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

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    phoenix

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The G.I. Bill represents America’s promise to its military veterans. Since 2009, it has paid the cost of college tuition for those who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, up to $21,000 a year in taxpayer dollars.

    Today, 40 percent of that money is flowing to for-profit schools, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. But when veterans finish their studies, some employers and graduate programs don’t recognize or value those degrees.

    From the Center for Investigative Reporting and Reveal, Aaron Glantz reports:

    AARON GLANTZ: Three years ago, President Obama said he would stop for-profit schools from taking advantage of service members and veterans.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: They are trying to swindle and hoodwink you. And, today, here at Fort Stewart, we’re putting an end to it.

    AARON GLANTZ: The president was responding to reports that for-profit colleges enjoyed virtually unrestricted access to bases, where they enrolled new students and profited from taxpayer money.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We’re going to up our oversight of improper recruitment practices. We’re going to strengthen the rules about who can come on post and talk to service members.

    AARON GLANTZ: President Obama signed an executive order that placed restrictions on for-profit schools to weed out deceptive recruitment practices. Three years after the president’s executive order, no school receives more G.I. Bill money than the University of Phoenix, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    The University of Phoenix is a large for-profit college chain with about 200,000 students, a majority of whom take classes online. We wanted to know whether the University of Phoenix was complying with the spirit and the letter of the rules President Obama put in place, and whether the for-profit college had gained an advantage through its relationship with the military.

    DAN DRESEN, U.S. Military Veteran: University of Phoenix was one of the first schools to contact me.

    AARON GLANTZ: Iraq War veteran Dan Dresen wanted to be a social worker, so he could help other veterans. The University of Phoenix gave him college credit for his military service so he could graduate quickly. That’s what convinced him to enroll. He even got credits for marksmanship.

    For learning how to shoot a firearm in the Army National Guard, you got course credits for social work?

    (LAUGHTER)

    DAN DRESEN: Yes.

    AARON GLANTZ: When Dresen went to apply for a master’s in social work at a state university, that school wouldn’t recognize his bachelor’s degree.

    DAN DRESEN: I was devastated. I can’t use my degree.

    AARON GLANTZ: It was stories like Dresen’s that led to the president’s executive order. The military followed up with new rules that ban inducements, including entertainment, for the purpose of securing enrollments of service members.

    But what constitutes recruiting? The university paid for the reality TV star Big Smo to entertain the troops.

    Here at Fort Campbell, the University of Phoenix is spending thousands of dollars to sponsor this concert. It’s one of dozens of events the for-profit school is sponsoring on military bases across the country. The University of Phoenix’s representative was introduced on stage as a friend of the military.

    He gave away electronic devices. Fifteen minutes after the concert began, the Army kicked me off the base. An Army press officer told me off camera that I was asked to leave because I was talking on camera about the military’s relationship with the University of Phoenix.

    Robert Muth is a former officer in the Marine Corps. He runs a legal clinic for veterans at the University of San Diego.

    ROBERT MUTH, University of San Diego: It looks like you have a corporate entity buying access to look like the preferred or the selected educational provider for the veterans or soon-to-be veterans at a base.

    AARON GLANTZ: Under President Obama’s 2012 order, schools are allowed to recruit on base only as part of official regulated education activities.

    Documents from five military bases obtained using the Freedom of Information Act show the University of Phoenix sponsored events that had little to with education, hundreds of events over the last five years. The question remains, was the University of Phoenix recruiting at these events?

    At the five bases we looked at, it paid the military about a million dollars for this access. The investment is dwarfed by the $345 million in G.I. Bill money it received last year, and, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which oversees the program, more than $1.2 billion since 2009, when the new G.I. Bill went into effect.

    The University of Phoenix also produced a coin that its representatives hand out on military bases. It includes the insignias of every branch of the service on one side and the University of Phoenix logo on the other.

    ROBERT MUTH: There’s a long tradition within the military of commanders providing challenge coins to individual troops who’ve done something great. If I’m a 19-year-old lance corporal and I see that coin, I assume the Department of Defense has viewed and vetted that organization and approved them in some way to provide me with an education.

    AARON GLANTZ: Many organizations produce military coins. We found the University of Phoenix was using military insignia without authorization. We asked the Pentagon and the University of Phoenix about the coin.

    Dawn Bilodeau, is the chief of education programs for the Defense Department.

    Does that concern you?

    DAWN BILODEAU, Chief of Education Programs, Defense Department: Yes. That would be — depending on where that was received and if they’re currently handing them out and it was reported, I would be compelled to take action.

    AARON GLANTZ: Retired Major General Spider Marks is a dean at the University of Phoenix.

    GEN. JAMES “SPIDER” MARKS (RET.), Dean, University of Phoenix: If there’s an issue with the specific coins that we were passing out, we’re going to get to the bottom of that, and those have been taken off the shelves. They’re not available. They’re gone.

    AARON GLANTZ: Even so, Marks says, the coin doesn’t imply the University of Phoenix has the military’s seal of approval.

    GEN. JAMES “SPIDER” MARKS: There isn’t an endorsement, implicit or explicit, by the use of that coin that DOD thinks any differently about the University of Phoenix than it does Lockheed Martin or it does Prudential life insurance or other companies that have challenge coins.

    AARON GLANTZ: Ryan Holleran served 11 months in Iraq. When he returned home, he wanted to get an education.

    RYAN HOLLERAN, U.S. Military Veteran: I have a bunch of friends who’ve gone through the University of Phoenix. I have comrades, like buddies who I went to war with who their partners were going to the University of Phoenix.

    AARON GLANTZ: He’s headed to a Naval air station outside Dallas to attend a Hiring Our Heroes job fair sponsored by the University of Phoenix. Holleran agreed to take a hidden camera onto the base, so we could see if the University of Phoenix was following the rules.

    The sponsorship of this event is permitted, as long as the school doesn’t use the event to recruit students. Holleran attended a resume workshop taught by the school.

    RYAN HOLLERAN: When you walk in, there’s like four or five fliers and the biggest logo on all those fliers is the University of Phoenix.

    AARON GLANTZ: The presentation had the school’s branding on every slide. And participants were repeatedly encouraged to visit the University of Phoenix’s Web site. Model resumes used by the University of Phoenix’s trainer included a degree from the University of Phoenix.

    Yet, the main online campus that 24,000 veterans attended last year has a graduation rate of 7.3 percent, according to the Department of Education.

    RYAN HOLLERAN: It wasn’t like they were just mentioning, like, oh, here, go get a higher education. It’s like, hey, come. Come buy my product.

    AARON GLANTZ: Last month, two former University of Phoenix recruiters filed a lawsuit in a Kentucky circuit court against the school, alleging they were improperly fired. The recruiters said Hiring Our Heroes was just a cover, that they were required to operate stealthfully. It was a tool for surreptitiously obtaining personal information and/or prohibited recruitment activity.

    The University of Phoenix denies the allegations. Internal company documents show the University of Phoenix has been tracking recruitment numbers on military bases, including at job fairs and entertainment events, where recruiting is supposed to be banned by military regulations.

    And, so, even as the University of Phoenix lost half its students amid scrutiny from Congress and the media, the number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans using the G.I. Bill there tripled, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    We contacted the Fort Worth Naval Air Station about the Hiring Our Heroes event. They directed us to the Pentagon.

    Again, Dawn Bilodeau:

    DAWN BILODEAU: If any one of our educational institutions was providing a workshop where they provided their own marketing materials, used their own references and had their slides with their name, that would be a reportable offense, a noncompliance action. And we would receive those and adjudicate them.

    AARON GLANTZ: But, so far, you have received no such complaints about Hiring Our Heroes?

    DAWN BILODEAU: No, sir.

    AARON GLANTZ: But if it turned out to be true, that would be very troubling to you?

    DAWN BILODEAU: It would be listed and we would take action.

    AARON GLANTZ: As for morale-boosting events such as big-name concerts, Bilodeau said the Pentagon is aware of past improper recruitment practices and is taking action.

    DAWN BILODEAU: In the past, it was a concern, but I feel very confident, with the new agreement that we have in place, that we’re going to be able to enforce the requirements that are in there and take action, place schools on probation when needed, which impacts their bottom line if they’re not able to recruit new students.

    AARON GLANTZ: The University of Phoenix’s Spider Marks says the school is following the president’s executive order and Department of Defense regulations.

    GEN. JAMES “SPIDER” MARKS: In terms of compliance, we do compliance exceptionally well. If we’re going to sponsor morale, welfare and recreation events on military installations, it’s to benefit the service member and to bring entertainment to them, opportunities with businesses off post, that kind of stuff.

    If we are looking to find students who want to go through the University of Phoenix experience as they transition or while they’re on active duty, that’s a separate and completely distinct action on our part.

    AARON GLANTZ: Dan Dresen says he was betrayed by the University of Phoenix. He’s already spent most of his G.I. Bill, and, on top of that, he’s $9,000 in debt.

    DAN DRESEN: I feel that I wasted my VA benefits going to the school.

    AARON GLANTZ: He’s starting over at this community college in Sacramento.

    DAN DRESEN: It’s a little late for me, because I already went there. I think the other veterans should get out while they still can.

    AARON GLANTZ: Dresen hopes more veterans will step forward to complain. If that happens, he says, perhaps the government will stop the flow of G.I. Bill money to for-profit schools.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Aaron Glantz from Reveal in Sacramento.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: After learning about Reveal’s report, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois sent a letter to the Pentagon asking it to investigate recruitment practices by the University of Phoenix. The Defense Department says it takes the allegations seriously and is looking into the matter.

    The post Are for-profit universities taking advantage of veterans? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    newswrap

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Police are searching for a motive, after last night’s shooting at a Louisiana movie theater.

    Authorities say 59-year-old John Russel Houser killed two and injured nine others, before killing himself. Court documents from years ago showed Houser was mentally ill and prone to violence, to the extent he was hospitalized against his will and his wife hid his guns. We will have more on the shooting, plus a broader look at gun violence in America, after the news summary.

    Turkish fighter jets bombed Islamic State targets in Syria today, in retaliation for an ISIS attack on a Turkish military outpost yesterday. It’s the first time the country’s military has engaged in direct combat with the militants. Turkish forces also stepped up patrols along the Syrian border. And police detained nearly 300 people they labeled extremist across the country in early morning raids.

    Turkey’s president said the escalation is necessary.

    PRESIDENT RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Turky (through interpreter): Our state and government will take needed action against any attack no matter what it is. It is not only for last night. We will take the necessary precautions for our nation’s security and peace. Last night was the start of this, and we will keep going on the same way.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. is expected to step up its airstrikes on Islamic State targets, too. Turkey is letting it use multiple air bases in the southern part of the country for operations against the militants.

    The Pentagon announced a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan has killed a senior al-Qaida operational commander. Abu Khalil al-Sudani was head of al-Qaida’s suicide and explosives operations and has been linked to plots to attack U.S. targets.

    President Obama arrived in Kenya as part of his two-nation visit to Africa. He touched down late today in the capital city of Nairobi. It’s his first presidential visit to his father’s homeland. And he met with members of his family for dinner. Mr. Obama will also meet with Kenya’s president and co-host a business summit before leaving for Ethiopia on Sunday.

    And, in Burundi, results from the presidential election were announced, with the incumbent winning a third term. President Pierre Nkurunziza claimed victory in the disputed election, even amid unrest over whether or not his third term is constitutional. Ballot counting started on Tuesday, and both the U.S. and Britain condemned the vote because of violence, intimidation and questions over the legitimacy of a third term.

    Back in this country, Anthem is buying Cigna to create the nation’s largest health insurer by the number of people enrolled. The merged companies would cover about 53 million Americans. The deal carries a price tag of $48 billion. It follows a buyout frenzy that started earlier this month with Aetna’s successful bid for Humana.

    Fiat Chrysler has announced a recall over fears some of its vehicles can be hacked remotely. The company is recalling about 1.4 million cars and trucks, including 2014 and 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durango SUVs. The move comes after cyber-security researchers were able to take control of a Jeep over the Internet. The company says it will update software to prevent hacking.

    There were new signs today of a slowdown in the real estate market. The Commerce Department reported new home sales have fallen to a seven-month low. That setback helped push stocks lower again on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 163 points to close at 17568. The Nasdaq fell more than 57 points and the S&P 500 dropped 22 points. For the week, the Dow lost nearly 3 percent, the Nasdaq fell 2.3 percent and the S&P slid 2.2 percent.

    The U.S. Justice Department is weighing a request to look into the possibility that Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information when she was secretary of state. It centered on her use of a private e-mail account. A memo from the inspector general of the intelligence community found some of the e-mails she sent potentially could have been marked classified, but none were.

    Speaking from the campaign trail today in New York, Clinton warned reporting on the story was filled with inaccuracies.

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON Democratic Presidential Candidate: Maybe the heat is getting to everybody.

    (LAUGHTER)

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: We all have a responsibility to get this right. I have released 55,000 pages of e-mails. I have said repeatedly that I will answer questions before the House committee. We are all accountable to the American people to get the facts right. And I will do my part.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Republican Representative Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the special House committee investigating Clinton and her involvement in the response to the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, said handing over e-mails isn’t enough. The committee wants her personal computer server for forensic evaluation.

    The Food and Drug Administration gave the green light to a new breakthrough cholesterol medication. The injectable drug called Praluent is said to lower bad cholesterol more than older medicines that have been prescribed for decades. Still, experts have raised questions about the drug’s high price tag and long-term benefits.

    The FDA also proposed today new labeling rules for added sugar today. Under the proposal, food companies would need to indicate the amount of added sugar as a percentage of a person’s recommended daily intake. The move is part of an overhaul of the nutrition facts label laid out by the Obama administration.

    And Don Oberdorfer, a longtime diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post, has died. He had Alzheimer’s disease. Oberdorfer spent 25 years at The Post, covering everything from the Vietnam War to the fall of the Soviet Union, before retiring in 1993. Over his career, he traveled to more than 50 countries and appeared often here on the NewsHour. Don Oberdorfer was 84 years old.

    The post News Wrap: Police search for motive in Louisiana movie theater shooting appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    aziz ansari

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: The joy of modern romance, all just a click away, Where today’s singles can search for partners through a digital world of online or mobile dating sites. It can seem so easy and yet so potentially awkward.

    And in the speed and instant connection of texting and phones, and according to one of today’s leading young comics, Aziz Ansari, you get a new age of anxiety of the heart.

    Jeffrey Brown caught up with him.

    AZIZ ANSARI, Comedian: We have been hanging out together all the time, spending a lot of time together and everything? Yes, yes, I know. I want to keep doing that until you’re dead.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JEFFREY BROWN: Aziz Ansari gained widespread attention for his role as Tom Haverford on the hit show “Parks and Recreation.”

    AZIZ ANSARI: Yo, dog, life is what you make of it. Leave while I’m ahead? You got it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Now the 32-year-old comedian and actor is selling out large venues, including Madison Square Garden for Netflix, finding laughter in the pain of dating.

    AZIZ ANSARI: No one wants to commit to (EXPLETIVE DELETED) because they’re terrified that something better’s going to come along.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And he’s turn it all into a book titled “Modern Romance.”

    Backstage on his book tour, he told me it all started with the realities he was seeing in his own life.

    AZIZ ANSARI: For example, you text someone, they don’t write back. And you are wondering why they haven’t written back. And you’re like, well, maybe they’re busy.

    And then you look on Instagram and you see they’re posting a photo of an omelet. And you’re like, what? I thought you were busy. And you go through this roller coaster of emotions. You’re wondering what is going on. And I realized, like, wow, I couldn’t even have had that dilemma 10, 15 years ago. It didn’t exist. This is very new, where you’re sitting there staring at this little thing, like, waiting for something, you know?

    JEFFREY BROWN: Aziz thinks the sheer number of choices available to young people these days, including potential partners, is also driving his generation crazy.

    He worked on the book with sociologist Eric Klinenberg, and together they sifted through data and talked to people of different generations about their paths to dating and marriage.

    AZIZ ANSARI: Biggest differences were actually not technology-related. It was more just kind of like an overall shift in just kind of how our culture views marriage.

    And, you know, you look at — we looked at these studies that we found from the 1930s in Philadelphia. And, you know, people, married people lived in very close proximity to where they lived. People would marry people that lived a few blocks away. Like, one out of three people married someone that lived in like a six-block radius.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Sometimes in the same building.

    AZIZ ANSARI: Yes. One out of 12, the same building.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    AZIZ ANSARI: And now it’s like they don’t even do those studies anymore because it just doesn’t happen.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So where does the technology fit into all this? Does it make harder, easier?

    AZIZ ANSARI: Well, the technology stuff, I think, you know, obviously, online dating is a tremendous presence on how people meet now.

    One out of three people that are married now, they met their spouse through online dating. And you can look at that, you know, some people that do online dating, they’re very frustrated. It’s very annoying.

    You go and you’re meeting people that you don’t like or you’re sorting through all these messages and stuff. And you could look at that and go, this has kind of become a burden for people. But then you look at it the other way and you’re like, oh, there’s this vast quantity of love that is being created in the world that wouldn’t have existed had it not been for these sites.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I’m still trying to understand what is so different, though, because if you think about — well, think about cavemen, right? The anxiety, the — you know, the uncertainty, the awkwardness of relationships, I would think cavemen were worried about what was going on in other caves.

    AZIZ ANSARI: Sure. Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You read a Jane Austen novel and the anxiety of waiting for Mr. Darcy, that kind of thing.

    AZIZ ANSARI: There are timeless issues.

    But it’s more about, oh, old issues — we have a chapter called “Old Issues, New Forms.” And it’s, OK, now when you have a partner, right, there’s weird things that didn’t exist before, where it’s like, oh, now your digital worlds kind of melt.

    Let’s say you glance at your wife’s phone, and there’s seven texts from a guy named Christopher. You’re like, this is weird. Who is Christopher? And then the next day, you see there’s three texts from Christopher. You’re like Christopher is texting my wife quite a bit. Who is Christopher?

    There’s maybe a version of that in the cavemen times where some guy named Christopher poked his head in, but it’s just…

    JEFFREY BROWN: Smoke signals.

    AZIZ ANSARI: Yes, but it’s like a new version of that.

    And then you have this dilemma, like, would it be weird if I checked my wife’s phone? I see my wife’s phone is open. And I glance over. I see messages from Christopher open. Do I read the message? Should I read it? These are the kind of new interesting things that people have to deal with.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Here’s the amazing thing, though. Aziz Ansari is himself the product of an arranged marriage for his Indian-born parents, who raised him in South Carolina.

    AZIZ ANSARI: They met each other and got married like a week later.

    But a week, six months, that’s still pretty quick, especially compared to what people do now.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But what do you think of the lesson? I don’t know anything about your parents’ marriage, but what do you make of the lessons of their marriage, getting together that way, marrying you say a week after they met, as opposed to what people go through today, with all the technology and the high expectations?

    AZIZ ANSARI: Yes.

    Well, I think what is interesting about those arranged marriages is, you find a lot of times they’re successful because it kind of starts at a simmer and it builds to a boil. And these people are really investing in the relationship. They’re like, I’m in it. I’m going to have a family with this person and I’m in. And it starts at a simmer and builds to a boil, when it works.

    And I would say my parents it seemed — my observation with them is it’s boiling. They’re really in love and I think their relationship has gotten better as they have kind of grown together, and raised kids together and everything.

    There’s so much social sciences that shows just spending more time with people and getting to know them, that’s how you get those connections that really lead to the boiling water. If you are just quickly dismissing people, if you have like one drink with someone, you go on some boring date with them, and you’re like, they are not fun, it’s like, all right, well, I don’t think if you really gave them a chance.

    JEFFREY BROWN: For record, Aziz says, these days, he is in a long-term committed relationship, but he told me he’s not above checking his girlfriend’s phone to see if that Christopher character is texting yet again.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Jeffrey Brown.

    The post Aziz Ansari wants to help you find a mate. Seriously. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during an event at New York University, July 24, 2015. A new letter from intelligence investigators to the Justice Department says secret government information may have been compromised in Hillary Rodham Clinton's private server. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during an event at New York University, July 24, 2015. A new letter from intelligence investigators to the Justice Department says secret government information may have been compromised in Clinton’s private email server. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — A new letter from intelligence investigators to the Justice Department says secret government information may have been compromised in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private server, underscoring an inescapable reality for her presidential campaign: Email is forever.

    Clinton, the former secretary of state and now the leading Democratic presidential candidate, wants to focus on the economic issues she and her team believe will drive the next election. But they remain unable to fully escape the questions surrounding her decision to run her State Department correspondence through an unsecured system set up at her New York home.

    The inspector general of the U.S. intelligence community recently alerted the Justice Department to the potential compromise of classified information arising from Clinton’s server. The IG also sent a memo to members of Congress indicating that “potentially hundreds of classified emails” were among the 30,000 that Clinton had provided to the State Department – a concern the office said it raised with FBI counterintelligence officials.

    The memo also made recommendations for changes in how the emails are being reviewed and processed for public release.

    Though the referral to the Justice Department does not seek a criminal probe and does not specifically target Clinton, the latest steps by government investigators will further fuel the partisan furor surrounding the 55,000 pages of emails the State Department already has under review.

    A statement from the intelligence inspector general, I. Charles McCullough, and his counterpart at the State Department, Steve Linick, said that McCullough’s office found four emails containing classified information in a limited sample of 40 emails.

    “This classified information should have never been transmitted via an unclassified personal system,” they said.

    For Clinton, the news amounted to a major distraction on a day she’d hoped to focus on unveiling a new set of economic policies. Instead, she opened her New York City speech by addressing the controversy, decrying some reports as inaccurate.

    Some media initially reported that the Justice Department had been asked to consider a criminal investigation into whether she mishandled her emails.

    “We are all accountable to the American people to get the facts right, and I will do my part. But I’m also going to stay focused on the issues,” she said.

    It was not immediately clear whether the Justice Department would investigate the potential compromise the intelligence inspector general highlighted. The office has not suggested any wrongdoing by Clinton, according to U.S. officials speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the referral publicly.

    But the inspector general’s office said in its letter to congressional oversight committees that it was concerned that “these emails exist on at least one private server and thumb drive with classified information and those are not in the government’s possession,” said Andrea Williams, a spokeswoman for McCullough.

    None of the emails was marked “classified” at the time they were sent or received, but some should have been handled as such and sent on a secure computer network, the letter sent to congressional oversight committees said.

    Clinton has maintained that she never sent classified information on her personal email account, which she said in March she used as a matter of convenience to limit her number of electronic devices.

    The State Department has made public some of the emails involving Clinton, and is under court order to make regular further releases of such correspondence. The aim is for the department to unveil all of 55,000 pages of the emails she turned over by Jan. 29, 2016.

    Republicans are pushing Clinton to turn her server over to a third party for forensic evaluation.

    “Her poor judgment has undermined our national security, and it is time for her to finally do the right thing,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

    Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said she had followed “appropriate practices in dealing with classified materials.”

    Whether a security violation or not, the risk for Democrats is that questions about her email harden into an early narrative about Clinton’s honesty and management skills. Already, Republicans have spent months depicting Clinton as a creature of Washington who flouts the rules for personal gain.

    The post New Clinton email claims stoke controversy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The Planned Parenthood logo is pictured outside of a clinic in Boston, Massachusetts, June 27, 2014. Republican furor over a stealthily recorded video of Planned Parenthood executives discussing how they provide fetal organs for research has not subsided. Photo by Dominick Reuter/Reuters

    The Planned Parenthood logo is pictured outside of a clinic in Boston, Massachusetts, June 27, 2014. Republican furor over a stealthily recorded video of Planned Parenthood executives discussing how they provide fetal organs for research has not subsided. Photo by Dominick Reuter/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Two stealthily recorded videos show Planned Parenthood officials discussing how they provide aborted fetal organs for research. The videos have put the group and its Democratic allies on the defensive.

    It’s unclear how long the political damage may last or whether Planned Parenthood has broken federal law – as abortion foes contend.

    What’s clear is that Republicans and anti-abortion groups are giving no signs of letting the issue fade quickly.

    A look of what’s happened and what may be ahead:

    SO FAR

    Anti-abortion activists, under the banner of the previously obscure Center for Medical Progress, released two videos secretly recorded in 2014 and 2015 by people posing as buyers of fetal tissue.

    One video shows their conversation with Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services; the other is with Dr. Mary Gatter, one of the organization’s medical directors.

    In both videos, the Planned Parenthood officials discuss the amounts the group charges to provide the organs and the abortion procedures used to obtain the organs.

    Abortion opponents say the videos show that Planned Parenthood is illegally harvesting and selling the organs. Planned Parenthood says it has done nothing wrong and that the videos were deceptively edited to support extremists’ false claims.

    THE POLITICAL PROBLEM

    The business-like way the Planned Parenthood officials are seen discussing abortions, at times in grisly terms, has people from all camps wincing.

    Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecile Richards, has apologized for the “tone and statements.” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he has seen no indication that the organization broke federal laws, but that “should be looked into.” Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., said Democrats will not abandon their support for women’s reproductive rights, but “nor are we going to defend the indefensible.”

    Abortion foes view the video as a political boon.

    “When the curtain is drawn aside and people get glimpse of what the argument is about, at the actual brutality of abortion, yes, it helps pro-life candidates,” said Douglas Johnson, top lobbyist for the National Right to Life Committee.

    Some Republicans warn against going too far by escalating the fight beyond Planned Parenthood itself. Polls show more Americans prefer abortion rights to banning abortion, and some Republicans have stumbled badly on the issue, including comments about “legitimate rape” by defeated GOP Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri.

    “What you don’t want to get into is the pro-life versus pro-choice debate,” said GOP consultant Ron Bonjean. “Most Americans still mainly care about the economy, jobs and national security.”

    NEXT IN CONGRESS

    Three congressional committees are making inquiries, including the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which wants a briefing from Nucatola.

    Planned Parenthood has not said she would appear. The committee, chairman, Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., said in an interview that “at the end of the day, she’ll testify” – by subpoenaing her if necessary. Hearings seem likely.

    Numerous Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates say they want to eliminate Planned Parenthood’s federal funding, which they have tried unsuccessfully before. That effort can fire up conservative voters and donors but stands little chance of surviving in the Senate or getting President Barack Obama’s signature. The fight could get ensnared in a possible budget battle this fall that might threaten another government shutdown.

    Planned Parenthood’s most recent annual report says that of its $1.3 billion budget, $528 million comes from the government, though that includes some money from states.

    PLANNED PARENTHOOD AND THE LAW

    Three federal laws are most frequently mentioned in arguments over whether illegality has occurred.

    One bans for-profit sales of fetal tissue, but allows the provider to recover the procedure’s costs.

    Nucatola and Gatter discuss potential prices for providing tissue. Nucatola mentions a range between $30 and $100 per procedure; Gatter discusses $75 but doesn’t rule out $100. Both say Planned Parenthood wants to cover costs and not profit.

    Another law bars providers from changing “the timing, method or procedures” of abortions to recover fetal tissue for research.

    Gatter mentions a “less crunchy” technique that can increase the chances of recovering intact organs and says she would not mind asking a Planned Parenthood surgeon to consider that. “They’re both totally appropriate techniques, there’s no difference in pain involved,” she says.

    Nucatola says when a provider is attempting to recover an organ, “you’re just kind of cognizant of where you put your graspers” so “you’re not going to crush that part.” She also says, “You should always do the procedure the same, and that’s what the providers try to do.”

    A third law bans a procedure that opponents call “partial-birth abortion,” in which a living fetus is partly extracted from the mother as it is aborted. Nucatola mentions that to avoid violating that ban, some doctors use the drug digoxin, which can be toxic to a fetus in sufficient amounts.

    California’s attorney general, a Democrat who plans to run for the Senate in 2016, is investigating at the request of four Democratic members of Congress.

    DISAGREEMENT OVER WHETHER LAWS WERE BROKEN

    Planned Parenthood says the videos show no illegal or improper actions, and that the group does not profit by providing tissue to researchers. Anti-abortion forces seem divided: Some say the doctors’ words show law breaking, others don’t go that far.

    “There’s smoke there,” says Right to Life’s Johnson, who wants the videos examined by “people with investigative authority.”

    “The Weekly,” a publication by the anti-abortion Southern Baptist Convention, wrote recently that Planned Parenthood’s practices seem “sadly and shockingly legal,” and called for new laws.

    The post Planned Parenthood video puts progressives on the defensive appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Barack Obama and Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta hold a joint news conference in Nairobi, July 25, 2015. Obama encouraged African nations to treat gays and lesbians equally under the law Saturday. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    President Barack Obama and Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta hold a joint news conference in Nairobi, July 25, 2015. Obama encouraged African nations to treat gays and lesbians equally under the law Saturday. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    NAIROBI, Kenya — President Barack Obama nudged African nations Saturday to treat gays and lesbians equally under the law, a position that remains unpopular through much of the continent. Obama’s Kenyan counterpart responded by calling the matter a “non-issue” for his country.

    Obama tackled the sensitive matter on his first full day in Kenya, the country of his father’s birth. He drew on his own background as an African-American, noting the slavery and segregation of the U.S. past and saying he is “painfully aware of the history when people are treated differently under the law.”

    “That’s the path whereby freedoms begin to erode and bad things happen,” Obama added during a joint news conference with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. “When a government gets in the habit of treating people differently, those habits can spread.”

    Kenyatta was unmoved, saying gay rights “is not really an issue on the foremost mind of Kenyans. And that is a fact.”

    A number of Kenyan politicians and religious leaders had warned Obama in outspoken terms that any overtures on gay rights would not be welcomed in Kenya, where gay sex is punishable by up to 14 years in prison. The Kenyan gay community also complains of sometimes violent harassment.

    Obama’s visit to Kenya – the first by a sitting U.S. president – has been long sought by this East African country where he is widely considered a son of the nation.

    Acknowledging that some Kenyans have been frustrated that it took him until the seventh year of his presidency to visit, Obama joked that he didn’t want the rest of Africa to think he was “playing favorites.” He will also visit Ethiopia on this trip.

    Still, he noted the U.S. had concerns about violence that erupted in Kenya after its 2007 election. Kenyatta faced charges related to that violence in the International Criminal Court, though those charges were later dropped. Deputy President William Ruto, however, still faces charges at the ICC.

    Obama said he was encouraged by statements Kenyatta has made about the need to root out corruption in the country, saying that’s one issue that could slow down Kenya’s economic growth and development.

    Much of Obama’s discussions with Kenyatta centered on counterterrorism cooperation. Kenya has been grappling with deadly attacks from extremists, most notably Somalia-based al-Shabab, a network linked to al-Qaida.

    Al-Shabab has conducted major attacks in Kenya, including the 2013 attack on Nairobi’s Westgate mall and an April attack in Garissa that killed nearly 150 people.

    “This is an existential fight for us,” Kenyatta said.

    The two leaders opened their day-long meetings with a joint appearance at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, a U.S.-sponsored business conference. Obama announced $1 billion in commitments from the U.S. government, as well as American banks, foundations and philanthropists.

    “Africa is on the move,” Obama declared.

    Obama’s election in 2008 was cheered in Africa, not just because of his family ties, but also because there was an expectation that he would devote significant attention to the continent. Those high hopes have been met with some disappointment, given that Obama’s foreign policy has instead focused heavily on boosting ties with Asia and dealing with conflict in the Middle East.

    The White House rejects that criticism, noting that Obama is making his fourth trip to Africa, more than any previous president. Officials are particularly sensitive to criticism that Obama’s Africa policies pale in comparison to his predecessor, George W. Bush, who launched a multi-billion dollar HIV/AIDS initiative.

    On Saturday, Obama said many of his African initiatives, including a program to vastly increase access to power, were intended to be years-long efforts. And he credited Bush’s health programs with saving millions of lives.

    “This isn’t a beauty contest between presidents,” he said.

    In addition to his official agenda, Obama’s visit to Kenya has been a reunion of sorts with his late father’s family. Shortly after arriving in Nairobi Friday night, Obama held a private dinner with three dozen family members, including his half-sister Auma Obama and step-grandmother Sarah Obama.

    “The people of Kenya will be familiar with the need to manage family politics sometimes,” he said. “There are cousins and uncles and aunties that show up that you didn’t know existed.”

    The president has written emotionally about his first visit to Kenya nearly 30 years ago, a trip aimed at learning about the father he barely knew. Obama’s father traveled to the U.S. as a student, but left when his son was 2 years old. They would only see each other once more before the elder Obama died in a car crash in 1982.

    Unlike on his original trip as a private citizen, security and logistical constraints prevented Obama from traveling to Kogelo, the rural village where his father lived and is buried. The president begged for forgiveness from his family and promised he would be back.

    “The next time I’m back, I may not be wearing a suit,” he added.

    This report was written by Darlene Superville and Julie Pace of the Associated Press.

    The post In Kenya, Obama prods African nations to afford gays equal treatment appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies on the attack on U.S. diplomatic sites in Benghazi, Libya during a House Foreign Affairs committee hearing, Washington, D.C., January 23, 2013. Clinton is set to testify about the Benghazi attacks again Oct. 22, her presidential campaign said Saturday. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies on the attack on U.S. diplomatic sites in Benghazi, Libya during a House Foreign Affairs committee hearing, Washington, D.C., January 23, 2013. Clinton is set to testify about the attacks again Oct. 22, her presidential campaign said Saturday. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton will testify Oct. 22 before the House committee investigating the deaths of four Americans in the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, her presidential campaign said Saturday.

    The committee did not immediately confirm the date for the former secretary of state’s appearance.

    Campaign spokesman Nick Merrill said the Democratic candidate’s testimony will be public. Clinton’s lawyers and the Republican-led committee have been negotiating over the terms under which she might appeal before the committee.

    The chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., initially requested a private interview.

    The testimony, in the months leading up to the first presidential nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, is likely to reverberate through the 2016 race. Gowdy’s committee is investigating the deaths of U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in the attack on the diplomatic facility in Libya. At the time, Clinton was the country’s top diplomat.

    In recent months, the inquiry has devolved into a political fight over Clinton’s emails and private computer server. Republicans have seized upon revelations that Clinton chose to use a private email server, instead of a government one, and later deleted thousands of emails she said were not related to her work.

    On Friday, government investigators disclosed that they had recently alerted the Justice Department to the potential compromise of classified information from Clinton’s server.

    The inspector general of the U.S. intelligence community sent a memo to members of Congress saying that “potentially hundreds of classified emails” were among those that Clinton had provided to the State Department.

    Clinton last testified at two congressional hearings in January 2013, when she denied that the Obama administration tried to mislead the country about the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks. She took responsibility for the department’s missteps and said it was attempting to strengthen security at diplomatic posts worldwide.

    The post Hillary Clinton to testify before House Benghazi committee appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush exits an Uber vehicle as he arrives at Thumbtack, a consumer service connecting experienced professionals in San Francisco, California, July 16, 2015. Companies that are a part of the sharing economy, like Uber, are presenting a policy challenge for Democrats. Photo by Robert Galbraith/Reuters

    Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush exits an Uber vehicle as he arrives at Thumbtack, a consumer service connecting experienced professionals in San Francisco, California, July 16, 2015. Companies that are a part of the sharing economy, like Uber, are presenting a policy challenge for Democrats. Photo by Robert Galbraith/Reuters

    DENVER — The debate over ride-hailing firm Uber is laying bare divides in the Democratic Party and on the left about how to handle the new “sharing” economy. Republicans are hungry to exploit that ambivalence and make inroads into a wealthy sector of the tech industry.

    In New York City this past week, liberal Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to limit the number of Uber drivers on the streets, only to be rebuked by the state’s more centrist governor, Andrew Cuomo. The mayor’s administration decided to allow Uber to expand in the city for another year.

    That followed a pledge by the party’s presidential front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to “crack down” on companies that classify workers as contractors rather than employees, as critics contend Uber and other companies often do.

    Clinton did not identify Uber, whose lobbying operation is run by former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe and stocked with Democratic operatives. But her allusion led Jeb Bush, a Republican technophile who says he prefers his Apple watch to apple pie, to ride in an Uber vehicle during a campaign stop in San Francisco days later.

    For years, Republicans have struggled to gain support in the technology industry, an effort hobbled by in part by their stance on social issues and net neutrality, which is the idea that Internet service providers should not manipulate, slow or block data moving across their networks.

    But the bright-blue precincts of Silicon Valley have become a regular stop on the GOP circuit.

    Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul opened a campaign office at a San Francisco tech incubator that hosted a 24-hour “hack-a-thon” last month. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio won the backing of Oracle founder Larry Ellison. He held a fundraiser for the senator, whose new book has a chapter with this title: “Making America Safe for Uber.”

    “There’s a lot of folks out here who naturally fall into a libertarian place and in the past they were not feeling the love from the GOP,” said Scott Banister, an investor who is raising money for Paul. “Obviously, if the Democratic Party is going to come down on the side of `let’s shut down these businesses,’ that’s going to force the issue.”

    Liberals have increasingly questioned the impact of the industry during a time of scarce jobs and wage stagnation.

    Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has noted that Apple employs a far smaller share of people than companies of its size did in the past. Silicon Valley and the surrounding Bay Area have become a symbol of the income inequality that Democrats bemoan.

    But it is the recent, explosive growth of Uber and other “sharing economy” companies that have attracted the most concern.

    HomeJoy recently announced it would shut down in the face of four lawsuits alleging it should treat the people who clean homes on its behalf as employees rather than as independent contractors not entitled to the same workplace protections.

    “If a technologist wants to disrupt an industry that has middle-class jobs and replace them with insecure, not-as-good jobs, there has to be a conversation about that,” said Heath McGee, president of the liberal think-tank Demos. “Just because there’s an app doesn’t mean it’s anything different. … It’s a question as old as the economy.”

    Lyft, Uber or the grocery delivery service Instacart and others rely on independent contractors to provide services for a fee: driving, house cleaning, grocery shopping and the like.

    Uber takes a commission from fees charged to its riders. The drivers, who can work as many or as few hours as they would like, get the rest. Many Uber drivers work part time to supplement their income, while others rely on it entirely. Founded in 2009, it was operating in more than 250 cities and 21 countries by the end of last year.

    Such innovations have hit core Democratic constituencies. Among them are taxi companies that give generously to urban politicians such as de Blasio, and professors worried about the proliferation of online higher educational courses.

    But they also benefit another core group: the young, urban people who supported President Barack Obama. Former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer warned in a recent that “progressive politicians are making a major error by positioning against the sharing economy.”

    Banister, the investor helping Paul, said Democrats seem torn on the sharing economy, “not quite sure where the electorate wants them to be.” Republicans, he added, are “able to come back and say, `We’re not wishy-washy about this,'” because business, jobs and the economy form “the core of the GOP.”

    Larry Gerston, political science professor emeritus at San Jose State, said the Uber skirmishes will have limited impact in Silicon Valley, which is far more concerned with federal policy on matters such as patent protection.

    But Julie Samuels, executive director of Engine, a nonprofit that tries to connect startups with policy debates, said the tone of the debate is worrisome. “When any policymaker starts to ostracize the tech community, they’re ostracizing people who can make things better,” she said.

    The post Democrats waver on Uber and the sharing economy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers testifies before a House (Select) Intelligence Committee hearing in Washington November 20, 2014. Rogers spoke Thursday at the Aspen Security Forum about U.S. cyber-security. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers testifies before a House (Select) Intelligence Committee hearing in Washington November 20, 2014. Rogers spoke Thursday at the Aspen Security Forum about U.S. cyber-security. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    Several American government and intelligence officials have expressed concerns that this summer’s sweeping data breach of the United States Office of Personnel Management may have further ramifications.

    According to reporting by The New York Times, officials believe that combined with China’s prior accumulated data and intelligence, data troves from the OPM hack could give the Chinese government the information necessary to hone in on the identities of American spies.

    When the breach was first reported, government officials said that the hack did not compromise the identities of covert operatives. But theoretically, hackers could search for the names of Americans working in embassies or other official capacities and if they do not show up in the OPM data, they could assume these people are suspected spies who work under the guise of diplomats.

    Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who leads the House Intelligence Committee, weighed in on what the leaked information could mean.

    “It’s even more compromising when it is used in combination with other information they may hold,” Schiff told the Times. “It may take years before we’re aware of the full extent of the damage.”

    Speaking Thursday at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers suggested that the hackers’ motive might have been amassing federal employees’ email addresses in order to carry out spear phishing attacks against their computer networks.

    Rogers did not claim to know for a fact how the hackers’ are actually using the vast information they gained, but he did note that there have been several persistent phishing attempts in recent months.

    “In the past nine months I am watching huge spear phishing campaigns coming out of several nations around the world, directed against U.S. targets,” Rogers said. “They’re not unrelated to me. You see both state and criminal entities using it as well.”

    The first OPM breach in June affected 4.2 million Americans, and a second breach reported in July affected another 21 million people. Information compromised in the breaches included employees’ Social Security numbers, job assignments, addresses, and even personal information about their drug and alcohol use and mental health issues.

    The Obama administration has never officially blamed the Chinese government for the hack, but the Times report claims that it’s something of an open secret within the U.S. government.

    In response to the second data breach, a bipartisan group of senators have backed a congressional measure that would expand the Homeland Security Department’s powers so it could better fight against cyber attacks, according to the Associated Press.

    The post Data breach may help Chinese government identify U.S. spies appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The Jeep logo is seen on the steering wheel of a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee at a car dealership in New Jersey, July 24, 2015. Fiat Chrysler will recall 1.4 million vehicles in the United States to install software to prevent hackers from gaining remote control of the engine, steering and other systems. Photo by Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

    The Jeep logo is seen on the steering wheel of a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee at a car dealership in New Jersey, July 24, 2015. Fiat Chrysler will recall 1.4 million vehicles in the United States to install software to prevent hackers from gaining remote control of the engine, steering and other systems. Photo by Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced a voluntary recall of roughly 1.4 million vehicles Friday in response to an incident earlier in the week in which hackers demonstrated that they could take control of one of the company’s cars using the Internet.

    The recall affects roughly 1.4 million American cars and trucks equipped with certain radios and 8.4-inch touchscreens. Affected vehicles include several popular models made by Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler and RAM brands. (Owners can check here to see what vehicles are included in the recall.)

    On Tuesday, Wired published a story detailing how two hackers highlighted a security flaw that affects some of Fiat Chrysler’s vehicles.

    Security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek used the internet to infiltrate a Jeep Cherokee’s electronics systems and hijack many of the vehicle’s features, all while the duo sat in a basement miles from where reporter Andy Greenberg was driving the SUV. Among other actions, the two were able to control the Jeep’s air conditioning and radio, disable its transmission, track its GPS location and, in some circumstances, cripple its brakes and control its steering.

    Fiat Chrysler said in a Friday statement that affected customers would be given USB devices containing software to patch the security flaw. Dealership mechanics can also update the software, but the voluntary nature of the recall means many affected vehicles could remain vulnerable.

    The company also said it had instituted network-level fixes as of Thursday that prevent remote access to some certain vehicle systems. Such measures don’t require action on the part of customers, according to the company.

    In its statement, Fiat Chrysler said, “The software manipulation addressed by this recall required unique and extensive technical knowledge, prolonged physical access to a subject vehicle and extended periods of time to write code.” The statement also said that such manipulation “constitutes criminal action” if unauthorized.

    Miller and Valasek’s hack exploits software features specific to vehicles made by Fiat Chrysler. But many modern cars are similarly web-connected, part of a larger trend toward computerized, networked devices often referred to as the “Internet of things.”

    While such technologies have the potential to improve people’s lives, they also present cybersecurity concerns.

    Miller and Valasek have been sharing their research on the security flaw with Fiat Chrysler for months — a collaboration that allowed the company to prepare software that addresses the problem, according to Wired.

    Still, Fiat Chrysler condemned the duo’s plans to share data about the security flaw in conjunction with their upcoming talk at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas next month. The company told Wired that it “appreciates” the hackers’ work, but also said, “Under no circumstances does [Fiat Chrysler] condone or believe it’s appropriate to disclose ‘how-to information’ that would potentially encourage, or help enable hackers to gain unauthorized and unlawful access to vehicle systems.”

    Miller and Valasek intend to publish data related to the hack so that their work can be peer reviewed, and in order to alert consumers to the potential dangers posed by highly computerized, Internet-connected vehicles.

    “If consumers don’t realize this is an issue, they should, and they should start complaining to carmakers,” Miller told Wired. “This might be the kind of software bug most likely to kill someone.”

    The post Fiat Chrysler announces recall after hackers gain control of moving car appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A Turkish Air Force A400M tactical transport aircraft is parked at Incirlik airbase in the southern city of Adana, Turkey, July 24, 2015. Turkey has agreed to allow U.S. planes to launch air strikes against Islamic State militants from the U.S. air base at Incirlik, close to the Syrian border, U.S. defense officials said on Thursday. The decision, disclosed a day after a telephone call between President Barack Obama and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, follows long-time reluctance by Ankara to become engaged in the fight against Islamist militants. Turkey has faced increasing insecurity along its 900-km (560-mile) border with Syria. REUTERS/Murad Sezer - RTX1LOPH

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: The U.S. and NATO have pressured Turkey for months to join the military coalition against ISIS. So what does Turkey’s new military action mean?

    “Reuters” reporter Ayla Jean Yackley joins me from Istanbul to discuss that.

    So, what was it that pushed Turkey into this fight?

    AYLA JEAN YACKLEY, REUTERS: Well, as you mentioned, earlier this week, there was a suicide bomb attack in a town called Suruc, across the border from Syria, and that sent shock waves throughout the country. That was not the first attack by Islamic State on Turkish territory, but it was by far the most significant and deadliest, and it had to be a factor in Turkey’s decision to move closer in alliance with its ally, the United States.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: We talked about two set of targets here that Turkey is focusing on — ISIS and Kurdish separatists. They called them a terrorist organization. You know, one person’s terrorist organization is another person’s freedom fighter, right?

    So, what’s happening across that front?

    AYLA JEAN YACKLEY: The PPK, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, is also deemed a terrorist organization by the United States, as well as the European Union.

    But the PPK, or at least forces allied with the PKK, in northern Syria have been coordinating with the United States in its campaign against Islamic State.

    But Turkey’s never changed its stance towards the PKK. It has been involved in a peace process with the PKK, in which there’s been very slow-moving talks between the two sides since late 2012. However, it’s still very much considers them a threat to national security.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what happens on the ground in Turkey with this round-up of 600 different arrests? What does that do to the Kurdish population that’s in there in Istanbul or other places?

    AYLA JEAN YACKLEY: It very much escalates tensions and concerns. The PPK has said the strikes effectively end the peace process. So, there’s a real fear that things could turn violent again.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, this is also on the heels of the U.S. kind of getting upgraded access to Turkish air basses along the border with Syria. There were drones flying out of it but now U.S. fighter jets can fly. How significant is that?

    AYLA JEAN YACKLEY: As Pentagon officials have described it, it’s a big deal. It effectively reduces, slashes the amount of time that these aircrafts have to travel to reach their targets in Syria and Iraq. It reduces refueling mission. It’s huge.

    It’s also symbolically very important, too, to have your stalwart NATO ally Turkey finally fully on board in the fight against the Islamic State, which the U.S. has been seeking to well over — at least a year now.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Ayla Jean Yackley of “Reuters” joining us via by Skype from Istanbul — thanks so much.

    AYLA JEAN YACKLEY: Thank you for having me.

    The post What does Turkey’s new military action against ISIS mean? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    An Uber driver looks out of his vehicle next to New York City Hall while Uber riders and driver-partners take part in a rally on steps of the City Hall against proposed legislation limiting for-hire vehicles in New York June 30, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz - RTX1IHCV

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Kaitlin Harris’s job is to shop.

    KATLIN HARRIS: Usually you start with produce….

    HARI SREENIVASAN: She hand-picks items, often at this “Whole Foods” outside Boston. Food that other people order on-line.

    KAITLIN HARRIS: I couldn’t find the cheese that the customer asked for, so I’m going to get a replacement for them.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Harris works for “Instacart,” which guarantees grocery deliveries to your home in as little as an hour. The three-year-old company offers its service in 16 cities and partners with local stores, including big chain retailers like Costco and Whole Foods.

    Instacart used to consider its shoppers, like Harris, independent contractors, not employees. Workers didn’t earn any benefits, but the job was flexible. They could choose to work as much or as little as they wanted and got paid by the task.

    But last month Instacart announced a big change: shoppers in some markets, including Boston, would have the option to become employees.

    KAITLIN HARRIS: I was happy to hear that I was brought on as an employee….

    HARI SREENIVASAN: For Harris, a college student who works 20 hours a week, being an employee means a guaranteed paycheck, not having to worry about setting aside money to pay her own taxes, and a stable schedule.

    KAITLIN HARRIS: I like to have a set shift for the week and be able to go off of that for how my week is gonna go. I like that type of thing, as opposed to picking up a shift here and there.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: I spoke to Andrea Saul, Instacart’s head of communications, via google hangout at the company’s San Francisco headquarters and asked why Instacart decided to allow their shoppers be employees.

    ANDREA SAUL: When you look at shopping, and grocery shopping in particular, it can be really difficult. For instance, picking fresh produce, or items that are prone to breaking, like eggs. There are a lot of different decisions that that go into that, minute-by-minute when you’re fulfilling an order as a shopper. With the shoppers, we really saw that the supervision, oversight and training could really improve their jobs.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The company says it could only provide this layer of management only with employees.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So this has to be more expensive. You have to pay Social Security Tax, Medicare, Worker’s Compensation, right? I mean, does it make economic sense for the company?

    ANDREA SAUL: We are incurring additional costs. But we decided was that the additional costs that we were incurring on the front end to employ these additional people is worth it for the customer service in the long end, in the long-run.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Instacart says shoppers who become employees will be part-timers, working about 20 to 30 hours a week for up to 15 dollars an hour.

    But not all Instacart workers will have the option to become employees. Drivers who deliver the groceries that Harris and other shoppers gather, will remain independent contractors, Saul says, because driving doesn’t require the same decision-making as shopping.

    ANDREA SAUL: Right now, this is a model that we’re experimenting with, and it could change in the future.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Heather Squire has worked for Instacart — shopping and delivering groceries, in Philadelphia. But after taking a close look at her earnings and her expenses, including gas, wear and tear on her car, and parking, the job didn’t make sense.

    HEATHER SQUIRE: I discovered that I was getting screwed, is what I felt. I felt angry. I didn’t think– I didn’t think it was that bad. I did not think it would, you know, be, you know, below minimum wage.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: After a few weeks with Instacart, squire calculated, she had earned about six dollars an hour, after taxes, and decided to quit. Squire says a set hourly wage would outweigh the freedom of being a contractor.

    HEATHER SQUIRE: So it’s a little bit misleading to say that, “Oh, the flexibility.” It’s like, that’s good, but why do we have to be flexible? I’m trying to be flexible around a part-time job and another gig and another gig, because there’s not enough, you know, good paying full-time jobs out there.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: While Instacart is now classifying some workers as employees…no company has been more at the center of the debate than ‘on-demand’ car service Uber. Available in hundreds of cities around the world, Uber says it is simply a technology company that matches riders with drivers, and its drivers are independent contractors.

    SHANNON LISS-RIORDAN: Companies engage in all kinds of linguistic gymnastics to try to deny the obvious and try to claim that they’re not in the business that they’re obviously in.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Boston attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan says Uber — the company that calls itself “everyone’s private driver” — is clearly a car-service.

    SHANNON LISS-RIORDAN: I’ve seen in a number of industries companies passing off their expenses to their workers, saving on labor costs, doing really the same thing that these so-called new economy companies are doing. In the cleaning industry, in the construction industry, the trucking industry, the adult entertainment industry, the call center industry. You know, one company, one big company will do it, and all the other companies think that it’s okay and they’ll go along with it.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Liss-Riordan has filed class-action lawsuit against Uber, in California alleging its drivers “have been misclassified as independent contractors…” who should be reimbursed for all expenses, including “gas… and maintenance.” As employees, drivers would also be subjected to minimum wage and overtime laws.

    The legal standard to determine whether a worker is a contractor or an employee is not simple. The Internal Revenue Service has a 20-point test. The Department of Labor lists six general factors for consideration. Many states have their own criteria.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Liss-Riordan says a key issue in the Uber case is how much control the company maintains over its drivers.

    SHANNON LISS-RIORDAN: The evidence that we have is that while Uber drivers are driving for Uber, they are subject to Uber’s rules. They can be de-activated if they don’t follow them. They can be de-activated if Uber management is unhappy with them. If their customer ratings dip a little bit. They’re subject to, they’re subject to termination.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Uber declined an interview but told us in a statement, “how drivers control their time and their use of the app… make clear that drivers are independent contractors under today’s standards.”

    RICHARD KRENTCIL: See, I have the App on now, see where the surge pricing is…

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Richard Krentcil drove for Uber in New Jersey for a year and a half…a career change after losing his job in the financial industry. Krentcil had issues with Uber – the app doesn’t allow customers to tip drivers — but he liked being in charge.

    RICHARD KRENTCIL: It’s great — the flexibility’s tremendous. I mean, I love it. If you wanna go visit relatives. Whatever. You wanna go on a trip for a day. There’s no one saying you can’t do it. You’re your own person, and you could work when you want.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: That’s a common sentiment. 87% of Uber drivers say they work for Uber “to be my own boss and set my own schedule,” according to a survey the company commissioned this year. The company also points out that Uber drivers are permitted to also work for rivals like “Lyft” and “Sidecar.”

    Still, attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan says that flexibility provided by sharing economy companies doesn’t mean true independence. She’s also sued “Lyft,” the cleaning company “Homejoy, and courier services “Postmates” and “Caviar.”

    SHANNON LISS-RIORDAN: Here you have entire companies that are building their business model off having the services that they provide be provided by a mass of workers who they want to label as running their own independent businesses. And it’s just not true because these so-called independent contractors are completely dependent on the company for that work.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In June, a California Labor Commissioner decided one Uber driver should be classified as an employee, a ruling the company is appealing.

    In Liss-Riordan’s class action lawsuit, the judge has allowed the case to proceed, writing “whether Uber’s drivers are employees or independent contractors is an issue to be decided by a jury,” setting the stage for a lengthy court battle.

    The fight is not just in courts; it’s also on the campaign trail. Without naming any company, Democrat Hillary Clinton has said she would “crack down on bosses” that “misclassify” employees as contractors.

    Republican Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush has made a point to ride with Uber drivers… And fellow Republican Rand Paul tweeted “services like Uber, AirBNB, and Lyft stimulate our economy and work towards lower prices. How is this bad, Hillary Clinton?”

    How its drivers are classified is not the only battle Uber is fighting. The ride-sharing app has been in been in conflict with existing taxi fleets and regulators around the world.

    Just as ‘sharing economy’ companies upend entire industries, New York University Business School Professor Arun Sundararajan argues: worker classifications need to be rethought altogether.

    ARUN SUNDARARAJAN: We’re sort of in a phase where– the model of providing a few hours at a time, or providing to multiple platforms may, in fact, be the most economically efficient one.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Sundararajan believes traditional workplace benefits, like insurance and paid vacation, should be separated from one’s employer.

    ARUN SUNDARARAJAN: To me, sort of the humane thing isn’t to make everybody a full-time employee, but to extend the safety net to cover people who have alternative forms of work.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Instacart’s Andrea Saul agrees that laws may need to be updated.

    ANDREA SAUL: I do think a lot of the time that people are trying to fit a round peg in a square hole in regards to what the employment situation looks like these days.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In the meantime, Instacart has expanded where its shoppers will have the option to become employees to seven cities – nearly half its locations

    The post Should UberX drivers, Instacart shoppers be independent contractors? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a speech during a  joint news conference with Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta after their meeting at the State House in Nairobi, Kenya, July 25, 2015. Obama told African entrepreneurs in Kenya on Saturday they could help counter violent ideologies and drive growth in Africa, and said governments had to assist by ensuring the rule of law was upheld and by tackling corruption. Photo by Thomas Mukoya

    U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a speech during a joint news conference with Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta after their meeting at the State House in Nairobi, Kenya, July 25, 2015. Obama told African entrepreneurs in Kenya on Saturday they could help counter violent ideologies and drive growth in Africa, and said governments had to assist by ensuring the rule of law was upheld and by tackling corruption. Photo by Thomas Mukoya

    NAIROBI, Kenya — Declaring Kenya at a “crossroads” between promise and peril, President Barack Obama on Sunday pressed the nation of his father’s birth to root out corruption, treat women and minorities as equal citizens, and take responsibility for its future.

    Closing his historic visit with an address to the Kenyan people, Obama traced the arc of the country’s evolution from colonialism to independence, as well as his own family’s history here. Today, Obama said, young Kenyans are no longer constrained by the limited options of his grandfather, a cook for the country’s former British rulers, or his father, who left to seek an education in America.

    “Because of Kenya’s progress – because of your potential – you can build your future right here, right now,” Obama told the crowd of 4,500 packed into a sports arena in the capital of Nairobi. But he bluntly warned that Kenya must make “tough choices” to bolster its fragile democracy and fast-growing economy.

    Obama’s visit here, his first as president, captivated a country that views him as a local son. Thick crowds lined the roadways to watch the presidential motorcade speed through the city Sunday, some climbing on rooftops to get a better view. The audience inside the arena chanted his name as he finished his remarks.

    The president left Kenya Sunday afternoon, pausing longer than normal atop the stairs to Air Force One to wave to the crowd, a huge grin on his face. He arrived two hours later in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, where he was to meet with diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in the evening.

    Obama has written emotionally about his first visit to Kenya as a young man nearly 30 years ago, and he recounted many of those same memories in his remarks Sunday. The battered Volkswagen his sister drove. Meeting his brothers for the first time. The airport employee who recognized his last name.

    “That was the first time that my name meant something,” he said.

    The president barely knew his father, who died in 1982 after leaving the U.S. to return to Kenya. However, Obama has numerous family members in the country, including his half-sister Auma Obama, who introduced her brother Sunday.

    “He’s one of us,” she said. “But we’re happy to share him with the world.”

    The bulk of Obama’s address was a candid commentary on the East African nation’s future. He spent considerable time warning about the risks of government corruption, calling it an “anchor” that could weigh down the country’s promising future.

    “Too often here in Kenya corruption is tolerated because that’s how it’s always been done,” he said. “Here in Kenya, it’s time to change habits.”

    Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has taken steps to tackle corruption by suspending four Cabinet secretaries and 16 other senior officials amid an investigation into allegations of dishonesty. But the action has been met with skepticism by the public because in the past, suspensions of senior officials haven’t resulted in anyone being convicted of a crime. Some officials even returned to their jobs before investigations were complete.

    Kenyatta has been under public pressure to address corruption following reviews of his 2-year-old government that claimed his administration is more corrupt than previous administrations.

    Obama urged an end to old tribal and ethnic divisions that are “doomed to tear our country apart. He spent significant time imploring Kenyans to respect the rights of women and girls, saying that marginalizing half of a country’s population is “stupid.” And he called for an end to forced marriages for girls who should otherwise be attending school and the tradition known as “genital mutilation.”

    “These traditions may date back centuries. They have no place in the 21st century,” he said.

    The president drew on the recent debate in the U.S. over the Confederate battle flag, a Civil War-era relic that is seen by many as a racist symbol. The killing of nine people at a black church in South Carolina last month prompted a fresh debate over the flag, spurring some states to remove it from government grounds.

    “Just because something is a part of your past doesn’t make it right,” Obama said.

    Some of those in attendance for the president’s speech said they were inspired by his appeal for progress in Kenya.

    Upenbo Abraham, a 23-year-old economics student from an area of western Kenya near Obama’s relatives, said he was “encouraged, as a poor boy from a village next to his home.” Ezekiel Oduor, an accountant, said Obama was “candid and clear” about Kenya’s problems with corruption and his desire to help the country rise “to the next level.”

    After his speech, Obama met with political opposition leaders, then with a group of African youth and civil leaders on ways to promote civil society efforts. He told the civil society group that “the country is going to be better off” if it can cultivate habits of public participation and freedom.

    Obama is expected to offer similar messages about good governance and human rights during his two days of meetings with leaders in Ethiopia. Human rights groups have criticized the president for visiting the Horn of Africa nation, which is accused of cracking down on dissent, sometimes violently.

    Obama planned meetings with Ethiopia’s president and prime minister, and a separate session with regional leaders to discuss the situation in South Sudan, a young nation gripped by turmoil since civil war broke out in December 2013.

    Countering the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab in neighboring Somalia also was on the agenda for Obama’s meetings with Ethiopian leaders. A suicide car bombing Sunday in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital city, shattered a period of calm in the city after a number of deadly attacks by al-Shabab. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.

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    U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attends the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, United States on July 18, 2015. Trump has been speaking out against his contenders, with Walker being the latest target. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

    U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attends the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, United States on July 18, 2015. Trump has been speaking out against his contenders, with Walker being the latest target. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

    OSKALOOSA, Iowa — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump opened up a line of attack Saturday on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, accusing the leader in recent polls in Iowa of running his neighboring state into financial trouble.

    It’s the latest broadside against a rival of the outspoken New York billionaire. Last week, Trump went after South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham for calling him a “jackass.” The New York businessman has characterized other candidates as unfit for the office and said the party’s 2008 nominee, Sen. John McCain, was not a war hero in spite of his years as a prisoner in Vietnam.

    Spurred on by a raucous audience of more than 1,000 at a central Iowa high school, Trump said Walker has an advantage in Iowa because he’s from a neighboring state but that the edge is undeserved because Walker has mismanaged Wisconsin’s budget.

    “He grew up right next door. A little advantage, right?” Trump said. “Except Wisconsin is doing terribly.”

    Trump faulted Walker, popular for stripping public employees of many of their collective bargaining rights, for falling short of budget projections and changing his position on Common Core education standards. The voluntary state-based benchmarks for achievement in math, reading and language arts are unpopular among a segment of conservatives who view them, if incorrectly, as a federally mandated curriculum.

    Walker showed tacit support for the standards during his first term when he signed budgets that paid for implementing them. Last year, he called for their repeal and replacement with standards set in Wisconsin.

    “He was totally in favor of Common Core, which I hate, I hate,” Trump said. Walker changed course on the topic, his rival said, when he saw “he was getting creamed.”

    Trump said Walker deserved the criticism because a top fundraiser to the governor referred to Trump in a recent fundraising email as “Dumb dumb.”

    Trump criticized Graham, a close friend of McCain, after Graham chided Trump for faulting McCain for being shot down as a Navy fighter pilot during the Vietnam War. McCain, held as a prisoner of war for five years, was heralded by Republicans as a war hero during his 2008 campaign.

    “I’m very disappointed in him for one reason. He’s done a bad job with the vets,” said Trump, who has sharply criticized Congress for inaction on calls for improvements for services under the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    While Graham and other GOP presidential candidates have sharply criticized Trump for his comments about McCain, Trump held up a stack of paper during his Iowa speech that he said were letters of support he’d received from veterans.

    Before Trump arrived at the event, hundreds lined the sidewalk in front of the high school. At the end was a catered picnic lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, chips and cold drinks.

    Standing in the 90-degree sun, Jill Jepsen held a sign that said, “The Beltway talks, Trump works!”

    “He works, and he doesn’t back down,” said Jepsen, a political independent from Oskaloosa. “He’ll get things done.”

    At the National Governors Association meeting in West Virginia, two Republicans gave Trump’s campaign little chance of succeeding.

    “At the end of the day, I don’t think (Trump) will do very well in Iowa because Iowans like leaders who are humble and hardworking, and people who go to all parts of the state,” Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said when asked about the reality TV star.

    Oklahoma’s governor, Mary Fallin, said she didn’t think Trump would be the next president “because I think the people of our nation want to see someone who will be able to bring people together to get things done.”

    Asked about Trump, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said: “You see some outspoken people who jump up in the polls, but then they also falter very quick. It’ll be interesting to see if that same dynamic occurs.”

    Not one to suffer criticism silently, Trump denied press credentials for Saturday’s event to reporters at The Des Moines Register after the newspaper published an editorial calling him a “feckless blowhard” who is “unfit to hold office” and saying that he should leave the race.

    Register editor Amalie Nash said Friday that the paper’s editorial board is independent of its news reporters and editors.

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    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign event in West Columbia, South Carolina on July 23, 2015. The examination of four American deaths in the 2012 attacks in Libya while Clinton was the Secretary of State could have major repercussions for her 2016 presidential campaign. Photo by Chris Keane/Reuters

    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign event in West Columbia, South Carolina on July 23, 2015. The examination of four American deaths in the 2012 attacks in Libya while Clinton was the Secretary of State could have major repercussions for her 2016 presidential campaign. Photo by Chris Keane/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The bickering has flared once more between Hillary Rodham Clinton’s team and the Republican-led House committee investigating the Benghazi attacks, this time over negotiations for the former secretary of state’s possible testimony.

    A spokesman for the Democrat’s presidential campaign, Nick Merrill, said Saturday she would testify in a public session Oct. 22 before lawmakers examining the deaths of four Americans in the 2012 attacks in Libya. Not so fast, the committee said.

    Committee spokesman Jamal Ware said in an interview that the committee and Clinton’s lawyer were “still in negotiation” and nothing has been finalized, including the date of an appearance and the terms under which she would testify.

    Any Clinton testimony is likely to reverberate through the 2016 race. The committee is investigating the deaths of U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in the attack on the diplomatic facility in Libya. At the time, Clinton was the country’s top diplomat.

    In recent months, the inquiry has devolved into a political fight over Clinton’s emails and private computer server. Republicans have seized upon revelations that Clinton chose to use a private email server, instead of a government one, and later deleted thousands of emails she said were not related to her work.

    On Friday, government investigators disclosed that they had recently alerted the Justice Department to the potential compromise of classified information from Clinton’s server.

    The inspector general of the U.S. intelligence community sent a memo to members of Congress saying that “potentially hundreds of classified emails” were among those that Clinton had provided to the State Department.

    Clinton last testified at two congressional hearings in January 2013, when she denied that the Obama administration tried to mislead the country about the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks. She took responsibility for the department’s missteps and said it was attempting to strengthen security at diplomatic posts worldwide.

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    A woman calls for the next person in line at a health insurance enrollment event in Cudahy, California, March 27, 2014. State insurance markets are struggling with high costs and low enrollment, including in California, which fell short of its sign-up projections this year by nearly 20 percent. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    A woman calls for the next person in line at a health insurance enrollment event in Cudahy, California, March 27, 2014. State insurance markets are struggling with high costs and low enrollment, including in California, which fell short of its sign-up projections this year by nearly 20 percent. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — State-run health insurance markets that offer coverage under President Barack Obama’s health law are struggling with high costs and disappointing enrollment. These challenges could lead more of them to turn over operations to the federal government or join forces with other states.

    Hawaii’s marketplace, the latest cautionary tale, was awarded $205 million in federal startup grants. It has spent about $139 million and enrolled 8,200 customers for individual coverage in 2015. Unable to sustain itself, the state marketplace is turning over sign-ups to the federal HealthCare.gov for 2016.

    Twelve states and the District of Columbia fully control their markets. Experts estimate about half face financial difficulties. Federal taxpayers invested nearly $5 billion in startup grants to the states, expecting that state markets would become self-sustaining. Most of the federal money has been spent, and states have to face the consequences.

    “The viability of state health insurance exchanges has been a challenge across the country, particularly in small states, due to insufficient numbers of uninsured residents,” said a statement from the office of Hawaii Democratic Gov. David Ige, announcing last month that his state’s sign-ups were being turned over to the federal government.

    Now that the Supreme Court has ruled the Obama administration can keep subsidizing premiums in all 50 states through HealthCare.gov, no longer is there a downside for states turning to Washington. If the decision had gone the opposite way, state exchanges would have been a leaky lifeboat for preserving a major expansion of taxpayer-subsidized coverage under the law.

    With the pressure gone, “I think you are going to see much more of a hybrid across the nation,” said Peter Lee, who heads California’s state-run marketplace. Covered California fell short of its sign-up projections this year by nearly 20 percent, but Lee says it remains “a solid business proposition.”

    States are “talking a lot about shared services,” Lee said. “It’s how you get economies of scale.”

    States could pool resources on functions such as labor-intensive call centers or use HealthCare.gov’s technology for online enrollment. They generally want to keep control over marketing, consumer education and oversight of insurance plans.

    Sustainability is the focus of the administration’s annual meeting with state exchange directors, scheduled for the end of the month in the Washington area. The two-day meeting is closed to the media.

    “Each state has a different set of circumstances that informs their approach, and we will continue to support their efforts,” said Mayra Alvarez, the federal liaison to state marketplaces.

    The pendulum probably will swing toward a greater federal role in the next couple of years, said Jim Wadleigh, director of Connecticut’s Access Health. Eventually, more states will want to take the lead, he said, because it gives them greater control over health care, particularly modernizing Medicaid programs for low-income people.

    In New England, there’s talk of a regional exchange.

    The insurance industry would welcome consolidation.

    “Our biggest concern is that you may see many states looking to enact taxes and fees, and that makes health care less affordable,” said Justine Handelman, policy chief at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

    Hawaii is the third state exchange going to the federal sign-up system, following Nevada and Oregon, which made the switch last year. Among the problems confronting states:

    -Minnesota’s MNsure faces a murky financial future. Its budget is balanced as a result of repeated cuts when enrollment has come in below projections, a tactic that cannot work forever. Despite a slew of proposals, no concrete changes came out of the state’s most recent legislative session. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has signaled that MNsure’s fate is on the table, including the option of shifting operations to HealthCare.gov.

    -The U.S. attorney in Boston has subpoenaed records dealing with the troubled rollout of the Massachusetts Health Connector, dating to 2010.

    -Colorado officials are considering big changes to the state’s marketplace, from pooling call centers with other states to dismantling the exchange and relying on HealthCare.gov instead. Although the market is on solid financial footing, it has fallen short of best-case enrollment goals.

    -A federal audit concluded that Maryland used exchange establishment grants from Washington to pay for $28.4 million in costs that should have been allocated to the state’s Medicaid program. State officials dispute that, but federal officials say Maryland should pay the money back. Separately, the original lead contractor for the state website has agreed to repay $45 million to avoid legal action over rollout problems last year.

    -In Vermont, a debate has been raging about whether to abandon the state exchange. Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin originally wanted a single state-run system for all residents, along the lines of Canada. Shumlin backed off because it would have meant prohibitively high taxes. He wants to fix the state exchange, still grappling with technology problems that plagued it from launch.

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    Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 2.21.20 PM

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    SASKIA DE MELKER: ​When you don’t like those people or objects in the background, you just remove them.

    Using a filter, after the snap, to make a regular photo look vintage, is as easy as a mouse click. So is removing a light post that seems to be shooting out of someone’s head by using photoshop.

    But in the world of photojournalism, these alterations are the subject of intense debate. And using photo­shop can land you in hot water. Like it did for The Economist when it removed people from this beach photo of President Obama.

    Or for an Orthodox Israeli newspaper when it cut out the female leaders in this photo.

    MICHAEL KAMBER: ​People do that all the time on their Facebook page. That’s fine. We’re the professionals. We have to maintain standards and ethics. We have to make sure that these photos are an accurate representation.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: ​Photographer Michael Kamber has covered conflicts around the world for the New York Times. His latest project, though, is curating an exhibition at the Bronx Documentary Center called “Altered Images”, which explores news and documentary photos that have been manipulated.

    MICHAEL KAMBER: ​The more we looked, the more we found, especially lately, especially in the digital age. It was actually hard to bring it down to these 40 photos.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: ​The exhibit spans photojournalism history and includes examples of staging: directing subjects like the boy in this image.

    Or misleading captions: this man was not a sniper.

    And yes, photoshopping: John Kerry was never at this anti­Vietnam rally with Jane Fonda.

    One of the first cases of controversial digital photo manipulation occurred in 1982 with the Great

    Pyramids of Egypt.

    MICHAEL KAMBER:​ National Geographic took a horizontal photo and wanted to put it on a vertical cover. And they moved the pyramids closer together. That was something that really got people’s attention.

    MICHAEL KAMBER: ​Another really egregious example of manipulation is the Los Angeles

    Times photo from 2003, where a photographer took two photos. They were both quite dramatic. There was a British soldier in the photo and there was an Iraqi civilian. In one photo he liked the way the soldier looked. And in the other photo he liked the way the civilian looked. So he decided to just combine the two photos in Photoshop. And it was actually printed all over the world.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: ​When the inconsistencies were noticed, the photographer lost his job.

    Photo manipulation is as old as photography itself. Take this photo of President Lincoln. It’s actually Lincoln’s head on Senator John Calhoun’s body.

    Or this portrait of General Ulysses Grant. It layers three separate images from different times and locations.

    Even before photography went digital, the media altered photos. In this famous image of the

    Kent State massacre, the fence behind the grieving teenage girl was removed.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: ​In 1994, Time magazine ignited a firestorm for making football hero O.J.

    Simpson, then accused of murdering his wife, look darker and blacker than he really was.

    Newsweek didn’t.

    In 2006, the Reuters news agency yanked a photo of the Israeli­bombed Beirut skyline after it learned the photographer used photoshop to clone and darken the smoke to make the damage look worse.

    Two years ago, the Associated Press fired the photographer who edited out a video camera seen in the foreground of the image of this soldier.

    MICHAEL KAMBER: ​Once we start removing things from photos then pretty much everything is on the table for negotiation. We can’t be negotiating this. We can’t be negotiating what is inside the frame. It has to be what was actually there when you took the photo.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: ​Still, in this year’s coveted World Press Photo Contest, 20 percent of the finalists were disqualified for significant alterations to their photos.

    BRUCE SHAPIRO: ​You’ve got technology, and a public that knows it’s there, which creates all kind of room for doubt.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: ​Columbia Journalism School Professor Bruce Shapiro says the internet magnifies the consequences of manipulated images.

    BRUCE SHAPIRO: ​Powerful images of current events, of controversies, of abuses have been an important driver of social change and public policy. If the public, if the news consuming, image consuming, picture drenched public loses confidence in the ability of photographers to tell the truth in a fundamental way, then the game is up.

    The post What happens when Photoshop goes too far? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Sen. Lindsey Graham destroys a cellphone in response to fellow GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump reading his phone number aloud during a speech. Graham’s video was seen as one of several recent moves by GOP candidates to boost their visibility in order to gain spots in the first GOP debate of the 2016 election cycle.

    AMES, Iowa — Rick Perry is attacking Donald Trump’s credibility and branding the billionaire businessman “a cancer on conservatism.” Rick Santorum, a conservative stalwart, popped up on a TV program popular with liberals. Lindsey Graham set his cellphone on fire.

    With the first debate of the Republican presidential campaign approaching, the White House hopefuls are trying everything they can to improve their polling position. A candidate needs to place in the top 10 in an average of national polls to meet the criteria Fox News Channel has set to take the stage Aug. 6 in Cleveland.

    Those kept out risk being overlooked by voters and financial backers heading into the critical fall stretch before the nominating contests start early in 2016.

    “If you’re not on the stage you’re irrelevant, you don’t matter,” said Republican pollster Frank Luntz. “Unless you have some serious ad dollars, it’s not a glass ceiling. It’s a concrete ceiling.”

    At of this past week, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former New York Gov. George Pataki, ex-Pennsylvania Sen. Santorum and South Carolina Sen. Graham were outside the top 10. Others close to the edge including Ohio Gov. John Kasich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and ex-Texas Gov. Perry.

    That would relegate them to a second-tier debate, only an hourlong airing before the prime-time event.

    “In your heart of hearts, you want to see me debate Hillary Clinton,” Fiorina, the only woman in the Republican contest, said with a grin, drawing applause from more than 100 people at an Ames country club Thursday.

    “I would of course love to be on the debate stage, but we’re going to keep going with or without it,” she told reporters afterward. “The boys are going to fight, and I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing.”

    One guaranteed participant is Trump, despite incendiary comments about Mexican immigrants and Arizona Sen. John McCain’s war record. Trump’s remarks have drawn a backlash in a party trying to expand its Latino voting bloc and where national security is an influential constituency.

    Boring in on Trump is one approach some rivals hope will help them to break through as the debate nears. Perry unloaded on Wednesday when he called Trump’s campaign a “barking carnival act” and “toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense.”

    Perry pollster Greg Strimple said the goal of the speech was part of a long-standing effort to raise his profile, not to get him in the debate. “We had long-planned a speech defending conservatism,” Strimple said. “When Donald Trump made his negative comments, it provided us the perfect comparison.”

    Perry’s supporters are buying national cable ads that could boost his numbers ahead of the debate. On Friday, backers of Christie announced a new ad to air on Fox News.

    Graham, even further behind in polling, called Trump a “jackass” after the real estate executive said McCain was “not a war hero.” McCain served as a Navy pilot during the Vietnam War, who was captured after his plane was shot down and held for more than five years as a prisoner of war. Graham then starred in a video produced by a conservative website demonstrating how to destroy a cellphone after Trump publicly disclosed Graham’s number during a campaign appearance in South Carolina.

    Curt Anderson, a strategist advising Jindal’s campaign, wrote in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal that the Republican Party was sabotaging itself by controlling the debates too much, after concluding that marginal candidates dragged 2012 nominee Mitt Romney too far to the right.

    “They have come out to limit the number of debates we can have, they dictated who can have it, where you have it and who will moderate it,” Anderson said in an interview, adding that his complaints were unconnected to Jindal’s campaign. “The only thing left is to dictate what can be said in it.”

    As with Perry, an outside group supporting the Louisiana governor is buying ads on national cable just in time for the debate.

    Santorum spokesman Matt Benyon said Santorum’s TV appearances, including on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” were timed to take advantage of the candidate’s time in New York this past week, not to boost his poll numbers.

    “Would it be great to be in the debate? Absolutely,” Benyon said. “But to change your campaign strategy to focus on one date in August is a pretty shortsighted idea.”

    Republican consultant Reed Galen said candidates may have a better chance to introduce themselves to voters in the less-crowded second-tier debate than competing with Trump and the other contenders in the main debate. Still, he understood the drive for prime time.

    “You get more licks in AAA-ball,” Galen said. “But the majors are the big show.”

    This report was written by Thomas Beaumont and Nicholas Riccardi of the Associated Press.

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    Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 3.09.50 PM

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    LISA DESAI: It’s just after sunrise in the coastal town of Zarzis in Southern Tunisia. Tourism and fishing are the staple of the local economy. And the fishermen sell their catches of dorado and tuna, in the early hours of the morning.

    Here on the Mediterranean Sea a problem plagues Europe and many African countries. And it’s been growing since the civil war began four years ago in neighboring Libya.

    A mass exodus of migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa have been drawn to Libya, where a lack of central government authority allows human smugglers to operate freely.

    The migrants make the dangerous journey on the Mediterranean with one goal in mind: Landing on European shores.

    Wooden boats and inflatable plastic rafts, often overflowing with migrants, have been sinking one after another, claiming thousands of lives.

    And these men have found themselves on the front lines of a humanitarian crisis.

    “We’re on a Tunisian fishing boat in the Mediterranean Sea. The fishermen here say that over the last six months alone they have rescued more than 500 migrants on the verge of drowning.”

    SLAHEDDIN: One time we rescued 10 migrants. When they got on the boat two of them started praying. It gave me chills, all over my body.We are fisherman. We are here to make a living. We are not here to rescue people, but we have a feeling of humanity. So if I find someone on the sea I will save him.

    LISA DESAI: But even without the right equipment, the fishermen say they can’t turn away from migrants lost at sea. They stop their work to bring them to safety on the Tunisian shores and pay for extra fuel to get them there.

    Sometimes these untrained fisherman risk their own lives pulling people out of the water and spend all night waiting for help from the Tunisian Coast Guard.

    SLAHEDDIN: It’s a powerful feeling to see someone helpless, hungry and being burned by the sun. It’s very hard, you are in front of someone who is calling for help.

    LISA DESAI: Mongi Slim, is the head of the Zarzis office of the Tunisian Red Crescent – the Red Cross in Muslim countries.

    At the local fishing association he coordinates rescues in Zarzis and other nearby port cities like Ben Gardane.

    MONGI SLIM: Those people are fighting, each one wants to go first.

    LISA DESAI: And I see some pictures here of the bodies washed up.

    MONGI SLIM: Yes, this, this here is in Ben Gardane. These are Syrian people. Here is in Il Kitif, the port of Ben Gardane. We received this day 54 bodies from Syria.

    LISA DESAI: Photo after photo shows overcrowded boats men and women fighting to stay alive, and migrants desperately flagging ships for help.

    When the fishermen find the sinking boats, if they are close enough to European waters, they call the Italian authorities, but sometimes, the Italians don’t show up.

    MONGI SLIM: He had to rescue them himself, because nobody come. And he waits a long time and nobody come, and people are crying in the sea, and he must help them.

    LISA DESAI: The lucky ones who make it to Zarzis alive get help from the Red Crescent.

    Mongi earns his living as a pharmacist, and has made it his volunteer mission to provide the migrants with shelter, food, and support to survive.

    Can you tell me how many people live here?

    MONGI SLIM: In this house, we have four.

    LISA DESAI: 18-year-old Tuba – on the right — is from Senegal. How did you end up here in Tunisia?

    TUBA: We were trying to go Italy. We left Zwara to go to Lampedusa.

    LISA DESAI: Do you remember the day that you were rescued? What happened?

    TUBA: We saw lots of boats. We were trying to call them, but they didn’t respond.

    LISA DESAI: There are now several hundred migrants and refugees from Africa and the Middle East living in the area around Zarzis.

    Many fled war, poverty, or persecution in their home countries.

    Some stay only a few weeks, before walking 80 miles across the border to Libya to board boats bound for Europe one more time.

    Ousman Kebbeh is from Gambia. He journeyed by sea to Europe three times. The first two times, he didn’t get far…he was rescued and returned to Libya. During his final attempt, he was saved by Tunisian fishermen.

    OUSMAN KEBBEH: We just waiting for our deaths, no options. You just inside the boat waiting for our time to die.

    LISA DESAI: The fishermen sent us this cell phone footage that shows Ousman’s rescue. He was on board a plastic raft, crammed with 90 other people heading to Italy. Eventually, the boat sprung a leak and slowly began to fill with water.

    OUSMAN: The water is entering inside, and the waves is coming again, the water is coming up. So the water is coming different directions. You don’t know where exactly water is entering the boat. So it’s a terrible situation.

    Some people are vomiting, some people are crying, some people are fighting because you become crazy on the sea. You become different man. So I was just thinking two things, that I will survive, or I will die. This is it.

    LISA DESAI: Like most migrants, Ousman had put his fate in the hands of human smugglers, who typically leave the migrants to drive the boats themselves.

    The journey can take more than 24 hours, They have few tools to navigate, sometimes relying on just a compass to find their way to Europe.

    In Zarzis it was common knowledge that one of the ways that smugglers lure migrants is by advertising on social media with posts like these , featuring pictures of cruise ships– they promise a safe journey, with children riding free.

    This post, which was recently taken down, lists the price per adult: a thousand dollars to be ferried from Libya to Italy.

    Ousman is one of thousands of migrants who have flocked to the war-torn country based on the promise of making it to Europe. But once they arrive in Libya, they are caught in violence and lawlessness and have no choice but to risk their lives on the Mediterranean.

    OUSMAN: You cannot live in Libya. People in Libya they just keep on harassing Black people, keep on beating them, keep on lock them.

    Some of them kidnap you in your houses, lock you. You have to pay money for them otherwise they’ll kill. So the only thing you have to go, you have to cross to Italy. This is a problem. Libyan situation is worse, because there is no government, nobody is control.

    LISA DESAI: Last year, the Tunisian Red Crescent took in 700 migrants, and so far this year the number has already doubled.

    Mongi Slim is worried about how to handle the growing number of migrants ending up in the port city of Zarzis.

    MONGI SLIM: Nobody now is helping enough this people. Our government also, we don’t have any shelter here to this people. When they arrive, we have a big problem to resolve the shelter.

    MAN: The dream is to make a better life than they have in there country, and they want to support their family, but I think that they cannot get it.

    LISA DESAI: The fisherman say they will continue rescuing migrants.

    SLAHEDDIN: It is risky for us, because there’s bacteria, disease and people are afraid. But it is a humanitarian duty, and we do it willingly.

    LISA DESAI: The fisherman on this boat helped save Ousman from drowning.

    OUSMAN: They are good people, they love the sea, so they can’t just see people die and leave them like that. They save many lives in the sea. Not only us, but many people. And I hope they are still doing it.

    The post Fishermen stepping in to save migrants stranded in the Mediterranean appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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