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

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    Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 6.46.27 PM

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: A wing fragment discovered on an island in the Indian Ocean is on its way for testing to see if it belongs to a missing Malaysia airliner. The debris was carefully packaged and loaded onto a cargo flight today bound for special defense facilities in Toulouse, France.

    Meanwhile, locals scoured Reunion Island’s coastline for traces of more debris. And Australian officials who are leading the search for the plane urged caution about what the wreckage means.

    WARREN TRUSS, Australian Deputy Prime Minister: I’m not sure that this finding will actually enable any refinement of the search area. It is 16 months since the aircraft disappeared. This piece of debris has traveled a very, very long way, so I don’t think it will be possible to back-trace where it came from.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Boeing has confirmed the debris is a wing part known as a flaperon and the serial number found on it belongs to a Boeing 777.

    Hundreds of people mourned a Palestinian toddler who burned to death in his West Bank home in a suspected arson set by Jewish extremists. Two Palestinian homes were burned in early morning firebombings. The toddler’s parents and 4-year-old brother are in critical condition. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed the incident on Israel’s settlement policy.

    MAHMOUD ABBAS, Palestinian Authority President (through interpreter): We wake up to a crime of the Israelis. It is a war crime and a humanitarian crime at the same time, so we will not stand still. We will not stand still at all. As long as the occupation and settlement exist, these acts will continue.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the family in a Tel Aviv hospital and said he’d made a rare call to Abbas to express his outrage.

    BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Israeli Prime Minister: I told him of this visit and of Israel’s absolute commitment to fight this evil, to find the perpetrators, bring them to justice. We have to calm the spirits and recommit ourselves to our joint battle against terrorism and extremism.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The attack spurred clashes between Hamas supporters and Israeli police in the West Bank city of Hebron. Protesters threw rocks at Israeli vehicles as soldiers fired gas grenades to disperse the crowd. In Washington, a White House spokesman condemned the incident, calling it a vicious terrorist attack.

    In Charleston, South Carolina, the white suspect in the shooting rampage at a black church entered a temporary not guilty plea today to federal hate crime charges; 21-year-old Dylann Roof is accused of killing nine worshipers last month. Roof initially wanted to enter a guilty plea, but his lawyer advised him to wait until the government decides whether to seek the death penalty.

    The number of homicides in Baltimore soared to a level not seen in more than four decades. Forty-three murders were recorded in the month of July, making it the third most deadly month in the city’s history. At the same time, nonfatal shootings have reached 366 this year, compared to 200 at the same time last year. The spike in killings comes three months after riots erupted in response to the death of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody.

    President Obama signed a stopgap measure into law today that funds the nation’s highway and transit projects for the next three months. The short-term patch was all that Congress could agree to before leaving for an August recess. Mr. Obama said a long-term solution is what the country needs.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We can’t keep on funding transportation by the seat of our pants three months at a time. It’s just not how greatest country on earth should be doing its business. I guarantee you this is not how China, Germany, other countries around the world, other big, powerful countries around the world, handle their infrastructure.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Senate did pass a long-term transportation bill yesterday, setting up discussions with the House this fall on how to fund transport projects over time.

    A former governor of Virginia, Jim Gilmore, became the 17th Republican to enter the race for president. He explained why he’s running in such a crowded field in a video released on YouTube.

    JAMES GILMORE, Republican Presidential Candidate: I have been looking for someone to enter the race committed to my belief that America’s economic and national security is increasingly at risk.

    But I haven’t seen a response from anyone that makes me certain about their knowledge or solutions to the threats facing our nation. I do not seek the presidency because I want to be something. I seek it because I want to do something for America.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Gilmore served as Virginia’s governor from 1998 to 2002, and he launched a brief presidential bid in 2008.

    Wall Street posted small losses today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 56 points to close at 17689. The Nasdaq fell less than a point. And the S&P 500 dropped more than four points. For the week, the Dow and Nasdaq each gained nearly 1 percent and the S&P added 1.2 percent.

    Despite its lack of natural snow, China’s capital city won the right to host the Winter 2022 Olympics today. The announcement came during an elaborate ceremony in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The International Olympic Committee picked Beijing over Almaty, Kazakstan. Beijing will be the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics.

    The post News Wrap: Charleston shooting suspect enters temporary not guilty plea appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    funnyfest

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    ZAHRA NOORBAKHSH: Hey Muslims, make some noise!

    RAMY YOUSSEF: Let me hear the Muslims!

    ALI AL SAYED: Just In case the word ‘Muslim’ didn’t tip anybody off, I said, let me dress like this.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: At Manhattan’s “comic strip,” the goal was to showcase Muslim talent. There were jokes about how Muslims are perceived…to counter how Islam is often portrayed in the news…

    DEAN OBEIDALLAH: After a while, you keep hearing the word ‘Muslim’ and ‘terrorist’ together, you’re going to assume they’re connected.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Festival organizers Dean Obeidallah and Maysoon Zayid have spent their careers challenging stereotypes.

    MAYSOON ZAYID: Don’t you watch 24? Everything was fake except for the mother killing the infidel. Totally true.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: As professional comics, Zayid and Obeidallah started an Arab comedy festival after the September 11th attacks. Fourteen years later, they feel the constant bad news about terrorism has made things worse. And then, there’s the Islamic State – or ISIS.

    DEAN OBEIDALLAH: Look at ISIS. First of all, they’re horrific. Second of all, they’re idiots.

    I had someone say to me, I’m not kidding, ‘So, Dean, what do you think of beheadings?’ What do you think I’m going to think? ‘Oh, it was a phase when I was young. I used to do it all the time…. Left and right beheadings, it was crazy.’ You don’t go up to white people and ask them about the worst things that white people do like, ‘Hey, what’s up with mortgage fraud?‘

    MEGAN THOMPSON: There were plenty of jokes about their own religion – from the holiday of Ramadan to being “haram” which means “sinful.”

    MAYSOON ZAYID: I was allowed to celebrate Halloween, but my costume had to be adjusted, so that it wouldn’t be haram. Halloween’s only haram if you look haram. So, I had like a flapper costume with a turtleneck and leggings.

    RAMY YOUSSEF: How was your Ramadan? Did you fast? Yeah, you did? Did you skip a day? You skipped a week? Oh yeah! Girls can! That’s the only time in Muslim culture that I wished I was a woman.

    MAYSOON ZAYID: We thought what better way to show the world what the majority of Muslims really are like, instead of the extremists that we are exposed to on a daily basis on mainstream media.

    ZAHRA NOORBAKHSH: I get so saturated sometimes just hearing, Muslim, Muslim, Muslim, Muslim, Muslim, Muslim on television. I feel like Persians figured it out. During the Iranian hostage crisis, people were like, ‘Are you Iranian? And they were like, ‘Oh no, I’m Persian.’ I don’t know what that is. That sounds very bad.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: These Muslim comics make plenty of jokes about stereotypes.

    GIBRAN SALEEM: There’s a lot of times when I meet people and I say my name, and I feel like they only hear what they’re already expecting. ‘Cause I’ll meet someone, and I’m like, ‘Hi, my name is Gibran.’ And they’re like, ‘Nice to meet you, Mohammad.’ And I’m like, that’s amazing. How did they get my middle name?

    ALI AL SAYED: You know how the African-American community had a negative word, like, the N-word. Like, don’t even say the N word. You know what, as Arabs and Muslims, we do have a word. We have the word ‘terrorist,’ right? What if we led by example. And took the ‘T’ word and turned it into something? This goes out to all my terrorists out there.

    DEAN OBEIDALLAH: If everybody had a Muslim friend, we wouldn’t have to do this. There’s no other way. I want to do an adopt-a-Muslim program, but nobody really wants that right now.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Obeidallah and Zayid say they’ve received taunts and threats, mostly online. But they’re not backing down.

    DEAN OBEIDALLAH: When you make people laugh, and you make fun of yourself, in a way, you’re becoming likable. You’re becoming a human, three-dimensional character to them.

    MAYSOON ZAYID (ON STAGE): I was 33, I was in my Jesus year, and I needed to catch a husband.

    MAYSOON ZAYID: I say often my mic is my sword. Comedy is all about making people relate, and if you can make someone relate to you, they’re less likely to hate you. And as we do these jokes and they see how much of a common ground we have with them, I think that that helps to dissipate the hate that comes from not knowing.

    RAMY YOUSSEF: Attention. Were you Muslim between 2001 and 2025? If so, we may owe you a huge cash settlement. (Laughter)

    The post NYC comedy fest spotlights Muslim comedians appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The Facebook "Like" icon is displayed in a window at the offices of J.P. Morgan in New York City, New York May 4, 2012. Facebook Inc aims to raise about $10.6 billion in Silicon Valley's largest IPO, dwarfing the coming-out parties of tech companies like Google Inc and granting the world's largest social network a market value close to Amazon.com's.REUTERS/Lee Celano (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) - RTR31M4J

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    KARLA MURTHY: Remember the classic arcade game “Space Invaders”? These high school kids are building their own version from scratch using “Python,” a computer language they’re learning at coding camp.

    These boys are in the middle of a six-week summer program run by “All Star Code,” a non-profit group in New York City that prepares young men of color to work in the tech industry.

    17-year-old De Andre King lives in Queens. He did well in his 10th grade computer class, so his high school counselor encouraged him to apply.

    DE ANDRE KING: I didn’t get in the first time. I did the application again, and when I got the email that morning, I was excited.

    KARLA MURTHY: How has it been so far?

    DE ANDRE KING: It’s been excellent. It’s kind of, like, I’m doing something every day that I enjoy. It’s kind of, like, I’m already having my job.

    KARLA MURTHY: A job, even a career, is precisely King’s goal.

    DE ANDRE KING: If I already am well-versed in HTML, CSS, Java, Javascript, Python, then I can now build something and bring it to the table. That gives me kinda the upper head over my- over, you know, other applicants.

    KARLA MURTHY: Philanthropist Christina Lewis Halpern launched All Star Code two years ago to address the tech industry’s lack of diversity.

    She saw organizations dedicated to getting more girls interested in “STEM” — science, technology, and math — but nothing comparable for boys of color.

    CHRISTINA LEWIS HALPERN: People kept on expecting me to come in and talking about girls.  I had to do so much explaining of making the case that boys of color are underrepresented as well.

    KARLA MURTHY: Halpern’s inspiration for All Star Code came from her father, Reginal Lewis. He grew up in the segregated south and made it to Harvard Law School, became a successful Wall Street financier, and the first black American to own a billion dollar company.

    After her father died in 1993, Halpern discovered that a summer program for black students at Harvard Law had been instrumental in her father’s path to success.

    CHRISTINA LEWIS HALPERN: If my father were a young man today, he would want to be in tech.  And that’s why we exist, I wanted a program that could help young men who were like my father, who are talented, who are driven, but didn’t have access.

    KARLA MURTHY: Halpern, who is on the board of her father’s foundation, has donated $600,000 to All Star Code. This year, it received almost 240 applications for 40 spots. Most students are black or latino and attend New York City public high schools. And 70 percent are from low income families.  

    Bryan Lozano is 16 and lives in the South Bronx with his three brothers and his parents, who are from Ecuador.

    BRYAN LOZANO: My mom is a stay-at-home mom. She really takes good care of us. And my dad’s actually a cook — down by 59th Street.

    KARLA MURTHY: Lozano says, growing up, his parents couldn’t afford to buy him the latest gadgets, but that hasn’t stopped him from learning as much as he can about technology.

    BRYAN LOZANO: I build small little, like, robots. And I’ve worked on large and small drones.  And they come with pre-built — microcontrollers that are coded by, you know, programmers.

    And, you know, I wanna know exactly what’s going in these chips.

    KARLA MURTHY: At camp, Lozano and his classmates learn coding by working on projects like designing apps and video games, robotics and website design. Lozano says he’s used to figuring out computer problems on his own, but in class it’s different.

    BRAYAN LOZANO: Whenever I come up against any obstacle, I have to find a solution online, or test out different things.

    TEACHER: Who’s used a breadboard before?

    BRAYAN LOZANO: But here, you know, our teachers are here to guide us in the right direction.

    TEACHER: The way this works, if you’ll notice, is it’s set in sort of like a grid. There are four sections broken up like that.

    KARLA MURTHY: In addition to the teacher, there are two camp graduates and two college students majoring in computer science to help out in class.

    ACACIA DAI, Teaching Assistant: I learned all this stuff over the course of at least a month. And they are doing all the fundamental stuff in two weeks. So it is a lot.

    DE ANDRE KING: I’m not gonna lie. there’s certain days where I don’t understand ’cause I don’t- I’m learning, you know. It’s like the process. Nobody knows everything.

    KARLA MURTHY: On this day at camp, King was struggling to write the code for his Space Invaders game. After an hour, he thought he finally figured out how to get his spaceship to work.

    DE ANDRE KING: I started inputting the code, and I thought I got it. You know, I was excited. I was, like, “Yes, this is gonna work, I’m finally gonna be able to move onto the next step.” And when I press — when I pressed “enter” — it didn’t work.

    KARLA MURTHY: That’s when he announced to the class: “I have failed.”

    DE ANDRE KING: Once you say that, everybody starts clapping. And you- it kind of blocks you from being discouraged. At first when I would fail, I wouldn’t say anything. You know, I would try to tough it out. And one thing that comes with failure is, you know, embarrassment. Here, there’s none of that. There’s no, “Oh, you’re stupid,” or anything like that.

    CHRISTINA LEWIS HALPERN: Celebrating failure is intrinsic to our program. When you fail at something, when you struggle with it, that doesn’t mean you’re bad at it. That means you haven’t done it enough. That’s an opportunity to learn.

    KARLA MURTHY: Marissa Shorenstein is President of AT&T New York, which contributed $100,000 to All Star Code.

    MARISSA SHORENSTEIN: We’re very excited about the organization and what they’re doing.  We’re really excited about the talent pool that they’re going to develop, and we support a lot of other programs around the country that are helping to invest in young talent.

    KARLA MURTHY: AT&T has also given 1 million dollars to the group “Girls Who Code.”

    Other companies are investing heavily in training, recruiting, and hiring initiatives to improve diversity. Apple spent $50 million this year, Google says it will invest $150 million, and Intel announced it will invest $300 million dollars.

    KATHERINE PHILLIPS: Organizations have been trying to figure out how to do this better. They’ve been throwing resources at it.

    KARLA MURTHY: Columbia Business School professor Katherine Phillips studies the effects of a more diverse workforce.

    KATHERINE PHILLIPS: It’s not gonna be beneficial if you have a routine task. But if you have a situation where you need innovation, you need information and ideas to be exchanged, you need people to think broader and bigger about the problem that you’re facing, you are going to get more out of a diverse group than you will out of a homogeneous one in those circumstances. That’s what the research suggests.

    KARLA MURTHY: Phillips says groups like All Star Code play an important role in preparing students to enter a diverse workforce.

    KATHERINE PHILLIPS: One of the things that we know is that people tend to learn better when they’re comfortable. And so in fact having a situation like that one where you can get support from and validation from other people who look like you is really important.

    KARLA MURTHY: Another goal of All Star Code is to expose students to the industry. The kids go on field trips to companies like Yelp and Goldman Sachs, and all classes and workshops take place inside the offices of companies like Microsoft and Google.

    CHRISTINA LEWIS HALPERN: Nothing compares to our students coming in every day alongside active, working professionals.

    KARLA MURTHY: The class we visited was held at “Alley NYC,” an office for tech start-ups. Keenan Williams runs a company here called yourdealclosed.com which expedites commercial real estate mortgages.

    He happened to walk by the camp door one day and wanted to know what was going on.

    KEENAN WILLIAMS: That nonprofit does things that I wish I had access to when I was 13, 14, 15, 16.

    KEENAN WILLIAMS, in class: That’s what I like to hear; ingenuity, innovation, who else?

    KARLA MURTHY: Williams stops by the class every week. Today, the boys are pitching him ideas based on their coding projects.

    BRAYAN LOZANO: Let’s say there’s a car robbery. And so you can essentially take picture of the model of the car that you know was stolen. You can use paint shop to generate the color you’re looking for of the car, and you can look through images on Google Maps to find the colored car.

    So imagine your car gets stolen and you had a way to have an app that would change it to a bright green color so you would know if it was a stolen car.

    KEENAN WILLIAMS: Oh, I like that.

    KEENAN WILLIAMS: I go in there literally just to help them broaden their horizon. Think bigger. Maybe two years from now, they’ll remember the guy that came into to their program at ASC think, “He told me X and I’m doing X.” So legitimately, I’m definitely trying to be an example.

    KARLA MURTHY: So if you could work at any company right now, where would you want to work?

    DE ANDRE KING: I don’t wanna be cliché but I guess I would have to say Google. You know, there’s nothing better than working at Google.

    KARLA MURTHY: Does it bother you that today in a lot of those places, in a lot of big tech companies like Google, there aren’t a lot of people who look like you who work there?

    DE ANDRE KING: It’s not surprising to me that there’s not people of color in the tech field. But if I can be that person to change it, you know, it’s kind of like being the change that you want in the world.

    The post Cracking the code to a more diverse tech workforce appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks with reporters after the weekly party caucus luncheons at the U.S. Capitol in Washington June 23, 2015.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX1HS8B

    U.S. Senator Ted Cruz speaks with reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on June 23, 2015. New York hedge fund magnate Robert Mercer gave $11 million to a group backing Cruz’s bid for the White House, one example of donations of a million dollars or more that accounts for about one-third of the money raised for the 2016 cycle. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/ Reuters

    WASHINGTON — It took Ted Cruz three months to raise $10 million for his campaign for president, a springtime sprint of $1,000-per-plate dinners, hundreds of handshakes and a stream of emails asking supporters to chip in a few bucks.

    One check, from one donor, topped those results.

    New York hedge fund magnate Robert Mercer’s $11 million gift to a group backing the Texas Republican’s White House bid put him atop a tiny group of millionaires and billionaires whose contributions already dwarf those made by the tens of thousands of people who have given to their favorite presidential candidate.

    An Associated Press analysis of fundraising reports filed with federal regulators through Friday found that nearly 60 donations of a million dollars or more accounted for about a third of the more than $380 million brought in so far for the 2016 presidential election. Donors who gave at least $100,000 account for about half of all donations so far to candidates’ presidential committees and the super PACs that support them.

    The review covered contributions to outside groups that can accept checks of any size, known as super PACs, and to the formal campaigns, which are limited to accepting no more than $2,700 per donor. The tally includes donations from individuals, corporations and other organizations reflected in data filed with the Federal Election Commission as of Friday, the deadline for super PACs to report for the first six months of the year.

    That concentration of money from a small group of wealthy donors builds on a trend that began in 2012, the first presidential contest after a series of court rulings and regulatory steps that created the super PAC. They can openly support candidates but may not directly coordinate their actions with their campaigns.

    “We have never seen an election like this, in which the wealthiest people in America are dominating the financing of the presidential election and as a consequence are creating enormous debts and obligations from the candidates who are receiving this financial support,” said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a Washington-based group that wants to limit money in politics.

    Others see an upside to the rainmakers.

    “Big money gives us more competitive elections by helping many more candidates spread their message,” said David Keating, director of the Center for Competitive Politics, which advocates for fewer campaign finance limits.

    For any number of reasons, these donors are willing to give so generously. Some may have a business that stands to gain from an executive branch that changes how an industry is regulated, while others hope for plum administration assignments, such as a diplomatic post overseas or a cabinet position.

    Many say their contributions, which the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized as equivalent to free speech, merely reflect their intense belief in a particular candidate – and in the political system in general.

    “I’d think that the fact that I’m willing to spend money in the public square rather than buying myself a toy would be considered a good thing,” said Scott Banister, a Silicon Valley investor who gave $1.2 million to a super PAC helping Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul in the Republican presidential race.

    “The voters still, at the end of the day, make the decision,” he said. “You can spend $1 billion trying to tell the voters to vote for a set of ideas they don’t like, and they will still vote against the candidate.”

    For Florida developer Al Hoffman, financial support of the state’s former governor, Jeb Bush, is personal. A longtime friend and political contributor to the Bush family, he gave $1 million to Bush’s super PAC, contributing to its record-setting haul of $103 million in the first six months of the year.

    Hoffman was ambassador to Portugal during former President George W. Bush’s second term. He said he sometimes offered Bush advice during his time as Florida’s governor, but doesn’t expect to influence a Jeb Bush administration. “I’d just like to see one,” he said.

    While the existence of high-dollar donors is more pronounced on the Republican side, they’re also among those giving to the super PAC backing Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    Seven donors of at least a million dollars accounted for almost half of the total collected by Priorities USA Action. Entertainment mogul Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl, led with a $2 million gift, and hedge-fund billionaire George Soros, historically one of the Democratic Party’s biggest givers, donated $1 million.

    But no one has capitalized on the new era of big money like Bush. After announcing plans to explore a presidential run in December, Bush embarked on a nearly seven-day-a-week travel schedule to raise money for his Right to Rise super PAC.

    Bush navigated limits on how candidates can raise money for super PACs by playing coy about his intentions. Now that he is officially a candidate, he has left Right to Rise in the hands of his trusted strategist and friend, Mike Murphy.

    He’s not alone in the use of super PACs to fuel a presidential run.

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are too new to the presidential contest, announcing only weeks ago, to have filed any reports about their campaigns’ finances. Yet super PACs that sprang up months ago to support them show their efforts will be financially viable: A group backing Christie raised $11 million, while two supporting Walker brought in $26 million.

    Such totals put them well ahead of Paul, former technology executive Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Sen. Rick Santorum – who all began their presidential campaigns in the spring.

    Cruz’s super PACs, meanwhile, didn’t just get the $11 million from Mercer. They also received a $10 million donation from Toby Neugebauer, an energy investor in Texas, while the Texas-based Wilks family pooled together a $15 million gift.

    Super PACs will spend as campaigns do, investing in polling and data sets, hiring employees in key states and buying pricey television and digital advertising, direct mailings and phone calls to voters. Their money will be important in early primary states, but also would allow those with deep-pocket backers to campaign beyond Iowa and New Hampshire.

    “There are a handful of billionaires that are making viable individuals whose campaigns never would have gotten off the ground,” said Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, which wants to tighten limits on money in politics. “Some of these candidates will go much deeper into the primaries than they otherwise could, thanks only to this kind of money.”

    This report was written by Julie Bykowicz and Jack Gillum of the Associated Press

    Associated Press writers Nicholas Riccardi in Denver and Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.

    The post Just 60 donors gave one-third of all money raised so far for 2016 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A blue moon, which refers to the second of two full moons appearing in the same calendar month, was seen Friday night for the first time since 2012.

    While most years have 12 full moons, this year has 13. Don’t let the name fool you, though. Most blue moons are pale gray, resembling a moon on any other night, but on truly rare occasions blue-colored moons can appear, usually after volcanic eruptions.

    The phenomenon happens every two years on average, according to NASA, and the next one isn’t due until 2018. Here are photos of the lunar event from around the world.

    The Blue Moon is seen next to the Statue of Liberty in New York July 31, 2015. Photo by Eduardo Munoz/Reuters.

    The Blue Moon is seen next to the Statue of Liberty in New York July 31, 2015. Photo by Eduardo Munoz/Reuters.

    A cyclist rides his mountain bike as the Blue Moon, rises in a park in Rome, Italy, July 31, 2015. Photo by Max Rossi/Reuters.

    A cyclist rides his mountain bike as the Blue Moon, rises in a park in Rome, Italy, July 31, 2015. Photo by Max Rossi/Reuters.

    The Blue Moon is seen over Loosely Row, near Princes Risborough, southeast England, July 31, 2015. Photo by Eddie Keogh/Reuters.

    The Blue Moon is seen over Loosely Row, near Princes Risborough, southeast England, July 31, 2015. Photo by Eddie Keogh/Reuters.

    The blue moon rises over people gathered on Glastonbury Tor in Somerset, England. Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

    The blue moon rises over people gathered on Glastonbury Tor in Somerset, England. Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

    The Eurotunnel terminal is illuminated by the blue moon on July 31, 2015 in Folkestone, England. Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images.

    The Eurotunnel terminal is illuminated by the blue moon on July 31, 2015 in Folkestone, England. Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images.

    The post Once in a blue moon: See photos of Friday’s lunar rarity around the world appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd L) shakes hands with Malaysia's Foreign Minister Anifah Aman as Myanmar's Foreign Minister Wanna Muang Lwin (L) and Brunei's Foreign Minister Prince Mohamed Bolkiah (R) looks on during the ASEAN-U.S. Ministerial Meeting at Myanmar International Convention Centre (MICC) in Naypyitaw on August 9, 2014. Malaysia, among other countries in the area, have been highlighted as hot spots for human trafficking, especially as standards of prosecution and prevention are continuously unmet. Photo by Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Anifah Aman during the ASEAN-U.S. Ministerial Meeting at Myanmar International Convention Centre in Naypyitaw on August 9, 2014. Malaysia, among other countries in the area, has been highlighted as a hot spot for human trafficking. Photo by Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry will push Malaysia to redouble its efforts against human trafficking during an upcoming visit for regional security talks, a senior State Department official said Friday.

    Kerry’s visit, starting Wednesday, comes a week after the department faced a storm of protest for lifting Malaysia off its trafficking blacklist. U.S. lawmakers and human rights activists say the decision was intended to smooth the way for a trade agreement among 12 Pacific rim nations, including Malaysia.

    The official said Malaysia needs to do much more, expanding prosecutions and meeting standards laid out in U.S. anti-trafficking legislation. The official briefed reporters on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the department.

    Like neighboring Thailand, Malaysia has faced international criticism over its treatment of millions of migrants from poorer countries, and over the plight of stateless Rohingya Muslims trafficked from Myanmar and Bangladesh aboard overcrowded boats. Dozens of graves as well as pens likely used as cages for Rohingya have been found in abandoned jungle camps on both sides of the Thai-Malaysian border.

    Kerry is visiting Malaysia for annual security talks between the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its international partners. Those talks are expected to focus on China’s island-building in the disputed South China Sea, which has rattled China’s neighbors and strained relations between Washington and Beijing.

    Kerry, who starts his travels in the Mideast, will also visit Singapore and Vietnam.

    The U.S. official said Kerry, while in Malaysia, will steer clear of the domestic political scandal that has embroiled Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is facing allegations that some $700 million from a state investment fund went into his personal bank accounts. He says he has never used state money for personal gain.

    Najib recently fired the attorney general who had been investigating him and a deputy who has been among his most prominent critics.

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    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the National Urban League's conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on July 31,2015. Clinton recently released tax and medical records in what is being assumed as an effort to show transparency. Photo by Andrew Innerarity/Reuters

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the National Urban League’s conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on July 31,2015. Clinton recently released tax and medical records in what is being assumed as an effort to show transparency. Photo by Andrew Innerarity/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband paid close to $44 million in federal taxes since 2007 and she is in “excellent physical condition,” two facts that emerged in a flood of disclosures from the campaign of the Democratic presidential candidate.

    Within a three-hour period Friday, the State Department made public more than 2,200 pages of emails sent from Clinton’s personal account, her campaign released a letter from her personal doctor about her health and she unveiled eight years of tax returns. Meanwhile, Clinton herself was campaigning at the annual meeting of the National Urban League and calling for an end of the nation’s trade embargo of Cuba during a speech in Miami.

    Friday was also the deadline for super PACs to file their first financial reports of the 2016 campaign with federal regulators, revealing the names of a slew of billionaires and millionaires paying for the early days of the 2016 election.

    Campaign aides cast the records dump as part of an effort to compete with Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush on the issue of transparency. Clinton is the first 2016 presidential candidate to release her health records, and aides said she released more detail about her finances than Bush, the former Florida governor who has already made public 33 years of his tax returns.

    Republicans didn’t buy it.

    “This massive Friday news dump was not a good-faith effort at transparency, it was a deliberate attempt to sweep things like three dozen more classified emails under the rug,” said Republican National Committee spokesperson Michael Short.

    The Clintons earned more than $139 million between 2007 and 2014, according to the returns, and made almost $15 million in charitable contributions – including a $3 million donation to their family foundation in 2014. Last year, they paid an overall federal tax rate of 35.7 percent.

    The couple made nearly $23 million from speaking fees alone in 2013 – the year Clinton left the State Department – and collected an additional $20 million from paid events last year. The remainder of their income came largely from book royalties and consulting fees paid to Bill Clinton.

    In a statement, Clinton emphasized that she came into her wealth later in her life – an effort to draw a distinction with Bush, the scion of a rich political family.

    “We’ve come a long way from my days going door-to-door for the Children’s Defense Fund and earning $16,450 as a young law professor in Arkansas – and we owe it to the opportunities America provides,” she said.

    Bush has earned nearly $28 million since leaving the Florida governor’s mansion in 2007 and paid an effective federal income tax rate of roughly 36 percent in the past three decades, according to tax returns released by his campaign last month. He’s said he paid a higher rate than the Clintons, though he earned less income.

    Both candidates are in the top 1 percent of taxpayers, who paid an average of 30.2 percent between 1981 and 2011, according to figures from the Congressional Budget Office. The average for middle-income households in that time was 16.6 percent.

    The financial release came just hours after Dr. Lisa Bardack, an internist and chairman of the Department of Medicine at the Mount Kisco Medical Group near the candidate’s suburban New York home, publicly detailed Clinton’s health in a two-page letter.

    The report said Clinton, who is 67, has fully recovered from a concussion she sustained in December 2012 after fainting, an episode that Bardack attributed to a stomach virus and dehydration.

    During the course of her concussion treatment, Clinton was also found to have a blood clot and was given medication to dissolve it. She remains on the medicine as a precaution, Bardack wrote.

    The blood clot, which was in a vein in the space between the brain and the skull behind the right ear, led Clinton to spend a few days in New York-Presbyterian Hospital and take a month-long absence from the State Department for treatment.

    Republican strategist Karl Rove later cast the incident as a “serious health episode” that would be an issue if Clinton ran for president, fueling a theory the concussion posed a graver threat to her abilities than Clinton and her team let on.

    Bardack said testing the following year showed “complete resolution” of the concussion’s effects, including double vision, which Clinton wore glasses with special lenses to address.

    According to her doctor’s assessment, Clinton’s cholesterol and blood pressure are in normal, healthy ranges, and she has had the major cancer screenings and exams recommended for someone her age. She has a very common thyroid condition and seasonal allergies, and takes a blood thinner – Coumadin – as a precaution since her fall and the blood clot.

    There was no mention of Clinton’s height or weight.

    “There’s no red flags there,” said Dr. Mark Creager, director of the Dartmouth-Hitchkock heart and vascular center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and president of the American Heart Association.

    Clinton’s doctor said she exercises regularly – practicing yoga, swimming, walking and weight training – and eats a diet rich in lean proteins, vegetables and fruits. She does not smoke and drinks alcohol “occasionally,” Bardack wrote.

    The post Clinton’s tax, medical records released appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush speaks at the National Urban League's conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida July 31, 2015. The largest Florida corporate donor to pro-Bush super PAC Right to Rise is the parent company of the Florida Power & Light utility. Photo by Andrew Innerarity/Reuters

    Republican presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush speaks at the National Urban League’s conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida July 31, 2015. The largest Florida corporate donor to pro-Bush super PAC Right to Rise is the parent company of the Florida Power & Light utility. Photo by Andrew Innerarity/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The largest Florida corporate donor to a super political action committee backing former Gov. Jeb Bush’s presidential run is NextEra Energy Inc., the company that owns electric utility giant Florida Power & Light.

    Bush, a leading Republican contender, knows the company well. In 2009, more than two years after leaving office, he penned an opinion piece in the state capital’s newspaper urging regulators to approve the utility’s proposed rate increase for Florida customers.

    “With power, the cash registers open and close,” Bush wrote in the op-ed, published in the Tallahassee Democrat. FP&L is the state’s largest electric utility, and NextEra operates in 26 other states and Canada.

    Now, NextEra is opening its own coffers to support Right to Rise, the super PAC formed to help Bush’s bid for the presidency. The publicly traded, Fortune 200 company contributed more than $1 million to the group this year, according to newly available records – not including cash from its top executive to Bush’s campaign.

    For Bush, NextEra’s contributions could raise questions about how the governor’s past support for the power company factored into its financial support and whether, as president, he would face conflicts should the company undergo federal regulatory scrutiny.

    Kristy Campbell, a Bush campaign spokeswoman, denied any conflict of interest in Bush’s relationship with NextEra.

    “As evidenced by his strong record in Florida, Gov. Bush’s public service was always driven by what was in the best interests of his constituents, nothing else,” Campbell said. “As president, he would do the same.”

    Bush’s most vocal support for FP&L came in November 2009, as the company sought a rate increase. Writing in the Democrat, Bush said it was the first time in a quarter century the company sought a basic rate increase – and he chided those he viewed as trying to block the raise.

    FP&L, he said, would use the rate increase to improve its operations, expand capacity, improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. Another company, Progress Energy, had a similar plan, he wrote. FP&L runs the Turkey Point nuclear plant near Miami.

    Bush called out the five-person Public Service Commission that would make the decision, calling the members “de facto judges,” and writing: “Their job is to follow the law, not to impose their personal opinions about the merits of the proposed rate increase.”

    In January 2010, the commission approved a basic rate increase for FP&L – a far cry from the record hike it sought. A state official called the decision a win for consumers. Failing to get the larger rate hike, the company said at the time it was halting billions of dollars in projects.

    The opinion piece was not the only time Bush supported the industry. In 2008, he wrote an op-ed for the Ocala Star-Banner, headlined: “Nuclear power: a change for the better,” and urged approval of three proposed nuclear plants in Florida.

    Those plants, and their operators, regularly undergo regulatory scrutiny – an issue that could surface should Bush ultimately win the White House.

    NextEra’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission describe some of those regulatory hurdles and their potential effect on the company. It said in December 2014 its business could be hurt by federal or state laws or regulations mandating new or additional limits on greenhouse gas emissions. It warned shareholders about significant costs to comply with environmental laws.

    The 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case made it clear that corporations and unions can contribute in unlimited ways to political races, so long as that money comes through super PACs that are not directly coordinated with the candidates. Corporations and unions remain legally barred from giving directly to a candidate’s campaign.

    James Robo, NextEra’s chairman and chief executive, has personally contributed more than $30,000 to federal candidates since 2008, federal records show.

    His donations include $2,700 recently to Bush’s campaign, as well as $6,600 to Arizona Sen. John McCain’s White House run in 2008. He also gave to Democrats, including $10,000 to a fund that helped President Barack Obama’s re-election effort in 2012.

    The largest individual donor to Right to Rise is South Florida health care entrepreneur Miguel “Mike” Hernandez, who donated $3 million. Separately, more than two dozen other companies with Florida addresses have contributed $100,000 or more to Right to Rise, records show.

    They include Southern Strategy Group, a Tallahassee lobbying firm that has long been close to Bush and had employed his former deputy campaign chief. Another $100,000 came from Peace River Products Inc., run by William “Bill” Becker, a longtime Bush family supporter. “It seems whenever I am in touch with you,” he wrote the governor in 2006, “it is for a favor, and I hate to have to do so again.”

    This report was written by Jack Gillum and Ronnie Greene of the Associated Press.

    The post Energy company contributed $1 million to PAC backing Jeb Bush appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Texas state trooper Brian Encinia points a Taser as he orders Sandra Bland out of her vehicle, in this still image captured from the police dash camera video from the traffic stop of Bland's vehicle in Prairie View, Texas, July 10, 2015. A Texas lawmaker who met with the family of a black woman found dead in her jail cell after her arrest following a routine traffic stop said on July 21, 2015 she should never have been in police custody in the first place. Democratic State Senator Royce West told a news conference there would be no cover-up in the investigation of the death of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old Chicago-area woman, three days after she was arrested in Prairie View, Texas, northwest of Houston.  REUTERS/The Texas Department of Public Safety/Handout via Reuters   ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. - RTX1LA6N

    Texas state trooper Brian Encinia points a Taser as he orders Sandra Bland out of her vehicle, in this still image captured from the police dash camera video from the traffic stop of Bland’s vehicle in Prairie View, Texas, July 10, 2015. Photo by The Texas Department of Public Safety/Handout via Reuters

    Brian Encinia, the Texas trooper who arrested Sandra Bland, had been warned about “unprofessional conduct” in 2014, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press.

    The Texas Department of Public Safety released the trooper’s file in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the AP.

    The file reveals that in an evaluation last fall, his supervisor wrote that Encinia was “given a written counseling for unprofessional conduct … for an incident occurring while at a school in Austin.” No further details were available about that incident, the AP reported.

    The evaluation also said:

    In the future, Trooper Encinia should conduct himself at all times in a manner that will reflect well upon himself, the Department, and the State of Texas. This supervisor will ensure that this is done by meeting periodically with Trooper Encinia.

    On July 10, in a case that has since gained national attention, Encinia stopped Bland for failure to use a turn signal.

    The interaction, which was captured on a police dashcam video, quickly escalated after Bland refused to put out her cigarette, and the trooper attempted to physically remove her from her vehicle.

    At one point during the encounter, Encinia pointed a Taser at Bland and said, “I will light you up.”

    Bland was ultimately arrested for assault of a public servant.

    Three days after her arrest, a guard found Bland hanging in her jail cell.

    Texas officials said Bland used a trash bag to hang herself, and an autopsy classified her death as a suicide. The case is being investigated and will go to a grand jury, which is expected to meet in August.

    Walter County District Attorney Elton Mathis said at a July 20 press conference that the circumstances surrounding Bland’s death would be investigated and that the inquiry would be supervised by the FBI.

    “It is very much too early to make any kind of determination that this was a suicide or a murder because the investigations are not complete,” Mathis said.

    The Texas Department of Public Safety released the full dashcam video of Bland’s arrest following increased public scrutiny of an initial video released by the department, which appeared to loop and contain glitches.

    A second video of the arrest, shot by a bystander, shows Bland on the ground, with two officers standing over her. Bland can be heard saying, “You just slammed my head into the ground. Do you not even care about that?”

    The post Trooper who arrested Sandra Bland was disciplined in 2014 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A mobile phone shows a Facebook page promoting Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, in this photo illustration taken April 13, 2015. By one estimate U.S. online political advertising could quadruple to nearly $1 billion in the 2016 election, creating huge opportunities for digital strategy firms eager to capitalize on a shift from traditional mediums like television. REUTERS/Mike Segar - RTR4X893

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: Facebook is offering new tools for political candidates, and your personal account could be used in the process.

    For the first time, Facebook is allowing campaigns to track users’ political comments and “likes” to create a master list of target voters and potential donors. Facebook has 189 million monthly users in the United States.

    To discuss the implications of this is New York Times reporter Ashley Parker.

    So, what can they do besides that one feature now that they couldn’t do four years ago?

    ASHLEY PARKER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: There’s a ton they can do. One of the biggest things is now Facebook allows campaigns to upload their voter file, which is the list of basically voters they hope to target and turn out to vote, to Facebook, so they can reach them there.

    SREENIVASAN: So, let’s walk through that. I hand in an e-mail address if I go to a political event to a particular speech, right? And then, what does the campaign do with that?

    PARKER: Well, not only that you hand in an e-mail address or a campaign will have a little bit of code on their Web site where they track you, and they can see when you came to their Web site, you clicked the donation page and maybe gave a donation, or maybe you sort of learned a bit more about the candidate and visited the candidate’s energy page so they know you’re interested in energy.

    So, they have your e-mail address. They have this other information about you and then they can literally sort of follow you over to Facebook and they can know that you, specific user, who has this e-mail address and who cares about energy is also on Facebook, and they can also then overlay Facebook’s data.

    So, maybe Facebook knows that in addition to those things, you watch FOX News a lot and you went to a certain college and you live in a certain state like Iowa or New Hampshire.

    And then they can target you with a very specific ad, knowing that you’re likely an Iowa caucus-goer who cares energy and watches FOX News and is friends with these people. And you sort of get this ad in your stream and it’s directed exactly to you and your interests.

    SREENIVASAN: So, this is a big shift. I mean, it used to be that advertising was about reaching the most amount of people possible. Now, it’s — we don’t really care to reach the most. We just want to reach the ones that could turn into voters for us.

    PARKER: Exactly. As Facebook says, it’s sort of about reaching the right people in the right place with the right message.

    SREENIVASAN: And if you’re in a household, really, there are multiple Facebook accounts that could be using the same computer, so they can — I’m imagining — target with different kinds of ads or different people could be targeting you.

    PARKER: Yes, absolutely. And another innovation in addition to the targeting is Facebook has really improved their video feature. They sort of launched a new video feature in — last year, and they had about a billion views of video per day, and now, less than a year later, they have 4 billion views.

    And one of the things that that does is their video now sort of starts auto-playing. So when you’re scrolling through your feed, whether you click on a video or not, a Facebook video will literally just start to play.

    And so, Facebook is saying this is a big advantage for the campaigns because people will see these videos and they might not have clicked on them, but maybe the video catches their attention and they stop and watch.

    SREENIVASAN: Short of not using Facebook what is end users’ privacy options if I don’t want to be inundated with political ads on Facebook on my phone, just like I am on TV for the next year?

    PARKER: It’s tough. Facebook does have some various privacy settings which users can control. But at a certain point, I think some users may not even realize how much campaigns and Facebook together know about them.

    So, if I’m a visitor and I’m visiting Scott Walker’s Web site, I don’t necessarily know that Scott Walker’s campaign has embedded a little bit of code that will let them track me when I go to Facebook. So, I might not know to go into my privacy settings to try to change something because I have no idea I’m being tracked at the level I’m being tracked.

    SREENIVASAN: All right. Ashley Parker from The New York Times, joining us from Washington — thanks so much.

    PARKER: Thank you.

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    Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 3.47.35 PM

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: So it’s a two bedroom?

    JENNIFER: Yeah, two bedrooms.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Three years ago, Jennifer and her husband began listing their two bedroom apartment on what was then an up-and-coming website Airbnb.

    JENNIFER: My husband travels a lot for work. We also have family all over the country. And so when we knew we were going away, I would just make the apartment available. We have a space that sleeps six. So people almost always rented it. It just kept going well and we kept having all these good experiences

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Airbnb connects hosts who want to share their homes with guests who are looking for a place to stay – short term, typically for a weekend or a vacation. Airbnb lists the property, connects the two parties, and collects a booking fee.

    Jennifer – she did not want us to use her last name – charges up to $200 a night to rent her place when she and her family goes away, up to a week every month.

    JENNIFER: I think it’s great for the local communities, I can kind of, direct people to my favorite restaurants in the neighborhood. I’m able to help people come in here and really experience what the city has to offer, you know.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: What sounds like a win-win situation for Jennifer and her guests is not so simple. What Jennifer is doing may be illegal in New York City, where city and state laws restrict short-term rentals.

    The short-term home rental industry is booming. Platforms like Homeaway, Flipkey, VRBO are popular. And Airbnb has emerged as the giant in this space, especially in cities. Airbnb now lists over one million rooms available in 192 countries. And New York City, with more than 25,000 listings a night, is the platform’s largest U.S. market.

    New York is also where the debate over how to regulate short term home rentals like Airbnb is perhaps most contentious.
    According to a report by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman last year, nearly three-quarters of Airbnb’s listings between 2010 and 2014 were essentially ‘illegal hotels’– short term rentals that violate state and city laws against renting out an apartment for less than 30 days unless the occupants are also present.

    Schneiderman found 94 percent of Airbnb hosts are like Jennifer and her husband. They have only one or possibly two listings.

    VIJAY DANDAPANI: Those are rooms that would have gone to the hotel industry and should have gone to the hotel industry given what we’ve invested in the city and our buildings.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Vijay Dandapani chairs the New York City Hotel Association and is President of Apple Core Hotels, which owns five in Midtown Manhattan, including this ‘La Quinta’. He says competition from Airbnb has driven down his hotels’ room rates.

    VIJAY DANDAPANI: Rates have not gone back up to pre-financial crisis despite the fact that tourism has gone up. That’s because, let’s say you had 100 rooms, now you’ve suddenly got 140 rooms, 40 of those rooms being not hotels

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Dandapani complains Airbnb and its hosts not only steal business, they also do not follow the same rules and regulations as hotels.

    VIJAY DANDAPANI: We have a fire command system, security systems that give you protections from intruders, and so on. The moment you get into converting your house into a hotel, which is de facto what is being done nowadays, none of those protections are there.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Then, there’s the issue of taxes. Airbnb collects a hotel occupancy tax on behalf of hosts in many cities but not New York.

    Chip Conley, Airbnb’s Head of Global Hospitality, says the company is looking at how to do that.

    CHIP CONLEY: The annual taxes that we would be paying would be 65 million dollars if the state and city of NY would allow us to be a collector of taxes and a remitter of taxes. Currently they are not allowing us to do that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: City officials counter that allowing collection of taxes legitimizes activity that is largely unlawful.

    CHIP CONLEY: So what’s odd to us is that actually New York is actually sort of a laggard here relative to so many other communities across the US who have said, let’s create sensible legislation and let’s make sure we’re actually collecting taxes as well.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: New York Airbnb hosts Jordan and Joshua — who also prefer us not to use their last names — say they’d be willing to pay a hotel tax for renting out their two bedroom apartment. They already declare the income: about a $180 a night.

    JORDAN: If Airbnb collected the tax right when it was booked; then we wouldn’t have to worry about it.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The hotel industry is not the only group fighting Airbnb. So are residents of apartment buildings where neighbors’ apartments are rented out to total strangers. New York State Senator Liz Krueger represents the east side of Manhattan.

    SEN. LIZ KRUEGER: Constituents started coming to me and saying, “There’s something strange going on in my building. The apartments seem to be being rented out on a nightly basis. There are groups of tourists wandering in and out with luggage, with keys to the buildings.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Krueger, who has often been dubbed Airbnb’s Doubter-in-Chief, was the primary sponsor of the 2010 state law that effectively banned short-term apartment rentals in New York City.

    SEN. LIZ KRUEGER: They encourage illegal activity. They don’t have to, but they choose to do so as a business model.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And the short-term rental activity that troubles officials like Krueger and Attorney General Schneiderman most is what they call ‘commercial users’ of Airbnb and similar websites.

    SEN. LIZ KRUEGER: People becoming entrepreneurs and renting one to 100 apartments, claiming that they’re their own homes, and turning them into ongoing illegal hotel arrangements.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In fact, the Attorney General’s report found that while only 6 percent of Airbnb hosts advertise three or more listings, they account for more than a third of Airbnb’s business in New York.

    The report also found thousands of Airbnb listings were rented for three months or more of the year.

    We found that New York Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal went on what she terms an undercover sting operation this spring to find these commercial users.

    ROSENTHAL: Do you live here? You don’t live here, oh ok.

    In one of the videos that she released to the press, Rosenthal is seen visiting a host who, she says, was renting seven apartments in a building, none of which he lived in.

    HOST: “But in case anybody asks something, you don’t know what’s Airbnb is.

    ROSENTHAL: “Oh, OK.

    HOST: “That’s why Airbnb always calls you guests.”

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Airbnb has taken steps to remove users who have a large number of listings.

    CHIP CONLEY: We, like the Attorney General, support the idea of cracking down on illegal hotels and unscrupulous landlords. In spring we took down 2,000 listings, what we were calling bad actors who we just felt shouldn’t be using the site

    HARI SREENIVASAN:But State Senator Krueger argues Airbnb is enticing landlords like the one in the undercover video, to convert apartments into short-term rentals, which can be more profitable than renting them to long-term residents. And that, Krueger says, makes it harder for New Yorkers to find affordable housing in a city where the housing market is already tight.

    SEN. LIZ KRUEGER: Airbnb has told me, “If you could just do one or two, it would be okay,” and the answer is no, because if 10,000 people decide to rent out two apartments fulltime, that’s 20,000 units off the market.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So we’re sitting in an illegal hotel room, according to the State Senator.

    JENNIFER: Yes, I have a difference of opinion with her, for sure. It’s really hard for me to feel like my home is a hotel. I feel like someone who is welcoming a lot of people who become friends. I think the key is just making sure that it’s people are, it’s something that people are doing with their primary home. Financially, it really helps my family. Rents here have skyrocketed in the 10 years that we’ve been here.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Airbnb argues it helps residents stay in their homes by allowing them to earn supplemental income to pay their rent or mortgage.

    JOSHUA: It affords me as an artist to be an artist. I use part of this income to survive on.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Joshua also says that the Airbnb system allows them to be very choosy about who they let stay in their home and when.

    JOSHUA: It’s up to us as hosts what we want to do. I say we deny 8 out of 10 people that ask us to stay here. And we get a lot of requests. a lot. So that’s how I regulate it.The question that people ask is do we feel safe having people we don’t know in our home and the answer is yes.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Arun Sundararajan is a business professor at New York University. He says cities like New York should partner with companies like Airbnb and residents to forge new ways of regulating the activity on those platforms.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Why is the AirBNB model so different than the model for lodging that we’ve had all the rules and regulations around so far?

    ARUN SUNDARAJAN: The fundamental innovation is in tapping into underutilized capacity: repurposing what used to be residential real estate and sort of converting it into a new form of mixed-use real estate where for some of the time it is short-term accommodation, and for the rest of the time it’s residential.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Cities across the country are grappling with these questions.

    Like New York, Santa Monica banned short-term rental of entire homes when the host is not present and additionally imposes a 14-percent tax when a host rents out a room in his house.

    Other cities have recently forged a middle ground.

    San Francisco residents are permitted to rent out homes a maximum of 90 days a year.

    In Philadelphia, the maximum is 180 days and hosts must pay an eight-and-a-half percent hotel tax to the city.

    ARUN SUNDARARAJAN: I think that there’s a growing recognition among cities that this kind of sharing economy activity can be good for a city.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But for now, New York City is cracking down. It has expanded the office tasked with investigating complaints of illegal hotels and is proposing higher fines for violators.

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: ANd now to Viewers Like You — your chance to comment on our work.

    Here’s some of what you had to say about last week’s story about companies like Uber and Instacart — and how the definition of “employee” is changing in the sharing economy.

    There was this from Uber driver Steven Simpson-Black: I’ve worked independent contractor-type jobs my entire life. Newspaper delivery, janitorial work, etc. I pay full taxes… I can say I make more money per hour working for myself than I would making minimum wage elsewhere. Stay out of my business, and I’ll stay out of yours.

    And from Elias Rachid: Leave these companies alone. If people don’t want to work for them, they don’t have to.

    Colorado Native noted: My gut tells me that because Uber and other companies like them are disruptive, the traditional companies in their industry don’t like them… tradition that didn’t become tradition until the automobile (a disruptive force) forced out the horse-drawn carriage from the livery business. So goes progress.

    Many of your comments were like this from John Michael Hutton: Uber drivers should have to comply with the same rules and regulations that cab drivers must. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, its a duck.

    And this from Wes Montgomery: Uber handles the payment and specifies what payment methods are available. Uber is a car service… drivers are an integral part of their business model. These facts point strongly to an employment relationship, regardless of who owns the car or whether they set their own hours and choose which fares to accept.

    Kathleen Anderson added: I do not understand why they are not subject to the same rules and regs as taxi drivers. They are selling the same service. Can someone explain that?

    Deniese N. Wainscoat wondered: So….what happens to these independent contractors when they retire?

    And finally there was this from TrustKnow1: I might be old fashioned, but I’ll do my own shopping and stick with a traditional taxi service.

    As always, we welcome your comments at PBS.org/newshour, on our Facebook page or tweet us at @NewsHour.

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: Good evening and thanks for joining us. We begin with a scathing federal report on the St. Louis County juvenile justice system. The U.S. Department of Justice says the county discriminates against black children, treating them more harshly than white children because of their race.

    According to the Justice Department’s civil rights division, black children in St. Louis County are 1.5 times more likely than white children to end up in family court in the first place.

    Black children are 2.5 times more likely than whites to be detained before their trial, and, if convicted, they are more than 2.5 times as likely to be held in custody after trial.

    The report also found inadequate representation for children from low-income families no matter what race in St. Louis County, where one juvenile public defender handled 394 cases last year.

    The investigation began in 2013, nine months before the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, which is in St. Louis County. In March, the Justice Department issued a similar critical report about disparate racial treatment by the Ferguson Police Department.

    Yamiche Alcindor is reporting on this story for USA Today, she joins me now from St. Louis.

    This was a fairly comprehensive dive that the DOJ took. I mean, they looked at more than 30,000 cases over a three-year period to come up with these conclusions.

    YAMICHE ALCINDOR, USA TODAY: They did. They really took their time looking at this court system because I think they really wanted to go in and talk to all the people.

    If you look at the report, it said that they interviewed judges. They interviewed public defenders. They interviewed private attorneys. They even interviewed the parents of these kids who they say whose rights were being violated.

    So, really, they took a very deep dive to come up with this report, took their time. And as you stated before, this is really something that showed that black children were really not being treated fairly, and also, it was really children, regardless of their race, their rights were really being violated.

    SREENIVASAN: Right. Those rights, including ones of not to incriminate yourself. I mean, it seems that the diversionary programs were contingent on the fact that, OK, admit guilt and you won’t have to come into the system.

    ALCINDOR: Exactly. And even though it happened, it started nine months before Michael Brown was shot and all the unrest that happened in Ferguson, this really calls into question kind of how justice is dealt out in the St. Louis area, and really, in some ways, makes people really think about how our students and how our kids, I should say, are really being treated in this area.

    Are their rights really being protected by the people you would hope would protect them? You would think that a judge, and a public defender, people that are these children’s lives during the most difficult times in their lives would have their best interest in mind but the Justice Department is saying that just wasn’t the case.

    SREENIVASAN: They also found a lack of uniformity and any sort of standard on even determining something as simple as — are you poor enough that you should get this public defender or not?

    ALCINDOR: That is so — that’s true. And one of the things that I found also interesting was the fact they criticized the structure of the court, saying there was a lot of conflict of interest, that people that were suppose to be having these children’s best interests in mind were also having competing interests and paid by the same people that were now their adversaries.

    So, this idea that even the people who were supposed to be protecting these kids’ rights, they also had conflicts of interest and really had — and really to answer to the same people that they were now being adversaries against.

    SREENIVASAN: As we mentioned earlier, 394 cases in a year. At that kind of volume, you can’t mount much of a very spirited defense and it looks like the Department of Justice found lots of case where there was almost no pushback at all.

    ALCINDOR: Yes, and when I was reading that report, one of the things that struck me was, you talked about the numbers for black children, and I talked to some experts who were talking about the fact that really, there was an inherent bias going on here, too — the idea that you had, obviously, overwhelmed public defenders but you also had black kids who were being detained, not only more before the trial but also after they gave a — somewhat of a guilty plea in family court, or if they also violated their probation that they were also more likely to be detained.

    So, you have to think that in this case, the Department of Justice is really saying this family court really treated black children harsher and really treated them — and really treated them in the way that violated their constitutional rights. So, I think that that was really important to me when I was reading it.

    SREENIVASAN: And something also interesting is the family court didn’t seem to cooperate very much with the DOJ. They only allowed them to watch a limited amount of time in the session. But one of the things that the report mentioned was that the judge would basically rattle off a lot of legal jargon, and the kids would just be saying, “yes, sir, yes, sir, yes, sir”, without really understanding what they were giving up.

    ALCINDOR: When I read that, I thought — if you think about someone who’s in family court, you think about a child who’s really in need, who is really probably in a crisis moment in their life, someone who is maybe 13 or 14 years old, listening to all this legal jargon, even as a reporter, sometimes it’s hard to follow what’s going on in the courtroom.

    So, imagine being 14 or 15 listening to a judge in a very intimidating setting really talking about your future and you just saying, “yes, sir, yes, sir,” to kind of get through that moment.

    So, it’s really heartbreaking when you think of that because you can put that scene — you can imagine that scene in your head and think these are really children who really needed the help of this court and didn’t get it.

    SREENIVASAN: And this isn’t the only place the Department of Justice has looked at or is looking at, right?

    ALCINDOR: This is not the only place. From my understanding, Shelby County in — which includes Memphis, they actually had an investigation against them that was closed and that that was one of the things. They’re also looking at Dallas County, Texas, and for very similar violations in looking into how they treat their youths.

    So, this is not going to just focused on the St. Louis area. They’re also looking at other counties.

    SREENIVASAN: All right. Yamiche Alcindor of USA Today — thanks so much.

    ALCINDOR: Thanks.

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    A girl holds a sign at the doorway of River Bluff Dental clinic in protest against the killing of a famous lion in Zimbabwe, Bloomington, Minnesota, July 29, 2015. The lion’s death at the hands of a Minnesota dentist has brought attention to the practice of trophy hunting. Photo by Eric Miller/Reuters

    A girl holds a sign at the doorway of River Bluff Dental clinic in protest against the killing of a famous lion in Zimbabwe, Bloomington, Minnesota, July 29, 2015. The lion’s death at the hands of a Minnesota dentist has brought attention to the practice of trophy hunting. Photo by Eric Miller/Reuters

    The killing of a beloved African lion named Cecil earlier this month has prompted outcry, spurred senators to propose an amendment to the Endangered Species Act and caused the government of Zimbabwe — where Cecil was shot — to call for the extradition of the Minnesota dentist who killed the lion.

    The story has prompted contentious debate between opponents of trophy hunting, who call the practice barbaric, and its supporters, who defend it as an ancient sport whose fans included Teddy Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway.

    But what exactly is trophy hunting, is it legal, and why do proponents say the practice helps conservation efforts? Here’s what you should know.

    Francois Cloete poses in front of an Impala that he shot at the Iwamanzi Game Reserve in the North West Province, June 6, 2015. Africa's big game hunting industry helps protect endangered species, according to its advocates. Opponents say it threatens wildlife. Now a mooted change in regulations in the United States could affect the number of foreigners who come to Africa to hunt big game, damaging the industry and possibly hurting wildlife. Picture taken June 6, 2015. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko  - RTX1G43K

    Francois Cloete poses in front of an Impala that he shot at the Iwamanzi Game Reserve in the North West Province, June 6, 2015. Photo by Siphiwe Sibeko/ Reuters

    What is trophy hunting?

    Trophy hunting is the sport of hunting wild game, generally with the intent to collect “trophies” — either an entire carcass, or body parts like the head, hide and legs — which are then taxidermied.

    Hunters pay hefty sums for the chance to hunt some big game animals. Walter Palmer, the hunter who killed Cecil, reportedly paid around $50,000 for the privilege. Last year, the Dallas Safari Club auctioned off a coveted permit to kill a critically endangered black rhino to the tune of $350,000.

    These high prices generally pay for hunting guides, supplies and hunting permits. Hunters usually need permission from the government of the country concerned and a permit from The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international treaty that regulates the wild animal trade, allowing hunters to transport animal remains back to their home countries.

    A trophy of a wild animal is seen at the taxidermy studio in Pretoria, February 12, 2015. Africa's big game hunting industry helps protect endangered species, according to its advocates. Opponents say it threatens wildlife. Now a mooted change in regulations in the United States could affect the number of foreigners who come to Africa to hunt big game, damaging the industry and possibly hurting wildlife. Picture taken February 12, 2015. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko  - RTX1G444

    A trophy of a wild animal is seen at the taxidermy studio in Pretoria, February 12, 2015. Photo by Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

    African animals popular with trophy hunters include relatively scarce game like lions, rhinoceroses, leopards and elephants, as well as species that aren’t threatened, like warthogs and springbok.

    According to IFAW, a major conservation charity, Americans account for about half of the roughly 5,600 lion carcasses traded internationally for trophy hunting in the past decade.

    Is it legal?

    Trophy hunting is, by definition, legal. National governments often regulate the types of animals that may be hunted, where they can be hunted and the types of weapon that may be used in doing so. International agreements like CITES also apply.

    Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably by people opposed to hunting, trophy hunting is distinct from poaching, which refers to the illegal hunting of animals, often for the sake of harvesting valuable body parts like rhino horns or elephants tusks.

    While the terms are distinct, there are times when trophy hunting crosses the line into poaching, as may have happened in Cecil’s case.

    Palmer had the proper permits to hunt a lion, but he and his guides reportedly lured Cecil outside the boundaries of the protected Hwange National Park in order to shoot him, an action the government of Zimbabwe has described as illegal.

    In a July 28 statement, Palmer said he had thought the hunt was conducted in accordance with local laws, that he had been unaware that Cecil was famous or beloved, and that he regretted killing the lion.

    Workers prepare animal skins in front of animal trophies at the taxidermy studio in Pretoria,February 12, 2015. Africa's big game hunting industry helps protect endangered species, according to its advocates. Opponents say it threatens wildlife. Now a moot change in regulations in the United States could affect the number of foreigners who come to Africa to hunt big game, damaging the industry and possibly hurting wildlife. Picture taken February 12, 2015. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko - RTX1G43C

    Workers prepare animal skins in front of animal trophies at the taxidermy studio in Pretoria,February 12, 2015. Photo by Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

    Can trophy hunting help conservation efforts?

    Trophy hunters often justify the practice by arguing that much of the money they spend on hunts goes to help conserve and study animals, and to benefit local communities.

    Unsurprisingly, answers to the question of whether trophy hunting contributes substantively to animal conservation are often highly politicized.

    A 2006 study examining the preferences of 150 hunters who either had hunted in Africa or planned to do so found that they “were generally unwilling to hunt under conditions whereby conservation issues were compromised,” including areas where hunting quotas were intentionally exceeded.

    86 percent of hunters interviewed said they would prefer to hunt in an area if they knew a proportion of the proceeds would go to local communities, and nearly half indicated they would pay an equivalent price for a less desirable trophy that came from a problem animal that would have had to be killed regardless.

    These numbers may be affected by the fact that responses were self-reported, meaning hunters may have tried to portray themselves in a flattering light.

    Professional hunter CEO of PHASA (Professional hunters association of South Africa), Adri Kitshoff, takes aim during a hunt for game at the Iwamanzi Game Reserve in Koster, in the North West Province, June 6, 2015. Africa's big game hunting industry helps protect endangered species, according to its advocates. Opponents say it threatens wildlife. Now a mooted change in regulations in the United States could affect the number of foreigners who come to Africa to hunt big game, damaging the industry and possibly hurting wildlife. Picture taken June 6, 2015. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko  - RTX1G43M

    Professional hunter Adri Kitshoff takes aim during a hunt for game at the Iwamanzi Game Reserve in Koster, in the North West Province of South Africa, June 6, 2015. Photo by Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

    Conservation organizations are mixed on whether or not there can be net benefits to trophy hunting.

    A 2009 study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, for instance, stated that:

    Regarding conservation, big game hunting shows mixed results. Some areas are geographically stable, and wildlife populations are significant, but this is not the norm. Large disparities are seen between areas. Where management  levels  are  similar,  the  conservation  results  from  big  game  hunting  are  lower  than  those of neighboring national parks or reserves. Hunting areas are less resistant to external pressures than national parks, and thus will play a lesser role in future conservation strategies. An undeniable positive result is that the conservation results that are obtained are entirely financed by the hunters, without support from donors and often without government commitment

    In response to a TIME story, Dr. Rosie Cooney of IUCN told the magazine:

    I’m afraid while it would be nice to be able to recommend alternative approaches for conservation that don’t involve killing animals (even those that will no longer contribute to population growth), we view trophy hunting as playing an important and generally effective role in conservation over large areas of Africa in particular, with important local livelihood benefits in some contexts, such as in Namibia.

    The U.K.-based charity Save the Rhinos offers a qualified endorsement of the practice:

    In an ideal world rhinos wouldn’t be under such extreme threat and there would be no need for trophy hunting. However, the reality is that rhino conservation is incredibly expensive and there are huge pressures for land and protective measures; field programs that use trophy hunting as a conservation tool, can use funds raised to provide a real difference for the protection of rhino populations.

    A report by the group Economists at Large found that trophy hunting did little to enrich the communities where hunting takes place.

    that hunting companies contribute only 3% of their revenue to communities living in hunting areas. The vast majority of their expenditure does not accrue to local people and businesses, but to firms, government agencies and individuals located internationally or in national capitals … expenditure accruing to government agencies rarely reaches local communities due to corruption and other spending requirements

    What do you think about trophy hunting? Sound off in the comments below.

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    Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the U.S.-Ukraine Business Forum in Washington July 13, 2015. The New York Times reported Saturday that Biden is actively considering running for president.  Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

    Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the U.S.-Ukraine Business Forum in Washington July 13, 2015. The New York Times reported Saturday that Biden is actively considering running for president. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

    Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has begun actively exploring the possibility of running for president in 2016, reaching out to important Democrats in a move that could present a serious challenge to Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primaries, The New York Times reported Saturday.

    According to the Times, Biden and his advisers have begun having quiet conversations with Democratic leaders and donors who either have not yet committed to Clinton, or who have begun to question her viability as a candidate because of ongoing debates about her use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state, as well as polling data that says many voters don’t trust her.

    On Saturday, Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote that “The 72-year-old vice president has been having meetings at his Washington residence to explore the idea of taking on Hillary in Iowa and New Hampshire.”

    Dowd also wrote that the recent death of Biden’s son, Beau Biden, prompted the vice president to think more seriously about running for president, an impression echoed by Biden insiders.

    “He was so close to Beau and it was so heartbreaking that, frankly, I thought initially he wouldn’t have the heart,” Michael Thornton, a Boston lawyer and longtime Biden supporter told the Times, “But I’ve had indications that maybe he does want to — and ‘that’s what Beau would have wanted me to do.’ ”

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    Funeral of US President Warren G. Harding. Horse drawn coffin in procession outside of the White House. Photo from Library of Congress

    President Warren G. Harding died on this day in 1923. A horse drawn carriage pulls his coffin in procession outside of the White House. Photo from Library of Congress

    At 7:20 p.m. on the evening of Aug. 2, 1923, a terrible event of national importance occurred in the presidential suite of San Francisco’s Palace Hotel. President Warren G. Harding’s wife, Florence, was reading the newspaper to him. The article in question was about Mr. Harding and appeared to please him because he was last heard to utter, “That’s good, go on.” Immediately thereafter, he shuddered and dropped dead onto his bed.

    Recently ill with cramps, indigestion, fever and a distressing shortness of breath, the president chalked up his feeling so poorly to a week after succumbing to “food poisoning” and the stresses of his being on a 15,000-mile, cross-country speaking tour, including the territory of Alaska, the first time a U.S. President had visited that part of the nation. His aides, already planning a re-election campaign, labeled the trip, “The Voyage of Understanding.”

    Official Presidential Portrait of Warren G. Harding

    Official Presidential Portrait of Warren G. Harding

    As the week progressed, Harding seemed to be improving somewhat but that was merely illusory. The 29th president of the United States and the 6th chief magistrate to die in office was never a healthy man. (Since Harding’s death, two more presidents sadly have joined that list, Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy).

    He had long suffered from an overly nervous condition then known as neurasthenia. Some of his doctors warned Harding, while he was still in the U.S. Senate, that his multiple amorous affairs might physically injure his delicate and enlarged heart. Since at least 1918, Harding suffered from shortness of breath, bouts of chest pain, and difficulty sleeping unless his head was propped up on several pillows, all signs of congestive heart disease.

    Mr. and Mrs. Harding’s favorite doctor was an odd and charismatic homeopathic physician from Ohio named Charles Sawyer, who the president appointed as a Brigadier General in the U.S. Army and the chairman of the Federal Hospitalization Board. Harding’s other physician was the far better trained Joel T. Boone, a U.S. naval officer and Medal of Honor winner. Dr. Sawyer was given to dosing the ailing president with purgatives, laxatives and injections of heart stimulants, including the once commonly prescribed arsenic, which did not always sit well with Dr. Boone. Medical disagreements notwithstanding, President Harding’s doctors arranged for him to be examined while he was in San Francisco, by Ray Lyman Wilbur, the president of Stanford University, a president of the American Medical Association and a leading heart specialist. (Wilbur later became Herbert Hoover’s Secretary of the Interior, from 1929-1933).

    The nurses present on the scene instructed the Secret Service agent on duty to find Dr. Sawyer, who was down the hall, and Dr. Boone, who was out dining with General “Black Jack” Pershing. The first official to reach the death scene was the Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover. By the time the president’s doctors arrived, around 7:30 p.m., he was already dead. The vice president, Calvin Coolidge, was sworn into office at 2:43 a.m. Eastern time, at his home in Plymouth, Vermont.

    Mrs. Harding refused all entreaties to allow the doctors to conduct an autopsy and instead ordered that her husband be embalmed shortly after his death. Dr. Wilbur was especially frustrated by this refusal because the press and a bereaved public blamed the president’s doctors for incompetence, malpractice and even plots of poisoning the president. “We were accused of being abysmally ignorant, stupid and incompetent,” Dr. Wilbur griped in later years.

    In 1930, Gaston Means, an embittered, former Harding Administration official, published a book entitled “The Strange Death of Warren Harding.” In addition to his short stint with the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Investigation, he was also a notorious confidence man and bootlegger who died in Leavenworth Prison in 1938, after being convicted for a con he tried to pull related to the Charles Lindbergh Jr. kidnapping.

    In his 1930 book, Means falsely claimed that Florence Harding poisoned her husband. He also gathered together tall tales and scandals within the Harding administration, including “Teapot Dome” and Prohibition violations, as well as Harding’s clandestine love affairs — one of which may, or may not, have led to the birth of an illegitimate child. Mr. Means’ ghostwriter, May Dixon, later exposed the book as a pack of lies. Beyond the published falsehoods he asked her to record, her anger stemmed from the fact that Means failed to pay her any of the royalties owed to her.

    Nevertheless, rumors are powerful things and they continue to swirl about Harding’s memory to the present day.

    On the evening of the president’s death, Herbert Hoover sent out the official news that the president had died of “a stroke of cerebral apoplexy.” But it was most likely a sudden myocardial infarction, or heart attack, that ended Harding’s life at the age of 58, two years more than the average life span for an American male in 1923 (56.1 years).

    In the end, President Harding’s death was hardly strange at all, merely premature by 21st century standards.


    Dr. Howard Markel writes a monthly column for the PBS NewsHour, highlighting the anniversary of a momentous event that continues to shape modern medicine. He is the director of the Center for the History of Medicineand the George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan.

    He is the author or editor of 10 books, including “Quarantine! East European Jewish Immigrants and the New York City Epidemics of 1892,” “When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America Since 1900 and the Fears They Have Unleashed” and “An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine.”

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    Steam rises from the stakes of the coal-fired Jim Bridger Power Plant supplied by the neighboring Jim Bridger mine that is owned by energy firm PacifiCorp and the Idaho Power Company, outside Point of the Rocks, Wyoming  March 14, 2014. West Virginia mined 120 million tons (109 metric tons) of coal in 2012, second to Wyoming, or about 12 percent of total U.S. production. Kentucky was third with about 9 percent of output, according to the National Mining Association.  REUTERS/Jim Urquhart  (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENERGY BUSINESS) - RTR3H5NS

    Steam rises from the stakes of the coal-fired Jim Bridger Power Plant outside Point of the Rocks, Wyoming March 14, 2014. President Barack Obama will impose even steeper cuts on greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants than previously expected, senior administration officials said Sunday. Photo by Jim Urquhart/Reuters

    NEW YORK — President Barack Obama will impose even steeper cuts on greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants than previously expected, senior administration officials said Sunday, in what the president called the most significant step the U.S. has ever taken to fight global warming.

    A year after proposing unprecedented carbon dioxide limits, Obama was poised to finalize the rule at a White House event on Monday. In a video posted to Facebook, Obama said the limits were backed up by decades of data showing that without tough action, the world will face more extreme weather and escalating health problems like asthma.

    “Climate change is not a problem for another generation,” Obama said. “Not anymore.”

    Opponents vowed to sue immediately, and planned to ask the courts to put the rule on hold while legal challenges play out. Many states have threatened not to comply.

    In his initial proposal, Obama had mandated a 30 percent nationwide cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. The final version will require a 32 percent cut instead, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to comment by name and requested anonymity.

    Environmental groups cheered the toughened rule, calling it a historic move that proves the global effort against climate change is beginning in earnest. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton vowed to defend Obama’s plan if she’s elected to replace him, and sought to use her support for the plan to draw a contrast with her GOP competitors.

    “It will need defending. Because Republican doubters and defeatists – including every Republican candidate for president – won’t offer any credible solution,” Clinton said. “The truth is, they don’t want one.”

    The final rule also gives states an additional two years – until 2022 – to comply, officials said, yielding to complaints that the original deadline was too soon. States will also have until 2018 instead of 2017 to submit their plans for how they’ll meet their targets.

    But the administration will attempt to encourage states to take action earlier by offering credits those that boost renewable sources like wind and solar in 2020 and 2021, officials said.

    The focus on renewables marks a significant shift from the earlier version that sought to accelerate the ongoing transition from coal-fired power to natural gas plants, which emit far less carbon dioxide. The revised rule aims to keep the share of natural gas in the nation’s power mix at current levels.

    The stricter limits in the final plan were certain to incense energy industry advocates who had already balked at the more lenient limits in the proposed plan. But the Obama administration said its tweaks would cut energy costs and address concerns about power grid reliability.

    The Obama administration previously predicted the emissions limits will cost up to $8.8 billion annually by 2030, although it said those costs would be far outweighed by health savings from fewer asthma attacks and other benefits. The actual price won’t be clear until states decide how they’ll reach their targets.

    America’s largest source of greenhouse gases, power plants account for roughly one-third of all U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming. Obama’s rule assigns customized targets to each state, then leaves it up to the state to determine how to meet them.

    In the works for years, the power plant rule forms the cornerstone of Obama’s plan to curb U.S. emissions and keep global temperatures from climbing, and its success is pivotal to the legacy Obama hopes to leave on climate change. Never before has the U.S. sought to restrict carbon dioxide from existing power plants.

    By clamping down on power plant emissions, Obama is also working to increase his leverage and credibility with other nations whose commitments he’s seeking for a global climate treaty to be finalized later this year in Paris. As its contribution to that treaty, the U.S. has pledged to cut overall emissions 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025, compared to 2005.

    Even before the rule was finalized, more than a dozen states announced plans to fight it, setting up a near-certain confrontation with the Environmental Protection Agency, which by law can force its own plan on states that refuse to comply. Yet even in many of those states, power companies and local utility authorities have started planning to meet the targets in anticipation of being eventually forced to comply. Lawmakers in Congress were also expected to redouble efforts to use legislation to stop Obama’s regulation.

    Yet the more serious threat to Obama’s rule will likely come in the courts. The Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, which represents energy companies, said 20 to 30 states were poised to join with industry in suing over the rule. The Obama administration has a mixed track record in fending off legal challenges to its climate rules.

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    Presidential Candidate Donald Trump views his Scottish golf course at Turnberry, Aug. 1, 2015. A review of Trump’s financial records and other government filings found that the billionaire candidate doesn’t rank among the country's most generous citizens in terms of charitable donations. Photo by Russell Cheyne/Reuters

    Presidential Candidate Donald Trump views his Scottish golf course at Turnberry, Aug. 1, 2015. A review of Trump’s financial records and other government filings found that the billionaire candidate doesn’t rank among the country’s most generous citizens in terms of charitable donations. Photo by Russell Cheyne/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Donald Trump, widely believed to the be the wealthiest American ever to run for president, is nowhere among the ranks of the country’s most generous citizens, according to an Associated Press review of his financial records and other government filings.

    Trump has said he donated $102 million worth of cash and land to philanthropic and conservation organizations over the past five years. But his campaign has provided little documentation for most of these contributions, and tax filings of the Donald J. Trump foundation show Trump has made no charitable contributions to his own namesake nonprofit since 2008. Without an endowment, the fund has continued to give grants only as a result of contributions from others.

    Even the $102 million would not impress the wealthy elite whom Trump counts as his peers. Billionaires like Michael Bloomberg, George Lucas and Warren Buffett have both given far more and pledged to donate most of their wealth to charity during their lifetimes.

    It is possible that Trump has been donating money anonymously through avenues other than his foundation, whose tax records the AP reviewed. But pressed by the AP on the details of his contributions, Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks provided a partial list of donations that appeared to correspond with the foundation’s gifts – indicating that Trump may be counting other people’s charitable giving as his own.

    “I give to hundreds of charities and people in need of help,” Trump said in an emailed response to questions from the AP about how he tallied his own philanthropy. “It is one of the things I most like doing and one of the great reasons to have made a lot of money.”

    The Trump campaign did not respond to a request that it identify donations that Trump himself gave. Trump has not released his own tax records even though some other presidential candidates have disclosed theirs. Such documents would likely provide a clearer picture of his giving.

    Actual cash donations account for only around a tenth of the $102 million Trump says he has given in the last five years. Most of the total comes from land-related transactions. One major land donation from Trump earlier this year may result in a significant tax deduction for Trump for continuing to operate a commercial golf driving range.

    Trump announced in January he was providing a land conservancy in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, with a legal promise never to develop 16 luxury homes on what is now the driving range of the Trump National Golf Course Los Angeles. But city planning documents indicate Trump had no plans to use the land for anything other but a driving range – which he will continue to do under the terms of the easement.

    A possible multimillion dollar beneficiary of Trump’s gift: Donald Trump. Easements – contractual limitations which formally devalue the land, even if they require no changes in its use or ownership – provide an avenue for federal tax write-offs.

    By committing to use his driving range as a driving range, Trump is likely entitled to a sizable tax deduction, said Dean Zerbe, a tax attorney for Alliant Group of Houston and who previously headed an investigation into easement write-offs for the Senate Finance Committee.

    “It’s shocking how much you see in the way of golf easements,” he said. “Are we comfortable that this is something we want to subsidize with tax policy?

    Trump’s foundation began in 1987 and exists to donate money to other charities. It has no staff, and its annual IRS filings have regularly listed Trump’s average time spent on it as “minimal” or zero hours a week. The foundation has given out $3.6 million between 2011 and 2013, the most recent year in which its finances are available.

    The overwhelming majority of its recent gifts have been made with other people’s money. NBC Universal, World Wrestling Entertainment and high-end, sporting and entertainment event ticket-reseller Richard Ebers are among the largest donors; Trump made his last significant donation, of $30,000, in 2008.

    Until late last year, Trump was described as an “ardent philanthropist” in a biography posted to the Trump Organization’s website. That language has since been removed.

    As with Trump’s politics, his donations do not fit neatly within traditional ideological lines: In 2012, he donated to the Gay Men’s Health Crisis – founded by gay rights activist Larry Kramer – and the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, which decries the influence of the “gay lobby” and offers support to people pushing loved ones to “seek freedom from homosexuality.”

    A sizable portion of Trump’s giving appears to be geared toward charities prominently affiliated with celebrities or politicians. Trump has given to the Ronald Reagan Foundation and the Clinton Foundation, and has made donations to charities associated with former major league baseball manager Joe Torre, television personality Larry King and professional golf legend Arnold Palmer.

    Some celebrity-backed charities have pitched controversial causes. In 2010, Trump’s foundation gave $10,000 to Generation Rescue, a nonprofit run by Jenny McCarthy to champion the widely discredited theory that vaccines cause autism. Trump also gave $1,000 to the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project, an organization confounded by Tom Cruise that offered free Scientology-based cleansing to rescue workers after the 2001 terror attacks.

    Trump’s tax returns would provide clearer information about any philanthropy he listed as deductible. In 2011, he indicated he might release his own tax returns when President Barack Obama released his birth certificate, something the president subsequently did. Trump took credit for pressuring Obama to release the document but did not release his tax records, promising he would do so at an appropriate time.

    Such returns could potentially shed light on the nature of some of Trump’s noncash gifts, such as his donation of the easement on his Rancho Palos Verdes golf course. Trump’s gift is to the local land conservancy, which maintains green space and undeveloped coastline owned by city of Rancho Palos Verdes.

    Trump’s relationship with the city itself has been rocky. After years of battling with local government over a 70-foot flagpole erected without approval, and Trump’s thwarted effort to have a prominent street renamed after himself, Trump sued the town of 46,000 for $100 million in 2008. He alleged it was wrongfully preventing him from building homes on land adjacent to his golf course.

    The city – which has a budget of roughly one-quarter the size of Trump’s legal claim – settled with Trump in 2012 on confidential terms. But Trump’s plan for the driving range on which he is donating an easement has been far less contentious.

    Though the land was still approved for the construction of 16 homes, Trump turned it into a driving range when he bought the property more than a decade ago, according to city planning documents. In the years since, Trump did not apply to build homes on the property, and he sought approval from the California Coastal Commission to permanently approve plans that left the land as a driving range.

    “Sometimes he’d make statements, saying, `Well, maybe I’d put homes there instead of the driving range,'” said Joel Rojas, the city’s community development director. But there were never any concrete plans to build.

    Trump received that approval last year, Rojas said, which prevents him even from applying to build homes on the driving range.

    When Trump announced four months later that he will permanently forgo building on the range, he said the land was worth more than $25 million.

    Zerbe, the former Senate lawyer, said tax deductions for such projects are unquestionably legal but noted that building homes there instead would have complicated Trump’s golf plans.

    “You’re not going to have a golf course without a driving range,” he said.

    The post Review finds Trump’s charity donations are modest appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Manhattan’s concrete jungle was briefly taken over by a menagerie of real wildlife on Saturday night, as giant projections of endangered animals were ceremoniously splashed across the Empire State Building.

    Onlookers watched like hawks as images of Cecil the lion, tigers, leopards, snakes, birds, sea creatures, and even King Kong were beamed across 33 floors of the iconic New York City landmark, to raise awareness for the plight of endangered species.

    The images were generated by 40 stacked, 20,000-lumen projectors perched on the roof of the building opposite the skyscraper, according to The New York Times.

    The project, which cost more than $1 million, was part of a promotion for “Racing Extinction,” a Discovery Channel documentary about the mass extinction of wildlife.

    An image of Cecil the lion is projected onto the Empire State Building as part of an endangered species projection to raise awareness, in New York August 1, 2015. Photo by Eduardo Munoz/Reuters.

    An image of Cecil the lion is projected onto the Empire State Building as part of an endangered species projection to raise awareness, in New York August 1, 2015. Photo by Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

    An image of an animal is projected onto the Empire State Building in New York August 1, 2015. Photo by Eduardo Munoz/Reuters.

    An image of an animal is projected onto the Empire State Building in New York August 1, 2015. Photo by Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

    An image of an animal is projected onto the Empire State Building in New York August 1, 2015. Photo by Eduardo Munoz/Reuters.

    An image of an animal is projected onto the Empire State Building in New York August 1, 2015. Photo by Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

    People watch as an image of an animal is projected onto the Empire State Building as part of an in New York August 1, 2015. Photo by Eduardo Munoz/Reuters.

    People watch as an image of an animal is projected onto the Empire State Building as part of an in New York August 1, 2015. Photo by Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

    People watch as an image is projected onto the Empire State Building in New York August 1, 2015. Photo by Eduardo Munoz/Reuters.

    People watch as an image is projected onto the Empire State Building in New York August 1, 2015. Photo by Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

    The post Empire State Building aglow with Cecil the lion and more to spotlight endangered animals appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The giants of Silicon Valley — Google, Twitter, Facebook and Yahoo — report that three to four percent of their workforce is black or Hispanic, and men outnumber women by more than two to one.

    There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.

    But now, tech companies are investing hundreds of millions of dollars to address the racial and gender imbalance. All Star Code, a nonprofit in New York partnering with Google, is training a new generation of software coders by providing young men of color with mentors, industry exposure and intensive training in computer science.

    In an interview with PBS NewsHour Weekend, Marcus Mitchell, Senior Engineering Director at Google and adviser to All Star Code, says it’s part of the company’s aim to close the opportunity gap between young men of color and the tech industry.

    This Q&A has been edited for space and clarity.

    Google announced Friday that it will begin honoring users requests to have revenge porn removed from Search results. Photo by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

    Photo by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

    KARLA MURTHY: How did you get interested in the tech field?

    MARCUS MITCHELL, Senior Engineering Director at Google: I got interested in college. I started college thinking that I wanted to be a physics major. But I took a course on artificial intelligence, and I took that course at the same time that I took a course on linguistics.

    The combination of the two — the prospect of trying to figure out ways to get computers to do interesting things that you usually associate with only humans and human intelligence, that was really interesting to me.

    KM: How would you describe the amount of diversity you’ve personally seen in the tech industry over the years?

    MM: In the areas where I’ve worked, you see few women, few Hispanics, few blacks. This was true when I was in graduate school at Cal Tech. This was true when I was working at a tiny startup. This was true when I was working at a medium-sized startup. And it’s true working at Google as a big company.

    One of the things that’s nice now is that there’s a lot more data and people are starting to get comfortable talking about it, so you can have a little more of a conversation about where you want to change things. But we have a long way to go.

    As somebody who’s worked at a range of company sizes, you know, one of the biggest things that we think about and care about is talent and how you get more of it and how you motivate people, how you inspire them to work on hard problems and to be more productive.

    And so I think, to me, the driving interest is in getting more, digging deeper into the talent pool that’s out there. For groups that are underrepresented in technology, I view those groups as places where I can find more talent that’s not being used.

    Mitchell Photo by NewsHour.

    Mitchell Photo by NewsHour.

    KM: So do you see it more as a pipeline problem, that we’re not bringing in enough people, or not looking at where the candidates could possibly come from?

    MM: It’s too simplistic to think of it as just a pipeline problem, and a lot of the press focuses on that aspect. There is partially a pipeline problem.

    There’s also questions of how you retain folks in the workplace, how you make sure that you have a fair and inclusive workplace, so that people feel comfortable. Some of the kinds of work on looking at high performing teams at Google has shown that one of the number one characteristics of a high performing team is that the team members feel comfortable and safe, and they’re able to trust the people around them. They’re able to feel like they can be themselves.

    And so that’s something that really benefits everybody when you can create an environment like that. So it’s not just a pipeline problem, although increasing the size of the pipeline is an important part of what we need to do.

    KM: What has it been like for you personally as a black man in this industry?

    MM: It’s been a lot of luck and support by key people, starting with my parents, both retired now. My dad was an architect, my mom was a scientist for the Food and Drug Administration, so I was kind of in an environment that really encouraged thinking about math and science.

    But I’ve just had enough experience with it that I’m used to it, used to being, let’s say, the only black person or one of the few black people in a certain environment, and at Google.

    And, you know, it’s something that you can adapt to, like so many other situations. I’ve adapted.

    Marcus Mitchell

    KM: A company like Google has been hugely successful and innovative, up to this point at least, without being very diverse. How do you explain that? 

    MM: Well, I mean this is where I think my personal take and motivations on this maybe diverge from some of the standard narrative. So I’m interested in the research that says that diverse teams perform better.

    And I think that it’s an important pillar of what companies like Google and other companies should be thinking about. But, like I said before, I’m interested in finding talent and channeling it into areas that I’m interested in that either wouldn’t ordinarily be found or might go into other other places. That’s the key thing.

    So we look at a company like Google that’s been very successful without being diverse. And why? Because it’s had a number of very talented people who were in the right place at the right time and had the right combination of preparation and creativity that they brought to the table with the opportunities that were afforded them, and they were able to do incredible things. 

    And so my take is we can have even more of that.

    We’re missing out on opportunities by having this industry be less accessible to women and folks from under represented groups.

    KM: How important is it for you to be a role model for students like the ones at All Star Code?

    MM: It’s very important to be a role model. And this is something that you know, my thinking on this has evolved over time. Like a lot of things, you know, you have different approach when you’re in your 20s versus when you’re in your 40s.

    I think, you know, I was more self centered frankly, when I was younger, and probably less introspective about the role that folks like my parents or other role models had played in my own life. And that’s something that I feel like I’ve thought more about lately.

    So one of the reasons why I get involved with groups like All Star Code and other groups is because it can have a big impact on young people to see folks who look like them, who have some similarities in background to them but who are able to be successful in areas that they might have thought were less accessible to them.

    KM: The students there now are working on problems surrounded by their peers and people who look like them. What’s going happen when they come to a place like this and they’re not going to be surrounded by people who look like them? 

    MM: To some degree, they’re going to have to get used to that, because that’s the reality of the technology industry and the kinds of jobs that they want to go into. One of the things that we do is maintain connections between the students. So for example, after last year’s summer intensive, a number of the All Star Code students got together on their own to organize a Hack-a-thon.

    And so that was a result of the connections that were forged in the context of the program. With any luck, that kind of connection will continue so that, even if you have a group of 20 students or 40 students that end up getting dispersed to different colleges, different companies.

    The idea that there are strong connections between them as a result of the program, and that they can form a little support network, that’s a pretty powerful concept.

    Mitchell with All Star Code students at Google's Design a Startup in a Day workshop in 2013. Photo courtesy of All Star Code.

    Mitchell with All Star Code students at Google’s Design a Startup in a Day workshop in 2013. Photo courtesy of All Star Code.

    KM: And what can companies like Google do to help build those relationships?

    MM: I think the biggest thing that companies like Google can do, other than being increasingly transparent about statistics, is give money, encourage folks to volunteer, and give time.

    My management is very supportive of the time that I might give to All Star Code. And there are many people like that around the office. Like, I would consider myself to be middling on the spectrum of the level of passion and commitment and time commitment to other organizations.

    There are many people at Google — of all races, gender, background — who are really interested in contributing their time and working with the different groups. So that’s probably one of the most powerful things that Google and other companies can do — be encouraging of your employee base to follow their own instincts and passions in helping in these areas.

    KM: If you could give one piece of advice to some of those students at All Star Code, and I’m sure you actually do this anyway, what do you tell them?

    MM: I tell them, “Always try to do the hardest thing that you can find.” It’s stolen from something that Marissa Mayer, who used to be at Google and is now at Yahoo, has talked about.

    If you ever have a choice between two paths, then you want to think about the one that’s harder — the one that represents a little more risk, a little more potential learning opportunity.

    When you are in high school, or in college, the decisions that you make can seem really monumental. Like, you know, this summer internship, this is a huge decision in my life. What am I going to do? Or this first job. But, when you look back on that, you realize that, those are the times that you can take more risk.

    And so what I really encourage the students to do is, don’t be afraid of taking a hard path or a risky path, because those pathways provide the greatest learning opportunities and, I think, the best foundation for great success.

    The post How Google is addressing the tech industry’s diversity problem appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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