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

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The head of the federal government’s personnel office resigned today in the wake of a massive data breach at the agency.

    Katherine Archuleta stepped down after disclosures more than 21 million current, former and prospective federal employees were affected.

    White House spokesman Josh Earnest said today the president believes new leadership is badly needed.

    JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: Director Archuleta did offer her resignation today. She did so of her own volition. She recognizes, as the White House does, that the urgent challenges currently facing the Office of Personnel Management require a manager with a specialized set of skills and experiences.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In her statement today, Archuleta said she wants to let the personnel office — quote — “move beyond the current challenges.”

    Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen signaled today the U.S. Central Bank is ready to raise interest rates this year. But in a speech, she also said that could change because the economic outlook is — quote — “highly uncertain.”

    Meanwhile, hopes for a Greek bailout deal buoyed Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 210 points to close at 17760. The Nasdaq rose 75 points and the S&P added 25. For the week, the Dow gained a fraction of 1 percent. The Nasdaq and the S&P fell a fraction.

    It turns out that the suspect in the church shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, should have been legally barred from buying his .45-caliber handgun. The FBI said today that a background check failed to spot Dylann Roof’s arrest for drug possession weeks earlier. FBI Director James Comey said he blames incomplete and inaccurate paperwork.

    The Charleston shootings led directly to removing the Confederate Battle Flag from South Carolina’s state capitol grounds today. An estimated 10,000 people cheered and chanted as an honor guard of state troopers lowered the banner. Longtime civil rights activists were jubilant.

    REV. NELSON B. RIVERS, National Action Network: It’s a great day in South Carolina because for the first time in my life, the state has said that we’re all one and all lives matter and, if it offends us, we will take it down. And for all these years, the state wouldn’t do it. But it was done today. It’s an awesome day.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Confederate banner had been on the state capitol grounds for more than 50 years. After being taken down today, it was moved to a nearby museum.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is upping the warnings on some popular anti-inflammatory drugs. The agency says the change affects non-aspirin painkillers like ibuprofen and naproxen sold over the counter and by prescription. New labels will add to existing warnings about increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

    The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly today to speed new treatments to market. The bill is meant to expedite approval of drugs and medical devices by the Food and Drug Administration. It also boosts funding for biomedical research by nearly $9 billion. Consumer groups warned that the bill will weaken safeguards against potentially dangerous products. The Senate has yet to take up the issue.

    In Yemen, fighting raged on, even as a U.N.-brokered humanitarian truce was supposed to take effect. Saudi-led airstrikes blasted Shiite rebel targets in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital city. The rebels, in turn, shelled the city of Aden.

    A U.N. spokesman said both sides had agreed to stop fighting.

    AHMAD FAWZI, United Nations Spokesman: If this humanitarian pause is respected, during any humanitarian pause, the humanitarian agencies and their partners aim to reach people in need with essential supplies, and that includes everything, medicine, vaccination, food, water, fuel.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The truce is supposed to last for a week, and aims to get aid to some 21 million people.

    The U.N. Refugee Agency sounded the alarm today over a flood of refugees into Greece, even as that country faces bankruptcy. More than 77,000 migrants have landed on Greek islands this year, an average of 1,000 per day. The U.N. appealed to the European Union to step in before the situation gets worse.

    WILLIAM SPINDLER, International Organization for Migration: We have seen huge expressions of solidarity from the Greek people, the Greek public, organizing distributions of food, water, milk for the babies and so on, which is particularly moving, given the economic situation in Greece. But Greece urgently needs help, and we expect Europe to step forward.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: More than 60 percent of the migrants arriving in Greece are fleeing the war in Syria.

    New York City turned out today to celebrate the U.S. women’s soccer team and their World Cup victory. Throngs lined streets in Lower Manhattan for a ticker tape parade. It was a first for a women’s sport team, and fans held signs and chanted “USA.” The Americans beat Japan last weekend for a record Third World Cup championship.

    And actor Omar Sharif has died. His passing today ended a career that made him a global star in the 1960s. He made his international debut with this scene, as a bedouin tribal leader, Sherif Ali, on camelback, killing a man with one rifle shot.

    OMAR SHARIF, Actor: He is dead.

    PETER O’TOOLE, Actor: Yes. Why?

    OMAR SHARIF: This is my well.

    PETER O’TOOLE: I have drunk from it.

    OMAR SHARIF: You are welcome.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The 1962 classic “Lawrence of Arabia” earned Omar Sharif worldwide fame and an Oscar nomination. He’d been born Michel Chalhoub to Catholic parents in Egypt in 1932 in Egyptian, but later adopted the name Sharif, meaning noble in Arabic.

    Three years after “Lawrence” came “Dr. Zhivago.” Sharif played the title character, with Julie Christie as his mistress, Lara, in the epic drama of World War I and the Russian Revolution.

    JULIE CHRISTIE, Actress: Wouldn’t it have been lovely if we’d met before?

    OMAR SHARIF: Before we did. Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In 1968, Sharif starred as Nicky Arnstein, the Jewish gambler, in “Funny Girl,” opposite Barbra Streisand. A long drought of good roles followed, but in 2003, the French film “Monsieur Ibrahim” brought him new honors.

    Omar Sharif died today in Cairo of a heart attack. He was 83 years old.

    The post News Wrap: Charleston shooter should have failed gun background check, says FBI appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Potential Republican Presidential Candidate Scott Walker speaks during the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, Colorado on June 27, 2015. Gov. Scott Walker's bid for presidency was prematurely announced on Twitter this past Friday. Photo by Mark Leffingwell/Reuters

    Potential Republican Presidential Candidate Scott Walker speaks during the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, Colorado on June 27, 2015. Gov. Scott Walker’s bid for presidency was prematurely announced on Twitter this past Friday. Photo by Mark Leffingwell/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Twitter says it’s investigating a premature presidential announcement that popped up on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s account Friday evening.

    The message, which was quickly deleted, said, “Scott Walker is running for president.”

    Twitter spokesman Nu Wexler said later, “We’re looking into today’s issue, and we’ve determined the Walker team was not at fault.”

    After the initial tweet, the Walker campaign did not deny responsibility, saying only, “Stay tuned for Governor Walker’s announcement on Monday.”

    Later, Walker press secretary AshLee Strong said, “We’re happy Twitter confirmed this wasn’t Team Walker’s post and are investigating what happened.”

    It’s no secret that Walker will enter the 2016 Republican presidential race in Wisconsin on Monday afternoon. He is set to become the 15th Republican presidential candidate after he confirms his intentions Monday.

    The post Walker tweet says he’s running in 2016, but who posted it? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) acknowledges the audience's applause at a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa, United States, June 12, 2015. New Hampshire's primary ballot form will require Sanders to identify as an official member of a political party, a potential problem for Sanders' campaign as an independent. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

    Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) acknowledges the audience’s applause at a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa, United States, June 12, 2015. New Hampshire’s primary ballot form will require Sanders to identify as an official member of a political party, a potential problem for Sanders’ campaign as an independent. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

    CONCORD, N.H. — From his run for mayor of Burlington to numerous campaigns for Congress, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has for more than three decades eschewed traditional party labels in his pursuit of political office, winning election after election as an independent.

    As he seeks the presidency as a Democrat, that unwillingness to be pigeonholed could be a liability in New Hampshire. To get on the ballot in the first-in-the-nation primary state, candidates must fill out paperwork that requires them to identify as a registered member of a political party.

    “I don’t know if it will be a problem,” New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner said when asked whether Sanders’ independent status could keep him off the ballot.

    New Hampshire officials won’t take up a case against Sanders without a complaint, Gardner said. A formal challenge to Sanders’ eligibility would likely make its way to the state’s Ballot Law Commission, the arbiter of such questions. Former Republican U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass raised the issue of Sanders’ eligibility in a recent Washington Post opinion piece.

    “In short, Sanders is not a Democrat, has not been elected as a Democrat, has never served as a Democrat and cannot plausibly claim, at least in New Hampshire, to be a Democrat,” Bass wrote.

    Sanders’ campaign isn’t worried.

    “We think it will work out,” Sanders’ spokesman Michael Briggs told The Associated Press. “The senator has said that he’ll do whatever it takes that he can do to qualify for the ballot.”

    Although New Hampshire’s form asks candidates to declare their party registration, Vermont is one of a number of states where voters do not register with a party. Candidates, however, must consent to run in a specific party’s primary, said Chris Winters, Vermont’s deputy secretary of state.

    In Sanders’ 2006 and 2012 elections to the U.S. Senate, he consented to run in the Democratic primary. After getting the most votes in that contest, Sanders then rejected the nomination and ran as an independent in the general election, Winters said.

    In the past, Sanders often has said he doesn’t see enough daylight between Democrats and Republicans, arguing that both are too aligned with moneyed interests.

    During an unsuccessful 1986 race for governor as an independent, Sanders said, “It is time to stop the Tweedledee, Tweedledum politics of the Republican and Democratic parties.”

    It’s not as if his home-state Democrats are pining for a national party standard-bearer: Vermont Democrats including Gov. Peter Shumlin, former Gov. Howard Dean and Sen. Patrick Leahy are all backing former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2016 campaign.

    In Congress, Sanders caucuses with Democrats and is the party’s ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee. State and national Democratic officials don’t think the paperwork question will affect Sanders.

    “He is a Democratic candidate for president,” said Ray Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. He said the state party would immediately go to court to have Sanders’ name placed on the ballot if there is a challenge.

    So far, other Democrats expected on the ballot are Clinton, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former U.S. Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia.

    Clinton’s campaign says it is prepared for a competitive primary and fully expects Sanders to be on the New Hampshire primary ballot.

    Gardner, a staunch protector of the state’s primary, said the wording about being registered in a party is included to help ensure integrity in elections. In New Hampshire, a voter must register with a particular party to vote in that party’s primary.

    “What applies to the voters, applies to the candidates,” he said.

    But, Gardner said, it’s too early to speculate on Sanders’ political fate.

    “It’s a whole series of hypotheticals,” he said.

    This report was written by Kathleen Ronayne of the Associated Press.

    The post Can Sanders qualify for the NH ballot as an independent? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Another Serena Slam is on the books.

    Serena Williams of the U.S.A reacts after winning the first set of her Women's Final match against Garbine Muguruza of Spain at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, July 11, 2015.                                              REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett - RTX1JZQC

    Williams reacts after winning the first set of Saturday’s match. Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters.

    On Saturday, Serena Williams beat Spain’s Garbine Muguruza 6-4, 6-4 in the women’s singles final of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships in London.

    The win earned Williams a second “Serena Slam,” which means she holds all four Grand Slam titles at once. It was also her sixth Wimbledon title and 21st major overall.

    “I can’t believe I’m standing here with another Serena Slam,” Williams told the crowd after the match.

    At 33, Williams is the oldest woman to win a Grand Slam title in the Open era, the Associated Press reported. She has now won eight major championships in her 30s.

    And if Williams wins at the U.S. Open in September, she’ll become the first player to sweep all four majors in the same season since Steffi Graf in 1988.

    Serena Williams plays a backhand in the in the women's singles final at the 2015 Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, England. Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images.

    Williams plays a backhand in the in the women’s singles final at the 2015 Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London. Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images.

    Serena Williams embraces Garbine Muguruza of Spain after winning their Women's Final match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, July 11, 2015.  Photo by Toby Melville/Reuters.

    Williams embraces Muguruza after winning their match on Saturday. Photo by Toby Melville/Reuters.

    Serena Williams shows off the trophy after winning at Wimbledon on Saturday. Photo by Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters.

    Williams shows off the trophy after winning at Wimbledon on Saturday. Photo by Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters.

    Serena Williams lifts the trophy after winningon July 11, 2015.  Photo by Dominic Lipinski/Reuters.

    Williams lifts the trophy after winningon July 11, 2015. Photo by Dominic Lipinski/Reuters.

    Garbine Muguruza of Spain reacts with her runner up trophy after losing her Women's Final match against Serena Williams at Wimbledon on Saturday.  Photo by Sean Dempsey/Reuters.

    Muguruza reacts with her runner up trophy after losing the match against Williams at Wimbledon on Saturday. Photo by Sean Dempsey/Reuters.

    Serena Williams leaves the court with the Venus Rosewater Dish after her victory in the during day twelve of Wimbledon at the Croquet Club on July 11, 2015 in London, England. Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images.

    Williams leaves the court with the Venus Rosewater Dish after her victory in the during day twelve of Wimbledon at the Croquet Club on July 11, 2015 in London. Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images.

    The post Serena Williams nets another ‘Serena Slam’ with Wimbledon win appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Courtesy: American Masters NOT FOR REUSE

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    MARY MCDONAGH MURPHY: I think it’s exciting for readers to see what happened to Scout and to find out where she went and how she did. So that — is a big part of the book. Scout’s in New York, she’s traveling home, and then of course to see Atticus at an advanced age.

    He’s 72, he’s got rheumatoid arthritis, and the relationship between a grown up daughter and her father is a big, big part of the book.

    STEPHEN FEE: Murphy had the rare opportunity to speak with Harper Lee just weeks ago in the author’s hometown, Monroeville, Alabama. Lee has trouble hearing, so Murphy wrote down one question for the author.

    MARY MCDONAGH MURPHY: I held up the book and I held up my question which was, did you ever think you would see this published? Because of course it was handed in in 1957 and set aside, and she said, don’t be silly. Of course I did.

    STEPHEN FEE: And what did that tell you about who Harper Lee is, I mean even just that little sliver?

    MARY MCDONAGH MURPHY: I think it tells you that Harper Lee actually really doesn’t like being asked questions.

    STEPHEN FEE: While the Atticus Finch in the new book, Go Set a Watchman, holds racist views and denounces integration — the Atticus of To Kill a Mockingbird has long been held up as an example of courage.

    In Murphy’s film, Harper Lee: American Masters, celebrities and authors discuss the impact To Kill a Mockingbird had on their lives.

    OPRAH WINFREY: This was one of the first books I wanted to encourage other people to read. You know, read this book, read this book, read this book!

    BROKAW: “‘Scout, simply by the nature of the work, every lawyer gets at least one case in his lifetime that affects him personally.’
    The small town, the personal relationships, the place of a lawyer, the place of race in the south, it’s all encapsulated in that and again he wasn’t mounting some altar to give her a sermon.”

    STEPHEN FEE: And in Murphy’s film, civil rights leader Andrew Young says the Atticus of ‘Mockingbird’ represents a generation of lawyers who helped bring about the civil rights movement.

    ANDREW YOUNG: For me, he represents a generation of intelligent white lawyers, who eventually in the 50s and 60s became the federal judges that changed the south.

    STEPHEN FEE: So this book is coming out at a time when all these racial tensions are in the headlines every day. Does that make this publication have a little bit more of an impact right now?

    MARY MCDONAGH MURPHY: I think it was always going to have an impact.

    And I think as long as there’s any kind of racial tension and injustice and intolerance, anything Harper Lee has to say is going to resonate. And I think Go Set a Watchman is a piece of social history in a way. It looks back at Alabama in the mid-50s when a lot of things that are at issue today were fermenting.

    STEPHEN FEE: Is there pressure here for this book to be as meaningful, as important to so many people as To Kill a Mockingbird was?

    MARY MCDONAGH MURPHY: I think that everybody’s expectation is high, and you know anyone who loved Harper Lee’s voice the first time is going to want to hear it again. As Harper Lee herself said about To Kill a Mockingbird, I have nowhere to go but down. I mean it’s a function of what happens when you have something that’s that enormous and that powerful and that enduring. So I’m sure expectations are high and I’m sure some people will think they’re met and some people won’t.
    I’m not a book critic, so I’ll leave that to them.

    The post Inside the life of the famously reclusive Harper Lee appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump discusses undocumented immigrants at a news conference in Beverly Hills, California, July 10, 2015. Trump is scheduled to speak Saturday in Phoenix, Arizona, where the candidate's positions on immigration have divided local GOP leaders. Photo by Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters

    GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump discusses immigration in Beverly Hills, California, July 10, 2015. Trump is scheduled to speak Saturday in Arizona, where his positions on immigration have divided local GOP leaders. Photo by Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters

    PHOENIX — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is drawing larger crowds as he continues to criticize immigration policies in stark language that has revealed a deep divide between immigration hawks and moderates who are trying to avoid alienating Hispanic voters.

    On Saturday, Trump was scheduled to campaign in Nevada and then in Arizona, where the real estate developer and reality TV star has developed a large following. A rally in Phoenix was first planned at a posh resort that could handle about 1,000 guests, but organizers moved it to the city’s convention center.

    Trump’s descriptions of Mexican immigrants bringing drugs and crime to the U.S. and being rapists have been roundly denounced as offensive. But his message about the broken border has resonated with many in the GOP, especially after an immigrant who was deported multiple times was accused of killing a woman on a San Francisco pier.

    In Los Angeles for a rally Friday evening, Trump brought together people who said their relatives had been killed by immigrants in the U.S. illegally. “The illegals come in and the illegals killed their children,” he said. “And we better get smart in the United States.”

    Arizona’s major Chamber of Commerce group, both U.S. senators and a host of other GOP backers heaped their ire on Trump as the visit to Phoenix drew near. Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who met presidential hopefuls Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker when they were in the state, is snubbing Trump. Protesters like the ones who greeted Trump in Los Angeles were expected.

    Maricopa County’s tough-on-immigration sheriff, Joe Arpaio, is set to speak before Trump at the convention center event.

    Sen. Jeff Flake, who with Sen. John McCain sponsored a 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill that stalled when it reached the House, said Trump’s views “are coarse, ill-informed and inaccurate, and they are not representative of the Republican Party. As an elected Republican official, I’m disappointed the county party would host a speaker that so damages the party’s image.”

    McCain, in a statement issued Friday, said, “If the Republican nominee for president does not support comprehensive immigration reform and border security policy, we have no chance of defeating Hillary Clinton and winning the White House in 2016.”

    But A.J. LaFaro, former head of the Maricopa County Republican Party, rejected those views. “With regards to McCain, Flake and the chambers, I don’t respect any of those people anyway, so why would I care?” Lafaro said. “They’re not representative of my conservative Christian values. I understand that Mr. Trump is saying what a lot of people here in the United States, I would like to think a majority of the people here in the Unites States, are thinking.”

    Trump’s comments after a June 16 campaign kickoff speech helped revive immigration as a campaign issue but also prompted a series of cancellations from companies that do business with him or his companies.

    Trump begins Saturday speaking in Las Vegas at the libertarian-minded gathering Freedom Fest. Nevada is 27 percent Hispanic and a key state for Republican candidates. His appearance at the conference, which bills itself as an egalitarian event for free-thinkers to discuss and celebrate liberty, was a recent addition to a lineup that included Rubio on Friday night.

    This report was written by Bob Christie of the Associated Press.

    The post Trump’s stance on immigration divides Arizona GOP appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Typhoon Chan-hom, packing winds of up to 110 miles per hour, hit the southeast coast of China in Zhejiang province Saturday morning, forcing more than a million people to evacuate coastal cities, Reuters reported.

    A wave from Typhoon Chan-hom hits the shore next to residential buildings in Wenling, Zhejiang province in China on July 10, 2015. Over 1 million people have been evacuated from coastal cities as the strongest typhoon in 35 years hits eastern China. Photo by Stringer/Reuters

    A wave from Typhoon Chan-hom hits the shore next to residential buildings in Wenling, Zhejiang province in China on July 10, 2015. Over 1 million people have been evacuated from coastal cities as the strongest typhoon in 35 years hits eastern China. Photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Hundreds of flights were grounded, tens of thousands of ships were docked, and several of the country’s railway services in the affected areas were canceled, as typhoon warnings were issued in cities along the 400-mile coastal zone from Shanghai to Fujian province.

    Pedestrians hold their umbrellas against strong winds as Typhoon Chan-Hom hits Shanghai, China, July 11, 2015. Treacherous rain and harsh winds have forced highways, railways, and airports to cancel services. Photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Pedestrians hold their umbrellas against strong winds as Typhoon Chan-Hom hits Shanghai, China, July 11, 2015. Treacherous rain and harsh winds have forced highways, railways, and airports to cancel services. Photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Typhoon Chan-hom is the strongest typhoon to hit within 200 miles of Shanghai in the past 35 years, according to Weather Underground’s Dr. Jeff Masters.

    People look on as waves from Typhoon Chan-hom hit the shore in Wenling, Zhejiang province in China on July 10, 2015. Typhoon warnings have been distributed across almost all coastal cities in east China as Typhoon Chan-hom affects areas between Shanghai, Fujian province, and Taiwan. Photo by William Hong/Reuters

    People look on as waves from Typhoon Chan-hom hit the shore in Wenling, Zhejiang province in China on July 10, 2015. Typhoon warnings have been distributed across almost all coastal cities in east China as Typhoon Chan-hom is affecting areas all between Shanghai, Fujian province, and Taiwan. Photo by William Hong/Reuters

    No casualties have been reported, but about 390 square miles of farmland have been affected and around 100 homes collapsed from the winds and rain, Chinese news service Xinhua reported.

    An aerial view shows boats being anchored in a bay as Typhoon Chan-Hom approaches Taizhou, Zhejiang province in China on July 9, 2015. Tens of thousands of ships were called back to port as sea levels rise to dangerous heights. Photo by Stringer/Reuters

    An aerial view shows boats being anchored in a bay as Typhoon Chan-hom approaches Taizhou, Zhejiang province in China on July 9, 2015. Tens of thousands of ships were called back to port as sea levels rise to dangerous heights. Photo by Stringer/Reuters

    The Provincial Flood Control and Drought Prevention Headquarters in Zhejiang province expected the agricultural sector to be hit the hardest, estimating $2 billion yuan in agricultural losses.

    A farmer walks among a flooded watermelon field as heavy rainfall from Typhoon Chan-hom, hits Sanmen county, Zhejiang province in China on July 11, 2015. Many local enterprises have been forced to close due to the typhoon, but the agricultural sector is expected to be hit the hardest with economic losses. Photo by William Hong/Reuters

    A farmer walks among a flooded watermelon field as heavy rainfall from Typhoon Chan-hom, hits Sanmen county, Zhejiang province in China on July 11, 2015. Many local enterprises have been forced to close due, but the agricultural sector will be hit the hardest with economic losses. Photo by William Hong/Reuters

    The post Photos: Typhoon Chan-hom, the strongest in 35 years, slams China’s east coast appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A Harvard Medical Study revealed that online symptom checkers like WebMD are not entirely effective at diagnosing illnesses. Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    A Harvard Medical Study revealed that online symptom checkers like WebMD are not entirely effective at diagnosing illnesses. Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    If you’re guilty of Googling your symptoms at the first sign of pain in your side or a scratch in your throat, take heed. A new study published this week found that online symptom checkers often give inaccurate diagnoses.

    In the first large-scale study of its kind, researchers at Harvard Medical School discovered that symptom checkers like Web M.D., the Mayo Clinic, DocResponse and others that prompt users to type in their symptoms and provide a diagnosis using a computer algorithm, were only effective about one-third of the time.

    In the study, researchers created a list of symptoms based on 45 illnesses and input them into 23 commonly used websites hosted by medical schools, hospitals, insurance companies and government agencies based in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Poland. In many cases, users should be cautious and not take the information they receive from online symptom checkers as gospel.

    The results? The online checkers provided the correct diagnosis 34 percent of the time, listed the correct diagnosis within the top 20 results 58 percent of the time and provided the appropriate triage advice 57 percent of the time. 

    The bottom line: “It is not nearly as important for a patient with fever, headache, stiff neck and confusion to know whether they have meningitis or encephalitis as it is for them to know that they should get to a doctor quickly,” senior study author Ateev Mehrotra, associate professor of health care policy and medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in a statement.

    “In many cases, users should be cautious and not take the information they receive from online symptom checkers as gospel.”

    The study acknowledged that online symptom checkers are part of a growing trend in our digital world of both patients and physicians turning to the Internet for many health-related questions. Patients increasingly email and chat online with physicians for medical advice, and more doctors diagnose illnesses and provide patient care through e-visits and smartphone apps.

    “With symptom trackers, we are looking at the first generation of a new technology,” first study author and research assistant Hannah Semigram said. “It is important to continue to track their performance to see if they can reach their full potential in helping patients get the right care.”

    The post Just how accurate are online symptom checkers? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). Courtroom drama film in which Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge. Stars: Gregory Peck. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty images)

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: Joining us now to discuss “Go Set a Watchman” is Sam Sacks, who reviewed it for the fiction chronicle of the “Weekend Journal.”

    So, I’m thinking Gregory Peck in my head. But it’s Atticus Finch, the character. And in this book, you say it’s distressing what’s happened to him.

    SAM SACKS, WEEKEND JOURNAL: Yes. Atticus Finch is revealed to be a segregationist, someone who joins an organization to resist the integration movement that happened after Brown versus Board of Education.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And this was a book that Harper Lee wrote before “To Kill a Mockingbird”, so it’s not sequentially a sequel.

    SAM SACKS: Exactly. She wrote it as a draft. It was the first thing she submitted to her editor. Her editor said, well, why don’t you do it when Scout is a child instead of a 26 year old?

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, really the editor should get credit for how significant “To Kill a Mockingbird” became, right? I mean, that’s a book we all pick up in elementary or middle school. It’s one of the most kind of important pieces of literature in America that gives — at least me as an immigrant, an insight to what this country was about at some point, right?

    So, how are readers likely to receive what they think of as real reshaping of one of the biggest characters in American literature?

    SAM SACKS: Well, it’s going to be really interesting. A lot of people are going to be extremely shocked and upset first of all because of their idea of Atticus Finch, who really is a symbol, he’s an icon, he’s moral conscience of the United States. Well, that’s all been tarnished now. So, what do you with that, you have a much more complex and complicated image of this character now, much more dimensional.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And it’s not just I guess the reader. Even in the book, you point out that there’s a quote in there from Scout, the older Scout, “I’ll never believe a word you say to me again, I despise you and everything you stand for.”

    SAM SACKS: Yes, it’s interesting, isn’t it? Because Scout has the exact same reaction to the discovery she makes about her father that the reader is going to have. She’s just as letdown, she’s just as disappointed. And the book is about, well, can she empathize with him anyway?

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, is there the possibility for this book to become as significant or does this change whether middle schools hand out “To Kill a Mockingbird”?

    SAM SACKS: It’s a very good question. It absolutely complicates “To Kill a Mockingbird”. You now have to teach that book in a very different way. You can’t pretend like this book doesn’t exist. So, now, you have to say, OK, this is one picture of Atticus Finch, but there’s another picture of him too.

    It gives us a much more complicated picture of the South during that age, and of race relations in the U.S. It’s less aspirational, it’s less idealistic and it’s less flattering — but maybe it’s more interesting in the long run.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And the fact that this is 50 years later from the same author — I mean, I don’t know of times — if that’s happened before.

    SAM SACKS: No, I can’t think of any precedent for it. There have been other books that have had sequels, like “Gone With the Wind” had sequels, but they were written by different authors, so they really only exist in a provisional way. It’s not the same thing at all.

    You can’t discount this book’s existence now. It lives with “To Kill a Mockingbird”, side by side with it.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And this is being released at the time when a conversation about race in America has resurfaced in several ways in the past six months.

    SAM SACKS: It’s fascinating. It really shows you that race is such a central issue in the United States. The issue of the Confederate flag — people are going to be thinking of that as they read this book and it’s resurfaced again.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, any talk about why she waited so long?

    SAM SACKS: Well, it was a draft. We don’t really know. We don’t have any access to her or her thoughts. It was her, the executor of her estate who has decided to it, her lawyer in essence, says that she found this manuscript and put it out to the world. But we don’t really know the history of it or what she thinks.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Sam Sacks, who reviewed “Go Set a Watchman” for the fiction chronicle of the “Weekend Journal” — thanks so much for joining us.

    SAM SACKS: Thank you.

    The post ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ sequel reveals dark side of Atticus Finch appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    An investor looks at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai, China, July 10, 2015. Chinese stocks rose strongly for a second day on Friday, buoyed by a barrage of government support measures, but worries persist about the long-term impact that four weeks of stock market turmoil may have on the world's second-largest economy. REUTERS/Aly Song      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX1JTDV

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR ANCHOR: And in China, the government might have stopped or slowed-down the mass sell-off that crashed its stock market this week.

    Shares there have fallen by nearly a third in less than a month — wiping out almost $4 trillion in wealth.

    After serious losses early this week, stocks actually rallied yesterday and Thursday, possibly because Beijing injected $19 billion to the country’s biggest brokerage firms. The firms are using the money to buy stocks and slow down the sell-offs.

    So how concerned should we be about China’s stock crash and are there other looming issues beyond the stock market?

    Joining us from Boston is Orville Schell, who heads the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society.

    So, Orville, just to keep in perspective, I was looking back at the charge, the two major indexes there have doubled — I mean, more than a hundred percent in the past 12 months. That still leaves them up 60 percent or 70 percent, and that’s a figure most of us can’t wrap our heads around.

    ORVILLE SCHELL, ASIA SOCIETY: So, this was really a very obvious bubble in the making. I think what made it difficult for everybody to see this specific bubble was that we are quite accustomed to finding the anomalous, the exceptional, the unusual in Chinese economy and indeed in the whole Chinese experiments.

    So, we never know whether this is part of the new extraordinary inexplicable Chinese model, whether it’s something heading for the abyss.

    In this case, it was headed for an abyss.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: A lot of times people think of the economy and the stock market in synonymous terms but in China it’s not quite the case. When it got too hot, the government jumped in, they cool it down, and now, they’re jumping in to try and stem the sell-off.

    ORVILLE SCHELL: Yes. And I must say — as huge as the market is in China, and with Hong Kong, it’s the second largest stock market in the world, still, it is relatively discrete in terms of its connection to the economy as a whole.

    Then I think, finally, actually, it will certainly have some effect but it’s not going to be a do or die matter for China’s economy in general. So, that’s important to remember.

    I think actually the consequences, as serious as they could be in some peripheral ways for the economy, will be even greater in the political social realm, and particularly in regard to the leadership — sort of ability to continue to evoke this sense of its omnipotence and invincibility.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what sort of economic ripple effects do you see here? I mean, if there’s less wealth in the market or in the country, then — does that mean that demand dries up and China buys less from the rest of the world?

    Or do their commodity prices decrease? And does that mean that things are cheaper for the rest of the world to buy?

    ORVILLE SCHELL: Well, I think, you know, there were a lot of people stampeding into the market, very unsophisticated buyers.

    And, clearly, this is going to hamper their ability to continue to be really ardent consumers. We’re already seeing that. You know, car sales are down, a lot of people sort of — housing is a big problem. Some people were on margin.

    Huge amounts of borrowed money to go into the stock market and in some cases, putting houses up as collateral. So, there are going to be — certainly, are going to be ripple effects.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Does the government in China have a choice in not stepping in?

    I mean, if people, especially retail consumers who jumped into the market late saw huge losses — I mean, is there the threat of political instability, of people being frustrated with the government that rallied them on to buy?

    ORVILLE SCHELL: Well, clearly, the party and the state felt that they were under threat if the market continued to tank. But, you know, this is again this anomalous situation where it’s sort of the pottery barn, you break it you own it.

    So, I think the party in a sense took ownership of the market whereas in most countries, stock markets are not considered the providence of the state or the government.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Orville Schell of the Asia Society, joining us from Boston today — thanks so much.

    ORVILLE SCHELL: Pleasure.

    The post What’s behind the boom and bust cycles in Chinese markets? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Thousands participate in the anti-abortion March for Life past the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court, January 22, 2015. GOP presidential hopefuls convened in New Orleans Friday to try to distinguish their anti-abortion credentials. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Thousands participate in the anti-abortion March for Life past the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court, January 22, 2015. GOP presidential hopefuls convened in New Orleans Friday to try to distinguish their anti-abortion credentials. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    NEW ORLEANS — Trying to distinguish themselves in front of an important group of social conservative activists, Republican White House hopefuls on Friday used the National Right to Life Convention to share personal stories and detail the abortion restrictions they’ve helped write into law.

    The question now is whether the scramble helps or hinders an anti-abortion movement seeking unity as Republicans look to win back the presidency next November.

    National Right to Life Political Director Karen Cross urged the assembly to “make a decision right now that the issue of life trumps all else.”

    “There is no such thing as the perfect candidate,” she warned.

    Carol Tobias, the group’s president, argued in an interview that President Barack Obama benefited in both of his national victories from social conservatives who didn’t back John McCain in 2008 or Mitt Romney in 2012.

    “The quickest way to defeat a pro-lifer,” Tobias said, “is to fall in love with your candidate and then get your feelings hurt when they don’t win the nomination.”

    The candidates gave repeated nods to those sentiments, praising each other and hammering Democratic favorite Hillary Rodham Clinton, who supports abortion rights. Still, they spent most of their energy asserting their own conservative supremacy on the issue.

    An Associated Press-GfK poll conducted in January and February found that 51 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 45 percent think it should be illegal in most or all cases.

    Santorum boasted of how he sponsored the federal law that bans certain late-term abortion procedures after initially soft-pedaling his abortion stance because of Pennsylvania’s closely divided electorate.

    “You know me; there’s no quit in this dog,” he said. “Go ahead and nominate somebody who’s just going to go along. Then try to convince yourself you’ll make a difference.”

    Rick Perry predicted the next president will nominate as many as four Supreme Court justices – who could presumably overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationally. “If I have the opportunity to put justices on the Supreme Court, they will not be squishy,” the former Texas governor said.

    Florida Sen. Marco Rubio explained his abortion opposition as “inseparable from the effort to reclaim the American dream … for every child,” and recalled abortion restrictions he helped pass as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

    Jeb Bush, whose tenure as Florida governor overlapped Rubio’s speakership, mentioned some of the same laws in a video presentation. He did not physically attend the convention.

    Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, has never held elected office, but he blasted abortion providers as “evil.”

    Tobias said her group doesn’t wade into primaries in part because it’s hard to find meaningful distinctions between candidates, though she acknowledged the campaigns will find them.

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie supported abortion rights earlier in his career, something he generally avoids talking about now.

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker celebrated passage of a new state ban on most abortions beyond the 20th week of pregnancy. Yet late in his 2014 re-election campaign, he aired an ad in which he affirmed his abortion opposition while emphasizing that Wisconsin law “leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor.”

    South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has sponsored a ban on abortions after 20 weeks. But some conservatives blast him for voting to confirm Obama’s two Supreme Court nominees.

    Tobias said those details sometimes matter to abortion opponents, but she maintained that nitpicking is counter-productive.

    For many anti-abortion voters, she said, choosing a primary candidate is about “trust” and “personal feel” rather than policy. The candidates’ approaches here suggest they understand that.

    Rubio and Perry talked about seeing their children on ultrasounds during pregnancy. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, talked about how he gravitated to pediatric surgery because of how much he values children.

    Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal talked Thursday night about having to defend his anti-abortion stance in his interviews for medical school.

    Santorum tells the story of doctors advising that his daughter, Bella, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder, would not have a good quality of life and could die as an infant. “There is no better way to preach the gospel of life,” Santorum said Friday, than to have school-age Bella “in the White House.”

    Public opinion, meanwhile, remains divided.

    An Associated Press-GfK poll conducted in January and February found that 51 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 45 percent think it should be illegal in most or all cases.

    At NARAL Pro-Choice America, a leading abortion rights advocacy group, Sasha Bruce said that means Republicans “are fighting over a slice of the minority,” putting them at a disadvantage in November.

    Tobias countered that among voters who rank abortion as a key issue in deciding on a candidate, “we win a majority of them.” Her movement’s job, she said, is to increase the share of voters who cast their vote “based on the life issue. If we do, we win.”

    Bruce said her organization is focused on educating general election voters about the success abortion opponents have had limiting abortion access through state-by-state restrictions. “They aren’t overturning Roe v. Wade, but they’re just chipping away,” she said.

    The post GOP primary candidates compete for anti-abortion vote appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A woman walks past a closed restaurant in Ponce, on Puerto Rico's southern coast, February 5, 2014. Standard & Poor's cut Puerto Rico's credit rating to junk status, in the latest blow to an economy that has been battling chronic recession, population decline and a perennial budget shortfall that has left it with $70 billion in debt. REUTERS/Alvin Baez (PUERTO RICO - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS) - RTX189FA

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: Now to financial trouble in Puerto Rico, where leaders want to declare bankruptcy, but cannot, unless the U.S. Congress changes the law.

    Puerto Rico announced last month it simply cannot pay $72 billion in debt. Congressional Democrats want to allow limited bankruptcy relief, but Republicans say it’s not enough and that leaders need to address the territory’s underlying budget issues.

    Ironically, a new report in The Washington Post says Congress has actually played a contributing role in the fiscal trouble of the U.S. commonwealth.

    Joining us now with the details, from Baltimore, is Michael Fletcher, who has been covering the story.

    You were just down there a few weeks ago. So, what’s the U.S. responsibility in this crises?

    MICHAEL FLETCHER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, it’s interesting. The political economy has been skewed for years by U.S. taxpayers essentially. In many ways, early on decades ago, that led to a kind of a development of the island as kind of this manufacturing hub, which is a very generous tax break.

    The first ones to clothing and shoe manufactures. Then in 1970s, it kind of shifted to more capital-intensive businesses like pharmaceutical manufacturing. And that made Puerto Rico into one of the top prescription drug manufacturers in the world. At one point, something like 13 of the top 20 prescription drugs are actually made in Puerto Rico.

    And in many ways, that development took away from other things the island might have done naturally, like develop more, its tourism sector or what have you.

    It was fine as long as the tax break lasted, but then in 1996, Congress did away, it began to phase out that tax break, and ti was fully phase out since 2006. And since then, Puerto Rico’s been in recession.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And they can’t declare bankruptcy like Detroit can.

    MICHAEL FLETCHER: They can’t. They’re treated just like states are under bankruptcy law, like municipalities and hospital districts, things like that.

    They can — they can declare bankruptcy which gives them breathing room to reorganize their debts, and Puerto Rico cannot do that. For the last nine, 10, 12 years, Puerto Rico has been stuck in the cycle of following more money basically to pay for its ongoing operations.

    Right now, close to half of the budget’s goes to debt service and this is just an unsustainable situation. So, now, the island is looking for at least some limited Chapter 9 relief.

    They want to be able to have sort of state-run corporations which on the island provide electricity, they take care of water and sewer and highways, they want the ability for those corporations at least to go to bankruptcy so they could work out something with creditors.

    And really the threat from Puerto Rico is that if there’s no Chapter 9 relief, there will be bankruptcy by another name. They’ll just default, and creditors will have to sue and this will be a dragged out process that will be no good for creditors and also very bad for the island as well.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, there’s also this political tension here. The Democratic candidates, even the White House is behind this Chapter 9 possible legislation that’s working its way through.

    But then, there’s some tension inside the Republican Party on some folks who might be concerned about the votes versus concerned about the hedge fund managers.

    MICHAEL FLETCHER: Exactly right. It’s kind of tugged two ways. A lot of the creditors, of course, are saying they don’t want Puerto Rico to have this bankruptcy option because that’s the reason they extended credit.

    They knew that the island couldn’t go into bankruptcy and they assume they’ve offered another layer of protection that the island doesn’t have to go that much farther to pay those debts. So, there’s that.

    But, also, you look at states like Florida, where you have an increasing Puerto Rican population.

    There’s been a flight from Puerto Rico, for all these economic problems, and a lot of people are going to central Florida, others go to New York, of course, or Philadelphia. But that creates this kind of political pressure to do something.

    And I think both Democrats and Republicans feel that. But many Republicans don’t like the idea of bankruptcy.

    Some equated to a bailout, which is interesting. I don’t see quite how that’s a government bailout. But nonetheless they sort of feel the sense that Puerto Rico has to somehow pay this debt.

    But given the way that cycle working, it seems unlikely that they’ll be able to do that, barring some unforeseen economic expansion.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Michael Fletcher of The Washington Post, joining us from Baltimore — thanks so much.

    MICHAEL FLETCHER: My pleasure.

    The post Everything you should know about Puerto Rico’s debt crisis appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Women and children pose inside their temporary shelter at a school turned into an evacuation centre for flood victims in Meycauayan Bulacan, north of Manila in the Philippines, on July 10, 2015. The United Nations Population Fund, (UNFPA) called on humanitarian agencies to redouble efforts in addressing the special needs of vulnerable populations as nations observe World Population Day on July 11, a statement said.  Photo by Erik De Castro/Reuters

    Women and children pose inside their temporary shelter at a school turned into an evacuation centre for flood victims in Meycauayan Bulacan, north of Manila in the Philippines, on July 10, 2015. The United Nations Population Fund, (UNFPA) called on humanitarian agencies to redouble efforts in addressing the special needs of vulnerable populations as nations observe World Population Day on July 11, a statement said. Photo by Erik De Castro/Reuters

    As the number of people in the world displaced by disaster and war has reached record numbers, attention on World Population Day on Saturday turned to the plight of the most vulnerable: women and girls.

    “With nearly 60 million individuals having fled conflict or disaster, women and adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement. “Not since the end of the Second World War have so many people been forced from their homes across the planet.”

    “Not since the end of the Second World War have so many people been forced from their homes across the planet,” he said.

    This year, a natural disaster in Nepal, refugee crises across the Middle East due to the conflict in Syria and various Islamic insurgencies, and migrant crises in Myanmar and the Mediterranean, as well as a steady flow of migrants from South and Central America seeking economic opportunity in North America, propelled the numbers of displaced persons upward.

    On July 22, the U.N. Population Division will release its 24th official round of population estimates and projections.

    Below, take an inside look into the journeys and lives of several migrants, as captured by a group of international photojournalists.

    The images feature migrants along with their most prized possessions.

    Pakistani migrant Mohamed Ayub, 51, holding the most valuable item he currently owns, his empty wallet, at a deserted hotel used by immigrants for temporary shelter on the Greek island of Kos, May 27, 2015. Photo by Yannis Behrakis/Reuters

    Pakistani migrant Mohamed Ayub, 51, holding the most valuable item he currently owns, his empty wallet, at a deserted hotel used by immigrants for temporary shelter on the Greek island of Kos, on May 27, 2015. Photo by Yannis Behrakis/Reuters

    Eritrean migrant Dejen Asefaw, 24, waits with his bag to take a train in Bolzano, Italy, to the Brenner Alpine pass that marks the Italy-Austria border on May 28, 2015. Asefaw left Eritrea because he was drafted into the national military service, assigned to teach high school, and paid the equivalent of $5 per week. He said he could not survive on such a small salary. Asefaw wants to gain asylum in Sweden, where his brother lives, and get a job so that he can send money home. Photo by Stefano Rellandini/Reuters

    Eritrean migrant Dejen Asefaw, 24, waits with his bag to take a train in Bolzano, Italy, to the Brenner Alpine pass that marks the Italy-Austria border, on May 28, 2015. Asefaw left Eritrea because he was drafted into the national military service, assigned to teach high school, and paid the equivalent of $5 per week. He said he could not survive on such a small salary. Asefaw wants to gain asylum in Sweden, where his brother lives, and get a job so that he can send money home. Photo by Stefano Rellandini/Reuters

    Honduran migrant Gerson Leonel Bardal holds a rain poncho as his most precious belonging on the patio of the migrant shelter Posada Belen in Saltillo, Mexico, on June 3, 2015. Bardal says the poncho is his most precious belonging because it keeps him dry when it rains and prevents him from catching a cold on his way to the U.S. border. Photo by Daniel Becerril/Reuters

    Honduran migrant Gerson Leonel Bardal holds a rain poncho as his most precious belonging on the patio of the migrant shelter Posada Belen in Saltillo, Mexico, on June 3, 2015. Bardal says the poncho is his most precious belonging because it keeps him dry when it rains and prevents him from catching a cold on his way to the U.S. border. Photo by Daniel Becerril/Reuters

    Syrian migrant Feras, 22, and his possessions. He aims to be a computer technician in Germany. Photo by Antonio Parrinello/Reuters

    Syrian migrant Feras, 22, and his possessions. He aims to be a computer technician in Germany. Photo by Antonio Parrinello/Reuters

    Guatemalan immigrant Jennifer Mendez, 27, tries to board a train heading to the U.S.-Mexico border in Huehuetoca, Mexico with her possessions: a book, a cell phone and a wallet, on June 2, 2015. Mendez, was a surgeon in Guatemala, but left with the dream of studying in the United States. Photo by Edgard Garrido/Reuters

    Guatemalan immigrant Jennifer Mendez, 27, tries to board a train heading to the U.S.-Mexico border in Huehuetoca, Mexico with her possessions: a book, a cell phone and a wallet, on June 2, 2015. Mendez, was a surgeon in Guatemala, but left with the dream of studying in the United States. Photo by Edgard Garrido/Reuters

    Abdel Bachir, 20, a migrant from Chad with a pair of his shoes at a makeshift camp where he lives in front of the Austerlitz train station in the southeast of Paris, France, on May 28, 2015. Photo by Benoit Tessier/Reuters

    Abdel Bachir, 20, a migrant from Chad with a pair of his shoes at a makeshift camp where he lives, in front of the Austerlitz train station in the southeast of Paris, France, on May 28, 2015. Photo by Benoit Tessier/Reuters

    Libyan migrant Icham El Korati, 38, and his belongings at the railway station in Nice, France, on June 3, 2015. El Korati was a taxi driver and owner of a coffee bar in Misrata, but he left his country in March 2011 because of war. Photo by Eric Gaillard/Reuters

    Libyan migrant Icham El Korati, 38, and his belongings at the railway station in Nice, France, on June 3, 2015. El Korati was a taxi driver and owner of a coffee bar in Misrata, but he left his country in March 2011 because of war. Photo by Eric Gaillard/Reuters

    The post Photo essay: Migrants share their most cherished belongings appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Screen Shot 2015-07-11 at 5.58.16 PM

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    STEPHEN FEE: Most days, Ramiz Nukic trudges through the lush forests surrounding Srebrenica, searching for the remains of those killed two decades ago.
    He’s not a government official or a humanitarian worker. Just a survivor.

    RAMIZ NUKIC: “There is no place I don’t check. And if I find one bone, then I’m happy. Sometimes I feel sorry when I don’t find anything, and I’m happy when I find it. Someone’s family will find peace and closure with that bone.”

    STEPHEN FEE: It’s a grim recovery operation. And for Nukic, it’s personal. After Bosnian Serb forces closed on Srebrenica, he and thousands of other Bosnian Muslims escaped to these woods. But an ambush killed both his father and eldest brother. Nukic hid in the bushes until the massacre was over.

    RAMIZ NUKIC: “When I collected the courage to come up there again, when I went there, I saw scattered shoes, clothes. The chills went through my body. I was speechless. Numb.”

    STEPHEN FEE: Nukic’s efforts have led officials to identify nearly 300 Srebrenica victims. Since the war’s end, seven thousand bodies have been identified, a thousand still missing.

    STEPHEN FEE: It wasn’t until this year that the remains of Nukic’s father and brother were discovered –by someone else — in a mass grave nearby.
    He plans to bury his father today.

    RAMIZ NUKIC: “And I’m happy. Even though his body is not complete, I will bury him, what bones were left of him, and the rest?
    Only God knows.”

     

     

    The post To find ‘peace and closure,’ a grim search for Srebrenica massacre victims appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Hajra Catic poses under pictures of victims of the genocide in Tuzla. Catic is among several thousand of women who still search for the remains of their closest relatives 20 years after the Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys. With the help of Edmin Jakubovic who was the last person to see her son injured on the ground, Catic has been constantly searching for her son in the woods. Six months ago, she found a skull and a jaw, but the DNA results are still not available. She fears that if she doesn't find his remains, it will be as if he had never existed. All that is left of her son is his picture. Picture taken on June 11, 2015. Photo by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

    Hajra Catic poses under pictures of victims of the genocide in Tuzla. Catic is among several thousand women who still search for the remains of their closest relatives 20 years after the Srebrenica massacre. With the help of Edmin Jakubovic who was the last person to see her son injured on the ground, Catic has been constantly searching for her son in the woods. Six months ago, she found a skull and a jaw, but the DNA results are still not available. She fears that if she doesn’t find his remains, it will be as if he had never existed. All that is left of her son is his picture. Picture taken on June 11, 2015. Photo by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

    A commemoration for the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre was interrupted on Saturday when the arrival of Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic was met with jeers and rocks thrown from the assembled crowd.

    Vucic’s presence — along with dignitaries including former President Bill Clinton and European Union official Federica Mogherini — was meant to honor the estimated 8,000 Muslim men and boys who were executed in the massacre, but instead served to highlight some of the tension still felt among Bosnian Muslims.

    Just months before the end of the Bosnian War in 1995, Bosnian Serb forces attacked the town of Srebrenica, despite its designation as a “safe haven” by the United Nations. Eight thousand Muslims were rounded up and executed, their bodies scattered across the outskirts of Srebrenica.

    The massacre’s accused leaders, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, are still on trial at The Hague for their alleged war crimes.

    Today, families of approximately 1,000 of those believed dead have still yet to find any remains of their loved ones.

    On Saturday, 136 newly identified remains were ceremonially laid to rest, and their families were invited to formally mourn for the first time.

    A woman cries near a truck carrying 136 coffins of newly identified victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in front of the presidential building in Sarajevo July 9, 2015. The bodies of the 136 recently identified victims of Srebrenica massacre will be transported to the memorial centre in Potocari where they will be buried on July 11, the anniversary of the massacre when Bosnian Serb forces slaughtered 8,000 Muslim men and boys and buried them in mass graves in Europe's worst massacre since World War Two. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic - RTX1JOXN

    A woman cries near a truck carrying 136 coffins of newly identified victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in front of the presidential building in Sarajevo. Picture taken on July 9, 2015. Photo by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

    A woman searches for her relative's name on the coffins of newly identified victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, at the Memorial Center in Potocari near Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 9, 2015. The bodies of the 136 recently identified victims of Srebrenica massacre will be buried on July 11, the anniversary of the massacre when Bosnian Serb forces slaughtered 8,000 Muslim men and boys and buried them in mass graves in Europe's worst massacre since World War Two.  REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov  - RTX1JQXL

    A woman searches for her relative’s name on the coffins of newly identified victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, at the Memorial Center in Potocari near Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo by Stoyan Nenov/Reuters

    Emina Osmanovic is seen in her home in a refugee camp Bisca near Banovici, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 1, 2015. Emina is among several thousand women still searching for the remains of their closest relatives 20 years after the Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys. Emina Osmanovic, is still searching for her son. She lost 15 close family members. "I don't know what is worst. To find his bones and know for sure that he was killed. That he is gone. Or this waiting. Suspense." Picture taken on July 1, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic - RTX1IUDU

    Emina Osmanovic is seen in her home in a refugee camp near Banovici, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Osmanovic is still searching for her son. She lost 15 close family members in the massacre 20 years ago. “I don’t know what is worst. To find his bones and know for sure that he was killed. That he is gone. Or this waiting. Suspense.” Picture taken on July 1, 2015. Photo by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

    Emina Osmanovic's son Sakib is seen in a photo in refugee camp Bisca near Banovici, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 1, 2015. Emina is among several thousand women still searching for the remains of their closest relatives 20 years after the Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys. Emina Osmanovic, is still searching for her son. She lost 15 close family members. "I don't know what is worst. To find his bones and know for sure that he was killed. That he is gone. Or this waiting. Suspense." Picture taken on July 1, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic - RTX1IUDY

    Emina Osmanovic’s son Sakib is seen in a photo in refugee camp near Banovici, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Osmanovic is among several thousand women still searching for the remains of their closest relatives 20 years after the Srebrenica massacre. Picture taken on July 1, 2015. Photo by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

    Sehida Abdurahmanovic poses for a picture in her home in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 1, 2015. Sehida is among several thousand women still searching for the remains of their closest relatives 20 years after the Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys. Sehida Abdurahmanovic is still searching for her brother. She lost 12 close family members. " Nothing this country does will every surprise me again. There is less and less mass graves. Less and less identifications. I'm afraid that I will never find him. I can't cope with that." Picture taken on July 1, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic - RTX1IUEG

    Sehida Abdurahmanovic poses for a picture in her home in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Abdurahmanovic is still searching for her brother. She lost 12 close family members in the massacre 20 years ago. “Nothing this country does will every surprise me again. There is less and less mass graves. Less and less identifications. I’m afraid that I will never find him. I can’t cope with that.” Picture taken on July 1, 2015. Photo by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

    Sehida Abdurahmanovic's brother Meho is seen in a photo in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 1, 2015. Sehida is among several thousand women still searching for the remains of their closest relatives 20 years after the Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys. Sehida Abdurahmanovic is still searching for her brother. She lost 12 close family members. "Nothing this country does will every surprise me again.There is less and less mass graves. Less and less identifications. I'm afraid that I will never find him. I can't cope with that.". Picture taken on July 1, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic - RTX1IUDX

    Sehida Abdurahmanovic’s brother Meho is seen in a photo in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Abdurahmanovic is among several thousand of women who still search for the remains of their closest relatives 20 years after the Srebrenica massacre. Picture taken on July 1, 2015. Photo by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

    Nura Sulic poses for a picture in her home in Zivinice, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 1, 2015. Nura is among several thousand women still searching for the remains of their closest relatives 20 years after the Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys. Nura Sulic, is still searching for her son. She lost 11 close family members. "His photograph is all I have left of him. I pray to dear Allah to find at least one, smallest bone. Anything. So that we would both finally be at peace."  Picture taken on July 1, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvi - RTX1IUDT

    Nura Sulic poses for a picture in her home in Zivinice, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Nura Sulic, is still searching for her son. She lost 11 close family members in the massacre 20 years ago. “His photograph is all I have left of him. I pray to dear Allah to find at least one, smallest bone. Anything. So that we would both finally be at peace.” Picture taken on July 1, 2015. Photo by Dado Ruvi/Reuters

    Nura Sulic's son Mirsad is seen in a picture in Zivinice, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 1, 2015. Nura is among several thousand women still searching for the remains of their closest relatives 20 years after the Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys. Nura Sulic, is still searching for her son. She lost 11 close family members. "His photograph is all I have left of him. I pray to dear Allah to find at least one, smallest bone. Anything. So that we would both finally be at peace." Picture is taken on July 1, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic - RTX1IUDV

    Nura Sulic’s son Mirsad is seen in a picture in Zivinice, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sulic is among several thousand women still searching for the remains of their closest relatives 20 years after the Srebrenica massacre. Picture taken on July 1, 2015. Photo by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

    A woman reacts as she touches a truck carrying 136 coffins of newly identified victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in the village of Visoko July 9, 2015. The bodies of the 136 recently identified victims of Srebrenica massacre will be transported to the memorial centre in Potocari where they will be buried on July 11, the anniversary of the massacre when Bosnian Serb forces slaughtered 8,000 Muslim men and boys and buried them in mass graves in Europe's worst massacre since World War Two.  REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov       TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX1JNXV

    A woman reacts as she touches a truck carrying 136 coffins of newly identified victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in the village of Visoko. Picture taken on July 9, 2015. Photo by Stoyan Nenov/Reuters

    The June 11, 1995 massacre in Srebrenica remains the worst mass killing that has taken place in Europe since World War II.

    The 8,000 Bosnian Muslims killed that day were part of an estimated 100,000 people killed during the Bosnian War.

    The post Photos: Mourning the victims of the Srebrenica massacre 20 years later appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talks to reporters after the Senate Republican weekly policy luncheon at the Capitol in Washington, July 8, 2015. On Sunday July 12, McConnell expressed doubts about the Obama administration's ability to win congressional approval if a nuclear deal with Iran is reached. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talks to reporters after the Senate Republican weekly policy luncheon at the Capitol in Washington, July 8, 2015. On Sunday, McConnell expressed doubts about the Obama administration’s ability to win congressional approval if a nuclear deal with Iran is reached. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and other congressional leaders expressed doubts Sunday about a historic agreement with Iran to address that country’s nuclear program, predicting President Barack Obama could face hurdles in Congress if negotiators reach a final deal. 

    McConnell spoke minutes after diplomats said on Sunday that negotiators at the Iran nuclear talks were expected to reach a provisional agreement to curb the country’s atomic program in return for tens of billions of dollars in sanctions relief. Secretary of State John Kerry has been leading the U.S. delegation in the talks in Vienna, which aims to impose long-term, verifiable limits on Tehran’s nuclear programs.

    “This is going to be a very hard sell for the administration,” McConnell said on “Fox News Sunday” when asked about the likelihood of Congress signing off on a deal.

    President Barack Obama has come under criticism from members of Congress and some U.S. allies in the Middle East who say the administration has conceded too much in the Iran talks. Iran has denied any nuclear weapon ambitions and said its program is meant to supply domestic energy and other peaceful purposes.

    The current negotiations have run more than two weeks and blown through three deadlines. Because the talks are in overtime, Congress will have 60 days to assess the deal, requiring Obama to await that review before easing sanctions agreed to in a deal.

    During those two months, lawmakers could try to build a veto-proof majority behind new legislation that could impose new sanctions on Iran or prevent Obama from suspending existing ones.

    Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said lawmakers would review any agreement carefully to ensure the Iranians are held accountable and that any violations can be enforced.

    “At the end of the day I think people understand that if this is a bad deal that is going to allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon, they would own this deal if they voted for it, and so they’ll want to disapprove it,” said Corker, R-Tenn. “On the other hand, if we feel like we’re better off with it, people will look to approve it.”

    New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the pending deal made him anxious because the U.S. has gone from making sure Iran does not have nuclear capability to managing it.

    Menendez said he would judge the agreement when he has all the elements but said Obama needs to make very clear to Iran that there’s a longer term deterrence, “because in 12 to 13 years we will be exactly back to where we are today except that Iran will have $100 (billion) to $150 billion more in its pocket and promoting terrorism throughout the Middle East.”

    Obama downplayed chances for an Iran nuclear deal during a closed-door meeting with Senate Democrats last week, telling participants that an agreement was at best a 50-50 proposition.

    McConnell said a resolution of disapproval is likely to be introduced in the Senate and predicted it would pass with more than 60 votes. If Obama vetoed the resolution, McConnell noted that the president would need 34 votes, or more than one-third of the Senate, to sustain it.

    Menendez spoke on ABC’s “This Week.” Corker spoke on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

    The post McConnell: Iran deal will be ‘hard sell’ to Congress appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Federal policemen inspect a pipeline under construction by the Altiplano prison in Almoloya de Juarez, Mexico on July 12, 2015. Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman has escaped from a maximum-security prison, the government said Sunday, his second jail break in 14 years. The kingpin was last seen in the shower area of the Altiplano prison in central Mexico late Saturday before disappearing. "The escape of Guzman was confirmed", the National Security Commission said in a statement. AFP PHOTO/ Yuri CORTEZ        (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

    Federal policemen inspect a pipeline under construction by the Altiplano prison in Almoloya de Juarez, Mexico on July 12, 2015. Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has escaped from a maximum-security prison, the government said Sunday, his second jail break in 14 years. Photo by Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images

    Mexico’s most notorious drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, broke out of a maximum security prison on Saturday night for the second time, escaping through a hole under his cell that led to an elaborate tunnel, the country’s top security official announced Sunday.

    Mexican authorities immediately launched a manhunt for Guzmán, who heads the Sinaloa Cartel, on Saturday night, after guards at the Altiplano Federal Prison discovered Guzman was missing during a routine check, a statement from Mexico’s National Security Commission said. “If Chapo Guzmán is able to make it back to the mountainous terrain that he knows so well in the state of Sinaloa … he may never be captured again.”

    “The tunnel is equipped with PVC (plastic) pipes, presumably for ventilation, as well as lighting and a motorcycle mounted on tracks to be used as a traction mechanism, probably to extract the dirt from the excavation and also used to move tools and machinery for drilling,” National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido said in Spanish during a news conference on Sunday morning in Mexico City. 

    Prison workers were detained after officials discovered the escape, and 18 workers from were taken in for interrogation at the attorney general’s office.

    Drug trafficker Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted to a helicopter by Mexican security forces at Mexico's International Airport in Mexico city, Mexico, on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, during his re-arrest. Photo by Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    Drug trafficker Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is escorted to a helicopter by Mexican security forces at Mexico’s International Airport in Mexico city, Mexico, on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, during his re-arrest. Photo by Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    Guzmán was last seen at 8:52 p.m. Saturday in the shower area of his cell, the statement said. After guards discovered his cell was empty, they found a 20-by-20-inch hole near the shower.

    Guzmán’s second escape came less than 18 months after his re-arrest in 2014, when he was apprehended at a Mexican beach resort. He had been on the loose since 2001 after his first escape when he bribed is way out of prison, reportedly escaping in a laundry cart, Reuters reported

    Monte Alejandro Rubido, National Security Commissioner, speaks during a news conference in Mexico City, July 12, 2015. Photo by Edgard Garrido/Reuters.

    Monte Alejandro Rubido, National Security Commissioner, speaks during a news conference in Mexico City, July 12, 2015. Photo by Edgard Garrido/Reuters.

    At the time, Mexican authorities firmly pledged that it would not happen again.

    “This is going to be a massive black eye for Pena Nieto’s administration,” Mike Vigil, former head of global operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, told Reuters. “I don’t think they took into account the cunning of Chapo Guzmán and the unlimited resources he has.”

    “If Chapo Guzmán is able to make it back to the mountainous terrain that he knows so well in the state of Sinaloa … he may never be captured again.”

    Once featured on the Forbes list of billionaires, Guzman was considered by the U.S. Department of Justice to be “the world’s most powerful drug lord” until his arrest in February 2014.

    As head of the Sinaloa Cartel, he smuggled in billions of dollars worth of of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines into the U.S. and fought vicious turf wars with other Mexican gangs, Reuters reported.

    Guzmán was arrested for the first time in Guatemala in June 1993, extradited to Mexico, and sentenced to more than 20 years in prison on charges of drug trafficking, criminal association and bribery.

    The post Drug lord ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán escapes prison for second time appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    On PBS NewsHour Sunday, IBN correspondent Jamal Osman reports from Somalia, where one of the world’s highest youth unemployment rates is contributing to a so-called “lost generation” as thousands of young Somalis leave home and attempt the difficult and dangerous migration to Europe.

    Somali migrant Abririsak Mohamud Anama prepares to leave for France at the Hal Far Reception Centre outside Valletta in this July 9, 2009 file photo. As many as 900 people may have died in Sunday's disaster off the coast of Libya. That would be the highest death toll in recent times among migrants, who are trafficked in the tens of thousands in rickety vessels across the Mediterranean. The mass deaths have caused shock in Europe, where a decision to scale back naval operations last year seems to have increased the risks for migrants without reducing their numbers. The European Union has proposed doubling the size of its Mediterranean search and rescue operations in response to the crisis.  REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/Files   MALTA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN MALTA PICTURE 25 OF 28 FOR WIDER IMAGE STORY 'ISLE LANDERS' SEARCH 'DARRIN ISLE' FOR ALL IMAGES - RTX19ZEF

    Somali migrant Abririsak Mohamud Anama prepares to leave for France at the Hal Far Reception Centre outside Valletta in this July 9, 2009 file photo. In Somalia today, one of the world’s highest youth unemployment rates is contributing to a so-called “lost generation” as thousands of young Somalis leave home and attempt the difficult and dangerous migration to Europe. Photo by Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters

    Overall youth unemployment in Somalia is roughly 67 percent, according to the U.N. Development Program, though that number may be as high as 75 or 80 percent in some parts of the country.

    Some of the issues underlying the country’s employment problems, like decades of conflict and environmental degradation, are specific to Somalia. But the East African nation also suffers from more mundane economic issues that plague nations the world over, including a mismatch between the education available to Somali youths and the skills they actually need to find employment.

    PBS NewsHour decided to take a look at youth unemployment around the world to see how countries compare. Here are the numbers.

    Data source: U.N. Development Report 2013; World Bank youth unemployment data (both based on International Labor Organization data)| Graphic by Daniel Costa-Roberts/NewsHour Weekend

    A note on the data: The data for the majority of the countries describes youth unemployment from 2005-2011, and thus may not precisely match the countries’ current youth unemployment rates.

    In order to be as consistent as possible, most of the country data used to create this graphic comes from the 2013 U.N. Development Report. But for two key countries whose youth unemployment levels that report didn’t address, Somalia and China, statistics from the U.N.’s Somalia Human Development Report 2012 and from the World Bank were used, respectively.

    The post From Somalia to Spain: See how youth unemployment compares across the globe appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai (L) cuts a ribbon near Noura Jumblatt (R), founder of the NGO Kayany Foundation, at a school for Syrian refugee girls, built by the foundation, in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley July 12, 2015. Yousafzai celebrated her 18th birthday in Lebanon on Sunday by opening the school and called on world leaders to invest in "books not bullets." The Malala Fund, a non-profit organisation that supports local education projects, paid for the school. Photo by Jamal Saidi/Reuters

    Malala Yousafzai (L) cuts a ribbon at a school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley July 12, 2015. Yousafzai celebrated her 18th birthday in Lebanon on Sunday by opening the school and called on world leaders to invest in “books not bullets.” Photo by Jamal Saidi/Reuters

    Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and advocate for the rights of women and girls across the globe spent her 18th birthday on Sunday opening the Malala Yousafzai All-Girls School in Lebanon, near the Syrian border.

    The school will serve around 200 Syrian girls living in refugee camps in the Bekaa Valley region along the Lebanese border.

    Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai talks with school girls at Abrar, a Syrian refugee settlement in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, July 12, 2015. Yousafzai celebrated her 18th birthday in Lebanon on Sunday by opening a school and called on world leaders to invest in "books not bullets". The Malala Fund, a non-profit organisation that supports local education projects, paid for the school. Photo by Jamal Saidi/Reuters

    Malala Yousafzai talks with school girls at Abrar, a Syrian refugee settlement in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, July 12, 2015. Yousafzai celebrated her 18th birthday in Lebanon on Sunday by opening a school and called on world leaders to invest in “books not bullets”. Photo by Jamal Saidi/Reuters

    “I am here on behalf of the 28 million children who are kept from the classroom because of armed conflict. Their courage and dedication to continue their schooling in difficult conditions inspires people around the world and it is our duty to stand by them,” Yousafzai said in a statement.

    Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai (C) blows out candles on her birthday cake at a school for Syrian refugee girls, built by the NGO Kayany Foundation, in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley July 12, 2015. Yousafzai celebrated her 18th birthday in Lebanon on Sunday by opening the school and called on world leaders to invest in "books not bullets". The Malala Fund, a non-profit organisation that supports local education projects, paid for the school. Noura Jumblatt , Kayany Founder and wife of Lebanon's Druze leader Walid Jumblatt is seen behind her. Photo by Jamal Saidi/Reuters

    Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai (C) blows out the candles on her birthday cake at a new school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, July 12, 2015. Yousafzai celebrated her 18th birthday in Lebanon on Sunday by opening the school and called on world leaders to invest in “books not bullets”. Photo by Jamal Saidi/Reuters

    One day after a World Population Day statement from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lamenting the plight of refugees, specifically women and girls, Yousafzai sent a similar message:

    “On this day, I have a message for the leaders of this country, this region and the world – you are failing the Syrian people, especially Syria’s children.”

    As of July 9 there are more than four million Syrians living as refugees, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency.

    Yousafzai had previously asked world leaders to give an additional $39 billion each year to secure 12 years of free schooling for children around the world, ahead of an education summit in Norway on July 6.

    The post Malala Yousafzai celebrates birthday opening school for Syrian refugees appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    An Iraqi Sunni displaced woman, who fled the violence in the city of Ramadi carries her child on the outskirts of Baghdad, Iraq May 19, 2015. Iraqi security forces on Tuesday deployed tanks and artillery around Ramadi to confront Islamic State fighters who have captured the city in a major defeat for the Baghdad government and its Western backers. REUTERS/Stringer - RTX1DP53

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: This week, ISIS fighters have launched attacks across the Middle East. Just yesterday, ISIS claimed responsibility for exploding a car bomb outside the Italian Consulate in Cairo, killing one person.

    Also, a Syrian human rights group is reporting that militants launched two new offensives in Northern Syria Thursday, detonating large bombs in the border town of Kobani.

    All of this violence comes during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. While ISIS is killing civilians, it’s also helping civilians at the same time.

    Associated Press reporter Bassem Mroue joins me now with more of this mix of brutality and charity, joins me via Skype from Beirut.

    So, one of the things that we’re all aware of during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is the emphasis on charity. How is ISIS doing this?

    BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press: Well, ISIS is trying to win the hearts of people who live under its control.

    There are millions of people who live in areas that are under control ISIS in Syria and Iraq. And during the holy month of Ramadan, they take care of the poor by either giving them money they collect from the rich or by giving them food baskets that include rice, sugar, cooking oil.

    This has been the case since they declared an Islamic caliphate last year. But, still, although they do this, they have carried out some of their most brutal acts during Ramadan. They released a video showing them killing 16 people whom they accused of being spies. And, basically, they put some of them in a cage, and then they lowered them into a swimming pool until they drowned.

    They set explosives around — like white explosives around the neck of some people, alleging they are spies, and they blew their heads off. So, they are doing this. They try to scare the people. And also they try to tell them that, like, we are your protectors, we protect you from the Iraqi and Syrian government forces. We protect you from other militants. This has been the case.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, in this time, there’s also the practice of fasting. And you’re reporting that they are even enforcing that people observe the fast.

    BASSEM MROUE: That’s correct. I mean, during Ramadan observance, Muslims abstain from food and water from sunrise until sunset. But if you are caught — if someone is caught in areas under the Islamic State rule eating during the day, they’re severely punished.

    And the punishment could be from being put in a cage inside a public place such as a market for several hours day or even for more than a day, even though, like, it’s very clear in Islam that people who are old or who are sick can — cannot fast if they want.

    But that’s not what ISIS, what the Islamic State group is doing. They’re punishing anyone, even older people, sick people. They just detain anyone whom they find eating.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, how has this changed the atmosphere? I mean, Ramadan is usually a fairly festive time. People break their fast by joining with other families and friends in the evenings.

    BASSEM MROUE: That’s correct. In Iraq or Syria, before the Islamic State group took over wide areas of these two countries, people usually, like, they have a big meal, a fast-breaking meal after sunset. And then, like around 10:00, 11:00 p.m., they all go out. They take walks. They sit in coffee shops, they drink coffee, they smoke water pipe, they play backgammon.

    Smoking is totally prohibited and also games. It’s surprising. Like, you go to any Muslim country in the Middle East, and restaurants are usually filled with people, families, children breaking their meal. This is prohibited. So, the atmosphere is, in a way, depressing and miserable.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, is all of this an attempt to show the people inside this region that they have the ability to control or govern?

    BASSEM MROUE: That’s what they’re trying to say. And they’re trying to show that are — I mean, they implement a very sick interpretation of Islam. And, for them, they claim this is the only right interpretation, that’s the only right path, and all what the others are doing is wrong. If you’re against that, they simply kill — kill whoever says that. I mean, they don’t tolerate any kind of criticism or opposition.

    For them, they are the right, and all the others are wrong.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Associated Press reporter Bassem Mroue joining us via Skype from Beirut, thanks very much.

    The post Amid brutal attacks, ISIS giving charity to civilians appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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