. Do they think he’s worth $44 million, which is his most recent salary, I don’t know. But they don’t want to find out. They don’t want to experiment and find out that he was the glue that was holding it all together.

    They’re going to take the wait-and-see approach just like the advertisers, because so much is at stake. They’re not going to do it based off social media, or external pressures.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Is there any evidence that merchandise sales are declining at stadiums, or in stores because of this?

    KEVIN CLARK: No and the most recent Sunday ratings were either stagnant, or up from last year. They didn’t dip at all.

    The Sunday night game last week was up eight percent from the year before. So, there really is no evidence hurting the league on the field. Fantasy football, office pools, and getting together with your friends, those are the reasons people like football, and those haven’t been affected throughout this whole thing.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Alright, Kevin Clark, reporter from The Wall Street Journal, who covers football, thanks so much.

    The post How will the NFL move forward following the Ray Rice scandal? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    At 2.5 billion light years away, the galaxy Andromeda, our galaxy's largest beighbor is set to collide into the Milky Way in 5 billion years. Credit:  GALEX, JPL-Caltech, NASA.

    At 2.5 billion light-years away, the galaxy Andromeda, our galaxy’s largest neighbor, is set to collide and absorb The Milky Way in 5 billion years. Credit: GALEX, JPL-Caltech, NASA

    Large galaxies absorb smaller ones in order to survive in the universe, according to a new study recently published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

    “All galaxies start off small and grow by collecting gas and quite efficiently turning it into stars,” Dr. Aaron Robotham, lead researcher, said according to the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research.

    “Then every now and then they get completely cannibalized by some much larger galaxy,” he said.

    Astronomers looked at the behaviors of more than 22,000 galaxies from data collected by the Anglo-Australian Telescope in New South Wales as part of the Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) survey.

    Larger galaxies have difficulty creating stars. One theory why, according to Robotham, is that the nucleus heats up the galaxy’s gas so much that it is unable to cool down to create stars. Although star production slows, gravity increases for larger galaxies, making it easier for them to pull in smaller, neighboring galaxies.

    Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is set for collision with neighboring Andromeda in 5 billion years. Our largest neighbor at 2.5 million light-years away, Andromeda, is expected to swallow us up after collision.

    Data on colliding galaxies, as well as information on the developmental stages of galaxies, have been captured by The Hubble Space Telescope, which launched in 1990.

    In October 2018, the James Webb Space Telescope, Hubble’s tennis-court sized successor, will launch.

    With longer wavelengths, Webb will not only be able to look further back in time at the early universe’s first galaxies, but it will be able to peek inside dust clouds and send information about planetary systems being formed today.

    The post Study: Large galaxies swallow up smaller ones to survive appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Screen shot 2014-09-20 at 6.43.07 PM

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: By a two-to-one margin, Americans disapprove of the way the NFL has handled domestic violence incidents involving its players, this according to a poll conducted by ABC News and Marist college.

    Earlier this week the NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs team asked high school students for their reactions to the Ray Rice incident and others like it, they also asked if professional athletes should be considered role models.

    VICTORIA DAVILA: When I saw that video of Ray Rice, I actually, somebody sent me the video and I watched it and I think the right word was like appalled.

    MAXWELL PIUS: My reaction when I saw Ray Rice lay his hands on his fiancée it was shocking.

    THOMAS WILKERSON:  Being an athlete, we look up to these guys and unfortunately the role they play it puts a huge target on them to be good role models.

    You know not only on and off the field, kind of makes you wonder you know are these guys that are being put in the spotlight worth being looking up to.

    KAYCEE ARASE: No matter who you are, I think any type of violence, anything that a regular person should do, you should also get punished no matter if you’re the president of the United States, if you’re a quarterback for the NFL, if you’re a kid like us, there are consequences to whatever you do.

    MARIYAH ESPINOZA: Unfortunately society gives the impression that athletes do need to be role models, however, this does become tricky for athletes because they need to learn how to balance their personal life from their sports life.

    RAMY AHMED: Professional athletes definitely have an obligation to act as role models if you are playing on every Sunday on national television and people watch you then they begin to look up to you.

    And whether you like it, or not you have to act like a role model.

    DONETHE CYPRIEN: At the end of the day they’re not the ones who interact with your children. It’s you, it’s teachers, it’s everyone else so sort of putting the blame on the public figures, maybe people should look at themselves first.

    The post Should pro athletes be considered role models? Students weigh in. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    I lived in Budapest, Hungary for two years and never spent more than a few hours in Miskolc, the country’s third largest city just a two-hour drive from the capital.

    But unlike Budapest, which has been flourishing with a rising population, music festivals and “ruin pubs,” Miskolc hasn’t weathered the democratic transition nearly as well.

    Once at the center of Hungary’s industrial sector, Miskolc’s population has been shrinking since the 1989 democratic transition. Its factory doors closed, and today the city’s unemployment rate well outpaces the national average.

    industrial

    The city of Miskolc, Hungary, which was once at the center of the country’s industrial sector, now has an unemployment rate that well outpaces the national average. Credit: Asia Der/NewsHour

    This summer, I returned to Hungary to report on the country’s growing tension with its Gypsy, or Roma, community, which makes up anywhere from five to 10 percent of the overall population. Before leaving the U.S., I spoke to Roma advocacy groups and human rights organizations. All said Miskolc was the place to go.

    Around 25,000 Roma people live in Miskolc, mostly in Roma-majority neighborhoods, and their situation is currently in peril.

    The city plans to demolish more than a dozen of these neighborhoods, citing high crime and poor sanitation. And instead of replacing the housing, the city will compensate evicted tenants on the condition they purchase a new home outside the city limits.

    neighborhood

    A group of Roma whose neighborhood is slated for demolition gather outside of a neighbor’s home. Credit: Asia Der/NewsHour

    We interviewed city and community leaders, but our most critical stop was in one of the Roma neighborhoods slated for demolition. I’d prepared myself for something like the photos I’d seen of slums like Ferentari in Bucharest, Romania. But instead the breezy, tree-lined streets were a welcome break from the summer heat. The low houses were freshly painted, courtyards swept, kids chucked water balloons and rode bikes. It was hard to imagine this community as an epicenter of crime.

    nagybyhouse

    Jozsefne Nagy, 55, a Roma, stands next to her home she was evicted from in August. Her door had been nailed shut by local officials. Credit: Asia Der/NewsHour

    We met a 55-year-old grandmother, Jozsefne Nagy, who grew up in Miskolc, worked an industrial job, and like most of Miskolc’s Roma, is now unemployed. She was evicted in August and showed us where the door had been nailed shut.

    Peeking inside through a broken window, we could see the wallpaper she’d put up in her modest home. She showed us a newspaper photo of her belongings being hauled outside.

    newspaper

    A newspaper photo from August shows workers removing Nagy’s belongings from her home. Credit: Asia Der/NewsHour

    “There were so many policemen you couldn’t move,” Nagy said. “They just kept saying: ‘Out! Out!’ I repeatedly told them we don’t have any debts, but they just kept repeating themselves.”

    stephentranslator

    NewsHour Weekend Producer Stephen Fee interviews Nagy with an interpreter in Miskolc. Credit: Asia Der/NewsHour

    Nagy’s neighbor sat beside my translator and me listening to our conversation. Later she told us her children had been terrified when the eviction began. “Are we next?” they asked. She had no idea what to tell her kids.

    I sat at a picnic table with a few residents who talked about their own uncertainties. Neighboring communities had already signed petitions saying Miskolc’s displaced residents wouldn’t be welcome in those towns.

    picnictable

    NewsHour Weekend Producer Stephen Fee talks with Roma citizens in Nagy’s neighborhood who say they are uncertain whether they, too, will be evicted from their homes. Credit: Asia Der/NewsHour

    “The goal wasn’t to evict those who don’t pay, but to evict Gypsies,” Nagy said.

    City leaders, though, weren’t the villains they’d been made out to be.

    In fact, the deputy mayor was downright wonky. He showed us schematics and crime data, and explained this wasn’t about ethnicity but about demolishing an impoverished slum. It’s about providing a better future, he said, for a city that’s had a turbulent 25-year transition. He seemed offended at the suggestion that demolishing the neighborhood was about getting rid of the city’s Roma.

    But with more than half of Hungarians believing that criminality is in Roma blood, political analysts we spoke to say it’s hard not to see the city’s policy as political pandering.

    This autumn, the city’s center-right government faces a serious challenge from the country’s upstart far-right party, Jobbik, which has built its reputation on anti-Roma sentiment. And the left-wing mayoral candidate, a former police chief, was suspended from his duties after disparaging the city’s Roma minority. Gabor Varadi, a Roma community leader in Miskolc, told me the Roma have no political allies.

    jobbik

    A still from a campaign video shows Hungary’s upstart far-right party, Jobbik, which has built its reputation on anti-Roma sentiment.

    Hungary is at a turning point. Prime Minister Viktor Orban says he wants to abandon liberal democracy, preferring an ‘illiberal state’ akin to Turkey or Russia. The government has tightened its control over the press and state finances — political opposition has withered. A Harvard study in February pointed to increasing discrimination against not just Roma but other ethnic minorities, too.

    How Hungary handles the situation in Miskolc — and its integration issues nationwide — is a crucial test of the country as an inclusive democracy. And the global community will be watching.

    Watch the full report from Hungary from NewsHour Weekend’s Stephen Fee below.

    The post Fearing eviction, Hungary’s Roma wonder ‘are we next?’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — The United States’ ambassador to the United Nations says other nations are pledging support for the fight against Islamic State group militants.

    But Ambassador Samantha Power on Sunday would not name those countries or detail their level of involvement.

    She says more than 40 countries have spoken in support of the campaign against Islamic State group fighters, and they will announce their own plans in their own time.

    French forces last week joined combat missions. Saudi Arabia has offered to help train moderate anti-Islamic State group fighters.

    Power spoke on Sunday morning programs as the U.N. General Assembly prepared a week of high-level meetings, many of them about the growing militants’ threat in Iraq and Syria.

    President Barack Obama is heading to New York to lead some sessions.

    The post UN Ambassador: Other countries support fight against Islamic State appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — The man accused of getting inside the White House after scaling a fence is a veteran who was awarded a medal for his service in Iraq and retired due to disability, the Army said Sunday.

    Authorities have identified the intruder from Friday night’s shocking incident as Omar J. Gonzalez, 42, of Copperas Cove, Texas, and the Army said he had served from 1997 to 2003, when he was discharged, and then again from 2005 to December 2012, when he retired.

    The military does not provide details about a soldier’s disability due to privacy considerations.

    The Secret Service tightened security outside the White House after the embarrassing breach in which the intruder carrying a knife climbed the fence, ran across the lawn and entered the building before agents stopped him.

    The first family was away from the White House at the time.

    Increased surveillance and more officer patrols are among the measures that Secret Service Director Julia Pierson ordered. She also began an investigation into what went wrong.

    A member of the House Homeland Security Committee said Sunday that it was astonishing, at a time of concerns about terrorist attacks, that “someone could actually get into the White House without being stopped.”

    Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said the intrusion was “absolutely inexcusable” and he expected congressional hearings into the incident at one of the world’s most heavily secured buildings.

    “This demands a full investigation, an investigation as to what happened, why it happened and what’s being done to make sure it never happens again,” he told “Fox News Sunday.”

    Officials first said the fact that the man appeared to be unarmed may have been a factor in why agents at the scene didn’t shoot or have their dogs pursue him before he made it inside.

    But a criminal complaint issued late Friday revealed Gonzalez had a small folding knife with a 3 1/2-inch serrated blade with him at the time of his arrest.

    At a hearing late Saturday afternoon in D.C. Superior Court, the assistant public defender representing Gonzalez said Gonzalez had no convictions or arrest warrants and had tested negative Saturday for drug use, according to The Washington Post.

    “This is someone who has provided service to his country and shown commitment in his life,” said the lawyer, Margarita O’Donnell, as she tried unsuccessfully to get Gonzalez released.

    Gonzalez was expected to appear in federal court Monday to face charges of unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon.

    According to a criminal complaint, Gonzalez told Secret Service agents after his arrest that he was “concerned that the atmosphere was collapsing” and needed to contact the president “so he could get word out to the people.”

    The Army said Gonzalez enlisted in July 1997 and was assigned to the 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, at Fort Hood, Texas. At the time, he listed his home as Puerto Rico.

    He was discharged in September 2003 after completing his service obligation.

    Gonzalez enlisted a second time, in July 2005, and served until his retirement in late 2012.

    During this period, he was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, and the 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at Ford Hood.

    Gonzalez served in Iraq from October 2006 to January 2008, according to the Army.

    Obama and his daughters had just left the White House by helicopter Friday evening when the intruder hopped the fence.

    The intruder ran toward the presidential residence unimpeded, ignoring orders from officers to stop, until being tackled just inside the doors of the North Portico – the grand, columned entrance overlooking Pennsylvania Ave.

    “Every day the Secret Service is challenged to ensure security at the White House complex while still allowing public accessibility to a national historical site,” the agency said in a statement Saturday. “Although last night the officers showed tremendous restraint and discipline in dealing with this subject, the location of Gonzalez’s arrest is not acceptable.”

    With questions mounting, President Barack Obama tried to allay concerns about whether the Secret Service is still up to the task of protecting him and his family.

    “The president has full confidence in the Secret Service and is grateful to the men and women who day in and day out protect himself, his family and the White House,” White House spokesman Frank Benenati said late Saturday.

    The Secret Service said its Office of Professional Responsibility was carrying out the review.

    The breach triggered a rare evacuation of much of the White House. Secret Service agents drew their weapons as they hurried White House staffers and journalists out of the West Wing through a side door.

    Less than 24 hours after Gonzalez’s arrest, a second man was apprehended after he drove up to a White House gate and refused to leave, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said, prompting bomb technicians in full gear to search the vehicle as agents briefly shut down nearby streets.

    There were no indications the two incidents were connected. But they only intensified the scrutiny of the Secret Service, which is struggling to rehabilitate its image following a series of allegations of misconduct by agents in recent years, including agents on Obama’s detail.

    The post Army: White House fence jumper is decorated veteran appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Rhinos - v2 - 05_16_14 - 440p

    Rhinos at Kruger National Park in South Africa. Credit: NewsHour Weekend

    Conservationists across the globe are marking World Rhino Day on Monday, a day focused on five species of rhino, including black, white and Sumatran rhinos.

    First announced by WWF-South Africa in 2010, the event aims to “unite NGOs, zoos, cause-related organizations, businesses and concerned individuals” around Rhino conservation, according to the World Rhino Day website.

    NewsHour Weekend reported in May on whether cross-border cooperation between South Africa and neighboring Mozambique could save the endangered rhino. You can watch the video in full in the player above.

    The Kruger National Park in South Africa is enormous — as big as the state of New Jersey — and is home to the largest population of rhinos on the planet. At Kruger Park, rhinos are being poached at an alarming rate for their horns.

    At the park last year, 606 rhinos were killed for their horns. As of May, 2014 the figure stood at 235.

    “Animal populations are disappearing at an alarming rate,” Matt Lewis, a senior program officer in African species with the World Wildlife Fund’s Wildlife Conservation Program told NewsHour in April.

    “Protecting species contributes to a thriving, healthy planet for people’s health and well-being from forests that slow climate change and filter water to oceans that provide more than one-sixth of the world’s food.”

    Related:

    International ad campaigns aim to reduce rhino horn demand

    Nine lesser-known species that are in danger 

    The post Activists celebrate World Rhino Day across the globe appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — A suspenseful election night is one thing, but what if it stretches out for a month? Or into next year?

    A handful of tight races in states with quirky election laws make for the headache-inducing possibility that Election Day will come and go without deciding which party controls the Senate.

    If that happens, brace for a fierce runoff election and possible recounts that could make for an ugly holiday season in politics and government.

    The main reason for uncertainty: Louisiana’s election laws. Strategists in both parties say a Dec. 6 runoff is likely because Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu and top Republican challenger Bill Cassidy will struggle to exceed 50 percent on the crowded Nov. 4 ballot.

    In Louisiana’s “jungle primary,” all candidates – regardless of party – run in November. If none exceeds 50 percent, the top two finishers head into a Dec. 6 runoff.

    It’s not implausible that control of the Senate could hang on a Louisiana runoff.

    Republicans need six more seats to claim a 51-49 Senate majority. A 50-50 split would let Vice President Joe Biden break tie votes and keep Democrats in charge.

    Republicans are strongly favored to win three races where Democratic senators are retiring: West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana.

    Their best hopes to pick up three more seats are in the four contests where Democrats seek re-election in states President Barack Obama lost: Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina.

    Republicans are also making strong bids in Iowa, Colorado and New Hampshire, which Obama carried.

    If Republicans win two of those races, plus the three where they are heavily favored, then all eyes and lots of campaign money would turn to Louisiana if there’s a runoff.

    “And I don’t think there’s any chance we don’t go into a runoff in Louisiana,” said Brian Walsh, a Republican adviser in Senate races.

    A major GOP campaign group has reserved $4 million in Louisiana TV air time after Nov. 4, anticipating battling Landrieu through Dec. 6.

    Waiting for a make-or-break Louisiana outcome would deeply affect the postelection congressional session scheduled to start Nov. 12. Congress must appropriate money in November to keep the government running, and it may revisit the president’s continued authority to arm Syrian rebels, among other things.

    If Republicans think they will control the Senate in the new Congress set to convene Jan. 3, they may want to limit action in the Democratic-controlled lame-duck session. It’s almost certain that Republicans will retain their House majority.

    Georgia’s Senate race could have an even messier outcome than Louisiana’s. GOP nominee David Perdue is thought to have a modest lead over Democrat Michelle Nunn in the race to succeed retiring Republican Saxby Chambliss.

    But there’s a Libertarian on the ballot, who might win enough votes to keep Perdue and Nunn from reaching 50 percent. That would trigger a runoff Jan. 6, three days after the new Congress’ scheduled start.

    It requires a lot of “ifs.” But a scenario in which Republicans entered the new Congress with a 50-49 Senate majority, while awaiting a Georgia outcome that could soon return them to the minority, would further roil an already bitterly partisan government.

    If nothing else, “it would make for a bad Christmas for everyone,” said GOP strategist Ron Bonjean.

    A recount of a Georgia runoff result, should there be one, would extend confusion even deeper into 2015. A candidate may request a recount if the margin is less than 1 percent of all votes cast.

    Alaska presents another possibility for an inconclusive Nov. 4 Senate election. Alaska traditionally counts only about two-thirds of its total vote on election night. State law postpones counting most absentee and questioned ballots until a week after the election.

    Twice in the past six year, a Senate winner in Alaska wasn’t declared until at least two weeks after Election Day. This year, the state features one of the nation’s tightest races. First-term Democratic Sen. Mark Begich faces Republican Dan Sullivan. Obama lost Alaska by 14 percentage points.

    Of all the high-stakes “what if” possibilities, campaign professionals see a Dec. 6 Louisiana runoff as the most likely. Landrieu has scrapped to win three Senate terms, but the state has trended Republican in recent years.

    “If Louisiana is the deciding seat, pity anyone watching television in the state that month,” said Matt Bennett, who has advised several Democratic candidates. “They will be blitzed with more ads, from campaigns and outside groups, than they could possibly imagine.”

    Generally, Republicans fare better in runoffs because their supporters tend to vote regardless of the date, weather or levels of publicity.

    But an intensive, well-targeted get-out-the-vote operation could save Landrieu, Bennett said, “and the Democrats clearly dominate in the technology and coordination of their ground campaigns.”

    Follow Charles Babington on Twitter.

    The post Who wins Senate control? Nov. 4 may not decide appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Science Stands created a large, rolling chalbroard illustrating the scientific evidence behind climate change. Credit: Carey Reed/NewsHour Weekend

    Science Stands created a large, rolling fake chalkboard illustrating the scientific evidence of global warming for the Sept. 21 People’s Climate March. Credit: Carey Reed/NewsHourWeekend

    NEW YORK — Thousands descended on New York City on Sunday in support of People’s Climate March, an event organizers are calling the largest march of its kind in history.

    An estimated 310,000 people braved the day’s damp and sticky conditions, and came from states around the country in advance of the U.N. Climate Summit, which begins on Sept. 23.

    Protestors amassed along the march route in New York City on Sept. 21. Credit: Carey Reed/NewsHourWeekend

    Protestors amassed along the march route in New York City on Sept. 21. Credit: Carey Reed/NewsHourWeekend

    Marching alongside members of groups like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace were former Vice President, Al Gore and U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon.

    “I will link arms with those marching for climate action. We stand with them on the right side of this key issue for our common future,” said Ki-moon in a Sept. 16 press conference.

    Actors Leonardo di Caprio and Mark Ruffalo were also among the marchers.

     

    “This is not an ideological issue, it’s a scientific one,” said Peter Frumhoff, the director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a group based in Cambridge, Mass., that made up one of the more than 1,000 co-sponsors of the march.

    The idea for the NYC event began with Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, who wrote “A Call to Arms: An Invitation to Demand Action on Climate Change” for Rolling Stone. The article was an invitation for people to come to New York and demand action to fight global warming from the world leaders who would attend the UN Climate Summit. 350.org and AVAAZ were the lead organizers of the event.

    On Sunday, similar climate events took place in more than 150 countries, including England, Australia and Brazil.

    In New York, a burst of cheering followed a moment of silence at 12:58 p.m. as a way to sound the alarm on issues related to climate change.

    Credit: Carey Reed/NewsHour Weekend

    Protestors gathered along the march route. Credit: Carey Reed/NewsHour Weekend

    Organizers designed the march’s route around a specific narrative, arranged into communities affected by climate change in the front, groups representing climate change solutions in the middle, and groups illustrating debate over the evidence of climate change at the end.

    One of the organizers who planned the route was Monica Hunken, of the Public Space Party!, who had been working with other art groups in the Mayday art space in Bushwick, Brooklyn to lay out the solutions section.

    Hunken was in charge of the bike bloc, a group of cyclists who chose to ride rather than walk. The group constructed float platforms pulled by bicycles and organized pedicabs to carry senior citizens, including members of the group “New York City’s Metro Raging Grannies.”

    Elsewhere among the crowd, Karen Dragon, Greta Camuso and Mercedes Orphan, who came from New Hampshire, were giving out free hugs.

    Other marchers included members of Science Stands, a group of scientists standing up for climate science, who built a large, rolling chalkboard on which they illustrated the rise of temperatures and sea levels over time, which many consider to be scientific proof of global warming.

    “I’m amazed that it’s here and looks so good,” said Thomas Gallagher, one of the chalkboard’s designers who lives in Brooklyn. 

    Credit: Carey Reed/NewsHour Weekend

    Christine Doerr of Columbia, Mo. hula-hooped while waiting for the march to begin. Credit: Carey Reed/NewsHour Weekend

    Christine Doerr, from Columbia, Mo., who was dressed as Charlie Chaplin and hula-hooped while waiting for the march to begin, boarded a bus specifically chartered by People’s Climate March on Friday. She said she attended the march because her daughter is studying environmental science at Stanford.

    “These children need a chance,” Doerr said. “They need an earth to fulfill dreams, a healthy earth.”

    The post Thousands come out for People’s Climate March in New York City appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    MavenMars

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Later tonight the NASA MAVEN spacecraft is expected to complete a 10-month voyage to Mars.

    Once it’s placed into orbit, NASA scientists plan to gather information about the red planet’s atmosphere — information they hope will offer clues about our own planet’s climate. For more on the mission significance, yesterday I spoke with the NewsHour’s Miles O’Brien.

    Why are space nuts, Mars nerds, all so excited for Sunday night?

    MILES O’BRIEN: Well this is all part of the big tapestry, if you will, of laying the ground work for one day putting human boots on Mars — we hope. You just don’t fly off in a rocket and land there. You need to learn about the soil, the ground.

    And in this case, the atmosphere. One of the big questions, the overriding questions, which trouble scientists and which has a lot to do about future exploration of Mars, is, what happened to the planet over the past 3 billion years?

    It used to be warm and wet and now it’s awfully dry and awfully cold. What happened along the way? Understanding what’s going on in the fringes of the atmosphere, which is what MAVEN will do, will help scientists understand what happened.

    Did the solar wind kind of blow the atmosphere away? Was that a part of what happened to this planet as it went through kind of the ultimate climate change.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, there are going to be multiple orbiters around this planet if the United States successfully maneuvers this satellite into the right orbit and then on Tuesday India has one, the Manglayaan project, that hopefully they’ll succeed as well.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Yeah, if everybody succeeds, if the U.S. of MAVEN and the Indians succeed with their first interplanetary mission, which is an exciting thing in its own right, that would put five craft in orbit around Mars doing all kinds of work scientifically.

    Looking at the planet itself, obtaining imagery, Mass Spectrometry, looking at the solar wind, ionization, a whole host of things, the magnetic field, and also assisting what’s on the ground.

    We have two rovers on the ground, Opportunity and Curiosity — both NASA crafts — that are doing their scientific work.

    On the one hand, some of these satellites serve as relays, communication relays for the rovers on the ground, and also the science that they conduct on the ground is compared to the science that is done in orbit and that helps scientists make comparisons which are useful.

    Incidentally, Hari, on October 19th there’s a comet that’s going to nearly strike Mars and there was some concern that these craft might be in harm’s way.

    Fortunately, that won’t be the case, but there is a good chance they might get some imagery and certainly some interesting science about what happens when a comet enters an atmosphere.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, all this information from all these missions means what? Humans will set foot on Mars in a couple of decades?

    MILES O’BRIEN: That’s the long-range plan. The devil, of course, is in the details and of course the budget, but no one thinks it’s a wise idea to go to Mars without laying the ground work scientifically and robotically.

    That’s what we’ve been seeing in a systematic way for a number of years now going back to the pathfinder mission on Mars.

    It’s kind of a two-track thing, on the one hand scientists are getting goals that come strictly out of the robotic missions, which are useful to helping them understand, ‘are we alone in the universe’ — ‘was there a second genesis of life on Mars’ is a fundamentally good question separate from whether we put human beings on the planet.

    But ultimately those same scientists will tell you that a geologist on the ground with a hammer and the ability to chip a rock away here and there can do in a matter of hours what a robot would take weeks to do.

    So, the idea that scientists may one day be there on the ground may be the only way that we’ll answer all these scientific questions and plus it’s a big part of the overall picture of exploring the cosmos and wondering if in fact human beings are ever going to leave this planet in a meaningful way.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Alright, Miles O’Brien, thanks so much for joining us.

    MILES O’BRIEN: You’re welcome, Hari.

    The post Man on Mars? NASA’s Maven spacecraft explores the possibility appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Outside spending has set the record for the most money ever spent in a midterm election. Image by Getty Images

    Outside spending has surpassed the mark for the most money ever spent in a midterm election. Image by Getty Images

    The Morning Line

    Today in the Morning Line:

    • Outside money breaks record
    • Where’s the money going?
    • North Carolina might be election night’s Rosetta Stone
    • Obama to preside before UN Security Council
    • Lois Lerner breaks her silence

    The Outsiders: Back in April, we wrote that outside spending was on a record-breaking pace. Well, on this first day of fall — and with 43 days still to go until Election Day — outside spending has now surpassed the mark for most money ever spent in a midterm election. In fact, the $228 million (and climbing) spent by outside interest groups is not only the most ever spent in a midterm, but it’s also more spent in any election except the 2012 presidential election, according to Federal Election Commission data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. The fact is: this is a whole new world. There should be a red line drawn on anyone’s timeline when reporting on election spending to signify Jan. 21, 2010, the date the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling was handed down, opening up unlimited money to flow into elections from unions and corporations.

    Outside spending in federal campaigns

    Image by Domenico Montanaro

    Image by Domenico Montanaro

    So, where’s the money being spent? Carolina on my mind…:

    Most of that money is being funneled into key Senate races that will determine control of the U.S. Senate. Now that we’re past primary season, let’s take a look at general-election outside spending. The most, by far, has been in North Carolina — $22 million. Incumbent Kay Hagan, a Democrat, has a small lead in most public polls, and pro-Democratic groups have actually outspent Republicans about $13 million to $8 million. How important is North Carolina? It could be the Rosetta Stone on election night. Its early poll closing time — (7:30 pm ET) — and the fact that Hagan is holding up better than the other red-state Democrats so far — will tell us a lot about which direction control of the Senate is headed on Election Night. No. 2 on the list — Iowa, where pro-Democratic groups are outspending Republicans, hoping to paint Republican Joni Ernst as too extreme for the state Barack Obama won twice. Nos. 3 and 4 are Kentucky, where Republicans are doing all they can to give Mitch McConnell the best shot at becoming majority leader, and Colorado. Notice three of the top four — North Carolina, Iowa, and Colorado — are the states that make up the Democratic “firewall.” Democrats believe if they hold those three, they hold the Senate.

    General Election Outside Spending in Key Races:
    (Note: Because of rounding, some of the numbers might not add up.)
    $22 million: North Carolina (Pro-D $13 million, Pro-R $8 million)
    $15 million: Iowa (Pro-D $9 million, Pro-R $6 million)
    $15 million: Kentucky (Pro-D $5 million, Pro-R $11 million)
    $14 million: Colorado (Pro-D $10 million, Pro-R $5 million)
    $12 million: Arkansas (Pro-D $7 million, Pro-R $4 million)
    $11 million: Michigan (Pro-D $7 million, Pro-R $5 million)
    $9 million: Alaska (Pro-D $4 million, Pro-R $5 million)
    $6 million: Georgia (Pro-D $1 million, Pro-R $5 million)
    $5 million: New Hampshire (Pro-D $2 million, Pro-R $3 million)
    $3 million: Louisiana (Pro-D $2 million, Pro-R $1 million)

    Wild West: By the way, wonder where the most contentious House races are? Look no further than Arizona. There’s been more outside money already spent in the race for Gabrielle Giffords’ seat — Arizona’s 2nd congressional district ($2.9 million) — than the Louisiana Senate race general election so far ($2.7 million). Coming up just behind that is the very competitive Arizona 1st district race, where $2.5 million has been spent. Speaking of Giffords, Politico spotlights how Giffords and her group have been running very tough ads against anti-gun control candidates, including for her old seat.

    Obama to UN: In only the second time that a U.S. president has headed a United Nations Security Council session, President Obama will preside before about a dozen heads of state Wednesday to push a binding resolution that would urge member states to prosecute those who travel abroad to join foreign terrorist groups. The American proposal, which is expected to pass, compels states to adopt domestic laws for the prosecution of foreign fighters and for the first time sets up international standards for states to stop foreign terrorist organizations from recruiting their citizens or moving fighters through their territory. Of course, with any U.N resolution, even a legally binding one, comes the problem of enforcement. The draft resolution also does not define what a terrorist organization is, a likely source of disagreement among states. The resolution cites the Islamic State as an example, underscoring the importance to Mr. Obama of taking a lead against foreign fighters, who number 15,000 in Iraq and Syria, according to American intelligence officials.

    Secret Service under scrutiny again: After a man with a knife jumped the fence to White House grounds Friday and made it all the way into the front door unimpeded, the Secret Service is investigating its protocols, what went wrong and how to prevent it in the future. The New York Times reports, “The Secret Service is considering screening tourists and other visitors at checkpoints before they enter the public areas in front of the White House….” The Washington Post: “Secret Service is weighing a series of measures that would move tourists and D.C. residents farther away from the complex to reduce the chances of intruders piercing its security perimeter and endangering the president. One proposal is to keep people off the sidewalks around the White House fence and create several yards of additional barrier around the compound’s perimeter.” Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who serves on the House Homeland Security Committee, tweeted, “Been investigating the Secret Service for some time. Frustrating. Good men and women but HUGE question marks for their leadership. This is not the first time Secret Service has shown too much vulnerability. There are other unreported incidents. I will continue to push.”

    Lois Lerner breaks silence: The woman at the center of the IRS Tea Party targeting scandal, Lois Lerner, spoke for the first time to Politico in a two-hour session. The story’s lead: “Employers won’t hire her. She’s been berated with epithets like ‘dirty Jew.’ Federal agents have guarded her house because of death threats. And she’s spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending herself against accusations that she orchestrated a cover up in a scandal that has come to represent everything Americans hate about the IRS. Lois Lerner is toxic — and she knows it. But she refuses to recede into anonymity or beg for forgiveness for her role in the IRS tea party-targeting scandal. ‘I didn’t do anything wrong,’ Lerner said….”

    Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed a congressional act that established the Peace Corps. Which member of Congress originally proposed a bill to establish the Peace Corps in 1957? Be the first to tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to Yvonne Gibney (@Lillyvonne228) for guessing Friday’s trivia: where and by whom was Garfield assassinated? The answer was: In Washington, D.C. by Charles J. Guiteau.

    LINE ITEMS

    • Before addressing the General Assembly and then presiding over the Security Council on Wednesday, Obama attends the Secretary General’s summit on climate change Tuesday. The summit is an effort to rally international support ahead of the UN’s climate negotiations in Lima, and then Paris in 2015. President Obama is the only leader of the world’s top three carbon emitters to attend the talks; the leaders of India and China will not be there. He’ll also get some time with the Clintons Tuesday, when he’ll speak about the importance of public-private partnerships to civil society at the Clinton Global Initiative. He’ll round out the week in New York on Thursday with UN meetings on Ebola.

    • This Sunday, environmental activists participated in an estimated 400,000-person march through Manhattan calling for action on climate change.

    • President Obama signs the America’s Promise Summit Declaration at 2 p.m. ET at the White House. Former Secretary of State under George W. Bush, Colin Powell will be present. Powell on Friday was asked by comedian Bill Maher if he has any buyer’s remorse in supporting President Obama, and he said, “None whatsoever.”

    • The Washington Post: “Former finance minister Ashraf Ghani was declared the winner of Afghanistan’s contested presidential election Sunday, setting the stage for President Hamid Karzai’s departure from office and a security agreement allowing American troops to remain in the country after this year.”

    • In her latest ad, Kentucky candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, D, goes after Sen. Mitch McConnell for missing committee meetings and key votes.

    • The Florida gubernatorial race is chock full of outside money and negativity, and voters do not seem pleased with either candidate in the neck and neck contest.

    • Many red-state Democrats are putting the focus on protecting Medicare and Social Security to help regain some ground with seniors.

    • Congressional Democrats are talking about President Obama less and less in speeches on the House and Senate floor.

    • While Democrats are distancing themselves from the president, GOP Senate and gubernatorial candidates are adopting some Democratic principles to rally support among skeptical voters.

    • The Koch brothers political action committee, Freedom Partners Action Fund, is jumping into the Kansas Senate race to help out Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts.

    • Americans for Shared Prosperity released an ad trying to convince voters to vote against Democrats in the midterms because they’ve “fallen out of love” with Obama.

    • Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper knows how to reach across the aisle, but both sides see his failure to be decisive on key issues as his weak point in getting re-elected.

    • Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s campaign team sent Sen. Al Franken a fundraising mailer, which asked him to donate money to defeat himself.

    • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee again out-fundraised their Republican counterpart last month — this time by $5.8 million.

    • The current Congress could end up being the least productive legislature in 60 years.

    • Employees have left the Department of Homeland Security at rates nearly twice as fast as in the federal government overall during the past four years, and current and former officials say that’s hampering the agency’s ability to deal with emerging threats.

    • Go back to “The Week Politics Went Tabloid,” with Gary Hart.

    • Kansas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis found himself in a bit of of water this weekend, trying to explain his presence at a strip club during a 1988 police raid.

    • Former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland became a convicted felon for a second time last week.

    • During a campaign stop at a Louisiana State University tailgate, Sen. Mary Landrieu helped a young man do a keg stand.

    • 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 Outside spending eclipses all past midterms appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Smoke stacks from the NRG power plant outside of Jewett, Tx.  AP Photo/Nick Simonite

    Smoke stacks from the NRG power plant outside of Jewett, Tx. AP Photo/Nick Simonite

    WASHINGTON — Spurred chiefly by China, the United States and India, the world spewed far more carbon pollution into the air last year than ever before, scientists announced Sunday as world leaders gather to discuss how to reduce heat-trapping gases.

    The world pumped an estimated 39.8 billion tons (36.1 billion metric tons) of carbon dioxide into the air last year by burning coal, oil and gas. That is 778 million tons (706 metric tons) or 2.3 percent more than the previous year.

    “It’s in the wrong direction,” said Glen Peters, a Norwegian scientist who was part of the Global Carbon Project international team that tracks and calculates global emissions every year.

    Their results were published Sunday in three articles in the peer-reviewed journals Nature Geoscience and Nature Climate Change.

    The team projects that emissions of carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping gas from human activity, are increasing by 2.5 percent this year.

    The scientists forecast that emissions will continue to increase, adding that the world in about 30 years will warm by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) from now. In 2009, world leaders called that level dangerous and pledged not to reach it.

    “Time is running short,” said Pierre Friedlingstein of the University of Exeter in England, one of the studies’ lead authors. “The more we do nothing, the more likely we are to be hitting this wall in 2040-something.”“Time is running short,” said Pierre Friedlingstein of the University of Exeter in England, one of the studies’ lead authors. “The more we do nothing, the more likely we are to be hitting this wall in 2040-something.”

    Chris Field, a Carnegie Institution ecologist who heads a U.N. panel on global warming, called the studies “a stark and sobering picture of the steps we need to take to address the challenge of climate change.”

    More than 100 world leaders will meet Tuesday at the U.N. Climate Summit to discuss how to reverse the emissions trend.

    The world’s three biggest carbon polluting nations — China, the U.S. and India — all saw their emissions jump. No other country came close in additional emissions.

    Indian emissions grew by 5.1 percent, Chinese emissions by 4.2 percent and the U.S. emissions by 2.9 percent, when the extra leap day in 2012 is accounted for.

    China, the No. 1 carbon polluter, also had more than half the world’s increases over 2012. China’s increases are slowing because the Chinese economy isn’t growing as fast as it had been, Peters said.

    The U.S. had reduced its carbon emissions in four of the five previous years. Peters said it rose last year because of a recovering economy and more coal power.

    Only two dozen of the about 200 countries cut their carbon emissions last year, led by mostly European countries. Spain had the biggest decrease.

    The world emissions averaged to 6.3 million pounds (2.9 million kilograms) of carbon dioxide put in the air every second.

    The post China, U.S. and India push world carbon output to record levels appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Getty Images

    Photo by Getty Images

    It was September 2012 and it was life-long smoker Paula Faber’s third cancer in a decade, but she did not hesitate.

    “She was going to fight it every inch of the way,” says her husband Ron Faber.

    By August 2013 after much fighting, Paula Faber died at age 72. Ron Faber now regrets the intervening 11 months of chemotherapy, radiation, painkillers and side effects that reduced his wife to 67 pounds of frayed nerves. Instead, the pain could have been managed so she could focus on the quality of life.

    “I would have rather have had a really okay four-and-a half months than this endless set of treatments,” the stage actor said.

    As they confronted Paula’s terminal diagnosis, the decision the Fabers made is among the most difficult anyone can make. But it turns out that in the New York metropolitan region, patients opt for aggressive treatment much more often than other Americans.

    “New York City continues to lag in serious ways with regards to providing patients with the environment that they want at the end of life,” says Dr. David Goodman, who studies end-of-life care at Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medicine.

    The reasons they do this are many, but most experts agree that it has less to do with the unique characteristics and desires of people in New York and New Jersey than the health care system and culture that has evolved here.

    The result: More people dying in the hospital, often in an intensive care unit on a ventilator or feeding tube; more doctor visits leading to tests, treatments and drug prescriptions; and more money being spent by the government, private insurers and patients themselves.

    Specialists at the Dartmouth Healthcare Atlas maintain that one of the main drivers of this phenomenon is quantity: people end up in hospitals here so often, they say, because this region simply has a lot of hospital beds.

    “One of the truisms of healthcare is that whatever resources are available, or whatever beds are built, they tend to get filled,” Goodman says.

    A second driver is that every region has its own medical “culture,” and the one in New York is built around highly trained specialists and sub-specialists who see it as their job to cure illness. Dr. Diane Meier says that means, “that if there’s a cancer it needs chemotherapy, that if there’s heart failure, it needs a procedure.”

    Meier is a geriatric specialist at Mount Sinai and the director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care.

    She says also driving the culture of heavy treatment is the high proportion of specialists and sub-specialists who constantly refer patients to each other — both because that is how they were trained and because it is good for business.

    “If I’m an endocrinologist, if I refer to the cardiologist, the cardiologist will refer back to me for endocrine problems,” says Meier. “It’s like a cottage industry.”

    Insurers, Government Pushing Back
    More and more, though, hospitals are getting a single payment from commercial and government insurers for each patient and losing money when treatments and tests pile up. Meier says hospital care needs to adapt.

    “The sort of open faucet of money, where whatever you do, the more we’ll pay you, and the more complicated thing you do, the more we will pay you, and the more risky thing you do, the more we will pay you – there’s a recognition now that, really, the party’s over,” she says.

    At Mt. Sinai, the chair of surgery now demands his staff discuss hospice alternatives with terminally ill patients — and make an electronic note of the conversation that can be tracked. If it does not happen, he demands to know why. Meier said every hospital doctor should follow this example.

    “All of medicine needs to be willing to say, ‘Why did this person with end-stage dementia have three or four hospitalizations in the last three months of life and die in the intensive care unit? This was a terrible experience for the patient and family. A lot of unnecessary suffering. Over a million dollars cost to the taxpayer. How did that happen?’ ” she says.

    Ron Faber is still asking that question.

    A year after his wife Paula died, he still believes her oncologist at Beth Israel Hospital was strangely optimistic about her prospects. Faber acknowledges it was Paula’s decision to fight the cancer “every inch of the way,” but he thinks she might not have, if her doctors had told her more about the upsides of palliative care and the downsides of aggressive treatment.

    “I think they sold her on it,” he says. “She was so afraid of death that she was ready to buy, and they knew it. And I think it happens a lot.”

    Hospice had come up before as an option, but the Fabers thought of that only as a place to go and die, and no one had told them otherwise. Then a social worker explained that hospice is something that can happen at home, too. Belatedly, Faber said, the couple chose that option, and hospice workers from the Visiting Nurse Service of New York came to their apartment in Greenwich Village.

    “Once they arrived, it was like putting everything together,” he said. “And from that moment on, everything was right.”

    It turned out to be the Fabers’ final five days together, after almost 50 years.


    This story is part of a partnership that includes WNYC, NPR and Kaiser Health News. 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 Why so many people die in hospitals instead of at home appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A screenshot of the first person shooter video game Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.

    A screenshot of the first person shooter video game Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.

    LOS ANGELES — Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is joining a video game company’s fight against disgraced Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who is suing Activision over his inclusion in the hit game “Call of Duty: Black Ops II.”

    Giuliani says he does not want to see the imprisoned Noriega profit from his crimes, which include convictions for murder, drug trafficking and money laundering.

    Activision Blizzard Inc. announced Monday that Giuliani and his firm will ask a Los Angeles judge to dismiss Noriega’s lawsuit, which claims his likeness was used without permission in the 2012 game, part of its popular “Call of Duty” video game franchise.

    Noriega sued Activision in July, claiming the company depicted him as a “kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state.”

    “What’s astonishing is that Manuel Noriega, a notorious dictator who is in prison for the heinous crimes he committed, is upset about being portrayed as a criminal and enemy of the state in the game Call of Duty,” Giuliani wrote in a statement. “Quite simply, it’s absurd.”

    “What’s astonishing is that Manuel Noriega, a notorious dictator who is in prison for the heinous crimes he committed, is upset about being portrayed as a criminal and enemy of the state in the game Call of Duty,” Giuliani wrote in a statement.Activision contends that if Noriega’s lawsuit goes forward, it could impact how historical figures are depicted in video games, as well as television and movies. The company’s games have featured historical figures such as President John F. Kennedy and Fidel Castro, the company noted in a news release.

    The lawsuit contends Noriega’s inclusion in the game increased the profits Activision earned from “Black Ops II.” The game earned more than $1 billion in sales within 15 days after it was released in 2012.

    In addition to leading New York City’s government for two terms — including during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — Giuliani is a former U.S. attorney and ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

    Activision said in a release announcing Giuliani’s involvement in the case that the company plans to argue the game’s depiction of Noriega is covered by free speech provisions.

    “Black Ops II” featured a storyline involving the waning years of the Cold War in the 1980s, with Noriega aiding the game’s key villain.

    In real life, Noriega was toppled in 1989 by a U.S. invasion and served a 17-year drug trafficking sentence in the United States. He later was convicted in France of money laundering, and that country repatriated him to Panama in December 2011. Noriega, 80, is serving a 60-year sentence for murder, embezzlement and corruption.

    He has had health issues in recent months and been treated for high blood pressure, flu and bronchitis. His family also has said he has a benign brain tumor and heart trouble.

    The post Rudy Giuliani defends Call of Duty publisher in Manuel Noriega lawsuit appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Don't assume your new spouse will automatically be eligible for a spousal benefit on your record. Photo by Flickr user Seabright Hoffman.

    Don’t assume your new spouse will automatically be eligible for a spousal benefit on your record. Photo by Flickr user Seabright Hoffman.

    Larry Kotlikoff’s Social Security original 34 “secrets”, his additional secrets, his Social Security “mistakes” and his Social Security gotchas have prompted so many of you to write in that we now feature “Ask Larry” every Monday. Find a complete list of his columns here. We are determined to continue it until the queries stop or we run through the particular problems of all 78 million Baby Boomers, whichever comes first. Let us know your Social Security questions. Kotlikoff’s state-of-the-art retirement software is available here, for free, in its “basic” version.


    Question: We are newlyweds (both are divorced). I am 65 and my wife is 59. I am planning to file and suspend at 66, but I have two questions. First, can my wife for spousal benefits at 62 and then claim her own benefits at 70? And second, as newlyweds, is there a minimum number of years you must be married before filing for spousal benefits?

    Larry Kotlikoff: You have to be married for a full year before your new wife can collect a spousal benefit based on your work record and nine months before she can collect a widows benefit on your record if you pass away.

    GOT SOCIAL SECURITY QUESTIONS?

    Pose Your Questions to Larry Here

    She can file at 62 for her reduced spousal benefit because you will have filed for your retirement benefit. But she’ll be deemed to be also filing for her reduced retirement benefit. And what she’ll receive will be approximately the larger of the two benefits. (To be precise, she’ll get her own reduced retirement benefit plus her excess spousal benefit reduced based on the spousal-benefit reduction factor.) Her excess spousal benefit is the difference between half of your full retirement benefit and her own full retirement benefit — augmented by any delayed retirement credits she may accumulate if she, too, suspends her retirement benefit at full retirement age to let it grow by 8 percent per year (inflation adjusted) up through age 70 or at an earlier age if she reinstates her benefit before 70.

    “Since you were married after age 60, you can collect a widow(er)s benefit on your ex-spouse’s work record only if you were married for at least 10 years.”

    Given the progressiveness of the formula that relates a worker’s full retirement benefit (Primary Insurance Amount) to the worker’s Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME), one half of your full retirement benefit may not exceed 100 percent of her full retirement benefit (again, inclusive of any delayed retirement credits). And even if it does, the difference may be very small. Hence, by having your wife file at 62, you will A) likely either fully or mostly wipe out her spousal benefit, and B) leave her with a permanently reduced retirement benefit (even if she suspends it at full retirement age, it will restart at a lower value than had it not been suspended). Also, if she has been a higher earner than you, you may reduce the size of the widows benefit you can collect on her record if she predeceases you.

    You should also be aware that since you married after age 60, you can collect a widow(ers) benefit on your ex-spouse’s work record only if you were married for at least 10 years.

    What’s your best strategy? It is very likely to be as follows: A) have your wife wait until full retirement age to file just for her spousal benefit and, thereby collect a full, not an excess spousal benefit — namely 50 percent of your full retirement benefit — and, B) wait until 70 to file for her retirement benefit. And if your ex or current wife dies, you should file for your divorced widowers benefit right away, while still waiting until 70 to restart your own retirement benefit.


    Question: My husband died in 1999 at the age of 57. I am 63 and am planning to retire at the end of 2014. I had planned on taking my husband’s benefit (I’m assuming a widows benefit?) when I retire, then changing over to my retirement benefit when I turned 70. I have just learned about the “deemed” benefit and now question whether this is what I want to do. I had asked at my Social Security office if this was doable and they said “yes,” but after more research, I think I would be locked into a lower benefit for life. Now I don’t know what is best. Can you advise?

    Larry Kotlikoff: Deeming doesn’t arise in the case of someone trying to collect a widow(er)s or divorced widow(er)s benefit. You can collect your widows benefit starting now and, as you plan, wait until 70 to take your highest possible retirement benefit. Or you can take your reduced retirement benefit now and start your widows benefit at full retirement age, when it will start at its largest value. What’s best can be calculated correctly in a half-second by a first-rate commercial software benefit maximization tool, which knows more about Social Security than many, if not most, of the folks at Social Security, who, while well meaning, are very poorly trained to understand a system that is, I believe, more complex than our federal income tax in its entirety.


    Question: I took Social Security at age 62 and a year later was hired for full-time employment. I immediately notified Social Security that I was returning to work and asked them to suspend my checks, which they did beginning in November 2012. In addition, I owed them money for making more than allowed doing contract work — I pay $75 per month. I want to begin taking Social Security at age 67. Will my payments go up at that time?

    Larry Kotlikoff: Your payment will be increased when you reach full retirement age via what’s called the Adjustment of the Reduction Factor or ARF. The ARF will give you credit with respect to your own retirement benefit for each month of retirement benefits lost due to the earnings test. (Note, if you flip onto a spousal or widow(er) benefit or divorced spousal or divorced widow(er) benefit, the ARF won’t help you.) I recommend you consider suspending your retirement benefit at full retirement age and waiting until age 70 to collect your highest possible ARF’d retirement benefit.


    Question: Larry, thanks for what you do. I am 61, and maybe going to retire at 62 from the Sheriff’s Department. I do not fall into the windfall provision category. I have an estimated full retirement benefit of $2,578, and a reduced rate at 62 of $1,895.

    I have done the Primary Insurance Amount calculation formula with a $4,552 number for my Average Indexed Monthly Earnings. Social Security’s estimate is no more than $4,419 in Maximum Family Benefits. Everywhere I read on their site, the children’s benefit is 50 percent of the full retirement number, up to the family max, and divisible by the number of auxiliaries.

    I have two small children — seven and 11. Is their benefit really based on the full benefit, even though I am taking the discounted rate? Everywhere on Social Security’s site, it only refers to the full benefit calculation, and even uses an example at the formula page using a 62-year-old retiree. Can you comment?

    Larry Kotlikoff: Yes, the child benefit equals 50 percent of your full retirement benefit, not your actual benefit. But the family benefit maximum can range from 150 percent to 187 percent of your full retirement benefit depending on the size of your full retirement benefit. So your children may receive only 25 percent each of your full retirement benefit.

    Before you do what you intend, you need to compare your proposed strategy (using a very careful commercial Social Security benefit maximization tool) to see if this is your best strategy. It may be better to wait until full retirement age to file for your full retirement benefit and suspend its collection until age 70. This will permit your children to collect their child benefits starting at that point.

    [nhullquote]“Also bear in mind that when you pass away, each of your children, while still under age 18 or 20, if they are in elementary school or high school, will be able to collect 75 percent of your full retirement benefit.”[/nhpullquote]

    If you do as you intend, be aware that you can suspend your retirement benefit at full retirement age and restart it at, say, age 70 at a 32 percent higher level (after inflation) thanks to the delayed retirement credit.

    Also bear in mind that when you pass away, each of your children, while still under age 18 or 20, if they are in elementary school or high school, will be able to collect 75 percent of your full retirement benefit. Even if the family benefit maximum is just 150 percent of your full retirement benefit, you’ll be dead. Hence, your own retirement benefit won’t be counted as taking up 100 percent of the 150 percent family benefit maximum. In other words, your death means that your kids won’t have to share your own retirement benefit in using up the family benefit maximum.


    Linda West — Burson, Calif.: My husband started receiving Social Security benefits at age 63 due to the economy but still works self-employed. I am now 66 — full retirement age — but still working. Should I file for a spousal benefit and then suspend and collect mine at age 70?

    Larry Kotlikoff: You definitely don’t want to file and suspend if you seek to collect a full spousal benefit based on your husband’s work record. The act of filing will plunge you into “excess benefit hell,” in which case you will collect an excess, not a full spousal benefit. If anything, you should simply file a restricted application for your spousal benefit.

    Note, however, that the earnings test to which your husband may be subject if he’s earning too much, will be applied to your spousal benefit as well as to his retirement benefit. Indeed, if he’s earning enough, the earnings test can wipe out both of these benefits. At his full retirement age, the earnings test will end and his retirement benefit will be permanently adjusted upward due to the Adjustment of the Reduction Factor based on just the benefits he loses due to the earnings test.

    The spousal benefits you lose due to the earnings test won’t be recouped. So, if you’re are going to lose all or most of your spousal benefit due to the application of the earnings test to your husband’s earnings, your applying right away for your spousal benefit (and just for your spousal benefit) may lower the value of the Adjustment of the Reduction Factor to your husband. This will occur if some, but not all, of his early retirement benefit is wiped out due to the earnings test. I know from personal experience that getting this exactly right in Social Security optimization software requires meticulous attention to detail. Were I you, I’d check with the vendors of such software about their treatment of this issue.

    The post What all remarried newlyweds need to know about Social Security appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The co-founder of Tavern Books,  Carl Adamshick is the recipient of the 2010 Walt Whitman Award and Literary Art's Oregon Literary Fellowship. Photo by Liz Mehl

    The co-founder of Tavern Books, Carl Adamshick is the recipient of the 2010 Walt Whitman Award and Literary Art’s Oregon Literary Fellowship. Photo by Liz Mehl

    Carl Adamshick has been writing poetry seriously for 20 years, and most of his poems have been short. That’s largely what you’ll find if you pick up his first collection, “Curses and Wishes,” which won the Walt Whitman Award in 2010.

    As a challenge, the Oregon-based poet focused on composing longer pieces for his second book, “Saint Friend,” which hit shelves this August.

    “I spent a lot of time writing and being very concerned with economy and what not to say and alluding to things. I learned that it’s okay just to write something and to say it flatly,” Adamshick told Art Beat. “I found that, in a long poem, it’s open to that, it’s open to a more conversational tone that I learned to have faith in.”

    With that “conversational tone,” the poet was able to be upfront about what he wanted to convey.

    “With the smaller, slighter poems, there’s more of a puzzle aspect… there’s a lot of word-play and there’s a lot of mystery involved. When you decide to say how it is, emotions are more on the sleeve, and things aren’t hidden. It’s really been fascinating to me to be open to that, to be open to the words spilling out instead of constructing them in some sort of way and moving them around and being really cautious and thoughtful about all the placement and the exact wording. It’s been a little looser and a little more exciting.”

    Twenty years ago, Adamshick’s friends were his primary audience, reading his compositions at a bar, critiquing each other’s work over a beer — sort of an informal Master of Fine Arts.


    Listen to Carl Adamshick read “Everything that Happens Can Be Called Aging” from his new collection, “Saint Friend.”

    Everything that Happens Can Be Called Aging

    I have more love than ever.
    Our kids have kids soon to have kids.
    I need them. I need everyone
    to come over to the house,
    sleep on the floor, on the couches
    in the front room. I need noise,
    too many people in too small a place,
    I need dancing, the spilling of drinks,
    the loud pronouncements
    over music, the verbal sparring,
    the broken dishes, the wealth.
    I need it all flying apart.
    My friends to slam against me,
    to home me, to say they love me.
    I need mornings to ask for favors
    and forgiveness. I need to give,
    have all my emotions rattled,
    my family to be greedy,
    to keep coming, to keep asking
    and taking. I need no resolution,
    just the constant turmoil of living.
    Give me the bottom of the river,
    all the unadorned, unfinished,
    unpraised moments, one good turn
    on the luxuriant wheel.


    Unlike many other contemporary American poets, Adamshick is not the product of an MFA program, a fact that many point out to identify him as a different kind of voice. But regardless of his educational decisions, he was intent on a creating a life filled with poetry.

    “I [was] left to my own devices and picking out my own books and reading my own things for my own purposes…I had a part-time job that I liked, and I had friends that liked poems, and I spent my free time just reading and writing,” Adamshick said. “I was just living this so-called poetic lifestyle that I really enjoyed…but I think I’ve just taken the long road.”

    The long road or not, the poet has found a way to send his poems out into the world, which he believes is imperative to the power of verse.

    “Poems are meant to be shared. I know that’s very general, but it’s also very true in a profound sense to me. I’m not writing poems for myself. I feel very strongly that a poem is finished when other people hear it or read it, and I keep that in mind when I’m writing.”

    Adamshick himself has been profoundly affected by the poetry that he has read and, now focusing on the unknown reader that might pick up his work, he hopes to be similarly influential.

    “I write for this mysterious other that is going to stumble upon a book, whether in a library or a bookstore or on a website somewhere. I really want some mysterious other that I don’t know, some stranger, to read it and see it as a real piece of art,” Adamshick said. “Reading poems has been very enriching and very life altering to me. I feel like whenever I write a poem I assume or I guess that somebody else is going to have that reaction.”

    “Everything that Happens Can Be Called Aging” was excerpted from the book “Saint Friend” by Carl Adamshick. Copyright © 2014 by Carl Adamshick. Reprinted courtesy of McSweeney’s Poetry Series.

    The post Weekly Poem: Carl Adamshick writes for the ‘mysterious other’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Tom Adair and Fred de Sam Lazaro, near a police security guard on the streets of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Photo by Nikki See

    Tom Adair and Fred de Sam Lazaro, near a police security guard on the streets of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Photo by Nikki See

    The story of Ebola in Nigeria is an unusual and frankly rare one about things going right somewhere in Africa, albeit with fingers crossed for fear that it could quickly change.

    The numbers are remarkable: just 21 cases of Ebola and eight deaths, in a nation of 170 million, according to the latest World Health Organization report. Compare that to Liberia, with a population of just over 4 million, which has suffered nearly 1500 deaths so far.

    Nigeria’s achievement truly hits home for a television crew working “in the trenches” of a country the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency describes as “hobbled by … insecurity and pervasive corruption.”

    The first hint of this came while making what normally are mundane travel arrangements. Would we like a police escort for the ride from the airport to our hotel in the Niger Delta city of Port Harcourt or for the rental car we’d need the next day? This region, which displays no dividend above ground of its enormous oil wealth below, has been beset by civic unrest and kidnappings. We opted to squeeze the security escort into our rental car for the day, a quiet, diminutive chap with a rusty weapon but with the critical epaulets on his shoulders of the Nigerian Police Force. Coincidentally or not, our day in Port Harcourt went without hassle as we roamed the streets and markets in pursuit of our pictures.

    However, in the commercial capital, Lagos — where we spent most of the week and without escort — the security apparatus was the problem. Not five minutes after setting up the tripod and camera anywhere in this sprawling city, it seemed, men in uniform would turn up to announce that this was not allowed. If only we were just shooed away. Three times in two days, we were detained as our driver was verbally assaulted with a litany of (fictitious) accusations about having the “wrong” permits and papers. It took the chance intervention of a passing diplomat on one occasion and a call to a politically influential contact on another to release us without harm to our persons or wallets. Until the next police roadside check point.

    Tom Adair shooting in Lagos for the NewsHour. Photo by Fred de Sam Lazaro

    Tom Adair shooting in Lagos for the NewsHour. Photo by Fred de Sam Lazaro

    “How is your weekend?” this officer inquired. “Great? We would like to have a good weekend also.” It was a cue our driver took swiftly, thrusting 200 Naira (about $1.20) into the cop’s hand. “God bless you,” he responded as we took off.

    “Namaste!”

    On our way out, I was greeted at the entrance to the airport by a uniformed policeman, who guessed (correctly) at my Indian origin and then asked for a tip. I politely declined, abruptly ending this unusually friendly encounter. A few minutes later, we were approached by an airport employee on the way to the lengthy line for Ebola screening, required for everyone coming into and leaving the country.

    “It is a very long queue,” this man informed us. But for a small tip, he could arrange for us to be escorted as VIPs to the head of the line. We opted to stick it out in the long queue, if only to observe how the airport health screeners were coping with the throngs of travelers at a peak hour. Through pushing and shoving in crowded lines of harried passengers and loud arguments with some of the instant VIPSs who showed up at the head of the line, airport health workers doggedly checked each person’s temperature and Ebola screening form before sending them on. A young doctor stood guard behind the screening counters sending back passengers who every now and again attempted to skip the process as they rushed to catch their flights.

    Through all the hassles and commotion that mark a day in the life of Nigeria, the Ebola mobilization has been textbook thorough like no one here can recall in any government-led campaign.

    Babatunde Fashola, the governor of Lagos state, which includes the city of 20 million, offers a commonly-heard explanation:

    “On this kind of job, fear is always healthy,” he said.

    The post Reporter’s Notebook: Covering Ebola in Nigeria while navigating corruption appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The more than $1.1 trillion in outstanding student debt is not distributed evenly among the country’s college graduates.

    In a poll done earlier this year, Gallup and Purdue University found that 78 percent of black college graduates took out loans to pay for their education, compared to 61 percent of white and 63 percent of all grads.

    While 35 percent of all college grads and 34 percent of white grads borrowed at least $25,000 in student loans, 50 percent of black grads had borrowed as much.

    The financial payoff of getting a college degree has only grown during the last 30 years, as wages for those with associate’s degrees and high school diplomas has stalled or dropped. And the time it takes to recoup the cost of tuition and the earnings a student loses while they’re in school is near all-time lows, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

    What the Gallup-Purdue poll shows is that those average calculations that mask the financial rewards of college education may not be equally accessible to all grads.

    A recent report estimated every $250 paid toward student loans each month reduces a household’s home buying budget by $44,000. That lost buying power could cost the housing market $83 billion this year, according to the Los Angeles Times. If black college grads have heavier debt loads on average, their home buying power is taking a disproportionate hit.

    Census data already shows the net worth of black and Hispanic families dramatically lags that of white and Asian families and that the gap is growing. Unequal debt burdens could mean a college degree won’t necessarily close that gap for any given family.

    A look at the Survey of Consumer Finances by the Pew Research Center found college grads who did not have student debts had accumulated about seven times the wealth of their indebted peers.

    The post Black college grads face greater student loan burden than whites appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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