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

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    This Saturday, boxing’s pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather will take on his No. 1 competitor Manny Pacquiao for the first time. Photo by  Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports.

    This Saturday, boxing’s pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather will take on his No. 1 competitor Manny Pacquiao for the first time. Photo by Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports.

    This Saturday, boxing’s pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather will take on his No. 1 competitor Manny Pacquiao for the first time in a match Sports Illustrated has called “the fight of the century.” The two will face off in Las Vegas. The fight will be available in the U.S. only via closed circuit, pay-per-view television. It will cost $99 in HD.

    Both Mayweather and Pacquiao will make millions from the fight, but Mayweather will take home the most money. Despite claims that boxing’s popularity in the U.S. is on the decline, Mayweather was the world’s highest paid athlete in 2014. His take from Saturday’s fight could come close to equaling the NFL salary cap — that is the maximum amount an entire pro-football team can make in a year. Some are calling on fans to boycott the fight because they do not want any more money going to Mayweather, who is a convicted domestic abuser.

    Do you plan to watch the fight on Saturday? Should Mayweather have faced sanctions or been suspended after his domestic abuse conviction? Do boxing fans tolerate athletes’ violent behavior more so than fans of other sports? How did pay-per-view come to dominate boxing coverage, and how has this affected the sport’s fan base and profit margins? We addressed these questions and more on Twitter. Journalist, podcaster and boxing blogger Alex McClintock (@axmcc) shared his expertise. View the full conversation below.

    The post Twitter chat: Has boxing’s popularity taken a hit from pay-per-view TV? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photographer Chloe Aftel's project "Genderqueer" highlights the self-expression of people in the genderqueer community.

    Photographer Chloe Aftel’s project “Genderqueer” highlights the self-expression of people in the genderqueer community.

    A project by photographer Chloe Aftel aims to give greater visibility to the diversity of gender beyond “male” and “female.” For her series “Genderqueer,” Aftel photographed self-identified genderqueer individuals in their homes in an effort to explore a community that she says is too-often misunderstood. Aftel began the project in 2013, but it began to draw more attention after her photos of Sasha Fleischman, an agender teenager who was attacked on an Oakland, California, bus, were published in San Francisco Magazine. She spoke about the importance of letting genderqueer individuals define their own experience and how that informed her artistic process.

    ART BEAT: What inspired this series?

    CHLOE AFTEL: Gender had always been something that I had always found fascinating, mostly because the binary just never really made sense to me. I never really felt like someone was one or the other. And then I was talking to a friend of mine and he told me about this genderqueer [movement] that was gaining a lot more traction, and I thought, let’s see what that community is about, what the people are interested in and what they’re talking about, and what the movement is centered on. Because gender is so amorphous in its own way, I was wondering what would happen if I just examined it instead of trying to figure out what was going on.

    The word “genderqueer” can be used as an umbrella term for a number of different gender identities. Aftel aims to capture the “multiplicity” of ways people explore their gender.

    The word “genderqueer” can be used as an umbrella term for a number of different gender identities. Aftel aims to capture the “multiplicity” of ways people explore their gender.

    ART BEAT: Why did you want to explore gender beyond the binary?

    AFTEL: In the majority of my experience, people have thought, you’re a boy or a girl, a woman or a man. You’re one or the other. And you can play around with that idea, but there’s really not a lot of room to move. It just didn’t totally make sense to me that you had to fit in one compartment or another, and I think all people are more complicated than that. I think people identify in a multiplicity of different ways.

    A lot of people experience their gender much more on a continuum, and I think there hasn’t been a lot of dialogue or a lot of space for that. And I think it’s super unfortunate. Especially with a lot of the older people I shot, they’ve had to live a life that was hidden because there wasn’t a lot of patience and tolerance for the way that they felt they could best express themselves, which I think is a horrible way to have to live your entire life. But I think a lot of people now are open to the idea that there’s different ways that gender presents and that people aren’t simply this or that, and that there can be a fluidity and also a multiplicity in how people express themselves.

    That’s what was so nice about this particular movement, because at least in my mind, it creates a lot of space for people to figure out who they are and how they want to be that and what is the most genuine expression of themselves. It’s not up to anyone else to decide who you are.

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    Aftel said the idea of a gender binary never “made sense” to her, prompting her to explore gender through her work.

    ART BEAT: How do your portraits convey that idea of self-expression?
    AFTEL: I really wanted to shoot people where they live, on their own terms. They’re not styled, they’re not dressed in any particular way, they’re not presented. I really just wanted them to be whoever they are, and to show up and give me real access to them. One can only hope–and I do really hope that this is the case–that what those pictures do is present interesting people in a very personal and vulnerable way.

    I hope that the pictures convey that gender is a many-mirrored room, an interdisciplinary thing. It’s not just one thing. And all these different people have different ways that they see themselves and feel about themselves and want the world not only to see them, but I think want to also feel accepted for who they are.

    I hope the pictures present everyone as very human and very real, with their own idea of sensuality and their own idea of who they are, and that it compels people to think about it, or compels people to have an interest. And more than anything else, not to identify anyone who is genderqueer as “other,” but rather as part of a very large continuum that we are all a part of.

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    Aftel’s subjects helped choose the location for the shoot within their homes.

    ART BEAT: How did you develop that sense of intimacy with your subjects?
    AFTEL: It was time spent with them, talking to them, getting to see who they are, and trying to ascertain what places are of significance in the house, where’s somewhere that has an emotional meaning. And with the ones that would let me, an exploration of the physicality, so: how do you present yourself? Who are you?

    With the ones who were comfortable showing me more of their bodies, it was a very rewarding and interesting experience because it allows me to have more to present. It allows me to say, there’s this body, and this body may not be exactly what you think it is, but it’s compelling and it’s meaningful and very personal. With a lot of them, I would spend two, three hours talking about the idea of gender and the genderqueer movement and their own personal struggles to find their place.

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    Every person has a different relationship to their gender, and that diversity should be celebrated, according to Aftel. “It’s not up to anyone else to decide who you are,” she said.

    ART BEAT: Have people’s responses to your work changed over time?
    AFTEL: When people would initially look at the work, they weren’t a hundred percent sure how to respond. I felt like there was a certain amount of discomfort initially with people’s reactions, where they would find someone slightly arousing or beautiful…but once they understood that this was someone identified as genderqueer I think it made it a little bit harder for them. Their expectation of what gender was was undermined a little bit and I think it was disorienting. I personally think that that’s great and I’m glad about that, but it was odd watching some people’s reactions. It was something that was hard for people to deal with initially, and that, to me, was part of what was so interesting.

    See more photos from the series:

    Chloe Aftel - genderqueer series 6

    Sasha Fleischman, an agender teenager, received second- and third-degree burns when another teen lit Fleischman’s skirt on fire during a bus ride in Nov. 2013.

    Chloe Aftel - genderqueer series 16

    Aftel’s said her subjects were not afraid to express themselves and their gender. “The thing that’s most striking to me is how there’s no fear and there’s no ambiguity about who they are,” she said.

    Chloe Aftel - genderqueer series 14

    “I hope the pictures present everyone is very human and very real, with their own idea of sensuality and their own idea of who they are,” Aftel said.

    Chloe Aftel - genderqueer series 13

    It was important to Aftel that her subjects be comfortable during a shoot. “I didn’t want them to feel on display, I just wanted them to be themselves,” she said.

    Chloe Aftel - genderqueer series 12

    Aftel said she aims to contribute to a wider conversation on gender identity.

    Chloe Aftel - genderqueer series 13

    Some of Aftel’s subjects told her that presenting as their true gender outside of their home could put them at risk of violence, she said.

    Chloe Aftel - genderqueer series 6

    Aftel’s subjects often chose places of personal significance in their homes as the background for the photos.

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    Aftel said she hopes the series will encourage others to look at gender as “a very large continuum that we are all a part of.”

    The post Photo essay: Exploring the genderqueer community appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Washington, DC (April 30, 2015) — The PBS NewsHour has welcomed Nsikan Akpan as a reporter/producer for NewsHour’s robust science coverage. Akpan is an accomplished science journalist whose work regularly appears in Scientific American, Science magazine, and Science News. After earning a PhD in Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine from Columbia University, Akpan sought out special training in science communication through the University of California.

    “As a scientist and science writer, Nsikan knows how to translate complex research into stories that are clear, interesting and fun to read and that drive home the vital role that science plays in so much of our lives,” said NewsHour Creative Director Travis Daub. “We’re delighted to have him on our team and look forward to continuing our tradition of thoughtful, in-depth science coverage.”

    Akpan added, “I am thrilled to join the PBS NewsHour as I’ve admired and respected the program ever since I was a teenager, watching it with my mom and dad. I look forward to working with the science team including Correspondent Miles O’Brien and Senior Online Editor Jenny Marder, and joining the rest of the staff, including Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff.”

    About PBS NewsHour          

    PBS NewsHour is seen by over four million weekly viewers and is also available online, via public radio in select markets, and via podcast. PBS NewsHour is a production of NewsHour Productions LLC, a wholly-owned non-profit subsidiary of WETA Washington, D.C., in association with WNET in New York. Major funding for PBS NewsHour is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS and public television viewers. Major corporate funding is provided by BAE Systems, BNSF and Lincoln Financial Group with additional support from Carnegie Corporation of New York, the J. Paul Getty Trust, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Lemelson Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Friends of the NewsHour and others. More information on PBS NewsHour is available at www.pbs.org/newshour. On social media, visit NewsHour on Facebook or follow @NewsHour on Twitter.

    The post PBS NewsHour Welcomes Nsikan Akpan As Producer/Reporter For Science Coverage appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Members of the community hold hands in front of police officers in riot gear outside a recently looted and burned CVS store in Baltimore, Maryland on April 28, 2015. Photo by Jim Bourg/Reuters

    Members of the community hold hands in front of police officers in riot gear outside a recently looted and burned CVS store in Baltimore, Maryland on April 28, 2015. Photo by Jim Bourg/Reuters

    Scenes of rioting in Baltimore have saturated television and computer screens over the past week, leaving many there, and around the country, fearing for what might come next. But in the days since that initial tumult, violence has given way to peaceful protests.

    Riots broke out on Monday afternoon following the funeral service of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, a black man who died of a spinal injury while in police custody on April 19. Since then, protesters have continued to organize peaceful demonstrations throughout the city. PBS NewsHour visited Baltimore on Wednesday to speak with community members about Gray’s death, and to hear their concerns for Baltimore’s future.

    Photo by Joshua Barajas

    Reverend Delman Coates helped organize a vigil for Freddie Gray on Wednesday. Photos by Joshua Barajas

    “In the absence of jobs, decent education, healthcare and opportunity, people are going to respond in these ways. If you leave a hot stove on the oven too long, the top is going to blow off.”

    Reverend Delman Coates, a senior pastor at Mount Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Maryland, and one of the organizers of a Wednesday afternoon vigil for Freddie Gray, believes that the community of Baltimore needs to “raise its voice” in order to get answers and about Freddie Gray’s death. He points out that Gray is not the first African-American male to lose his life, but that his death is a tipping point for Baltimore, and for many across the country, to say “enough is enough.”

    Photo by Colleen Shalby,

    Dozens, including students, stood before Baltimore City Hall on Wednesday, chanting “we love Baltimore.” Photo by Colleen Shalby

    “These kids have grown up here. They’ve been a little worried about some of the things they’ve seen, so we wanted a positive experience for them to see that this city really is a (community) that loves peace, loves each other and loves the next generation coming up.”

    Elizabeth Gurney is the Director of Sharp Kids, an after-school program located in Baltimore’s historically African-American community of Sharp Leadenhall. The program works with kindergartners through fifth-graders, striving to help them find a vision for their futures. On Wednesday, the kids were brought to Baltimore City Hall where they joined several high school students from the area, chanting “we love Baltimore” and “we will rebuild this city.”

    Photo by Joshua Barajas.

    Felicia Boston bused to Baltimore on Wednesday to participate in a vigil service for Freddie Gray. Photo by Joshua Barajas

    “If the people had not stood up, and the people had not spoken up, I think it would have gotten swept under the rug. And that’s my honest opinion.”

    Felicia Boston traveled by bus to a vigil for Freddie Gray with members of her church from Prince George’s County in Maryland. She cited her 28-year-old black son as her main reason for making the trip. Boston says that these efforts will hopefully shed light on what happened to 25-year-old Freddie Gray.

    Photo by Joshua Barajas.

    State Sen. Nathaniel McFadden says he believes in justice for Freddie Gray. Photo by Joshua Barajas

    “We want to make sure that the focus is on justice for people who so sorely need it in this country … This focus has to be on Freddie Gray, and other Freddie Grays around the nation.”

    Maryland State Sen. Nathaniel McFadden has been fighting for justice for “a long time.” But he believes this time around may be different, since the cause he’s fighting for has been caught on camera.

    Photo by Hari Sreenivasan.

    Loretta Frederick’s views on the future of the city are downtrodden. Photos by Hari Sreenivasan

    “I’m embarrassed. I’m mad. That’s how i feel … I’m ashamed to call myself a Baltimorean right now.”

    Loretta Frederick isn’t sure if anything will change in regards to the relationship between community and police. She believes that if one problem is fixed, another will most likely arise.

    Photo by Joshua Barajas.

    Liz Howard has been to three protests following Freddie Gray’s death. Photos by Joshua Barajas

    “Words like ‘thugs,’ ‘hoodlums’ and ‘looting,’ — these are all older euphemisms and epithets that are racially coded … I just think we need to be beyond those terms, and maybe start treating people as equal and not calling each other names.”

    Liz Howard, a native of Maryland, witnessed the riots that broke out on Monday. Though she does not condone that type of action — “none of it” — she says that unfortunately, that’s what gets attention. She has attended three protests in connection with the death of Freddie Gray. She’s since been to two more peaceful protests and hopes that these efforts will raise awareness about the racial disparity that exists in Baltimore.

    Watch tonight’s PBS NewsHour for more.

    The post Here’s the real reason people in Baltimore are protesting appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Following a series of accidents involving trains that hauled oil and flammable materials, a group of U.S. senators from six states have proposed that oil companies pay the government a fee for using trains to carry such materials. Photo by Flickr user woodleywonderworks

    Following a series of accidents involving trains that hauled oil and flammable materials, a group of U.S. senators from six states have proposed that oil companies pay the government a fee for using trains to carry such materials. Photo by Flickr user woodleywonderworks

    BILLINGS, Mont. — U.S. senators from six states on Thursday proposed that the government charge companies a special fee to ship oil, ethanol and other flammable liquids in older railroad tank cars that have been involved in fiery explosions.

    The proposal would be paired with tax breaks for new tank cars built to better withstand derailments. Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon told The Associated Press the intent is to offer “market-based” incentives for companies to improve safety.

    On Friday, federal transportation regulators are expected to announce new rules calling for up to 155,000 flammable liquid tank cars to be retrofitted or replaced.

    Industry representatives have said it could take more than a decade to get that work done — far longer than safety officials want.

    Accidents involving the older tank cars, known as DOT-111s, include 47 people killed when a train carrying North Dakota crude crashed in the town of Lac-Magantic, Quebec, and one person killed during a 2009 ethanol train derailment in Rockford, Illinois.

    The fee would start at $175 and increase to $1,400 per car by 2018. It would raise an estimated $600 million to train first responders, clean up spills and relocate rail tracks around populated areas.

    “The idea is to speed up the phase-out of older tank cars,” Wyden said. He added it “allows us to move in a much faster and more aggressive fashion to make oil by rail transportation safer.”

    Co-sponsoring the fee legislation were six Democrats: Senators Diane Feinstein of California, Charles Schumer of New York, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania Mark Warner of Virginia and Jeff Merkley of Oregon.

    Tank cars often are owned not by railroads but by the companies that produce oil, ethanol and other fuels moved by rail. There are roughly 55,000 older DOT-111s that would be subject to the fee.

    The tax breaks would apply to cars constructed since 2011 under a voluntary industry standard meant to improve safety that has proved insufficient. It would cover up to 15 percent of the expense of upgrading cars.

    A study commissioned last year by the Railway Supply Institute, which represents tank car owners and manufacturers, said modifying the flammable liquids tank car fleet would cost more than $4 billion.

    BNSF Railway recently imposed a $1,000 fee on older tank cars used to carry crude, drawing a lawsuit from fuel and chemical refiners who contended the surcharge is illegal. Diana Cronan with the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers said her group was reviewing the fee proposal offered Thursday.

    The post Senators propose that oil companies pay fee to ship oil by train appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    OHMANPBS.title
    When editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman sat down to illustrate his father’s final years, he did not want to sugar-coat his own experiences providing four years of long term care. Otherwise, the story would not have been worth telling, he explained.

    “If you try to be intellectually honest in your work, when you bring up things like people thinking about suicide and what kind of diapers you’re buying for your dad, I think that’s a realistic portrayal of what life is like,” said Ohman, who works for the Sacramento Bee newspaper.

    “When you bring up things like people thinking about suicide and what kind of diapers you’re buying for your dad, I think that’s a realistic portrayal of what life is like.”He knows that he’s not alone as millions of people care for aging parents, he said, and found himself “raising teenagers and knowing what my father’s battery size was for his hearing aid.”

    It was difficult, but he said he acted with a sense of duty.

    “He took care of me, and we had our issues, but I felt he was owed a dignified life, and I wanted to help him,” Ohman said.

    The PBS NewsHour presents the first monthly installment of a four-part cartoon series produced by Ohman to describe his experience offering long-term care to his father.

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    Look for the next installment in Ohman’s cartoon series about his experience taking care of his father, coming at the end of May.
    Reporting by Laura Santhanam

    The post ‘Getting old ain’t for sissies': Cartoonist Jack Ohman draws his dad’s final years appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    People walk past the new Whitney Museum of American Art in New York

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

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    JEFFREY BROWN: Like all buildings, it begins as a construction site.

    ELISABETTA TREZZANI, Renzo Piano Building Workshop: Everything needs to be ready so there will be a moment when…

    JEFFREY BROWN: And when we visited the new Whitney Museum recently, work was still going on all around.

    Architect Elisabetta Trezzani managed the project with world-renowned museum builder Renzo Piano.

    On a large outdoor terrace, she showed us how she and her colleagues thought of their mission here.

    ELISABETTA TREZZANI: To create places that are connected with the neighborhood and all the city.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So the city is the canvas in a way.

    ELISABETTA TREZZANI: Yes, exactly.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And what a neighborhood this is — or was. Trezzani told me of her first time here.

    ELISABETTA TREZZANI: When we came there was only meat packing on this street, there was working 24 hours. And there was blood on the street.

    JEFFREY BROWN: There was blood on the streets?

    ELISABETTA TREZZANI: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: This is New York’s Meatpacking District. Long a busy and messy and once-dangerous area where few residence or tourists ventured.

    Now, it’s a bustling neighborhood in a new way — of restaurants and high-end shops.

    The museum is adjacent to New York’s “high-line” — the hugely successful above-street level park that attracts thousands of visitors every day for an almost whimsical walk through the city.

    The Whitney — which certainly has a ship-like look, with the Hudson River on its other side — becomes a kind of anchor of this new area.

    It lived in its old area — Manhattan’s Upper East Side — for 48 years and made its name as a showcase for American art and contemporary artists eager to push boundaries.

    But times changed and a move to a larger, new building in a new area was necessary.

    ADAM WEINBERG, Director, Whitney Museum of American Art: It was a little bit like getting a suit when you’re a young person and you loved that suit and it’s a great suit but you bit by bit outgrew that suit.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You’ve grown

    ADAM WEINBERG: We outgrew the building.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Adam Weinberg has been director of the Whitney for 12 years. Now he and his team of curators have a $422 million dollar building, with eight stories, 200-thousand square feet, beautiful and large new galleries to play with.

    ADAM WEINBERG: All of the walls in the galleries are not fixed. You can tear down any wall and build anything you want in these spaces which is pretty extraordinary.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Weinberg also knows that something else has changed in american culture: the competition for our time and attention. These days, museums, like ballparks, video games, and so much more, promote themselves as ‘experiences’.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You know, art has always been about an experience. I mean people stand in front of art to have a connection to something. There’s the experience where you do it with thousands of people and there’s something great about that collective energy and there are times when you are in a museum, there are lots of people around you. But there’s also that wonderful feeling when you happen to be in a gallery and there are not so many people around. And you actually to get spend time with a work of art.

    Fred Wilson is an artist who’s spent a lot of time with museums. He’s made them his subject — what they do, who they’re for. Long ago, he worked as a museum guard and that led to this sculpture, now in the Whitney.

    FRED WILSON, Artist: I always felt like we were on display. Just like everything…

    JEFFREY BROWN: Like you were on display? The guards were on display like the work.

    FRED WILSON: Uh-huh. But ironically, also I felt invisible.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Many years later, Wilson is not only shown in the Whitney, he’s on its board of trustees, its one artist representative.

    And in a city crowded with great museums, he’s a true believer in the Whitney’s particular mission.

    FRED WILSON: What the Whitney gives to artists and has is a partnership in risk-taking. You get the sense that the curators are really in your corner. Not that other curators aren’t, but they really get that. That you have to do what you do, take a risk. It’s not the common situation for a major institution.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In its inaugural exhibition, called “America is hard to see,” many of those former risks are now on display…Including works that were long consigned to storage for lack of space.

    DONNA DE SALVO, Chief Curator, Whitney Museum of American Art: We really built this building to show the permanent collection.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Donna de Salvo is the museum’s chief curator.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Is it true that some of these you just sort of found in the basement?

    DONNA DE SALVO: Well, we had them carefully in our storage area. But this work is pretty extraordinary. And using the TV as this creative medium in this way is one we really have not shown in many, many years. So it’s a great revelation for us, the idea of the television in that 60s moment, you know, it’s such a rich idea.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In addition to being able to show a lot of things you couldn’t, was there a theme?

    DONNA DE SALVO: Our title “America is hard to see” is because it’s impossible to sum up what American art is. It’s not a greatest hits show. It’s not a highlight show. It’s really a thematic interpretation of different pre-occupations across a hundred fifteen years that come up over and over for artists.

    JEFFREY BROWN: A quiet moment in the new galleries…but not for architect Trezzani.

    Do you like this moment when everything is sort of raw and the workers are all around us?

    ELISABETTA TREZZANI: I’m just waiting for them to arrive. Tomorrow!

    JEFFREY BROWN: You just want it to open?

    ELISABETTA TREZZANI: Yes, yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Enough of this!

    ELISABETTA TREZZANI: I just want to see people inside and want to look at their faces.

    JEFFREY BROWN: She’ll get her chance tomorrow when the museum opens its doors to the public.

    From the new Whitney Museum in lower Manhattan, I’m Jeffrey Brown for the PBS NewsHour.

    The post Whitney Museum re-opens with more space for risk-taking artists appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: In California, Governor Jerry Brown called this week for ramping up fines for residents and businesses who waste water.

    But in this fourth year of the drought, many are asking about the role of some agriculture and farming.

    One of the chief targets is one of the state’s most popular exports. Our economics correspondent, Paul Solman, went to see for himself. Part of our ongoing reporting “Making Sense” which airs every Thursday on the Newshour.

    PAUL SOLMAN: The almond. Revered in some cultures, reviled recently in ours.

    Because of almonds, there’s no water.

    JOHN AND KEN RADIO SHOW: The almond farmers are using more water than all the people in LA and San Francisco combined.

    PAUL SOLMAN: The john and ken show, in Southern California, claims to be the country’s most listened to local talk radio program.

    JOHN AND KEN RADIO SHOW: Half the almonds they’re shipping to China! And this is why we’re getting water meters and we’re getting lectured and scolded and we gotta take shorter showers and we can’t water our lawns. This is BS!

    PAUL SOLMAN: It was Mother Jones magazine which first reported the stunning statistic: It takes over a gallon of water to grow just one almond.

    The press has piled on since, portraying almonds as water wasters in the midst of near-epic drought. And it’s not just the almond, but every nut in the orchard.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Are you aware that pistachios take almost one gallon of water per pistachio to grow?

    NICK WIEBE:  I had no idea.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Does it disturb you to hear that that’s the case?

    NICK WIEBE: It does.I don’t know that it disturbs me enough not to buy them.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Customers like Nick Wiebe are one reason California’s tree nuts are on a roll: they taste good; they do good.

    They are rich in saturated fatty acids, fiber, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and phytosterols.

    The august New England Journal of Medicine produced “nuts and death” to accompany a landmark study showing that eating nuts every day could reduce the risk of death by 20 percent.

    Small wonder that almonds have passed peanuts as America’s favorite nut.  And nearly every almond eaten in the U.S. is grown in California — a million tons in 2014, twice the amount a decade before.

    But while supply has doubled, global demand has run amok, especially in Asia, so that the price has doubled too. Thus almonds have become the golden state’s most lucrative ag export — and 80% of the world’s supply. And that means the state is, in effect, shipping its precious water overseas.

    But that’s not why noted environmental lawyer Antonio Rossmann knocks them.

    ANTONIO ROSSMANN, landwater.org: The problem is not that we’re selling them to China and Japan.

    The problem, says Rossmann, is that farmers and investors are planting so many more almond trees.

    ANTONIO ROSSMANN: It’s almost an act of suicide when you see these new plantings now because the water demand actually increases at about five years into the orchard. It’s kind of like a time bomb that’s going to really get worse before it gets better.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But, says almond farmer Brad Gleason, so what?

    BRAD GLEASON, Almond and pistachio farmer: I’ll show you why we’re using so much water. There is a lot of water that’s going into forming that nut.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But a lot less water per ounce of protein, says Gleason, than the competition.

    BRAD GLEASON: If you look at the amount of water that’s used in the amount of protein that we generate, we’re by far more efficient than pork, chicken, beef.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Especially beef. One ounce of beef — the protein equivalent of about a dozen almonds — requires 106 gallons of water to produce, even more, if it’s raised on irrigated pasture like this one. And who eats just one ounce of beef?

    Look, says Gleason…

    BRAD GLEASON: We’ve got 320 million people trying to eat three times a day. That’s a billion meals a day and it’s going to have to come from water somehow.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And if you include the rest of the world, even the arid southern central valley, with its unique soils, may be a life saver. Unfortunately, these days, getting water here means drilling ever deeper into the aquifer — a practice that threatens the state’s groundwater. This well in Coalinga is going 1750 feet down, to feed a new pistachio ranch.

    There is surface water flowing through here from the north, over massive government-built aqueducts. But because of the drought, allocations have been slashed — in Gleason’s water district, to zero: no surface water from the north at all, for the second year in a row.

    But those are the rules, says Antonio Rossmann, upon which California’s water system was built.

    ANTONIO ROSSMANN: in time of shortage, agriculture would take up to 100% hit for one year to maintain reliability to urban consumers.

    In time of plenty, the farmers could buy cheap water and plant as many acres as they could. In time of drought, they would fallow.

    PAUL SOLMAN: In other words, leave their fields unplanted, like this one cheek by jowl to the aqueduct.

    BRAD GLEASON: This water is headed for Los Angeles…

    PAUL SOLMAN: But you can’t fallow an almond orchard — if you don’t water trees, you kill them, and the investment they represent.

    So, with little or no piped-in water, and hundreds of thousands of acres of thirsty nut trees in the central valley, there’s a whole lot of drilling going on.

    But with prices at record highs because of global demand, wouldn’t almost anyone keep harvesting?

    RICHARD HOWITT: I think this is a very rational thing to do.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Agricultural economist Richard Howitt.

    RICHARD HOWITT:and if the product is a healthy product and a good product, what’s not to like?

    PAUL SOLMAN: So when I read that it takes a gallon of water to produce one almond and I’m shocked by it, you think I’m using the wrong metric?

    RICHARD HOWITT:  Absolutely. Because I see the value of the water reflected in the value of the almond. And the value of the almond is based on how much people want it.

    PAUL SOLMAN: In fact, consumers want it so much, Dave Phippen’s farm in the northern central valley suffered an almond heist — a “nut job”, you might say — just a few years back.

    DAVE PHIPPEN: They called it the nut nappers and they actually got ours over the fourth of July weekend.

    A third generation farmer, Phippen has so-called “senior water rights,” granted to his land in the early 20th century in exchange for loss of water when rivers were dammed. But he too is blamed for using one gallon per almond.

    DAVE PHIPPEN: We’re used to having a halo, and now all of a sudden we’ve become the demon.

    PAUL SOLMAN: We set up this shot, but I think people looking at it are gonna see the water puddling here, in drought-stricken California, and think, ‘this can’t be the most efficient use to which you can put water at this point.’

    DAVE PHIPPEN: It won’t be lost. We don’t put any more water on that’ll go beyond the root zone of the trees. This orchard won’t receive water again for about fourteen days.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But it’s a gallon of water or more for every almond you grow.

    DAVE PHIPPEN: The gallon is so precious. We only have so many gallons. We want to use it for the highest economic benefit…

    PAUL SOLMAN: And that, farmer Phippen insists, is growing nuts like almonds, at least up north: an economic benefit their rising price reveals.

    As for Brad Gleason’s almonds in the water-starved south:

    BRAD GLEASON: when those trees finish out their useful life and they come out, I’m not planting almonds again.

    PAUL SOLMAN: This is economics correspondent Paul Solman, reporting for the PBS NewsHour amidst the nuts of California.

     

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    vietnamwar4

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    MIKE CERRE: Some of the most indelible images of the Vietnam War came during its final hours of April 30, 1975. After more than thirteen years of military involvement, 58,220 Americans killed, along with millions of Vietnamese. It came down to this desperate evacuation of nearly two thousand Americans and South Vietnamese dependents from the American embassy compound in Saigon.

    The former American embassy here, in what is now called Ho Chi Minh City was torn down years ago. It wasn’t until 1995 after diplomatic relations were finally restored that a new consulate was opened here on the same grounds as the U.S.’s dramatic exit from what the Vietnamese call “The American War”

    PETER ARNETT, Former Associated Press Reporter: The reason I stayed behind was that I was there in the beginning 1962 and covered it through the intervening years. So I felt I had to stay behind to see what would happen to Saigon when the Communists arrived.

    MIKE CERRE: Peter Arnett, earned a Pulitzer prize for his Vietnam reporting for the Associated Press.

    PETER ARNETT: The Caravelle Hotel is where all the news networks had their offices and we used to come up here…

    MIKE CERRE: He and other western journalists have come back to a much different Ho Chi Minh City for the 40th anniversary of the fall of what they knew as Saigon in 1975.

    Many of these veteran journalists thought the eventual takeover of Vietnam was inevitable after the north Vietnamese’s Tet Offensive of 1968 in several key cities closely followed by peace negotiations and the gradual drawdown of American forces starting in 1969. The North Vietnamese took over of as much as a third of South Vietnam during the Easter Offensive of 1972.

    Nick Ut’s iconic photograph of a young Vietnamese girl accidentally hit with  napalm  during the north Vietnamese invasion of the south marked the beginning of the end of the of the diminishing public support for the war by many Americans.

    Only a teenager at the time… Nick Ut was a self-taught photographer who had replaced his photographer-brother killed earlier in the war. He covered the collapse of the south Vietnamese army and the mass exodus of retreating military and civilian, all seeking a last sanctuary in the Saigon area in April, 1975.

    NICK UT: Even me I didn’t think Saigon fall right away… maybe next two months, maybe two or three years.

    MIKE CERRE: Photojournalist Nik Wheeler, on assignment for Newsweek and UPI covered the fall of Bien Hoa, the last major military base just outside of Saigon, and the initial shelling of the city.

    On the morning of April 29th, the advancing North Vietnamese artillery had shut down the airlift out of Tan Son Nhut airport forcing the Americans to implement their backup evacuation plan.

    NIK WHEELER, Former Newsweek Photojournalist: The signal was to be through Armed Forces Radio which was going to be playing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas. When we heard that on the radio we were to grab our bag and head to the evacuation point.

    MIKE CERRE: Wheeler’s bus ended-up at the American embassy which was besieged by thousands of South Vietnamese. Many of them connected with the American war effort. They believed they would be evacuated along with the Americans.

    NIK WHEELER: Once we couldn’t get in through the gates was to just climb over the wall and then we were helped down had to jump down to the other side and once we were in it was a completely different scene from out on the streets.

    MIKE CERRE: Makeshift helipads were created in the compound’s courtyard and atop the embassy itself for shuttling the last of the Americans and Vietnamese who were able to get into the embassy compound, so they could be flown to American naval ships standing by off the coast.

    SGT. JOHN GHILAIN (Ret.), U.S. Marine Corps: When we were given the order to fall back into the embassy while falling back and looking at the people’s eyes you could see the fear.

    MIKE CERRE: Former marine security guards… John Ghilian and Bill Newell… were part of the last American military unit sent to Vietnam for the evacuation.

    SGT. JOHN GHILAIN (Ret.): Initially, I didn’t think it was the Alamo until we sat on the roof of the final two and a half hours the morning of the 30th. We didn’t know what was going on. All we thought was that this could be the final hurrah.

    MIKE CERRE: Forty years later Ho Chi Minh City symbolizes the enormous growth Vietnam has experienced since the war and its switch to a socialist-based, market economy in 1986. Its growth rate has been averaging better than 6 percent a year the past decade elevating it from one of the world’s poorest countries during the war to one of the fastest growing economies in Asia.

    April 30th in Vietnam is now called Liberation Day or Reunification Day and is a national holiday. Only recently has it also become a show of Vietnam’s military power in the region.

    NICK UT: April 30 day is very sad day. Most of the old people remember. Young people don’t know anything. My children don’t know anything about Vietnam.  Just a sad day. Black Friday. Sad day.

    MIKE CERRE: For many of the estimated three million Vietnamese  who fled the country often at great physical risks and personal hardships, April  30th is called “The Day of Shame” or “Black April”.

    Given the amount of American blood and treasure lost here over more than a decade of fighting to save South Vietnam from a communist takeover. It’s also a day of very mixed emotions for those Americans who served here during the war. Some of them have also come back.

    VIETNAM VETERAN: I was with 5th Special Forces Airborne. It wasn’t the outcome we were looking for when we were here. It’s not the one we fought for but they won and we lost and now we’re partners and there shouldn’t be any animosity or living in the past for Christ sake.

    MIKE CERRE: The last Americans out that day were the Marine security guards. Some of them have come back for the anniversary and to honor to of their fallen comrades who were the last American servicemen killed in Vietnam.

    SGT. JOHN GHILAIN (Ret.): I think we need to close the book. I don’t think another chapter needs to be written. I think it’s time to close the book.

    PETER ARNETT: We’re not there to congratulate the Communists on their victory, me and a lot of other journalists are there to remember what we did in the war. Over 60 journalists were killed, remembering them, and remembering the brave Americans and South Vietnamese we covered who fought and died for any ideas they believed in.

    MIKE CERRE: After the anniversary reunion…Nick Ut will head north to visit the family of the severely burned girl in his photograph that earned him a Pulitzer Prize . She now lives in Toronto and they speak and get together regularly.

    NIK WHEELER: It’s quite moving to be back here on the same grounds after forty years. The Embassy used to be the largest building in the city. Now the consulate is dwarfed by what has taken place here in Saigon the last forty years.

    MIKE CERRE: The most iconic images of the American evacuation during the fall of Saigon… were not taken at the embassy. They were taken at a nearby apartment and office complex formerly used by the CIA and USAID. It’s now surrounded by the new image of Vietnam today… forty years later. For the NewsHour, this is Mike Cerre reporting from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

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    Ex-inmates have a greater exposure to disease and maintain higher levels of stress than men who have never been imprisoned, which leads them to die earlier, according to a new study.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now – a different piece of the criminal justice story. Tonight we are launching an occasional series called Broken Justice that looks at what might be a breakthrough moment in attitudes toward imprisonment in America.

    The figures are staggering: Since 1980 the number of those incarcerated has increased from half a million behind bars then, to more than 2.2 million people in prisons and jails in 2013.

    And the numbers stand out globally. While the U.S. accounts for 5 percent of the world’s population, it houses more than 20 percent of its prisoners. In a significant shift, groups on opposite sides of the political spectrum, that often find themselves at odds – like Koch Industries from the right, and the center for American progress from the left  – are coming together with a common goal — to overhaul the country’s criminal justice system.

    They’ve launched “The Coalition for Public Safety.”

    To learn more, we are joined by Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, and Mark Holden, senior vice president and general counsel of Koch Industries.

    The post Criminal justice is so broken, Democrats and Republicans are working together to fix it appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    sandtown

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    GWEN IFILL: As we’ve been reporting, Wednesday night in Baltimore was calm, in part because of the continuing beefed-up enforcement and in part because most residents are complying with the curfew.

    Newshour senior correspondent Hari Sreenivasan spent time in Baltimore, reporting on how two vastly different neighborhoods coexist.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In the Sandtown neighborhood  of Baltimore, a woman named Marilyn on Appleton street takes pride in the garden she’s tending on her front porch…

    Pride in the tiny corner of the city she’s been able to clean up in the house that has been in her husband’s family since 1959.

    But she is also scared. Scared to give us her last name because of the troublemakers  in Sandtown. An element she suspects is behind the recent riots and looting….

    She fears retaliation from them for speaking her mind.

    MARILYN: We have drug dealers trying to come on our block down the corner, or whatever, we call the police, they do come, sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

    They should have buried that man peacefully, like his family asked, what they did, i think they did because I think they just wanted to steal they wanted to take.

    The past two days have been stressful for Marilyn, and her blood pressure has gone up, looters destroyed the CVS where she filled her prescriptions.

    MARILYN: I don’t have my blood pressure medicine, I don’t have my medicine, period. Now I gotta find another CVS that didn’t get broken in or burnt down

    HARI SREENIVASAN: For her cousin, Gregg Lee, a block captain in Sandtown the recent violence and distrust are symptoms of a larger change in policing.

    GREGG LEE: You don’t see an officer walking around, only time you see an officer is, they in the car, they on the way they… woosh flying. When I was coming up as a kid, you had foot patrol.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So you knew the officer Gregg- yeah you knew him. He knew your family, you knew the children.

    Just down the block, beneath the incessant sound of helicopters, John Willard a priest from nearby memorial episcopal church walks a different sort of beat, handing out sandwiches, a kind word and earning trust where he can.

    REV. JOHN WILLARD, Memorial Episcopal Church: I don’t enter into this community fully trusted, I had to earn my trust, people trust me now and that just started one person to one person. People defend me now and say he’s ok, don’t mess with him.

    Willard has been working in Sandtown for the past eight years. Helping people out of homelessness and drug addiction, and coming to understand the depths of their anger.

    JOHN WILLARD: The people in this community feel hunted, they’re afraid the make eye contact with people, they’re afraid to hand a friend a cigarette because they’re afraid they’re going to get arrested because they’re selling cigarettes

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So both communities seem to be acting out of fear.

    JOHN WILLARD: Yes.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The police are gonna say, look I’m putting my life on the line.

    JOHN WILLARD: Absolutely.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: I open up that squad car, I’m knockin’ on that door, I don’t know what to think. And at the same time the people here say, when the police officer knocks on that door, I don’t know what to think.

    JOHN WILLARD: Absolutely, and that’s exactly the problem. Because that’s really what happens is the police dehumanize the people in the street and the people in the street dehumanize the people in the car.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: A dehumanizing rage that boiled over this week in many places, including this liquor store just off Eutaw Place.

    When the looting began, Terence Roundtree and friends could bear it no more, and they stood between the looters and the store.

    So you stood here and kept the looters from going in?

    TERENCE ROUNDTREE: Yeah.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Why?

    TERENCE ROUNDTREE: Because it’s the right thing to do. Like I said, although this is not where I live, this is still my home. Somewhere along the line you have to say enough is enough.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The Marlboro apartments where the liquor store was looted sits right on the dividing line of zip code 21217, separating Sandtown from the much nicer corner called Bolton hill.

    The historic Bolton Hill neighborhood has tree lined streets, beautifully maintained homes. A members-only swim and tennis club. The king and I opens at John Willard’s memorial church tomorrow night.

    Troublemakers hit Bolton hill too. Looting all the stores in this shopping center.

    At twilight we caught up with some Bolton Hillers at B Bistro, the kind of restaurant that serves good wine and truffled french fries.

    It’s less than a mile away from the porch we sat on in Sandtown, but has a very different relationship with the police. Andrew Parlock, and his wife Kendra were just finishing dinner.

    ANDREW PARLOCK: I’m gonna call the cops the first chance I have if something goes down, compared to less than a mile my same zip code 21217, same zip code but they’re not gonna call at all and that’s something we need to deal with and if we didn’t know it on Saturday, we know it today. And I think that’s the good news, silver lining to this cloud

    KENDRA PARLOCK: Yeah there’s a real opportunity here to understand what’s going on and make a difference, make a change.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: These neighbors understand why the police respond differently here.

    STEVE HOWARD: There’s both a white privilege and a class privilege and we in Bolton Hill get treated very nicely by the police, and the question is why is everyone not treated the same way that we’re treated.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: As darkness fell, we headed back to Sandtown to see people running back home before the 10 p.m. curfew. We heard the police choppers announce warnings as they circled overhead.

    Marilyn says she hasn’t had a curfew since she was nine and she is tiring of the police, and increasingly news helicopters.

    MARILYN: They’re loud, they’re intrusive, because you know you can’t sleep or whatever, but by them choppers being up there, I do feel safe.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Just after the curfew news broke that Freddie Gray, whose death sparked the protests, may have been banging his head against the back of the police wagon, self-inflicted injuries that may have contributed to his death.

    MARILYN: He antagonized the police, he probably was banging his head, but from what I’ve hear about how he died, I don’t think that was self-inflicted. I really don’t.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The answer to that crucial question may define Baltimore’s new beginning.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Hari Sreenivasan in Baltimore.

    The post Perception of the police depends on your Baltimore zip code appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Earthquake survivor Pema Lama is rescued by the Armed Police Force from the collapsed Hilton Hotel, the result of an earthquake in Kathmandu

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    GWEN IFILL: Baltimore police today finished their investigation into the death of Freddie Gray, the case that has roiled the city for days.  Officers arrested the 25-year-old Gray on April 12th and hauled him into a police van.  He died a week later after suffering severe spinal injuries.

    Police Commissioner Anthony Batts would not discuss the findings today.  He said they’ve been turned over to prosecutors, and that the inquiry is not over.

    ANTHONY BATTS, Baltimore Police Commissioner:  If new evidence is found, we will follow it.  If new direction is given by the state’s attorney, we will obey it and we will follow through with the investigation.  Also know that getting to the right answer is more important than speed, making sure that we look and overturn every rock is more important than just coming forth and giving a document.

    GWEN IFILL:  Police did reveal that the van made four stops en route to a police station.  That’s one more stop than was previously known.  They had no comment on a Washington Post report that said a prisoner in a separate part of the van heard Gray banging around, and thought he was “trying to injure himself”.

    Meanwhile, more than half of the 200 people arrested during Monday’s riots have been released without being charged.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Demonstrations over Freddie Gray’s death have also spread to other cities.  Hundreds of people turned out in New York Wednesday evening.  Police said they arrested at least 60, mostly for disorderly conduct.  Ferguson, Missouri, where Michael Brown died last summer, also saw a second night of protests and some looting.

    And in Milwaukee, relatives of Dontre Hamilton marched in his memory this afternoon.  He was killed one year ago, by a police officer who shot him 14 times.  The officer was fired over the incident.

    GWEN IFILL: In Nepal, fleeting glimmers of good news emerged today from the earthquake devastation.  In Kathmandu, a 23-year-old woman was pulled from the rubble where she’d been trapped five days.  Hours earlier, a teen-age boy was rescued.

    Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News has that story.

    JONATHAN RUGMAN, ITN:  Filmed from the air, these are the ruins of a seven-story hotel.  Nepalese police, backed up by American experts, have been digging for five hours after a voice was heard crying out from below.

    MAN: He’s trapped by a piece of corrugated roofing material that’s on him. He’s in a void. He’s got space. He’s free enough. He doesn’t have any weight on him.

    JONATHAN RUGMAN:  Eventually, a 15-year-old boy emerges, conscious but frightened of so much noise and sudden daylight.  His name is Pemba Tamang, and he’s been trapped beneath the rubble for five days.

    And suddenly a country mourning thousands of dead has a story to celebrate and a new hero in the policeman who crawled into a gap to reach the boy who was hiding behind a motorbike in a precious pocket of air.

    In an Israeli army field hospital, the boy is eating food from a tin can but physically unscathed.

    PEMBA TAMANG (through interpreter): I just slept and I found some butter, and that is what I ate.  And there was some wet paper that I squeezed to get water.

    JONATHAN RUGMAN:  And this is the calamity he survived, though almost 6,000 did not.  A tourist filmed Hindu temples mere the capital on Saturday.  At the moment they collapsed.  Far from these once-revered ruins, in Nepal’s remotest corners, aid is beginning to arrive.

    This is the Gorkha District, only reachable by helicopter when the weather allows and when there are enough helicopters to go around.  The U.N. delivered rice, oil and sugar today, but the U.N. reckons around 600,000 homes have been damaged and destroyed across this country.  And the remarkable tale of one survivor is one moment of joy when joy, like so much else here, is in short supply.

    GWEN IFILL:  In spite of the occasional stories of survival, the number of reported casualties continues to climb.  Officials said the overall death toll has now passed 5,900, with no end in sight.  And, at least 2.8 million people have been driven from their homes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In Pakistan, 10 men were jailed today for 25 years each, in the 2012 attack on Malala Yousafzai.  The teenage activist was shot in the head by Taliban members after she campaigned in favor of girls’ education.  She survived, moved to England and won the Nobel Peace Prize.  The actual gunmen were never caught.  Those sentenced today were found guilty of involvement in the plot.

    GWEN IFILL: Police in Pakistan have withdrawn a criminal complaint against a former CIA station chief over a U.S. drone strike.  The 2009 attack killed two people in a tribal region.  Police originally filed the case in Islamabad, but they now say they don’t have jurisdiction.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in this country, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is now officially in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, in 2016.  The 73-year-old Sanders pledged today to fight for income equality, tax code overhauls and campaign finance reform.  He spoke outside the U.S. Capitol.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), Vermont:  If you raise the issues that are on the hearts and minds of the American people, if you try to put together a movement which says we have got to stand together as a people and say that this Capitol, this beautiful Capitol, our country belongs to all of us and not the billionaire class, that’s not raising an issue, that is winning elections.  That’s where the American people are.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Sanders is the first major challenger to Hillary Clinton, who is heavily favored in the Democratic contest.

    GWEN IFLL: The Pentagon put out word today that U.S. Navy ships will start shadowing American-flagged commercial vessels in and out of the Persian Gulf.  That’s after Iranian forces detained a cargo ship from the Marshall Islands this week.  The Iranians say they’ll release the ship once its Danish owner pays a long-standing debt.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Low-income American children will soon have access to millions of free e-books.  President Obama launched the initiative today with the help of major publishers.  He made the announcement at a public library in Washington.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We’re going to provide millions of e-books online so that they’re available for young people who maybe don’t have as many books at home, don’t always have access to a full stock of reading materials.  They’re going to be able to get about $250 million worth of books.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The e-book initiative is part of a broader program to provide Internet access to 99 percent of U.S. students by 2018.

    GWEN IFILL:  A selling binge hit Wall Street today, after disappointing earnings reports.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 195 points to close back near 17,800.  The NASDAQ fell 80, and the S&P 500 slipped 20.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And the only manmade object ever to orbit the planet Mercury ended its mission today. NASA’s Messenger spacecraft slammed into the surface, as planned, after running out of fuel. Messenger spent four years circling the innermost planet of the solar system, more than 4,000 times

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    This image shows planet Mercury's Shakespeare basin, where the MESSENGER spacecraft collided on Thursday after orbiting for. Image by NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

    This image shows planet Mercury’s Shakespeare basin, where the MESSENGER spacecraft collided on Thursday after its 11-year mission. Image by NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

    The planet Mercury earned a new crater when NASA’s MESSENGER probe smashed into its scorched surface earlier this afternoon. The intentional crash landing ended an 11-year mission that brought us the most intimate peeks at our solar system’s smallest planet.

    NASA estimates the ship crashed at 3:26 p.m. EDT, though Earth’s final view of the descent was obscured by the little red planet. The collision likely created a 52-foot pockmark near the “Shakespeare basin” – a 250-mile-wide crater. NASA scientists believe the probe was traveling around 8,750 miles per hour when it obliterated near one of the basin’s ridges.

    “We monitored MESSENGER’s beacon signal for about 20 additional minutes,” mission operations manager Andy Calloway of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory said in a statement. “It was strange to think during that time MESSENGER had already impacted, but we could not confirm it immediately due to the vast distance across space between Mercury and Earth.”

    MESSENGER had circled Mercury 4,104 times since entering the planet’s orbit on March 18, 2011. Before then, it had traveled 4.9 billion miles from Cape Canaveral, flying by Venus twice and snapping up-close photos of Mercury’s nearest neighbor.

    This image of Mercury's surface is the last one acquired and beamed back to Earth by to Earth by the Messenger spacecraft. NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

    This image of Mercury’s surface is the last one acquired and beamed back to Earth by the Messenger spacecraft. NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

    While in orbit, MESSENGER made many revelations, including that the diminutive planet is shrinking. It also beamed photos back to Earth of lava flows coursing across the planet’s poles. Unlike the Earth’s mountainous volcanoes, Mercury’s molten ooze creeps out of the ground from unknown sources.

    “Today we bid a fond farewell to one of the most resilient and accomplished spacecraft to ever explore our neighboring planets,” MESSENGER’s principal investigator Sean Solomon of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory said in a statement. (Check out Solomon’s top-ten list of MESSENGER discoveries.)

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    Illustration of a human neck. Getty Images

    Illustration of a human neck. Getty Images

    Baltimore City’s State Attorney Marilyn Mosby at a press conference today said that Freddie Gray “suffered a severe and critical neck injury” as a result of being handcuffed, shackled and unsecured inside a police van.

    In detailing the events, she said Gray was handcuffed against the ground, arrested and then placed on his stomach in the van. He was never buckled into a safety belt and his repeated requests for medical attention were denied, despite several stops. By the time he reached Central Booking, he was in cardiac arrest and no longer breathing.

    The injuries sustained to his spine during the trip led to his death, Mosby said. The question is how. Fatally damaging a spine isn’t easy, and experts say if a cataclysmic blow did occur in the van, then it probably wasn’t done by intentionally banging his head.

    “If you’re talking about somebody with a normal spine, then you’d need tremendous willpower,” says Columbia University neurosurgeon Marc Otten.

    The spine consists of 33 vertebrae bones that run like tightly-stacked rungs of a ladder from the base of the skull down to the tailbone. Between each bone is thin disc of spongy cartilage that provides flexibility. The spinal column is encased in muscle for support.

    Illustration of a human spine.  Image by Science Photo Library and Getty Images

    Illustration of a human spine. Image by Science Photo Library and Getty Images

    “Picture that you’re playing a trust fall game at a work retreat. Before you fall backwards, your muscles instinctively tense up to protect your head and neck,” Otten said. The same thing happens when a soccer player heads a ball. Their muscles flex to protect the bones in the neck’s spine, known as the cervical vertebrae.

    Only a handful of scenarios can overcome these self-supportive instincts. When a collision is unexpected, for example, and the head wrenches or hits an object with a tremendous amount of force, such as during a high-speed motor vehicle accident. To result in a severe injury, the sudden jerking would need to twist or extend the seven cervical vertebrae to a point where they misalign.

    “That can cause a scissoring effect among the spinal cord,” Otten said.

    For death to occur, the individual discs would need to crisscross and damage the phrenic nerve, which runs from the neck to the diaphragm — the primary muscle involved in breathing. The nerve controls the tempo of the diaphragm as it billows the lungs, meaning that its destruction can lead to respiratory failure.

    Another [possible] cause of fatality is “spinal shock,” Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine neurosurgeon Ali Bydon said, wherein a spinal injury impairs the nerves that control blood pressure and heart rate. “This leads to inability to oxygenate key organs and subsequent death.”

    The scissoring effect mentioned earlier could also cause compression of the two arteries that run from the heart through the neck’s spine and to the brain. Jamming those blood flows could cause a stroke, Otten said.

    It is hard to quantify how much force it would take to break a human spine, Bydon said. But studies have shown, he added, that it would require a force greater than 3,000 newtons to fracture the cervical spine. That’s equal to the impact created by a 500-pound car crashing into a wall at 30 miles per hour.

    Blunt force trauma during an arrest, Otten said, can also make the spine more susceptible to major damage.

    “I’ve heard of spinal injuries from when people were handcuffed and thrown to the ground. The problem is they can’t brace themselves,” Otten said. In February, a 57-year-old man in Alabama was left partially paralyzed after officers slammed him into the ground during an arrest.

    The post It’s not easy to sever a human spine. Here’s why appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Man drinking beer

    Recessions hurt, no matter what country you’re in or how wealthy you are. People lose their homes, their jobs and their livelihoods. But could recessions also help us?

    A substantial body of academic literature suggests that short-term economic downturns can improve our health, mainly by helping us cut out unhealthy behaviors — at least temporarily.

    And now, a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds a more enduring silver lining to recessionary pain.

    Think about those day-to-day habits you just can’t kick. Your job’s so stressful that you never sleep and you’re always running out of the office for a smoke. Getting through the afternoon requires crushing three cans of Pepsi. Muffins and cookies are irresistible. You drink too much when you get home and can’t be bothered with cooking dinner; fast food is easier.

    With a recession, laid-off workers, or employees whose hours have been reduced, suddenly have much more time on their hands. That extra time, combined with less discretionary income, may help us sleep more and spend less on unhealthy foods and habits, like tanning and binge drinking.

    What’s significant about this new study is that it looks at what happens after the economy has recovered. In other words, have people kept up with their healthy habits or have they retreated to their old ways?

    For the most part, after the economy recovers, many of these habits, like soft drink and fast food consumption, creep back into our daily lives.

    But by using individual-level longitudinal data from Iceland, the NBER researchers discovered one hopeful exception: binge drinking continued to decline (albeit at a slower rate) during the recovery. So what set excessive alcohol consumption apart?

    In general, the researchers found that recession-induced individual-level changes — losing a job, for example — didn’t so much affect individuals’ health habits. Instead, Iceland’s recession worked in more general ways, affecting things like currency and prices, which in turn affected consumption.

    But in the case of binge drinking, there may have been something else at play. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the 2008 economic crisis may have had a more immeasurable effect on Iceland.

    “There was a sense that there was an exuberance leading up to the crisis,” said co-author Nancy Reichman of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “People were forgetting who they were.”

    Iceland’s recession may have provoked a subtle values change — a sort of cultural shift the authors called a “back to basics” movement. There was even resurgence in knitting — Icelandic sweaters, of course.

    It’s impossible to say for sure, but that attitudinal adjustment could explain why individuals in Iceland are still drinking less than they were before the 2008 crisis.

    Lest Americans think that Iceland is a nation of alcoholics, the authors stressed that actually, people in Iceland drink less than in most European countries and the United States. Binge drinking was just the behavior that stuck out.

    But wait, why are we talking about Iceland of all places? The country “was a very good lab,” said Reichman, because it’s fairly homogeneous.

    Unlike in the United States, where the recession exacerbated regional and demographic economic disparities, Iceland’s banking crisis hit more uniformly, added Rider University’s Hope Corman, a co-author of the study.

    Iceland also has a nationalized health care system, so the study wasn’t thrown off by some of the population having better access to health care.

    And finally, Iceland’s economy recovered substantially by 2012, which gave the researchers defined time periods to track health behaviors before, during and after the crisis. America’s economy has arguably still not fully recovered.

    None of this is to say that recessions — whether in Iceland or the United States — can’t wreak havoc on our diets, stress levels, and ability to afford essential medication. In 2011, Paul Solman took a closer look at some of the unhealthy side effects of economic disparity in America.

    But if anything, this research provides reason enough to rethink our consumption habits now to earn dividends — of both the health and economic sort — down the road.

    The post Here’s how recession may help us live longer appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    When the 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook Nepal on April 25, it triggered a massive avalanche that covered the base camp at Mount Everest. To date, the death toll at base camp sits at 19, with dozens more injured.

    This is the latest incident in what has been a string of tragedies on the mountain. Despite the destruction and death, climbers will resume their treks to the summit as early as next week. PBS NewsHour spoke to Grayson Schaffer, a senior editor for Outside Magazine, about the destruction the avalanche caused, whether Mount Everest is getting more dangerous and why business as usual will start again so soon.

    The post Despite death and destruction, climbers head back up Mount Everest appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Dechen Phodrang, Thimphu, Bhutan. Photo by James Mollison

    Dechen Phodrang, Thimphu, Bhutan. Photo by James Mollison

    When photographer James Mollison set out to capture different school playgrounds across the world, he was surprised by something that in retrospect was obvious but which hadn’t occurred to him before.

    From hand clapping to rougher, physical games, genuine laughter to tears of jealousy, fights and bullying, Mollison discovered an incredible universality in the way that kids play and communicate. Mollison captured that variety of intense interaction on all 59 school playgrounds from 17 countries and across five years.

    Shohei Elementary School, Tokyo, Japan. Photo by James Mollison

    Shohei Elementary School, Tokyo, Japan. Photo by James Mollison

    “There was something similar in the way younger kids played,” Mollison said. About three-quarters of the schools in his book are primary schools.

    “I think when you’re younger, you haven’t learned fully to deal with your emotions and anger and happiness, so there [was] sometimes more going on with the younger ones.”

    Mollison conceived the idea for this project, “Playgrounds,” while reflecting back to his time at school and remembering the wide range of experiences and emotions.

    “I remember it being a place of fun games, joy and running around – but it also being kind of a quite scary place,” Mollison said. “It was a place where we’d kind of argue and get into fights and jealousy and all that kind of thing. I thought it might be interesting photographically to look at that.”

    Hull Trinity House School, Hull, United Kingdom. Photo by James Mollison

    Hull Trinity House School, Hull, United Kingdom. Photo by James Mollison

    The project had initially started as a way to capture the diversity in schools in Great Britain — he wanted to compare and contrast schools of different cultures and class — but it soon turned into an international project when he got a chance to visit Kenya.

    “I was born in Kenya and lived there until I was 5, so I’ve always been intrigued,” Mollison said. “There was just something mesmerizing about it when the kids just burst out at the moment of the bell – suddenly you kind of have this invasion of children and noise.”

    Valley View School, Mathare, Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by James Mollison.

    Valley View School, Mathare, Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by James Mollison

    Mollison describes his work as a type of time-lapse photography. In order to enrich the narrative of each image, he took multiple pictures over a single break period, then composited details of the moments that relate to his own childhood memories.

    The weight he puts on these tiny moments is clear in illustrator Patrick Waterhouse’s tiny drawings in the book. The duo adopted the concept of “Where’s Waldo?” by having Waterhouse draw a single moment from each playground next to the image.

    “We wanted to come up with a way for people to look into the photos because quite often there’s a lot happening in them,” Mollison said.

    Aida Boys School, Bethlehem, West Bank. Photo by James Mollison

    Aida Boys School, Bethlehem, West Bank. Photo by James Mollison


    Kroo Bay Primary, Freetown, Sierra Leone. Photo by James Mollison

    Kroo Bay Primary, Freetown, Sierra Leone. Photo by James Mollison


    Holtz High School, Tel Aviv, Israel. Photo by James Mollison

    Holtz High School, Tel Aviv, Israel. Photo by James Mollison


    Inglewood High School, Inglewood, California. Photo by James Mollison

    Inglewood High School, Inglewood, California. Photo by James Mollison

    The post Photos: Playground drama is the same for kids around the world appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    AUSTIN, Ind. — Holli Reynolds didn’t entirely understand what the HIV virus was when the news broke earlier this year that 11 people in her tiny town had tested positive for the virus that causes AIDS. Neither did her classmates — a group of students who have always considered HIV a treatable chronic disease that rarely visits a place like rural southeastern Indiana.

    So when the number of infections in Austin and surrounding Scott County jumped to more than 140 — the worst outbreak in Indiana’s history — false rumors spread swiftly through the halls of Austin High School and the surrounding region. People were claiming that the virus could spread via toilet seats, water fountains, even tennis balls.

    “I was like, ‘Well, we’re going to have to do something about it so everyone’s aware of what’s going on around them. Because we’re living in it,” said Reynolds, who is captain of the basketball team and the school’s homecoming queen.

    As a response, Reynolds, 18, and her classmates rushed to release a special edition of the student newspaper, The Eagle, that focused on the outbreak. Articles profiled at-risk residents, dispelled rumors and discussed the impact of the outbreak on the town. Students also started a group called “Stand Up” to educate younger kids about the HIV virus and staying healthy.

    Here are excerpts from some of these student articles:


    “Appearance is not everything, folks.”

    Excerpt from “Light in the Storm,” an editorial

    “The media has done an astonishing job of showing the world the negatives of little Austin, Ind. But along with every negative, there is a positive. Austin may be a small town, but when tragedy hits, it affects all, and our close-knit town and community become family.

    Scott County is made up of two cities that are relatively supportive of each other in times of need. When a member of the community is in crisis, the two cities are quick to join together to help. Scott County is by no means a wealthy community, but it is good at raising money to support those who live in it. Two special stories come to mind. Leanna Berlin (Austin) and Kyle Baker (Scottsburg) have both recently suffered from cancer. The community held several fundraisers and chili suppers to help raise money for expenses for both families. Both Austin and Scottsburg schools have sold bracelets, suckers and T-shirts. Austin Middle and High schools have designated days to wear hats for donations to those families. They called the fundraiser “Caps off to Cancer.” During the two schools’ rivalry games, they held raffles and had change blankets to help raise money. The community is very supportive of its residents and will do whatever it takes to help them in the best way imaginable.”

    “Austin was recently described by an online news source as being a quiet place where there is a sense that time has passed it by. The writer of the article, Geoff Williams, even made a comment about the Dairy Queen sign saying, “the local Dairy Queen sign appears to have been unchanged for decades.” Appearance is not everything, folks. Austin is an older community that was established as a city only seven years ago. Austin has kept its small-town appearance that the residents seem to love. It emanates a homey feeling where everyone knows each other. The older homes and history behind them are monumental and special to many. To outsiders, the classic Dairy Queen sign may seem outdated along with the rest of the town, but to the ones that live in Austin, those are trademarks of the place that they call home.”


    “I am fed up with the press’s skewed description of our citizens.”

    Excerpt from an article by Josh Davidson, 18

    “Throughout the nation, American citizens are reading about this “rural Indiana town” that is the epicenter of one of the largest HIV epidemics in our nation’s history. As I am writing this, I am certain that across the world, the populace of our city is being labeled as “poverty stricken” and uneducated. I strongly disagree with the description because I have not only seen, I have experienced the lighter side of Austin, and I think it is time that we take a stand. I am fed up with the press’s skewed description of our citizens and their lifestyles, and I refuse to let it remain unchallenged. I have lived in this community my entire life and I know that the positives outweigh the negatives by far, and I intend to represent the positives and seek credit for them when it is due. I refuse to allow my community to be labeled as a result of the actions of a few people.”


    “Gov. Pence states that 100 percent of the cases involved have dealt with drugs and the transfer of needles.”

    Excerpt from an article by Holli Reynolds, 18

    “Scott County is making national and world headlines for all of the wrong reasons. Austin has been dealing with poverty and a drug problem for over 50 years, but recently the problem has escalated and taken an ugly turn with the massive HIV outbreak in the community.

    Over 84 people have tested positive since January, with five more currently getting re-tested. Keep in mind that Austin is made up of only 4,200 people.

    Gov. Pence states that 100 percent of the cases involved have dealt with drugs and the transfer of needles. Although all the cases have been transmitted through the sharing of needles, there are other ways to catch the HIV virus, and if victims do not treat the virus, many may only live for two years.”


    On tonight’s PBS NewsHour, watch the full broadcast report on Austin’s search for a solution to the drug problem harming its citizens.

    The post Students in rural Indiana are suddenly experts on the HIV virus appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    From Maypoles to May baskets, this year’s May Day inspired a different type of excitement in Istanbul, where more than 140 people have been detained after clashing with police over anti-government and labor protests on International Workers’ Day.

    Turkish police used teargas and water cannons to disperse the Leftist and union protesters who defied a government-ban and marched on Istanbul’s Taksim Square, the location of many past protests. According to the Associated Press, protesters fought back with stones and firecrackers. More than 20 have been injured.

    The government banned protests in Taksim Square on May 1, the same site where 34 people were killed in 1977, and a meeting ground that led to “weeks of unrest in 2013.” This year, more than 10,000 Turkish police were stationed at the square to crackdown on those who tried to define the ban.

    According to Al Jazeera, this year’s protests come just two months after parliament passed a security bill giving more power to the police to crackdown on protests.

    The post Istanbul’s May Day demonstrations turn violent appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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