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

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    Ramadan comes to a close Friday, after a full month of fasting for Muslims around the world every day, from dawn until sunset.

    Here in Washington, D.C., that meant more than 16 hours of no food and no drink — no, not even water.

    But the month is also meant to be a time of extra charity, prayer, reflection and community. For many young Muslim Americans living away from family, it’s a time to seek out their own communities, especially when breaking the fast, or iftar, every evening.

    One of those communities is Green Muslims, a spiritually-inspired environmental group based in D.C. One of their annual events during Ramadan is a “leftar” — a community iftar potluck, where attendees are encouraged to bring a leftover dish to share, plus their own plates, utensils and water bottles to minimize trash and waste.

    “I hadn’t been previously aware of how much food is wasted in Ramadan,” said Omar Bagnied, one of the organizers of the leftar. “Especially in the Muslim community — how much Styrofoam is used, how much plastic water bottles are used?”

    “To see 60 or so people come out and choose to be more green during this month is beautiful,” said Asma Mahdi, another organizer. “It’s absolutely humbling to know that there are people that care about the environment on a very personal and spiritual level.”

    The post During Ramadan, a time for charity, prayer, reflection — and being green appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    shark

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    NewsHour shares web small logoIn our NewsHour Shares series, we show you things that caught our eye recently on the web. What about you? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or tweet to @NewsHour using #NewsHourShares. We might share it on air.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, our “NewsHour” Shares of the day, something that caught our eye which might be of interest to you, too.

    Beachgoers in the Cape Cod town of Chatham had a rare on-land encounter with a great white shark Monday. The seven-foot-long shark had been chasing seagulls and then was beached on shore when the tide went out; iPhone video of what happened next has drawn more than two million views on YouTube. It shows Chatham harbormaster Stuart Smith pouring buckets of water over the shark’s gills to keep it alive until help arrived.

    Smith and a colleague were able to tie a rope around the ailing animal and tow it back into the water. A second video posted yesterday shows what happened after rescuers resuscitated the shark and pulled it out to deeper water, where they waited to see if it would regain strength.

    WOMAN: Oh, look at him.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The shark swam away about three hours after the rescue effort started.

    GWEN IFILL: Must be summer. Sharks.

    The post A not-so-great day at the beach for this stranded great white shark appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    congo sexual victims

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    GWEN IFILL: The wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo are now over, and the country is rebuilding. For victims of sexual violence, that means medical and psychological treatment. For its perpetrators, its means prosecution.

    NewsHour special correspondent Jonathan Silvers tells the story from the eastern city of Bukavu.

    JONATHAN SILVERS: Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu Province, is slowly emerging from a conflict that spanned two decades and spared no one.

    Roughly half the people here have endured the violent death of a family member. Some 80 percent have been forced to flee their home at least once. With the economy shattered and basic supplies scarce, survival is a matter of improvisation.

    Conflict has left countless places around the world in a similar condition. What makes Bukavu extreme is the sexual violence that conflict has unleashed, according to the medical staff here at Panzi Hospital.

    DR. NADINE NEME, Panzi Hospital (through interpreter): What is typical? Rape is now typical. It wasn’t present in former rebellions. Now there is individual rape, mass rape, in churches, of boys, of entire families. This is all very new.

    JONATHAN SILVERS: Dr. Nadine Neme is director of a sexual violence unit at Panzi Hospital. She estimates that over one-third of the girls and women in the region have been raped, many brutally and on multiple occasions.

    WOMAN: Why is she bleeding in the bladder ? Something must have happened somewhere.

    DR. ELLINOR ADELROTH, Panzi Hospital: No. There was also a fistula so…

    WOMAN: OK. All right.

    JONATHAN SILVERS: Nongovernment organizations have provided the hospital with equipment that expedites diagnosis, but demand for emergency care far exceeds the hospital’s limited resources.

    For every woman taken in, another is turned away. Among the postoperative patients on the morning we arrived, a 4-year-old girl.

    DR. ELLINOR ADELROTH: This girl was raped about two, two-and-a-half months ago. And she was very malnourished when she came, except that she was totally damaged in the private parts.

    So we have had to fatten her up for two months. And then she had surgery about two weeks ago, which was successful. So, she’s basically bodily mended now, but who knows what will happen in the future with her.

    JONATHAN SILVERS:
    The hospital has treated roughly 30 young children in similar condition in the space of four months. All came from a nearby village.

    In addition to treating their patients’ medical needs, hospital staff are now gathering forensic evidence, in the hope that it may one day be used to identify and prosecute perpetrators.

    DR. NADINE NEME (through interpreter): Despite our efforts, there are no solutions. Nothing is quick. When government officials see what we see and fail to react, it’s revolting. You feel like taking them by the throat and shaking them. When things like this go on, it means we are no longer a society, because a society is about humanity, and when we lose our humanity, we are no longer a functioning society.

    JONATHAN SILVERS: With national institutions largely dysfunctional, local authorities are trying to respond to conflict-related violence and abuses of human rights.

    The Bukavu Police Department is making an effort to train its officers in modern crime scene techniques. That training is starting to pay off. Police captured this young man in the midst of a robbery. Upon arrival at the station house, they discovered that he’s a former soldier suspected of multiple rapes and murders.

    The overwhelming majority of perpetrators of sexual violence are soldiers and paramilitaries. Their maneuvers make them hard to pin down and they are often protected by their commanders, according to police commissioner David Boudelie.

    DAVID BOUDELIE, Deputy Police Commissioner, Bukavu Precinct (through interpreter): In times of war, the perpetrators are mostly armed soldiers. In times of peace, the majority of perpetrators, some 80 percent, are civilians.

    But they’re always the same people, between 17 and 40, jobless, poorly educated. In war, they get recruited to terrorize with weapons. Later, they continue to terrorize during the postwar disorder.

    JONATHAN SILVERS: While the international community has not intervened in sexual violence here, it has strongly condemned the crisis. In response, the DRC’s military has recently begun convening tribunals of soldiers charged with rape and sexual slavery.

    KAREN NAIMER, Physicians for Human Rights: So few survivors dare to come forward to speak about what happened to them. The stigma is unbelievable in their communities. They’re rejected by their families, by their husband, their parents, their children. They lose their livelihood. They lose any sense of place in their community. So speaking out about what happened to them comes at an enormous cost to them.

    JONATHAN SILVERS: Karen Naimer examines conflict-related sexual violence in sub-Saharan Africa for Physicians for Human Rights. She recently traveled to Bukavu to monitor an army trial of soldiers charged with rape and sexual slavery. Last year, over 150 soldiers and officers were tried in military operational courts like this one.

    KAREN NAIMER:
    But what we found over time is that even those survivors who do dare to come forward often fail at the local level because of inadequate evidence supporting their allegations.

    JONATHAN SILVERS: One of the cases that Naimer is monitoring involved the sexual enslavement of an adolescent girl by a soldier. The girl is mentally impaired. During the trial, her identity was concealed by a head scarf and sunglasses.

    Just minutes after the session began, the military judges abandoned the rules and ordered the girl to remove her head covering and confront her oppressor in open court. The prosecutor objected, claiming the judge was violating rules, shaming the victim, and putting her at risk of retaliatory violence.

    The judge overruled the objection, and the girl complied. We turned off our cameras to protect her identity. The judges have yet to rule on the case.

    KAREN NAIMER: This is a tactic that is not uncommon in the Democratic Republic of Congo. And there is an outcry among so many people we work with, who are just desperate to find effective mechanisms to hold at least some of those responsible to account through a former judicial process.

    JONATHAN SILVERS: Despite the obstacles, Police Commissioner Boudelie has noticed an increase in women seeking assistance at the Bukavu Police Department. They have been encouraged by recent laws against gender-based violence enacted by the national government.

    But the courts often impose prohibitive fees on victims, typically equal to one month’s pay. Even then, the commissioner can’t promise that he will investigate. He earns $30 a month, and has no transportation, no resources and little support from the judiciary.

    DAVID BOUDELIE (through interpreter): There are so many challenges to aid the young girls. Above all, we need a vast number of professional investigators here with proper equipment. Otherwise, conditions will remain just as they are.

    JONATHAN SILVERS:
    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Jonathan Silvers in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo.

    The post Pain, stigma and little justice for victims of sexual violence in Democratic Republic of the Congo appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Riot policemen are seen during clashes in Athens, Greece July 15, 2015. Greek anti-establishment protesters threw dozens of petrol bombs at police in front of parliament on Wednesday ahead of a key vote on a bailout deal, in some of the most serious violence in over two years. Police responded with tear gas, sending hundreds of people fleeing in central Syntagma Square.  REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis - RTX1KFR8

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In Greece today, protesters clashed with police, as the prime minister struggled to persuade Parliament to approve the financial bailout deal he negotiated with his country’s creditors.

    The deal contains austerity measures that would hit Greek consumers hard.

    PBS NewsHour special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports from Athens.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Throughout the day, they marched to the Greek Parliament, condemning the austerity bill, with its tax hikes and public pension changes.

    PANOS GARGANOS, Socialist Workers Party: The Greek people have expressed themselves through the ballot box twice that they reject austerity. And despite this, they are getting the worst package we have had over the past five years.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: As evening fell, trouble began, youth throwing Molotov cocktails, and riot police firing back with tear gas, their goal, to stop the deal that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras struck on Monday with Greece’s creditors in a bid to earn a new bailout and stay in the Eurozone.

    Even Tsipras criticized the agreement on Greek television last night.

    PRIME MINISTER ALEXIS TSIPRAS, Greece (through interpreter): I am telling you right now, it is my responsibility that I signed a text I do not believe in. However, I am obliged to implement this text, because right now I must guarantee at least that the country and social groups shall not face destruction.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: But in Parliament today, the leftist leader faced the stiffest opposition from members of his own Syriza Party.

    RACHEL MAKRI, Greek Parliament Member, Syriza Party (through interpreter): There is no doubt that there is no way for me to say yes on a despicable agreement which will drive more Greek people to poverty and will destroy the development and social fabric of the country, whatever is left of it from the last five years.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: At least two members of the government resigned, rather than back the bailout deal. That left Tsipras relying on support from opposition parties, and even some of them strongly oppose the new economic measures. Greece’s finance minister tried to win over doubters today, underlining the potential benefits to Greece.

    EUCLID TSAKALOTOS, Finance Minister, Greece (through interpreter): This is a tough agreement. This is an agreement which only time will show whether it’s economically viable. There are concerns about recession. There are concerns, but, under certain conditions, the combination of measures may finally lead to growth.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Any incentive the Greeks have to fully implement the austerity measures imposed by Europe have been completely undermined by a report from the International Monetary Fund. It says that Greece’s debt is unsustainable, that the country may have to take a 30-year break before making any repayments, and that the creditors may have to take a haircut.

    This is an analysis with which Germany, Europe’s biggest player, totally disagrees. Moreover, some in Greece warns that the instability of Tsipras’ government may delay any bailout funds.

    Nikos Konstandaras is the editor of Kathimerini, Greece’s most respected newspaper.

    NIKOS KONSTANDARAS, Editor, Kathimerini: But if we go into a period of great political uncertainty, I think that the European money will have to hold off to see what’s happening, who will own the program and who will run the reforms and the austerity that needs to be carried out.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Adding to the air of misery today, a 24-hour strike which crippled public transportation and even shut down pharmacies. Greece’s banks stayed closed, and it’s not clear when they will reopen.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Malcolm Brabant in Athens.

    The post Threat of tough bailout conditions spreads turmoil in Greece appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Sen. Ted Cruz

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    GWEN IFILL: We return now to the 2016 campaign, and our continuing conversations with the still-expanding universe of presidential candidates.

    That includes Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who jumped in the race first, and is now among its top Republican money-raisers. He’s the author of a new memoir, “A Time for Truth.” And he’s running.

    I sat down with him earlier today.

    Mr. Senator, thank you for joining us.

    SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Presidential Candidate: Well, thank you, Gwen. It’s good to be with you.

    GWEN IFILL: So, you write in your book that you want to paint in bold colors. That’s the kind of presidency you imagine, the kind of Washington you imagine.

    Has that worked for you in the Senate? And how would it work as president?

    SEN. TED CRUZ: Well, as you know, that’s a reference to what Ronald Reagan explained in terms of, number one, how we win, but, number two, how we turn the country around.

    And he said, we have to paint in bold colors and not pale pastels. And I think that is clearly needed. People are tired of politicians who say one thing and do another. And what I have tried to do in the Senate has really been very simple. It’s been two things. Tell the truth and do what I said I would do.

    GWEN IFILL: You are not known as being an accommodationist.

    And, in fact, you write in your book and you say at every opportunity, almost everybody else in Washington is. You describe the Washington cartel. Does that include people like Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, who come in for a little criticism in this book?

    SEN. TED CRUZ: Well, you know, it’s interesting you say an accommodationist.

    One of the areas that gets repeated a lot in the media is on compromise, that any conservative likes to be caricatured as you will never compromise.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    SEN. TED CRUZ: I will tell you, someone who has never said that is me.

    The day I was I elected, I said, listen, I will happily compromise with anyone, Republican, Democrat, independent, libertarian. I have joked I will compromise with Martians if they’re willing to shrink the size and power of the federal government, if they’re willing to promote economic growth, if they’re willing to expand individual liberty.

    What Washington gets wrong far too often is that too many people compromise going backwards. They compromise in a way that’s worse than the status quo, that digs the hole deeper, that makes it worse.

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s talk about compromise in a broader sense.

    Yesterday, as you know, there was an Iran nuclear deal cut. Scott Walker, one of your competitors, who you welcomed to the race, said that he — the first thing he would do as president is roll that back.

    What’s the first thing you would do as president?

    SEN. TED CRUZ: This deal is a catastrophic deal. It is an historic mistake and it endangers United States national security and it endangers the lives of millions of Americans and millions of our allies.

    So, any president worth his salt should repudiate this deal in the very first days of his or her presidency. But I don’t think it is a reasonable middle ground to do, as the Obama administration is trying to do, to allow them, in fact, to accelerate Iran’s developing nuclear weapons.

    This is a deal that is profoundly dangerous to our national security.

    GWEN IFILL: I would like to bring you back to 2016 for a moment.

    SEN. TED CRUZ: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: You are on your way to New York later today…

    SEN. TED CRUZ: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: … as we speak here this morning, to meet with Donald Trump, one of your competitors. Do you think that he can be president?

    SEN. TED CRUZ: Well, listen, I like Donald Trump, and I think he’s bold. I think he’s brash. I’m glad he’s in the race.

    GWEN IFILL: Does that mean that you agree with his policy prescriptions?

    SEN. TED CRUZ: Well, we need to wait and see what his policy prescriptions are.

    I mean, we need — one of the aspects of politics is that you have to actually look at someone’s record, not just what they say on the campaign. It’s interesting. There are a lot of what I call campaign conservatives, who, when they campaign, become conservatives, and, yet, when they’re in office, they don’t govern as conservatives.

    GWEN IFILL: But I have to ask you, is Donald Trump a conservative?

    SEN. TED CRUZ: Well, we will give him the opportunity to lay out his record and lay out of his views.

    But what I am not going to do is join with the Washington cartel in smacking him. Trump is focusing on illegal immigration. He is focusing on sanctuary cities. And just about all of the other candidates have vocally and vigorously embraced amnesty for years.

    And, Gwen, the reason they embrace amnesty is the Washington cartel supports amnesty. You know who’s losing? The Ohio steelworker is losing. The single mom who is waiting tables is losing. The legal immigrant, like my dad who washed dishes making 50 cents an hour, they’re the ones losing.

    GWEN IFILL: You talk a lot about your dad, a Cuban-American. You are Cuban-American.

    Bobby Jindal, who we talked to on the program yesterday, says this hyphenated American thing is nonsense, even though Marco Rubio and you both identify that way. How — let’s talk about heritage a little bit. How important is that in this race?

    SEN. TED CRUZ: Well, look, our heritage is integral to who all of us are.

    I mean, we are all the product of our family journey. It’s one of the things I try to do in the book “A Time for Truth” is lay out my family journey going back generations, going back to my great-grandfather coming to Cuba, dying in the worldwide influenza epidemic, to my grandfather growing up on a sugarcane plantation, basically in indentured servitude, and then going — when he was a teenager, a bus came by in Cuba, offered everyone $5 and a sandwich to go to a political rally.

    GWEN IFILL: At what point do you become just an American and not a Cuban-American? And that’s Bobby Jindal’s point.

    SEN. TED CRUZ: Oh, I’m emphatically an American. But I’m also a Cuban, Irish, Italian man. My mom is Irish and Italian. That’s a big part of who I am.

    Every one of us, we’re the product — one of the things I try to describe in the book are the journeys.

    GWEN IFILL: I do want to ask you a question about something you reference in your book, in which you say that one of your favorite country western songs is, “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

    What are your unanswered prayers?

    SEN. TED CRUZ: One of the things that I describe is the time I spent on the presidential campaign of George W. Bush.

    I was a young man. I was in my 20s. I had enjoyed a lot of success, and I was too cocky for my own good. And I burned some bridges on that campaign. And I had desperately wanted to go into the administration and to have a senior position in the White House.

    I wanted to be the young idealistic staffer in the Oval Office saying, Mr. President, do the right thing, stand by principle.

    And yet that didn’t happen. I didn’t get that. And that was my fault it didn’t happen. I had burned the bridges.

    GWEN IFILL: What lessons have you learned about burning bridges since then?

    SEN. TED CRUZ: When I referenced the country western song, it’s because, in hindsight, my wife, Heidi, says that that experience, she thinks, changed my personality in a very real sense, that I needed to get my teeth kicked in, that I needed to learn humility voluntarily, or involuntarily, as is usually the case.

    And the point I make is, if I had gotten what my hopes and dreams were at that point, if I had gotten that senior position, there’s no chance on earth I would be serving in the Senate right now. If I had gone to the White House, it would have done what it does to so many other young staffers. They become convinced they’re terribly, terribly important.

    GWEN IFILL:
    But now you’re ready?

    SEN. TED CRUZ: Yes.

    And I will tell you, the reason I’m running, this country is in crisis. Growing up in our house, there was always an urgency to politics. It wasn’t pick up the newspaper, turn on the NewsHour, oh, that’s interesting, that’s what’s happening.

    It was having principled men and women in office is how you save yourself from tyranny. It was an appreciation. I remember, when I was 9 and 10 years old, cheering the Ronald Reagan campaign, watching those debates as a kid. And it was about, can we get back to principles of liberty that enable people like my dad to start with nothing and achieve anything?

    And I think we’re at a similar crisis point. The Obama-Clinton foreign policy is a manifest disaster. The world is literally on fire.

    GWEN IFILL: And you’re the man to put out the fire?

    SEN. TED CRUZ: The American people are the only force strong enough to put out the fire.

    The biggest divide we have got politically, it is not between Republicans and Democrats. It’s between career politicians in Washington in both parties and the American people.

    GWEN IFILL:
    Well, we are going to watch this debate play out all year long and part of next year as well.

    Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, thank you for joining us.

    SEN. TED CRUZ: Thank you, Gwen.

    The post Sen. Ted Cruz: Any president worth his salt would overturn the Iran deal appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A new close-up image of a region near Pluto?s equator reveals a range of youthful mountains rising as high as 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) above the surface of the icy body, in a picture released by NASA in Laurel, Maryland July 15, 2015.  A U.S. spacecraft sailed past the tiny planet Pluto in the distant reaches of the solar system on Tuesday, capping a journey of 3 billion miles (4.88 billion km) that began nine and a half years ago. NASA's New Horizons spacecraft passed by the ice-and-rock planetoid and its entourage of five moons at 7:49 a.m. EDT (1149 GMT). The event culminated an initiative to survey the solar system that the space agency embarked upon more than 50 years ago.  REUTERS/NASA New Horizons/Handout via Reuters   TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - RTX1KFQC

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: After a three-billion-mile journey by a spacecraft named New Horizons, NASA finally had the chance today to release the first ever close-up photos of the dwarf planet Pluto.

    The images showed mountains on the surface and features as small as a half-a-mile in size. Scientists showed the pictures at a news conference, and said they could very well change the way they think about Pluto and that area of the solar system known as the Kuiper belt.

    JOHN SPENCER, NASA: The most striking thing geologically is we have not yet found a single impact crater on this image.

    This means this is a very young surface, because Pluto’s been bombarded by objects in the Kuiper belt and it’s bound — craters happen. So, we — just eyeballing it, we think it has to be probably less than 100 million years old, which is a small fraction of the 4.5 billion-year age of the solar system.

    Science correspondent Miles O’Brien was watching that news conference today, and he joins us from Boston.

    So, Miles, this is exciting. What do these pictures show?

    MILES O’BRIEN: A much more interesting feature-filled place than we probably expected.

    I don’t know about you, Judy, but I always thought about Pluto as being this dark, lifeless, icy ball way distant in the far reaches of our imagination. But the closer we get to Pluto, the more interesting the features are, 11,000-foot peaks made of ice and, very interestingly, a surface that is not pockmarked, as our moon is, and that’s an interesting clue for planetary scientists, because when you look a place like our moon and you see all those crater impacts, you can say, well, that’s a dead planet.

    There’s no geologic activity, no tectonic activity. But Pluto and Charon, its moon, they’re kind of a binary system, are amazingly crater-free. So, that means they’re active. There’s geologic activity, maybe a molten core and who knows what else beneath that icy surface. So, it’s very exciting.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, when you say ice on the mountains and on the surface, are you saying ice as we know it on Earth?

    MILES O’BRIEN: Water ice apparently on Pluto and water ice on Charon.

    What’s interesting about this is, wherever we look on our planet and find liquid water, we find life. Now, we see ice on these two bodies. If they do, in fact, have molten cores and there is geologic activity, could there be underground liquid aquifers? Maybe.

    The scientists won’t go that far this day. They don’t have the data to prove it, but it opens up the imagination, doesn’t it? Could there be microscopic Plutonians out there? Who knows.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, how much more, Miles, can they tell about what’s in and what is on Pluto from this spacecraft that is still how far away from the planet, from the dwarf planet?

    MILES O’BRIEN: Well, it whizzed by somewhere between 20 and 40 times faster than a speeding bullet on its way, way past Pluto already.

    It was a little less than 8,000 feet above the surface and it just Hoovered up as much data, took as many pictures as it could. As a matter of fact, it shut down communications with Earth, making the scientists have to sweat it out as it did its work. Now it’s sending back its data at the whopping rate of — I don’t know if you remember 2,400-baud.

    Well, half as fast as that, 1,000 baud, one kilobit per second. So it is going to take a while to get all this data in. But it’s filled with spectrometers which look at all manner of infrared and various aspects of the spectrum to sort of really suss out what’s going on in the atmosphere of Pluto, as well as what is going on, on the surface, and Charon as well.

    And this data along with some information about the amount of dust in the atmosphere, and then of course these visual images, as well as infrared images, will give them a real sense of what Pluto is made of. And what is interesting about this is, you have to think about the Kuiper belt as being the deep freeze with all the ingredients of what makes us in our solar system be what we are.

    So, if you want to see what we’re made of, go to the deep freeze, the Kuiper belt, and take a look. And you will see what we’re made of. So there’s a real connection to how our planet evolved.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And what can you tell us about this — I guess there has been a lot of conversation about this heart-shaped area on Pluto. What’s that all about?

    MILES O’BRIEN: We don’t know. It’s a very — it’s interestingly — for a planet which has more features than we thought, this heart-shaped light area which appears to be like a valentine is, relatively speaking, featureless. What is it? We don’t know.

    It just got named for the founder of Pluto, Clyde Tombaugh, who found it out at the Percival Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona, in 1930, who’s ashes apparently are on board the New Horizons spacecraft. And it was just named for him by the scientists.

    But this will be an area of a lot of interest right now. And they will be looking at the edges of this area, where this lighter area meets a darker area around it, to see if they can figure out what’s going on.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, dare I ask you about that point? There is some conversation out there about whether Pluto will be reconsidered and maybe it will be a planet after all. Is that settled that it’s not one?

    MILES O’BRIEN: Well, you know, if you ask the scientists, they have their rules and they will tell you Pluto is not a planet in the classic sense, because, if you made Pluto a planet, there is dozens of other objects like it in the Kuiper belt, and so you would have to keep going on and on.

    And so we have to draw the line somewhere. I say, number one, Pluto should be grandfathered in because we all love Pluto, as an example of Kuiper belt objects.

    (LAUGHTER)

    MILES O’BRIEN: And, number two, it’s the only binary system in our solar system, so it should get a special exemption.

    I say Pluto gets grandfathered in, and that’s the end of it. But if you’re talking to Neil Tyson or Mike Brown at Caltech, they get their scientific dander up when I say that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, there’s nobody we’d rather look at the Kuiper belt with than Miles O’Brien.

    We thank you.

    (LAUGHTER)

    MILES O’BRIEN: You’re welcome, Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you can watch much more about this mission on NOVA tonight. “Chasing Pluto” airs later this evening on most PBS stations.

    The post Welcome to Pluto, where you’ll find mountains the size of the Rockies appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Iranians celebrate on the streets following a nuclear deal with major powers, in Tehran July 14, 2015. Iran's president Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday a nuclear deal with major powers would open a new chapter of cooperation with the outside world after years of sanctions, predicting the "win-win" result would gradually eliminate mutual mistrust.  REUTERS/TIMA
ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. - RTX1KAPQ

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    GWEN IFILL: As U.S. critics of the nuclear agreement debate its merits, there is disagreement about whether it will achieve its intended goals elsewhere as well, including in Iran.

    Jeffrey Brown has that story.

    JEFFREY BROWN: While members of Congress debated the merits of the nuclear deal, there was also plenty of reaction in Iran itself, some pockets of celebration, some wariness about what it means and whether it’s a positive outcome.

    I spoke to New York Times Tehran bureau chief Thomas Erdbrink a short time ago.

    Thomas Erdbrink, welcome.

    Let’s start in the streets, where the reaction from ordinary Iranians seems to have been somewhat muted?

    THOMAS ERDBRINK, The New York Times: Well, a bit more muted than I expected, that’s for sure.

    I mean, you must consider the fact that these people have been living under these sanctions for years now, and a lot of people expected a massive street party, if you will, yesterday night when the news of the nuclear deal was announced. But it didn’t happen.

    There were several pockets of jubilation, if you will, across town, and a lot of people were out in their cars. But when you spoke to them, when you asked them, are you really happy, there were a lot of people with doubts. Some people said, maybe we have given up our nuclear plan too easily. Maybe we haven’t negotiated enough.

    Another says, you know what? Why have we suffered so much for 12 years, only for our leaders now to make a deal with the United States? So there was a mixed picture on the streets last night. People were confused and some were critical.

    JEFFREY BROWN: There were even reports of police showing up to tamp down some of the celebrations that were happening.

    THOMAS ERDBRINK:
    Well, I think, often in Iran, when you get a sort of semi-spontaneous gathering, some of the authorities get nervous.

    And in the case of one of the squares where I was also president, people started shouting slogans in favor of the opposition leaders. Now, at that point, the police came out and sort of dispersed the people, only for them to later be allowed to again rejoin.

    There wasn’t a very tense situation. Actually, the atmosphere overall in the streets was very jubilant. People were honking their cars. They were happy, but, yes, there were also signs of criticism in the form of support for those opposition leaders that are under house arrest.

    One of the election promises of Mr. — President Hassan Rouhani has actually been to get them freed, so people are reminding him of that fact as well.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Now, just as President Obama faces a political fight over this, there are hard-liners in Iran against the deal. How much clout do they have and how might they go about trying to undercut it?

    THOMAS ERDBRINK: Well, the picture is not as clear-cut as it is in the United States.

    Iran’s hard-liners, or conservatives, or however you want to label them, control several important power centers in the Islamic Republic, the state television, security forces, a large part of the economy. Now, these people have gone along with the deal because Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has sort of supported the negotiations.

    And not only Iran’s hard-liners, but basically everybody in this country is now waiting for what Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei will say, and the first opportunity will be on Saturday, when he will speak before the nation marking the end of Ramadan. And a lot of the analysts expect him then to also give either his blessing for the nuclear deal or voice some critical points that he might have.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, you’re saying it can’t yet be considered a done deal from an Iranian perspective until he speaks?

    THOMAS ERDBRINK:
    Technically, this deal is not signed by any of the parties.

    Just as Congress will have a say in sort of agreeing or opposing this deal, in Iran, the Parliament will also have a say, in effect, whether this is a good deal or not. So, this is an on-site deal. It’s called an agreement, a plan of action. So it’s not the end of the story, as Iran’s foreign minister said.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Finally, is there a sense, an expectation among people that lifting sanctions could have a real impact in the lives of ordinary citizens or even perhaps lead to some political change there?

    THOMAS ERDBRINK:
    For now, this news is sinking in very slowly. Iranians have been living through this roller coaster of negotiations for the past 22 months.

    They have gone through deadline after deadline. And, by now, a lot of people are telling me, we have to see it to believe it first. And if you ask me about political change, that might be the hope by many in the West, that this deal will bring some form of Westernization of Iran. But if you listen closely to Iran’s leaders, and you will conclude that they will not allow Starbucks and McDonald’s to open up here in the wake of a broader Western change.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Thomas Erdbrink of The New York Times, thanks so much.

    THOMAS ERDBRINK: Thanks for having me.

    The post In Iran, celebration and wariness about nuclear deal appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    senators

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Attention does now shift to Congress, which will have 60 days, starting next week, to conduct its own review.

    Joining me now are two lawmakers who serve on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Republican Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia.

    And we welcome you both to the program.

    Senator Isakson, to you first.

    You had a chance to look at this agreement. What do you make of it so far? What do you think — what are you comfortable with? What are your concerns?

    SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON (R), Georgia: Well, first of all, I’m on page three of 158 pages, so I have got a ways to go.

    I have been to a number of briefings. I listened to the president. I’m skeptical and concerned, particularly about a couple of factors. One is, after five years, we lift the conventional arms embargo on the Iranians. And they will be back in the arms shipping business in the Middle East, arms that will probably be used against Israelis and against Americans, peacekeepers.

    Secondly, the Fordow facility, the underground bunker facility that they have their most advanced facility, will be open to enrich uranium and weapons-grade materials after the 15th year, and the fact there are a number of thresholds from year 8.5 and year 10 and year 12 which continues to reduce the pressure on the Iranians, until they get to a point where they will have a bomb probably within 15 years.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The president did address some of those points today. But I want to come — and I will come back to that in a minute.

    But, Senator Kaine, what about you? What do you make of this agreement at this point?

    SEN. TIM KAINE
    (D), Virginia: Well, Judy, what I’m trying to do is two things, to determine how the agreement matches with the April 2 framework, because I think if it matches the April 2 framework and there is a solid verification and inspection regime, I think it’s going to be good for our national security.

    Just one point. This is a reduction of the uranium stockpile that Iran has by 98 percent. They have nearly 10,000 kilograms, more than that now. They would reduce it down to less than 300 and cap it.

    And I have heard nobody else offer a plan that would get Iran to give up 98 percent of their enriched uranium stockpile. That’s a positive.

    Now, I do have some questions. Some sanctions are lifted that are nuclear in nature, but other sanctions not related to the nuclear program remain in place. Exactly how those interplay, I think that is a complicated question. And that’s one of the reasons why we need to take the 60 days to ask the questions.

    But there are some positives in there about centrifuges and uranium and then some other questions I want to dig in to.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me pick up with Senator Isakson on the positives you mentioned.

    Senator Isakson, we just heard Senator Kaine talk about the fact that the centrifuges are cut back in number, that the amount of enriched uranium that Iran would be able to hold on to is drastically reduced. Why is that not reassuring to you?

    SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON: It’s reassuring that it slows down the process that they have made, but it also gives them incremental steps between year one and year 15 to be back where they were before.

    The best day of the treaty for the United States of America appears to be the first day, and the best day for the Iranians appears to be each day after that, because sanctions and other requirements are lifted. I again have to read all the details and go to all the briefings.

    But I’ll tell you this. A nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable to me. A nuclear proliferation race in the Middle East is unacceptable to me. And if we’re making it easier for either one of those two things to happen, I am very reluctant to be supportive.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Kaine, what about this point again that Senator Isakson is raising, that at the end of this time period — I will just tell you, what the president said at his news conference today is that during this 10 — eight-, 10-, 15-year period, the U.S. is going to be monitoring very closely what Iran does, and that everything they do will be visible. Even if they try to do something in a covert manner, there will be an ability on the part of the U.S. and its partners to stop it.

    SEN. TIM KAINE: I think the senator’s put his finger on a good point that I would turn around and argue as a positive.

    His concern is, would we get to the end of 15 years and Iran might be close to a nuclear weapon? They were months away from it in 2013. And the interim negotiation, which many said was a horrible mistake, a historic mistake, a big giveaway to Iran, has ended up slowing and even rolling back their program.

    Could you imagine a point at year 15 or 25 where they might do something bad? Yes, you could, and that’s why the verification is important. But remember that we were at that point two years ago. So, I think even the critics sort of implicitly acknowledge their concern for 10 or 15 years down the road. This is something that has brought a significant amount of peace for the world.

    What we have got to do, we have got to look into it and ask these questions, especially about the verification, because that’s going to have to satisfy me to go with this deal. But, if it does, you will see this rollback over a significant period of time, and that was dramatically better than the status quo ante, which is in the U.S.’ interests and others as well.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Senator Isakson, another point we heard the president make today is that to believe that Iran is prepared to give up its nuclear ambitions altogether is just — I’m not quoting him, but, in effect, he was saying it’s wishful thinking, that this is a country that has come a long way in its nuclear program, and that what this agreement does is stop that in a significant way for a period of time that then gives Iran a chance to turn in other directions.

    Is that an argument that could be persuasive, do you think, to you and other Republicans?

    SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON:
    Well, going back to what Tim just said a minute ago, verification is going to be a huge issue to be able to support that the Iranians are doing what they’re supposed to do.

    I was part of the New START treaty. Tim was, too. We have great verifications with the Russians in that. This deal is totally different. It’s up to 23 to 24 days after notice before the Iranians have to let anybody in. That is a real problem for me.

    I want to trust, but I want to be able to verify and do so correctly. The Iranians haven’t proven to be honest brokers in dealing with them for a long, long period of time. If we don’t have good, tight protection, we’re in trouble.

    And one other thing I want to mention. Within 90 days after this period starts, the next 90 days, the IAEA has to be satisfied that all their pending, outstanding arguments with the Iranians are satisfied. If they certify that they’re satisfied, the U.N. and the E.U. immediately lift their sanctions against the Iranians, and President Obama is going to sign a national security waiver to lift ours.

    So, they’re getting everything they want within 90 days of signing an agreement. We’re talking about hoping to protract a problem for 15 years. That’s not much of a deal.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Kaine, where do you come down on that point?

    SEN. TIM KAINE: Well, remember, here’s where we were before the negotiations started November of 2013.

    They had 20,000 centrifuges and they had over 10,000 kilograms of enriched uranium, much of it near the 20 percent level that Prime Minister Netanyahu said was the red line. That’s where they were and they were rocketing ahead.

    Our sanctions hurt them economically, but it didn’t slow down their nuclear program. It accelerated their program. Now they have rolled that uranium back to less than 5 percent. They are going to cap it and give up 97 percent of their stockpile. They’re going to give up two-thirds of their centrifuges and agree to inspections which we didn’t have before.

    I want to have a credible military threat if they ever break toward a nuclear weapon. Part of a military threat is having inspections that give you intel about where their program is. We’re getting all this that we didn’t have before the negotiation. And, again, we have got to dig into the details. And I want to take the full 60 days.

    I was a co-author of the review bill with Senator Corker.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

    SEN. TIM KAINE: We have got to dig in, but we have a lot under this that we didn’t have before the diplomatic effort started.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Senator Isakson, that is another point the president made today, that this inspections agreement gives the United States and other countries eyes into Iran that we do not — that the rest of the world doesn’t have now.

    I finally want to ask you, though, about the president’s point today that the alternative to a deal like this or to this deal is to increase the likelihood of war in the Middle East. Do you see that as the other option? What is the alternative if this deal is the wrong answer?

    SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON: You know, I was in business for a long, long period of time, and the best deals I ever made are the ones I walked away from and the other side came and asked me back.

    The fact that bothers me on this is how much we have given up of the sanctions at the beginning, how much we have given up in terms of our leverage and how little record there is of trustworthiness on the part of the Iranian government.

    You just made an interesting point. Yes, the sanctions have hurt the people of Iran, but while they have been hurt by the sanctions, the Iranian government has continued to enrich uranium, work on a bomb, work on the military’s capability. That just shows you what their highest priority is. We have got to make sure that that bomb is thwarted in every way we possibly can.

    SEN. TIM KAINE: And, Judy, I think we have to look at alternatives. It’s not just, well, I would have negotiated a better deal if I had been at the table. What are the alternatives?

    And they’re not pretty. Senator Cotton said, hey, a war against Iran will only take a couple of days. OK, that’s an alternative. But I think if you look at the alternatives on the table, inspections that we didn’t have before, a dramatic rollback of their enriched uranium that we didn’t have before, a reduction in centrifuges that we didn’t have before, and a series of other provisions, if the analysis of the details bears that out, you know, I think it could be very, very good for America’s national security.

    We have just got to make sure that the deal does what the talking point says it does.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Senator Tim Kaine, Senator Johnny Isakson, we know this is just the beginning of the examination of that deal.

    We thank you for talking with us.

    SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON:
    Thank you, Judy.

    SEN. TIM KAINE:
    Absolutely.

    The post Senators discuss Iran deal first impressions, concerns appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Barack Obama takes a question during a news conference about the recent nuclear deal reached with Iran, in the East Room of the White House in Washington July 15, 2015.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RTX1KFQD

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    GWEN IFILL: The administration went all out today to sell the freshly-signed Iran nuclear agreement to Congress and to the American public. President Obama led the offensive, appearing at a White House news conference that lasted more than an hour. And when he didn’t get the questions he wanted, he asked them himself.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I really am enjoying this Iran debate.

    GWEN IFILL: With the ink on the deal barely dry, the president used an extended session with the White House press corps to make his case.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I can say with confidence, but more importantly nuclear experts can say with confidence that Iran will not be in a position to develop a nuclear bomb. We will have met our number one priority.

    And my hope is that building on this deal, we can continue to have conversations with Iran that incentivize them to behave differently in the region, to be less aggressive, less hostile. But we’re not counting on it.

    GWEN IFILL: Hours earlier, the Iranian negotiating team returned to Tehran, triumphant.

    ALI AKBAR SALEHI, Head of Atomic Energy Organization, Iran (through interpreter): Thanks to God, the enrichment of uranium, the main part of our nuclear activities, has been recognized. This is a big thing. The nuclear activism of Iran will not be decreased, but will be increased.

    GWEN IFILL: But that sort of rhetorical victory lap has enraged critics of the deal, especially in Israel, where the government’s point man on nuclear matters mocked the U.S.-led coalition that negotiated it.

    YUVAL STEINITZ, Israeli Energy Minister: Like the beautiful story of the new emperor’s clothes, Israel is the little child that is pointing its finger and saying the king is naked. This agreement is naked.

    GWEN IFILL: At the White House today, the president took all such charges head on.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You’ll hear some critics say, “Well, we could have negotiated a better deal.” OK. What does that mean?

    I think the suggestion among a lot of the critics has been that a — a better deal, an acceptable deal would be one in which Iran has no nuclear capacity at all, peaceful or otherwise.

    GWEN IFILL:
    He argued that completely denying Iran nuclear capacity was never possible, and he again framed the debate as a choice between this deal or the prospect of war.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I challenge those who are objecting to this agreement, number one to read the agreement before they comment on it, number two to explain specifically where it is that they think this agreement does not prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and why they’re right, and then present an alternative.

    And if the alternative is that we should bring Iran to heel through military force, then those critics should say so.

    GWEN IFILL: But he was asked, what if Iran cheats? What would the U.S. and its allies do then?

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Now, one of the advantages of having inspections across the entire production chain is that it makes it very difficult to set up a covert program.

    You know, there are only so many uranium mines in Iran. And if in fact we’re counting the amount of uranium that’s being mined, and suddenly some is missing on the back end, they got some ‘splaining to do.

    GWEN IFILL:
    But Mr. Obama was visibly annoyed when reporter Major Garrett of CBS suggested he was content to leave four Americans held hostage in Iran out of the deal.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The notion that I’m content as I celebrate with American citizens languishing in Iranian jails, Major, that’s — that’s nonsense, and you should know better.

    Now, if the question is why we did not tie the negotiations to their release, think about the logic that that creates. Suddenly, Iran realizes, you know what? Maybe we can get additional concessions out of the Americans by holding these individuals.

    GWEN IFILL:
    The president also faces skepticism in Congress. And, today, Vice President Biden went to the Capitol to begin selling the deal, especially to House Democrats.

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    Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 6.44.00 PM

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Iranian nuclear weapons agreement dominated President Obama’s news conference today at the White House. He took on critics at home and abroad and appealed to Congress for its support. We will hear some of what he said and talk with members of Congress right after the news summary.

    GWEN IFILL: The president also weighed in on Bill Cosby during the news conference. Court documents now show the actor/comedian admitted he obtained quaaludes to drug women for sex. Since that revelation, some have called for Cosby’s Presidential Medal of Freedom to be revoked. Mr. Obama said there’s no mechanism for revoking a Medal of Freedom, but he told reporters in the East Room the larger allegations are clear.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If you give a woman, or a man, for that matter, without his or her knowledge, a drug and then have sex with that person without consent, that’s rape. And I think this country, any civilized country, should have no tolerance for rape.

    GWEN IFILL: Former President George W. Bush awarded the Medal of Freedom to Cosby in 2002.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: For the first time, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Omar, has endorsed peace talks with Kabul. The written statement was posted online today. In it, the reclusive leader doesn’t directly mention talks held last week in Pakistan.

    Instead, he says, “Peaceful interactions with the enemies is not prohibited.” He goes on to say, “The objective is to bring an end to the occupation and to establish an independent Islamic system in our country.”

    GWEN IFILL: In Yemen, militia fighters allied with the government recaptured more ground today in the strategic port city of Aden. It’s their first major advance since Shiite rebels seized the city back in march. Battles raged in several neighborhoods as militia fighters, including many in armored vehicles, pressed their offensive. They’re backed by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A German man in his ’90s was convicted today of being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 Jews at the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp.

    Juliet Bremner of Independent Television News reports on the verdict handed down in a German court.

    JULIET BREMNER: A frail 94-year-old Oskar Groening admits his moral guilt. Today, a German court decided neither his age nor his willingness to speak of his Nazi past would absolve him of his crimes.

    He was only 21 when he worked as a guard at Auschwitz, but he admits he knew what was happening there. His job at the concentration camp was to count the money confiscated from prisoners. He became known as the bookkeeper.

    Amongst Holocaust survivors who meet regularly in North London, one man, Ivor Perl, agreed to go back to Germany and testify against Groening.

    IVOR PERL, Holocaust Survivor: I looked around to see an old man being — walked in and was in the frame. And, suddenly, I thought to myself, wait a minute, I feel pity for that man. And I was annoyed in a sense. I expected it to be an officer there in German uniform in the S.S. which I could hate.

    JULIET BREMNER: He was 12 years old when he and his family of 11 were taken to Auschwitz. Just two survived.

    Although he was given a four-year sentence, it is uncertain Groening will ever actually be sent to jail.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: News of today’s conviction came as another former Auschwitz guard also in his ’90s was indicted as an accessory to murder.

    GWEN IFILL: U.S. authorities and investigators from 20 countries say they have shut down one of the largest online forums for cyber-criminals. The Justice Department announced today that Darkode served as a marketplace for buying stolen data and malicious software.

    U.S. attorney David Hickton made the announcement in Pittsburgh, where the FBI has a large cyber-crime unit.

    DAVID HICKTON, U.S. Attorney: Of the roughly 800 criminal Internet forums worldwide, Darkode represented one of the gravest threats to the integrity of data on computers in the United States and around the world and the most sophisticated English-speaking forum for criminal computer hackers in the world.

    GWEN IFILL: The roundup is targeting more than 70 suspects worldwide.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And on Wall Street, stocks mostly marked time today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost three points to close at 18050. The Nasdaq fell about six points, and the S&P 500 slipped just a single point.

    The post News Wrap: Afghan Taliban leader endorses peace talks with Kabul appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The Eagles, Carole King, George Lucas.

    These are names you don’t often see paired together, but they were three of the artists announced as recipients of this year’s Kennedy Center Honors. The award is meant to celebrate an individual’s lifetime artistic achievements. Rita Moreno, Seiji Ozawa, and Cicely Tyson will also be honored.

    Now in its 38th year, the annual Honors Gala is a veritable who’s who of arts and culture, with honorees being saluted by leading entertainers from around the country. This year’s celebration will be held on Sunday, December 6th, and will be produced by Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss. The celebration will then air on CBS on December 29th.

    Here’s a closer look at this year’s nominees:

    Rita Moreno

    Actress Rita Moreno. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters.

    Actress Rita Moreno. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters.

    Rita Moreno has received the four most prestigious awards in show business: the Oscar, the Tony, The Emmy and the Grammy. She has also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the National Medal of Arts, as well as the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. Moreno, who debuted on Broadway at the age of 13, has starred on Broadway, the West End, and appeared in more than 40 feature films and countless television shows.

    Seiji Ozawa

    Maestro Seiji Ozawa. Photo by Yuya Shino/Reuters.

    Maestro Seiji Ozawa. Photo by Yuya Shino/Reuters.

    Seiji Ozawa served as Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 29 seasons. He also founded the Saito Kinen Orchestra and the Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival, which have become Japan’s pre-eminent music and opera festivals. He is committed to providing opportunities to young musicians, and to that end, he has established the Ozawa International Chamber Music Academy in Okushiga, and the Seiji Ozawa International Music Academy in Switzerland.

    Cicely Tyson

    Actress Cicely Tyson. Photo by Danny Moloshok/Reuters.

    Actress Cicely Tyson. Photo by Danny Moloshok/Reuters.

    Actress Cicely Tyson has received three Emmys, a Tony, the Drama Desk award, and the outer Critics Circle award for her work. She is best known for her performance as Jane in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, and has appeared on Broadway and in numerous films and television shows. She recently returned to Broadway after the 30 year hiatus.

    Carole King

    Singer Carole King. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    Singer Carole King. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    A musical icon, her songs – famous tunes such as “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “The Loco-Motion” and “You’ve Got a Friend” – are instantly recognizable. More than 400 of King’s compositions have been recorded by more than 1,000 artists, and she has composed more than 100 hit singles. King is also an environmental activist who strongly supports wilderness preservation.

    The Eagles

    Members of the band The Eagles (L - R) Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit.  Photo by Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

    Members of the band the Eagles (L – R) Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit. Photo by Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

    For many, the Eagles defined an era. Selling more than 120 million albums worldwide, and topping the singles charts five times, the band has been incredibly successful. Their album, “Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975,” is the second greatest-selling album of all time.

    George Lucas

    Filmmaker George Lucas. Photo by Edgar Su/Reuters.

    Filmmaker George Lucas. Photo by Edgar Su/Reuters.

    In “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones,” George Lucas created two of the most beloved film series of all time. He’s also known as a pioneer in developing new digital technologies. He has been awarded the National Medal of the Arts, as well as the National Medal of Technology. He founded the George Lucas Educational Foundation, and serves as a board member of The Film Foundation.

    The post Rita Moreno, George Lucas among 2015 Kennedy Center Honorees appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    onstage during The 2015 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 15: Honoree Caitlyn Jenner accepts the Arthur Ashe Courage Award onstage during The 2015 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

    Honoree Caitlyn Jenner accepts the Arthur Ashe Courage Award onstage during The 2015 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.


    Former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner accepted the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at Wednesday’s ESPY’s awards. Jenner took the stage in a full-length white gown and commented on how much work it was to get ready for the event and the “Fashion Police” criticism beyond.

    “Please be kind to me. I’m new at this,” she joked.

    As soccer star Abby Wambach pointed out, many in the crowd and those watching on television knew Jenner, the athlete. But not until recently, when she came out as transgender, did people truly know the full story.

    Jenner said that she believes it is her responsibility to share her story “the right way” in the hopes that it will help people learn to better accept each other’s differences.

    “This transition has been harder on me than anything I could imagine. And that’s the case for so many others besides me. For that reason alone, trans people deserve something vital. They deserve your respect. And from that respect comes a more compassionate community, a more empathetic society, and a better world for all of us.”

    And she drew attention to the stark reality of suicides within the trans community, especially among young people.

    “It is an honor to have the word ‘courage’ associated with my life. But tonight another word comes to mind and that is ‘fortunate.’ I owe a lot to sports. It has shown me the world, it has given me an identity. If someone wanted to bully me, well, you know what? I was the MVP of the football team. That wasn’t going to be a problem. And the same thing goes tonight. If you want to call me names, make jokes, doubt my intentions, go ahead, because the reality is I can take it. But for the thousands of kids out there who are coming to terms with being true to who they are, they shouldn’t have to take it.”

    Watch Jenner’s full speech here.

    The post Caitlyn Jenner highlights struggles of trans kids during ESPYs speech appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    the science of screams

    A new study looks at the science of screams. Photo by Tara Moore/via Getty Images.

    The human scream triggers a range of emotions. It’s one of the few primal responses we share with other animals. Few sounds rank as powerful as the first cry of a newborn. But the shrieks of that same infant will one day rattle the nerves of fellow airplane travelers.

    A new study shines light how our brains and bodies respond to this sound that grips and consumes us. Neuroscientist Luc Arnal of the University of Geneva and colleagues show that screams possess a unique sound property that exists outside the boundaries of human speech. Regardless of loudness or words used, this acoustic feature shocks our core fear centers. The study was published Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

    All sound comes from the vibration of objects, whether these objects be drums or your vocal chords. The rate of vibration, known as frequency, determines the sound. When you hear a high-pitched squeal, you ears and brain are actually perceiving a sound with a high vibration rate.

    Though two human voices can sound exceedingly different — think Gilbert Gottfried versus James Earl Jones — humans (and animals) use a limited set of sound frequencies when communicating. When biologists like Arnal measure these sound patterns — using a model for organizing the volume and frequency called a “modulation power spectrum” — they find that our speech isn’t erratic. Instead, it features a uniform melody of frequencies and intensities, which both people and animals use over and over when communicating — typically it’s “low sounds with fine harmonies.” In fact, all natural sounds fall within this universal range of noises.

    Scream sound patterns

    Prior studies have shown that voices always use the same patterns of sound (left panel). Gender-related tones and intensities fall into their own realm (blue in left panel), while the meaning of our words lands in another (green in left panel). Screams produce an acoustic property called roughness that falls outside the bound of normal speech (brown in left panel), which scientists noted when a person screamed a sentence (middle panel) or recited it normally. Courtesy of Arnal et al., 2015, Current Biology.

    But when Arnal examined these sound spectrums of sentences spoken or screamed by 19 adults, he noticed something unusual. Unlike talking, screams cycle through a high variety of sounds in a quick timeframe. The result is an acoustic phenomenon akin to an uncomfortable rattle, known as the zona incognita or “roughness”.

    “Roughness is well known, but it has never been considered to be important for communication,” said Arnal said. “Our work is the first to show that roughness is useful to convey information, specifically about danger in the environment.”

    Arnal’s team asked 20 subjects to judge screams as neutral (1 point) or fearful (5 points), and found that the scariest almost always corresponded with roughness. The roughest sounds made the scariest screams. (You can hear the ranked screams in interactive to the right).

    The team then studied how the human brain responds to roughness using fMRI brain scanners. As expected, after hearing a scream, activity increased in the brain’s auditory centers — where sound coming into the ears is processed. But the scans also lit up in the amygdala, the brain’s fear center.

    The amygdala gauges whether a threat is real, regulating our emotional and physiological response to danger. This is how it works: We get angry or aggravated. Our adrenaline rises and vision gets clearer. This study found that screams have a similar influence on the body.

    “It isn’t explicitly stated anywhere that people should use roughness to create alarm signals. Sound engineers have been tapping into roughness by accident, just by trial and error.

    “We found that roughness improves behavior in various ways,” said Arnal, such as by increasing a subject’s reaction time to alarms and refining their perception of sounds.

    His team also found that roughness isn’t heard when we speak naturally, regardless of language, but it is rampant in artificial sounds. The most aggravating alarm clocks, car horns and fire alarms possess high degrees of roughness, according to the study.

    “It isn’t explicitly stated anywhere that people should use roughness to create alarm signals. Sound engineers have been tapping into roughness by accident, just by trial and error,” said Arnal.

    As expected, screams enter our ears and elevate brain activity on fMRI scans in our auditory cortex, which processes sound. But these shrieks also trigger our fear center, the amygdala, which may explain why they command our attention. Courtesy of Arnal et al., 2015, Current Biology.

    As expected, screams enter our ears and elevate brain activity on fMRI scans in our auditory cortex, which processes sound. But these shrieks also trigger our fear center, the amygdala, which may explain why they command our attention. Courtesy of Arnal et al., 2015, Current Biology.

    The responses that roughness provokes extend beyond the purely negative. Some people enjoy the fear triggered by a bloodcurdling scream in a horror movie, for example. This is because stimulating the amygdala increases not only adrenaline, but also natural painkillers called endorphins that create sensations of pleasure.

    The team found that dissonant tones used by musicians — two harmonic tones that clash — exhibit roughness too.

    “Dissonance is used a lot in rock music with saturated guitars, and we might add these unpleasant sounds because they move us,” Arnal said.

    The post Here’s why human screams make your skin crawl appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The White House has leveled a veto threat against Republican-led efforts to limit national mandates and enhance local control of education in an overhaul of "No Child Left Behind." (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

    The White House has leveled a veto threat against Republican-led efforts to limit national mandates and enhance local control of education in an overhaul of “No Child Left Behind.” (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

    WASHINGTON — The Senate voted Thursday to roll back significant parts of the much-criticized No Child Left Behind law, keeping the annual testing requirement but reducing the federal role in education.

    The 81-17 vote comes a week after the House passed its own rewrite and sets the stage for what could be contentious negotiations over the federal government’s influence in education policy.

    The Senate version would leave in place the law’s annual testing schedule. But, in a major shift, it would give states and districts more control over whether and how to use those tests to assess the performance of schools, teachers and students.

    The legislation, sponsored by Republican Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democrat Patty Murray of Washington, would prohibit the federal government from requiring or encouraging specific sets of academic standards, such as Common Core.

    Drafted by the states with the support of the Obama administration, the Common Core standards have become a rallying point for those who want a smaller federal role in education.

    Alexander called Senate passage “a big step forward” and said the goal now was reach a compromise with the House and send a final bill to President Barack Obama. The White House has threatened a veto of the House plan.

    The House legislation, sponsored by Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., also lessens federal involvement. It turns over power to the states to assess school performance and prevents the Department of Education from pushing Common Core or other standards on schools.

    But unlike the Senate bill, the House version allows federal money to follow low-income children to public schools of their choice, an issue known as portability. Democrats do not support it, and the Senate voted down the idea last week.

    Senators earlier Thursday rejected a series of amendments, including one from Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a GOP presidential candidate, that would have eliminated federal testing mandates and given states more say in how students are assessed.

    Also defeated was a proposal championed by Democrats that would have expanded pre-K programs for children of low-and-moderate income families.

    No Child Left Behind had bipartisan support and was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2002. It mandated annual testing in reading and math for students in grades three through eight and again in high school. Schools had to show student growth or face consequences such as cuts in funding.

    Critics complain there is too much testing and the law is too punitive on schools deemed to be failing.

    Congress has tried to update the law since it expired in 2007, though its mandates remained in place. The Obama administration began issuing waivers to states to get around some of the law’s strictest requirements when it became clear they would not be met.

    The post Senate vote moves No Child Left Behind education law closer to overhaul appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    In Chattanooga, Tennessee, Mayor Andy Berke has confirmed that five are dead in a shooting at two military facilities in Tennessee – four marines and the suspected shooter.

    In Chattanooga, Tennessee, Mayor Andy Berke has confirmed that five are dead in a shooting at two military facilities in Tennessee – four marines and the suspected shooter.

    Four marines and the suspected shooter – identified as Muhammad Youssef Abdulazee by the Associated Press – are dead after a shooting at two military facilities in Tennessee this morning. Three additional individuals were wounded.

    The shootings happened at two facilities roughly seven miles apart. At one facility, on Old Lee Highway, the shooter stopped in front of the building, and then shot at it. The other incident occurred at the Navy Operational Support Center and Marine Corps Reserve Center Chattanooga. All four marines killed were at that facility.

    Abdulazeez is believed to have been born in Kuwait, although it is unknown whether he is a U.S. or Kuwaiti citizen. The shooting is being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism. It is believed that the Abdulazee acted alone, and lived in the area.

    Speaking about the incident, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said, “Lives have been lost from some faithful people who have been serving our country, and I think I join all Tennesseans in being both sickened and saddened by this.”

    The post Suspected Chattanooga shooter identified appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The consequences of climate change and global warming. Coal-fired power station, Ferrybridge, UK Photo by Digital Vision/via Getty Images.

    A controversial, but cheap climate change solution of last resort has emerged known as “solar radiation management.” Photo by Digital Vision/via Getty Images.

    Editor’s Note: 2014 was officially the hottest year on record. Since 2000, the world has experienced 14 of the 15 hottest years on record. And today, the American Meteorological Society released a report on the state of climate in 2014, which noted that last year greenhouse gases continued to climb, sea surface temperatures hit a record high, the global sea level hit a record high and the number of tropical cyclones increased.

    What, you ask, can be done to address climate change?

    A controversial, but cheap solution of last resort has emerged known as “solar radiation management.” A geoengineering technique, it would shoot particles into the sky to reflect sunlight back to space.

    “The central idea is to make the planet a little bit more reflective, which tends to cool it down, because it will absorb less sunlight. And that will partially and imperfectly compensate for the buildup of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, which are tending to trap heat and make the earth warmer,” says Harvard environmental scientist David Keith, who works at the intersection of environmental science, energy technology and public policy.

    Economics correspondent Paul Solman sat down with David Keith to better understand solar geoengineering and its potential geopolitical and economic effects. Tune in tonight to watch Making Sen$e’s segment on the economic consequences of climate change. The text of the following conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.

    Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor


    Paul Solman: Is solar geoengineering a solution to climate change?

    David Keith: It’s certainly not a solution if by solution you mean that solar geoengineering is the only thing that could be done. If you do not bring the emissions of carbon at the atmosphere to zero, you can’t have a stable climate. It’s really as simple as that. And I think a lot of policy is being confused with crazy assumptions that it’s all one thing or another. The important question about solar geoengineering is: Would it make sense to do a small amount of it to reduce risks over the century in addition to cutting emissions?

    Paul Solman: But as I understand it, once you go down this path, a rich person could send up a bunch of Lear jets emitting sulfates to bounce the rays back towards the sun. That could have dramatic consequences one way or the other.

    David Keith: So it appears that it’s cheap enough that, in principle, it’s within the realm of possibility for the most wealthy people. But I think that’s actually a nonsense scenario. In practice, this would quickly become an issue of state negotiation and state power, not of individuals.

    Paul Solman: What about a rogue individual who domiciles in the Cayman Island or something like that?

    David Keith: I think it’s very implausible that it would be done on large scale by a single person — a Goldfinger.

    Paul Solman: But might there be a state, China for example, that comes to the conclusion that this is better than nothing — that it ought to do it at least for a while.

    David Keith: That’s much more plausible. I think the way this is actually most likely to happen is that some coalition of states decides that their risk of doing this is small compared to the benefits. They’re not doing it as an alternative to cutting emissions, but as a way to reduce risks to the humans most affected by climate change, especially the poor, and to ecosystems worldwide. And in that case, if it’s true that in fact the benefits are widespread and the risks aren’t very big, a likely outcome would be that other states loudly say, “We decry this unilateral action.” And privately they say, “We’re really happy somebody’s doing it.”

    Paul Solman: Do you think that’s going to happen?

    David Keith: It’s certainly plausible. I would say it’s more likely than not that people will use this as a way to reduce climate risks. If the current science as we now know it turns out to be roughly correct, then it looks like that it substantially reduces climate change on a region-by-region basis globally. So it reduces crop losses for the poorest and reduces the rate of melting for the big ice sheets and sea ice. And those are things people actually care about. So it’s pretty likely in my view that if that science is borne out, then people will in some form take the opportunity of reducing risk that way. Not as a substitute for cutting emissions, but in combination with cutting emissions.

    Paul Solman: And what are the risks of doing this?

    David Keith: There’s a whole series of risks. There’s the question of, what are the specific technical risks that come from whichever way people might try to reflect away some sunlight. We’re building experiments to actually test this in the stratosphere. So that might be sulfuric acid in the stratosphere, or sea salt sprays in the lower atmosphere, or what have you. All of those things will have individual specific risks. Then there’s the question of the efficacy of how well reflecting away sunlight compensates for the risk of CO2 build up. And the answer is quite imperfect, but the current evidence suggests that in fact it does a lot. That it might reduce surface climate changes by say, three quarters on a region-by-region basis globally. And that’s a gigantic benefit to people and ecosystems.

    Paul Solman: OK, so what has the U.S. done to regulate the environmental risks?

    David Keith: The United States Clean Air Act, which has regulated environmental pollution into the atmosphere, cost a lot. At the peak, it cost .08 percent of GDP. It has added or will have added by, say, 2020 almost a year to the life of the average American. It will have made us live a year longer by removing the pollutants that kill us. It’s the single probably most impactful healthy thing that the American government has done in the last quarter of century.

    Something in the order of say, 20,000 to 60,000 Americans die a year from air pollution from our power plants, our cars, etc. Globally, about 3 to 6 million people die every year. It causes heart disease, asthma, etc. Air pollution is the single, biggest environmental risk that there is.

    Paul Solman: Are any governments doing anything to combat climate change as whole and not just pollution?

    David Keith: The United States and a lot of other countries now, even China, have made huge progress cutting back on local air pollution which kills people. Why haven’t we made the same progress on climate? When you put air pollution in the atmosphere, it only lasts for days. So if you a make a political deal, let’s say, to cut pollution in L.A, it costs real money. Everyone gets a little poorer, but people see the air become cleaner in their lifetimes. And that’s a political deal people can buy and they’re buying now in Beijing. But for climate, if we cut emissions, almost all of benefit comes globally, and it will come over the entire century. And that’s a much harder political deal, because you may do the right thing and cut your emissions, but you have no confidence somebody else will. And they think the same about you. That’s the underlying reason why it’s really hard to get a deal on climate.

    The big risks of this technology fundamentally aren’t technical. They’re political. They’re the risk of how it gets used in a divided world. How do we set the thermostat in a world, where we have many different countries and many different interests and it’s really cheap to adjust the thermostat? In my view, all the really scary outcomes from geoengineering come when some country wants the climate one way and other countries want it another way. And they essentially fight over that.

    Paul Solman: But who would be in favor of more global warming?

    David Keith: I think no major country will be in favor of more global warming, but there are many ways it could really go off the rails. Let’s say China is concerned about weakening the strength of its monsoons. And let’s say they try this kind of geoengineering where they make the clouds wider off their coast, which might actually make the monsoon stronger. And Indian scientists believe it will make their monsoons worse. And that’s very plausible, because the monsoon has a kind of push-me-pull-you character in that part of the world. So what happens then? I mean these are nuclear-armed states. We don’t have the beginning of a policy about how we should settle those disputes.

    Paul Solman: So when I was a kid, I remember people talking about the inevitability of cloud seeding so that you would be able to make it rain when and where you wanted it. Is this like a hyper version of that problem?

    David Keith: Yes. In the sense that there might be, in the monsoon case, a situation where if China gets it a little better, India gets a little worse. I don’t know if that’s true. It could be the other way around. The point is there’s reason to believe it might be true, and that’s the kind of stuff that makes politics really hard.

    Paul Solman: Is your bottom line here to proceed with great trepidation when it comes to solar geoengineering?

    David Keith: My most important bottom line is, ignorance is dangerous. We have used a prejudice against this technology for decades to block essentially any research. Even now, there is no federal research program of any significant scale on a technology that has the potential to cut many of the key risks of climate change by, say, more than half over the century. These are enormous benefits. The thing we need is knowledge.

    The post A cheap but dangerous global warming fix appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Graphic by Kaiser Health News

    Graphic by Kaiser Health News

    The federal government released on Thursday a new five-star rating system for home health agencies, hoping to bring clarity to a fast-growing but fragmented corner of the medical industry where it’s often difficult to distinguish good from bad.

    Medicare applied the new quality measure to more than 9,000 agencies based on how quickly visits began and how often patients improved while under their care. Nearly half received average scores, with the government sparingly doling out top and bottom ratings.

    The star ratings come as home health agencies play an increasingly important role in caring for the elderly. Last year 3.4 million Medicare beneficiaries received home health services, with nurses, aides, and physical and occupational therapists treating them in the home. Medicare spends about $18 billion on the home health benefit, which provides skilled services that must be authorized by a doctor, not housekeeping care that some elderly pay for privately.

    For both the government and patients, Medicare’s home health visits are one of the least expensive ways to provide care, and the system has been especially susceptible to fraud. Assessing quality is often challenging for patients and their doctors, who must authorize the visits, often just as patients are leaving the hospital. The elderly tend to be less familiar with the reputation of home health agencies than they are with hospitals and other institutions. That makes evaluating quality difficult for family members and guardians.

    “It’s not like a nursing home, where you can go and walk around,” said Dr. Cheryl Phillips, an executive at LeadingAge, an association of nonprofit groups focused on the elderly. “You can call the agencies and find out a little bit about them and their philosophy of care, but even for an informed consumer like me, you’re kind of stuck with whatever your physician has ordered.”

    Experts said the ratings could have substantial financial impacts on agencies, even driving some low-rated ones out of business. Hospitals, doctors and nursing homes may be reluctant to refer patients to agencies with fewer than three stars. A total of 2,628 agencies — 28 percent of those Medicare evaluated — received those below average ratings.

    “It’s a very fragmented, competitive market in a lot of metropolitan areas,” said Lilly Hummel, a manager at Avalere, a health care consulting firm in Washington, D.C. “It could get difficult for home health agencies that, for whatever reason, aren’t doing well on the star ratings.”

    The ratings are based on agencies’ assessments of their own patients, which the agencies report to the government, as well as Medicare billing records. The data is adjusted to take into account how frail the patients are and other potential influences. Medicare intends to use the same or similar data sources when it eventually begins to pay bonuses and penalties to agencies based on performance, as it does for hospitals.

    KHN - Home Health Agency Ratings by Stars

    More than 12,000 home health agencies take Medicare, including local for-profit shops with just a few employees, nonprofit associations of nurses, hospital affiliates and subsidiaries of publicly traded corporations like Kindred Healthcare and Amedisys. Medicare assigned stars to all but 2,902 agencies that did not have enough patients to evaluate, had only started business recently or did not provide enough data.

    Among those Medicare did rate, 46 percent received 3 or 3 ½ stars. Medicare gave the top rating of five stars to 239 agencies while 195 agencies received 1 ½ stars. Only six agencies received a single star. “What this indicates to us is a large proportion of home health agencies are performing reasonably well,” said Dr. Kate Goodrich, who directs the quality measurement program at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

    There was a wide variation in scoring among types of providers, a Kaiser Health News analysis found. Visiting nurse associations and agencies with religious affiliations tended to get the most stars. Home health agencies run out of skilled nursing homes and agencies run or paid for by local governments tended to perform poorly.

    A third or more of home health agencies that Medicare rated received four or more stars in Alabama, California, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Utah, the KHN analysis found. The highest proportion of one or two star agencies were in Alaska, Arkansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia. In those places, four out of 10 agencies or more received less than three stars.

    The star ratings were designed to capture overall quality by summing up the results of nine of 27 measures Medicare already publishes on its Home Health Compare website. Agencies were evaluated by how quickly they started visiting a patient, whether they explained all the drugs a patient was taking either to the patient or their caretaker and whether they made sure a patient got a flu shot for the season.

    The agencies also were judged on how much their patients improve in skills like walking, getting in and out of bed, bathing, breathing and being able to move around with less pain. Finally, the agencies were rated on how many of their patients ended up going to the hospital. The current star ratings are based on performance from the fall of 2013 through the end of last year. Medicare will reassess the stars quarterly.

    Some in the home health industry are welcoming the ratings, but there is concern that consumers will interpret the scores differently than Medicare intends. The government considers three stars to be solid performers, but in rankings for restaurants, hotels and other common services, three stars are often interpreted as mediocre.

    “It kind of equates us to a hotel and it’s not the same,” said Carrie Koenig, an executive at MedStar Visiting Nurse Association, which serves people in Maryland, Virginia and Washington and received 3 ½ stars. “I don’t know how confusing that will be for consumers.”

    Another concern is that many of the quality results are self-reported by home health agencies. “Down the line, we are absolutely going to have to find another data source,” said Molly Smith, an executive at the Visiting Nurse Association of America. “It really undermines the home health industry to always be reporting with data that has, yes, the potential to be manipulated.”

    Medicare publishes the results of patient surveys but did not include those in the star ratings. Agencies will be assigned their own stars for patient satisfaction starting in January 2016. Those ratings are more likely to reflect some of the more common complaints about home health care over things like the scheduling of visits.

    There’s little evidence consumers use the data that are already published, which are not always easy to interpret. The government hopes the stars will make that easier. Alex Alvarez, an official at Montefiore Care Management Organization in New York, said it is difficult to talk about these choices when patients are about to leave the hospital. Hospitals are required to give patients several choices of home health agencies, even when a hospital runs its own.

    “You give them as much information as you can, but they’re not really in a receptive mode. They remember, ‘Oh, somebody spoke to me,’ but they don’t remember what they said,” Alvarez said. “They just want to go home.”

    The post Home Health Agencies Get Medicare’s Star Treatment appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    jillsoloway

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    GWEN IFILL: We close with another in a series of interviews we’re calling Brief but Spectacular.

    Tonight, we hear from Jill Soloway, creator and executive producer of Amazon’s “Transparent.”

    Just today, the show was nominated for its second Emmy. She talks about the transitions that have shaped her life and are shifting Hollywood.

    JILL SOLOWAY, Creator, “Transparent”: When I was a little kid, watching television, I was probably writing it in my head, pretending like I was inside the TV, instead of outside the TV, because that’s where I wanted to be, on the other side of the glass.

    Now I am. Hi from the other side of the glass.

    So, I was really obsessed with like, what does it mean to be a female subject? And the only way for me to really sort of get there, where I was like holding the camera, was to direct. And nobody in TV would let me direct.

    I started to imagine what my director’s voice could look like, and started to imagine this sort of reclaiming of the male gaze. I like to call it the female gaze, about how it feels to be inside of a woman’s body and mind, rather than looking at her, which I feel like most television, most film does, creates them as objects, instead of subjects.

    And so I made a short film, entered it into Sundance. It got in, and was back the following year at Sundance with a feature. And I won the directing award, which was crazy. Somewhere around that time, my parent called me with a somewhat important piece of news, to come out as trans.

    Besides being a good loving daughter, which is my main — was my main thought and my main responsibility, there was like this kind of like voice on the side going, this is going to be your show. It was almost like this — like a freight train.

    The truth of my personal story, my parents’ story, this family’s journey, it was all just happening. Whatever small pieces of privacy we give up by people knowing that parts of this are inspired by real life is all worth it, because I — we all get so many people coming to us and saying that the show changed their lives.

    There is this like adage that we used to hear in the writers room. It was write Yiddish, cast British. And I think we have written Yiddish and cast Yiddish on this show. When I was coming up through network television, where you would work on a show and they would be, like, I know you love the show because you wrote it. And we love the show here at the network because we’re cool, but we’re going to need to show it to the kind of people who hate you, just to make sure that America wouldn’t hate you, because we have a feeling people would hate you.

    I used to these write shows about these unlikable Jewish female protagonists, and you always have this nightmare that there’s like two guys with white hair on the golf course going like, she’s very unlikable. Let’s not do a show about her, and that somehow, no matter what you’re doing, it’s going past these kinds of gatekeepers.

    The Internet is a way of kind of understanding that we can all reach each other at the same time, instead of having to climb up the ladder to the top of the mountain, where the gatekeepers are, where that golf course is.

    There is something about the way that everybody can talk to everybody at the same time all around the world. It’s a disruption of everything that allows there to be a new platform where this kind of material can be distributed and there can be the kind of social media that can allow people to share their feelings about it. It feels like the future.

    I’m Jill Soloway. And this is my Brief but Spectacular take on transitions in Hollywood.

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    thecartel

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now the latest addition to the NewsHour Bookshelf.

    Drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s escape this week from one of Mexico’s maximum security prisons made headlines around the world. Guzman was the longtime head of one of the most violent criminal syndicates in Mexico and the United States.

    Now a new novel, “The Cartel” by Don Winslow, offers some insight into both sides of the war on drugs, the narco-traffickers, as well as law enforcement.

    Jeffrey Brown talked with Winslow recently.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Don Winslow, welcome to you.

    DON WINSLOW, Author, “The Cartel”: Thank you.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You have been writing about the violence in Mexico for — and along the border for a long time now. Why? Why compelled to sort of be in the news this way?

    DON WINSLOW: You know, I live along the border, about 40 miles. And so we live in a border culture.

    Mexico is very real to us. We have people going back and forth all the time. I also think it’s one of the most important crime stories in the world today. I’m a crime writer, so I want to be writing about the most important things.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And a continuing story. Even this week, we get news of the escape of El Chapo.

    DON WINSLOW: El Chapo Guzman, exactly.

    Yes. You know, I have been writing this book. “The Cartel” is a continuation of a book I did about 10 years ago and follows the war on drugs for about 45 years. So, I have been following El Chapo for 15 years, and this weekend’s — past weekend’s news, it felt like it came right out of the pages of my book.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Do you think that a novel — I wonder, after having taken a crack like this in several different ways, does a novel capture something that the day-to-day journalism can’t?

    DON WINSLOW: I think so.

    I think you can use fiction to get inside people’s minds.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Inside their minds?

    DON WINSLOW: Inside their minds. And you let the reader look at the world through their point of view, as journalists aren’t often allowed to do or shouldn’t do.

    So, yes, I think that novelists can sometimes approach a subject like this from a different angle. It can be enlightening.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And I’m also wondering, because this is another discussion we have here, when you’re dealing with something so horrific, right, you’re trying to translate it. There is this term, the pornography of violence. Right?

    DON WINSLOW: I have used it, yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You used it.

    How much do you show? Where do you use restraint? What’s your stance vis-a-vis the reader?

    DON WINSLOW: I think that you have to make a very clean decision about this.

    I never wanted to sanitize the violence for the reader, because I want the reader to understand what has happened down in Mexico over the past 10 years. At the same time, it can have a numbing effect, just as real-life violence has a numbing effect on the people who experience it. So I had to find different avenues of approaching it.

    So, sometimes, I wrote the actual event of violence. At other times…

    JEFFREY BROWN: When you say the actual event, you mean based on…

    DON WINSLOW: Based on…

    JEFFREY BROWN: Sometimes based on the actual event.

    DON WINSLOW: Almost all the time based on the actual event.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Almost all the time? Wow.

    DON WINSLOW: Other times, I would write people’s reaction to it, a journalist coming across it, somebody coming to the scene later, and write more of the emotional and psychological reaction of someone coming on that scene.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And you would have times when you say this goes too far, I’m stopping here?

    DON WINSLOW: Yes.

    There were times where the violence was so horrific, I just didn’t think a reader could absorb it. And even though I believed that’s what had happened, there are times when I backed off it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I read about you. I didn’t realize that you had been a private investigator once in your life. You have done various things in your life.

    DON WINSLOW: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But how much does that — how much do you draw on in the books? How much research goes into a book like this?

    DON WINSLOW: Well, a lot.

    I mean, this was about five years of my life in terms of research and writing. And so you talk to DA agents. You talk to drug traffickers. You talk to addicts. You talk to a lot of people. You do a — read a lot of journalism, read a lot of books, court transcripts, trials, that kind of thing.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You did an unusual thing when the book was coming out, and you took out a full-page ad in newspapers calling for an end to the war on drugs. Why — it obviously cost you a fair amount of money, I suppose, to do something like that. Why do that?

    DON WINSLOW: Well, as I said, I have been writing about this war for 15 years, and I have been to the funerals.

    I have sat with the mothers who have lost addicted sons. I have sat with families of kids who have been killed in drug-related gang violence. I have been to the prisons. I have seen the effects. At some point in time, I felt I had to do something other than write a novel about it, that I needed to try to make some sort of contribution, at least try to make some sort of difference in the real world.

    JEFFREY BROWN: There’s a line in there.

    I want to pull out one quote, a direct line, you see, between the war on drugs and recent events in Ferguson, Cleveland, Baltimore, and elsewhere. What’s the line?

    DON WINSLOW: Well, you can draw a direct line between the militarization of our police forces — and cops have told me this — and the events in Ferguson and Cleveland and New York, because it was the war on drugs that really militarized our police first, where police are going into these neighborhoods, smashing down doors, arresting young men.

    And that starts a hostility that continues to this day. One police officer, high-ranking police officer, told me, you know, they cut in half my community policing funds and instead gave me tanks.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And how far do you push this? You talk about legalization. You certainly talk about decriminalization.

    DON WINSLOW: Yes.

    I would push it all the way to legalization. Look, we have been doing the same thing for coming on 45 years, Jeff, and what’s the result? Drugs are more plentiful, more potent and cheaper than ever. It’s not working. In no way do I mean to disparage the very brave and intelligent people, police officers, DEA personnel who fight this war, but we need to start looking at this as a social health problem that it is, and not a law enforcement problem or a military problem.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, the novel is “The Cartel.”

    Don Winslow, thanks so much.

    The post Crime novelist of ‘The Cartel’ calls for end to war on drugs appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    GWEN IFILL: The federal government announced today that 2014 was the hottest year for the planet in the 135 years that records have been kept.

    Greenhouse gas concentration, land surface and sea temperatures all clocked in at historic levels.

    Economics correspondent Paul Solman explores a couple of climate change with the authors of a recent book on the subject. It’s part of our weekly segment Making Sense, which airs every Thursday on the “NewsHour.”

    MARTIN WEITZMAN, Harvard University: So, look, you can start to see erosion along here.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Economist Marty Weitzman thinks his property on a marsh in Gloucester, Massachusetts, is washing away due to climate change.

    MARTIN WEITZMAN: The water has risen a couple of inches in the time, in the 40 years I have been living here.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Right.

    MARTIN WEITZMAN: And what’s happened is that it’s caused erosion at the edge of the lawn.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Well, but a couple of inches doesn’t seem like much.

    MARTIN WEITZMAN: Maybe that wouldn’t be, but it’s really a couple of feet that we’re headed for.

    PAUL SOLMAN: A couple of feet, or conceivably, several dozen, says Gernot Wagner, a former student of Weitzman’s who’s now at the Environmental Defense Fund.

    GERNOT WAGNER, Environmental Defense Fund: Last time concentrations of CO2 were as high as they are today, we did in fact have sea levels up to 66 feet higher than today. Well, 66 feet and this house is gone.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Now, Weitzman and Wagner can’t know for sure, of course, that manmade higher temperatures are rising the tides here or anywhere else, but a plausible probability of true catastrophe was enough to prompt “Climate Shock,” about the dangers that lurk, dangers Weitzman wasn’t worried about when he first went into environmental economics years ago.

    MARTIN WEITZMAN: I was wondering, how could it be possible that mere human beings could change the climate in a serious way?

    PAUL SOLMAN: But geologic samples of carbon dioxide going back millennia changed his mind.

    MARTIN WEITZMAN: We were way outside the historical range for at least 800,000 years, and we’re climbing very strongly.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Today’s higher concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide are shown here in red. And the historic correlation with high temperature implies, says Weitzman:

    MARTIN WEITZMAN: There’s about almost a 10 percent chance of an increase of 4.5 degrees Centigrade.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And that’s nine degrees Fahrenheit, roughly speaking?

    MARTIN WEITZMAN: Yes, something like that, and that would make outdoor living in many parts of the world impossible.

    GERNOT WAGNER: It doesn’t sound like a lot, but think of the human body, right? If you have a fever of 4.5 degrees Centigrade, nine degrees Fahrenheit, you are dead.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But 10 percent, I mean, that is just one chance in 10. I have been at the racetrack long enough to know how rarely a 10-1 shot comes in.

    MARTIN WEITZMAN: Yes, but we — it’s not that rare. You buy fire insurance for probabilities that are much lower than 10 percent. You buy car insurance for probabilities that are much lower than one in 10 over a lifetime.

    So, this is well within the range of things that we like to insure against.

    PAUL SOLMAN: OK, buy insurance against catastrophe. But how?

    GERNOT WAGNER: You price CO2. You price carbon dioxide.

    PAUL SOLMAN: You put a price on it?

    GERNOT WAGNER: That’s the insurance premium, right? For every ton of CO2 we are emitting today, we cause at least about $40 worth of damages. When I board a cross-country flight to San Francisco and back, I emit about one ton of CO2, I personally, not the plane, just me personally. Meanwhile, I don’t pay for that.

    PAUL SOLMAN: So you want the airline to charge an extra $40 on your ticket?

    GERNOT WAGNER: I want the government to put a price on CO2 that everybody pays, in order to set the right incentives.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But there isn’t broad public support for taxing emissions.

    Meanwhile, a cheap, but controversial solution of last resort has emerged: a so-called geoengineering technique called solar radiation management, shooting particles into the sky to reflect sunlight back into space.

    Harvard environmental scientist David Keith.

    DAVID KEITH, Harvard University: The central idea is to make the planet a little bit more reflective, which tends to cool it down, because it will absorb less sunlight. And that will partially and imperfectly compensate for the buildup of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, which are tending to trap heat and make the Earth warmer.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Nature ran the experiment in 1991, when the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines lofted a 20-million-ton sulfur dioxide cloud into the stratosphere, lowering global temperatures by a full degree Fahrenheit for two years.

    And mimicking the volcano’s effect by spraying sulfates is relatively cheap, says Wagner.

    GERNOT WAGNER: It’s somewhere between $1 and $10 billion to literally fly like Learjets 24/7, enough of them, to decrease global average temperatures back to where they were pre-industrial times.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But if the clear and future danger of climate change is some chance of calamity, what could sulfur particles in the stratosphere do? The premise of the sci-fi film “Snowpiercer,” starring a train that circles the Earth with the last living humans, is a dramatization of skeptics’ worst fears, a coolant shot into the upper atmosphere that freezes Earth.

    ACTOR: Dead, all dead.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Weitzman and Wagner have their own scare scenario: a rich, rogue geoengineer.

    ACTOR: Man has climbed Mount Everest, gone to the bottom of the ocean, achieved miracles in every field of human endeavor, except crime.

    PAUL SOLMAN: As James Bond’s arch nemesis, Goldfinger, easily dispersed gas over Fort Knox, Weitzman and Wagner imagine a Greenfinger, sending 100 planes around the Earth around the clock.

    DAVID KEITH: I think it’s very implausible that it would be done at large scale by a single person, a Goldfinger.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But, says Keith, countries could certainly do it. And if temperatures keep rising, some might ask, why not, risks be damned?

    DAVID KEITH: The big risks of this technology fundamentally aren’t technical. They’re political. They’re the risk of how it gets used in a divided world. There’s the basic question of how we set the thermostat in a world where we have many different countries and many different interests, and it’s really cheap to adjust the thermostat.

    PAUL SOLMAN: With emissions rising, Keith and his colleagues are researching technical dangers, depleting the ozone layer and changes in weather patterns among them.

    They think geoengineering could become a desperation fallback. Consider the latest call for action from Pope Francis.

    POPE FRANCIS, (through interpreter): This home of ours is being ruined, and that damages everyone, especially the poor.

    PAUL SOLMAN: In his recent encyclical, the pope made the moral case for reducing the use of fossil fuels and for rethinking current definitions of economic growth. Scientist Keith agrees.

    DAVID KEITH: Even if I knew that stopping climate change would make the world on average a few percent poorer in 2100, I would still be in favor of stopping climate change.

    And that’s because I want to leave future generations with a chance to enjoy the natural world more as I do. And that is fundamentally an ethical or moral or naturalistic view about the world that isn’t easily captured in the equations of economists.

    MARTIN WEITZMAN: This was once a red cedar.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But Weitzman thinks there’s an economic case for climate action, too, since, in the long run, the benefits to society of cutting emissions far outweigh the short-term costs. Meanwhile, the costs of inaction seem to be inching ever closer to home.

    MARTIN WEITZMAN: So here is a wooden walkway that has been lifted up by high tides that will come over it. That took a while to develop this curve, due to the pushing up of the water and the higher level of water.

    PAUL SOLMAN: So you mean this was flat before?

    MARTIN WEITZMAN: Yes, yes. When it was constructed, it was flat. Careful.

    PAUL SOLMAN: It isn’t anymore.

    This is economics correspondent Paul Solman, reporting for the PBS NewsHour, from Gloucester, Massachusetts.

    The post The economic options for combatting climate change appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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