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

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    Supporters of the Affordable Care Act celebrate after the Supreme Court upheld the law, Washington, D.C., June 25, 2015. Democrats in Washington want to shift focus to tackle other health care issues following the Court's decision, but GOP lawmakers may still be intent on repealing Obama's signature legislative achievement. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    Supporters of the Affordable Care Act celebrate after the Supreme Court upheld the law, Washington, D.C., June 25, 2015. Democrats in Washington want to shift focus to tackle other health care issues following the Court’s decision, but GOP lawmakers may still be intent on repealing Obama’s signature legislative achievement. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The country finally has an opportunity to change the subject on health care, after the Supreme Court again upheld President Barack Obama’s law.

    There’s no shortage of pressing issues, including prescription drug prices, high insurance deductibles and long-term care.

    But moving on will take time, partly because many Republicans want another chance to repeal the Affordable Care Act if they win the White House and both chambers of Congress next year.

    Also, it’s difficult to start new conversations when political divisions are so raw, and there’s a big disconnect between what people perceive as problems and the priorities of policymakers, business and the health care industry.

    Democrats say a change in focus is long overdue.

    “I do think the energy has already shifted,” said Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, a think tank often aligned with the White House. “It would be great if the health care conversation moves to where people are, not relitigating these insurance issues.”

    Wishful thinking, say Republicans.

    “The politics of this has gotten so unpleasant that we’re locked into `repeal-and-replace’ for the next year and a half,” said lobbyist Tom Scully, who ran Medicare in President George W. Bush’s administration. “It may not be great for America, but that’s the reality.”

    Scully says Republicans may be able to make substantial changes but not repeal Obama’s law entirely.

    What would a different health care conversation sound like? Some possibilities:

    PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICES

    Nearly three-quarters of the general public see prescription drug costs as unreasonable, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey. That concern seems to be driven by new breakthrough drugs that can cost $100,000 a year and even more. Last year it was Sovaldi, a cure for liver-wasting hepatitis C infection. Next it could be skin cancer drugs in the approval pipeline.

    Economist Len Nichols of George Mason University in Virginia says the cost of new medications is “unsustainable,” but government price controls could stifle innovation.

    Most patients are not exposed to those excruciating cost pressures because the vast majority of prescriptions are for lower-priced generic drugs. Overall, only 1 in 5 people taking prescription drugs say it is difficult to afford their own medications, the same survey found.

    HIGH INSURANCE COSTS

    The value of a health insurance card is being eroded as employers and insurers impose higher deductibles, copayments and other cost-sharing on top of premiums.

    “When people ask me what is the No. 1 change I want to make in the Affordable Care Act, my answer is that it’s not affordable enough,” said John McDonough, a former Democratic Senate aide who helped steer the health law to passage. “Moving forward, one of the challenges is how we’re going to address this new world of cost sharing.”

    GETTING EVERYONE COVERED

    When the health care law passed, a little more than 80 percent of people under 65 – the age to qualify for Medicare – had health insurance. That share is now up to around 90 percent, largely the result of the law.

    Yet covering the remaining uninsured will be a challenge. Much depends on some 20 states – mainly GOP-led – that have not accepted the health care law’s Medicaid expansion. The ruling may budge a couple, but probably not Texas, the biggest prize.

    “The people who are going without coverage in states whose leaders are denying them a chance to get Medicaid are pawns in a political game,” said former California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, one of the main authors of the health law.

    LONG-TERM CARE

    Economist Gail Wilensky, an adviser to Republicans, says the patchwork system for caring for frail older people and the disabled “is an issue that isn’t going away.” She’s involved with an informal discussion group that spans the political spectrum, looking for long-term care ideas that might find support. It could take years.

    “I don’t see any stomach for taking on these issues post-King v. Burwell,” she said, referring to the name of the Supreme Court case decided this past week. “People are going to need time.”

    PAYING FOR QUALITY AND EFFICIENCY

    Revamping the way hospitals and doctors are paid for their services is the top issue for employers, insurers and government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Everyone wants to get away from compensating providers on a piecemeal basis for the sheer volume of services. But defining what constitutes quality care turns out to be not so easy, and it’s unclear whether the new approaches will produce significant savings.

    Look for these changes to continue at full speed, aided by the spread of computerized medical records and increasingly sophisticated data analysis.

    There could be a downside, says Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn. “You’re getting hospitals merging, and they are becoming mega-operations,” she said. “Small doctors’ groups feel like they are just being swallowed up.”

    CONTROLLING COSTS

    When all is said and done, the U.S. still spends too much for health care. After a lull the last few years, spending is expected to pick up again. The government has its fingers in practically every pot, with a jumble of laws and regulations that create conflicting incentives, said economist Eugene Steuerle of the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan public policy center.

    “We’ve got multiple and largely uncoordinated subsidies and rules,” said Steuerle. “On the cost side, what I see is more and more efforts to put budget constraints on the system.”

    The post What’s next for U.S. health policy? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush gestures speaks at a town hall meeting in Henderson, Nevada June 27, 2015. Bush said he doesn't think new gun control measures are the way to prevent mass shootings. Photo by David Becker/Reuters

    Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks at a town hall meeting in Henderson, Nevada June 27, 2015. Bush said he doesn’t think new gun control measures are the way to prevent mass shootings. Photo by David Becker/Reuters

    HENDERSON, Nev. — New gun control measures are not the way to prevent mass killings such as the shooting deaths of nine people in a South Carolina church, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said Saturday.

    Bush, who plans to meet with black ministers in Charleston, South Carolina, on Monday, said identifying potentially violent people before they commit such crimes is a better approach than further restrictions on gun ownership.

    “We as a society better figure out how we identify these folks long before they feel compelled to take up a gun and kill innocent people,” the former Florida governor said at a town hall meeting.

    Afterward, he told reporters gun control was an issue that should be sorted out at the state level.

    “Rural areas are very different than big, teeming urban areas,” he said.

    The comments came less than a day after President Barack Obama eulogized one of the nine people shot to death June 17 at Emmanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston. During his remarks, Obama recalled episodes in Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown Connecticut, to again, suggest Americans seek tighter restrictions.

    “For too long, we’ve been blind to the unique mayhem that gun violence inflicts upon this nation. Sporadically, our eyes are open,” Obama said. “But I hope we also see the 30 precious lives cut short by gun violence in this country every single day.”

    Bush also told reporters that he was disappointed in both Supreme Court rulings from the last week that upheld President Obama’s health care overhaul and legalized gay marriage nationwide.

    He said he would repeal the health care law if elected, replacing it with high-deductible, low-premium catastrophic coverage.

    As for gay marriage, Bush said he believes in traditional marriage between a man and a woman but indicated he wouldn’t fight the court’s ruling.

    He said long-term loving relationships should be respected as well as a person’s ability to express their religious beliefs.

    This report was written by Kimberly Pierceall of the Associated Press.

    The post Gun control not the way to prevent mass killings, Bush says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The Dalai Lama greets well wishers as he addresses a crowd gathered at the Stone Circles at Worthy Farm in Somerset during the Glastonbury Festival in Britain, June 28, 2015. Photo by Dylan Martinez/REUTERS

    The Dalai Lama addresses a crowd gathered at the Stone Circles at Worthy Farm in Somerset during the Glastonbury Festival in Britain on June 28, 2015. Photo by Dylan Martinez/REUTERS

    On Sunday, the Dalai Lama spoke of love, tolerance and forgiveness at the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Arts in South West England, defying objections expressed by the Chinese government in the days leading up to the event.

    The very purpose of existence is “a happy life”, the Nobel laureate told a rain-soaked, sold-out crowd at one of Europe’s largest music festivals, Reuters reported. He said that love, tolerance and forgiveness were necessary to resolve conflicts like those playing out currently in Iraq and Syria.

    The speech came two days after Chinese officials warned festival organizers that having the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader speak was on par with providing him with a platform to partake in anti-China activities.

    “China resolutely opposes any country, organization, body or individual giving any kind of platform to the 14th Dalai Lama to engage in anti-China splittist activities,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said, according to Reuters.

    Countries that host the spiritual leader who seeks autonomy for his Tibetan homeland regularly receive objections from Beijing.

    The Chinese government issued similarly stern warnings ahead of President Barack Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama last year.

    China cautioned the United States then that the meeting would “inflict grave damages” on its relationship with the world’s most populous country, the Associated Press reported.

    During that speaking tour in the U.S., the Dalai Lama led members of the Senate in their opening prayer.

    China has ruled the Himalayan region since 1950. Following a failed uprising in 1959, the Dalai Lama fled to northern India, where he has lived in exile ever since.

    The Dalai Lama was in England as part of a four-day tour of the United Kingdom to promote compassion, non-violence and the oneness of humanity, according to the festival’s website.

    After the U.K., he heads to the U.S., where he will celebrate his 80th birthday on July 6.

    The post In face of Chinese opposition, Dalai Lama speaks at U.K. festival appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The explosion of SpaceX’s unmanned rocket after liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida Sunday morning has been classified as a “mishap”, the Federal Aviation Administration’s Pam Underwood said in an afternoon press conference.

    The Falcon 9 rocket was on its seventh mission to deliver more than 4,000 pounds of supplies and materials to the crew at the International Space Station, when it experienced a “pressurization event” in the second stage of flight, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said.

    SpaceX’s CEO Elon Musk tweeted about the pressurization issue.

    Shotwell cautioned that they could not yet speculate as to the cause of the incident that occurred 2 minutes and 19 seconds into flight. And said that the setback will likely ground rockets for “a number of months or so.”

    As for the crew at the International Space Station that was awaiting delivery of food, water and a water filtration system this Tuesday, they are “safe and things are fine,” NASA’s William H. Gerstenmaier told reporters.

    Gerstenmaier added that there was “no negligence” and that the event simply demonstrates the “challenges of engineering and space flight.”

    This is the third such recent incident, since NASA began outsourcing cargo resupply missions to contractors, the Washington Post reported. In October, an Orbital Antares rocket exploded and then in April a Russian Progress 59 went into a dizzying spin after reaching orbit. NASA retired its space shuttle fleet in 2011.

    Lost in the Falcon 9 explosion was an International Docking Adapter on board the cargo craft. While the company does have another adapter in reserve, this equipment is vital for the space station docking of commercial crew spacecraft.

    Students had also created more than 30 experiments that were en route to the International Space Station when the Falcon 9 exploded.

    SpaceX will be conducting an investigation into the incident, which will be overseen by the FAA and could take several months to complete.

    The post SpaceX rocket carrying supplies explodes, classified ‘mishap’ by FAA appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    People line up to withdraw cash from an automated teller machine (ATM) outside a National Bank branch in Iraklio on the island of Crete, Greece June 28, 2015. Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Sunday announced a bank holiday and capital controls after Greeks responded to his surprise call for a referendum on bailout terms by pulling money out of banks.  REUTERS/Stefanos Rapanis - RTX1I5SI

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR ANCHOR: We’re joined now by Elena Becatoros via Skype. She is the bureau chief for The Associated Press in Athens.

    So, what does this mean, that the banks and the stock market are closed tomorrow?

    ELENA BECATOROS, ASSOCIATED PRESS: The banks and the stock market will be closed tomorrow and restrictions will be placed on how much money Greeks can withdraw their bank accounts using ATM machines. The prime minister announced it in a televised address. He said it came after a recommendation by the Bank of Greece.

    What he didn’t say is exactly how long the banks will remain closed and how much the banking transactions will be restricted.

    A few banking sources have told us that they — the banks will probably be shut for several days, probably the entire week.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. So, if all these banks are shut, that means commerce grinds to a halt. I mean, how do you pay for your groceries or how do the grocers pay their suppliers?

    ELENA BECATOROS: It’s very unclear at the moment exactly what credit capital controls will be in place. It’s not clear what kind of transactions will be allowed, whether electronic bank transfers will be allowed. Whether people can pay their bills or not, nobody actually has been told this at the moment.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: There’s also a gap here. On Tuesday is when Greek is essentially set to default on its first massive loan payment, but the government or the parliament has approved a referendum that won’t happen ’til next Sunday.

    ELENA BECATOROS: Yes, indeed. And the prime minister said tonight that he has renewed his requests for the bailout to be extended until the referendum is held. He even made the same request over the weekend, earlier this weekend. And it was rejected by the Eurogroup, which is the other 18 finance ministers of the Eurozone.

    So, so far, that hasn’t been accepted and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said tonight that he has renewed that request. It remains to be seen whether that will be approved.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And we also see that the European commission, the bankers actually publicized the deal that’s on the table, kind of in an effort to show how far they’ve come to make Greek solvent.

    ELENA BECATOROS: Yes, indeed. The referendum, the way that it’s been called at the moment has been the government is advocating a no vote and they are saying that it is on the creditors’ proposals.

    The problem is that so far, until the commission actually publicized this document, there hadn’t been an officially released document of what exactly this proposal was.

    It was all in the form of leaks to the press from meetings in Brussels.

    And it also hasn’t been translated in Greek. So there might be an issue with that when Greeks are being asked to vote on a proposal that many of them, if they don’t speak English, haven’t been able to read yet.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what do you see happening here in the next week? I mean, we’ve been talking about this for four years, five years now.

    ELENA BECATOROS: I have to be honest. It was very unclear. I’m not sure anybody knows exactly how this is going to play out.

    There are several scenarios from the more reasonable to the more outlandish, but if there’s one thing this crisis has taught us is to expect the unexpected.

    It remains to be seen how this will play out. The chances of Greece not paying its debt on its due on Tuesday, which is 1.6 billion euros, is at this stage pretty high.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Elena Becatoros joining us via Skype, The Associated Press bureau chief in Athens — thanks so much.

    ELENA BECATOROS: Thank you.

    The post Greece to close banks, stock market to head off economic collapse appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee speaks during a campaign event in Boone, Iowa June 6, 2015. Huckabee told conservatives Saturday that the Supreme Court tried to "unwrite the laws of nature and the laws of nature's God" when it legalized gay marriage across the nation. Photo by Dave Kaup/Reuters

    Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee speaks during a campaign event in Boone, Iowa June 6, 2015. Huckabee told conservatives Saturday that the Supreme Court tried to “unwrite the laws of nature and the laws of nature’s God” when it legalized gay marriage across the nation. Photo by Dave Kaup/Reuters

    DENVER — Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee told conservatives Saturday that the Supreme Court tried to “unwrite the laws of nature and the laws of nature’s God” when it legalized gay marriage across the nation.

    The former Arkansas governor suggested that people in the United States flout the ruling, as President Abraham Lincoln did in the wake of the justices’ 1857 decision that blacks could not be citizens. Huckabee also pointed out that President Barack Obama opposed gay marriage until 2012.

    “He was either lying in 2008, or he’s lying now, or God has rewritten the Bible and only Barack Obama has gotten the new edition,” Huckabee told the crowd at the Western Conservative Summit.

    Huckabee was among the GOP presidential hopefuls at the gathering, which followed a week in which the high court also upheld Obama’s signature health care law. The Republicans offered few suggestions on what to do about the gay marriage ruling, highlighting the party’s challenges on social issues ahead of the 2016 elections.

    Joining Huckabee at the conference was Republican hopeful Carly Fiorina, who said she supports civil unions. She said opponents of the ruling should now focus efforts on religious freedom in public accommodations, such as cases of bakers facing penalties for refusing to serve gay couples.

    Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry derided the ruling but didn’t suggest a next step.

    “These decisions need to be made in the states,” said Perry, who noted that his states’ rights plank extends even to Colorado legalizing recreational marijuana in defiance of federal drug law.

    “I defend the right of Colorado to be wrong on that issue,” Perry said. The crowd chuckled.

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has called for a constitutional amendment to undo the marriage ruling, did not mention the ruling in his remarks late Saturday. He did talk broadly about judicial appointments when asked afterward by a moderator.

    “The sole role of the judiciary … is to uphold the Constitution of the United States and those laws duly enacted, no more, no less,” Walker said to applause.

    On Friday, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said the gay marriage ruling was “based on a lie” that gay-marriage opponents are motivated by discrimination.

    “We have a Supreme Court that says the only reason that you could possibly oppose changing marriage laws in America is because you hate people who want to marry people of the same sex. That is not true,” Santorum said.

    The post GOP 2016 hopefuls sound off against gay marriage ruling appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Relatives hold portraits of those killed, as they wait to retrieve their bodies, at the Chiromo funeral parlor on April 9, 2015 in Nairobi. 148 people, mainly students, were killed during a dawn raid by Islamist-gunmen in an attack claimed by Somalia-based al-Shabab a week ago on the northeastern Kenyan Garissa University campus. The Kenyan government has started to release the bodies to their families. AFP PHOTO/STRINGER        (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

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    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: It has been two months since al-Shabaab Islamic militants targeted the university in Garissa, Kenya. A nation made up of more than 80 percent Christians, it was the Christians that the Islamic militants were after, sparing the lives of students they believed to be Muslims.

    Cedric Barnes is the Director of the International Crisis Group in Nairobi and an expert on al-Shabaab.

    CEDRIC BARNES: They knew that the people there would be mostly the people that are a long way away from home and probably, largely, predominantly Christian. So it was very deliberate it was very cynical.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: 147 students were killed, shot, or hacked to death. Among the dead—19 year old Bilha Gitau. This is her family’s home outside Nairobi. A simple building on a small plot of land. This is her father, Godfrey.

    GODFREY GITAU: When I heard about the attack I was worried, he says. I tried calling her but there was no answer.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: He still struggles to understand …why?

    GODFREY GITAU: These people are not right he says. My daughter was killed just because she was a Christian. I don’t understand why they are doing this.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Al-Shabaab, ‘the youth’ in Arabic. Somalia’s version of al-Qaeda, a group to whom it has pledged allegiance. They are a hardline Islamic group preaching extremism, fighting for power in Somalia, at war with neighboring countries.

    Fuad Shongale is a key al-Shabaab ideologue alleged to be responsible for a series of terror attacks inside Somalia.

    FUAD SHONGALE: Only when we fight the unbelievers can we be honored, he says. If we do not fight them we will not be honored.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Anarchy erupted in Somalia after the fall of the government in 1991 and the Islamic Court Union, a group of autonomous courts formed along clan lines, managed to restore a fragile peace in Somalia after years of inter-clan fighting. But eventually that fragile peace broke down and al-Shabaab emerged.

    Most Somalis practice a more moderate form of Islam—Sufism—and supported an initiative to form a transitional national government, completely contrary to what al-Shabaab wants— to the way al-Shabaab thinks.

    CEDRIC BARNES: So they all believe that they are performing their Islamic duty by fighting and that they are going to create a better society, an Islamic society by undertaking armed jihad.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: In 2006 predominately Christian Ethiopia sent in its soldiers to help the Transitional Government, forcing al-Shabaab from the capital Mogadishu to its strongholds in Southern Somalia.

    But al-Shabaab used the foreign intervention as a rallying point to attract supporters. It is funded by Somali individuals in the diaspora, other terrorist organizations, kidnapping and piracy.

    As al-Shabaab attacks continued, African nations including Kenya sent in troops that pushed al-Shabaab back to the countryside. The group responded by making Kenya a target. Even today, al-Shabaab continues to use foreign interventions to appeal to Somalis and specifically to Muslims.

    CEDRIC BARNES: It’s saying, we are defending you Muslims. You happen to be Somali, but we are defending you Muslims from these interventions that come from unbelievers.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: In some areas under al-Shabaab’s control the lawlessness ended–electricity was restored and public works projects were restarted. But the strictest form of sharia law was also imposed–at odds with the way most Somalis practice Islam.

    Even though al-Shabaab continued to lose ground—they did not lose the ability to launch attacks. It has assassinated transitional government officials, bombed government ministries, carried out suicide attacks against soft-targets—hotels—in Mogadishu. And the attacks have also gone beyond Somalia.

    The Westgate mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya in September of 2013 was carried out with murderous efficiency—the al-Shabaab gunman storming the mall killing 62 people and injuring 127. Witnesses said Muslims were spared—non-Muslims were executed.

    Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta tried to console a stunned nation. Kenyatta’s own nephew was killed in the attack.

    UHURU KENYATTA: Terrorism in and of itself is the philosophy of cowards.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Kenya struck back shelling al-Shabaab targets in Somalia. Internally, Kenyan police and security forces intensified operations in areas where many of Kenya’s ethnic Somalis live. Homes and mosques linked to suspected radicals were raided.

    Cedric Barnes says it was a very focused, very intense government campaign against Kenya’s Somali community.

    CEDRIC BARNES: So you’ve had assassinations, you’ve had arrests, you’ve had people being deported and you’ve had general harassment.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: The government denied extra judicial assassinations but the official line has been clear—the crackdown is part of a necessary, pre-emptive counter-terrorism effort.

    When the April attack in Garissa came the loss of so many innocents tore at the heart of Kenya—and grief turned to shock when it was revealed that three of the four attackers might have been Kenyans, and not ethnic Somalis.

    President Kenyatta appearing on TV again—this time to deliver the sobering news that the threat is also ‘homegrown.’

    UHURU KENYATTA: The planners and financiers of this brutality are deeply embedded in our communities and were seen previously as ordinary harmless people.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Kenya shares a long border with Somalia that starts inland, runs past Garissa, right down to the Indian Ocean.

    Mombasa is about 250 miles from the Somali border. It is the main city on the Kenyan coast. It is predominantly Muslim. Al-Shabaab is extremely active here and it is recruiting young Kenyans.

    Unemployed, disillusioned, angry at the way they feel the government sometimes treats Muslims.

    Abdul—not his real name—is one of them. He says some of his friends have joined al-Shabaab and he says he may too.

    “ABDUL”: “By living here its like, there’s no hope of life. When you go there you will have your career going on because you will be highly trained. You will be given financial, even marriage. Your life will be so good.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: He says Westgate and Garissa were carried out for revenge—because of Kenya’s involvement in Somalia.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Do you believe in it or are you against those attacks?

    “ABDUL”: Those attacks…they do those attacks but those attacks were done intentionally to show the power of al-Shabaab that they can do anything that they want.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: We tried to speak to families who believe their sons have gone to Somalia but it was difficult because of the level of mistrust.

    Hussein Khalid is Executive Director of Haki—a Muslim human rights organization.

    HUSSEIN KHALID: Families fear that if they speak out maybe they would be considered as traitors by you know al-Shabaab. Families also fear that if they speak up then probably the government will come for them in the guise of looking for their relatives.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: This woman agreed to an interview but didn’t want to reveal her identity. She says her son joined al-Shabaab in Somalia in 2012. She says he was killed last year. The circumstances around his death are unclear.

    UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It is terrible. Al-Shabaab is brainwashing young people, not doing a good thing. I lost hope when my son joined them. I knew it was over for him.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: The father of Bilha—one of the 147 murdered in Garissa- lives with his lost hope everyday. His daughter’s grave is in the nearby field. One small monument to a nation’s war with al-Shabaab.

    The post Getting to the core of al-Shabaab’s conflict with Kenya appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A measles vaccine is seen at Venice Family Clinic in Los Angeles, California February 5, 2015. Lawmakers in several U.S. states are backing proposals to make it harder for parents to opt out of school vaccinations based on personal beliefs, as health officials fight a growing measles outbreak that has sickened more than 100 people in more than a dozen states. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: HEALTH POLITICS) - RTR4OFFS

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: California is on the verge of requiring more children to get vaccinations, even if parents disagree. The state’s assembly passed a bill this week that allowed medical exemptions but did not allow for exemptions based on personal beliefs.

    Wall Street Journal reporter Caroline Porter joins me now from Los Angeles with more on this divisive issue.

    So, put the numbers in perspective. How many kids in the California school system aren’t vaccinated?

    CAROLINE PORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: So, it’s a small percentage of school children who are not vaccinated. But the concern is that it could be rising. Over the past decade or so, we’ve seen an increase in parents who are looking at ways to reduce or possibly change the way in which children receive their vaccinations.

    And the concern is there would be clusters of children where they don’t reach what’s called herd immunity, where there aren’t 95 percent of the population with the required vaccines which would make outbreaks more likely.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And where are these clusters or what do we know about them?

    CAROLINE PORTER: So, the clusters seem to be in places with either high educated population or those without — below the poverty line. So it seems to go either — in a situation where there aren’t enough resources or where there are such resources that people are taking their own initiative not to vaccinate.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, if this law gets signed by Governor Brown, does this mean that if you have a — if you want a personal belief exemption, you’re going to have to home-school your child?

    CAROLINE PORTER: Well, that’s correct. I mean, basically, that’s one of the main concerns that opposers have, is that it’s a constitutional right to a free public education in California. So, if I choose not to vaccinate my children, does that mean I have to home-school?

    And there are a couple of exceptions to that. You can home-school in groups, so families can get together and say, you know, we’re going to home-school our children together because they all do not have the same requirements in terms of vaccines.

    The other option is you can have what’s called an independent study in schools. But what that generally means is that you won’t be in a classroom with other students by and large.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, if this becomes law, is the opposition ready to sue to try to challenge it?

    CAROLINE PORTER: So, the opposition has been loud. I mean, in terms of testimony and hearings and protests and petitions, from what I hear, it’s been one of the most controversial and acrimonious debates that we’ve had here in California this legislative session. And talking to different protesters or organizers, what I hear is that they are considering litigation.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And where do doctors come down on this? I know some pediatricians’ offices will actually refuse to see you in their clinics if you don’t vaccinate your child.

    CAROLINE PORTER: You know, every doctor’s going to have a different opinion. But the cosponsor of the bill is a pediatrician himself. And I think that’s, you know, one of the main thoughts of his in wanting to put this through is concerns for the population at large and the medical community has had concerns.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Caroline Porter of The Wall Street Journal joining us from Los Angeles — thanks so much.

    CAROLINE PORTER: Thank you.

    The post New rules may require children to be vaccinated in California appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Six predominantly black churches in various cities in the South caught fire this week, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    Three of the fires have been confirmed as cases of arson, two were likely accidental, and authorities are still investigating the cause of another.

    The College Hills Seventh Day Adventist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee erupted into flames early Monday morning. The Knoxville Fire Department said an arsonist deliberately set fires in multiple locations around the church, according to local news station WATE.

    The next day, a church in Macon, Georgia that has been the target of burglaries in the past was set on fire as well.

    God’s Power Church of Christ caught fire on Tuesday morning. TheMacon-Bibb County Fire Department told media that their investigation has confirmed the fire was set deliberately.

    Early Wednesday, the Briar Creek Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina was found engulfed in flames, resulting in an estimated $250,000 in damage, according to the Associated Press. Firefighters determined the blaze was also purposefully set.

    The Glover Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Warrenville, South Carolina was destroyed by fire early Friday morning. State authorities and the FBI are both looking for a cause, the AP reported.

    The historically black church in Warrenville was a two and a half hour drive from charleston’s African Methodist Episcopal Church, where nine were killed on June 17.

    The Fruitland Presbyterian Church in Gibson County, Tennessee burned down Wednesday, potentially due to lightning, though the cause is still under investigation, and the Greater Miracle Temple Apostolic Holiness Church in Tallahassee, Florida burned on Friday because of a downed electrical wire, local news stations reported.

    Arson attacks on black churches became more frequent in the mid-to-late 1900s. Congress passed a law in 1996 that heightened the punishment for arson of a religious organization. The Atlantic chronicled this period of violence in an article written following the June 17 attack in Charleston.

    A manifesto that was allegedly penned by Dylan Roof, the shooter in the attack at Charleston’s African Methodist Episcopal Church, said that Roof specifically chose the city because of its rich black history.

    Mother Emanuel itself was burned to the ground by white supremacists in 1822.

    The post Black churches in the South reportedly targeted by arsonists appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    People carry an injured victim from an accidental explosion during a music concert at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City, Taiwan, June 27, 2015. About 200 people were injured after a fire suspected to have stemmed from the explosion of an unknown flammable powder occurred in a recreational park in northern Taiwan, local media reported on Saturday. REUTERS/Wu Chia  TAIWAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN TAIWAN  - RTX1I2DN

    People carry an injured victim from an accidental explosion during a music concert at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City, Taiwan, June 27, 2015. Photo by Wu Chia/Reuters

    Special effects color powder at a water park near Taipei, Taiwan, suddenly ignited into a fireball and blasted into a crowd on Saturday. 498 people attending the “Color Play Asia” party at Formosa Water Park were reportedly injured.

    Some victims sustained skin burns covering up to 80 percent of their bodies, Reuters reported.

    Taipei health official Lee Lih-jong told Agence France-Presse that many suffered damage to their respiratory organs by inhaling the flammable colored powder.

    Nearly 200 people remain in intensive care, but so far there have been no fatalities.

    Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou (L) meets with family members of victims injured in a fire at the Formosa Fun Coast water park at Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan, June 28, 2015. Almost 200 people remain in intensive care, with some injured victims sustaining burns covering up to 80% of their body. Photo by Pichi Chuang/Reuteres

    Taiwan’s president Ma Ying-jeou (L) meets with family members of the victims injured in a fire at the Formosa Fun Coast water park at Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan, June 28, 2015. Almost 200 people remain in intensive care, with some injured victims sustaining burns covering up to 80 percent of their body. Photo by Pichi Chuang/Reuters

    Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou visited injured victims and their families at Taipei Veterans General Hospital on Sunday.

    Deputy fire chief Chen Chung-yueh told AFP he suspects the powder may have been ignited by sparks from nearby machinery.

    The organizer of the party and the hardware engineer responsible for lighting are both being held for questioning, CNN reported.

    Eric Chu, the mayor of New Taipei, told reporters he has ordered the park to be closed until further notice.

    The post Explosion at Taiwan water park injures nearly 500 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A man lying by a clock in the desert

    British Prime Minister Winston Churchill took an afternoon nap every day. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel works out seven days a week. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg leaves the office every day at 5:30 to have dinner with her family. Who are these wonder people who juggle stressful jobs, family, activities and but still manage to work out regularly and sleep well? We kind of hate them, but we’re desperate for their secrets.

    All week we’re publishing stories on the elusive work-life balance. To kick it off, we reached out to psychologists and time management experts with a question. How can we be so effective in our work, that we’re creating an extra hour for our life outside of work? Here’s their advice:

    1. Use active verbs in your to-do list

    Most people’s to-do lists are filled with unclear, general reminders like “Mom” or “bank,” words that are not likely to inspire activity, said David Allen, author of “Getting Things Done, The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.”

    Determine the desired product before planning the task, he said. Then, put concrete action items on the to-do list, using verbs like “call,” “buy” or “talk to.” Avoid words that suggest a finished outcome to relieve pressure. For a written assignment, for example, use the word “draft” instead of “write” to create less pressure, he said.

    2. Say no to multitasking

    Multitasking and long hours are commonly considered key to getting things done, but these behaviors are actually harmful to the brain — and even a person’s safety, said Pam Garcy, a clinical psychologist and life coach. Tackling a single task at once helps preserve focus, she said.

    A Stanford study from 2009 measured the ability of multitaskers and non-multitaskers to perform certain tasks. The researchers found that multitaskers presented poorer memory and concentration. This lack of focus can cost a person up to 40 percent of their productivity, according to the American Psychological Association.

    Breaks, along with reasonable work hours, are also important. An analysis of 22 studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed a link between working overtime and “poorer perceived general health, increased injury rates, more illnesses or increased mortality.” But many workers don’t have a choice; the U.S. has a longer work week than Japan and most of Western Europe, according to the CDC.

    3. Paint your workspace green

    Research has shown that the presence of nature has a positive impact on health; it can lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, as well as help people cope with stressful life events.

    Taking a walk outside can help you relax, but just a photo of a nature scene with blues and greens on the wall above your desk can produce a relaxation effect, said Dr. Bill Knaus, a psychologist and author of “The Procrastination Workbook.”

    4. Add leisure time to your calendar

    A person’s calendar should be a source of pleasure as well as obligation, Julie Morganstern, author of “Time Management from the Inside Out,” said. It helps to schedule time for leisure activities in order to avoid being swept up by more work, she said.

    Also, she said, sleep. “If you don’t recharge at night and on the weekends, you’re going to go to work exhausted, and you’re going to be less efficient at work because you’re operating tired.

    5. Don’t plan a big project — plan a series of small tasks

    People frequently overestimate the challenges of a task and become overwhelmed, Garcy said. Breaking down a project into a series of tasks will slow down the process, engaging the parasympathetic nervous system and allowing you to relax, she said.

    And deconstructing your projects in this way can actually build confidence. Smaller, more manageable tasks make us feel like we possess the efficiency and skills to get the work done, she said. And then we get it done.

    6. Overestimate the time you need

    For people who are chronically late, overestimating the time a task will take will recalibrate the mind to perceive the situation more realistically, Garcy said.

    But the first step to managing your time is knowing how you spend it, according to Laura Vanderkam, author of “I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time.” Vanderkam suggested a person track how they spend their time closely for a week. “If you want to spend your time better, you need to know how you’re spending it now,” she said.

    7. Begin first, correct later

    Research has shown that perfectionism is harmful to both productivity and emotional health; it correlates with less sleep and mood disorders, psychologist Dr. Sam Klarreich said.

    Yet many people strive for the perfect product, and as a result, fear situations in which they might fail. This fear can slow productivity in the workplace and trigger a destructive feedback loop.

    Garcy suggests using what she calls a “cognitive coping self-statement,” such as “I don’t have to get it perfect, I just have to get it going.” Repeating this statement can help put the challenge in perspective, she said.

    The most important thing is to get moving on a task, not to do it correctly the first time, Allen said. “Don’t wait to have everything perfect and then find out you have to redo the whole thing. You want to start, get instant feedback as fast as you can, and then course-correct.”

    The post 7 ways to add an extra hour to your day appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Illustration by KTSDESIGN/Getty

    Illustration by KTSDESIGN/Getty

    In spy movies, cunning characters like James Bond or Ethan Hunt are always nabbing fingerprints from wine glasses and creating gelatin replicas to break into hi-tech vaults. Now, scientists have created technology based on ultrasound that could prevent people from cracking electronic scanners with artificial fingertips. These sonicwave sensors would work with wet, dirty or very smooth fingertips — addressing some of the issues seen with fingerprint scanners in the iPhone and other Apple devices with Touch ID.

    “The fingerprint sensor industry is always looking for new ways to measure ‘liveness’ — the ability to distinguish between a real finger and a printout,” said David Horsley, a mechanical engineer at the University of California Davis and co-creator of the new ultrasonic fingerprint scanner reported today in Applied Physics Letters.

    This new device scans a fingerprint by releasing pulses of ultrasound that bounce off the fingertip’s skin, creating an echo. It takes more time for sound waves to reflect off the valleys of a fingerprint versus its ridges, allowing the device to pinpoint and paint a picture of the crevices. However, some of the ultrasound waves also penetrate through the outer skin layer — the epidermis — reaching the inner layer called the dermis.

    “It turns out that you have the same fingerprint on your dermis that you have on your epidermis,” Horsley said, and this deeper scan can detect physical landmarks like sweat pores and blood vessels buried in that inner skin layer.

    To measure these subtle shapes in fingerprint echoes, Horsley’s team relied on two electronic wafers that are stacked on top of each other. The first layer is populated by a field of tiny drumheads known as piezoelectric sensors. As skinny as human hairs, these sensors transform the mechanical energy from the sound waves pushing against the wafer into electricity, which is read by a second layer of microcircuits. These ultrasound sensors cost about 30 percent more to manufacture than current fingerprint detectors.

    By spotting blood vessels and sweat pores, these ultrasound sensors could verify if a fingerprint came from a real finger versus a fake. In contrast, Apple’s Touch ID relies on physical contact with your finger and the small electrical current that passes between your skin cells and the scanner. Hackers have cracked this system by creating an artificial mold of a fingerprint and sticking it to their skin.

    An ultrasonic fingerprint sensor measures a 3-D image of the finger’s surface and the underlying tissue. Photo by Dave Horsley

    An ultrasonic fingerprint sensor measures a 3-D image of the finger’s surface and the underlying tissue. Photo by Dave Horsley

    The wireless tech company Qualcomm unveiled a similar ultrasound fingerprint scanner in March, called Snapdragon Sense ID, but Horsley says if the technology catches on, its uses could extend beyond fingerprints. For instance, his team has designed similar ultrasound sensors that can measure the fat and muscle content underneath your skin. These sensors are small enough to be packed into a stylus or a smartwatch.

    “Say you’re interested in learning if all the sit-ups that you’ve been doing have had an effect. You could point these sensors at your stomach to see if the fat layers have shrunk and if the muscle layers have thickened,” Horsley said.

    “There is a lot of interest in sensors that can tell what’s going on in your body thanks to the personal health revolution,” Horsley said. “These ultrasound microsensors clearly have that capability. They’re safe because they don’t penetrate very deep, and we’ve only scratched the surface of what they can do.”

    The post Ultrasound sensors dig deeper into your fingerprints and fat appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    James Brooks, director of marketing at Mount Zion Baptist Church, Camy Sorge, Degrees Matter! associate director, and Pastor Odell Cleveland work together to encourage members of the congregation to return to school. Photo by Kayleigh Skinner/The Hechinger Report.

    James Brooks, director of marketing at Mount Zion Baptist Church, Camy Sorge, Degrees Matter! associate director, and Pastor Odell Cleveland work together to encourage members of the congregation to return to school. Photo by Kayleigh Skinner/The Hechinger Report.

    GREENSBORO, N.C. ─ Damita Rhodie was on her way to a bachelor’s degree when she fell in love, got married, had kids, divorced, and ended up with no bachelor’s degree and no time to get one.

    It’s a story so common that policymakers struggle mightily to overcome it in their efforts to increase the proportion of Americans with degrees. Yet enrollment has been going down, not up.

    Rhodie bucked that trend. A rare exception, she has now returned to college for a degree in social work. And her motivation came from a source as persuasive as it was unexpected: the pastor at her church.

    “I don’t claim to know all the rules and regulations about re-entry into college, but where I can be helpful and functional on the team is to have access to the people who trust me enough to say, ‘Pastor Cleveland, I really want to come back and do this,’” said the pastor, Odell Cleveland, of the 4,000-member Mount Zion Baptist Church here.

    The idea of using churches to help drive adults back into college started with Degrees Matter!, a nonprofit in Greensboro. If politicians, business leaders and schools couldn’t do it, the organization reasoned, maybe churches could.

    “What we’re trying to do is move the needle to get as many people into education programs as possible,” said the organization’s associate director, Camy Sorge. “It’s really about, ‘How can we reach the most people?’”

    Mount Zion is the only church that so far has teamed up with Degrees Matter! but Sorge said she hopes to enlist more.

    Thirty-six percent of Greensboro residents aged 25 and older have bachelor’s degrees or higher, but Degrees Matter! shares the goal of the White House and other advocacy groups of raising that to 60 percent by 2025.

    Related: Why are graduation rates at community colleges so low?

    Mount Zion Baptist Church in Greenboro, North Carolina. Photo by Kayleigh Skinner/The Hechinger Report.

    Mount Zion Baptist Church in Greenboro, North Carolina. Photo by Kayleigh Skinner/The Hechinger Report.

    So far, this national effort is way behind schedule. With 10 years to go to that 60 percent target, the proportion of people with degrees nationwide is now 40 percent, up only about 2 percentage points since the goal was set in 2008, according to the Lumina Foundation, which tracks this. (The Lumina Foundation also gives money to Degrees Matter! and is a funder of PBS NewsHour and The Hechinger Report, which produced this story.) “Increasingly worrisome,” Lumina said, were rates of attainment of 28 percent for blacks and 20 percent for Hispanics.

    One problem is that many adults like Rhodie enroll in college only to drop out when faced with the responsibilities of life, wasting their tuition and forgoing higher wages.

    The average salary for a person 25 to 34 with a bachelor’s degree is $46,900 a year, versus $30,000 for people with just high school diplomas, the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics reports. Yet only 55 percent of first-time students who entered college in the fall 2008 had earned a degree six years later, according to the National Student Clearinghouse.

    With help from the church and others, Degrees Matter! has helped 261 people enroll in or return to college over the past year, Sorge said.

    Rhodie was speaking with Cleveland more than a year ago when she told him about her dream of earning a bachelor’s degree before her son graduated from high school, as a way of being a role model for him.

    The pastor offered more than just a sympathetic ear.

    “He said, ‘Let’s get you back in school. We want to help you.’ And from Day One that’s what they’ve been doing,” Rhodie said.

    The church uses 10 percent of the tithings received to pay for day care, which Rhodie’s children attend, a book scholarship, and emergency assistance funds to help with tuition and other college costs. Degrees Matter! provides services including financial counseling and directs students to organizations that can cover some of what they can’t afford themselves.

    “It’s amazing what little things can be done to encourage [people] to stay and get back in school,” Sorge said. “It can be as simple as finding an extra $400 for them to buy books, or it can be contacting United Way to get reliable sources of childcare for them or it could be possibly that they need money for a bus pass.”

    Cleveland said his role in the partnership is to be a “cheerleader” by encouraging those in his congregation who want to return to school to get help from Degrees Matter! The church regularly hammers home this opportunity by word of mouth and through its Zion News Network (called ZNN by the congregation), a five-minute weekly “newscast” video shown before Sunday service.

    Cleveland described the church as a “bridge” that helps inform people it’s possible to go back to school and puts them in touch with the staff at Degrees Matter! From there, the organization steps in to provide whatever services each student needs.

    Rhodie is now finishing up general-studies courses on her way to that bachelor’s degree in social work. Her son is entering 11th grade in the fall and she said she wants to set a good example for each of her three children.

    “I can push on them the importance of education,” she said. “But what does it mean if I didn’t finish my degree?”

    This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Read more about higher education.

    PBS NewsHour coverage of higher education is supported by the Lumina Foundation and American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

    The post How churches are trying to raise the college graduation rate appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Dan Chelotti’s poem “Grieving in the Modern World,” was published in his first book of poetry, “x,” published by McSweeney’s. Read the text of the poem below.

    We caught up with poet Dan Chelotti at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference in Minneapolis in April. Later we asked him what gave him inspiration for his poem “Grieving in the Modern World.” Here’s what he wrote to us: “I wrote this poem in between classes I was teaching at Elms College. I was sitting in my office and I was humming Billy Bragg and Wilco’s version of Woody Guthrie’s song for Ingrid Bergman. I started to write with an image of Ingrid Bergman in ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ in my mind and I let the language lead me to the tiny heartbreaks of the end of the day, and how we cope with them. I love the feeling of not knowing where I am going when writing, of not knowing where or when the poem will end. I never thought I would end a poem with NewsHour, but it was what this poem needed.”

    “Grieving in the Modern World”

    When someone died
    in ancient times, say,
    in a battle, or from
    a thorn and the lack
    of penicillin, the women
    were said to let their hair
    down. Their grief freed
    them. Over time, this
    custom was lost, and is
    now represented by
    over-edited movie
    scenes where a woman
    cuts her own hair
    in a fluorescent bathroom.
    The cut comes out uneven
    but cute, striving after
    Ingrid Bergman in
    For Whom the Bell Tolls.
    Woodie Guthrie also spent
    a lot of time striving
    after Ingrid Bergman.
    He kept a broken watch
    in his pocket to symbolize
    how time stopped when
    he saw her. Woodie Guthrie
    never got to use that line –
    but he did, for a time,
    save the world. It would
    seem fitting to let my
    hair down to show how sad
    this makes me feel,
    but the microwave is
    almost finished heating
    my dinner, and News Hour
    is about to begin.

    Dan Chelotti is the author of “x” (McSweeney’s). He is an Associate Professor of English at Elms College, and he lives in Massachusetts.

    This video was filmed at the AWP Conference & Bookfair. Special thanks to the Association of Writers & Writing Programs.

    The post Poem begins with grief, ends with the NewsHour appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    homelessart

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now a story of hope.

    The RedLine art gallery in Denver helps artists who have experienced homelessness and other hardships.

    Here, in their own words, the artists talk about how the Reach Studio program has changed their lives.

    GONZO, Artist: My name’s Gonzo. I have been doing art for about 10 years.

    Right now, I’m involved in massive collage works. I started doing art while I was locked up in prison. To me, it was a therapeutical escape. And I just really got hooked.

    ROBIN GALLITE, Education Director, RedLine Gallery: I’m Robin Gallite. I’m the education director at RedLine.

    Reach Studio started because there were two Metro University students who wanted to create a program that — for artists who were experiencing homelessness. We can offer a space to create for people who wouldn’t have space to create traditionally. We can offer mentorship.

    JASON CLARK, Artist: My name is Jason Clark. I’m a mixed media artist and designer. I have currently been with Reach 2.5, almost three years now.

    What it’s allowed me to do is basically pull myself off the streets, give me a safe haven to express myself in ways, even in frustration, of seeing the drug use and the prostitution and the violence. I was able to come in during the week and actually treat it like a full-time job and escape the trenches of the street life.

    CAROLINE POOLER, Artist: I’m Caroline Pooler. In my 20s, I looked at a prestigious local art school here in Colorado and determined that it was something that I couldn’t afford. And it was a dream I had kind of set aside about 30 years ago. And then through RedLine a couple of years back, that school got involved. They got interested in our message about homelessness, street life, that kind of thing.

    And they offered a generous gift of a scholarship to some of us Reach artists, and I was one of the recipients.

    RISA MURRAY, Artist: My name is Risa Murray. And I am a student and I am going to be an art educator.

    There’s been so many open doors since I have come to Reach. I hope to go overseas. And I would like to teach for a period of time overseas. And so that’s what I would like to do with my teaching certificate.

    ROBIN GALLITE: Some of the artists sell their work. And that has been wonderful for them. They get 75 percent, and RedLine takes 25 percent back into the program itself.

    GONZO: I have been in about five exhibitions with them. I have sold some pieces that are in professional office areas. My goal this year, I guess, is to get bigger and better at this, but I ain’t in it for the money.

    JASON CLARK: My works of the past two-and-a-half years or so have been reflective of the experience of the street.

    This piece is called Whore, and it’s really intense. The color red is used. The eyes are distorted. They’re kind of blotted out, wipe away, and the lips are accentuated. There’s a piece I did. It was called the Starving Artists series. I basically the mediums, using mediums with a plastic fork.

    It was reflective of the whole encompassing of the whole experience of that street experience, and seeing people digging through trash cans for their meals, standing in sandwich lines.

    ROBIN GALLITE: Success in the program is sometimes hard to document. I have noticed throughout Reach a lot of the people who came in that were experiencing homelessness, many have kind of transitioned into stable living environments.

    But we can’t directly say that’s because of us. But I do think that the relationships they build with staff members, with peers in the program and with artists in the community in residence is really the most beneficial part. And that’s where I see most of the transformation as an individual.

    CAROLINE POOLER: I have committed a certain body of work to something I call the Concrete Chronicles, which does speak directly to street life.

    I have taken some of my paintings that are of very natural riverscapes and put them on abandoned building doorways where people sleep. And I want them to look at that and think maybe of something tender in their past or something that might draw them to a better future.

    RISA MURRAY: I think my message is hope. I want people to feel hopeful about life. And I want people to feel joy and that life is worth living. And I think that’s another thing about Reach Studio artists, is that they invoke celebration of life itself.

    JASON CLARK: If you enter these doors and you see the Reach artists working and know what their situation was, and that they’re living their dreams out, you know, not to give up on that, no matter what the circumstances, I would like people to take away a certain amount of hope and derive some strength from what we do.

    The post Artists who have lived on the street get space to create appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Jun 26, 2015; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; United States midfielder Carli Lloyd (10) celebrates her goal with teammates against China during the second half in the quarterfinals of the FIFA 2015 Women's World Cup at Lansdowne Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports - RTX1I031

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The women’s World Cup is nearing its finish and the U.S. team is very much in the hunt for the championship. Three former Cup champions, Germany, Japan and the United States, are in the semifinals, while England is making its first appearance.

    Tomorrow night, the U.S. will face Germany. It’s the fourth time in the history of the Cup that these two countries have played each other. In each of the prior matches, the winner has gone on to win the title.

    Jeffrey Brown picks up the story from there.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Germany is the number one team in the world with an offense that has speed and size. But the U.S. has the top defense at the moment. The American women haven’t allowed a goal in 423 minutes, the third longest streak in women’s World Cup history. Their most recent victory came Friday night over China.

    Christine Brennan, sports columnist for USA Today and commentator for ABC News, joins me now.

    So, Christine, an American team that keeps winning, but keeps facing questions about how good it is, and now they have a real, real tough challenge.

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN, USA Today: Oh, Jeff, this is it.

    If you want to say this could be the final at the World Cup — it’s the semifinals — this would be it, Germany and the U.S., absolutely the two best teams in the tournament.

    The U.S. has not looked it, in part because it has been so defensive-minded, scoring…

    JEFFREY BROWN: The style of play.

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: And it’s been a boring style, frankly.

    I think a lot of fans are saying, what’s wrong with this team? Well, so far, nothing is wrong, in the sense that they keep advancing and moving through. We will see. This will be the test. Is the U.S. fine, a strong defensive backbone and then an occasional goal or two, and that is enough for Germany, or will Germany just overwhelm the United States?

    I think that’s the fear at this point, after watching that France-Germany game, which looked like a track meet, compared to the way the U.S. has looked so far.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, let’s look at a few of the standout players, important players, Hope Solo, inevitably, important, key player, as the goaltender, but with a lot of controversy attached.

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Absolutely, awaiting hearings on domestic violence charges. This has been going on since last summer.

    I have written and said, Jeff, that they should have suspended her last summer or in the qualifying last fall. The fact that she’s playing with a domestic violence charge still there, the allegations, in this time after Ray Rice is an embarrassment to U.S. soccer, but she plays on, and obviously she is there, and she has been the best goalkeeper in the world. And she has to be against Germany.

    JEFFREY BROWN: She has to be for this one.

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Abby Wambach, one of the great stars of American women’s soccer history, nearing the end of her career.

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Absolutely, her last World Cup. She is 35 years old, one of the great role models. I have seen her with kids. She is fabulous.

    But she has an uneven World Cup and she wants this more than anything to have the World Cup added to her resume. And I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s in the game near the end with a chance with a header to maybe make a difference.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Is there any player who has surprised you or who has been a real standout for the American side?

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: We mentioned defense earlier.

    Julie Johnston, unknown. She had to work her way on to the team, one of the young guns on the defense, has been stellar and probably the best player. She will be tested against Germany, for sure.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What about some of the other teams, particularly, I’m thinking Britain, winning? A bit of a surprise. Good, but a bit of a — first time in the semifinals, right?

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Exactly.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And then the home team, Canada, losing.

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Right. And that hurts attendance.

    You want to have with women’s sports that home team there for the great draw for the weekend. They won’t be that way anymore. But I think England, just the fact that, for years, the sexism of England, they just cared about their men’s team. Now England cares.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Sexism as in, what, they just didn’t pay attention?

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: They didn’t pay attention.

    I remember talking to cab drivers after the ’99 women’s World Cup. I went over to the British Open. And they said, what women’s team? I said, what is wrong with you guys? We just won the World Cup. Why doesn’t England even have a team that they care about?

    They have since put money in because of the London Olympics. And now here we see it again, so London and England really cares now, a soccer-crazed nation that finally has shown it cares about its women’s game.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Draw that out to a larger scale for us. Looking at this tournament, what does it tell us about the state of the women’s soccer game at this point, not only compared to the American — to the men’s side, but just to where you might have thought it would be, say, 20 years ago?

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Right.

    Certainly in 1999, the thought 16 years later, what would this look like after Brandi Chastain and all that, I think there are positive steps, more countries playing, more nations caring about the women’s game, but you’re seeing those same things bubble to the surface, the same teams that in women’s equality, Jeff, has always been first and foremost in the minds of so many people, the United States with the Title IX, Germany, the Scandinavian nations, Japan, communist nations like China.

    So, you want to see those breakthrough performances. England breaking through is one of those, as surprising as that sounds, since England is such a soccer-crazy nation. But I think we can see with Title IX, the U.S., it’s almost to the point now where we’re just talking about the soccer. We’re not talking about the deeper meaning of this team anymore. And that, I think, is an achievement, in and of itself.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Christine Brennan, as always, thanks so much.

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Thank you, Jeff.

     

     

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    politicsmonday

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The presidential hopeful list is ready to expand again, and the Republican field is divided in its reaction to the Supreme Court same-sex marriage case.

    Plenty to talk about for Politics Monday.

    Joining us this week is Stu Rothenberg of The Rothenberg Political Report — Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report — and Tamara Keith of NPR.

    Thank you both for being here.

    STUART ROTHENBERG, The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report: Sure.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, let’s talk first about the Supreme Court. The court, in not undermining the Affordable Care Act, it upheld it. And we won’t get into the specifics, but all these Republicans disagree, Tamara, with what the court did. Is this going to be an issue on the campaign trail?

    TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: Absolutely.

    They pretty much agree with each other in the primary. But this sets up a general election where there’s a choice between preserving the Affordable Care Act or repeal and replace, which is the message that Republicans are sending now, not just repeal, but repeal and place — replace.

    What the Supreme Court did them a favor on is, they aren’t going to have to get real specific about how they’d replace it, because there isn’t sort of an imminent crisis of subsidies going away.

    (CROSSTALK)

    STUART ROTHENBERG: I think now we have been talking about the ACA for five years, at least Republicans have.

    It’s part of their DNA. They want to talk about it. The voters want to hear about it. I think there will be some additional pressure to go into details and tell, OK, if you get rid of the ACA, Affordable Care Act, then what are the alternatives?

    But I think in the next few months, between now and the nomination, I think they will talk about it. I don’t think they are going to quite have the passion in talking about it that they once did, because you can only have passion for so long.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we see some Republicans are saying they’re even relieved that the court went the way it did, because they think it will stand them — they will put them in a stronger position during the general election.

    Let’s turn to the court’s other big decision last Friday, and that, of course, was upholding same-sex marriage. It’s interesting to see — and we’re going to show the audience how the — some of the Republicans divide on this. There were a group of them who are pushing — they all disagree with the decision, but some of them are saying, we are going to push for a constitutional amendment.

    And you see some of these. It’s Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Rick Santorum. And then there is another group that is saying, we oppose what the court did, but we accept it. And they don’t seem to be making as big an issue. This is Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, interestingly, Chris Christie, Lindsey Graham, and Marco Rubio.

    How do you see this, Stu, playing out?

    STUART ROTHENBERG: I think this is a perfect reflection of the division in the Republican Party, not on ideology as much as tone, tenor, style, how you deal with these things.

    Look, the Republicans have a fundamental problem with about half of the electorate. That is, they do fine among non-Hispanic whites and very poorly among everybody else, gay voters included. And they have a problem with looking intolerant, cold-blooded, unwelcoming. That’s the best word, unwelcoming.

    And so we have a division in the Republican Party with — half the party wants to be more welcoming. We disagree, but we want to reach out to people who we disagree with. The other half is doubling down, and trying to activate and energize the Republican base and get those people angry. They’re already angry.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What does that mean for this campaign, Tamara?

    TAMARA KEITH: If you look at those names, you basically have a division between those who are betting their primary win on winning evangelicals and need to be really strong on that, and those who would prefer not to talk about gay marriage anymore than they absolutely have to, because they have their eyes on the general election.

    And in the general election, 60 percent approximately of the U.S. population supports gay marriage, and approximately that percent of millennial Republicans support that. So the future of the party is already supporting gay marriage on some level.

    So, those are the ones who are not as concerned about purity and are more concerned about the general election.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It will be interesting to see what happens in the debates.

    Let’s talk about the two candidates who are either just — who just got in, Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, Stu, at the end of last week. How does he fit into this campaign? What does this mean?

    STUART ROTHENBERG: Jindal is a perfect segue from the last topic.

    (LAUGHTER)

    STUART ROTHENBERG: Bobby Jindal right now is nowhere on the Republican radar in terms of polling. He is a person of considerable assets. He is a candidate of color, 44, relatively young, Brown-educated, turned down Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School to become a Rhodes Scholar. In his mid-20s, he ran the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, on and on, incredible credentials.

    But he’s nowhere. So, how does he get relevant? I think he is getting relevant by moving right, talking about cultural issues, religious issues. And Bobby Jindal knows that, if he doesn’t do well in Iowa, he’s out of the race. And how do you break through? How do you become the darling of social conservatives? You do what Bobby Jindal is doing right now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see him fitting in?

    TAMARA KEITH: Yes, last week in Iowa calling for the elimination of the Supreme Court because of the way it ruled, coming out with big, bold statements, definitely positioning himself about as far to the right as you can get, saying that he is going to be a principled conservative on any number of things, including religious freedom, Affordable Care Act, everything.

    He does say he has a plan for the Affordable Care Act, also, for replacing it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let’s talk about another governor. And that’s one who is going to get in the race tomorrow. I think it’s going to make 15 or 16. We’re losing count, but Chris Christie.

    A lot of people thought he might not run, Tamara, but he’s jumping in.

    TAMARA KEITH: Yes, and his campaign motto is going to be, telling it like it is. And he is going to immediately after his announcement go to New Hampshire and just do a ton of town hall events, and sort of along the same model as like a Straight Talk Express that John McCain did.

    He doesn’t have a ton of money. Jeb Bush locked up a lot of the big donors that Chris Christie would have wanted. But it doesn’t take a lot of money to go meet and win over every New Hampshire Republican you can find.

    STUART ROTHENBERG: Yes, I think he’s in the same lane as Jeb Bush, and Jeb Bush got out there early and coalesced support of the establishment. That’s really where Chris Christie has got to go.

    He’s kind of like a straight talk — you’re right. Tell it like it is. It’s not an ideological message. It’s not about issues. It’s about personality and style. And his style is appealing to a lot of Republicans. He will stick it to the teachers. He will tell them to sit down and shut up if they don’t do what he says.

    On the other hand, you do that over an extended period and you come across as a little angry and gruff around, rough around the edges, and we will see whether that sells. I think there is some risk there for Governor Christie.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In 10 seconds, Donald Trump today separating from NBC over the Miss America show and his programming, is this going to have any impact?

    TAMARA KEITH: Well, I think NBC was separating from him because of his comments about Mexican immigrants.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. Right.

    TAMARA KEITH: And the thing to me that stands out is Hillary Clinton is already quoting a Republican and not saying it’s Donald Trump.

    STUART ROTHENBERG: Let Donald Trump be Donald Trump, we won’t be hearing that. He will be Donald Trump.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We will leave it there.

    Stu Rothenberg, Tamara Keith, thank you both.

    TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.

    STUART ROTHENBERG: Sure.

     

    The post Why GOP candidates will be talking about the Supreme Court on the campaign trail appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    NEWBURG, MD - JUNE 29:  Two white ducks walk along the beach at Aqualand Marina as emissions spew out of a large stack nearby at the coal-fired Morgantown Generating Station on the Potomac River on June 29, 2015 in Newburg, Maryland. Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) effort to limit certain power plant emissions -- saying the agency "unreasonably" failed to consider the cost of the regulations.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, the court’s EPA decision that we were just discussing is sending ripples of reaction through both the environmental and energy groups, as you might imagine.

    Our Jeffrey Brown has more on what the ruling will mean.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And we start at the White House.

    After high court victories on the Affordable Care Act and same-sex marriage, today, as Marcia pointed out, President Obama suffered a Supreme Court setback on his environmental policy.

    White House spokesman Josh Earnest spoke to reporters earlier today.

    JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: We’re still reviewing the decision that was announced by the Supreme Court earlier today.

    Obviously, we are disappointed with the outcome. And for specific questions about how — what impact the outcome of this decision will have on that rule-making process, I would refer you to the EPA.

    I will say, however, that based on what we have read so far, there’s no reason that this court ruling should have any impact on the ability of the administration to develop and implement the clean power plan.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And we pick up on the question of the ruling’s impact with Lynn Goldman, dean of the George Washington University School of Public Health, and Jeff Holmstead, an attorney with the firm Bracewell & Giuliani, who defends companies and business groups in environmental cases.

    And both our guests previously served as assistant administrators at the EPA.

    Jeff Holmstead, let me start with you. You’re on the winning side in this case. How serious a challenge do you see this to EPA regulation in this area?

    JEFFREY HOLMSTEAD, Environmental Strategies Group: Well, this was by far the biggest rule that EPA had done to this point.

    EPA suggested it cost about $9.6 billion a year. And it has really been the centerpiece, at least so far, of what they have done, so I do think it’s a signature loss for the agency.

    JEFFREY BROWN: As in its ability to do what?

    JEFFREY HOLMSTEAD: Well, the issue here really is quite simple.

    The question is, does EPA need to take into account the cost of its regulations before it makes these decisions? And the court, not surprisingly, said, yes, that’s an important aspect of any decision like this, and you have got to consider the cost. So that will — they really did establish a principle that will affect many other regulations.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, before we get to the larger impact, this particular case, you continue see it quite as so sweeping?

    LYNN GOLDMAN, Dean, Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University: I don’t, actually.

    I was disappointed in the ruling. I don’t think it’s a major setback. I think that it will force the EPA to go back and incorporate the considerations of costs that they used in the final stage, where they actually developed the standard. They didn’t incorporate those cost considerations into the initial stage.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Explain that for the layman, because it’s a little confusing. The question of cost and benefits are out there. The EPA says it has done some of that, so what is the court saying that they didn’t do?

    LYNN GOLDMAN: Well, it’s also a unique situation with this rule, because there were specific provisions in the Clean Air Act with regard to the regulation of mercury that required EPA to first make a finding about whether mercury and related toxics should be regulated.

    And, of course, from the standpoint of public health, they said, yes, it should. And then, if so, how? And they did do a very careful examination of the costs in that second stage, but not in the first stage. And I think what the justices said is that they should have done it in the first stage.

    And so why I don’t think it’s a setback is that they have done the work to analyze the costs and the benefits to public health. And they can now go back and incorporate that into the original findings. So, I don’t see it as being sweeping particularly because of the specifics around the mercury provisions, but also because I think, look, we’re at a stage where 70 percent of the industry is already complying with this rule.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    Well, what about that? And also, just to be clear, you’re not disputing the notion that the EPA’s mandate to regulate in this area has been tampered with by this ruling, right?

    JEFFREY HOLMSTEAD: Well, it really has been.

    The reason why EPA didn’t consider cost, they didn’t take that decision lightly. The problem they had is, if they acknowledge the cost at the front end, they would have a very hard time justifying this regulation.

    So it has gone back to EPA. We will see the way they deal with it, but it really does establish this principle that unless Congress has told the agency that it can’t consider cost, then it is unreasonable and therefore unlawful for the agency to make these decisions without taking cost into account.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Go ahead.

    LYNN GOLDMAN: Which is actually, I think, not the case, because EPA’s analysis did say that this rule saves 11,000 lives a year, prevents 130,000 asthma attacks a year, and, in fact, provides a range, between $37 billion and $90 billion every year in savings.

    And so this — it is simply not true that the regulation isn’t worth the benefits. It’s just that that calculation wasn’t done at the outset. It was done at the back end.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What about his larger point, that there is a principle established here that will have some impact on — a wider impact on environmental law?

    LYNN GOLDMAN: I don’t see that. I don’t see that.

    I think that under, you know, successive administrations that this performance of cost and benefit analysis, EPA has always had to do that, and it’s a procedural issue of where that’s incorporated, and not whether or not it would result in a rule.

    (CROSSTALK)

    JEFFREY BROWN: Can you give us an example of where you…

    JEFF HOLMSTEAD: I just disagree with that.

    This is the first time the court has said very clearly — and it’s true it’s in the context of a specific issue, but what they said is, unless has Congress told an agency that they can’t consider cost in making regulatory decisions, they have to do so.

    (CROSSTALK)

    JEFFREY BROWN: But can you give us an example? This summer, I think we’re expecting some more regulations on — around climate change and greenhouse gases from power plants. Now, would those be in play now because of this court case in terms of what EPA can or cannot do?

    JEFFREY HOLMSTEAD: I do think that this decision will have significant implications for that rule just as a practical matter.

    But I think Lynn and I would both agree the legal holding is not relevant because, in that case, EPA has said it considered the cost. But here’s why I think it will be important. Number one, it just shows now for the second time in a row that the Supreme Court is not just going to rubber-stamp what EPA wants to do.

    And there’s big questions about this green power plant rule. But the other thing is this. As Lynn said, most of these plants have already had to comply with a rule that the court now said was legally invalid, at least in terms of how EPA did it.

    That means that companies have spent tens of billions of dollars and something like 100 power plants have shut down because of this rule that now the court has said is going to be illegal. And I think that will be something that they will look at when it comes to the next…

    (CROSSTALK)

    JEFFREY BROWN: Let me just get a brief last word. You think the EPA will just see this as a bump in the road and continue on?

    LYNN GOLDMAN: Because the court didn’t overturn the rule. It sent it back to the lower court.

    And all EPA has to do is redo the analysis. I don’t think it was unreasonable for EPA to feel, if they have to consider it at one stage, they don’t have to do at two. And that’s what it was all about.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Lynn Goldman, Jeff Holmstead, thank you both very much.

    JEFFREY HOLMSTEAD: Thank you.

    LYNN GOLDMAN: Thank you.

    The post What the Supreme Court’s mercury ruling means for the EPA appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A news assistant runs to his co-workers with copies of court decisions past anti-death penalty demonstrators in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington June 29, 2015. The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that a drug used by Oklahoma as part of its lethal injection procedure does not violate the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment, dealing a setback to opponents of the death penalty.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst


 - RTX1IAAJ

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. Supreme Court closed out a dramatic session today with three more high-profile decisions. The latest rulings touched on how the Environmental Protection Agency regulates our air, how to map voting lines and how states carry out the death penalty.

    Justices also put on hold a Texas law that was set to close a number of clinics that perform abortions in the state this week.

    And joining me to discuss it all is our hardworking court expert, Marcia Coyle, with “The National Law Journal.”

    No shortage. They went out — they’re going out with a bang. Let’s put it that way.

    MARCIA COYLE, The National Law Journal: They absolutely are, Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, let’s start with this Texas decision. This was an emergency appeal that the court granted this afternoon to block the state of Texas from immediately imposing these stricter regulations on abortion clinics. What was happening here?

    MARCIA COYLE: Right.

    A lower federal court had ruled against the Whole Women’s Health clinic and other abortion clinics in Texas in their challenge to the Texas law, which requires the clinic to meet all the standards of ambulatory surgical facilities, which the clinics claim they are not, and also that their physicians have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of the clinic.

    This is a temporary delay to allow the clinics to file what we call a petition for cert, their appeal of that lower court decision. Four justices would have allowed the lower court’s decision to go into effect immediately, the chief justice and Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito.

    July 1 was the deadline. That’s when the lower court decision was to take effect. So, it’s now on hold. The appeals by the clinics have not yet been filed in the Supreme Court.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So this gives some time to those who didn’t want this to happen.

    MARCIA COYLE: Exactly.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Marcia, let’s turn now to the decisions that were handed out this morning that we knew might be coming today, starting with the one to uphold the right of Oklahoma to use this controversial drug as part of their lethal injection execution.

    This case we are seeing revealed a sharp divide among the justices about the death penalty itself. And I’m going to ask you about this. And I want to first read two of the comments made by the justices in their opinions. In the majority, Justice Alito said — quote — “Because some risk of pain is inherent in any method of execution, we have held that the Constitution doesn’t require the avoidance of all risk of pain. After all, while most humans wish to die a painless death, many do not have that good fortune.”

    Now, Justice Stephen Breyer, writing in the dissent, writing a dissent, said — quote — “Rather than try to patch up the death penalty’s legal wounds one at a time, I would ask for a full briefing on a more basic question, whether the death penalty violates the Constitution. I believe that it is now time to reopen the question.”

    MARCIA COYLE: Judy, we had two things going on here today. And, by the way, this was a 5-4 decision. And the death penalty often divides the Supreme Court.

    The first thing that was going on was the challenge to this drug, midazolam. It’s a sedative. And Oklahoma and a few other states have turned to it as the first drug in a three-drug protocol that is supposed to make the inmate who is to be executed unconscious, while the next two drugs, one paralyzes the inmate, the third one basically kills him, take effect.

    The death row inmates here from Oklahoma, there were three of them, claimed that midazolam doesn’t work that way, that there were botched executions that we have read about, where inmates have gasped, have said it’s not working, have not died for sometimes 20 minutes or longer.

    Today, Justice Alito in his opinion made basically two points about the drug. First, he said that he didn’t believe that the inmates had sufficient scientific evidence to prove that it doesn’t work, and he went with the state’s expert witness in this respect.

    And, secondly, he said this is what really dooms their claim. Under a 2008 Supreme Court decision involving lethal injection, he said the inmates, when they’re going to challenge a method as execution as unconstitutional, have to come forward with an alternative method that is constitutional. And he said these inmates didn’t.

    So, that was the first part. Then we had Justice Breyer and Ginsburg writing. Justice Breyer wrote the dissent that she joined. And he said that he felt there’s been 40 years of experimentation, studies, reports and the death penalty just isn’t working and it’s time to reexamine it. And he pointed out, for example, that it’s arbitrary. It often depends on your race, your gender where you live, whether it’s going to be imposed.

    It’s unreliable. He said, look at the number of exonerations that we have had. There is, he said, substantial evidence that innocent people have been executed. There is the delay. It takes on average 18 years from conviction to sentencing.

    For all those reasons, he said, the court should have at least full briefing on the question of its continuing constitutionality.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, opening up this much, much bigger question.

    MARCIA COYLE: Exactly. And the death penalty will be back again on the docket next term.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: OK. There were the two other major opinions.

    But I want to now focus on — in just the time we have left on this ruling on the Obama administration’s environmental regulations, the court saying the EPA made a mistake in 2011 on — when it said that power plants must regulate, limit the amount of mercury and other toxins that they emit.

    MARCIA COYLE: The problem here was — and this was also a 5-4 decision written by Justice Scalia — the business community, some power plants had challenged EPA’s regulation of mercury emissions, saying that EPA had failed to consider the costs in determining whether it was — and this is standard language — appropriate and necessary to regulate.

    Justice Scalia said today that that was right, that EPA was unreasonable in not considering the cost at the very front end. EPA did consider costs and said it would consider costs when it got to actually formulating a standard that the power plants had to meet.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But they didn’t knock down the authority of the EPA…

    MARCIA COYLE: No. They did not.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: … to say to power plants that they have to do this.

    (CROSSTALK)

    MARCIA COYLE: And they left it to EPA to go back and decide how it was going to handle the cost considerations.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Marcia Coyle, watching the court for us.

    MARCIA COYLE: Oh, my pleasure, Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you very much.

    MARCIA COYLE: Take care.

     

     

    The post Supreme Court ends term with rulings on EPA, voter redistricting and lethal injection appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A woman pulling a shopping cart reacts outside a closed Eurobank branch in Athens, Greece June 29, 2015. Greece closed its banks and imposed capital controls on Sunday to check the growing strains on its crippled financial system, bringing the prospect of being forced out of the euro into plain sight.   REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX1I76A

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let’s look further at the potential consequences for Greece and its people, and the concerns about the Eurozone and the global economy.

    Greg Ip is the chief economics commentator for The Wall Street Journal and he joins me now.

    So, Greg Ip, what do people believe is going to happen tomorrow?

    GREG IP, The Wall Street Journal: Well, the actual default on the IMF loan is itself not a significant event, because the IMF is not about to fail or stop lending to other countries as a consequence of this.

    It does mean that Greece is basically in arrears to its international obligations. And it can’t really move forward in terms of acquire — getting new funds, so that it can reopen banks the banks and have its budget function normally, until it comes to some sort of agreement with the IMF.

    The bigger question hanging over Greece and its future with respect to the IMF and its relations are what happens with this referendum next Sunday. How will the Greek people vote? If they reject the agreement, the terms of the bailout that the IMF and the rest of Europe offered last week, then it’s very hard to see what the path is back to some sort of negotiated settlement and indeed it’s hard to see how Greece stays in the Euro.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Greece in a holding pattern is what you’re saying essentially until next weekend. What do people expect will happen at that point?

    GREG IP: Well, nobody really knows, partly because the referendum question itself is very unclear.

    Greeks are being asked to vote yes or no to essentially a very technical 40-page document that actually until recently wasn’t even available in Greek. Moreover, the Greek government has been telling voters, this is not a referendum on staying in the euro. We’re staying in the euro no matter what.

    But the creditors on the other side, the European Commission and the IMF, are saying the opposite. They’re saying, de facto, if you vote no, then you’re also saying no to Europe. So, I think depending on how Greek voters interpret the question will largely depend — determine how that referendum is decided.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Greg, are you saying literally that this is completely up in the air at this point?

    GREG IP: It completely is.

    And I wouldn’t even say that Greece is in a holding pattern, which would actually be a positive thing. I think the longer this uncertainty persists and the Greek banks stay closed, the worse it gets. Greece’s economy is already in recession. In fact, it’s the only major economy in the Eurozone right now to be shrinking, largely because of the uncertainty that has surrounded negotiations between Syriza, the government, and the creditor nations.

    That’s only going to get worse. And, moreover, even if they voted yes in the referendum, there is a lot of speculation that would force the Syriza government to resign, because how could they in good conscience carry out the reforms that the voters just agreed to, given how much they have opposed them?

    And so you would still have weeks and weeks of uncertainty while waiting for a new government to form.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we have seen the effects already on the U.S. markets today, the Dow dropping 350 points. What about in Europe? What do you see happening? What do people think is going to happen in Europe and the effect on the United States?

    GREG IP: Well, the near-term effect is probably likely to be much less muted in Europe and the rest of the world than it was four or five years ago, when the Greek crisis first erupted.

    The reason is that other countries that are vulnerable like Greece is now have other places to go if they need to borrow money. Europe has a bailout fund and the European Central Bank has made it clear that they will lend money to countries that need it, provided those countries adhere to whatever agreement on reforms they have already reached with the European Commission.

    So, you don’t need — it’s unlikely you will get the money fleeing from banks and the bond market shutting down, as we did three or four years ago. The bigger risk there is, I think, essentially political.

    What Greece has demonstrated is that people do have a limit to their ability to tolerate endless austerity and pain. And while the situation is not as bad in countries like Italy, and Greece and Spain, it is still quite bad, and people do have a breaking point.

    And if the economy gets worse in Europe — and, by the way, it had actually been doing relatively well up until recently — then that could increase the intolerance of voters there for austerity, bring to power movements that are similar to Syriza in Greece, and I think once again raise questions about the future of the euro.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, there are many more questions about Greece, but we have a few seconds left, a minute.

    I want to ask you about another financial crisis point, and that is Puerto Rico.

    GREG IP: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The governor over the weekend saying his country — his territory is about to move into bankruptcy. What’s the story there? How did this happen?

    GREG IP: Puerto Rico’s problems have been developing for many years and indeed they are very similar to Greece’s.

    It’s a chronically uncompetitive economy. But because it’s locked in basically a monetary union with the United States, it can’t devalue its currency, the dollar, in order to regain competitiveness. As a result, they have accumulated significant debts. They have a shrinking population, a shrinking tax base. And I think today what the governor is going to say is that this debt cannot be repaid, it wants to restructure its debts with its creditors.

    Exactly how, nobody really knows. Puerto Rico cannot go to bankruptcy court, the way a city or a county can in the United States, so there’s a lot of uncertainty ahead for Puerto Rico.

    I think, however, the parallels to Greece only go so far. Puerto Rico is certainly not about to exit the dollar, and there’s no other state that looks like Puerto Rico that is about to follow suit. And, moreover, although this is going to be a very tough time for Puerto Rico, the federal government has a very large presence there.

    The federal government, for example, pays for Social Security. That will cushion some of the hardship that would otherwise fall on the Puerto Rican people.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, as I’m talking to you, I’m being told the wire services are reporting Puerto Rico’s governor is saying that he is going to be asking for Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

    So, we will be watching that. And thank you for bringing us up to date on both of these crises. Greg Ip, thanks.

    GREG IP: Thank you.

     

     

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