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

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    panetta

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    Editor’s Note: Leon Panetta was incorrectly introduced as President Reagan’s chief of staff; he was chief of staff to President Clinton. The transcript has been revised to fix that error.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We turn now to a memoir from an Obama administration insider that’s gaining headlines for its critical assessments of the president.

    The author, Leon Panetta, spent decades in Washington, first as a legislative assistant, later a congressman, and then President Clinton’s chief of staff, before retiring to his home state of California. He was coaxed back into government by President Obama, who persuaded Panetta to serve as director of the CIA and then secretary of defense.

    In those roles, he was involved in the war on terror, the assassination of Osama bin Laden, and the wind-down of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    He writes about all of this in “Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace.”

    I spoke with him earlier this afternoon.

    Leon Panetta, former secretary of defense, welcome.

    LEON PANETTA, Author, “Worthy Fights”: Nice to be with you, Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So the book “Worthy Fights” comes in the middle of some fierce debates here in Washington about domestic policy, certainly international policy. What contribution do you think the book will have to those debates?

    LEON PANETTA: Well, I very much wanted to, first of all, tell my life story, because in many ways it’s the American story, and all of the different fights that I engaged in, in all of the different positions I have held, and to point out that, in fact, if you stay in it and fight, that you can get things done.

    And I guess the lessons that I would like people to draw is that, at a time when there’s so much dysfunction in this town, that it is a time when leadership really does need to confront the challenges we’re facing abroad, as well as the challenges here at home. And I have said, you know, we govern in a democracy by leadership or crisis. And, too often today, we govern by crisis. We need to get back to governing by leadership.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You said the other day talking about the war against Islamic State, and you said you think it’s something that’s going to go on for 30 years.

    If you were at the table right now, would you be arguing that the U.S. should ramp up the effort or leave it to the people in the countries in the region?

    LEON PANETTA: Well, we’re going to have to be very flexible, because we’re dealing with a resilient enemy. That’s obvious.

    ISIS is — they’re well-armed. They’re well-funded. They’re well-trained. You can see them using very, very careful tactics here on the battlefield, now going after this town on the border. They go into hiding. They’re hiding their equipment. So we have got to be very resilient in the way we handle this.

    I think the approach of the president is right. We have got — you know, we have put troops — we have deployed troops to Iraq. We’re trying to get their security force to be able to be effective in pushing ISIS back. We’re going to arm and train the rebels. We have decided to use air attacks, which are extremely helpful.

    But it has to be continuing with a great deal of pressure and a great deal of attention to objectives. You have got to set objectives, so that we can show the American people and the world that we can win in this war on ISIS.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You do talk about the president’s leadership in the book. Wasn’t the administration dealing with Prime Minister Maliki in Iraq, somebody who was going to go his own way? How could some more persuasion by President Obama have made a difference?

    LEON PANETTA: My experience was, Maliki operated under pressure. You had to constantly pressure him on almost everything he did. He was that kind of prime minister.

    And so when we wanted him to make decisions on governing, we had to pressure him. When he wanted him to make decisions on security, we had to come down hard on him. So coming down and putting that kind of pressure on him, saying we’re not going to provide military aid to you, we’re not going to give you F-16 fighters, I think would have been one way to try to at least see whether or not he could have agreed to it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

    You also write at another point in the book that the president — it was a mistake for the U.S. not to go ahead and arm and train the Syrian rebels. And yet, for more than 10 years, the U.S. did train and arm the Iraqi army, and we saw just in the last few months the Iraqi army completely collapse. This was training done part of the time while you were secretary of defense.

    My question is, what makes you believe it would have worked with the Syrian rebels when it didn’t work in Iraq?

    LEON PANETTA: Well, you know, again, to return to the book, and how I describe the situation, because, frankly, for four years serving this president, and it — as I said in the book, it was an honor to serve this president — he was very strong in supporting the operations that we did at the CIA.

    He supported the bin Laden operation. And he supported the efforts that we had as secretary of defense. He was a strong leader with regards to the war on terrorism. And I think he knows that, in confronting terrorism, we are going to have to take these things on. He’s learned lessons from the things that I talk about.

    We have 10,000 troops in Afghanistan. He made the decision to do that. I think that’s the right decision. He’s decided to arm and train the rebels. The reality is, unless we are there and defining moderate rebel forces in Syria, we won’t have any boots on the ground. We won’t have any sources on the ground to guide us as we do air attacks.

    If ISIS is there and command-and-control is there, we have got to have somebody somehow be able to identify those targets so we can go after them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But you’re very candid in the book, Secretary Panetta, about points at which you think the president should have gone in another direction, should have worked more with Congress.

    I guess my question is, you know, the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said at one point, he said — he was a great devotee of history. He said, it was wrong. He said it’s harmful for people to write candid memoirs while the presidents they serve are still in office.

    And yet you, Secretary Clinton, Secretary Gates have all written candid memoirs. Is it — is it that Patrick Moynihan is wrong, or does this president just not engender loyalty?

    LEON PANETTA: No, it’s that, you know, we live at a time when I think it’s important to have a debate about these kinds of issues.

    This is a — this is a serious time in our history in 2014. It’s a serious time with regards to, what direction is this country going to take? We have got a Washington that’s largely dysfunctional in the stalemate. We’re not dealing with the principal issues facing this country. We’re dealing with a series of threats abroad.

    It isn’t just ISIS. We’re dealing with North Korea. We’re dealing with Iran. We’re dealing with Russia. We’re dealing with cyber-attacks. It is an unprecedented set of threats that are out there. This is not a time to kind of get in the trenches and not say anything.

    This is a time to open up that debate about, what is it we need to do? What can we learn from the past? And how do we get together to provide the leadership that’s necessary to keep this country strong? I think that’s the right debate. And I think people ought to embrace that debate, because that’s what makes our country what it is.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So we are four weeks away from the midterm election, and, right now, Republicans from Mitt Romney to Senate Republicans running in tight contests around the country are saying that — they’re citing you as proof that President Obama is weak. Do they have a point?

    LEON PANETTA: Look, President Obama has been a strong leader.

    He made a very tough decision with regards to the bin Laden raid, and it was a risky decision, but he made the right decision. He’s made the right decision in terms of helping the economy. He’s may the right decision in terms of health care. He’s been a president who really is trying to provide the right leadership for the country.

    That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t talk or disagree about certain elements of the leadership. That’s part of what goes on. But this president has the ability to establish a strong legacy for the country. We can do immigration reform. We can do a budget deal. We can improve health care delivery. We can get — be energy-independent.

    Democrats, this president can present a strong agenda to the country. That’s what we’re — that’s what they ought to all run on, the ability to govern this country. And I think Republicans have a hard time, frankly, coming at that issue of governing this country because they, in the House in particular, are largely responsible for undermining government and its efforts to try to help people.

    That should be the principal issue in this next campaign.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Leon Panetta, the book is “Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace.”

    We thank you.

    LEON PANETTA: Thanks very much.

     

    The post Panetta: Time of unprecedented threat calls for debate on leadership appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    childmigrants

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Earlier this year, a record number of unaccompanied children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador arrived in the United States, sparking a crisis and a political backlash.

    As part of its response, the White House announced tens of millions of dollars in new spending in those countries, aimed at stopping the flow of unaccompanied kids and the crime driving them from home.

    The “NewsHour”‘s P.J. Tobia takes a look at those U.S.-funded programs and the children they are supposed to be helping.

    P.J. TOBIA: In Central America, this is the front line of the Obama administration’s fight to keep children from joining gangs or making the dangerous journey to the United States.

    It’s the opening of a new community center Usulutan, a violent El Salvadoran city controlled by the Mara 18; 140 of these U.S. government-funded centers are spread between Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. There are plans to double that number.

    They offer sports, skills training, and computer literacy. It’s a response to the flood of children trying to make their way to the U.S. border.

    One of them was 10-year-old Brando. The “NewsHour” has agreed to conceal his and his grandmother’s faces for their safety. Brando’s grandmother was desperate to get him out of the country after a violent drug gang tried to extort the family.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): Things here are awful. Here, they take kids. They return them in pieces.

    P.J. TOBIA: She sent Brando north over land with an uncle. It was a grueling journey.

    BOY (through interpreter): We slept where the cows are.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): In a barn. There were days they slept in a barn. When they left here, they went to Guatemala. When they crossed, Mexican immigration caught them.

    P.J. TOBIA: After that,  Brando was brought back to El Salvador. Like most people here, he and his grandmother don’t leave the house after 6:00 p.m., for fear of the gangs.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): I can’t sleep. When I’m able to sleep, I wake up. I only sleep one or two hours when I hear the gunshots during the night. It will be some time before I can send the child to school.

    P.J. TOBIA: Brando says he’d still like to try and make it to the U.S., but, his grandmother says, they can’t afford another attempt.

    Elizabeth Kennedy has spent last year in El Salvador on a Fulbright scholarship. She’s interviewed more than 30 children like Brando who have tried and failed to make it to the United States.

    ELIZABETH KENNEDY, Child Migrant Researcher: In June, there was one day that we got 300 kids deported from Mexico in one day.

    P.J. TOBIA: In Mexico, the detained children are sent to a facility in Tapachula, near the Guatemalan border. Then they’re sent back home.

    ELIZABETH KENNEDY: So, we had one 12-year-old boy who came here who had been robbed and beaten inside of the Siglo XXI detention center in Tapachula. He didn’t have any shoes. He was crying.

    P.J. TOBIA: Once back in El Salvador, there’s little the government can do for them.

    ELIZABETH KENNEDY: There’s no follow-up services at the moment for those who are afraid for their lives. They’re probably going to try again within two months.

    P.J. TOBIA: That’s where these U.S. government-funded children’s centers come in. This center, just outside of San Salvador, provides a place for children to play and learn computers. For older children, this Bakery is a skills training program.

    But Kennedy says that USAID, the government agency behind the centers, doesn’t follow through with long-term funding.

    ELIZABETH KENNEDY: So I have learned of a number of programs that receive large multimillion-dollar grants. They were supposed to create something that would be sustainable after the money ended at two years. And there’s nothing to show for it two years later, after the money has run out.

    P.J. TOBIA: Mark Feierstein is a USAID associate administrator focusing on Latin America. He says it’s up to the local governments to pay the bills when U.S. money runs out.

    MARK FEIERSTEIN, U.S. Agency for International Development: Sustainability is vital. And the real key here are the Central American governments themselves. They need to be raising revenue. They need to be energizing their own private sector. So, what the USAID can do and the United States government can do is support the efforts of these Central American governments, but ultimately they need to be raising the revenue.

    P.J. TOBIA: Kennedy says that the centers are often located in contested gang territory.

    ELIZABETH KENNEDY: The reality is, for kids who live in a contested gang territory, for example, crossing the street could be the cause of their death.

    MARK FEIERSTEIN: Well, that’s the point. They are in dangerous neighborhoods, and we’re trying to create safe havens for children. And the fact that they’re trying to get to these places speaks to their value.

    P.J. TOBIA: Another issue is a controversial USAID policy. The agency won’t fund programs explicitly aimed at current gang members.

    Geoff Thale is the program director at the Washington Office on Latin America:

    GEOFF THALE, Washington Office On Latin America: I think that’s understandable. I think it’s a mistake.

    People aren’t going to leave gangs unless there are alternatives, and somebody has got to work with that population. And then, related to that, the people coming out of prison are going to go back if they don’t have some alternative. And they’re going to go back because they pick up gang life again and they are recidivists, and they go back to extorting people and threatening them and the whole range of that kind of thing.

    P.J. TOBIA: Feierstein says that, while there may not be programs aimed directly at current gang members, the youth centers don’t do background checks on those who come for services and training.

    MARK FEIERSTEIN: And the youth is welcome there. You know, people are not being filtered — filtered when they — when they arrive there. So if they — if someone, you know, comes to a youth center and wants to participate, wants to get work force training, they’re welcome to do so.

    P.J. TOBIA: USAID officials say that the youth centers are only a piece of their effort. Meanwhile, the Pentagon and State Department also play a role through security initiatives and media campaigns, all aimed at convincing Central American children not to leave home in the first place.

    But, back in El Salvador, the root causes driving these child migrants persist, even getting worse after they return home.

    ELIZABETH KENNEDY: And so they explain, you know, to stay is to die. To go is possibly to die, but to possibly have a better future as well.

    P.J. TOBIA: It’s a risk that all too many are willing to take.

    GWEN IFILL: You can learn more about the State Department’s efforts to train local police in El Salvador. We have the latest in a reporting series from our partners at Fronteras. That’s on our home page at PBS.org/NewsHour.

     

    The post U.S. aims to decrease child migration through sponsored programs in Central America appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    There has long been debate about the nature of Islam and its use as justification in violent and inhumane brutality — including the recent beheadings of journalists and aid workers — from the Middle East to Africa and beyond. The most recent such debate came in an interview segment on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” but a piece of reporting we did recently might add some context to the larger conversation.

    Rashid Khalidi, a professor of modern Arab studies at Columbia University, disputes that the Quran offers any justification for beheading. He cites the lines coming immediately after one of the two verses used to justify the act: “Therefore, when you meet the unbelievers, smite at their necks.” But the very next line, contained in Chapter 47, Verse 4: “At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind the captives firmly. Therefore is the time for either generosity or ransom.”

    So basically, Khalidi said, there’s nothing about this passage that justifies the cutting off of heads.

    “It just shows that they don’t know anything about Islam and they probably don’t know how to read this properly,” he said.

    The post Islamic State group uses only half of a Quran verse to justify beheadings — see what’s in the other half appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    ebola

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    GWEN IFILL: Despite new pledges of aid, international leaders provided downbeat assessments of the current battle against Ebola. The head of the World Bank said the international community — community had — quote — “failed miserably” in its initial response. The director of the CDC said the situation reminded him of the early days of the AIDS epidemic.

    We get our own assessment from one of the few nongovernmental groups treating patients in West Africa.

    International Medical Corps has built a treatment clinic in Liberia and is constructing other facilities in both Liberia and Sierra Leone.

    Its president and CEO, Nancy Aossey, joins me now.

    Thank you for joining us.

    NANCY AOSSEY, International Medical Corps: Thank you, Gwen.

    GWEN IFILL: How many bed, how many facilities, how many people would you say that you’re engaged in treating now?

    NANCY AOSSEY: OK.

    So, in Liberia, International Medical Corps opened up a 70-bed hospital — or actually we call it a treatment unit. We opened that up in mid-September. We are scaling up and we will be opening up another treatment unit in Sierra Leone.

    In Liberia, we have about 200 people working in this treatment unit, trying to contain it, as well as treating people who have Ebola, with the hopes that they will recover, and they are recovering when they receive treatment.

    GWEN IFILL: Do you have any sense that the progress of this disease is being — is slowing?

    NANCY AOSSEY: Well, let me say that it’s clear that efforts, like ours and other organizations’, are working. When there are treatment efforts, when there are health care workers to treat patients as they come in — I mean, our first patients that arrived to our treatment unit, they died at the doorstep.

    But now we see that patients are recovering, and they’re returning back to their families. So any efforts around treatment and containment are working. The problem and the challenge is that there are just not enough operational efforts on the ground. That’s the challenge.

    GWEN IFILL: Is that because a lack of international action or nongovernmental action, or is it because the infrastructure in these communities is so difficult that even if you sent them 10 collapsible hospitals, pop-up hospitals, they couldn’t build them?

    NANCY AOSSEY: OK.

    Well, it’s a number of factors. One, certainly, the health care infrastructures are very weak in West Africa, under-resourced. They don’t have enough health workers. That’s one thing. The second thing is the spread wasn’t contained more quickly some months ago.

    International donors are stepping up. In fact, our treatment unit in Liberia was made possible from a grant from USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. It took $5 million to open that up and about a million a month.

    So, part of it is the resources need to be there, but also people are really afraid. They’re afraid to provide treatment because they also need to keep their own health workers safe. And so one of the things that we have done is we have said to other community health people as well as other international NGOs, we will provide case management protocol training.

    We will train their workers so that they can open up more treatment facilities. The problem we have now is that the disease and the outbreak is being — is outpacing the operational efforts on ground. There are a lot of plans in place, by the way, to change that, and we’re still within that window.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    Well, this part about how you keep health workers safe is something that was raised in a piece we had on the “NewsHour” last night about CDC workers preparing to go abroad. It takes 20 minutes to get into one of those suits, as long to get out of the suits and it’s possibly more difficult.

    Are you suffering at all from lack of willingness of volunteers to take all that on?

    NANCY AOSSEY: Oh, yes, great question.

    So, the suits, it’s very complicated. We have — you can only stay them in about two hours in Africa. It’s that hot. We have a buddy system, because people make mistakes. And so we have someone watching the other health worker so that they don’t infect themselves through a basic mistake.

    But what we are finding is that when proper — when people are properly equipped and they have the proper protocols in place, they can successfully treat patients and it can be contained. But that training, that knowledge is very important. And so what we have done is, we have said, you know, when organizations come to, say, Liberia, we will provide seven to 10 days of training, and as well the U.S. military is putting together a 25-bed hospital in Liberia specifically to take care of health workers, because one of the challenges around — you know, they call it the nurse killer in Liberia.

    One of the challenges around Ebola is that health workers are willing to step forward and help, and they’re very heroic, but our recruitment efforts are helped greatly by the fact that we can treat them if they catch Ebola.

    GWEN IFILL: An organization like yours, International Medical Corps, Ebola is not your only goal.

    NANCY AOSSEY: Right.

    GWEN IFILL: You also are working in places like the Central African Republic or in Syria among refugees. How do you stop resources from being stretched too thin to handle all of these crises at one time?

    NANCY AOSSEY: Right. Well, we’re in unprecedented times. We have six category three emergencies.

    GWEN IFILL: Six?

    NANCY AOSSEY: That is the highest emergency.

    Never in our history have we had that. I mean, one of the toughest years would have been two a year. And we have six in — we have six now in the last six months alone. So, you know, it’s all hands on deck. We’re hopeful that supporters, both government agencies and private sector — the private sector is starting to step into the Ebola fight, the refugee crises.

    They’re an important part of these efforts. But the fact is, it’s like we have to do it on all fronts, frankly. It’s impossible to pick among these because they’re all at the highest level they can be.

    GWEN IFILL: There are some places where they have been able to stop the spread and some places where they haven’t. We heard the head of the World Bank today say that there is — nothing less than the future of Africa is at stake right now.

    NANCY AOSSEY: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: Do you see that?

    NANCY AOSSEY: This can be stopped and it can be contained, but it has to be. It absolutely has to be stopped, because the fact of the matter is, we have — here we have two countries, Sierra Leone and Liberia, who are coming back from the brink of civil war.

    I mean, they have done so much to come back from where they were, and for them to be now dealing with Ebola on top of it, this — this crisis is a global crisis. It’s a world problem. It’s not just West Africa. We are all in it together. And we have to take the view that it is everyone’s problem, and whatever resources it takes, we have to be there, because it’s going to continue to spread if we’re not there.

    And it has to be stopped and contained at the source.

    GWEN IFILL: Nancy Aossey, president and CEO of the International Medical Corps, thank you very much.

    NANCY AOSSEY: Thank you, Gwen. Thanks.

     

    The post Why Ebola is outpacing health efforts on the ground appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    newswrap

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    GWEN IFILL: One hundred U.S. Marines and more military aid arrived in Liberia today to battle Ebola. At the same time, leaders from Liberia and neighboring countries pleaded for the outside world to make good on pledges to help.

    Appeals from West African leaders dominated a World Bank meeting in Washington today. On video link, the presidents of Sierra Leone and Liberia pressed for action, not just talk.

    PRESIDENT ERNEST BAIN KOROMA, Sierra Leone: Without your quick response, a tragedy unforeseen in modern times will threaten the well-being and compromise the security of people everywhere.

    PRESIDENT ELLEN JOHNSON Sirleaf, Liberia: This means the construction of treatment and testing and bearing centers within a time frame of one month, by mid-November, all such facilities functioning with staff health workers, both local and expatriate.

    GWEN IFILL: The president of Guinea appeared in person, adding his own request for money and facilities.

    Together, their three countries account for virtually all of the nearly 4,000 Ebola deaths so far. The disease claimed its first victim in the U.S. yesterday. Thomas Eric Duncan contracted the disease in Liberia before flying to Texas.

    And, in Spain, officials announced the condition of Teresa Romero has declined. She’s a nurse who treated an Ebola patient and was diagnosed herself this week.

    YOLANDA FUENTES, Deputy Director, Carlos III Hospital (through interpreter):  The patient has expressly forbidden us to give information about her health and clinical condition. I have only come here to confirm that her clinical condition has worsened.

    GWEN IFILL: Four more people who had contact with Romero were placed in isolation units for monitoring. They included a doctor who said he cared for the nurse without being told she was infected.

    The case has prompted protests by health workers and others in Madrid and questions about how the nurse was infected in the first place.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): We have followed all the necessary precautions they have told us to follow. Are those rules incorrect?  That, we don’t know.

    GWEN IFILL: The European Commission joined today in demanding that Spain give full explanations of exactly what happened.

    Meanwhile, a United Nations employee infected in Liberia arrived for treatment in Leipzig, Germany, today. And international airports in New York, Newark, Washington, Chicago, and Dallas prepared new screening for travelers from West Africa, including fever checks and other measures.

    Those measures don’t apply at New York’s La Guardia airport, and 200 airplane cabin cleaners staged a 24-hour strike there today, citing health and safety concerns. And, in Washington, a mostly Republican group of 26 lawmakers sent President Obama a letter calling for even more stringent restrictions, including visa bans and quarantines.

    At the same time, U.S. troops at Fort Hood, Texas, stepped up safety training ahead of being deployed to West Africa.

    We will hear from one of the medical groups struggling to corral the outbreak after the news summary.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: American and coalition planes stepped up their aerial assault in Syria today, but Islamic State forces made gains anyway. Syrian activists said the militants now control more than a third of Kobani, a key town on the border with Turkey.

    As the airstrikes continued, Turkish military tanks again looked on without intervening. But the Turkish foreign minister called for a comprehensive plan before his country launches an attack.

    MEVLUT CAVUSOGLU, Foreign Minister, Turkey (through interpreter): It’s not realistic to expect Turkey to carry out a ground operation on its own. Our negotiations are continuing about all our suggestions. Negotiations with our allies are continuing. Turkey will not hesitate to do its part when a common decision is reached.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Later, Secretary of State John Kerry called the militants’ advance on Kobani a tragedy. But he said it will not alter the Obama administration’s long-term strategy.

    GWEN IFILL: The rapidly deteriorating situation in Yemen took a turn for the worse today. Nearly 70 people were killed in a pair of suicide bombings. The attacks bore the hallmarks of Sunni militants linked to al-Qaida. One of the bombers targeted a large group of Shiite rebels who now control the capital city, Sanaa. Blood stains and debris littered the streets in the aftermath.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A total of 19 people are now dead in the worst fighting between India and Pakistan in more than a decade. Heavy shelling erupted more than a week ago in Kashmir, a mostly Muslim region claimed by both sides. The two sides traded warnings today to stand down, but the fighting continued.

    GWEN IFILL: There’s word from Mexico that authorities have captured the reputed leader of the Juarez drug cartel. Mexican officials say Vicente Carrillo Fuentes was taken in the northern city of Torreon. The U.S. had offered $5 million for his arrest.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Black leaders in Saint Louis called today for the Justice Department to investigate the latest fatal shooting of a black teenager. Police said an off-duty officer killed 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers last night after the teen fired first.

    The shooting sparked protests, 11 miles from Ferguson, where another officer killed Michael Brown in August.

    Saint Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson called for calm.

    COL. SAM DOTSON, Chief, Saint Louis Metropolitan Police: I’m being as open and transparent as the department can be. And I hope the public appreciates that. I know emotions are high and I know tensions are high, but the reality is, what we have seen or what the evidence tells me right now is that an individual pointed a gun at a police officer, fired at least three rounds, and continued to pull the trigger.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The teenager’s relatives disputed the police account, and insisted he wasn’t armed. Police didn’t identify the officer or give his race.

    GWEN IFILL: French author Patrick Modiano has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was honored today for decades of work that focused on the Nazi occupation of France during World War II. The 69-year-old writer has published more than 40 books, but he’s relatively unknown in the English-speaking world.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: This was another wild day on Wall Street. Jitters over global growth sent energy stocks plunging, and triggered a broad sell-off. The Dow Jones industrial average had its biggest loss of the year, nearly 335 points, one day after its biggest gain of the year. It finished at 16,659; the Nasdaq dropped 90 points to close at 4,378; and the S&P 500 fell 40 to finish at 1,928.

    The post News Wrap: U.S. troops arrive in Liberia to combat Ebola appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Watch the Illinois gubernatorial debate at 9 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Oct. 9, featuring incumbent governor Pat Quinn (D) and Bruce Rauner (R). Live stream courtesy of WTVP.

    An increasingly bitter contest for the Illinois governor’s mansion will play out in Peoria, Illinois, tonight when Incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner face off in their first televised debate.

    Illinois public broadcasters WTVP, WILL, WSIU, and WUIS co-sponsor the event at 9 p.m. EDT tonight with the League of Women Voters of Illinois. Jak Tichenor, host of WSIU’s Illinois Lawmakers program, moderates.

    The numbers have consistently shown the Democratic incumbent neck-and-neck with Rauner, a businessman running his first political campaign. As PBS NewsHour’s Domenico Montanaro reported back in March, Gov. Quinn’s tenure has been bumpy: he narrowly squeaked to victory in 2006 with less than 50 percent of the vote, and his approval ratings have hovered consistently around 30 percent. Most recently, his administration has faced allegations of misappropriating funds intended for an anti-violence initiative.

    But beyond the polls, this contest has gotten personally contentious. The candidates publicly squabbled last month before the Chicago Tribune editorial board, with each man accusing the other of corruption. “The only difference between Pat Quinn and Rod Blagojevich is the hair,” Rauner said at one point, referring to the governor’s disgraced predecessor, who was convicted of soliciting bribes while in office.

    If the candidates can keep away from personal barbs, domestic economic policy is bound to be a central focus of tonight’s debate. Quinn has become increasingly outspoken in favor of increasing the minimum wage and fighting income inequality, while Rauner, who worked in private equity for decades, believes his business background will bring jobs back to the Prairie State.

    Watch how this conversation plays out in the player above, and follow #ILGov2014 on Twitter.


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    With 12ft walls, enormous footprint, and conspicuous location, al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden’s Abottabad compound probably raised suspicions in Pakistan, says former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in an interview with Judy Woodruff. Panetta was CIA director during the raid on Bin Laden’s compound, and transmitted President Obama’s order to go ahead with the operation.

    Panetta spoke on the occasion of the release of his memoir, Worthy Fights, which takes a critical look at leadership in Washington, and particularly President Obama’s efforts to handle legislative gridlock in the shadow of several world crises. “This is a — this is a serious time in our history in 2014. It’s a serious time with regards to, what direction is this country going to take? We have got a Washington that’s largely dysfunctional in the stalemate. We’re not dealing with the principal issues facing this country. We’re dealing with a series of threats abroad.”

    Watch Secretary Panetta’s full interview with Judy Woodruff here.

    The post Panetta: “I find it difficult to believe” Pakistan’s military didn’t have suspicions about Bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Disfunction in Washington is the most serious threat to the United States, says former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. “Our inability to come together, to work together and present a unified front…seriously damages not only our national defense, but damages our economy as well.”

    Panetta spoke on the occasion of the release of his memoir, Worthy Fights, which takes a critical look at leadership in Washington, and particularly President Obama’s efforts to handle legislative gridlock in the shadow of several world crises. “This is a — this is a serious time in our history in 2014. It’s a serious time with regards to, what direction is this country going to take? We have got a Washington that’s largely dysfunctional in the stalemate. We’re not dealing with the principal issues facing this country. We’re dealing with a series of threats abroad.”

    Watch Secretary Panetta’s full interview with Judy Woodruff here.

    The post Former Secretary of Defense Panetta sees greatest threat to U.S. coming from inside Washington appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Left: Michigan Governor Rick Snyder delivers his inaugural remarks in front of the state Capitol in downtown Lansing, Michigan in 2011. Photo from Flickr user Joe Ross. Right: Democratic challenger Mark Schauer in 2008. Photo from Flickr user mic stolz.

    Left: Michigan Governor Rick Snyder delivers his inaugural remarks in front of the state Capitol in downtown Lansing, Michigan in 2011. Photo from Flickr user Joe Ross. Right: Democratic challenger Mark Schauer in 2008. Photo from Flickr user mic stolz.

    Candidates in Michigan’s governor’s race will face off for the only time before November’s general election at a town hall forum this weekend.

    Incumbent Republican Governor Rick Snyder will square off against Democratic challenger Mark Schauer before a live audience on Sunday, Oct. 12 at 6 p.m. EDT on the campus of Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich.

    Detroit Public Television, the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press sponsor. Christy McDonald, an anchor at Detroit Public Television, hosts. Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor at the Free Press, and Nolan Finley, editorial page editor of The Detroit News, moderate. You can watch and participate in the event live here: http://bit.ly/MichTownHall

    Through a partnership between PBS NewsHour and Detroit Public Television, citizens across the country will be able to watch together and share their thoughts in real time in a live, online screening of the event.

    Laura Weber Davis, a producer and host of “Detroit Today” at WDET, Detroit’s public radio station, will provide expert analysis throughout the screening. She will be joined by the PBS NewsHour reporters and producers who have been closely monitoring this election cycle.

    Throughout their campaigns, Gov. Snyder and Schauer have sparred over economic issues, including the minimum wage and education spending. With Detroit still reeling from its municipal bankruptcy, the incumbent will have to defend his record on spending, job creation and balanced budgets, while Schauer, a former Congressman, will have to make the case that he could do it better.

    Join the NewsHour team in watching this debate playout live, at http://bit.ly/MichTownHall.

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    Federal agents are watching airplanes in a chance an passengers are carrying the Ebola virus. Photo by Flickr user ATOMIC Hot Links

    The State Department is renewing a terrorism warning for Americans traveling overseas, stating that there is a heightened risk for reprisal attacks. Photo by Flickr user ATOMIC Hot Links

    WASHINGTON — The State Department is renewing its global terrorism alert for Americans traveling abroad, saying it sees a heightened risk of reprisal attacks from the Islamic State group and its supporters.

    In a new “worldwide caution” issued on Friday, the department said terrorist groups continue to plot strikes against Americans and U.S. interests in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. It said authorities believe there is “an increased likelihood” of reprisal attacks from Islamic State militants since the U.S. and its coalition partners launched military action against the group in Iraq and Syria.

    The alert replaces an existing warning issued in April and also notes the growing threat of kidnapping perpetrated by terrorists.

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    Photo by Flickr user Raido https://www.flickr.com/photos/raidokaldma/

    Lyft drivers, distinguishable by their bright pink decal mustache, are independent contractors in the new sharing economy. Photo by Flickr user Raido

    The more we share together the happier we’ll be.

    That is what companies that make up the sharing economy promise. Feastly lets you share a homemade meal. Vayable lets you share your local knowledge of the best things to experience in your city. With Lyft, you can share a ride, and on Airbnb you can share your home. These are all well-engineered technology platforms that have facilitated peer-to-peer marketplaces. The promise is that these platforms will revolutionize the way we consume, and bring together communities that don’t just share products, but experiences.

    “These models are facilitating a more effective use of existing capital and assets,” said Arun Sundararajan of NYU’s Stern School of Business. “It’s allowing us to tap into underutilized assets and labor. Sources of labor that were not being used efficiently.”

    For the average user of the sharing economy, there are now lots of ways to access products and services that were once too expensive. Advocates of the sharing economy argue that having a variety of choices at your fingertips ignites more economic activity. Apps have made access to transportation, dry cleaning, or even someone to put together your Ikea furniture, easy and almost immediate.

    But as these platforms grow, they compete with existing markets in cities across America. While innovation is good for consumers, do the suppliers of the sharing economy get the same great bargain?

    Denise Kuenzel is an avid supplier in the sharing economy. After losing her job as a management analyst at the postal service headquarters in March of 2013, she has employed herself primarily through TaskRabbit, Lyft and Airbnb. She is what Silicon Valley considers a micropreneur. The companies who pay her do not consider her an employee but rather an independent contractor.

    “TaskRabbit and Lyft have literally saved my life,” she said. “For me, right now, this is generating the kind of income that I need, and there’s the flexibility and I like helping people.”

    Kuenzel used to rent out her home on Airbnb, earning roughly $1100 per month, before her condo issued her a cease and desist order. After she was forced to stop hosting, she took on a roommate and joined Lyft and TaskRabbit. To make ends meet, she has to complete no fewer than five tasks a week, and 15 hours of driving with Lyft. She charges $30 an hour for basic tasks like installing shelves or delivering cupcakes to someone’s hotel room. For more labor intensive tasks, she charges $55 an hour.

    There are others like Kuenzel, who have struggled to find full employment or are looking for a way to supplement their income after their hours were cut. For them, the creation of peer-to-peer marketplaces have been a godsend.

    “Without Uber I would be unemployed right now. I’d have to foreclose on my house and sell my car,” said William Parker, an UberX driver in Washington, D.C., who was laid off from his job at a printing press. He thinks that Uber is “the best thing to ever hit the economy.”

    The ability to monetize one’s skills or rent out one’s assets has put extra cash into the pockets of millions of struggling Americans. Not to mention that people can work when they want and set their own rates. While there are no statistics that show how many people participate in the sharing economy, in the U.S. alone there are an estimated 17.7 million independent workers, or people who work at least half-time as contractors, freelancers and micropreneurs. According to a 2013 MBO Partners Study on independent workers, nearly $1.2 trillion in total income was generated by these Americans.

    Professor Sundararajan believes there is some early causal evidence to suggest that moving away from traditional forms of employment could have a positive impact on average income for suppliers. He explained that the median 2013 wage for maids and housekeeping cleaners, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $9.51 an hour. But the rates that people charge for the same services on peer-to-peer sites like Homejoy or Handybook, which let you book a cleaner or handyman, are on average much higher. “So the fears that this will exacerbate inequality,” Sundararajan said, “may be short sighted.”

    To clean a two-bedroom apartment in the popular Shaw neighborhood of D.C., for example, cleaners on TaskRabbit charge anywhere from $25 to $55 an hour. On Homejoy, cleaners charge $25 per hour plus a $5 cleaning supply charge. Handybook charges $35 per hour. On the surface, this would suggest that the suppliers — the people who actually do the work on these platforms — could potentially earn more per hour than they would if they were employed by a traditional cleaning agency or hotel.

    But other economists predict that these new “microgig” jobs will have negative consequences for worker wages over the long term. Dean Baker, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, argues that suppliers of these platforms have no guarantee that they will make a minimal standard of living. “We want to make sure that if you’re hiring people through Uber or TaskRabbit or Lyft — whatever it might be — that they could expect to get at least the minimum wage,” Baker said.

    For people working on these platforms it can often be difficult to break even. Because most peer-to-peer companies take a percentage of the supplier’s gross income, workers end up with less money per hour than the price advertised and paid by consumers. Suppliers end up having to work more hours in order to make a decent living. “There is certainly a risk that workers will exploit themselves,” Baker explains.

    In addition, there are extra miscellaneous costs that suppliers accrue. Insurance, self-employment taxes, gas, the cost of cleaning supplies — these are just a few of the deductions they have to consider. How long a supplier has been on the platform also factors into their gross pay. Typically the longer the supplier has been using a platform, the more they stand to make because they have established a trusted reputation within the online community.

    There’s been much speculation, but not as much analysis on how the sharing economy affects workers’ wages. One reason for that, suggests Denise Cheng, a former researcher at MIT’s Center for Civic Media who wrote her thesis on the peer economy’s effect on labor, is that companies aren’t willing to share the relevant data on wages that would be needed for such studies. That’s because, she said, “There are such few companies in each [sharing economy category] that by revealing that information they are really revealing that information to their competitors.”

    In other words, if Uber released worker wage data, that information would become public to other transportation network companies and direct competitors like Lyft, or Sidecar might change their business strategies.

    One Sunday, Denise Kuenzel completed two tasks — one for $30 an hour, and one for $37 an hour, of which TaskRabbit took 20 percent of her earnings. She estimates that she made $110 after her TaskRabbit fee, but before she deducted expenses like gas and lunch.

    For some people the costs outweigh the benefits.

    Sandy, who asked that her name be changed out of fear of retaliation from the ridesharing company, recently quit her job at a tourism agency to drive full time for UberX.

    “We can average $15 to $25 per hour. But then there is my insurance, my car maintenance, my gas — none of that is covered.” Sandy initially took up driving for Uber when the tour company she worked for cut back her hours. She left her day job expecting she could make more driving full time, but then Uber cut their rates 20 percent in D.C. “Everything I was paying for before I am still paying the same or more for. It’s a mess what they are doing here.”

    Suppliers have to have a strategy to optimize their time and resources, said Cheng, if they actually want to make a decent living. She argues that a number of factors like marketing techniques and peer trust ratings affect how much a person makes on these platforms. “You know, we say micro entrepreneurship, but that doesn’t mean just plop people into a platform and they can start making money.”

    Whether driving for Lyft or crafting for Etsy, sharing economy suppliers are essentially freelancers and thus face uncertain and changing demand for their goods and services. They also do not reap the benefits that come with gainful employment. Sick days, workers’ compensation and retirement plans are just some perks that a sharing economy supplier cannot count on.

    In some cases, the platform companies have made it harder for their suppliers to make a living wage. Sandy isn’t the only Uber driver making less than ever. The company’s recent rate cuts sparked nationwide protests. TaskRabbit reorganized its website, eliminating the bidding system and replacing it with an on-demand fixed hourly rate. Now users are incentivized to compare and contrast taskers’ rates, often choosing the cheapest option. Suppliers have no say in these business changes, even though they have a direct effect on their net income.

    Indeed, as these sharing companies evolve, one of the biggest challenges the peer economy will face is how to support the suppliers of the system. One idea is to form worker guilds for suppliers that would facilitate collective bargaining with the platforms they work for. Another idea is for these companies to transition into partial cooperatives in which the suppliers have a stake. How this would work is yet to be figured out.

    The post Who protects the workers powering the new sharing economy? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Watch the Wisconsin gubernatorial debate at 8 p.m. EDT tonight (7 p.m. CDT), featuring incumbent Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Mary Burke (D). Wisconsin Public Television will live stream the event in the player above. Courtesy Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Foundation. Immediately after the debate, keep the stream running to watch Wisconsin Public Television’s state politics and policy program, Here and Now, which will be live with post-debate analysis.

    One of the most contentious governor’s races in the country will come to a head this evening as Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his Democratic challenger, Mary Burke, meet in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, for the first of two October debates.

    The hour-long event will broadcast live from the Mayo Auditorium in Eau Claire at 8 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. CDT). The Wisconsin Broadcasters Association sponsors. Jill Geisler, a veteran Wisconsin broadcaster, moderates.

    Third-party candidates Robert Burke (L) and Dennis Fehr (The People’s Party) will not participate, per the WBA’s criteria for inclusion.

    Walker and Burke had been in a statistical dead heat since Burke, a businesswoman and former state Secretary of Commerce, won her primary in May. But most recently, a poll out of Marquette University shows the incumbent taking the lead by five percentage points.

    The poll also reveals a substantial gender gap between the two candidates, with Burke holding a strong advantage among women, but Walker holding an even stronger advantage among men. Wisconsin’s political landscape is among the most polarized in the country, as PBS NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill explored in July.

    That schism deepened in 2012 after Gov. Walker passed a bill ending collective bargaining for most public workers, sparking a heated recall election which he defeated.

    The economic issues underpinning that emotional race remain central to this year’s campaign, and jobs programs, tax rates, the minimum wage, school funding and health care are all likely themes of tonight’s debate.

    Tonight’s debate also comes on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to block the implementation of a voter ID measure that Gov. Walker had championed. That law would have required voters to present photo identification at the polls, which supporters say would help prevent electoral fraud. But the nation’s highest court said Thursday that the law was being implemented too close to the November election and that absentee ballots with no mention of the law had already been mailed.

    The second and final debate between the major-party candidates will take place in the Milwaukee Public Television studios on Friday, Oct. 17, at 8 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. CDT). PBS NewsHour will also stream that event. Erin Toner of Milwaukee Public Radio will moderate.

    Immediately after tonight’s debate, Wisconsin Public Television’s state politics and policy program, Here and Now, will be live with post-debate analysis. Keep the stream running to see anchor Frederica Freyberg joined on set by political scientists and representatives from Wisconsin’s Democratic and Republican Parties.

    The post WATCH LIVE: Wisconsin gubernatorial debate appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    New research suggests that teenagers are more likely to choose long-acting contraceptives when cost is removed from the equation. And free coverage of such methods is required by the health law. But now, a study has found that free coverage of such methods too often still falls short.

    The study, published in the journal Contraception by the Guttmacher Institute, found that insurance coverage of contraceptives without cost sharing has improved markedly since the health law’s requirement became effective for most women in 2013.

    But gaps in coverage remain. The Guttmacher researchers analyzed the experiences of 892 privately insured women who used prescription contraceptives between the fall of 2012, before the law’s provisions took effect for most women, and the spring of 2014. It found that the proportion of women who paid nothing for their intrauterine devices increased from 45 percent to 62 percent during that time. The proportion of women who had no cost sharing for injectable contraceptives grew from 27 percent to 59 percent. (There weren’t enough women using hormonal implants to include in the study.)

    Some long-acting contraceptives such as IUDS can cost hundreds of dollars up front, putting them out of reach financially for some women unless insurance covers the cost.

    Meanwhile, a new three-year study published in The New England Journal Of Medicine found that after teenagers received counseling about the effectiveness of various birth control methods, nearly three quarters who were offered long-acting contraceptives — like intrauterine devices or hormonal implants — at no charge picked them. The young women were not only more likely to choose long-acting methods, they were significantly less likely to get pregnant, give birth or have an abortion, the study found.

    Why is free coverage of long-acting contraceptives—which can prevent pregnancy from three months up to 10 years—still lacking for roughly 40 percent of women? Why is free coverage of long-acting contraceptives—which can prevent pregnancy from three months up to 10 years—still lacking for roughly 40 percent of women?

    “The biggest reason is probably the issue of grandfathered plans,” says Adam Sonfield, a senior public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute and the study’s lead author. Plans that were in force in March 2010 when the health law passed and haven’t changed substantially since then aren’t required to provide free contraceptive coverage.

    Religious employers, mainly churches, are also exempted.

    In addition, some employers that have religious affiliations or that object to providing birth control on religious grounds can avoid covering birth control directly and do it instead through their insurer. Employees at these organizations should still receive FDA-approved contraceptives without any copayments or other types of cost sharing. Details on that process are still being worked out for the for-profit companies that assert religious concerns.

    In the long run, “the concept of a contraceptive coverage guarantee should help level the playing field and help people of all ages choose the method that will work best for them, without having to worry about whether this method will cost them more up front,” says Sonfield.

    It’s good for insurance companies, too, says Sonfield. Avoiding an unplanned pregnancy, even with an IUD that may cost hundreds of dollars, is a lot cheaper than paying for pregnancy and birth.


    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.

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    goodlie

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight: A new film looks at a brutal civil war through the eyes of those who walked the walk.

    Jeffrey Brown explains.

    ACTOR: You must be Pamela Lowey from Faith Based Charities?

    REESE WITHERSPOON, Actress: Oh, no, I’m from the Forester employment agency. I’m going to help you find jobs.

    JEFFREY BROWN: “The Good Lie” tells the story of the lost boys of Sudan, children forced to wander hundreds or even thousands of miles to escape violence, orphaned by the 22-year civil war that began in 1983 and left an estimated two million dead and double that number displaced.

    REESE WITHERSPOON: Did your luggage come down the chute? Great.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It’s a fictional account starring Reese Witherspoon, but also several of the young men themselves, and follows them to this country, where beginning in the mid-1990s several thousand were brought into a strange new life.

    ACTOR: Your father was a chief?

    ACTOR: Yes, I guess some people would have called him that.

    ACTOR: My father was a chief, too.

    ACTOR: May we visit with your cow?

    ACTOR: Be my guest.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Actor Ger Duany made this incredible trip himself, from a lost boy forced to serve as a soldier, to a refugee camp, and then to the U.S.

    I talked with him and screenwriter Margaret Nagle, who originated the project and worked for years to get it made.

    MARGARET NAGLE, Screenwriter: I really wanted to tell this story because it was about brothers and sisters surviving. And it was about the very worst and the very best of humanity to me, and that’s — as a writer, you’re always searching for a way to get that story out.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What was that like, those years of not having a home, of just trying to stay one step ahead of war?

    GER DUANY, Actor: It wasn’t a pleasant feeling, but I was learning a lot, and I was learning about who I am, and even who I have become now, so…

    (CROSSTALK)

    JEFFREY BROWN: In what way?

    GER DUANY: I think, well, it brought a lot of transformation, because I learned how to live with no mother and father.

    And I lived — I learned how to live without my own actual brothers, and I lived for other people, that I just make my life better.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I read that you felt before you could go ahead with this that you needed the kind of OK from the — well, the actors, but the young men who had actually lived through this.

    MARGARET NAGLE: I went around the country to the various lost boys community, and told them the story I was going to tell, everything that I could, so that it felt real to them.

    And the idea was to create a fund, The Good Lie Fund, that we would put money into for the education and for humanitarian aid for the lost boys. So I went and pitched them the story. And…

    JEFFREY BROWN: You pitched them the story? You mean you literally said…

    (CROSSTALK)

    MARGARET NAGLE: I literally — I went — yes, yes, yes. And I said, here’s the story I’m going to tell, and they had — they signed on.

    GER DUANY: I knew it was going to be challenging, and in many layers.

    And — then, but reading the script that she had written is — it was very — the tone, the language, you know, of the people of South Sudan was completely — it was massive. And that’s what — like, it drew me into the whole things.

    I have never been able to talk about this. I tucked it in for a long, long, two decades of being here in America.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    GER DUANY: So something came up, and then when the script came across, I’m kind of prepared emotionally that I wanted to open my story to the world.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I read about the saga of making this film. It took a long, long time. And you wonder why it takes so long to make a film like this. Of course, then you think, well, it’s about war in Africa. It’s kind of a hard story to watch.

    MARGARET NAGLE: Hollywood used to make movies like this, but, in this last decade, they have stopped making movies like this.

    And it was hard to get people to believe in the story, to engage with the story. And once people engage with the story, they are all lit up, they are excited, they are passionate. And it’s the kind of — this is — it’s an intimate epic.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Partly, this — I mean, behind the film is a story of how film gets made, right, and which films get made and which don’t. That’s been your life.

    MARGARET NAGLE: Yes.

    GER DUANY: But you know what? This movie maybe had been waiting for me to heal and then revisit the past time that I was living.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In real life, Duany was brought to Des Moines. In the film, he and the others come to Kansas City. The movie captures some of the humor of cultural disconnects.

    GER DUANY: I have great faith, Yaardit.

    REESE WITHERSPOON: Yaardit?

    GER DUANY: It is our special name for you.

    REESE WITHERSPOON: For me?

    GER DUANY: Yes. It has great cultural significance.

    REESE WITHERSPOON: What does it mean?

    GER DUANY: It means great white cow.

    REESE WITHERSPOON: OK. Well it’s better than a lot of things I have been called.

    MARGARET NAGLE: We’re very tough people, Americans. We’re capable of being so kind and wonderful.

    But we’re hard on people who are different than we are. So one of the things the film does is, you’re in the point of view of these boys and their experience. Through the whole first 35 minutes, you know their background, you know them intimately. Then they land in the United States, and we see how we, the United States, see people like them.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Do you remember that transition, when you first landed in the United States, and what that was like?

    GER DUANY: Very vivid, yes, very.

    I remember, when I landed here in 1994, May 24, 1994, and I was about fifteen years old, I just admit that in the back of my head, like, I’m really a lost — a lost boy now.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Now you’re really lost, huh?

    GER DUANY: Yes.

    (LAUGHTER)

    GER DUANY: I was lost in this world.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And what about now?

    GER DUANY: Now I think I’m leading the world in choices.

    Since I became an American — and I’m truly just like any other American kids — an opportunity coming my way, I just try to capitalize on them. Otherwise, I never have fire to pursue movies. But now I’m here.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The movie is “The Good Lie.”

    Ger Duany and Margaret Nagle, thank you both very much.

    GER DUANY: Thank you.

    MARGARET NAGLE: Thank you.

    The post For one of Sudan’s Lost Boys, telling story on film offers healing appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    shieldsbrooks

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: This week saw the Supreme Court make news on same-sex marriage and voting rights and the politicians respond to the first case of Ebola in the United States.

    For that and more, we turn to the analysis of Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Welcome, gentlemen.

    So, Mark, the Supreme Court made waves this week in a way by not making waves. They said, we’re not going to get involved, we’re not going to interfere with these courts that have — around the country have said they’re going to put a stop to these bans on same-sex marriage.

    In fact, just in the last few hours, the Supreme Court issued another statement like this on North Carolina.

    MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you make of all this?

    MARK SHIELDS: Judy, I have never seen an issue, the velocity of change so intense in my life.

    Just to review the bidding, 2004 presidential campaign, the Republicans backing President George W. Bush put the ballot in question in 11 states outlawing same-sex marriage. It passed overwhelmingly. The key was Ohio. And the intent and the objective was simple, to generate larger turnout, voter turnout, in more rural and conservative areas.

    It worked in Ohio, and George W. Bush was reelected by the votes in Ohio. 2008, every Democratic presidential candidate went on record that he or she was only for same-sex marriage — marriage between one man and one woman. As 2012 approached, Joe Biden, the vice president, got in trouble by embracing for the first time same-sex marriage.

    But the numbers are just daunting. Among young Republicans — this is a Pew Research poll — 61 percent of Republicans, young Republicans under the age of 30 are in favor of same-sex marriage.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Favor.

    MARK SHIELDS: And, I mean, it’s just — the issue, it’s left — the train’s left the station and it’s just been a sea change in difference of opinion.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s a dizzying change. The courts are just backing out of the picture.

    DAVID BROOKS: Right. And you got to — I sort of applaud the minimalism here.

    Sometimes, you just let the country have its way, and you don’t try to determine the shape of the country. You sort of modestly step back and let the country figure out what it believes. And I think they’re doing absolutely the right thing in just withdrawing and not getting too involved.

    And I think, frankly, they have learned the lesson — and Ruth Bader Ginsburg has apparently told people they have learned the lesson the problem with Roe v. Wade. Roe v. Wade had — there was an issue that was evolving, and it’s evolving. And then the court laid down a brick wall, and they polarized that debate. They froze the debate.

    And whatever — wherever you stand on that issue, that decision distorted discussion of abortions ever since. And so by staying out of the way, they’re letting the country have its discussion.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And so this means the court, Mark, will — that it’s spoken and we are not going to hear about — we are not going to hear about the issue?

    MARK SHIELDS: I think we will hear it.

    I think a debate, candidate debates, I think they will — in 2014, it will be a question. The question is, in 2016, in the Republican nominating process, because there are firm believers, true believers, I mean, people who believe devoutly and passionately that marriage is only between one man and one woman and that somehow it’s compromising what they consider the sacrament and institution of marriage.

    And they are very active, many of them, in the Republican nominating process. And I think there will be one or more candidates who takes that position.

    DAVID BROOKS: You’re already beginning to see signs of that. Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, who is thinking of running, he sort of said, OK, it’s over. He was like happy to brush it off, like, OK, we don’t want to deal with that.

    And I think that’s the view of a lot of candidates. They just don’t want to deal with it. Let — but then Ted Cruz came out and he was much more opposed. So, I do think…

    (CROSSTALK)

    MARK SHIELDS: Mike Huckabee.

    DAVID BROOKS: And Huckabee, Huckabee really strong, really, really strongly.

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

    DAVID BROOKS: And so we can expect to see, especially in states like Iowa, it to be an issue. And I will be fascinated to see how — if — Jeb Bush, if he runs, Chris Christie, it will be fascinating to see how they dance this through.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Just quickly, one other issue the court rule on, or made itself — declared itself on this week, Mark, was voter identification. They basically said that they blocked — they blocked a tighter voter I.D. law in the state of Wisconsin.

    So are we — do you have a sense that this makes a difference, that other states will be reluctant to pass these laws because of what the court does?

    MARK SHIELDS: I’m not sure. This is such an aberration from American history, if you think of it. Only white male property owners over the age of 21 could vote when this country began. It eventually expanded to all males and even nonwhites and then eventually to women.

    And, you know, then in 1965, Judy, the Voting Rights Act came and said that the federal government has a responsibility to make sure that everybody can vote. And 96 percent of Republican senators voted for the Voting Rights Act, only 73 percent of Democrats.

    I mean, it was a great Lincoln issue. And what happened in 2010, when the Republicans swept all these statehouses and state legislatures, they did two things in shorthand. They made it easier to buy a gun and tougher to vote. And this week, the Government Accountability Office, nonpartisan research, found that, in a study of voter I.D. laws, that it actually lowered the turnout in Tennessee and Kansas, two states studied, among minority voters and younger voters.

    And I hate to say it, but that was the objective of those people who pushed it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What effect do you see on the…

    (CROSSTALK)

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes. I confess I was persuaded by that study.

    I had assumed, looking especially at the national election results, that it had this backfiring effect, that the voter I.D. laws had so mobilized especially African-American voters that they had swamped, that it was actually harmful. And I think a lot of people believed that after the 2012 — or 2012, 2008 election.

    But the GAO support — study suggests that it actually did suppress votes. The other thing the GAO study said, which I think is the key to a lot of this — and I oppose these laws — is that the assertion that there’s a lot of fraud out there is just not true. There’s scattered fraud. But the idea that there is systemic fraud that you need the picture I.D.s to combat is just not out there.

    Nobody has ever been able to find it. And so it does lead to the worst assertions of why the people — these laws are being passed.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Senate races, three-and-a-half weeks left, Mark. Maybe some surprises developing in South Dakota, some other places? What do you see?

    MARK SHIELDS: Right from the outset, all the conventional wisdom has been, three Democratic states — seats that are going to. The Republicans are going to win West Virginia. Jay Rockefeller is retiring. Max Baucus left Montana. The Republicans are going to win. And South Dakota with Tim Johnson retiring.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It was the mantra.

    MARK SHIELDS: That was it.

    And now, all of a sudden, South Dakota is a race. An aberrational independent candidate, Larry Pressler, 40 years ago elected to the House from South Dakota two terms, then three terms in the Senate, and a Vietnam veteran. No money. But he’s scrambled that race.

    And so all of a sudden, Rick Weiland, the Democrat, thinks he has got a chance. Democrats are putting in — and Mike Rounds, the Republican governor, former governor, who was coasting to — coasting to election and coronation, finds himself in a race, and it’s a real fight.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It may be interesting after all on election night.

    DAVID BROOKS: It may be.

    (LAUGHTER)

    DAVID BROOKS: I still have — I still have it in my bones that it’s going to be a tide for the Republicans.

    And I look at it — and first, in the South Dakota race, what Pressler is doing is amazing, and so it should be saluted. It’s great for anybody who follows politics.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The comeback. If there’s comeback.

    DAVID BROOKS: If there’s a comeback.

    It should be said, though, they haven’t really turned their guns on him yet. And so it gets worse for him as he — it doesn’t mean he don’t survive it, but it gets harder for him from here on out, because now he’s a big player and they’re going to turn their guns on him.

    I still — I still think that we’re in a race like 2006, where you have an unpopular president which, at the end of the day, the people who decide late, they tend to decide against the president’s party. And the candidates who have approval ratings of under 45 percent, which is a lot of people, even Kay Hagan, they tend to not do well, because the late deciders tend to go against the president and tend to benefit the other property.

    In 2006, Democrats was the unpopular — Democrats had a late surge. It feels parallel to me that, that the Republicans may have a surge.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You feel it could be the so-called wave?

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, I don’t know how big the wave. There’s a lot of breakers there.

    So, I still think it feels like that, just because you look at the president’s approval number and you look at a lot of the Democrats, even the incumbents, they’re 40, 42, 45 in approval, and historically those candidates have not risen to 50 by Election Day.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What’s your gut telling you?

    MARK SHIELDS: I think it’s a depressing year.

    It’s as dreary and dismal a campaign as I have ever seen. In 1994, even Democrats had to acknowledge that the Republicans had a Contract with America. Even in 2006, when the Democrats swept back in, there was a six for ’06.

    I have no idea what the Republicans want to do if they win or what the Democrats, other than minimum wage and equal pay, that they — so it’s an election, Judy, not about, we want to win. We want the other guy to lose. Beating the opposition is somehow more important.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Look at the commercials.

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes, really.

    DAVID BROOKS: And it’s identical. It’s the Democrats saying right-wing extremists, the Republicans saying, oh, you like Obama. And that is the — that’s it, nationwide, nationwide, nationwide. So, it’s paint by numbers. There’s very little creativity.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Very, very quickly, some conservatives have been saying this week that the administration has dropped the ball on the fight against Ebola to keep it out of the country, there’s not enough being done. Could this become a political issue between now and Election Day, Mark?

    MARK SHIELDS: Obviously, I think some Republicans are trying to raise it in certain campaigns.

    You know, I think it’s tough to make the case. I think the president and the government is doing far more. Contrast it with what we did on AIDS just a generation ago. Should we be doing more? It’s kind of tough when you cut the National Institute of Health budget on infectious diseases, and it requires cooperation and collaboration with other countries.

    We have cut by a quarter, the Republicans have, since 2010 the contribution to the World Health Organization. But it’s — there’s no question there’s a concern and an anxiety in the country.

    DAVID BROOKS: Substantively, one person’s died on our shores from Ebola, but it plays into the larger argument that we have lost control of the borders, and that we’re insecure.

    And that’s terrorism and immigration. Ebola is just like a way to remind people of terrorism and immigration. So, I think they’re playing it for that reason. Whether there’s really an actual health scare about Ebola in this country, I find it hard to believe that it wouldn’t be legitimate.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, in just the few minutes that we have left, I want to shift gears slightly.

    There was a memorial service today for James Brady. He was President Reagan’s White House press secretary. He was an ardent gun control person. He died in August, 33 years after being shot in the head during the 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan.

    A number of Washington hands who knew and worked with Jim Brady — I was honored to be among them — paid tribute to Jim this morning.

    BILL PLANTE, CBS News: I asked him if he was still bitter.

    He paused. “Well,” he said, “it’s not classy to be bitter. And I try to be classy, as you know.”

    (LAUGHTER)

    BILL PLANTE: “Is it very much of an effort?” I asked.

    He answered, “Yes.” But he made that effort valiantly for 33 years.

    VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN: What is interesting about Jim, he turned it all into action.

    He not only reached out to survivors of gun violence, but he reached out to the disabled with a message of encouragement and hope on the road to recovery. And the reason why it mattered so much to them — and you could see it in their eyes — it mattered because they knew he knew. They knew he understood. And he literally helped heal. And he gave hope.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, David, you are too young. You weren’t around back during the Reagan administration.

    (CROSSTALK)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, you and I — you and I were around, to be gentle about it.

    (LAUGHTER)

    MARK SHIELDS: You were in the sixth grade, Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Thoughts about Jim Brady. He was a special guy.

    MARK SHIELDS: Jim Brady was a very special guy.

    In 1974, there was a saloon in Washington called The Class Reunion, where Republicans and Democrats and politicians and journalists used to meet and laugh and tell stories. And Jim Brady was sort of the unofficial mayor of that place. He was great company.

    But what I remember about him — Joe Biden is absolutely right. Joe Biden knew him well because he was the press secretary for Joe Biden’s Republican colleague from Delaware Bill Roth.

    But in the 1980 campaign, Ronald Reagan was factually challenged occasionally. He said at one point trees cause more pollution than automobiles. And…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Brady repeated that.

    MARK SHIELDS: Jim Brady was his press secretary on the train — on the plane. They’re flying over a small forest fire. And Jim points out the window and says, look, killer trees, killer trees.

    He just was marvelously humorous. He was thrown off the plane. But he was so good…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: By the campaign.

    MARK SHIELDS: By the campaign hierarchy. This was irreverent.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But he was back in a few days.

    MARK SHIELDS: He was back in a few days because was indispensable. He was good. He was a noble and good and wonderful man.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: One of the best press secretaries in the White House ever.

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, David Brooks

    The post Shields and Brooks on same-sex marriage sea change, politics of Ebola prevention appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    AUSTIN, Texas — A new television ad by Democrat Wendy Davis goes into territory she hadn’t touched until now: Republican Greg Abbott’s use of a wheelchair.

    A 30-second ad released Friday and titled “Justice” notes the Texas Attorney General recovered millions in a lawsuit after he was injured by a falling tree in 1984, and accuses him of not siding with victims like himself in Texas courts.

    It drew a swift rebuke from national conservative groups and the Abbott campaign, which called it “disgusting” and “desperate.”

    “It’s her choice if she wants to attack a guy in a wheelchair,” Abbott said in an interview with the San Antonio Express-News editorial board after the ad’s release. “I don’t think it’s going to sell too well.”

    Abbott lost the use of his legs after his spine was crushed by the falling oak tree. The wheelchair hasn’t held him back in his legal or political careers that saw him elected to the state Supreme Court and as attorney general in 2002.

    Davis’ ad is the first by an Abbott opponent to make such an overt issue of his wheelchair. And it comes with little time left for Davis to close the gap on Abbott, who began the race as the favorite and still maintains sizable leads in opinion polls and campaign bank accounts.

    No Democrat has won a statewide election in Texas since 1994. The Davis campaign would not say how much it spent on the ad or how long it will run, but said it would run in major metro areas starting Saturday.

    Abbott’s own ads have drawn attention to his disability, most notably in spots in which he talks about his recovery and uses the chair to roll past cars stuck in bad traffic. He often mentions it in speeches, and has even been known to joke about it.

    “Some politicians talk about having a spine of steel. I actually have one.” Abbott said when he launched his campaign in 2013.

    Davis spokesman Zac Petkanas defended the ad as a fair critique of Abbott as a hypocrite when it comes to his personal life and public policy.Davis spokesman Zac Petkanas defended the ad as a fair critique of Abbott as a hypocrite when it comes to his personal life and public policy.

    Abbott “rightly sought justice after a horrible tragedy,” Petkanas said.

    But the ad also “raises some very serious questions about Greg Abbott and whether (voters) want someone in the governor’s office who would seek justice and then spend their career denying justice to others,” Petkanas said.

    The Davis ad notes that in one case, Abbott argued that an amputee suing for employment discrimination was not disabled because she had a prosthetic limb. It also cites two other cases that have already been the subject of previous Davis campaign spots.

    “Greg Abbott. He’s not for you,” a narrator says.

    “It is challenging to find language strong enough to condemn Sen. Davis’ disgusting television ad,” Abbott campaign spokeswoman Amelia Chasse said. “Sen. Davis’ ad shows a disturbing lack of judgment from a desperate politician, and completely disqualifies her from seeking higher office in Texas.”

    National conservative pounced on the Davis campaign.

    “It’s gutter politics at its worst,” said FreedomWorks for America President Matt Kibbe.

    The post Wendy Davis political ad focuses on opponent’s use of a wheelchair appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: West Virginia is a state that sees more than its share of economic hardship and tough times. When Gallup compiled a list of the most miserable states in the U.S. earlier this year, West Virginia came in number one.

    Less than half of residents there describe themselves as thriving, and they also report low levels of life expectancy and household income. But in the southwest corner of the state, a movement is under way to change that by changing its approach to health and its place in the community.

    Once again to Hari Sreenivasan.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Williamson, West Virginia, has been known for a few things over the years, as a coal town, a mountain town, a feuding town made famous by the Hatfields and McCoys, but Williamson, West Virginia, has never been a running town.

    In fact, it’s one of the least healthy places in the United States. So the fact that hundreds of locals are now showing up for monthly 5K races is a sign of something deeper here, an unexpected shift toward better health in coal country.

    Dr. Dino Beckett is among those responsible for the new energy. When he moved back home after medical residency, Beckett’s main goal was expanding basic health care in this part of the state.

    DR. DINO BECKETT, Williamson Health and Wellness Center: Everyone was why would you go back to southern West Virginia to practice medicine? And I really couldn’t think of a better place to be, because it was such a joy to grow up here and have these people look out for you and help you with whatever was going on in your life.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: More so, Beckett thought he could do something about the challenges they faced, including some of the highest rates of diabetes, hypertension and obesity in both the state and the nation.

    Nearly a quarter of the city’s 3,000 residents live below the federal poverty line, and to make matters worse, the coal industry has been shedding jobs by the thousands in recent years, wiping out much of the area’s private health insurance base.

    DR. DINO BECKETT: Mr. Charles, how are you doing?

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Before he found Dr. Beckett, Herb Charles was among the unemployed coal miners who had simply stopped going to the doctor. His family qualified for Medicaid like many in this area, but for the longest time, he couldn’t find a primary care physician who would accept it.

    DR. DINO BECKETT: I’m going to take a listen.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Beckett’s first idea to fill the growing health gap was to open a free clinic.

    DR. DINO BECKETT: We had it once a month, and we became inundated with patients that didn’t have insurance, so we decided to start having it more frequently.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But that wasn’t nearly enough either. Eventually, he met up with Monica Niess and Selim Sandoval, who work with a consulting company called The Write Choice Network.

    SELIM SANDOVAL, Write Choice Network: That goes in the sink, honey.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: They couple travel the country in an R.V. with their two little girls helping communities like Williamson apply for government dollars to establish what is known as federally qualified health centers, or, more simply, clinics that treat people regardless of their insurance status, usually in low-income communities.

    These centers receive a big financial boost under the Affordable Care Act. And after Niess and Sandoval’s successful application, one came to Williamson. It changed the game.

    MONICA NIESS, Write Choice Network: Instead of having programs that are coming and going and depending on grant funding, by rolling them under the health umbrella of the health center, and being able to use our federal funding, as well as our revenue generation to support these programs, it sustains all of these programs and all the efforts into the future.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The Williamson Health and Wellness Center opened earlier this year with 13 staff members able to see anyone who comes through the door, from the elderly to newborns.

    But the center’s most aggressive fight is taking place outside these walls. Vicki Hatfield is a nurse practitioner with the Diabetes Coalition, the outreach wing of the operation.

    VICKI HATFIELD, Mingo County Diabetes Coalition: I always say, if you can’t treat diabetes as a practitioner in Southern West Virginia, you better move, because you’re going to see a lot of it.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: She says nearly 14 percent of the local population is diabetic.

    VICKI HATFIELD: You look so pretty.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Hatfield and her colleagues visit the most worrisome of these patients, like Janette Hunter, directly in their homes.

    VICKI HATFIELD: Can you tell me where I’m touching?

    HARI SREENIVASAN: They check vital signs, monitor insulin intake and, perhaps most important, offer practical advice on day-to-day habits.

    VICKI HATFIELD: I always say, it has to be more than medicine.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: It’s meant that, in recent months, Hunter’s blood sugar level have stabilized, from consistently high to nearly perfect.

    VICKI HATFIELD: Keep up the good work.

    WOMAN: OK. Thank you.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Leaders here say the next step to getting the whole town healthy is to boost the economy and increase access to healthier food. But that part of the plan is still under construction, literally.

    Remember Herb Charles, the unemployed coal miner? Just the other day, he was hired full-time by a construction company that is currently restoring an old building downtown. When the dust clears, the so-called Health Innovation Hub, another offshoot of the Health Center, will serve as a space for budding entrepreneurs to find the support they need to open more businesses, like Debbie Young’s (ph) new restaurant, 34-8, which opened its doors just a few weeks ago after similar support from the Health and Wellness team.

    Young plans to serve healthy food, some of it from the health coalition’ new community garden, and perhaps someday from the farm being developed on a reclaimed strip mine several miles away.

    ERIC MATHIS, Williamson Health and Wellness Center: Right here is what you all are going to help us design for growing specific foods for farmers market.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Eric Mathis, the Health and Wellness Center’s outreach coordinator for these projects, says it all shows that a new economy is emerging in the region.

    ERIC MATHIS: We’re looking forward to a day that is coming, coming soon, to where Central Appalachia can look out to the rest of the United States and say, catch up with us, we’re the innovators.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But that’s a tough sell for many locals. Fred and Donna Baldwin have lived in this area their entire lives. They watched as the local economy collapsed, Fred lost his job in the mines, and their children moved away. They’re skeptical that sustainable Williamson can repair what has been lost.

    DONNA BALDWIN: I’m afraid that it won’t be enough, because the way the economy is going, I’m afraid that it’s going to become a ghost town. And I would hate to see that happen, because we will lose a lot.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: It’s not hard to find others who agree, but there seems to be just as many Williamson residents getting caught up in the optimism. On this Saturday, there’s a new farmers market overflowing with locally grown produce, lively music, even a belly dancing troupe.

    Almost everyone agrees the new energy is a welcome sight. The trick, they say, will be to keep it moving.

    The post Giving coal country a healthy makeover appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes campaigns for Senate in Louisville May 19. Grimes set a new state fundraising record of $4 million in the second quarter. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

    Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes campaigns for Senate in Louisville May 19. Grimes set a new state fundraising record of $4 million in the second quarter. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

    LEXINGTON, Ky. — Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell said Friday that Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is deceiving voters by staying mum on whether she voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

    McConnell’s comments came one day after Grimes refused four times to answer the question in an interview with The Courier-Journal editorial board and one week after Grimes ignored similar questions from a reporter at an event in Lexington. She was a delegate for Obama to the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Four years earlier, she was a delegate for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    In a nationally watched race that has turned largely on the candidates’ trustworthiness, McConnell has relentlessly argued that a vote for Grimes would be a vote for Obama’s agenda. Obama is deeply unpopular in the state.

    “I think what it underscores is that this entire campaign has been about trying to deceive the voters of Kentucky into thinking she’s something she’s not,” McConnell said. “I think what it underscores is that this entire campaign has been about trying to deceive the voters of Kentucky into thinking she’s something she’s not,” McConnell said.

    The Grimes campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Friday.

    Democrats who are running in states Obama lost are trying mightily to distance themselves from him, much like Republicans did in 2006 when President George W. Bush’s approval ratings were low. Grimes has touted her disagreements with Obama on his energy policies and some of his gun proposals. And she has run TV ads showing her shooting skeet before looking directly into the camera to say, “I’m not Barack Obama.”

    Democrats in such states as North Carolina and Georgia have acknowledged voting for Obama — and quickly added that they disagree with his decisions. Michelle Nunn, like Grimes a first-time Senate candidate, has welcomed first lady Michelle Obama to Georgia to campaign with her. And Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan met Obama at a North Carolina airport on a recent visit. Republicans seized upon the Hagan photo op and have used it in ads against her.

    “I would guess (Grimes) didn’t want to listen to another million and a half dollars of, ‘She voted or Obama’ on television,” Kentucky Democratic political consultant Danny Briscoe said.

    The post Kentucky Democrat Grimes won’t reveal if she voted for Obama appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in 2008, few travelers had heard of a new start-up called Airbnb. Its current value is said to be about $10 billion. Now others are copying Airbnb’s business model, part of an emerging sector of the economy that’s taking advantage of technology and peer-to-peer consumer services.

    Our economics correspondent, Paul Solman, looks at the good and the bad. It’s part of his ongoing reporting, Making Sense of financial news.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Last week, we reported on Uber, a smartphone app that allows passengers to summon freelancers driving their own cars. But ride-sharing is just part of a fast-growing phenomenon, the so-called sharing economy.

    Its main attractions, says NYU’s Arun Sundararajan:

    ARUN SUNDARARAJAN, NYU Stern School of Business: Efficient use of capital, of assets and labor.

    PAUL SOLMAN: A peak efficiency economy, that is, putting idle resources to work, like a car, or your own idle time. Cook a meal for strangers on Feastly or work a freelance gig in your downtime on oDesk or Elance.
    And speaking of idle, how about that empty space in your house? The app DogVacay lets you rent it out to bored canines. One of the most popular sharing economy platforms extends that idea to humans, Airbnb, now turning the hospitality industry on its head.

    So, what’s it like to consume idle resources? We decided to book a room on a farm in Northwestern Massachusetts. Out back, artist Janice Sorenson has built a literal Airbnb, a tree house. The stairs were something of a challenge, but inside it was sweet, definitely a room with a view, working for guest and host alike.

    JANICE SORENSON, Airbnb Host: We have two kids in college, and it’s a huge expense for us, and I thought to myself, what are my assets? This beautiful home and our beautiful property, this is one of my greatest assets.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And the number is the tree house, which she rents out at $80 a night.

    Unheated, a bit chilly this time of the year, but it was bracing, as was breakfast the next morning in the main house, a very egalitarian sharing economy experience. That’s how Janice Sorenson felt, sharing.

    JANICE SORENSON: I never feel that like I’m waiting on you. I feel often like I’m just entertaining a house guest.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Which is how I felt, so I would rate Sorenson high on the Airbnb Web site.

    But that could hurt the one official bed and breakfast in town just minutes down the road, the Bird’s Nest. Nearly a dozen Airbnbs have sprung up in town in the past two years and business at the nest is down a third, laments artist owner Cyndy Weeks.

    CYNDY WEEKS, Owner, Bird’s Nest: I was just writing off the loss of business to an economy crash and then it started coming back. And I’m going, why has our economic dropped to the level that we could actually get food stamps?

    PAUL SOLMAN: Weeks and her whole family moved here from Detroit 13 years ago, bought and lovingly refurbishing the house, appointing it with the fascinating boxes she makes. Weeks sees Airbnb as unfair, unregulated big business.

    CYNDY WEEKS: Airbnb is the Wal-Mart model of bed and breakfast that’s actually killing the mom-and-pops.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And though my Airbnb Janet Sorenson is a mom, it strained their friendship.

    CYNDY WEEKS: It’s injured personal relationships. It has. This is very personal to me. I gave up everything in my life, and it’s killing us.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Weeks is not alone in her despair. Now that Airbnb boasts over half-a-million listings in 192 countries, economist Dean Baker fears that these low-cost, unregulated competitors will hasten the race to the bottom.

    DEAN BAKER, Center for Economic and Policy Research: If we have the one old-fashioned traditional hotel, they meet the regulatory standard. If they can’t compete with people renting out rooms through Airbnb, then you will see a lot of those people end up losing their job.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But hold on, says NYU’s Sundararajan. They will eventually find another.

    ARUN SUNDARARAJAN: There’s no clear way of predicting that people are going to lose their jobs in the long run. There’s definitely going to be a shift, in the same way that a century ago, like, 25, 30 percent of the United States worked in agriculture. Today, it’s less than 1 percent.

    PAUL SOLMAN: As for regulation, says Nick Grossman (ph), whose venture capital firm invests in sharing economy firms, they’re self-regulated by the customers who publicly rate them.

    MAN: The major invasion that all of these platforms have centered on is this idea of generating trust and safety. If you’re a bad actor, we will know. And if you’re a great actor, people will know that, too.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Aimee Schurrman is a case in point. She earned high ratings doing dozens of jobs through TaskRabbit, a Web site where you hire freelancers to do just about anything.

    AIMEE SCHURRMAN: What can I help you with today?

    PAUL SOLMAN: I want to create a sign that appeals to people’s better selves.

    At $25 an hour, I hired Schurrman to design a “Please Clean Up” sign to for the off-littered tennis courts I frequent. She also went to the sign store, got me a quote.

    MAN: On corrugated plastic, you would be looking at $21.50.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Meanwhile, back at home, TaskRabbit handyman Shane Windstorm tried to silence a beeping Verizon FiOS backup battery that was driving me mad.

    SHANE WINDSTORM: Verizon, in their wisdom, thought that you might like the fact when the power goes out, you would be afforded an extra eight minutes of landline.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Sherman and Windstorm also top-rated, are independent contractors paid by hour, not TaskRabbit employees, though the company takes it cuts as the middleman.

    SHANE WINDSTORM: So, if I gross $500, TaskRabbit takes 20 percent of that, I make $400, I would be doing great.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And what’s the most demeaning job you have done?

    SHANE WINDSTORM: You always have the option of not taking a job. Spring is here. Clean up our dog poop. I haven’t done that one. Had a great party last night. Filled up a bucket. Could you come and empty it? Not taking it.

    PAUL SOLMAN: So worker flexibility and idle resources put to work to supposedly make us all better off.

    Dean Baker likes the idea, but many regulations are in place for a reason, he says, and in an increasingly unequal economy:

    DEAN BAKER: These services can put downward pressure on wages in general. In many cases, you get people working full-time or near full-time for them, and as it’s structured now there’s no guarantee what sort of pay, what sort of pay rate they get.

    PAUL SOLMAN: To NYU’s Arun Sundararajan, however, a revolution is under way, and there’s no stopping it.

    ARUN SUNDARARAJAN: I fully expect that, in a decade, more than half the American work force will not have a full-time job. They will be doing multiple things. In some sense, they will be micro-entrepreneurs.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Making a living on platforms like Uber, Airbnb, TaskRabbit and who knows how many more.

    The post The new ‘sharing economy’ can enrich micro-entrepreneurs but at what cost? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    nobelprize

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Joining me now to discuss the winners and their causes is Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, author of “The Dressmaker of Khair Khana” and deputy director of the Council on Foreign Relations Women and Foreign Policy Program.

    Gayle, this morning, when you opened up the papers, there were huge pictures of Malala and then there was mention of the other guy. So let’s start talking first the work that Mr. Satyarthi’s done. How significant has it been and has it changed policy in India?

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON, Author, Council on Foreign Relations: I think it has been very significant and very underappreciated, under-resourced and actually underseen.

    I mean, you talk about somebody who saved about 80,000 children, by conservative estimates, someone who has really dedicated his career starting from the time when he, as a young person himself, saw a child who couldn’t go to school and bothered to asked why. How many of us walk by kids every day who don’t have the same opportunities we do and ask why it is that that happens? Not that many.

    And I think what he’s trying to do is really raise the voices of people who haven’t been heard, haven’t been seen, and really certainly haven’t occupied the global stage.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And, as he’s mentioned, he’s starting to try to take credit, not just — I’m sorry — not take credit, but he’s trying to raise awareness of all of the people that are working on this.

    How significant of a problem is child labor or child trafficking around the world?

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: It is completely massive in numbers and also widely under-reported. So getting a scale of a sense of how large the numbers are is actually difficult.

    But about 27 percent of labor trafficking victims are said to be children, many of them girls. And he really has spoken up for people in brick kiln factories, people on the streets, people you don’t see working inside factories you don’t know about who are well under the age of 18, often under the age of 15, and who work for no wages, in the dark, with no access to education, with nobody watching.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Let’s talk a little bit about Malala. It seems that she’s applauded for her work around the world, but it gets a little bit more complicated the closer you get close to Pakistan and how the people there feel about her.

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: You know, that has been discussed a lot, I think, ever since she started to blog for the BBC.

    The question is, how many people, as she said, have appreciated her message. She has spoken for girls who have been denied their right to go to the classroom simply because they are girl children. And she dared to speak up in the face of violence. And she did that well before a Talib boarded her bus and shot her at close range.

    That was only when the international community paid attention to her. Long before that, folks in Pakistan were talking about what it was that she was saying, which is that every child deserves a right to be in a classroom, whether they are girl or boy, regardless of where they live.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Has her plight and her unfortunate incident and the resilience from it increased the status of girls education in Pakistan?

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: I think the Taliban wanted to make her a victim and instead they gave her an even louder voice.

    And what she has done is use that platform, used the fact that Western media have really focused on her story, which is both tragic and an incredible story of the human spirit, to basically put a spotlight not just on her own story, but on so many girls who will never get a chance to sit in a classroom.

    One in three girls will be married before the age of 18, one in nine before the age of 15. And she has really talked about child marriage as a form of violence against children, the fact that people cannot go to school simply because they’re girl children as something the world shouldn’t and cannot tolerate.

    And I think what she has done is frame this as a security and prosperity and stability issue, as well as an issue of rights.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And why is she able to get through in such a kind of crowded media atmosphere? Why — besides just her tragedy, what is it that we find resonates with us about her message?

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: She has an incredible story and she is powerfully eloquent beyond her years.

    She also is part of a medium, universe which loves mythmaking and heroism. And I think what she’s done is to occupy that stage that the world has given her and say, this is not about me, this is not Malala day. This is for all the other children who won’t be seen, won’t be heard.

    I have spent so much time in Afghanistan interviewing fathers who dare not — to send their girls to schools despite night letters, girls who dare to go school despite acid attacks, family disapproval, the threat of Taliban bombings at any given moment.

    And all those folks find a champion in her. And I think that is what her so different. It’s because she is the best of the human spirit and in a media era which loves mythmaking and in which she has really found a way to say, OK, you can take my story and amplify it, but I’m going to tell you what it means.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, thanks so much for your time.

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: Thank you.

    The post Nobel Peace Prize honors activism to empower most vulnerable children – Part 2 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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