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

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    A policeman stands guard outside the Save the Children charity's office in Islamabad, Pakistan, June 12, 2015. Pakistani authorities have given Save the Children 15 days to leave the country, officials said on Friday, accusing the aid agency of spying. Photo by Faisal Mahmood/Reuters

    A policeman stands guard outside the Save the Children charity’s office in Islamabad, Pakistan, June 12, 2015. Pakistani authorities have given Save the Children 15 days to leave the country, officials said on Friday, accusing the aid agency of spying. Photo by Faisal Mahmood/Reuters

    Pakistani authorities told the international aid group Save the Children on Thursday to leave the country within 15 days, accusing the charity of “anti-Pakistan activities.”

    Overnight, Pakistani police sealed off the group’s offices in Islamabad, the country’s capital, by locking the compound’s gate, The Guardian reported. A government official then left a statement ordering the group’s foreign staff to return to their countries.

    A senior Pakistani government official told AFP that Save the Children was working “against Pakistan’s interest.”

    “There were some intelligence reports suggesting some of the international NGOs funded by U.S., Israel and India were involved in working on an anti-Pakistan agenda,” Interior minister Chaudhry Nisar elaborated at a news conference Friday.

    The Guardian reported that Nisar also singled out foreign rights activists who have actively campaigned against the country’s use of the death penalty.

    In 2012, Pakistan intelligence linked the group to Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA find al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Save the Children has routinely denied involvement with the CIA.

    The Washington Post’s Pamela Constable told the NewsHour then that Afridi had attended some of the group’s training courses.

    “[Save the Children] are everywhere. They’re all over the country, very well known, and provided all sorts of training programs for people like [Afridi],” Constable said. “So, he was definitely familiar with and had been invited to participate, but everyone at the organization certainly is saying that they had nothing to do with the actions he took.”

    “We strongly object to this action and are raising our serious concerns at the highest levels,” the charity said in an online statement Thursday.

    “Save the Children does not have any expatriate staff working in Pakistan, all our staff are Pakistani,” the statement read, adding that the group has worked in the country for more than 35 years with a current staff of more than 1,200 staff members.

    The group also said it did not see any governmental notice of the closure. The Express Tribune presumably obtained a copy of the order.

    The post Save the Children aid group ordered to leave Pakistan appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Obama and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi walk from a meeting room after making a last-ditch appeal to House Democrats to support a package of trade bills vital to his Asian policy agenda in the U.S. Capitol in Washington June 12,  2015. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    President Obama and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi walk from a meeting room after making a last-ditch appeal to House Democrats to support a package of trade bills vital to his Asian policy agenda in the U.S. Capitol in Washington June 12, 2015. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The House derailed a high-profile White House-backed trade bill on Friday, a humiliating defeat for President Barack Obama inflicted by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and dozens of union-backed lawmakers from his own party.

    The 302-126 vote left the legislation in perilous limbo, and came a few hours after Obama journeyed to the Capitol to deliver a last-minute personal plea to fellow Democrats to give him power to negotiate global trade deals that Congress could approve or reject but not change.

    “I don’t think you ever nail anything down around here. It’s always moving,” the president said as he departed — a prescient remark given Pelosi’s dramatic announcement later on the House floor.

    “Slow down the fast track to get a better deal for the American people,” the California lawmaker said in a speech that drew handshakes and hugs from Democrats have labored for months to reject Obama’s request for “fast track” authority in trade talks.

    Republicans command a majority in the House, and Speaker John Boehner and the GOP leadership worked in harness with Obama to pass the legislation. But there were many defections among Republicans unwilling to expand the president’s authority and not nearly enough Democrats supporting him for the bill to prevail.

    The outcome was also a triumph for organized labor, which had lobbied lawmakers furiously to oppose the measure that union officials warned would lead to the loss of thousands of American jobs.

    “The president needs to realize we all represent our districts,” said Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas. He said labor opposition to the effort was “overwhelming.”

    Technically, the pivotal vote was on a portion of the legislation to renew federal aid for workers who lose their jobs through imports.

    A second roll call followed on the trade negotiating powers themselves, and the House approved that measure, 219-211. But under the rules in effect, the overall legislation, previously approved by the Senate, could not advance to the White House unless both halves were agreed to.

    That made the day’s events something less than a permanent rejection of the legislation.

    Pelosi said the bill was “stuck in the station,” suggesting that changes could get it moving again.

    Even so, it was unclear how majority Republicans and the White House would be able to gain the momentum.

    Obama drew applause when he walked into the meeting with Democrats, but sharp words after he left and few if any conversions for his efforts.

    “Basically the president tried to both guilt people and then impugn their integrity,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., one of the most outspoken opponents of the legislation.

    Another Democrat, Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, said Obama had told Democrats that “his whole philosophy, life, everything he’s done has been to help people. And he thinks he’s doing that with this trade agreement.”

    Cohen added he remains on the fence after hearing Obama make his pitch. He noted that FedEx, a major employer in his district, supports the bill, while longtime political allies in organized labor oppose it.

    Business groups generally favor the measure. But strong opposition by organized labor carries at least an implicit threat to the re-election of any Democrat who votes in the bill’s favor.

    The debate and vote are certain to reverberate in next year’s presidential election as well. Most Republican contenders favor the trade bill. Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton is uncommitted, despite calls from presidential rival Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders, an opponent of the measure, to take a position.

    The president’s hastily arranged visit to Capitol Hill marked a bid to stave off a humiliating defeat at the hands of his own party.

    His visit relegated much of the debate on the House floor to the status of a sideshow.

    “Is America going to shape the global economy, or is it going to shape us?” said Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who is head of the House Ways and Means Committee and a GOP pointman on an issue that scrambled the normal party alignment in divided government.

    But Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., countered that the legislation heading toward a showdown vote included “no meaningful protections whatever against currency manipulation” by some of America’s trading partners, whose actions he said have “ruined millions of middle class jobs.”

    Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of California, an opponent of the legislation, said Obama’s appeal “didn’t convince me. It may have convinced other members.”

    Other presidents have had the authority Obama seeks. The White House wants the legislation as it works to wrap up a round of talks with 11 Pacific Area countries.

    The same measure included a renewal of assistance for workers who lose their jobs as a result of global trade. Normally, that is a Democratic priority, but in this case, Levin and other opponents of the measure mounted an effort to kill the aid package, as a way of toppling the entire bill.

    The move caught the GOP off-guard. House Republicans, already in the awkward position of allying themselves with Obama, found themselves being asked by their leaders to vote for a worker retraining program that most have long opposed as wasteful. Many were reluctant to do so, leaving the fate of the entire package up in the air, and Obama facing the prospect of a brutal loss — unless he can eke out what all predict would be the narrowest of wins.

    Associated Press writers David Espo, Darlene Superville, Jim Kuhnhenn, Alan Fram, Laurie Kellman and Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.

    The post House rejects Obama on trade authority appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Miles O'Brien reporting in Sierra Leone for the NewsHour's four-part series, Cracking Ebola's code. Photo by Caleb Hellerman

    Miles O’Brien reporting in Sierra Leone for the NewsHour’s four-part series, Cracking Ebola’s code. Photo by Caleb Hellerman

    Some disasters are more transparent than others. As we departed JFK airport on our way to Brussels and ultimately Freetown, Sierra Leone, we flew right over the Rockaways and Broad Channel, NY. Photojournalist Cameron Hickey was sitting right beside me. The two of us had spent a lot of time there in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, shooting a film for the PBS science series NOVA on how a city like New York can guard itself against rising sea level and worsening storms.

    Cinematographer Cameron Hickey shoots in the Kroo Bay slum of Freetown, Sierra Leone for Miles O'Brien's four-part series, Cracking Ebola's code

    Cinematographer Cameron Hickey shoots in the Kroo Bay slum of Freetown, Sierra Leone for Miles O’Brien’s four-part series, Cracking Ebola’s code. Photo by Miles O’Brien

    These days, hurricanes don’t sneak up on us, and the damage they create could not be more obvious. The Ebola epidemic is just the opposite. It began very quietly – probably beneath a bat infested tree in Guinea in December 2013. It spread for months with little notice from the rest of the world. When exponential growth finally took it to a new level of awareness, it still took its toll in a more insidious way.

    When I was driving the bustling streets of Kenema, Sierra Leone with Tulane University researcher Lina Moses, I asked her what it was like being in that very spot in the very worst days of the epidemic. She said it looked no different. “It’s not like a hurricane,” said this cyclone-savvy resident of New Orleans. An epidemic takes a human toll but leaves the buildings standing. I guess it’s sort of like a neutron bomb — designed to kill people but spare the structures.

    That said, there is many clues to the horror here in West Africa. It starts the moment you get off the plane. A big cooler filled with chlorine spiked water greeted us as we walked across the ramp from our Brussels Airlines Airbus A330. It was the first of dozens of handwashings that we would log in our ten day journey to Sierra Leone and Liberia. No one enters a building without thoroughly dousing their hands with chlorine and water.

    A handwashing station outside the airport in Sierra Leone.

    A handwashing station outside the airport in Sierra Leone. Photo by Miles O’Brien

    Handwashing is like clapping; it takes two to tango, and as an arm amputee, neither are my strongest suit. As I approached the jug of chlorine at the airport, I was greeted by a fellow traveler, a Sierra Leonian returning home, who offered me his cleaned hand as an assist. We washed my hand together as he welcomed me to his country with a smile.

    As we made our way in through immigration, there were more signs of what has transpired here — all kinds of warnings about what the disease looks like and how to avoid getting it. And then we encountered the first of dozens of infrared temperature takings. Every time I washed my hand, I got a reading. The temperature taker customarily tells you what your number is, so throughout the next 10 days, I knew exactly how hot I was.

    Getting around Sierra Leone was easier in ways I didn’t expect — there’s actually a pretty good network of roads outside of Freetown that connect the major cities. But it was difficult in ways I didn’t expect either. There is no bridge across Tagrin Bay, which separates the airport from the capital city, so a drive from the airport to the center of Freetown takes more than three hours. The only practical way to get to town is to hop on a ferry. It’s about a 30-minute ride, which we would end up taking four times. We began our journey on the good ship Jonathan Good Luck. I was hoping it was an omen, as I knew we would need a lot of “Jonathan” on this trip.

    The NewsHour team took this boat from the airport to the capital city. Photo by Miles O'Brien

    The NewsHour team took this boat from the airport to the capital city. Photo by Miles O’Brien

    It turns out our good luck was named Umaru. Umaru Fofana, Esquire to be precise. Our Fixer. We didn’t know it at the time, but we soon discovered he is the most famous journalist in Sierra Leone, and perhaps West Africa. He works as a stringer for BBC and Reuters, and he is an extraordinarily courageous journalist — with scars from a gunshot wound to prove it. He is a rock star.

    Umaru Fofana Esquire, one of the most famous journalist's in West Africa, was the team's fixer for the trip.

    Umaru Fofana, Esquire, one of the most famous journalists in West Africa, was the team’s fixer for the trip. Photo by Caleb Hellerman

    Wherever we went with Umaru, doors and gates opened, stern guards with AK-47s turned to gushy, smiling, fan-boys, and roadblocks became little more than speed bumps. He, along with his driver Mustapha, produced plenty of good luck for us. The honest-to-goodness truth is, on a reporting trip like this, your fixer will make or break you. Umaru made it possible for us to be great.

    We said we were interested in shooting some footage of bats — the suspected reservoir species of the Ebola virus. Umaru took us to Victoria Park; a stone’s throw, or perhaps more importantly, a short drone flight, from the Presidential Palace. We were there to get some aerial footage of fruit bats in flight with our trusty unmanned aerial vehicle. The footage we shot in the air and on the ground is fantastic, but in the midst of it, Cameron forgot to keep his mouth shut as he looked toward the sky. I am certain guano does not taste like chicken, but you would have to ask Cameron for the real gauge on that. Given the nature of the story, this little episode seemed a little more serious than the grist for ribbing and humor that it would normally be.

    [Watch Video]
    A drone operated by cinematographer Cameron Hickey flies through Freetown, Sierra Leone, accompanied by a swarm of bats. Video by Caleb Hellerman

    We flew the drone numerous times, and it never ceased to entertain an exponentially growing crowd. In the Kroo Bay slum of Freetown, the word spread like wildfire that a drone would soon be taking flight. Several times, I became worried that a spinning propeller might injure some of the hundreds of curious children who gathered all around us. Fortunately, when we told them to back away, they listened. [Of course, we had the Great Umaru there to assist!] But at the end of each flight, when Cameron would bring the drone down for a safe landing, he would have to grab the craft quickly and hold it above his head while he was mobbed like Charles Lindbergh at Le Bourget in 1927.

    Children gather as cinematographer Cameron Hickey flies a drone Kroo Bay slum of Freetown. Photo by Miles O'Brien

    Children gather as cinematographer Cameron Hickey flies a drone in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Photo by Miles O’Brien

    But at the end of each flight, when Cameron would bring the drone down for a safe landing, he would have to grab the craft quickly and hold it above his head while he was mobbed like Charles Lindbergh was at Le Bourget in 1927.

    A crowd gathers as cinematographer Cameron Hickey, flies a drone to capture video for the broadcast report.

    A crowd gathers as cinematographer Cameron Hickey flies a drone to capture video for the broadcast report. Image by Miles O’Brien

    When we decided to fly the drone at a border checkpoint between Sierra Leone and Guinea, Umaru was able to convince the respective heads of immigration on either side of the line to allow the flight. They insisted on meeting me, and the picture I took of them is proof drones can bring people together so long as there used with peaceful intent!

    Miles captured this photo at the border of Guinea and Sierra Leone  with the heads of immigration for both countries. Photo by Miles O'Brien

    Miles captured this photo at the border of Guinea and Sierra Leone with the heads of immigration for both countries. Photo by Miles O’Brien

    It is hard for we Americans to understand the depth of poverty in this part of the world. The real killers here are not the virus, but rather the lack of running water, electricity, good housing and opportunity. Ebola can be beaten back with money. We have proven it time and again here in the US. And yet, in the midst of the overwhelming poverty here, I found much happiness and hope.

    [Watch Video]
    Young men jog down the streets of Freetown, Sierra Leone, chanting Ebola 4 Go. Video by Miles O’Brien

    When we were on our way to shoot the bat-filled tree in the center of town on our last Sunday in Sierra Leone, we happened upon a large group of young men running in cadence near the beach; chanting “Ebola 4 Go … Ebola 4 Go.” That’s essentially Creole for “Ebola be gone.” I could not help but smile. It filled my heart with joy, despite all I had seen and learned in the hard days before.

    The post The real killer in the Ebola epidemic appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Officials say hackers linked to China appear to have gained private information submitted by intelligence and military personnel on June 12, 2015.

    Officials say hackers linked to China appear to have gained private information submitted by intelligence and military personnel on June 12, 2015.

    WASHINGTON — Hackers linked to China appear to have gained access to the sensitive background information submitted by intelligence and military personnel for security clearances, several U.S. officials said Friday, describing a second cyberbreach of federal records that could dramatically compound the potential damage.

    The forms authorities believed to have been accessed, known as Standard Form 86, require applicants to fill out deeply personal information about mental illnesses, drug and alcohol use, past arrests and bankruptcies. They also require the listing of contacts and relatives, potentially exposing any foreign relatives of U.S. intelligence employees to coercion. Both the applicant’s Social Security number and that of his or her cohabitant is required.

    The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the security clearance material is classified.

    The security-clearance records provide “a very complete overview of a person,” said Evan Lesser, managing director of ClearanceJobs.com, a website that matches security-clearance holders to available slots. “You don’t need these records to blackmail or exploit someone, but it would sure make the job easier.”

    The Office of Personnel Management, which was the target of the hack, has not officially notified military or intelligence personnel whose security clearance data was breached, but news of the second hack was starting to circulate in both the Pentagon and the CIA.

    The officials said they believe the hack into the security clearance database was separate from the breach of federal personnel data announced last week — a breach that is itself appearing far worse than first believed. It could not be learned whether the security database breach happened when an OPM contractor was hacked in 2013, an attack that was discovered last year. Members of Congress received classified briefings about that breach in September, but there was no mention of security clearance information being exposed.

    The OPM had no immediate comment Friday.

    Nearly all of the millions of security clearance holders, including CIA, National Security Agency and military special operations personnel, are potentially exposed in the security clearance breach, the officials said. More than 2.9 million people had been investigated for a security clearance as of October 2014, according to government records.

    In the hack of standard personnel records announced last week, two people briefed on the investigation disclosed Friday that as many as 14 million current and former civilian U.S. government employees have had their information exposed to hackers, a far higher figure than the 4 million the Obama administration initially disclosed.

    American officials have said that cybertheft originated in China and that they suspect espionage by the Chinese government, which has denied any involvement.

    The newer estimate puts the number of compromised records between 9 million and 14 million going back to the 1980s, said one congressional official and one former U.S. official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because information disclosed in the confidential briefings includes classified details of the investigation.

    There are about 2.6 million executive branch civilians, so the majority of the records exposed relate to former employees. Contractor information also has been stolen, officials said. The data in the hack revealed last week include the records of most federal civilian employees, though not members of Congress and their staffs, members of the military or staff of the intelligence agencies.

    On Thursday, a major union said it believes the hackers stole Social Security numbers, military records and veterans’ status information, addresses, birth dates, job and pay histories; health insurance, life insurance and pension information; and age, gender and race data.

    The personnel records would provide a foreign government an extraordinary roadmap to blackmail, impersonate or otherwise exploit federal employees in an effort to gain access to U.S. secrets —or entry into government computer networks.

    Outside experts were pointing to the breaches as a blistering indictment of the U.S. government’s ability to secure its own data two years after a National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden, was able to steal tens of thousands of the agency’s most sensitive documents.

    After the Snowden revelations about government surveillance, it became more difficult for the federal government to hire talented younger people into sensitive jobs, particularly at intelligence agencies, Lesser said.

    “Now, if you get a job with the government, your own personal information may not be secure,” he said. “This is going to multiply the government’s hiring problems many times.”

    The Social Security numbers were not encrypted, the American Federation of Government Employees said, calling that “an abysmal failure on the part of the agency to guard data that has been entrusted to it by the federal workforce.”

    Samuel Schumach, an OPM spokesman, would not address how the data was protected or specifics of the information that might have been compromised, but said, “Today’s adversaries are sophisticated enough that encryption alone does not guarantee protection.” OPM is nonetheless increasing its use of encryption, he said.

    The Obama administration had acknowledged that up to 4.2 million current and former employees whose information resides in the Office of Personnel Management server are affected by the December cyberbreach, but it had been vague about exactly what was taken.

    J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said in a letter Thursday to OPM director Katherine Archuleta that based on incomplete information OPM provided to the union, “the hackers are now in possession of all personnel data for every federal employee, every federal retiree and up to 1 million former federal employees.”

    Another federal union, the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, said Friday that “at this point, we believe AFGE’s assessment of the breach is overstated.” It called on the OPM to provide more information.

    Rep. Mike Rogers, the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said last week that he believes China will use the recently stolen information for “the mother of all spear-phishing attacks.”

    Spear-phishing is a technique under which hackers send emails designed to appear legitimate so that users open them and load spyware onto their networks.

    The post Officials say second hack exposed military and intel data appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Agricultural farm land is shown next to the desert in the Imperial valley near El Centro, California on May 31, 2015. California is enduring its worst drought on record. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    Agricultural farm land is shown next to the desert in the Imperial valley near El Centro, California on May 31, 2015. California is enduring its worst drought on record. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Federal agencies pledged another $110 million in aid Friday to help states struggling with the crippling drought after President Barack Obama talked to leaders from seven western states.

    The president met by phone and video link for about an hour with the governors of Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, and Wyoming and with the lieutenant governor of Utah, according to the White House.

    The funding announced Friday includes:

    • $18 million for a jobs program to help as many as 1,000 Californians who are unemployed because of the drought get temporary jobs doing drought-related work or as part of programs to help make communities more drought-resistant. The administration cited a recent University of California study estimating 18,000 lost jobs in California.
    • “It also provides a much needed infusion of economic support right back into these communities that need it,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Portia Wu on a conference call with reporters.

    • $30 million to extend a program so farmers who suffer one or two years of exceptionally low production because of the drought do not lose crop insurance.
    • $10 million to reduce the threat of wildfires by cleaning up landscapes so they are less prone to fires.
    • $6.5 million in grants for water management improvement projects.
    • $7 million to address the drought-related needs of water utilities and households.

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Environmental Protection Administrator Gina McCarthy, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate, Deputy Interior Secretary Mike Connor and Wu were among those on the call.

    Representatives of those agencies said the $110 million in new spending comes on top of $190 million already pledged in short-term help for the states and in addition to other programs aimed at making long-term changes.

    California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, said his state has already seen more than half a million acres gone fallow and thousands of job losses.

    “This aid will provide new opportunities for farmworkers and rural communities most impacted by the drought and make the state more water-efficient and drought resilient,” he said in a statement.

    Officials also used the call to promote legislation by congressional Republicans to speed up timber harvests and the removal of underbrush that the U.S. Forest Service deemed necessary, which the Obama administration supports.

    The administration has warned of potentially catastrophic wildfires this summer in the Southwest and Northwest, and is forecasting costs of more than $200 million above the budget for federal firefighting.

    Forest Service officials say the budgeting system requires them to shift money from fire-prevention efforts to firefighting, exacerbating fire problems.

    The post Federal agencies pledge another $110 million in drought aid appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Barack Obama departs with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (R) after meeting with Democratic House members to push for trade legislation at the U.S. Capitol in Washington June 12, 2015.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX1G98C

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The debate over trade saw one of its most dramatic days yet, as the U.S. House effectively rejected a combination of proposals that would together would give the president so-called fast track trade authority.

    Our political director, Lisa Desjardins, begins our coverage with the surprise in-person lobbying effort from the White House.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Hours before today’s showdown vote, President Obama made a rare last-ditch appeal to House Democrats on Capitol Hill who were rebelling against his trade agenda. The so-called fast track trade legislation would help pave the way for the multination Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.

    That’s near completion and it’s a key component of the president’s economic agenda. The bill will allow the president to finalize global trade deals that Congress can either vote up or down, but not amend. After the 30-minute meeting with Democrats, the president seemed unsure if he’d secured his own party’s support.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I don’t think you ever nail anything down around right here. It’s always moving.

    LISA DESJARDINS: California’s Brad Sherman was pretty clearly unmoved.

    REP. BRAD SHERMAN, D-Calif.: Did he persuade me that that’s a good policy? No.

    LISA DESJARDINS: But Ron Kind of Wisconsin did pledge support.

    REP. RON KIND, D-Wisc.: For us as a caucus now not even to give him the decency or the respect to trust him a little bit to try to go out and negotiate a good trade agreement that we will have plenty of time in the future to analyze and determine whether it makes sense for our district, our states or our country, I think, is selling this administration short.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The president wasn’t the only one making a full-court Capitol press.

    MAN: Do you know about fast track? They’re voting right now on it.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Anti-fast track activists made their opinions known outside. And if you knew where to look, you could spot lobbyists supporting the deal quickly working on cell phones a few steps away.

    Inside, on the House floor, Speaker John Boehner insisted the trade legislation is crucial to America’s prosperity.

    REP. JOHN BOEHNER, Speaker of the House: When America leads, the world is safer for freedom and for free enterprise. And when we don’t lead, we’re allowing and frankly essentially inviting China to go right on setting the rules of the world economy.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Boehner doesn’t typically vote on bills, but made an exception today. Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, the head of the House Ways and Means Committee, echoed his support.

    REP. PAUL RYAN, R-Wisc.: If we want to create more jobs in America, we have got to make more things here in America and sell them over there.

    LISA DESJARDINS: But Democrats like Debbie Dingell of Michigan charged that the legislation actually harms U.S. job creation.

    REP. DEBBIE DINGELL, D-Mich.: The vote today is why I came to Congress. I promised the working men and women in my district that I would fight to make sure they had a seat at the table when we were making decisions that impact their life and their livelihood. Enough is enough. Congress cannot abdicate its responsibility to the working men of this country.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Democrats faced a kind of “Sophie’s Choice” here today. That’s because the bill that many of them oppose, that fast track trade authority for the president, or TPA, was connected by a rule to another bill called TAA, or Trade Adjustment Assistance. That bill would give assistance or relief to workers displaced by trade.

    Democrats traditionally support it, but they blocked it today in order to try and take down that fast track trade bill.

    One of those Democrats, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi:

    REP. NANCY PELOSI, House Minority Leader: I’m prepared to vote against TAA, because then its defeat, sad to say, is the only way that we will be able to slow down the fast track.

    MAN: The nays are 302.

    LISA DESJARDINS: That vote on the TAA came in the early afternoon and it went down in a rout, 302 to 126. Republican leaders then held the vote on the fast track trade authority. At that point, it was a symbolic gesture. That narrowly passed, 219 to 211, largely with Republican votes. But, again, both TAA and TPA needed passage for the overall legislation to become law.

    At the White House, Press Secretary Josh Earnest tried to strike an optimistic tone.

    JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: There was a lot of skepticism about how much Democratic support the president would succeed in building. And getting the support of 28 House Democrats is a good sign of the kind of bipartisan majority that the president was seeking to build.

    LISA DESJARDINS: So what now? Republican leaders plan to hold another House vote on the TAA by Tuesday. If it passes, the president will get the fast track trade authority he wants. But how to get those votes, that remains unclear.

    Lisa Desjardins, PBS NewsHour.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In fact, the president lost more than 140 Democrats on one of the crucial trade votes today, more than expected.

    Last night, we heard from White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

    Tonight, we hear from a House Democrat who’s been a vocal opponent, Representative Peter DeFazio from Oregon. I spoke with him late this afternoon.

    Welcome, Congressman Peter DeFazio.

    Congressman, in voting down this trade legislation, something the president has lobbied for, for months, this was a direct rebuke to him, wasn’t it?

    REP. PETER DEFAZIO, D-Ore.: It’s a rebuke to the policy he’s trying to push through Congress with fast track authority, no amendments allowed, up-or-down vote only for the largest trade agreement in the history of the United States, 29 chapters long.

    And it was a rebuke for what we know of those policies. It’s a classified document that many of us have read part of it. It doesn’t do many things that he purports it does. It doesn’t have enforceable labor standards. It doesn’t have enforceable environmental standards. It doesn’t do anything about currency manipulation. He admits that.

    And it sets up new secret, private tribunals which are only accessible by multinational corporations, where they can challenge our domestic laws. That’s — that’s pretty amazing stuff.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Congressman, you told reporters earlier that the president hurt his own cause, in effect, by what he said to members when he met with you earlier today. What did he say?

    REP. PETER DEFAZIO: Well, he feels like he’s being personally attacked. We’re not attacking him personally, nor his motives. But he went on at some length about that.

    We are opposed to the policies he’s putting forward. And, secondly, he then questioned us, in saying we weren’t being straight, implying that we were being less than honest by using the only vehicle we had to slow this thing down, which was voting down trade adjustment assistance. I found that offensive, as did many other members of the Congress.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We interviewed Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, on the “NewsHour” last night. He said it does have enforceable labor standards. He said it does have enforceable environmental standards. He talked about it’s going to create jobs.

    Are you saying the White House is mistaken, or what?

    REP. PETER DEFAZIO: Probably, the White House has been briefed by their special trade representative, who’s a salesman. And, you know, I have read those chapters. I can’t talk about them in detail because they’re classified.

    But let me just say this. The use of the word “may” doesn’t sound like a binding standard to me.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me also quote to you from what one of your fellow Democratic congressmen, Ron Kind, said. We just heard him tell our reporter Lisa Desjardins, he said, “For our caucus not to even give the president,” in his words, “the decency or respect to trust him a little bit to go out and negotiate a trade agreement,” he said, is selling the administration short.

    REP. PETER DEFAZIO: We have read in classified form, which we can’t talk about, the proposed document. We see sections that have been written by corporations and confirmed in e-mails that they were written by corporations and inserted into that bill.

    We just saw last night the Republicans repealed country of origin meat labeling. I believe 93 percent of the American people support that. And we did that because of a weaker trade agreement that we’re in, the WTO, where we can’t be challenged by corporations, only by other governments. Under this one, any corporation can challenge any American law.

    And we know that the pharmaceutical industry is the big winner in this. And it’s very likely that they will come back and challenge our requirement that they give the lowest price to Medicaid patients, that they give reduced prices to people on Medicare Part D, that they will attack our bulk purchasing for veterans.

    Now, the president is right. They can’t make us repeal those laws. They can just make us pay to keep them. And that’s why, last night, the Republicans repealed country of origin meat labeling, because we would have had to pay $3 billion a year to label where your meat came from.

    That’s what these agreements are about. Very little of this is about trade or tariffs. It’s all about making it safe for more U.S. companies to move jobs overseas.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: One thing I do want to ask you about, in voting as Democrat — many Democrats like you did, you voted down something that Democrats normally — normally support with a lot of passion, and that is assistance for workers who’ve lost their jobs.

    What happens to that legislation and to that support now?

    REP. PETER DEFAZIO: Well, first off, it was a very inadequately funded provision, and the Republicans proposed to fund it by cutting Medicare. We didn’t much like that.

    And, secondly, this trade agreement is so big, there are going to be hundreds of thousands of jobs lost. And, you know, that Trade Adjustment Assistance package wouldn’t be adequate. And, third, we’re legislators. We are — 85 percent of the Democratic Caucus is opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership under the conditions which the president is putting it forward. And that was our only legislative opportunity to derail this thing.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Congressman Peter DeFazio joining us from the Capitol, we thank you.

    REP. PETER DEFAZIO: Thank you.

    The post What’s next after Democrats derail trade bill? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 6.25.19 PM

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Hackers linked to China may have accessed sensitive background information of intelligence and military personnel. The Associated Press reported today officials believe it involved security clearance forms with possible information about mental illness, drug and alcohol use, past arrests or bankruptcies. It’s the second cyber-security breach of federal records in just the past week.

    The Office of Personnel Management was the target of the hack and has yet to notify people whose data was breached.

    Law enforcement officers in New York refocused their search for two escaped convicts after reports two men were seen jumping a stone wall. The manhunt stretched into a seventh day, as there was confirmation a female prison employee gave the inmates contraband, but not the power tools they used to break out.

    Late today, New York State Police arrested Joyce Mitchell for providing assistance to help the two inmates escape.

    Earlier in the day, district attorney Andrew Wylie said Mitchell had a relationship with one of the men.

    ANDREW WYLIE, Clinton County District Attorney: There wasn’t sufficient information to either block her out of the facility, have some type of formal charges within the facility filed against her, but action, I think, was taken to separate the two of them for a period of time.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mitchell and her husband both worked at the correctional facility.

    Water officials in California ordered the largest cuts on record for farmers today to try and cope with a now four-year-long drought. The order affects thousands of farmers, some of whom hold the strongest and oldest legal water rights in the state. Today’s decision includes California’s Sacramento, San Joaquin and Delta watersheds. Many of the farmers affected argue the state has no authority to mandate the cuts.

    The former head of the International Monetary Fund Dominique Strauss-Kahn was cleared of pimping charges today. He was seen leaving for a court in Lille, France, but made no appearance after the verdict. The trial centered on sex parties with prostitutes during the global financial crisis. Strauss-Kahn said he didn’t know the women were prostitutes and needed the — quote — “recreational sessions” to relieve stress.

    In Germany, prosecutors closed their investigation into the alleged tapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone by the U.S. National Security Agency. The probe was opened last year after NSA leaker Edward Snowden said he had documents proving her phone was bugged. Prosecutors said they were unable to find evidence that would stand up in court.

    Greek stocks tumbled today on news that the country’s debt talks with European creditors in Brussels are unraveling. With one week to go before the negotiation deadline, European Union officials held their first meetings on a plan B if Athens should default on its loans.

    But, in Berlin, German Chancellor Merkel urged all parties to keep on negotiating.

    ANGELA MERKEL, Chancellor, Germany (through interpreter): And, on Greece, I would like to say, and I have repeated this over the last few days, where there’s a will, there’s a way. So it’s important that we keep speaking with each other.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: After European markets closed, Greek officials indicated they would present new proposals over the weekend.

    Uncertainty over the Greek debt talks sent ripples through the U.S. stock market. On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 140 points to close at 17900. The Nasdaq fell 31 points. The S&P 500 dropped 15. For the week, the Dow gained three-tenths of a percent. The Nasdaq rose a tenth of a percent. And the S&P lost three-tenths of a percent.

    And the Republican Party of Iowa has dropped its famed straw poll. It had been a staple pre-election-year event for GOP presidential candidates since 1979, but there was waning interest among 2016 hopefuls. The party voted unanimously to cancel the event in a conference call today. It had been scheduled for August 8 in the central Iowa city of Boone.

    The post News Wrap: New York authorities refocus search for escaped convicts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton delivers her "official launch speech" at a campaign kick off rally in Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island in New York City, June 13, 2015.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid  - RTX1GCMV

    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton delivers her “official launch speech” at a campaign kick off rally in Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island in New York City, June 13, 2015. Photo by Brendan McDermid/Reuters

    NEW YORK — Hillary Rodham Clinton formally kicked off her presidential campaign on Saturday with an enthusiastic embrace of her potential to become the first woman to win the White House.

    She asked the thousands of supporters at an outdoor rally on Roosevelt Island in the East River to join in her building an America “where we don’t leave anyone out or anyone behind.”

    With the downtown New York skyline and new World Trade Center over her shoulder, Clinton offered herself as a fierce advocate for those still struggling in the wake of the Great Recession.

    She promised to carry on the liberal legacy of President Barack Obama, and former Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Bill Clinton, her husband.

    “Real and lasting prosperity must be built by all and shared by all,” the former secretary of state, first lady and Democratic senator from New York said.

    When Hillary Clinton ended her first campaign for president in 2008, falling short against Obama for the nomination, she conceded that she and her backers “weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling.”

    On Saturday, she pledged to push ahead toward an “America where a father can tell his daughter: Yes, you can be anything you want to be – even president of the United States.”

    “I think you know by now that I’ve been called many things by many people,” Clinton said to cheers and laughter from the crowd of roughly 5,500. “Quitter is not one of them.”

    Clinton, 67, did not make her gender a core element in 2008, but it provided the cap to the first major speech of her 2016 bid.

    “I will be the youngest woman president in the history of the United States. And the first grandmother as well,” she said.

    Two months after starting her campaign with a simple video that showed her only briefly, Clinton outlined a broad vision intended to attract the coalition of young and minority voters that propelled Obama to two victories.

    In her roughly 45 minute speech, Clinton laid out a wish list of Democratic policies: universal pre-K education, increased regulation of the financial industry, paid sick leave and equal pay for women, a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally, campaign finance overhaul and a ban on discrimination against gay people and their families.

    In doing so, Clinton tried to cast the 2016 election as a choice about the economic future of the middle class, saying the Republican field is “singing the same old song.”

    The GOP’s candidates, she said, want to give Wall Street banks free reign, take away health insurance, “turn their backs” on gay people and ignore the science of climate change.

    “Fundamentally, they reject what it takes to build an inclusive economy,” Clinton said. “It takes an inclusive society. What I once called `a village’ that has a place for everyone.”

    Republicans jumped on Clinton’s decision to cite her ties to Obama and were trying to raise money off the speech almost as soon as it ended. In an email appeal asking for donations, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry wrote, “We want to look toward a brighter future, not backward at the failed policies of the Obama-Clinton years.”

    As part of an effort to reintroduce herself to the public, Clinton stressed her career of advocacy work – a calling she said was inspired by her mother’s difficult upbringing.

    After the rally, she headed to Iowa for a campaign event Saturday night, followed next week by a tour of early-voting states. There, she will focus on her relationship with her mother and her father’s background as a veteran and small businessman.

    Clinton is the dominant front-runner for the nomination in a race that also includes Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chaffe.

    Clinton’s aides said she plans to give a policy address almost every week during the summer and fall.

    New York has one of the highest rates of income inequality in the country, so Clinton’s remarks here could foreshadow a campaign that will draw contrasts with rivals over who best can provide de for the country’s economic security.

    “Prosperity can’t be just for CEOs and hedge fund managers,” Clinton said. “You brought our country back, now it’s time your time to secure the gains and move ahead.”

    Yet the Clinton family’s financial history makes some in her party skeptical of her populist credentials. Both Clintons have earned millions in speaking fees, including some from Wall Street banks, and daughter Chelsea and her husband have worked at hedge funds.

    Clinton spoke about foreign policy for the first time in any significant detail since returning to presidential politics.

    As Obama’s first secretary of state, Clinton said she stood up to Russian leader Vladimir Putin and was in the White House Situation Room the night Osama bin Laden was killed.

    Here, too, Clinton tried to set herself apart from the more than dozen Republicans who plan to run and have focused, early in the campaign, on the threats the nation faces overseas.

    “There are a lot of trouble spots in the world, but there’s a lot of good news out there, too,” Clinton said. “I believe the future holds far more opportunities than threats if we exercise creative and confident leadership that enables us to shape global events, rather than be shaped by them.”

    Clinton remained silent on some issues of critical importance to the Democratic base, most notably a Pacific Rim trade pact backed by Obama but opposed by organized labor, liberals and others who say it will cost the U.S. jobs.

    The omission didn’t go unnoticed in Iowa and New Hampshire, where Sanders and O’Malley were campaigning.

    Both are against the trade deal, and Sanders again hammered Clinton for refusing to say where she stood.

    “I want to say this: the president is dead wrong on this issue, but he has come out for it,” Sanders said. “Most Democrats in the Congress are against it. But I don’t understand how you don’t have a position on this issue.”

    Associated Press Radio Correspondent Julie Walker contributed to this report.

    The post Video: Clinton kicks off 2016 campaign with rally in NYC appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    MuholiArt

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    ZANELE MUHOLI: The mission is to ensure that we have– a visual history that speaks to the moment that will inform the future. And also to ensure that we document and archive the history of our people who are on a daily basis violated simply because of our gender expression and also because of our sexual orientation.

    TRACY WHOLF: Zanele Muholi’s work focuses primarily on the black lesbian experience, from moments of celebration and joy, to intimate portraits and stories that depict the violence many gay South Africans experience…everything from corrective rape, where lesbian are sexually assaulted by men who want to ‘turn them straight’ to murder.

    TRACY WHOLF: Are you concerned about repercussions against your own family for the work that you do?

    ZANELE MUHOLI: Unfortunately, a lot of innocent souls have been killed without even doing anything at all. But then if anything happens to me, at le– at least I’ll die, you know, peacefully ’cause I’ll know that I’ve acted to challenge any phobias that– that still persist.

    TRACY WHOLF: Catherine Morris is the curator of Muholi’s exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum.

    CATHERINE MORRIS: Zanele’s engagement with her community is coupled with her extraordinary photographic talent. She is simultaneously documenting her community, but at the same time speaking very eloquently about the history of photography and history of portraiture. And these black and white photographs resonate on so many levels because of that push/pull between the history that she’s capturing and the community she’s committed to.

    TRACY WHOLF: Muholi struggled with her own identity as a black lesbian and even had thoughts of suicide when she was younger, but someone gave her a point-and-shoot camera and she began taking self-portraits and found it to be therapeutic.

    ZANELE MUHOLI: Like, I’m one of those people who really doesn’t mind to photograph– the self, you know? And I think it’s the right thing to do. It’s very, very important for us to look at us before we look at what is happening in the neighborhood.

    TRACY WHOLF: Muholi’s portrait series called ‘Faces and Phases’ is a collection of intimate photos she’s taken of friends and acquaintances, people she refers to as ‘collaborators.’

    TRACY WHOLF: What are you looking for when you’re setting up a shot and you’re working with a collaborator?

    ZANELE MUHOLI: I’m looking for me. You know, when some people say, ‘You look at someone and you see yourself in them–‘ I’m looking for me that I never was. So I’m looking for the person, that person who– that lies in each and every one of us no matter what.

    TRACY WHOLF: Despite gay rights being protected by law in South Africa, attacks against black lesbians are often overlooked and under investigated by authorities, according to human rights groups.

    ROSALIND MORRIS: It’s– it’s– much harder to be a black lesbian in South Africa than it is to be a white lesbian.

    TRACY WHOLF: Rosalind Morris is a professor of anthropology at Columbia University.

    ROSALIND MORRIS: Violence against women is– not uncommon. So one finds a kind of intensification of that violence directed against black women for not conforming to ideals of femininity, on one hand, and for appearing to betray a– black cultural or a black national cause.

    TRACY WHOLF: And while Muholi’s work has been celebrated and embraced by art critics around the world, some of her more explicit and revealing photographs have led conservative politicians in South Africa to criticize her work – calling it ‘immoral’ and ‘offensive.’

    TRACY WHOLF: Your work has been met with criticism or controversy. How do you respond to those statements, those sentiments, that pushback?

    ZANELE MUHOLI: When I’m being called a black lesbian controversial photographer, they basically say, “Continue to do it because you are doing the right thing.”

    TRACY WHOLF: Muholi’s latest American show will run through November at the Brooklyn Museum in New York.

    The post Photographs capture life as a black lesbian in South Africa appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    On any given night, tens of thousands of people across the United States are living on the streets.

    Many advocates are pushing for a new model, permanent supportive housing, to reduce homelessness. The model prioritizes a stable place to live and has been shown to keep people from falling back into homelessness.

    Increasingly, people are also paying attention to the design of these permanent supportive housing facilities. Architecturally striking housing for the homeless is starting to pop up across the country. In Washington D.C., for example, The ‘La Casa’ building was recognized by the American Institute of Architects as one of the best in housing design.

    In the video above, learn more about the philosophy behind the design of one of these permanent supportive housing buildings located in the heart of Skid Row in downtown L.A., an area which has one of the highest concentrations of homeless people in the country.

    The post Architects rethinking design of housing for formerly homeless residents appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    homeless

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    JOHN CARLOS FREY: 56-year old Lendell Seay proudly shows off his tidy one bedroom apartment, which overlooks the 5 Freeway in East Los Angeles.

    The unit’s bathroom is so big he keeps his bike in it, and there’s plenty of room for his collection of hats, many of which tout his military service.

    LENDELL SEAY: My primary job was in motor T, transportation.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: Seay served in the Marines for more than 21 years, including Desert Storm in Iraq, before retiring in 1998. But despite his successful military career, after his fiance passed away from a stroke in 2004, Seay found himself in a downward spiral.

    LENDELL SEAY: And that’s when the drinking and everything really, really kicked in.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: For you?

    LENDELL SEAY: Yes, and I just — just fell apart and lost everything.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: So you found yourself where?

    LENDELL SEAY: I found myself in the — in the streets around Culver City and Santa Monica.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: From one day to the next, you were homeless?

    LENDELL SEAY: Yes.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: Before he moved into this apartment last October, Seay had been homeless, off and on, for a decade.

    LENDELL SEAY: Everything that I made was mostly spent drinking.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: Famously sunny Los Angeles has long been known as the homeless capital of America, from beachy communities like Santa Monica and Venice to Skid Row downtown. There are about 45,000 homeless people in L.A. county, about 4,000 of whom are veterans.

    The number of homeless vets in the city of L.A. has fallen by about one third since 2009. And last year the city joined an ambitious national effort already underway to completely end veteran homelessness by the end of this year.

    L.A.’s commitment coincided with an event last July attended by First Lady Michelle Obama, who has championed veterans initiatives for the Obama administration.

    MICHELLE OBAMA: And make no mistake it is an aggressive goal. but we have seen time and time again that if you break these numbers down then this problem becomes eminently solvable.

    MAYOR GARCETTI: I don’t think anybody’s had the confidence that we’d ever be able to make a dent in homelessness. We’ve just come to accept that we manage homelessness, that we try to make it less bad, but we never make it better.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is a former Navy Reservist himself. He says the city’s effort to end homelessness among veterans is different than how things used to be in L.A.

    MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI: Our policy was very lazy.  “I just do housing,” “I just feed them,” “I’m a free health clinic,” and it — and it admirably — dealt with the crisis of people potentially dying on our streets, but it never turned their lives around permanently. That’s what’s changed now.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: The first step of this new model is a permanent house, funded mostly at government expense with services then added around the resident. It’s called permanent supportive housing. And that’s what Lendell Seay found himself in.

    Seay lives in this complex that houses only formerly homeless veterans. While there is no firm program that he has to follow, he has access to support services, including onsite case managers, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, and even a community garden.

    Officials in L.A. point to research showing nearly 90 percent of chronically homeless people remained housed after five years using this model.

    For Seay, who has been sober for more than two years, it’s more than he had hoped for.

    LENDELL SEAY: It feel good.  Sometimes, I walk around the apartment and no TV or nothin’ on and just singin’ for no reason at all.  And then I catch myself doin’ it and I start to laugh and I say, “You must be goin’ crazy now.”  But I’m just happy, it feel —

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: A good crazy.

    LENDELL SEAY: It feel good.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: There is no time limit on staying in the apartment. Residents generally pay 30 percent of their income in rent. For Seay, that’s $470 from his pension. The rest is subsidized with a federal voucher specifically for homeless veterans. Since 2008, nearly 80,000 of these vouchers for homeless vets have been awarded around the country.

    CHRISTINE MARGIOTTA: I’ll sign it, thanks.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: Christine Margiotta runs Home for Good for the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, which has coordinated the efforts of hundreds of service providers working to help homeless vets. She says housing for the homeless, including veterans, is less expensive than trying to care for people on the street, which costs nearly $1 billion annually in L.A.

    CHRISTINE MARGIOTTA: Because that person is using the emergency rooms for their primary health care. They may be cycling in and out of jail or prison.  They’re really suffering, out on our streets. What we know is that permanent supportive housing is actually 40 percent cheaper than leaving someone on the streets and, in our minds, doing nothing

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: But despite the progress made, there’s no shortage of homeless people, including veterans, on the streets of Los Angeles.

    Early one morning we went to Skid Row in downtown L.A. with outreach workers from U.S. Vets, a non-profit veteran support group. There we met Benjamin Barraza Jr.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: Can I ask you how long you’ve been on the streets?

    BEN BARRAZA: How long?  Right now, it’s — it’s — since I’ve been out of prison?  Two years ago.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: You’ve been on the street for two years?

    BEN BARRAZA: Yeah.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: Barraza is an Army veteran who served from 1971 to 1974. But he told us that he’d also spent time in prison. Since he’d been out, he’d been staying in Skid Row shelters. He showed us the few essential items that he keeps with him.

    BEN BARRAZA: I got it all here, man.  You know, this is my little kit, you know. you gotta keep clean, smell clean, you know.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: Despite qualifying for a Federal housing voucher, Barraza had not been able to find a permanent house. For him and many others on the street, finding an affordable apartment or placement in a facility with services isn’t easy.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: Is it frustrating?

    BEN BARRAZA: Oh man, it’s — it’s — it’s — gives me,  right now, I’m gettin’ a headache right now, just thinking about it.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: All the things you have to deal with just to get a place.

    BEN BARRAZA: Well, because I can’t even get around.  I mean, I’m obese.  I put weight on, you know, when I was in prison my mother died on me.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: Wow, I’m so sorry.

    BEN BARRAZA: You know,  I caught hepatitis C.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: Even with the focus of the federal government and local officials on veteran homelessness, Barraza and thousands of other tough cases are still on LA streets.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: I was on the street this morning.

    MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI: Uh-huh.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: And we ran into some veterans.

    MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI: Yeah.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: From my eyes, it looks like an impossible task.

    MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI: Yeah.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: These are people who are in dire straits. How do you deal with that population?

    MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI: The more you go into the population, the tougher it is to achieve that goal.  Because towards the end, it is the people who are the most service-resistant who most deeply experience mental health challenges when people have PTSD, substance abuse issues, which often intermingle with each other. Some will take more time, but I’m confident we can make sure that each one of them has a pathway off our streets.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: Some cities, including Phoenix, Salt Lake City, New Orleans, and Houston have said they’ve been able to house their entire populations of chronically homeless vets with permanent supportive housing. But for L.A., time is short if the city hopes to meet its year-end goal. And that arbitrary deadline has concerned some advocates.

    Steve Peck is the CEO of U.S. Vets, which is a partner in the city’s efforts and houses more than 1,000 veterans in the L.A. area.

    STEVE PECK: My fear is that, you know, December 31st, someone’s gonna plant the flag and say, “We’ve done it.”  And anyone else then everyone diverts their attention to something else.  We’re gonna be doing this for years because there are gonna be veterans falling toward homelessness for years and years to come.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: Peck, a Marine veteran, also worries that putting so much focus on permanent supportive housing provided with almost no preconditions, an approach known as ‘Housing First’, leaves many vets out, including those who may simply need some help getting back on their feet.

    STEVE PECK: I think the trap that people get into is that they hear about something like Housing First and say, “That’s the answer.”  They  focus on that as the one answer.  And it’s a very complex problem.  All veterans are different.  They all have different needs. We’ve discovered that here.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: There’s also concern that the focus on homeless vets will come at the expense of the broader problem. In fact, overall homelessness in L.A. is up 12 percent since 2013 according to data released last month. And despite the attention and massive effort, the city of L.A. even saw a small increase in homeless vets.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: Los Angeles has had a reputation for having a very large homeless population.

    MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI: Yeah.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: For decades.  This is nothing new.  So, it seems — I guess I’m being a skeptic here that you’re going to be able to get to functional zero by the end of the year but this has never happened before.

    MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI: It’s never happened.  But when I was campaigning for mayor I said, “I don’t wanna just manage homelessness.” We needed to take a discrete population to give people the confidence that if we can end veterans’ homelessness , we can attack chronic homelessness, families and other populations like foster youth, who each have distinct needs.

    JOHN CARLOS FREY: For vets, the city will need systems in place. In the next three years, L.A. will have about 10,000 new veterans returning home and if the trend continues, hundreds will at some point be homeless.

    The post LA’s ambitious plan to house every homeless veteran appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A boy stands outside the U.S. embassy in Sanaa in front of pictures depicting Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison during a protest demanding the release of the detainees on July 21, 2013. Six Yemenis will be transferred to Oman today from Guantanamo, continuing President Obama's campaign to close the prison. Photo by Khaled Abdullah Ali Al Mahd/Reuters

    A boy stands outside the U.S. embassy in Sanaa in front of pictures depicting Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison during a protest demanding the release of the detainees on July 21, 2013. Six Yemenis will be transferred to Oman from Guantanamo, continuing President Obama’s campaign to close the prison. Photo by Khaled Abdullah Ali Al Mahd/Reuters

    A pause in prisoner transfers from Guantanamo Bay has ended with the arrival Saturday in Oman of six Yemenis long held at the U.S. prison for suspected terrorists.

    It was the first movement of detainees out of Guantanamo in five months as Congress considers new restrictions on transfers.

    The six men boarded a flight Friday from the U.S. facility in Cuba, and their transfer reduced Guantanamo’s population to 116. President Barack Obama has now transferred more than half the 242 detainees who were at Guantanamo when he was sworn into office in 2009 after campaigning to close it.

    But he is far from achieving that goal. With just a year and a half left in his second term, final transfer approvals are coming slowly from the Pentagon and lawmakers are threatening to make movement out even harder.

    The transfers to Oman are the first to win final approval by Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who has been on the job four months.

    The six include Emad Abdullah Hassan, who has been on hunger strikes since 2007 in protest of his confinement without charge since 2002.

    In court filings protesting force-feeding practices, Hassan said detainees have been force-fed up to a gallon at a time of nutrients and water. The U.S. accuses him of being one of many bodyguards to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and of being part of a group planning to attack NATO and American troops after the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan.

    The five other detainees sent to Oman were identified by the Pentagon as:

    • Idris Ahmad `Abd Al Qadir Idris and Jalal Salam Awad Awad, also both alleged bodyguards to bin Laden.
    • Sharaf Ahmad Muhammad Mas’ud, whom the U.S. said fought American soldiers at Tora Bora, Afghanistan, before his capture in Pakistan.
    • Saa’d Nasser Moqbil Al Azani, a religious teacher whom the U.S. believes had ties to bin Laden’s religious adviser; and
    • Muhammad Ali Salem Al Zarnuki, who allegedly arrived in Afghanistan as early as 1998 to fight and support the Taliban.

    “The United States is grateful to the government of Oman for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility,” the Defense Department said in a statement announcing the transfer. “The United States coordinated with the government of Oman to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures.”

    The state-run Oman News Agency reported early Saturday that the men arrived in the sultanate and would be living there “temporarily.” Sultan Qaboos bin Said approved the men being in the country to aid the U.S. government while also taking into account the men’s “humanitarian circumstances,” the agency reported.

    Oman’s decision to accept the men comes as it has played an increasingly important role in mediations between the U.S. and Iran as world powers try to strike a nuclear deal over the Islamic Republic’s contested atomic program.

    The 11 detainees transferred so far in 2015 have all been from Yemen. Forty-three of the 51 remaining detainees who have been approved for transfer are from Yemen.

    The Obama administration won’t send them home due to instability in Yemen, which has seen Shiite rebels known as Houthis take the capital, Sanaa, and other areas despite a campaign of Saudi-led airstrikes targeting them. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the network’s Yemeni branch that the U.S. considers to be the most dangerous affiliate, also remains active.

    “We are working feverishly to transfer each of the 51 detainees currently approved for transfer,” said Ian Moss, who works on detainee transfers at the State Department. “It is not in our national security interest to continue to detain individuals if we as a government have determined that they can be transferred from Guantanamo responsibly.”

    Some lawmakers want to impose stiffer requirements for transferring Guantanamo detainees to other countries. Obama has threatened to veto a House bill in part because of the Guantanamo restrictions.

    An administration official said Oman agreed to accept the six Yemeni detainees about a year ago. But the defense secretary must give final approval to the move, and that has been a slow process at the Pentagon.

    The U.S. administration official, speaking on a condition of anonymity without authorization to go on the record, said the Pentagon has sent no further transfer notification to Congress, which is required 30 days before detainees can be moved.

    The post Guantanamo transfers resume as six detainees sent to Oman appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The man who reportedly shot at a Dallas, Texas, police headquarters from inside an armored van on Saturday has been confirmed dead after being shot by a police sniper early this morning.

    The shooter reportedly opened fire outside the police department’s downtown Dallas location after midnight, rammed his car into several police vehicles and was eventually chased by police to the parking lot of a restaurant in a nearby suburb, the Associated Press reported.

    Police also found bags in different locations around the police department. Officials deployed robots to assess the suspected explosives and at least one of the bags detonated, Dallas PD said.

    No officers or bystanders were wounded in the shooting, but Dallas police posted pictures of the damage to their headquarters on Twitter.

    “There are bullet holes in the front lobby where our staff was sitting,” Dallas Police Chief David Brown told reporters Saturday morning.

    The suspect had reportedly told police earlier that his van contained explosives.

    Brown told reporters that the shooter blamed police for losing custody of his son, and for alleging the suspect to be a terrorist.

    Brown said that the name the suspect used to identify himself was linked to instances of domestic violence that Dallas police had investigated in the past.

    “All we know is there was previous contact with police related to three different family violence cases,” Brown said.

    It was initially unclear to police how many shooters were inside the van, but Brown told reporters that he now believes the suspect had acted alone.

    The post Suspect in Dallas PD shooting confirmed dead by police appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The U.S. national flag is pictured at the Office of Personnel Management building in Washington June 5, 2015. In the latest in a string of intrusions into U.S. agencies' high-tech systems, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) suffered what appeared to be one of the largest breaches of information ever on government workers. The office handles employee records and security clearances   REUTERS/Gary Cameron  - RTX1FAQF

    The U.S. national flag is pictured at the Office of Personnel Management building in Washington June 5, 2015. Photo by Gary Cameron/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Deeply personal information submitted by U.S. intelligence and military personnel for security clearances – mental illnesses, drug and alcohol use, past arrests, bankruptcies and more – is in the hands of hackers linked to China, officials say.

    In describing a cyberbreach of federal records dramatically worse than first acknowledged, authorities point to Standard Form 86, which applicants are required to complete. Applicants also must list contacts and relatives, potentially exposing any foreign relatives of U.S. intelligence employees to coercion. Both the applicant’s Social Security number and that of his or her cohabitant are required.

    In a statement, the White House said that on June 8, investigators concluded there was “a high degree of confidence that … systems containing information related to the background investigations of current, former and prospective federal government employees, and those for whom a federal background investigation was conducted, may have been exfiltrated.”

    “This tells the Chinese the identities of almost everybody who has got a United States security clearance,” said Joel Brenner, a former top U.S. counterintelligence official. “That makes it very hard for any of those people to function as an intelligence officer. The database also tells the Chinese an enormous amount of information about almost everyone with a security clearance. That’s a gold mine. It helps you approach and recruit spies.”

    The Office of Personnel Management, which was the target of the hack, did not respond to requests for comment. OPM spokesman Samuel Schumach and Jackie Koszczuk, the director of communications, have consistently said there was no evidence that security clearance information had been compromised.

    The White House statement said the hack into the security clearance database was separate from the breach of federal personnel data announced last week – a breach that is itself appearing far worse than first believed. It could not be learned whether the security database breach happened when an OPM contractor was hacked in 2013, an attack that was discovered last year. Members of Congress received classified briefings about that breach in September, but there was no public mention of security clearance information being exposed.

    Nearly all of the millions of security clearance holders, including some CIA, National Security Agency and military special operations personnel, are potentially exposed in the security clearance breach, the officials said. More than 4 million people had been investigated for a security clearance as of October 2014, according to government records.

    Regarding the hack of standard personnel records announced last week, two people briefed on the investigation disclosed Friday that as many as 14 million current and former civilian U.S. government employees have had their information exposed to hackers, a far higher figure than the 4 million the Obama administration initially disclosed.

    American officials have said that cybertheft originated in China and that they suspect espionage by the Chinese government, which has denied any involvement.

    The newer estimate puts the number of compromised records between 9 million and 14 million going back to the 1980s, said one congressional official and one former U.S. official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because information disclosed in the confidential briefings includes classified details of the investigation.

    There are about 2.6 million executive branch civilians, so the majority of the records exposed relate to former employees. Contractor information also has been stolen, officials said. The data in the hack revealed last week include the records of most federal civilian employees, though not members of Congress and their staffs, members of the military or staff of the intelligence agencies.

    On Thursday, a major union said it believes the hackers stole Social Security numbers, military records and veterans’ status information, addresses, birth dates, job and pay histories; health insurance, life insurance and pension information; and age, gender and race data.

    The personnel records would provide a foreign government an extraordinary roadmap to blackmail, impersonate or otherwise exploit federal employees in an effort to gain access to U.S. secrets -or entry into government computer networks.

    Outside experts were pointing to the breaches as a blistering indictment of the U.S. government’s ability to secure its own data two years after a National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden, was able to steal tens of thousands of the agency’s most sensitive documents.

    After the Snowden revelations about government surveillance, it became more difficult for the federal government to hire talented younger people into sensitive jobs, particularly at intelligence agencies, said Evan Lesser, managing director of ClearanceJobs.com, a website that matches security-clearance holders to available slots.

    “Now, if you get a job with the government, your own personal information may not be secure,” he said. “This is going to multiply the government’s hiring problems many times.”

    The Social Security numbers were not encrypted, the American Federation of Government Employees said, calling that “an abysmal failure on the part of the agency to guard data that has been entrusted to it by the federal workforce.”

    “Unencrypted information of this kind this is disgraceful – it really is disgraceful,” Brenner said. “We’ve had wakeup calls now for 20 years or more, and we keep hitting the snooze button.”

    The OPM’s Schumach would not address how the data was protected or specifics of the information that might have been compromised, but said, “Today’s adversaries are sophisticated enough that encryption alone does not guarantee protection.” OPM is nonetheless increasing its use of encryption, he said.

    The Obama administration had acknowledged that up to 4.2 million current and former employees whose information resides in the Office of Personnel Management server are affected by the December cyberbreach, but it had been vague about exactly what was taken.

    J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said in a letter Thursday to OPM director Katherine Archuleta that based on incomplete information OPM provided to the union, “the hackers are now in possession of all personnel data for every federal employee, every federal retiree and up to 1 million former federal employees.”

    Another federal employee group, the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, said Friday that “at this point, we believe AFGE’s assessment of the breach is overstated.” It called on the OPM to provide more information.

    Former Rep. Mike Rogers, one-time chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said last week that he believes China will use the recently stolen information for “the mother of all spear-phishing attacks.”

    Spear-phishing is a technique under which hackers send emails designed to appear legitimate so that users open them and load spyware onto their networks.

    Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.

    The post Deeply personal information exposed in security clearance hack appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    ViewersLikeYou

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: And now to Viewers Like You, your chance to comment on some of our recent work.

    Many of you wrote us about last weekend’s updated signature story from Ohio on the controversial use of traffic cameras to ticket motorists for traffic violations. Some of the viewers we heard from defended the practice.

    Patrick Devine said: Love them. Reduces the number of police officers needed for traffic control so they can enforce other areas … Red light cameras have been proven to save lives.

    Thomas Langr added: I’ll be in the minority here, but after seeing all the accidents caused by motorists breaking the rules, and so many close calls myself, I see a place for them.

    Martin wrote: We’ve had them in South Australia for years … These cameras will always be regarded as revenue-raisers until the money from fines is used for road safety not general revenue.

    There was also this from Nathan Engle: I definitely see the argument that it’s toxic to turn municipal fines into a for-profit venture …  but I’m not at all comfortable standing on the side of people trying to argue that it was no big deal that they blew through a red light.

    But others felt there was no need for traffic cameras, and that they do nothing to stop traffic violations.

    Mike Millan said: These are just revenue generating machines that do nothing to decrease traffic problems. They should be taken down and outlawed.

    Mikemann McMahon wrote: Our experience with them in Minneapolis was dubious, and was determined unconstitutional by the state supreme court.

    Sean Burns had this to say: Just another way to turn “law enforcement” into a cash machine for the city.

    And finally there was this from HKrieger: I once worked as a photographer, but this seems like a more profitable way to make money with a camera.

    As always we welcome your comments. Visit us at pbs.org/newshour, on our Facebook page, or tweet us @newshour.

    The post Viewers respond to use of traffic cameras to ticket drivers appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Members of a veteran's group release balloons for the Agent Orange Memorial for those affected by the chemical agent in Vietnam at a Memorial Day Ceremony at the South Florida National Cemetery in Lake Worth, Florida May 27, 2013. The severe, lasting health effects of Agent Orange continue to effect veterans and citizens in both the U.S. and Vietnam, including Air Force reservists who worked on planes in the Vietnam-era. Photo by Joe Skipper/Reuters

    Members of a veteran’s group release balloons for the Agent Orange Memorial for those affected by the chemical agent in Vietnam at a Memorial Day Ceremony at the South Florida National Cemetery in Lake Worth, Florida May 27, 2013. The severe, lasting health effects of Agent Orange continue to effect veterans and citizens in both the U.S. and Vietnam, including Air Force reservists who worked on planes in the Vietnam-era. Photo by Joe Skipper/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Reversing a long-held position, the Department of Veterans Affairs now says Air Force reservists who became ill after being exposed to Agent Orange residue while working on planes after the Vietnam War should be eligible for disability benefits.

    The VA said it has been working to finalize a rule that could cover more than 2,000 military personnel who flew or worked on Fairchild C-123 aircraft in the U.S. from 1972 to 1982. Many of the Vietnam-era planes, used by the reservists for medical and cargo transport, had sprayed millions of gallons of herbicide during the 1955-1975 military conflict in Southeast Asia.

    If the White House Office of Management and Budget approves the change, it would be the first time the VA had established a special category of Agent Orange exposure for military personnel without “boots on the ground” or inland waterways service in Vietnam. That could open the VA to renewed claims by thousands of other veterans who say they were exposed to Agent Orange in less direct circumstances, such as on the open sea.

    The announcement is expected as early as this coming week.

    An Institute of Medicine report in January concluded that many C-123 reservists had been exposed to chemical residues on the aircraft’s interior surfaces and suffered higher risks of health problems as a result. The institute is part of the National Academy of Sciences, a private organization chartered by Congress to advise the government on scientific matters.

    Using that report, the department “determined that potentially exposed veterans would be eligible for Agent Orange-related benefits,” the VA said in a statement. It also is reviewing whether certain active-duty troops may have been exposed. “Our goal is to ensure all affected C-123 crewmembers receive disability benefits and medical care.”

    Before requesting the report, the VA had generally denied claims submitted since 2011 by C-123 reservists, saying it was unlikely they could have been exposed to Agent Orange from the residue.

    About 653,000 Vietnam-era veterans have received Agent Orange-related disability benefits since 2002, when the VA officially began tracking the cases.

    The proposed rule would expand coverage under the 1991 Agent Orange Act to reservists who were stationed at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base in Columbus, Ohio, Pittsburgh Air National Guard Base and Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts.

    Many were pilots, mechanics or medical personnel and simply followed orders when it came to working on C-123s, according to the C-123 Veterans Association. It was formed four years ago by retired Air Force Maj. Wesley T. Carter after he and other reservists noticed a pattern in the various ailments they suffered.

    The reservists under the rule would be entitled to VA disability benefits if they developed health problems such as prostate cancer, diabetes and leukemia that were determined by the VA to be connected to Agent Orange.

    “There wasn’t that much talk of Agent Orange,” said retired Tech. Sgt. Ed Kienle, 73, of Wilmington, Ohio, who worked on C-123 aircraft as a pilot and mechanic from 1972 to 1980. He said reservists generally knew the planes had once sprayed Agent Orange, but he didn’t think twice about it when he was asked to clear away parts coated with residue.

    After retiring from the military in 1997, Kienle said he developed skin cancer and respiratory problems and is being treated for indications of prostate cancer. He has joined with other reservists in the “Buckeye Wing” stationed at Rickenbacker in pushing for C-123 benefits.

    In April, VA Secretary Bob McDonald expressed dismay in an email to department officials that multiple delays have “stretched our already thin credibility.” At the time, officials were looking to Congress for legislation to provide benefits for the C-123 reservists.

    But veterans groups and lawmakers including Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said the VA had legal authority to bypass Congress and act on its own. Brown and two other senators said this past week they would block a Senate vote on President Barack Obama’s nominee for VA’s top health post until the department made clear whether or when a new rule would take effect.

    The upcoming rule would not include roughly 200,000 “Blue Water” veterans who say they were exposed to Agent Orange while serving aboard deep-water naval vessels off Vietnam’s coast, according to two VA officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

    “If they do cover the C-123 guys and not us, we would feel very slighted,” said John Paul Rossie, executive director of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association, pledging a renewed push for benefits.

    Veterans’ organizations and several members of Congress have been calling for expanded VA benefits in a broader range of environmental toxic exposure cases, including those involving Gulf War neurotoxins and burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The post VA seeks new benefits for Air Force reservists exposed to Agent Orange appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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