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

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    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives to speak to the media after a campaign event in Iowa City, Iowa, United States, July 7, 2015. Clinton is the first 2016 presidential candidate to receive the endorsement of a major labor union. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives to speak to the media after a campaign event in Iowa City, Iowa, United States, July 7, 2015. Clinton is the first 2016 presidential candidate to receive the endorsement of a major labor union. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton has won the endorsement of the American Federation of Teachers. It’s the first major labor union to make an endorsement in the 2016 presidential campaign.

    The president of the union, Randi Weingarten, says in a statement Saturday that Clinton is the “champion working families need in the White House.”

    The endorsement has been widely expected. The teachers’ union supported Clinton’s primary campaign in 2008, and Weingarten is a longtime Clinton ally.

    It comes as Clinton has courted labor leaders in recent weeks and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has drawn large crowds and interest among labor.

    The AFT represents more than 1.6 million members nationwide, including K-through-12 teachers and school personnel, higher education faculty and staff, early childhood educators and retirees.

    The post Teacher’s union endorses Clinton appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the 2015 FreedomFest in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 11, 2015. Trump condemned immigration and trade policies with Mexico this weekend to supporters in Las Vegas and Phoenix. Photo by L.E. Baskow/Reuters

    Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the 2015 FreedomFest in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 11, 2015. Trump condemned immigration and trade policies with Mexico this weekend to supporters in Las Vegas and Phoenix. Photo by L.E. Baskow/Reuters

    PHOENIX — Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump criticized U.S. immigration and trade policies on Saturday in speeches that veered from accusing Mexico of deliberately sending criminals across the border to professing respect for the Mexican government and love for its people.

    Speaking to a gathering of Libertarians in Las Vegas before headlining an event in Phoenix, Trump repeated his charge that Mexico was sending violent offenders to the U.S. to harm Americans and that U.S. officials were being “dumb” in dealing with immigrants in the country illegally.

    “These people wreak havoc on our population,” he told a few thousand people attending the Libertarian gathering FreedomFest inside a Planet Hollywood ballroom on the Las Vegas Strip.

    In the 4,200-capacity Phoenix convention center packed with flag-waving supporters, Trump took a different view – for a moment – and said: “I love the Mexican people. I love `em. Many, many people from Mexico are legal. They came in the old-fashioned way. Legally.”

    He quickly returned to the sharp tone that has brought him scorn as well as praise. “I respect Mexico greatly as a country. But the problem we have is their leaders are much sharper than ours, and they’re killing us at the border and they’re killing us on trade.”

    His speeches in both venues were long on insults aimed at critics and short on solutions to the problems he cited. When he called for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the audience in Las Vegas groaned.

    In a break from the immigration rhetoric that has garnered him condemnation and praise, Trump asserted that he would have more positive results in dealing with China and Russia if he were president and said he could be pals with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Asked by an audience member in Las Vegas about U.S.-Russia relations, Trump said the problem is that Putin doesn’t respect Obama.

    “I think we would get along very, very well,” he said.

    Trump has turned to victims of crime to bolster his argument that immigrants in the U.S. illegally have killed and raped. In Las Vegas and Phoenix, he brought on stage Jamiel Shaw Sr., a Southern California man whose 17-year-old son was shot and killed in 2008 by a man in the country illegally. Shaw vividly described how his son was shot – in the head, stomach and hands while trying to block his face – and how he heard the gunshots as he talked to his son on the phone.

    Shaw said he trusted Trump, and encouraged the crowds in both cities to do the same.

    Trump’s speeches were filled with tangents and insults leveled at business partners such as Univision and NBC that have dropped him in the wake of his comments that Mexican immigrants bring drugs and crime to the U.S. and are rapists. He also directed familiar barbs at other presidential contenders, including Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton (“the worst secretary of state in the history of the country”), news media figures (“lyin’ Brian Williams”) and President Barack Obama (“such a divisive person”). He called journalists “terrible people.”

    As Trump lambasted Univision for cancelling its broadcast of the Miss USA pageant, one of his many business enterprises, a group of young Latinos unfurled a banner pointed toward the stage and began chanting insults. They were quickly drowned out by the crowd, and nearby Trump supporters began to grab at them, tearing at the banner and pulling and pushing at the protesters. Security staff managed to get to the group and escorted them out as Trump resumed speaking.

    “I wonder if the Mexican government sent them over here,” he said. “I think so.”

    Arizona’s tough-on-immigration Sheriff Joe Arpaio introduced Trump in Phoenix after outlining the things he and the candidate have in common, including skepticism that Obama was born in the United States. He went on to criticize the federal government for what he called a revolving door for immigrants, saying many of them end up in his jails.

    “He’s been getting a lot of heat, but you know, there’s a silent majority out here,” Arpaio said, borrowing from a phrase Richard Nixon popularized during his presidency in a speech about the Vietnam War.

    A single protester standing outside the room where Trump spoke in Las Vegas was more concerned about the businessman being tied to the Libertarian Party.

    “I’ve been a Libertarian for 43 years and Trump ain’t no Libertarian,” said Linda Rawles, who asserted that including Trump in FreedomFest set back the party’s movement.

    The post Trump doubles down on immigration comments in Vegas speech appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Former United States Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton smiles on stage during a campaign event in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States, July 3, 2015. Clinton has emphasized raising middle class incomes and wages will be key to the U.S. economy. She is expected to expand on her economic plan on Monday. Photo by Dominick Reuter/Reuters

    Former United States Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton smiles on stage during a campaign event in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States, July 3, 2015. Clinton has emphasized raising middle class incomes and wages will be key to the U.S. economy. She is expected to expand on her economic plan on Monday. Photo by Dominick Reuter/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton will make boosting middle class incomes and wages the focus of her economic agenda, pointing to stagnant paychecks as the central challenge facing the U.S. economy.

    The Democratic presidential candidate intends to lay out the themes of her economic plan in a speech on Monday, emphasizing the need for the real income of everyday Americans to rise steadily alongside corporate profits and executive compensation.

    While Republican candidate Jeb Bush has called for an annual growth rate of 4 percent, Clinton will assert that the nation’s economy should not be judged by a specific growth figure but rather by how much income increases for middle-class households.

    “For a typical working American, their income has not been rising anywhere near as fast as it should be rising, and that is the challenge we face,” said David Kamin, a New York University law professor who has advised Clinton’s campaign. “It’s not a new problem, and it’s going to take a holistic vision.”

    Clinton’s campaign on Saturday provided a preview of her speech to be given at The New School, a university in New York City. The campaign said the Democratic front-runner will point to economic progress during her husband’s two terms in the 1990s and more recently under President Barack Obama. But she will aim to identify ways of improving upon the uneven nature of the nation’s recovery since the Great Recession, bolstering wages even as the unemployment rate has fallen to a seven-year low of 5.3 percent.

    Clinton on Saturday picked up the endorsement of the American Federation of Teachers union, the first major labor union to endorse a presidential candidate. The union is led by Randi Weingarten, a longtime Clinton ally, and comes as Clinton has sought the support of labor leaders.

    The former secretary of state is expected to begin outlining a series of specific economic proposals this summer on issues like wage growth, college affordability, corporate accountability and paid leave.

    “It’s a new moment, and she’s bringing new ideas to the table of how to do that,” said Neera Tanden, a former Clinton policy adviser who leads the Center for American Progress.

    In Clinton’s approach to the economy, more Americans would share in the prosperity and avoid the boom-and-bust cycles of Wall Street that have led to economic turbulence of the past decade. She is also expected to argue that the nation should not be fatalistic about globalization and that specific policy steps can help U.S. workers achieve better living standards.

    Clinton, who is seeking to become the nation’s first female president, is also expected to address ways of making it easier for women to join the workforce.

    In framing an economic vision, Clinton will attempt to meet the demands of liberals within her own party who are wary of her willingness to regulate Wall Street while inspiring confidence among a larger electorate who will judge her policies if she wins the Democratic nomination.

    Progressives encouraged Elizabeth Warren to seek the presidency, but the Massachusetts senator, who has railed against Wall Street and corporate excesses, declined to run. Many of those same liberals are now packing large gatherings held by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is challenging Clinton for the nomination and has made economic inequality the chief plank of his campaign.

    Alan Blinder, a Princeton University economist and former economic adviser to President Bill Clinton, said the former first lady has expressed interest in policies to curb excessive risk on Wall Street, such as a financial transactions tax on high-frequency trading, taxes on large Wall Street banks based on their risk profile and eliminating the so-called carried interest loophole that allows managers of hedge funds and private equity firms to pay a lower tax rate than most individuals.

    “I’m pretty sure that as the details come out you and others will judge them to be more anti-Wall Street than pro-Wall Street,” Blinder said. “This is not going to look like an agenda that came out of a bunch of Wall Streeters.”

    Clinton has said she will take nothing for granted in the primary contest, but the economic message will allow her to begin contrasting herself with Republicans. In recent speeches, she has portrayed the Republican presidential field, including Bush, the former Florida governor, as supportive of “top-down” economic policies and large tax breaks for the wealthy.

    “They’re back to the trickle down, cut taxes on the wealthy and everything will be fine,” Clinton said last week in Iowa. “This will be the biggest economic debate, because they know the only way they can win the White House back is to somehow convince voters that what we have done didn’t work.”

    The post Clinton to focus on raising middle class incomes appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The iconic regional fast food chain Whataburger has a message for its Texas diners: No openly carrying gun-toting customers allowed.

    Despite a recently passed law allowing licensed Texans to carry handguns in plain view, Whataburger President and CEO Preston Atkinson said that the restaurant will not allow the open carrying of guns on its properties.

    Retail Signs Whataburger Restaurant

    Whataburger, the iconic Texas restaurant chain, will not allow the open carrying of guns on its properties. Photo by David Kozlowski/Getty Images.

    “We’ve had many customers and employees tell us they’re uncomfortable being around someone with a visible firearm who is not a member of law enforcement, and as a business, we have to listen and value that feedback in the same way we value yours,” Atkinson said in a statement earlier this month.

    “We have a responsibility to make sure everyone who walks into our restaurants feels comfortable. For that reason, we don’t restrict licensed concealed carry but do ask customers not to open carry in our restaurants.”

    Just over a month ago, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the state’s open carry law, making it the 45th U.S. state to allow licensed citizens to carry handguns openly in plain view in belt or shoulder holsters. But the law, which will go into effect on January 1, 2016, also gives private property owners the right to prohibit open carry.

    “Whataburger supports customers’ Second Amendment rights” and “proudly serve(s) the gun rights community,” said Preston, who also said he personally enjoys hunting and also has a concealed carry license. But he continued, “it’s a business decision we made a long time ago and have stood by.”

    “We’re known for a family friendly atmosphere that customers have come to expect from us. We’re the gathering spot for Little League teams, church groups and high school kids after football games.”

    Based in San Antonio, Texas, Whataburger has some 780 locations in 10 states and employs more than 34,000 people.

    The chain’s decision is expected to pave the way for other restaurants in the state to enact similar policies, the Associated Press reported.

    “It can’t be kept a secret,” Texas Restaurant Association CEO Richie Jackson told the AP. “Given the number of units that they have in Texas, they just wanted to make it very clear as to where they were going to be, and I would expect to see a number of restaurants follow.”

    The post Iconic fast food chain Whataburger says no to Texas’ new open carry law appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Demonstrators in front of the Thai embassy protest the Thailand's deportation of more than 100 Uighurs, Ankara, Turkey, July 9, 2015. The Chinese government said Sunday that many of those deported had been on their way to "join jihad" in the Middle East. Photo by Umit Bektas/Reuters

    Demonstrators in front of the Thai embassy in Ankara, Turkey protest the Thailand’s deportation of more than 100 Uighurs, July 9, 2015. The Chinese government said Sunday that many of those deported had been on their way to “join jihad” in the Middle East. Photo by Umit Bektas/Reuters

    China’s official newspaper claimed Sunday that a group of ethnic Uighurs who Thai authorities deported to China this week were on their way to wage holy war in Iraq, Syria or Turkey.

    On Thursday, the Thai government repatriated the 109 Uighurs in spite of vocal objections by governmental agencies and prominent rights groups, who warned that the deportees could face harsh persecution in China.

    The U.S. Department of State released a statement Thursday condemning the removal of the Uighurs, who it described as seeking asylum, urging the Thai government not to carry out further deportations of Uighurs and warning that the migrants “could face harsh treatment and a lack of due process” in China.

    Human rights groups’ warnings were even more dire.

    Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s East Asia regional director said, “Time and time again we have seen Uighurs returned to China disappearing into a black hole, with some detained, tortured and in some cases, sentenced to death and executed.”

    “It is very shocking and disturbing that Thailand caved in to pressure from Beijing,” Sunai Phasuk, a Thailand researcher at Human Rights Watch, told Reuters.

    “By forcibly sending back at least 90 Uighurs, Thailand has violated international law. In China they can face serious abuses including torture and disappearance,” Phasuk said.

    Uighurs are a majority Muslim ethnic group concentrated mainly in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang. Uighurs speak a language related to Turkish and share religious and ethnic ties with Turkey.

    Many of those deported from Thailand Thursday claimed to be Turkish, though the Thai government said it had established that their country of origin was China.

    Ethnic violence between Uighurs and China’s Han majority has flared in recent years, prompting thousands of Uighurs to flee China, often in an attempt to reach Turkey.

    The Chinese government’s Xinhua News Agency denied that the Uighurs in question were refugees fleeing persecution. Instead, Xinhua characterized them as “repatriated Chinese citizens” and claimed that many were “extremists who want to become ‘jihad fighters’ in the war-torn areas of the Middle East”

    Xinhua cited the Chinese Ministry of Public Security as saying that 13 of the Uighurs left China “after being implicated in terrorist activities,” and that two others had escaped detention there.

    The Chinese government has described instances of Uighur violence as organized acts of terrorism, claiming that the attackers have close links to foreign jihadist groups. But some Uighur groups, human rights organizations and scholars have suggested that Beijing has intentionally exaggerated the Uighur threat in order to justify its Xianjiang policies, which have included the arrests of moderate Uighur intellectuals and regulations restricting Muslim practices such as fasting during Ramadan.

    In Turkey, violent protests against the repatriations caused the Thai government to temporarily close its embassy in the capital city of Ankara and its consulate in Istanbul. The protests came in the midst of unrest in Turkey over reports that the Chinese government was restricting Uighurs in western China from observing the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the BBC reported.

    The post Deported Uighurs intended to join Mideast jihad, China claims appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) talks to State Department Chief of Staff Jon Finer during a meeting with members of the U.S. delegation at the garden of the Palais Coburg hotel where the Iran nuclear talks meetings are being held in Vienna, Austria July 10, 2015. Iran and major powers gave themselves until Monday to reach a nuclear agreement, their third extension in two weeks, as Tehran accused the West of throwing up new stumbling blocks to a deal. REUTERS/Carlos Barria  - RTX1JX57

    Watch Video

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Bloomberg News reporter Indira Lakshmanan joins us now from Vienna, where she’s been covering the talks for weeks.

    Indira, we have got to stop meeting like this, where I ask you almost the same question: How close are we to a deal and what’s happening tonight?

    INDIRA LAKSHMANAN, Bloomberg News: Well, you know, Hari, it has been 16 days now of high-level talks here in Vienna, which I just want to point out is a record.

    There has never been a U.S. secretary of state involved in talks that have gone on for this long, not even at Camp David. So, you’re right. It’s been almost three weeks now that we have been hearing diplomats saying, it’s — a deal is around the corner, we’re almost there, we’re almost there.

    But, at this point, I think we may really almost be there. You know, they have missed three deadlines already, but the next deadline is looming. They have given themselves through Monday to finalize all the text of a deal, which we’re being told is now near 100 pages between the text and five annexes.

    And what our sources are telling us, from several of the delegations, is that the major political decisions have been made, but the writing, the legal work, the technicalities still have to be wrapped up. And, of course, capitals have to sign off on that.

    So we think that’s going to be happening overnight, with a possible announcement tomorrow, if everything, if all the T’s get crossed and the I’s get dotted.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Well, one of the sticking points was the U.N. arms embargo. What happened to that?

    INDIRA LAKSHMANAN: Yes. I was told by the one of the diplomats involved in talks tonight that this issue has been resolved. That was a major issue for the Iranians, the Russians and the Americans.

    The Iranians and the Russians really wanted the United Nations arms embargo lifted, because Russia is ready to sell weapon systems, including some defensive weapon systems like the S-300, to Iran.

    And the U.S., of course, for them, this is an explosive issue, particularly in the U.S. Congress, that is going to make it hard to sell the deal.

    But what I’m told is that the U.N. arms embargo, a compromise has been come up with, and that there is an agreement that the U.N. arms embargo, not the United States one, will be lifted, not immediately, but over time.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But you mentioned approvals back home in all these countries.

    We heard Senator Mitch McConnell earlier today say it’s going to be a tough sell to Congress to try to get this through, that this would leave Iran a threshold nuclear state.

    INDIRA LAKSHMANAN: You know, that has been the talking point all along by the people who are suspicious of this deal and didn’t want any deal that would leave Iran with legal enrichment capability.

    I think that talking point gets stronger as we get closer to a deal officially being done. So, I think he’s absolutely right. It is going to be a tough sell and an uphill battle in Congress. We also heard Senator Ted Cruz specifically picking on the U.N. arms embargo and saying that, if that was lifted, that there was going to be a major fight on Capitol Hill.

    So, I think all of that is true. The administration is obviously going to have to come back with what they think is the strongest deal possible, and they’re going to have to sell the Congress and the American people on why this is something that actually stops Iran on all of its paths to getting a nuclear weapon and is a good deal for world security.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And there’s also some mixed messages coming out of Iran. On the one hand, we see preparations for celebration on a deal, and, on the other hand, some tough talk from the leadership about the United States and arrogance and continue the fight.

    INDIRA LAKSHMANAN: Yes, you’re absolutely right. It was just last night that the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, referred to the U.S. and its so-called global arrogance and essentially said that, even if there is a deal, this doesn’t mean there’s going to be some sort of a rapprochement with the United States. The United States is still the big enemy of Iran, he said.

    Now, in a way, this talking point matches on some level what the United States has said in a much more diplomatic way, saying this is not going to mean detente with Iran; this is narrowly about the nuclear program.

    But we also saw Iranian President Hassan Rouhani saying today that he has fulfilled his promise, that his promise that sanctions would be lifted is going to come out. So, it does look like they’re putting in some very positive signs for a deal.

    And let me just say that, if they don’t ultimately get a deal, then we’re going to be on the end of the worst shaggy dog story in history, since this has been going on for quite some time now.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Bloomberg’s Indira Lakshmanan joining us from Vienna tonight, thanks so much.

    INDIRA LAKSHMANAN: Thanks.

    The post Could the historic Iran nuclear deal come on Monday? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Social Security, Calculator, finance, personal finance, Photo by Getty Images

    Larry Kotlikoff explains that quick and easy Social Security calculators are just that—quick. To get what’s yours from Social Security, don’t plan on cutting any corners. Photo by Getty Images

    Boston University economist Larry Kotlikoff has spent every week, for over two years, answering questions about what is likely your largest financial asset—your Social Security benefits. His Social Security original 34 “secrets”, his additional secrets, his Social Security “mistakes” and his Social Security gotchas have prompted so many of you to write in that we feature “Ask Larry” every Monday. Find a complete list of his columns here. And keep sending us your Social Security questions.

    Kotlikoff’s state-of-the-art retirement software is available here, for free, in its “basic” version. His new book, “Get What’s Yours—the Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security Benefits,” (co-authored with Paul Solman and Making Sen$e Medicare columnist Phil Moeller) was published in February by Simon & Schuster.

    Watch Larry explain how Paul and his wife could collect an extra $50,000 in Social Security benefits:


    Back in December 2013, I reviewed a free and easy Social Security calculator and pointed out that it asked far too few questions and did so in such an unclear manner that its use appeared, frankly, dangerous. The calculator seemed geared to get people to the institution’s website, where they might, by golly, purchase a product or two.

    Since then, more than a dozen of these quick calculators have sprouted up — some for free, some for money.

    For our book, Phil Moeller interviewed the CIO of an investment company offering a very spiffy, but also very simple Social Security calculator. He told Phil that speed was essential. Otherwise, people would hit a behavioral “blocking condition” and give up using the tool.

    Gee willikers, a “blocking condition.” That sounds awful. I wonder if our doctors know about this. Once they do, I’m sure they will shorten our annual checkups to five minutes or less so we won’t walk out the door.

    It’s wonderful that financial companies have diagnosed this disease and are helping us quickly decide when we ought to take Social Security. Yes, for many, if not most of us, Social Security is our biggest retirement asset. And yes, Social Security decisions are, to a large extent, irreversible. But, hey, how marvelous to be able to resolve our Social Security questions within a couple minutes before we’re “blocked” and diverted from buying financial products that — miracle of miracles — just happen to be up for sale on the very same sites as those super speedy calculators!

    Last week, I came across a very aggressive ad for a fast and easy Social Security calculator. Visually, the tool was stunning. But the real stunner is how few inputs the tool requested and how misleading the tool could be when it came to actual family situations, which can vary tremendously. To be fair, the tool’s fine print disclosed some of its limitations. But its ad did not. And how many people read a company’s fine print?

    Too many Social Security calculators claim to offer quick and easy solutions as to how people can maximize their Social Security benefits. Here’s what wrong with that—Social Security isn’t quick or easy. It’s complicated, and if you simplify it too much, you can lose a lot of money.

    GOT SOCIAL SECURITY QUESTIONS?

    Pose Your Questions to Larry Here

    To illustrate the problems with such quick and easy calculators, I ran the numbers for a hypothetical married household who I’ll call the Smiths. (Full disclosure: I ran these numbers through my own company’s Social Security software — this is not meant to promote anything, but rather to show the complexities of calculating Social Security benefits.) John Smith is 61 and has a maximum age of life of 95. Jane Smith is 45 and figures she might make it to 100. They have a disabled 10 year-old son, Jimmy, and a non-disabled two-year-old, daughter, Jill, who they just adopted. Jane was a property manager before she quit her job to be with the children, and John is a retired painter. According to Social Security, John’s full retirement benefit is $1,400 per month, and Jane’s is $2,800 per month.

    The two got these figures, quoted in today’s dollars, either from their Social Security statement or at the local office. But as we discuss in the book, Social Security can’t even be trusted to give you proper retirement benefit estimates. Part of the problem lies in Social Security’s assumption that what you earned last year is what you’ll earn through your full retirement age. The other part involves Social Security’s assumption that there won’t be any inflation or economy-wide average wage growth in the future — even though we’ve had both for decades. These three assumptions can produce seriously skewed full-retirement benefit estimates.

    It’s necessary to reverse engineer Social Security’s benefit estimates to provide the correct estimate. In John’s case, since he’s above 60 — when wage-indexation of covered earnings stops — and he had no earnings last year, his Social Security full retirement benefit estimate is actually correct. Jane, on the other hand, made $100,000 last year, which is more than she earned in prior years. For Jane, the correct full retirement benefit estimate is $2,556, not $2,800 per month. That is, Social Security’s benefit estimate is too high by almost 10 percent.

    Most quick and easy Social Security calculators don’t ask the questions needed to fix up Social Security’s benefit estimates. Instead, such tools just takes the user’s entries and Social Security’s benefit estimate as given.

    That’s strike one.

    Strike two is the failure to account for the presence of young or disabled children, the user’s projected future covered earnings and other key inputs.

    Strike three is the failure to properly discount (as in make less of) future benefits. Instead, many of these tools simply add up each year’s projected benefits and report the sum as your “cumulative benefit.” In effect, such quick and easy calculators treat a dollar received in, say, 30 years as worth a dollar today.

    This is clearly off base. A dollar received today can be invested and thus, generate more than a dollar in 30 years. So a dollar paid to you in 30 years is not worth the same as a dollar paid to you today. In fact, today’s financial markets value the payment of a dollar in 30 years at only 70 cents, assuming that dollar, like Social Security benefits, is adjusted annually for inflation. And this 70 cents present value holds only if the future payment is for sure.

    But what if you aren’t sure that you will be paid $1 of inflation-adjusted Social Security benefits in 30 years? The recipients of Social Security benefits have to be alive to collect their Social Security checks. If you aren’t alive in 30 years, then neither you nor your heirs will collect the money. As a result, we need to discount future Social Security benefits to an even greater degree in forming their present value.

    In not doing any discounting, a great number of quick and easy Social Security calculators dramatically overstate users’ lifetime Social Security benefits. They also produce systematically biased recommendations.

    So what’s the right strategy for the Smiths?

    It’s pretty involved.

    • John should take his retirement benefit at 62 and file for child benefits for the two children and a child-in-care spousal benefit for Jane. (Incidentally, these auxiliary benefits will be subject to the family benefit maximum, and on income tax grounds, it’s potentially better for just the kids to collect rather than have the family benefit max split three ways.)

    • Having started his retirement benefit early, John should stop it at age 66, his full-retirement age, and restart it at age 70.

    • Jane should file just for her spousal benefit at age 67, her full-retirement age.

    • Jane should file for her own retirement benefit at age 70, at which point Jimmy will collect a child’s benefit on Jane’s work record.

    • When John passes away, 10-year-old Jimmy will collect a child survivor benefit on John’s work record.

    • When Jane passes away, Jimmy will collect a child survivor benefit on Jane’s work record. Assuming Jane lives to her maximum life expectancy, Jill will be too old to collect a child survivor benefit.

    All told, the optimal plan involves the Smiths receiving 10 different benefits plus suspending one benefit—all at precisely the right time. This plan generates $1,378,469 in lifetime benefits. That’s $142,537 more that their original simple strategy of their both taking retirement benefits at 62.

    What does one such quick and easy calculator — which ignores their children, does no discounting and fails to fix up Social Security’s full retirement benefit estimate for Jane — advise the Smiths to do?

    It tells John that he should wait for eight more years to collect his retirement benefits, while Jane should take her spousal benefit at 67 and her own retirement benefit at 70. The optimized benefits are nearly $1,800,000!

    Now that’s 30 percent larger than $1,378,469. Hence, following one such quick and easy Social Security calculator produces a huge overstatement of lifetime Social Security benefits as well as the wrong recommendations for the Smiths.

    What happens if I run the numbers with all the correct inputs (the kids, 2 percent real discounting, and the right Social Security benefit for Jane), but with that quick and easy Social Security calculator’s “optimal” recommendations for filing for Social Security? Now the program generates about $1,300,000 in lifetime benefits. That is, following a quick and easy calculator’s advice cost the Smiths more than $50,000 in lifetime benefits. That’s a year’s college tuition, several trips around the world, a very fancy new car or maybe elective surgery for Jimmy.

    Here’s the bottom line: The quick and easy Social Security calculators make losing money quick and easy.

    The post The problem with quick and easy Social Security calculators appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Daybreaker dance party in D.C.

    Heidi Hurst, 22, dances during a morning “rave” in Washington, D.C., July 8, 2015. Daybreaker has been hosting daytime dance party events for two years. Based in New York, the company’s events have attracted young professionals looking to combine fitness and fun in a unique setting. Photo by Margaret Myers

    As the sun was coming up over the Georgetown waterfront, 37-year-old Allison Shapira bounces and waves to the beat in a cafe-turned-club in this historic Washington, D.C., neighborhood. Two DJs spin club music while a brass band whips dancers into a frenzy. They play their instruments and weave their way toward the center of the dancefloor. The crowd cheers. The MC chants, “Seize the day! Break the day!”

    It’s only 7 a.m.

    “I skipped boot camp for this,” Shapira said.

    This isn’t your average club scene. This is Daybreaker, a sunrise dance party where “pre-gaming” with alcohol is swapped for 6 a.m. yoga, and shots of Fireball are replaced with organic energy drinks and iced coffee. The “morning movement” is making its way across the globe. So far, there have been more than 100 events held in nine different cities, including New York, San Francisco, Tel Aviv and London, in an effort to get people to rise and shine with a healthy dose of fun.

    “Everyone’s inspired and fresh … It’s really about waking up,” said Shapira, who was attending her first morning party on a recent Wednesday.

    Daybreaker dance and yoga party in D.C.

    The party actually started with a 6 a.m. yoga session which attracted yogis Morgan Fykes, left, and Amy Morse. Photo by Margaret Myers

    The concept for Daybreaker came about in 2013 inside a Brooklyn falafel shop. Founders Radha Agrawal and Matthew Brimer were musing over their night of dancing when they had the idea to take the energy and inclusiveness of the nightclub scene and infuse it into the weekday morning routine.

    “Morning is a time when you have the most amount of energy potential inside of you,” Brimer said. “We started Daybreaker with that in mind.”

    The atmosphere of a rave typically isn’t associated with that of clearheadness, but Argawal doesn’t think that will deter partygoers.

    “We curate these wild moments that distract you from the fact that you’re sober,” he said.

    Distractions have come in the form of surprise appearances from cities’ local artists. Acrobats, painters, spoken-word poets and musicians, like Rufus Roundtree and Da B’more Brass Factory, have showcased their work at Daybreaker, adding to the excitement.

    Daybreaker dance party in D.C.

    Sedrick Banks is a motivational speaker by day, and the life of the party by … day. Photo by Margaret Myers

    The recent party in D.C., Daybreaker’s second, attracted a mix of young professionals, mostly women, looking for a creative outlet to complement their work-life balance, a necessity in a notoriously workaholic town.

    “They’re there to celebrate life and come together,” Brimer said.

    With the sun fully shining, everyone sits in a circle guzzling water and juice. In unison, the remaining group reads from a mantra card — an idea Argawal said came from Burning Man — and sets an intention before setting off for work.

    The post Weekday morning dance parties are now a thing appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    August 1960 review of "To Kill a Mockingbird" in Time magazine. Image courtesy of Library of Congress

    August 1960 review of “To Kill a Mockingbird” in Time magazine. Image courtesy of Library of Congress

    At a time when Jim Crow laws still gripped the U.S. southern states and the civil rights movement was beginning to hit its stride, Harper Lee was quietly developing two books that told the tightly woven culture of racism in the Deep South.

    “Go Set a Watchman,” which comes out tomorrow, tells the story of protagonist Scout Finch 20 years after the events of Depression-era “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Published on July 11, 1960 to critical acclaim, “Mockingbird” nabbed a Pulitzer Prize and eventually became an Oscar-winning film.

    Wayne Flynt, a friend of Lee, said the book stood out for its nuanced take on “the innocence of childhood and about the corruption of most of the institutions that were important like the church, the courts, the school.”

    In acknowledging those institutions’ flaws at the time, “Mockingbird” risked alienating many readers, especially those in the South. The Mobile Press-Register called “Mockingbird” a “wonderfully absorbing story,” while acknowledging that the novel “will come under some fire in the Deep South.”

    When “Mockingbird” was published, several of the most inciting moments of the civil rights movement had yet to occur; white supremacists had yet to kill four girls in a church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, and the police brutality against the voting rights marchers of Selma, Alabama had yet to be televised. Months before Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Gregory Peck gave his acceptance speech for his portrayal of Southern lawyer and moral compass Atticus Finch.

    But the Register noted the book’s strong portrayal of a variety of characters in small Southern towns, saying:

    “It seems to us, however, that the South can well afford to have more such writers and books … chronicling little bits of ordinary life, and saying sympathetically as this writer seems to us to say so plainly that — small towns everywhere, North and South, are made up of many ordinary people; some mighty peculiar ones; a small minority who are worthless and even dangerous, and a scattering, happily of outstanding good and even great persons.”

    The Register also wrote that it “will not venture to prophesy” whether “Mockingbird” would “sell tremendously.” “Mockingbird” has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide and is available in more than 40 languages.

    Other reviewers in Alabama were effusive in their praise for Lee’s coming-of-age tale. Angela Levins of the Alabama Media Group dug up some of the 1960 reviews for “Mockingbird” among Alabama’s newspapers. The Birmingham News said the novel “assures the author a place well up front among American writers … it’s down-to-earth, believable.”

    July 1960 review of "To Kill a Mockingbird" in The Mobile Press-Register. Image courtesy of the Alabama Media Group

    July 1960 review of “To Kill a Mockingbird” in The Mobile Press-Register. Image courtesy of the Alabama Media Group

    On a national scale, reviewers extended the praise. Richard Sullivan of the Chicago Sunday Tribune said Lee’s book was a “first novel of such rare excellence.”

    “This is in no way a sociological novel. It underlines no cause. It answers no programs,” he said in a July 1960 review. “Casually, on the side, as it were, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is a novel of strong contemporary national significance. As such it deserves serious consideration. But first of all it is a story so admirably done that it must be called both honorable and engrossing.”

    In its August 1960 review, Time magazine said “the novel is an account of an awakening to good and evil.”

    “Novelist Lee’s prose has an edge that cuts through cant, and she teaches the reader an astonishing number of useful truths about little girls and about Southern life,” Time wrote.

    George McMichael of the San Francisco Chronicle said in his July 1960 review that “Mockingbird” was a “moving plea for tolerance,” despite some occasional melodramatic moments.

    “Best of all, Harper Lee has wisely and effectively employed the piercing accuracy of a child’s unalloyed vision of the adult world, to display the workings of a tragedy-laden region that little understands itself—or rarely seeks to,” McMichael wrote.

    July 1960 review of "To Kill a Mockingbird" in San Francisco Sunday Chronicle. Image courtesy of Library of Congress

    July 1960 review of “To Kill a Mockingbird” in San Francisco Sunday Chronicle. Image courtesy of Library of Congress

    Amid the novel’s continued success, Lee receded from the scrutiny of the public eye. She gave her last full interview in 1964, the same year President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, the landmark piece of legislation that outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion and national origin.

    “I would like to be the chronicler of something that I think is going down the drain very swiftly. And that is small town middle-class southern life,” Lee told Roy Newquist of the New York radio station WQXR. “There is something universal in it. There’s something decent to be said for it and there’s something to lament when it goes, in its passing.”

    More than half a century later, Lee, now 89, has largely remained out of the limelight. Since a stroke in 2007, Lee is nearly deaf and blind and has been confined to assisted living in her hometown, Monroeville, Alabama. Lee also lost her sister Alice, who acted as protector for her younger sister, in 2014.

    Lee has left much of the press handling to Wayne Flynt, a retired Auburn University history professor who accepted Lee’s induction into the Fellowship of Southern Writers on her behalf in 2011. Flynt described their relationship as “late-life friends” and visits her once a month.

    Flynt did not know Lee when “Mockingbird” was published, but the book held a mirror to his experiences at the time, including the fact that his church voted to not admit blacks, which Flynt said was a heartbreaking blow for him. When he also learned that the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, had been bombed, he resolved never to go back to Alabama.

    Wayne Flynt (L) met with "Mockingbird" author Harper Lee (R) at Alabama State University on the anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 2005. Flynt is holding his granddaughter, Harper Flynt, who's named in the Southern writer's honor. Photo by James Hansen

    Wayne Flynt (L) met with “Mockingbird” author Harper Lee (R) at Alabama State University on the anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 2005. Flynt is holding his granddaughter, Harper Flynt, who’s named in the Southern writer’s honor. Photo by James Hansen

    But “Mockingbird” led Flynt to break his promise. Prompted by the buzz still surrounding Lee’s novel, Flynt read it 1963. Flynt would eventually return to Alabama in August 1965, the same month President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act.

    “I knew all the characters in the book, and I could put names and faces on virtually everyone, the mean ones and the good ones and the black ones and the white ones, and I thought, ‘Well, it’s worth a try,’” Flynt said.

    Flynt has been in Alabama ever since. “Thanks largely to Harper Lee,” he said.

    But parts of the black community did not rush to read “Mockingbird,” according to sources who appeared in Mary Murphy’s documentary “Harper Lee: Hey, Boo,” for PBS’ “American Masters” series.

    Mary Tucker, a Monroeville resident, said that although she read her copy of “Mockingbird” as soon as it came out, “not a lot of black people read the book.”

    “There was too much horror around me at the time for me to absorb more,” civil rights leader Andrew Young said in the documentary. “We were aware of the harshness and brutality of segregation.”


    Flynt said he and many others initially thought “the book was really about race.”

    “As time went by, I think the book transcended race,” Flynt said, adding that he had asked Lee the very question that many critics, columnists, essayists and civil rights leaders have debated over several decades: What is the book about?

    “‘Oh, you know what the book’s about,'” Flynt said he remembers Lee telling him. Flynt said Lee then asked him the same question.

    “I think it’s about power,” Flynt said.

    “Of course,” Lee said.

    The post How newspapers reviewed ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ in 1960 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Flickr user torbakhopper.

    Photo by Flickr user torbakhopper.


    WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Ash Carter says the Pentagon’s current regulations banning transgender individuals from serving in the military are outdated, and anyone willing to serve the country should be able to do so.

    Carter is creating a working group to do a six-month study on the impact of lifting the ban. Carter says the group will begin with the presumption that transgender people should be able to serve openly.

    The plan, which was first reported by The Associated Press, gives the services time to work through questions about health care, housing, physical standards, uniforms and costs associated with the change.

    During that time, transgender individuals would still be unable to join the military, but decisions to force out those already serving would be referred to the Pentagon’s acting undersecretary for personnel.

    The post Pentagon announces plan aimed to lift transgender ban appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch for To Kill a Mockingbird

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    And we’re joined now by Wayne Flynt, professor emeritus at Auburn University and a close personal friend of Harper Lee, and Natasha Trethewey, who read and reviewed the new book for The Washington Post. NewsHour viewers will, of course, remember Natasha for the stories she did with us during her tenure as poet laureate.

    So, welcome back, Natasha.

    Let me start with you and ask, before we get into larger meanings and readings, were you surprised by what you found?

    NATASHA TRETHEWEY, Former U.S. Poet Laureate: Well, I was surprised, Jeff.

    I was surprised by the way that we were getting a different kind of depth of character of Atticus than we’d seen before in “Mockingbird” and surprised about what kind of character that was.

    JEFFREY BROWN:
    And in what way? What did you see?

    NATASHA TRETHEWEY: Well, we get to know him, I think, with more contradictions and complexities, which, of course, I think makes him more human to us.

    We get to see that, even as he is the person that we know from “Mockingbird” who believes in justice for all and making sure that people get a fair trial, that he also can maintain some deeply ingrained and unexamined notions of racial difference.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, Wayne Flynt, the protagonist is a woman who, like Harper Lee herself, comes back to visit her small town from living in New York. It’s been speculated that Atticus Finch is based on her father. What light can you shed on that and how we see this new portrayal?

    WAYNE FLYNT, Auburn University: I think all fiction to some degree is autobiographical.

    And I certainly think Coleman Lee is the prototype. And I also think perhaps in some ways, he’s the prototype of what we have in “Go Set a Watchman.” Fathers are perfect between 6 and 9. At 26, for most of us, they’re not so perfect anymore.

    JEFFREY BROWN:
    Did the portrayal ring true to you, ring true to your own experience or the experience you knew with Harper Lee?

    WAYNE FLYNT:
    Absolutely.

    I was 17 in 1956, when she wrote this book. And I was having the same kind of problems with my father. I, like her, had slipped the bonds in terms of my culture in terms of race, also partly for the same reason she had. She’d read the Bible too much and she felt the Southern church was terribly flawed in its understanding of race.

    So, processing all that racial change between ’49 and ’56 in New York City, I think she had real problems with her father, who wasn’t moving on race nearly as quickly as Harper and her sister Alice in Monroeville were.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Natasha Trethewey, you wrote in your review, we have this far more complicated now of a beloved American figure, character in culture. You saw resonances up to today, right?

    NATASHA TRETHEWEY: That’s right.

    You know, I agree very much with Wayne, too. I know experiencing that disillusionment of my own father over the years. And so reading “Mockingbird” and “Go Set a Watchman” just made that personal experience vivid for me all over again.

    But I saw, also, in it, because she was writing the book in the aftermath of the Brown decision, a lot of conversation about the courts making the Brown decision and the South feeling dominated yet again, being told what to do, the issue of states’ rights, the way that we’re talking about the issue of the flag, the Confederate Flag, because, of course, in states like Georgia and South Carolina, the flag was raised or incorporated into the state flag in order to protest that Brown decision and the courts and the federal government’s enforcement of the new law.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And, Wayne Flynt, what about there in Alabama, the resonance up to today?

    WAYNE FLYNT: Well, I think there are still the vestiges of racism that are here, I think of the differences between those who voted for Barack Obama and those who voted for his opponent.

    Alabama had the sharpest racial divide of any state in the union, so I think the vestiges are still there. And — but we process this through family, community. We have to decide whether we’re going to make our separate peace and go someplace else, where we don’t have to bother with all these issues, or whether we stay here and fight to make Alabama better.

    And I think that was her — the issue for her. It’s interesting that her sister Alice stayed and fought and tried to integrate Monroeville Methodist Church and change her denomination. Nelle decided to give up on Alabama and left. And I understand both those options.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Let me just stay with you, Wayne Flynt. I have to ask you the question about everything that was raised when this all came out about what Harper Lee, what she agreed to, how much she understood about what is going on. What can you tell us?

    WAYNE FLYNT: One of her wonderful lines was, “Same damn town, same damned people as I wrote about in ‘Mockingbird.'”

    JEFFREY BROWN: Meaning what?

    WAYNE FLYNT: Meaning that there is a lot of provincialism, a lot of small-mindedness.

    They don’t much like Nelle’s lawyer, who is the ultimate outsider. She’s Catholic. Her grandfather fought in the Union army against the Confederacy. She didn’t belong.

    And I’m afraid, Jeff, that the greatest concentration of neurologists in the United States are in Monroeville, and they can all diagnose dementia without ever having met Nelle or talked to her in the last five years.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Nelle, of course, is the name of Harper Lee, right, that she goes by. You all know her as Nelle.

    WAYNE FLYNT:
    Yes, correct.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    WAYNE FLYNT: Correct.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Natasha, let me ask you — what about in the new book — what does the new book tell us about her as a writer? What can readers take from it?

    NATASHA TRETHEWEY: Well, I mean, the first thing that we can take from it is getting to see something about the process that a writer goes through, creating a first draft and then working toward changing that first draft into the book that it later becomes, and, in this case, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

    So, getting to see the draft, something that began it, is exciting, because you know that it didn’t begin perfectly, the way that it ended up. I think it also lets us see the way that she was timely in her concerns, that she was trying to write a book in the moment that was contending with what was happening all across South.

    JEFFREY BROWN:
    All right, a new take on an American classic.

    Natasha Trethewey, Wayne Flynt, thank you both so much.

    GWEN IFILL:
    Amazing story.

    The post How Harper Lee’s alternative take on Atticus Finch may resonate with readers appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    gosetawatchman

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    GWEN IFILL: It has been treated as one of the major literary events of the year: the publication of Harper Lee’s second novel.

    Jeffrey Brown has the story.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The first surprise was the existence of the book itself. That brought huge national interest. And bookstores across the country have fielded record pre-orders and many are planning release parties.

    It also raised questions along the way about whether longtime reclusive author Harper Lee, now 89, had the mental acuity to approve publication.

    In a film that aired on PBS’ American Masters, her publisher, Michael Morrison, described the moment he was first given the manuscript.

    MICHAEL MORRISON,
    HarperCollins: I didn’t tell anybody about it. I locked it in my drawer. At the end of the day, I put it in an interoffice envelope and carried it home and kept thinking, please God, don’t let this be the day I get hit by a bus or mugged. Went home that night, read the whole thing, and just fell in love with it from the first sentence.

    JEFFREY BROWN:
    Now, with its release comes a new surprise: the portrayal of Atticus Finch, beloved in “To Kill a Mockingbird” and indelibly played by Gregory Peck in the film, as a lawyer defending a black man from false rape allegations in a deeply segregated Alabama town in the 1930s.

    In “Go Set a Watchman,” the character Atticus, now 72 years old, is a man who’s attended Klan meetings and says to his daughter: “Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters? Do you want them in our world?”

    “Watchman,” while set 20 years after “Mockingbird,” was actually written first. Lee’s editors encouraged her to transform the story about the adult Jean Louise Finch into one narrated by the character’s younger self, known as Scout.

    The post Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set a Watchman’ offers surprising shift appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A soldier and policemen keep watch outside a warehouse where a tunnel, connected to the Altiplano Federal Penitentiary and used by drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman to escape, was located in Almoloya de Juarez, on the outskirts of Mexico City, July 12, 2015.Mexico's most notorious drug lord, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, broke out of a high security prison on Saturday night for the second time, escaping in a tunnel built right under his cell, and heaping embarrassment on President Enrique Pena Nieto. The kingpin snuck out of the prison through a subterranean tunnel more than 1.5 km (1 mile) long that ended in a building site in the local town, National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido told a news conference on Sunday. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo - RTX1K4AJ

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    For more on that manhunt and the importance of Guzman to the drug trade, I’m joined now by Alfredo Corchado, Mexico bureau chief for The Dallas Morning News.

    Alfredo, drug kingpins don’t get any bigger than El Chapo. Mexico celebrated when they first caught him. The U.S. wanted to extradite him. So, now he is free, he is on the loose. How big a deal is this?

    ALFREDO CORCHADO,
    The Dallas Morning News: It’s a huge deal, especially — I mean, this is the worst nightmare for Enrique Pena Nieto, the Mexican president. It’s the worst nightmare for U.S.-Mexico cooperation.

    I have been talking to officials for the last couple of days and they’re just — they’re still in shock. Even though, when he was arrested, when he was taken to a Mexican prison, they kept warning of this possibility, this very possibility. So I think people on both sides, it’s sort of like the air has been sucked out of them.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I wonder if you could just tell us a little bit about the elaborateness of this breakout, how he actually got out.

    ALFREDO CORCHADO: Well, the reports of it — and it’s too early to know the whole story, but the reports we’re hearing is that the plan started almost immediately after he was arrested.

    It was an escape tunnel very much like the ones he’s built throughout the Mexico-Sonora border, elaborate, had air conditioning. It had — there was even a motorcycle rail. You talk to officials and they say there is no way to explain that this was a sole act. How do you dig that much dirt out and not make any noise?

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And also how did authorities not know this? As you say, this was a — building tunnels was a trademark of the cartel that he used to run. How could they not know a mile-long tunnel was being built into a maximum security prison?

    ALFREDO CORCHADO: At this point, 30 people have been arrested and are being questioned. The real question is, how high does the corruption go?

    I mean, who knew at not just the prison level, but the state government, the federal government — who were the people involved? Again, it’s too early to answer those questions, but there is plenty of suspicion, there is plenty of names that are going back and forth. I think we’re in for a really tough time for the next few months.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Let’s talk a little bit more about those ripple effects between Mexico and the U.S. We have a long relationship trying to fight the drug war between our two countries. What does this do to that relationship?

    ALFREDO CORCHADO: In talking to people today and yesterday, they said this sets back the relationship five, 10 years. I mean, Mexico is not Canada. You don’t have that natural sense of cooperation, the level of trust. They have been working very hard at it, especially with — during the Merida Initiative — the Merida Initiative, which is the U.S. way of helping Mexico attack the cartels.

    But it was also a way for both sides to come together to build more intelligence-sharing. And that’s one of the big questions today, is how much did the U.S. government, how much did the Mexican government share with the Guzman side as they try — as they were preparing to judge him or to extradite him to the United States? How much does he know? How much more does he know? Who’s at risk at this point?

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The president of Mexico obviously made a big show of this arrest and other actions he’d taken showed he was being tough on the cartels. Now that El Chapo is out, what does this do to his administration and his ability to govern?

    ALFREDO CORCHADO: Well, at the time, this worked very, very nicely with the Mexican narrative, that things were looking up for Mexico, that there were all these economic reforms and that he was tough on cartels.

    Who better to make that point than going after the biggest drug lord in the world, El Chapo Guzman? I think that is really the biggest hit. This is an incredible blow, a humiliation to the Mexican president and an embarrassment to the Mexican president.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Is there any sense, now that El Chapo is on the outside, how quickly he could be back in control and calling shots with the cartel?

    ALFREDO CORCHADO: That’s unknown, but it’s — there’s been a big fight, internal fight within the Sinaloa Cartel.

    It will be interesting to see how that works out. The Mexican government has been saying that the cartels are now down to two, two major cartels, the Sinaloa Cartel, another cartel from Jalisco. It will be interesting to see how — whether he — El Chapo can just come in and take over.

    I think it will still be a big fight. His goal is to try to control the Sinaloa Cartel, but more than a year has gone by.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Alfredo Corchado of The Dallas Morning News, thank you very much for joining us.

    ALFREDO CORCHADO: Thanks, William.

    The post Escape of biggest drug lord in the world is huge blow for Mexican president appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Mexico's Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong inspects a warehouse where a tunnel, connected to the Altiplano Federal Penitentiary and used by drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman to escape, was located in Almoloya de Juarez, on the outskirts of Mexico City, July 13 , 2015. The White House said on Monday that it has made clear to the Mexican government that the United States wants to see escaped drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman recaptured to face justice. Mexico will have the principal responsibility to recapture Guzman, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a briefing, but he noted that the United States would support that effort as needed. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido - RTX1K95D

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mexican officials have launched a nationwide manhunt, after that country’s most-infamous drug lord escaped from a maximum security prison on Saturday. The escape triggered a wave of criticism that authorities had let public enemy number one in Mexico’s drug war get away.

    William Brangham has the latest.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This abandoned house is where Mexican authorities say drug kingpin Joaquin Guzman, known as El Chapo, escaped to freedom.

    Guzman was being held in this maximum security prison, but on Saturday night, he reportedly walked into a shower stall, and never came out. Officials discovered a long narrow tunnel had been dug under the prison that ran nearly a mile away to the empty house.

    Guzman is the most notorious drug lord in Mexico, and possibly the world. He runs the Sinaloa Cartel, a global network that traffics marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines. They’re also responsible for thousands of killings in Mexico’s brutal near-decade-old drug war.

    This was Guzman’s second escape from a Mexican prison. He escaped in 2001, but was recaptured in 2014. That arrest was held up as proof by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto that his nation was finally cracking down on the cartels and reining in the violence. But this second escape was seen as particularly damaging for the president, who was on a state visit to France when the news broke.

    PRESIDENT ENRIQUE PENA NIETO, Mexico (through interpreter): I am deeply shocked by what happened. This is undoubtedly an affront to the Mexican government, but I am also confident that Mexican institutions will rise to the challenge, with the strength and determination to recapture this criminal.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: U.S. officials had long wanted to extradite Guzman to the United States to stand trial, but Mexican authorities resisted the transfer.

    Today, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the U.S. is helping in the search.

    JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: He faces very serious crimes, not just in Mexico, but he’s been charged with some very serious crimes in the United States as well. The United States will support the efforts of the Mexican government to bring him to justice.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM:
    Back in Mexico, officials are still investigating the details of El Chapo’s escape and questioning dozens of prison employees. In the meantime, a massive manhunt continues.

    The post Mexican authorities question prison workers after Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman’s jailbreak appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    politicsmonday

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    GWEN IFILL: And then there were 15 — Republican candidates for president, that is.

    So, as the 2016 campaign begins to take final shape, we look at the personalities, the policy, and of course, the purse strings this Politics Monday with Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

    Let’s start by looking at the money, the most important part of this, right, in some respects.

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: The top four candidates in terms of money raised, super PAC money as well as nonprofits in one case, and just regular money over the transom, Jeb Bush with $114 million. This is just since they announced for president. Hillary Clinton with $60.6 million, Ted Cruz $47 million, and Marco Rubio with $43.8 million.

    Of course, as we just mentioned, there are 11 others now in the race. But as these four line up, where is the money coming from and what is this telling us about the race?

    AMY WALTER: In almost every case, the super PAC is more than the candidates actually raise. In fact, Hillary Clinton is the only candidate who has raised more as a candidate than her super PAC raised.

    It’s going to bring up a couple of issues. The first is, there used to be the thing in politics where you dropped out of the race after your money ran out, and your money would run out because you weren’t winning enough, you didn’t have enough momentum. Now there are super PACs very flush with cash that can keep candidates going long after maybe their expiration date.

    GWEN IFILL: Individuals, they can keep…

    AMY WALTER:
    Absolutely.

    TAMARA KEITH, NPR: Ted Cruz has really three good friends or three super PACs that can keep him going.

    And, you know, it used to be that there was the dollar primary and you could look at, well, whose fund-raising dollars were the highest? It’s hard to even know what to make of these numbers, because some rich person could come out of nowhere, create a nonprofit, we wouldn’t even know where the money came from, and blow everybody else out of the water.

    AMY WALTER: But there is one really interesting component to this, and that’s why 2016 will be fascinating to watch.

    The amount of money that Jeb Bush has coming from his super PAC is about $103 million. That’s where — the bulk of that 114 is coming from super PACs. They cannot coordinate with Jeb Bush. They are going to be making decisions that normally a campaign will be making.
    Now, super PACs have been very good at doing one thing, which is they’re a destroying machine. Right? They’re there to like eat up their opponents.

    Can they be a pro-Bush entity as well and do the sorts of things that a campaign normally does? We don’t know yet. We have never seen it.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, let’s talk about someone who is not in the top four, but could well be because of the beneficence of at least a couple of very rich people who are keeping an eye on him, and we just reported earlier that Scott Walker, even as we speak, has announced he’s running for president.

    Let’s listen to a little bit he said today in Waukesha, Wisconsin, his hometown, introducing himself to voters.

    GOV. SCOTT WALKER, Republican Presidential Candidate: We need new, fresh leadership, leadership with big, bold ideas from outside of Washington, the kind of leadership that knows how to get things done, like we have done here in Wisconsin.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    GOV. SCOTT WALKER: Since I have been governor, we took on the unions and we won.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    GWEN IFILL: Scott Walker, king of the Midwest, another governor getting into the race. What do we know about him and how does he fit into this field, Tamara?

    TAMARA KEITH: He’s definitely here pointing to his executive experience. He won three elections in four years in what he likes to remind everyone is a blue state.

    Although, right now, he is gunning for Iowa and he’s all about winning Iowa, he also likes to paint himself as someone who could bring people together at some point, though, right now, his message in the speech is very, very conservative, a red meat kind of speech.

    GWEN IFILL: Yet his wife and his sons have been giving interviews in which they have been sounding a little bit more moderate, at least on one key social issue that we have been talking a lot about lately, which is gay marriage.

    AMY WALTER: Gay marriage. In fact, his sons gave an interview where they said, we have talked to our father about the fact that we’re in different places on this issue.

    GWEN IFILL: Which a lot of American families are.

    AMY WALTER: Well, that’s exactly what I was going to say, is that that is exactly where the American family is right now, where you have younger generations saying, this isn’t a big deal, older generations still saying they don’t really particularly like the idea, they’re not comfortable with it.

    It actually mirrors very much where America is on this issue, even though he personally, Scott Walker, is to the right of the majority of Americans on this issue.

    GWEN IFILL: Another big issue which has completely consumed this race in the last week or so is immigration, but immigration as seen through eyes of one Donald Trump.

    Hillary Clinton gave a big speech just today about the economy and what she plans to do as president, but she also spoke this afternoon to the National Council of La Raza, an activist Hispanic group, and this is what she had to say about Donald Trump’s — Donald Trump’s words on immigration.

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, Democratic Presidential Candidate: I have just one word for Mr. Trump. Basta. Enough.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: And to all the other Republicans running for president, why did it take weeks for most of you to speak out? You’re normally such a talkative bunch.

    GWEN IFILL: OK.

    AMY WALTER: She’s just loving it.

    GWEN IFILL: She is loving it. And that’s the point, right?

    AMY WALTER: She is loving it. Right.

    Her campaign had said early on, long before she announced her candidacy, that part of the reason they were holding out on announcing was they said, we want the Republicans to fight amongst themselves, the attention won’t be on us, it will be on them.

    Well, that didn’t happen until now. And Donald Trump has become — he’s a powder keg, and the closer you get to him, the more likely it is that he is going to explode. And she’s hoping that he explodes and does some collateral damage to the…

    GWEN IFILL:
    Powder keg. Loose cannon.

    (CROSSTALK)

    TAMARA KEITH: Lindsey Graham called him a wrecking ball for the Republican Party.

    GWEN IFILL: Yes, wrecking ball. The euphemisms are just flying.

    TAMARA KEITH: There are many terms that are being used.

    GWEN IFILL: But what does that say for Republicans? I mean, we know the Democrats love this, but are the Republicans loving it?

    TAMARA KEITH: Well, I think the people who showed up for Donald Trump’s event in Arizona, 4,000 people packed into an arena — he said it was 10,000 — but, you know, they support him.

    He is speaking to, certainly, an undercurrent that is very concerned about illegal immigration, and he is saying exactly what they want to hear. I don’t know what it means for the Republican field. I think that this is this identity crisis that they’re dealing with, where they want to win Latino voters. There are some that want immigration reform, there are some that absolutely don’t want it, and he is just, like, putting that family feud right out into the open.

    GWEN IFILL: Does that affect the behavior or the immediate actions of new candidates like John Kasich or like Scott Walker, who we saw get in the race today? Do they have to calibrate their introduction to the American voter based on this loose cannon piece?

    AMY WALTER: Well, it sure doesn’t seem like Scott Walker did. He came out making the case that he’s been making and wants to continue to make for the campaign, which is, I’m an executive, I have won in a blue state, and taking a very conservative position on almost every social, cultural and economic issue.

    So they’re hoping just to ignore him, because the problem with Donald Trump is, if you engage him, it will only make things worse. It’s like — it’s a little bit what you were taught as a kid to not engage the bully, because they will continue to pick on you.

    GWEN IFILL: And immigration, however, is going to continue to be an issue. It’s how the party deals with it.

    TAMARA KEITH:
    Absolutely.

    And Democrats feel like this is an issue where they have strength. And certainly Hillary Clinton very early on in her campaign came out strongly in favor of the president’s executive actions, in part because she was trying to set a trap, trying to get Republicans to have to talk about thing that they don’t really agree on, whereas on the Democratic side, it’s pretty well agreed there is a Democratic orthodoxy and move right ahead.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, we’re going to watching all of that and also what the labor unions do now that Scott Walker is in the case. That is going to crystallize that issue.

    But we will talk about that next week.

    AMY WALTER: Yes.

    TAMARA KEITH: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, thank you both very much.

    TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.

    AMY WALTER: Thanks.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Videoconferencing has become so commonplace that we have grown comfortable communicating with one another through pixels on a screen.

    That comfort, combined with rapid advances in health monitoring technology, is fueling a new boom in telemedicine. Teladoc, a big player in providing video and telephone medical consults, had an extremely successful launch when it went public on the stock market earlier this month. It raised more than $270 million on the first day.

    As Hari Sreenivasan explains, telemedicine is beginning to transform the way we experience the medical system. It’s the latest in our Breakthroughs series on invention and innovation.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: A simple ritual, like gardening on a hot summer day, is something Tom and Trisha Uhrhammer don’t take for granted anymore.

    TRISHA UHRHAMMER: Can you use some basil?

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Just a year ago, Tom had a massive stroke.

    TOM UHRHAMMER: I was sitting right next door here in this room watching TV. Time to go to bed. So I got up and walked up the stairs, and I didn’t make it. I collapsed short of the bed.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The paramedics took Tom, who was paralyzed on his left side, to nearby Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento. With blood seeping into his skull, creating enormous pressure on his brain, time was of the essence. That’s when a telestroke robot was deployed to the E.R.

    TRISHA UHRHAMMER: Pretty soon, this machine came toward me, and in the screen appeared a doctor. And he said: “Good evening. My name is Dr. Nee. I’m a neurologist and I’m here to examine your husband.”

    And, lo and behold, that robot turned around, went around the bed to the other side and started examining Tom. It was remarkable.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Dr. Nee was also able to remotely access C.T. scans and other vital data need to quickly determine Tom’s surgical needs. Mercy is one of 43 Dignity Health hospitals in the West using the telestroke robot, and there are others in use all over the U.S.

    We got a demonstration from Dr. Asad Chaudhary — he’s the one on the screen — and nurse Eleanor Vigilante.

    ELEANOR VIGILANTE, Director of Emergency Department, Sequoia Hospital: It’s faster for us to always use teleneurology, because our physicians are not 24 hours a day in the building. So, we can actually get a physician to the bedside of a patient within three to six minutes.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And three to six minutes is the difference between what?

    ELEANOR VIGILANTE: Every minute that we waste is potentially more brain function that’s lost.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Stroke is the leading cause of serious long-term disability in the United States. Widespread use of telemedicine for stroke care is improving patient outcomes.

    Hoping to build on its success in hospitals, the telehealth industry is now focused on bring more basic health care services directly to patients wherever they may be.

    From the comfort of her San Francisco home, Dr. Raveena Rihal is diagnosing and treating patients for primary care ailments like sinusitis, pink eye and bladder infections.

    DR. RAVEENA RIHAL, Doctor on Demand: A patient can download the app on their mobile device, either laptop, iPhone or tablet. And if they want to see a doctor, they just press a button, and they will connect to a doctor that licensed in their state and can see them over video.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Rihal works for Doctor on Demand, one of a handful of companies connecting patients with physicians almost instantaneously.

    DR. RAVEENA RIHAL: Hi there. I’m Dr. Rihal with Doctor on Demand. Welcome.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: On the day we visited, Rihal took a call from Carmen Crandell and her 11-year-old daughter, Alyksandra McKaymick, from Naples, Florida.

    DR. RAVEENA RIHAL: If you feel here, do you feel any lumps or bumps?

    CARMEN CRANDELL: It feels a little swollen in here, just a little bit.

    DR. RAVEENA RIHAL: And now I want you to bring the camera real close to your mouth and say ah.

    CARMEN CRANDELL: Can you see?

    DR. RAVEENA RIHAL: Yes. I got a good look there. It looks red, but I don’t see any white patches.

    You can point the camera in the back of your throat and get a really good look at tonsils. It’s surpassed my expectations, the technology piece of it, and I think the future holds even more with all of the wearable devices and all the information we’re going to be able to transmit soon.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: By the end of a 13-minute exam, which cost $40, Alyksandra was diagnosed with viral sinusitis and her prescriptions were sent to a nearby pharmacy electronically.

    Why did you choose this service? Why not just go to a doctor that’s in Naples?

    CARMEN CRANDELL: You can’t get an appointment. If your child is sick and you call them, they say they can’t see them until the next week. It’s pointless. Then you end up at the emergency care clinic and that costs $100 for your co-pay. So why not pay $40 and do it right then?

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Beyond the convenience factor, Doctor on Demand’s chief medical officer, Dr. Pat Basu, says the cost savings on a large scale add up.

    DR. PAT BASU,
    Chief Medical Officer, Doctor on Demand: In the United States, there’s a total of about 1.3 billion cases where people walk in to see a doctor. Of the type that Doctor on Demand is ideal for, you’re talking about 300 million to 500 million that we can treat.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: At a rate of $40 per telemedicine visit vs. an average of $1,000 for a trip to the emergency room or about $300 for urgent care, Basu says the potential savings are enormous.

    DR. PAT BASU: Right off the bat, that would save $25 billion to the U.S. health care system.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Such figures have caught the attention of insurance companies. In April, UnitedHealthcare, the largest private insurer in the U.S., launched a partnership with three telemedicine companies, NowClinic, American Well and Doctor on Demand, to cover video-based physician visits just as it covers in-person visits.

    Health industry observers say it’s the strongest sign yet that telemedicine is entering the mainstream.

    DR. PAT BASU: Now we have over 20 million patients who have access to Doctor on Demand through insurance. On the government side, Medicaid and Medicare, that progression has still not fully occurred, but we are in conversations with state Medicaid agencies and national Medicare to cover this.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Dr. Abraham Verghese, vice chair of Stanford’s School of Medicine, applauds the efficiencies and cost-saving telemedicine will bring, but he’s concerned about preserving the doctor-patient relationship.

    DR. ABRAHAM VERGHESE, Stanford University School of Medicine: A very important, I would say ministerial, function of being a physician is to be attentive, is to be present, is to listen to that story, is to locate the symptoms on that person of that patient, not on some screen, not on some lab result, but on them.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Do you ever feel like you’re missing something by not being able to touch the patient?

    DR. RAVEENA RIHAL: No. If I was taking care of heart failure and diabetes and things like that, I think I would feel really uncomfortable doing that over video. But the more common things that I’m taking care of, I feel good about what I’m doing, and I feel like I actually connect with the patients really well.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:
    Even though Doctor on Demand chooses not to allow its home-based doctors to treat serious illnesses, outdated regulations don’t necessarily prevent them from doing that. Verghese says the industry needs some clear national guidelines.

    DR. ABRAHAM VERGHESE: I have no doubt that we’re going to learn a lot more about the blessings and pitfalls of telemedicine as more and more people start to do it. And I suspect we’re going to realize that it’s very good for some things. And there will be a fairly hazardous tiny little live-wire area that perhaps we will develop guidelines that you don’t go near.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: National regulation won’t be easy, as all 50 states have their own unique laws governing the practice of telemedicine, something Christa Natoli, associate director of the Center for Telehealth and e-Health Law, spends her time studying.

    CHRISTA NATOLI, Center for Telehealth and e-Health Law: States really focus a lot on the physician-patient relationship and physical examination, but states that are clear will say and define what an appropriate examination looks like.

    States that are vague do not define what appropriate means in any context. It’s in the gray area where states are silent on these issues that could potentially lead to patient harm.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: As policy-makers determine how to define and regulate the industry, there are a growing number of patients who’ve experienced virtual medicine firsthand.

    In the year since his stroke, Tom Uhrhammer has fully recovered. He and his wife, Trisha, are grateful to be back to their normal routine.

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

    The post Telemedicine puts a doctor virtually at your bedside appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd L) meets with foreign ministers and delegations from Germany, France, China, Britain, Russia and the European Union at a hotel in Vienna, Austria July 13, 2015. Iran and six world powers were close to clinching an historic pact on Monday that would bring Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme, but an Iranian negotiator said he could not guarantee a deal was imminent.  REUTERS/Carlos Barria  - RTX1K6H6

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    GWEN IFILL: The efforts to reach an Iran nuclear deal appeared so close today that Iran’s president even tweeted about it, calling it a good beginning. But in no time at all, that tweet was deleted and reports of new negotiating snags surfaced.

    So, the sun set again in Vienna today with no agreement.

    Indira Lakshmanan is covering the talks for Bloomberg News, and she joins us now.

    Indira, late this afternoon, we heard there was the announcement overnight. Then there wouldn’t be an announcement overnight. This keeps going on. I wonder what the latest that you know about why.

    INDIRA LAKSHMANAN, Bloomberg: Yes, it’s deja vu all over again, Gwen.

    And if it’s been a roller coaster for the past 17 days, we’re now going into day 18, and this has been the most extreme roller coaster in the last 24 hours. We thought we were going to have a deal. Then Foreign Minister Zarif came out on his balcony, sort of Evita Peron style. We all yelled up him and said, will there be a deal?

    He made a motion with his head, and indicated, no, there would not be. We’re now after midnight in Vienna, so the negotiators have blown past their fourth deadline in the last 18 days, but the latest reports we’re getting, our sources are telling us from four different delegations that it’s very, very likely that there will be an announcement of a final deal in the early hours of the morning.

    So we’re talking about possibly as early as pre-dawn Vienna time, which might be as early as before midnight Washington time.

    GWEN IFILL: Boy, that’s the latest possible thing. But what is it that they’re trying to smooth out? What are these last-minute hangups which people keep referring to?

    INDIRA LAKSHMANAN: Right.

    Well, I reported 24 hours ago that that arms embargo issue actually had been mostly smoothed out, and the issue is that, on the U.N. side, the Iranians wanted the arms embargo lifted right away. Now it looks like it will be a phased process over the next two to eight years for lifting that embargo.

    But what they have been arguing about all day today is language because language matters, and we have lawyers from seven different countries going over literally every comma and every T that’s crossed and I that is dotted in 100 pages of documents. So, again, we’re talking about a 100-page-long document with five technical annexes that is meant to last for a long time.

    Some elements of this deal will last 10 years, others for 15, and yet others for 25. So the U.S. and Iran, in particular, are really concerned that they want to get this exactly right. No one wants to have to go back.

    You can’t reopen it and renegotiate it, so it’s really about getting the language right the first time. And one thing I want to remind you when we were here a couple of months ago from Lausanne, Switzerland, having a similar conversation after midnight, you will remember that when they actually released the deal last time, the framework agreement, the United States had one set of talking points and Iran had a different set of talking points.

    GWEN IFILL: I remember that.

    INDIRA LAKSHMANAN: And that really caused some problems in the last couple of months when they have been trying to negotiate.

    So what we understand from both the United States and the Iranians this time is, there’s going to be one comprehensive statement that speaks for both sides. Imagine how hard that is, Gwen, to do that, because both the Americans and the Iranians are trying to show their home audiences that they won. So how do you come up with language that says you won in Tehran and also says you won in Washington when they’re both facing hard-line audiences at home?

    So, I think a lot of it has been about words.

    GWEN IFILL: You mentioned that they have now blown through four deadlines. Do deadlines matter at all anymore?

    INDIRA LAKSHMANAN: Well, you know, the deadlines mattered insofar as the Obama administration has said the deadlines are a forcing mechanism. They force people to sit down and actually make a decision. Apparently, in this case, they didn’t force them to do that much.

    But I think, as John Kerry said, this can’t go on forever. They can’t stay at the negotiating table forever. Iran has sort of very cleverly taken that and turned it on its head by saying, hey, we face no deadlines, we will stay here as long as it takes, and if anyone leaves the negotiations, it’s their fault, not ours.

    That of course puts the United States on the spot because if negotiations were to collapse, Iran could easily say, well, that’s America’s fault, they walked out, we didn’t walk out.

    So we have had all of the parties really trying to keep both the United States and Iran at the table. A funny moment earlier today was when Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, walked into a meeting with Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, who said, how are you, Mr. Lavrov, and he said angry.

    He was smiling at the time, but I’m sure there was more than a little truth to that, because the Russians, the Europeans, the Chinese, they are frustrated. They want the deal to be done. They feel like they have already signed off on it, and they wish that the Americans and the Iranians would get their houses in order, get the wording straight, so everyone can move on, go home after 18 days of this and really two-and-a-half years.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, Indira, I know that sleep is overrated and you’re going to be up again late tonight waiting on this last shoe to drop. Thank you so much for joining us.

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    A man walks past pictures of ancient coins in central Athens, Greece, July 13, 2015.  Euro zone leaders agreed on a roadmap to a possible third bailout for near-bankrupt Greece on Monday, but Athens must enact key reforms this week before they will start talks on a financial rescue to keep it in the European currency area. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier  - RTX1K69J

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The nation of Greece and its creditors reached a preliminary deal to avert immediate financial collapse, but it demands that the struggling country make major concessions and means continued sacrifice and hardship for its people.

    NewsHour special correspondent Malcolm Brabant has this report.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras emerged after a long night of bitter negotiations.

    PRIME MINISTER ALEXIS TSIPRAS, Greece(through interpreter): Until the end, we battled to get an agreement to get the country back on its feet. We were faced with a very difficult decision within hard dilemmas. We took the responsibility to decide in order to avert the most extreme plans by conservative circles in the European Union.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: German Chancellor Angela Merkel was one of those conservatives who ran a hard bargain with the Greeks. They seemed ready to quit until European Council President Donald Tusk, who is also president of Poland, persuaded them to keep at it.

    DONALD TUSK, President, European Council: The decision gives Greece the chance to get back on track with the support of European partners. It also avoids the social, economic and political consequences that a negative outcome would have brought.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Meanwhile, in Athens, pensioners saw no reason to celebrate, as they queued up to withdraw money outside closed banks.

    KATERINA MANETI, Greece (through interpreter): They’re acting thoughtlessly. Our current politicians are experimenting on us.

    MAN (through interpreter): Tsipras was put in a corner and he had to make this deal. We will have to swallow this and see how it goes.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The near-bankrupt country will receive a $95 billion bailout over three years, but the deal mandates tough conditions on Greece, ones its voters rejected just one week ago.

    The deal calls for streamlined pensions, raised taxes and reform to the labor market. Two hours boat ride from Athens, dawn broke on the island of Angistri, with its 1,000 residents unsure of their future. This has traditionally been a summer playground for Athenians, but cash-poor Greeks have stayed away over the past five years.

    At the small clifftop hotel run by Nondas Agianozoglou and his family, there’s none of the tension that exists in Athens. But this tourist industry veteran shares his countrymen’s fury at the perceived harshness of the measures imposed on Greece.

    NONDAS AGIANOZOGLOU, Owner, Rosy’s Little Village: You can’t force a people that doesn’t make money to cut down his salaries, his pensions, pay higher taxes, and pay out his debt.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: But a pensioner from Holland enjoying the Greek seaside said his hosts had long been living beyond their means.

    JAN MEYERS, Dutch Pensioner: A policeman of 46 years. After 25 years of work, go on pension with 100 percent of his salary, it’s crazy. There’s no country that can pay that.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The tourist industry, which is one of Greece’s most important foreign currency earners, will have to bear some of the burden of financing the new bailout package. Hotels and restaurants will have to pay more in sales tax. And there are fears that this could drive away vacationers in what is a highly competitive Mediterranean market.

    MICHALI PANDOU, Chairman, Angistri Chamber of Commerce: The other touristic places in the Mediterranean are already cheaper than us. And if we try to increase it, we’re going to have to minimize the tourists that possibly want to come to Greece for holidays.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: But holidays are perhaps the last thing on the minds of many on the streets of Athens. Left-wing groups are urging workers to go on strike in protest against the bailout deal and they are organizing demonstrations over the coming days.

    Their aim is to convince Greek lawmakers to reject the E.U. proposal and to trigger Greece’s exit from the Eurozone. The country’s continued presence within the euro depends on Prime Minister Tsipras convincing Parliament to enact emergency legislation by Wednesday. He faces a certain revolt from within his governing coalition, but he should secure enough votes to make sure that Greece remains financially afloat.

    For the PBS NewsHour, this is Malcolm Brabant in Greece.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let’s zero in on what Greece and the rest of Europe have agreed to and the power dynamics around this.

    Eswar Prasad watches all of this as a professor at Cornell University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He’s also worked for the IMF.

    Welcome back to the program, Eswar Prasad.

    ESWAR PRASAD, Cornell University: My pleasure.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We just heard some of the conditions the Greek people are going to have to live up to in order to make this agreement work. What do they really mean for the Greek people?

    ESWAR PRASAD: This is total capitulation at one extent to what the Germans and the others have demanded.

    Greece has agreed to do basically everything that the Germans and the others in the Eurozone feel is necessary to turn around the Greek economy, make it more competitive again. And some of these things will have to have been done in any case, because the Greek labor markets are sort of frozen up, the product markets aren’t very competitive, which means that entry into certain professions is not very easy.

    The tax burden is still very low. The tax administration is not good. The public administration costs too much. So they have basically agreed to reform all of these, in the hope that their economy can become more competitive. And in the interim, the deal is that they will get some money that will get them through the next three years.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, as you’re suggesting, adjustments in pensions, higher taxes, what they’re calling labor market reforms. What does that mean?

    ESWAR PRASAD: That essentially means that it will be easier to fire workers. Right now, it’s difficult to shut down firms, to fire workers.

    And the collective bargaining agreements are not making the labor market vibrant enough, which means that firms are very reluctant to hire workers because it’s very difficult to fire them. And the wage structure is also very complicated and makes it difficult to cut wages, although Greek wages have fallen quite significantly.

    So, Greece has actually done a fair bit in the last few years, but the problem is not enough to make the economy competitive and they still have a crushing debt burden.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: They believe that this is going to make a difference, that this is actually going to bring down the Greek debt? They’re not getting actual debt relief, as I understand it, with this deal. Is that correct?

    ESWAR PRASAD: That’s the crucial issue. The deal on the table about three weeks ago was in fact a slightly better one.

    And then Prime Minister Tsipras said he would have a referendum. The referendum took place on July 5. And that shattered the trust that the other Eurozone countries had in Greece, so now they have said you have to implement some of these measures and some of these measures in fact have to be in place by this Wednesday.

    And then the Greeks will get some debt relief, again not a write-down of their debt, but a longer period over which they could pay it back.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Why did Prime Minister Tsipras and the rest of the Greek leadership agree to this?

    ESWAR PRASAD: At this point, they really had no choice.

    Germany and the other hard-line countries in Europe had made it very, very clear that there was no other deal on the table, and in fact even this deal came together only at the very last minute. So the alternative would have been to exit the euro. And the Germans made it clear that they were willing to consider this possibility.

    So Tsipras was left with no options. And now he’s had to accept this deal, which is not a great one for Greece, because it may help in some ways in terms of getting the economy back on track, but I’m not sure it ensures the economic viability of Greece within the Eurozone still.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What happens, Eswar Prasad, if Greece is not able to fulfill these reforms, not able to carry through on everything that they say they will do?

    ESWAR PRASAD: It is going to be a very difficult political slog to do by Wednesday what they need to do.

    If they can do that, that passes them past one hurdle. But I think it’s still going to be very difficult because it is going to be enormous and wrenching pain in the Greek economy, which is going to lead to social and political instability.

    If all of that happens, I think a very clear line has been drawn in the sand that if the reforms are not implemented, then Greece is going to have to exit the Eurozone, and it may well come to that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, if you look back at the bigger picture here, what does all this say about the political relationship between Greece and the rest of Europe, the internal political dynamics on the continent?

    ESWAR PRASAD: It’s almost become a morality play at one level, with the French view, for instance, that it’s important to keep the Eurozone together no matter what the cost, and the views of the Germans, the Dutch and the Finns and so on that if the Eurozone is to be preserved, all the rules have to be preserved and maintained and that giving Greece a free pass will not do.

    Greece has surrendered some degree of sovereignty here. Essentially, it’s allowed or given permission to the so-called Troika, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF, to come back and supervise what the Greeks are doing. So in that sense, Greece has basically said, we are willing to take you in and you can discipline us and that we will commit to do what we are doing.

    But Greece essentially has given away a lot of its political and economic levers in order to remain in the Eurozone.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But this has opened up, you’re saying, a significant divide inside the European Union itself.

    ESWAR PRASAD:
    This has exposed very clear rifts within the Eurozone.

    And I think no matter what happens to Greece, that’s going to be very difficult to put together right now, because it’s clear that there is going to have to be a reconsideration of the political governance structure. I think many of the countries that feel that Greece got a difficult deal here are not going to, I think, suspect Germany taking the lead on these issues anymore. So, it is going to be a fraught time for the Eurozone ahead.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We have been watching it for days. Now we know the result. But it will continue.

    Eswar Prasad, we thank you.

    ESWAR PRASAD: Thank you.

    The post Deal struck, pain and political hurdles ahead for Greece appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Greece reached a debt deal with its European creditors today after an all-night emergency summit in Brussels. It agreed to a strict timetable for enacting further unpopular austerity measures in exchange for a third international bailout.

    Now Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras must push the cost-cutting proposals through his Parliament over the next two days. We will take a closer look at the new accord and get on-the-ground reaction from Greece’s residents after the news summary.

    GWEN IFILL: U.S. and world markets rallied today as investors welcomed the news of the Greek bailout agreement. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average climbed more than 217 points to close above 17977. The Nasdaq rose almost 74 points and the S&P 500 added nearly 23.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:
    Another set of talks taking place in Europe over Iran’s nuclear program stretched past yet another deadline today in Vienna. One ongoing dispute reportedly involved Iran’s status under a U.N. arms embargo. There’d been hope that a final deal would be announced as the 17th day of negotiations got under way this morning.

    But, later, Iran’s foreign minister, yelling to reporters from a hotel balcony, indicated it wouldn’t come today.

    Still, in Washington, State Department spokesman John Kirby remained cautiously optimistic.

    REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, State Department Spokeman: There’s been genuine progress made. I think Secretary Kerry believes that — and he’s said as much — that we’re close, but there still remains some sticking points, some issues that still need to be resolved. And so we will just — we will see where they go. But our focus is on what’s going on inside the negotiating room.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:
    Kirby added that an interim nuclear agreement, which has already been extended three times in two weeks, can remain in effect for as long as necessary.

    We will have more on the fate of the Iranian nuclear deal later in the program.

    GWEN IFILL:
    Iraqi troops and Shiite militiamen began a long-awaited large-scale military assault against the Islamic State today. The operation targeted the western province of Anbar two months after Islamic State fighters seized its capital, Ramadi. A military spokesman made the announcement today on state television.

    BRIG. GEN. YAHYA RASOOL, Iraqi Join Operations Command Spokesman: The military operations for liberating Anbar from I.S. militants started at 5:00 a.m. today, dawn. Our armed forces, along the Shiite militiamen, special task troops, federal police and Anbar tribes, are now waging pitched battles and advancing toward their designated targets.

    GWEN IFILL:
    The launch of the offensive came as the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a series of car bombs and suicide attacks that struck Baghdad yesterday. The blasts killed at least 29 people.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, in Yemen, a Saudi-led coalition airstrike in the capital, Sanaa, killed at least 25 civilians and injured 50 others. Relatives scrambled to pull victims from the rubble early this morning.

    The bombing struck multiple houses in a slum area of the city, in spite of a U.N.-brokered humanitarian truce between Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government.

    GWEN IFILL: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has become the 15th Republican to enter the 2016 presidential race. The second-term governor declared his candidacy this morning by tweeting: “I’m running for president because Americans deserve a leader who will fight and win for them.”

    Walker built his national profile by taking on labor unions, and surviving a recall vote in 2012. He’s set to make his official announcement tonight in Wisconsin. We will have more on that later in the program.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama today commuted the sentences of 46 nonviolent federal prisoners. The majority of the men and women were serving time for offenses involving crack cocaine or marijuana. The president said — quote — “Their punishments didn’t fit the crime.” He’s now issued commutations for 89 convicts during his presidency. Most were nonviolent offenders sentenced for drug crimes.

    The Pentagon is preparing to end its ban on transgender individuals serving in the U.S. military. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said in a statement that the policy was outdated. He’s creating a working group to conduct a six-month study on the effects of lifting the ban. That would give the military services time to work through questions like health care and housing.

    GWEN IFILL:
    And the Boy Scouts of America took a major step closer to lifting its ban on gay adult troop leaders. An executive committee unanimously approved a resolution to allow individual troops to set their own policies. In May, its president, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, declared the ban unsustainable.

    The new resolution still must be ratified at a national executive board meeting in two weeks. In 2013, the organization voted to allow gay youth, but not adults, in Scouting.

    The post News Wrap: Iraqi forces begin large-scale assault on Islamic State appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    VIENNA — After 18 days of intense and often fractious negotiation, diplomats Tuesday declared that world powers and Iran had struck a landmark deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from international sanctions — an agreement designed to alleviate the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran and the possibility of another U.S. military intervention in the Muslim world.

    The accord will keep Iran from producing enough material for a nuclear weapon for at least 10 years and impose new provisions for inspections of Iranian facilities, including military sites.

    The European Union, which has shepherded the talks, announced a final session between the foreign ministers of Iran, the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia for 10:30 a.m. local time in Vienna (4:30 a.m. ET). An announcement of the accord was to be made afterward at a news conference with EU foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the diplomats said.

    German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (L), French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (2nd L), Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (3rd L), European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (Centre in red), U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (4th R) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) meet at a hotel in Vienna July 13, 2015. Iran and six world powers negotiated a historic pact on Monday that would bring Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (L), French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (2nd L), Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (3rd L), European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (Centre in red), U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (4th R) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) meet at a hotel in Vienna July 13, 2015. Iran and six world powers negotiated a historic pact on Monday that would bring Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the deal before it is officially announced.

    The so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was reached after more than two weeks of furious diplomacy, during which negotiators blew through three self-imposed deadlines. Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who conducted most of the negotiations, both threatened to walk away while trading accusations of intransigence.

    The breakthrough came after several key compromises.

    Diplomats said Iran agreed to the continuation of a U.N. arms embargo on the country for up to five more years, though it could end earlier if the International Atomic Energy Agency definitively clears Iran of any current work on nuclear weapons. A similar condition was put on U.N. restrictions on the transfer of ballistic missile technology to Tehran, which could last for up to eight more years.

    Washington had sought to maintain the ban on Iran importing and exporting weapons, concerned that an Islamic Republic flush with cash from the nuclear deal would expand its military assistance for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, Yemen’s Houthi rebels, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and other forces opposing America’s Mideast allies such as Saudi Arabia and Israel.

    Iranian leaders insisted the embargo had to end as their forces combat regional scourges such as the Islamic State. And they got some support from China and particularly Russia, which wants to expand military cooperation and arms sales to Tehran, including the long-delayed transfer of S-300 advanced air defense systems — a move long opposed by the United States.

    Another significant agreement will allow U.N. inspectors to press for visits to Iranian military sites as part of their monitoring duties, something the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had long vowed to oppose. However, access isn’t guaranteed and could be delayed, a condition that critics of the deal are sure to seize on as possibly giving Tehran time to cover up any illicit activity.

    Under the deal, Tehran would have the right to challenge the U.N request and an arbitration board composed of Iran and the six world powers would then decide on the issue. The IAEA also wants the access to complete its long-stymied investigation of past weapons work by Iran, and the U.S. says Iranian cooperation is needed for all economic sanctions to be lifted.

    The deal comes after nearly a decade of international, intercontinental diplomacy that until recently was defined by failure. Breaks in the talks sometimes lasted for months, and Iran’s nascent nuclear program expanded into one that Western intelligence agencies saw as only a couple of months away from weapons capacity. The U.S. and Israel both threatened possible military responses.

    The United States joined the negotiations in 2008, and U.S. and Iranian officials met together secretly four years later in Oman to see if diplomatic progress was possible. But the process remained essentially stalemated until summer 2013, when Hassan Rouhani was elected president and declared his country ready for serious compromise.

    More secret U.S.-Iranian discussions followed, culminating in a face-to-face meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the United Nations in September 2013 and a telephone conversation between Rouhani and President Barack Obama. That conversation marked the two countries’ highest diplomatic exchange since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and the ensuing hostage crisis at the American embassy in Tehran.

    Kerry and Zarif took the lead in the negotiations. Two months later, in Geneva, Iran and the six powers announced an interim agreement that temporarily curbed Tehran’s nuclear program and unfroze some Iranian assets while setting the stage for Tuesday’s comprehensive accord.

    It took time to get the final deal, however. The talks missed deadlines for the pact in July 2014 and November 2014, leading to long extensions. Finally, in early April, negotiators reached framework deal in Lausanne, Switzerland, setting up the last push for the historic agreement.

    Protracted negotiations still lie ahead to put the agreement into practice and deep suspicion reigns on all sides about violations that could unravel the accord. And spoilers abound.

    In the United States, Congress has a 60-day review period during which Obama cannot make good on any concessions to the Iranians. U.S. lawmakers could hold a vote of disapproval and take further action.

    Iranian hardliners oppose dismantling a nuclear program the country has spent hundreds of billions of dollars developing. Khamenei, while supportive of his negotiators thus far, has issued a series of defiant red lines that may be impossible to reconcile in a deal with the West.

    And further afield, Israel will strongly oppose the outcome. It sees the acceptance of extensive Iranian nuclear infrastructure and continued nuclear activity as a mortal threat, and has warned that it could take military action on its own, if necessary.

    Similarly, the Sunni Arab rivals of Shiite Iran are none too happy, either, with Saudi Arabia in particularly issuing veiled threats to develop its own nuclear program.

    The post Iran agrees to landmark nuclear deal appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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