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

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    A service truck drives past an oil well on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, November 1, 2014. The Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, home to the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, produces nearly a third of North Dakota's oil. The election for a new tribal chairman, in which both candidates have positioned themselves as reformers, may change the oil industry's relationship with the reservation. Photo taken November 1, 2014.  REUTERS/Andrew Cullen   (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS ENERGY BUSINESS) - RTX1KAIK

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    GWEN IFILL: The president has made his climate change plans a major part of his second-term, legacy-making agenda. Today, he laid out new details about a key component of his strategy: regulating power plant emissions.

    But within moments of his speech, opponents within some industries and in many states were resisting the stricter standards.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Today, after working with states and cities and power companies, the EPA is setting the first ever nationwide standards to end the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from power plants.

    (APPLAUSE)

    GWEN IFILL: With that, the president formally announced an even tougher clean power plan than expected.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: So, the idea of setting standards and cutting carbon pollution is not new. It’s not radical. What is new is that starting today, Washington is starting to catch up with the vision of the rest of the country.

    GWEN IFILL: The rule, to be implemented by the EPA, means power plants must cut carbon dioxide emissions 32 percent by 2030. That’s from 2005 levels. Such a reduction would be up from a 30 percent cut in the original draft. The revised rule also calls for generating 28 percent of U.S. power from renewable energy, up from 22 percent.

    At the same time, it gives states extra time to begin reducing emissions. Industry groups and a number of states pushed back today, saying the rule will cost jobs and cause spikes in energy prices. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, representing the coal state of Kentucky, promised to block the plan.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), Majority Leader: It represents a triumph of blind ideology over sound policy and honest compassion. And in Kentucky, these regulations will likely mean fewer jobs, shuttered power plants, higher electricity costs for families and businesses. So, I’m not going to sit by while the White House takes aim at the lifeblood of our state’s economy.

    GWEN IFILL: Republican presidential candidates, including Jeb Bush, also rejected the EPA plan.

    JEB BUSH, Republican Presidential Candidate: It’s typical of the Obama administration, taking executive power he doesn’t have. And I believe it’s unconstitutional, and I think in a relatively short period of time, the courts will determine that as well.

    GWEN IFILL: Democrats, including White House hopeful Hillary Clinton, generally support the plan. In a statement, she called it “a significant step forward in meeting the urgent threat of climate change.” And she added: “It’s a good plan. And, as president, I would defend it.”

    Before the day was out, a major coal mining firm, Murray Energy Corporation, filed what’s expected to be the first of many suits over the rule.

    For a closer look at the new rules, and how the administration plans to defend them, we turn first to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. I spoke with her a short time ago.

    Administrator McCarthy, welcome.

    GINA MCCARTHY, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency: Thank you, Gwen.

    GWEN IFILL: The president said today this announcement, this plan is part of a longer, bigger, more sweeping global climate plan.

    But just talking about the U.S. portion of it, for some people, that sounds like their worst nightmare, that it’s part of a bigger plan. And for some people, they say this is just the beginning. Why is it not too much overreaching?

    GINA MCCARTHY: Well, I think you know, Gwen, we did tremendous outreach on this plan, and this clean power plan is really the biggest step forward we’re taking to combat climate change, but also to protect our kids’ future and the planet.

    It sets the first ever carbon pollution standards for our power sector, because they’re the biggest generator of carbon pollution. And it’s also going to make sure that we drive down other traditional air pollutants.

    But what we learned during that comment period was how we could do this smarter and smarter, how we could make it legally solid, how we can actually do this in a way that will keep our energy reliable and affordable, provide billions of dollars in benefits over the course of this rule. And it actually, in the end, will mean lower energy bills for families.

    So we think we hit the mark here. We did a lot of outreach. We think we did it right. And we know that states and utilities are going to be able to work with us to get their plans in and get the reductions that we really need to protect public health and get that big action you need globally.

    GWEN IFILL: I want to circle back to you on several of the points you just made, but, first of all, you mentioned how many comments there were. There were four million public comments.

    GINA MCCARTHY: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: And yet this president could promulgate this rule and the next president could never implement it.

    GINA MCCARTHY: Actually, it doesn’t quite work that way under the Clean Air Act. Congress gave the president the authority and EPA the responsibility to move forward with rules like this.

    But it actually isn’t that easy to undo. It has a solid legal foundation, a strong record, and it will stay in place. And we’re confident that because of all the work we did with the states that we are going to see them respond. We didn’t just take comments. We listened to it. We made changes. They will see that.

    And I think everybody across the U.S. is beginning to realize that the worst thing we can do is the take no action on climate change.

    GWEN IFILL: The president said today if we don’t do it, nobody will, speaking of the world, the global impact here.

    We know China has taken some steps, but how do you know that the U.S. making this step will have any effect on other nations?

    GINA MCCARTHY: Well, the one thing we know for sure is if the U.S. doesn’t act and we don’t lead, then we will not get action.

    So, we already saw when we put the proposal out that we had countries coming in, likely really whether the U.S. was finally going to provide the leadership that we always provide. And what the president recognized is that we could make a big leap forward. It would be good for us domestically. It will help grow the economy and jobs.

    These industries that we’re supporting here are actually the industries where growth is happening, like solar and wind. So we are not taking away the benefits. We’re actually adding benefits to the American public.

    But, immediately, there was response by other world economies and the largest to be able to meet and see how they could join. They know that the winner in this market globally that actually takes action on climate will have tremendous opportunities to actually have the technologies and the services that the rest of the world will want to see.

    So this isn’t about a problem. This is about turning a problem into a tremendous economic opportunity for the U.S. domestically and internationally. Other countries will want to be part of that action.

    GWEN IFILL: Domestically, is it also part of your intention to let the utilities ultimately take the lead on this, rather than government?

    GINA MCCARTHY: Well, I think what happens in this particular part of the Clean Air Act is that we set a standard, the states do their plans.

    But we know that the states are sensitive to the needs of their utilities, and the utilities are going to have a part at the table. But this has broader stakeholder engagement that we started. And when they develop the plans, we expect states to have a robust table, because we don’t want them to just reduce pollution. We want them to do it in a way that benefits their economy and in a way that keeps their lights on and keeps it affordable.

    They all can do it, every state. This is legally solid. This is sticking around. We think states will take it seriously, as will utilities.

    GWEN IFILL: You keep mentioning affordability.

    If I’m a regular consumer of coal-fired electricity, I would be a little nervous about the fact that what you’re proposing is actually going to cost in the short and the long term a little bit more.

    GINA MCCARTHY: Well, we can show you how this works, but, in the interim between proposal and final, we got great comments.

    And we are turning this into real opportunities for trading across states. We know that, as a result of this rule, every single fuel will have a place at the table. Will there be as much coal as there used to be? No, there won’t, because we’re not driving coal up, we’re driving carbon pollution down. But they will still be part of the energy mix, as will natural gas. That’s still as valuable as it has been before.

    And we are going to drive more renewables into the market because frankly the market is actually rewarding renewables now. We see tremendous growth. And we’re following that wave. My job is to reduce carbon pollution, not dictate the energy mix. And you will see everybody has a place at the table in 2030, just like they do today.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, and, finally, how can you be so confident that this will withstand legal scrutiny? It’s already in the courts.

    GINA MCCARTHY: Well, one of the values of having all these comments is, I think everybody and their brother already told us what they thought was legally vulnerable.

    But we spent a lot of time talking to people. We have looked at this. We are very confident that it is legally solid. We did listen to comments. If people had a question about legal authority or whether we were technically correct, we have resolved those issues during that period.

    And we are confident that this is going to stand the test of time, but even more confident that people in this country are sick and tired of being worried about climate change and they want leadership. This president has provided that leadership. And now it’s time to embrace it and to act together.

    GWEN IFILL: EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, thank you very much.

    GINA MCCARTHY: Thank you, Gwen.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Picking up on that last point, more than 20 states, mostly led by Republicans, are expected soon to file suit against the new rules.

    West Virginia is among those leading the group. The state is part of the heart of coal country and it still ranks coal among its largest employers, even as the number of jobs dwindle.

    Patrick Morrisey is the state’s attorney general, and I spoke with him this afternoon.

    Welcome, Mr. Attorney General. We appreciate your joining us.

    The president says these tougher environmental standards are necessary not just to protect the next generation, but this one. How do you see them?

    PATRICK MORRISEY, West Virginia Attorney General: Well, I think everyone supports policies that would promote clean air and clean water.

    But when you put something forth of this magnitude, it has to be legal, and this administration has probably gone further than any we have ever seen in terms of pushing forth a radical, illegal proposal, which we don’t think ultimately will withstand scrutiny in the court.

    We really have to make sure that you do this the right way. And they’re taking the Clean Air Act and EPA, which are environmental regulators, and they’re turning them into central energy planners. That’s not allowed under the statute and the Constitution, which is why we plan to challenge it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, all the reporting we have been reading this morning says that the administration has gone the extra mile in the last month or two to try to make sure that these new rules do comply with the law.

    PATRICK MORRISEY: Right. I think you are going to hear a lot of arguments about some of the changes they have made, but there are a couple unassailable facts.

    First, the Clean Air Act really prohibits double regulation of coal-fired power plants. They’re already doing that in one context, which means they can’t come back and do it in another. The second part which is really critical is that the EPA and the Clean Air Act, they’re designed to regulate the coal-fired power plants. They can’t force or try to incentivize states in order to put forth other forms of energy and to force states to no longer manage their energy portfolios.

    This is a real problem. They’re on very thin legal ice. And I think that the statute is very clear. The federal government has a role to regulate power plants. The states typically manage their energy portfolios.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask you about some of the substance of this. As of two years ago, it’s my understanding that power plants around the country were responsible for 30 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. That being the case, shouldn’t they be targeted for significant cuts?

    PATRICK MORRISEY: Well, I think any time you talk about whether there is a policy goal to target a particular power plant, that’s a debate that is really best left to Congress.

    I think that if Congress got together and decided what they wanted to regulate, they may be perfectly appropriate. That’s not what’s happened here. Right now, you have unelected bureaucrats that are reaching out to some really radical legal interpretations in order to have a sweeping transformation of the American economy.

    I think the American people deserve better than to just have a few bureaucrats try to come up with a creative new legal mechanism in order to do so much fundamental change. Let’s have a real debate in Congress. Keep in mind, this has not been done through congressional action. This is done through the EPA.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me — again, let me ask you about some of the substance here, Mr. Attorney General.

    You talked about it being drawn up, in your words, by radical bureaucrats. But, again, in looking at it, we know that it was — according to this plan, states can work in conjunction with others, in compliance, and, second of all, we know that power plant emissions have already dropped more than 15 percent over the last 10 years, which is, what, half of where they would have to be by — under this plan.

    So, you’re already more than halfway there. Is this really as radical as what you’re saying?

    PATRICK MORRISEY: I think it is for a number of reasons.

    First of all, I know, in my home state of West Virginia, there are so many jobs that have been lost. And, in addition, we’re starting to see electricity prices go — and that’s — go up. That’s common sense because if you retire coal-fired power plants before baseline and build other non-coal-fired power plants, consumers, rate payers are going to have to pay the difference.

    But the other real problem with this is that, even if you agree with the policy goals of this president, what they’re trying to do legally by taking the EPA, which has historically regulated environmental regulation and coal-fired power plants, and now they are innovating the state space.

    States traditionally manage their own energy portfolios. That’s not what’s happening here because the targets are so severe, it’s going to be difficult for anyone to meet it. And the EPA lacks that authority in the first place.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Are you saying though that if these same rules had been promulgated by Congress, that they would be acceptable to you and the state of West Virginia?

    PATRICK MORRISEY: No, I’m not saying that.

    What I’m saying is that, at a minimum, the American public deserves to have a robust debate and have Congress engage in this back and forth, as opposed to EPA, when it really lacks legal authority to do so. The American public insists that public officials adhere to the rule of law, and when you start going off and using really unprecedented legal arguments in order to justify your proposal, I think you start to lose some people.

    But let’s have a debate in Congress.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, didn’t — just quickly to interrupt here at the end, didn’t the Supreme Court, though, say that the EPA does have the authority to issue these kind of regulations?

    PATRICK MORRISEY: Well, in 2007, there was a case, Massachusetts v. EPA, where the Supreme Court arguably said that there is some availability with respect to carbon dioxide.

    However, you have to point to a specific provision in the statute. You can’t just make it up. And what the administration has done here is not tethered to the statute. So, we think what they’re doing here is clearly illegal. It’s not appropriately tied back in to that Supreme Court decision.

    And that’s why I think we feel good about our legal arguments and we have a growing coalition of states on a bipartisan basis, along with miners, and consumers, businesses, who know just how significant this rule is and how damaging it would be to our country.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Patrick Morrisey, attorney general for the state of West Virginia, we thank you.

    PATRICK MORRISEY: Thank you very much.

    The post Will new clean power regulations stand up to challenges? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    newswrap

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Thousands of firefighters in California looked to the weather forecast today for relief from a scourge of wildfires. Lower temperatures and higher humidity helped crews trying to contain the biggest fire. It’s burning near Lower Lake, 100 miles north of San Francisco. Thousands of people have been warned to evacuate. We will have a full report after the news summary.

    GWEN IFILL: The attorney general of Texas, Ken Paxton, has been formally charged with securities fraud. The Tea Party conservative allegedly encouraged people to invest in a tech start-up without telling them he was being compensated by the company. Prosecutors say it happened before Paxton took office in January.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A Colorado jury refused today to rule out the death penalty for James Holmes, who shot a dozen people to death at a movie theater in 2012. The same jury that convicted him is now considering a sentence. Today’s finding sets up final testimony starting tomorrow.

    GWEN IFILL: In Syria, at least 17 people were killed today when government planes bombed a busy marketplace and one of the planes crashed. It happened in a northwestern town held by rebels. But it wasn’t clear if the plane was shot down. At least seven buildings in the market were left in ruins. In addition to those confirmed dead, local reports said many people were missing.

    MAN (through interpreter): By God, this market was full of people and the people came to get some money. Each person was at his stall, but now all of them are under the rubble. All the people are under the rubble. The plane, the pilots and its missile all hit the market. They left nothing of the market at all.

    GWEN IFILL: The town was captured by opposition fighters and militants in May.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A rift has emerged in the ranks of Afghanistan’s Taliban over the group’s new leader. The militants announced the selection of Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor last week. He succeeds the late Mullah Omar, but now Omar’s brother says Mansoor was selected by only a few, and doesn’t have the group’s full support.

    GWEN IFILL: The government of India is telling telecom companies to block more than 850 adult Web sites and bar easy access to online pornography. Officials said today they want to protect children and social decency. The move touched off a debate in the world’s largest democracy over morality versus personal freedoms.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The stock market in Greece plunged today after reopening from a five-week shutdown. The main Athens index plummeted nearly 23 percent at the opening of trading. Analysts said most investors are just trying to raise cash.

    EVANGELOS SIOUTIS, Financial Analyst (through interpreter): There is a sense of panic. There is no liquidity in the market and some traders are selling off in their quest for liquidity. And there are no buyers because the Greek economy has been hard-hit by the imposition of capital controls and the bank closures. The outlook is not clear.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Greek market ultimately recovered some of its losses, but still ended down by more than 16 percent.

    GWEN IFILL: Closer to home, Puerto Rico’s debt crisis deepened today after it missed a major payment. The U.S. commonwealth was supposed to repay $58 million on Saturday. Altogether, the island owes more than $70 billion to its creditors.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Detroit automakers posted solid sales heading into the second half of the year. General Motors and Fiat Chrysler saw July business rise more than 6 percent over a year ago. Ford said its sales for the month gained 5 percent. Japanese automakers Honda and Nissan did better still. They were up 8 percent.

    GWEN IFILL: Wall Street gave up ground today, as oil prices sank to near $45 a barrel. The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 90 points to close below 17600. The Nasdaq fell 13 points and the S&P 500 dropped six.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Senate Republicans tried and failed this evening to cut off federal funds for Planned Parenthood. They pressed the issue after the release of videos that show Planned Parenthood officials casually discussing procedures to obtain fetal tissue. The videos were secretly shot by anti-abortion activists.

    GWEN IFILL: And former Pennsylvania Senator Richard Schweiker has died. The former congressman and Cabinet secretary was a liberal Republican who became Ronald Reagan’s vice presidential running mate in 1976, during Reagan’s first, failed bid. Richard Schweiker was 89 years old.

    The post News Wrap: Texas attorney general charged for securities fraud appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Planned Parenthood was the focus of a partisan showdown in the U.S. Senate on Monday, as abortion foes pressed forward a political offensive against the women's healthcare group over its role in fetal tissue research. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    Planned Parenthood was the focus of a partisan showdown in the U.S. Senate on Monday, as abortion foes pressed forward a political offensive against the women’s healthcare group over its role in fetal tissue research. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — In the aftermath of the Senate’s derailing of Republican legislation halting federal dollars for Planned Parenthood, one thing seems clear: Many on both sides think they can ring up gains from the battle.

    Within minutes of Monday’s Senate vote, abortion-rights groups were releasing TV ads attacking GOP supporters of the measure for stomping on women’s health care needs. Conservatives were accusing Democrats of voting to protect taxpayer funds for an organization whose campaign contributions tilt lopsidedly to Democratic candidates.

    And each party was bracing for the fight to be revisited when Congress returns next month from its recess.

    The Republican drive was prompted by videos secretly recorded by anti-abortion activists that show Planned Parenthood officials coolly describing how they sometimes provide fetal tissue to medical researchers. Abortion opponents say the recordings caught Planned Parenthood illegally selling the organs for profit, while Planned Parenthood — while apologizing for their workers’ businesslike words — say they’ve abided by laws that let them recoup the procedures’ costs.

    Monday’s Senate vote was 53-46 to halt Democratic delaying tactics aimed at killing the GOP bill. That was seven short of the 60 votes needed to keep the measure moving toward passage.

    Democrats Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Illinois Republican Mark Kirk, who faces a tough re-election fight next year, crossed party lines in the roll call. So did Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who voted with victorious Democrats because it will let him force a fresh vote later. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a presidential candidate, was in New Hampshire and didn’t vote.

    Republicans expected to lose but envisioned political gain because the videos have fired up their core conservative, anti-abortion voters.

    Underscoring that, Tony Perkins, president of the anti-abortion Family Research Center, said Congress “must take the next step” and end Planned Parenthood funding when lawmakers return next month.

    That’s when lawmakers will consider legislation keeping government agencies open after their budgets expire Oct. 1. Conservatives see that as an opportunity to keep money for Planned Parenthood out of those bills, though GOP leaders, concerned that their party could be blamed, would prefer to avoid a government shutdown battle with President Barack Obama.

    The White House issued no statement on the Senate vote.

    The Republican measure calls for funneling Planned Parenthood’s federal dollars to other providers of health care to women, including hospitals, state and local agencies and federally financed community health centers. Planned Parenthood and its allies say that would mean that many of its 2.7 million annual clients — many of whom are low-income women — would lose health care.

    National Right to Life President Carol Tobias said the movement against Planned Parenthood was gaining strength, calling it “a long-term project” and describing Planned Parenthood as “a major backer of many Democratic senators.”

    According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Planned Parenthood’s campaign spending in the 2014 elections included $4.2 million in outside spending — which it used nearly exclusively to support Democrats or oppose GOP candidates.

    Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said Monday’s vote showed the bill was “a political nonstarter.” Acknowledging that Republicans may continue the battle, she said: “This fight may not be over, but we’re ready for it.”

    A Planned Parenthood ally, NARAL Pro-Choice America, said it would run TV ads this week attacking three GOP senators seeking re-election in 2016: Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Rob Portman of Ohio and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

    “It’s clear Senator Ayotte should not be trusted with women’s health,” the New Hampshire ad says.

    The House is expected to vote on legislation ending Planned Parenthood’s federal aid when Congress returns.

    The anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress has released four videos in which people posing as representatives of a company that purchases fetal tissue converse with Planned Parenthood officials. The videos have had impact because of the casual descriptions by the Planned Parenthood officials of the abortion procedures they use to obtain tissue, and because they show close-ups of fetal organs in laboratories.

    Planned Parenthood says it gives fetal tissue to researchers only with a mother’s advance consent and in fewer than five states.

    Planned Parenthood receives more than $500 million yearly in government funds — including state payments — more than one-third of its annual $1.3 billion in revenue. By law, federal funds cannot be used for abortions except for cases of incest, rape or when a woman’s life is in danger.

    The post More fights ahead on Planned Parenthood after Senate vote appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Republican presidential candidate, real estate mogul and TV personality Donald Trump makes a point as he formally announces his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on June 16, 2015. Trump is engaged in a feud with Spanish-language television network Univision because the network dropped his Miss USA pageant. Photo by Brendan McDermid/REUTERS

    U.S. Republican presidential candidate, real estate mogul and TV personality Donald Trump makes a point as he formally announces his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on June 16, 2015. Trump is engaged in a feud with Spanish-language television network Univision because the network dropped his Miss USA pageant. Photo by Brendan McDermid/REUTERS

    CLEVELAND — Billionaire businessman Donald Trump has scored the top spot for Thursday night’s leadoff debate of the 2016 presidential race, joined by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and seven other Republican contenders who made the campaign’s first cut.

    Seven others will be excluded, including former technology executive Carly Fiorina and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, relegated to a pre-debate forum and second-tier status in the party’s crowded field.

    Fox News announced the 10 GOP White House hopefuls who will take part in the prime-time debate in the crucial swing state of Ohio.

    Beyond Trump, those selected among the top 10 — based on recent national polls — include Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

    Those who didn’t make the field for the first debate include Fiorina, the GOP’s only female presidential candidate, Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former New York Gov. George Pataki and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore.

    The announcement concludes an anxiety-filled process for a Republican Party that worked aggressively to improve its debates ahead of the election season. Yet with the largest field of contenders in modern memory, organizers say something had to give to ensure the debate in Cleveland didn’t turn into a nationally televised circus.

    “We never ever envisioned we’d have 17 major candidates,” said Steve Duprey, New Hampshire’s representative to the Republican National Committee who helped craft the debate plan. “There’s no perfect solution.”

    Republican officials worked closely with TV executives, although the networks have the final say about which candidates will be allowed on stage for their televised events.

    Fox News is the host of Thursday’s event, the first of six party-sanctioned debates before primary voting begins in February. The network says it used a selection of national polls to make this week’s cut.

    Republican officials were particularly concerned about Fiorina’s status, hoping she would help balance Hillary Rodham Clinton’s push to rally women to her candidacy. Trump’s recent surge in the polls was particularly damaging to Fiorina.

    The reality television star’s rapid rise has surprised many Republican officials, some of whom fear his rhetoric on immigration and other divisive issues could hurt the party. In a Tuesday interview, Trump said he’s been defying expectations all his life.

    “I think people are tired, they’re sick and tired of incompetent politicians,” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” when asked to explain his rise.

    Fox didn’t say before Tuesday’s announcement which polls it would use to determine its top 10. Many candidates are grouped together in the single digits, most separated by a number smaller than the margin of error.

    For example, in a Monmouth University survey released Monday, Kasich was the 10th candidate with the support of 3.2 percent of voters.

    But after taking the margin of error into account, Monmouth noted that Kasich’s support could be as low as 1.5 percent, while almost any of the candidates who polled lower could be that high or higher.

    Monmouth found that only five candidates — Trump, Bush, Walker, Cruz and Huckabee — were definitely in the top tier of candidates, while just two —Pataki and Gilmore — would not make it into the top 10 even when margin of error was taken into account.

    Some candidates looked at the polls on Tuesday, and then looked past the first debate and aimed for the second.

    “This first debate is just one opportunity of many,” Amy Frederick, an aide to Fiorina, wrote to supporters. “With many more debates to come, we fully expect that Carly will soon stand on the stage and show America what real leadership looks like.”

    All but three of the 17 Republican candidates for president participated in a New Hampshire forum Monday night that was essentially a “debate lite.” Unlike Thursday’s nationally televised debate in Cleveland, the gathering didn’t have a cut-off for participation.

    Without exception, the candidates aimed their criticism at Democrats instead of each other. Trump declined to participate and wasn’t mentioned during the two-hour affair.

    On Tuesday morning, Christie called Trump his friend, but declined to say whether he’d go after him if given an opportunity on Thursday.

    “You know, he’s someone who is articulate and has a good way, at times, of presenting himself. We’ll see how it goes,” Christie said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

    He added, “If I believe there is something that needs to be said on that stage Thursday night, I’ll say it.”

    News Survey Specialist Emily Swanson in Washington contributed to this report.

    The post GOP debate field is set. Trump, Bush in; Santorum, Fiorina out appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    shellfishhh

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Next, when you hear the word poaching, you might think of trophy hunters killing big game in Africa. But millions of dollars are made in an illegal trade much closer to home.

    Katie Campbell of KCTS in Seattle has the story. She reports for the public media project EarthFix.

    KATIE CAMPBELL: This is a bust, but it’s not what you think.

    WOMAN: Right there. Right there. Right there. Stop! Stop!

    KATIE CAMPBELL: These officers are breaking up a black market of illegally harvested shellfish clams, oysters, mussels. Poachers are stealing them from Washington’s Puget Sound.

    MIKE CENCI, Deputy Chief, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife: The clams are stolen.

    KATIE CAMPBELL: And selling them for thousands of dollars, says Washington Fish and Wildlife Deputy Chief Mike Cenci.

    MIKE CENCI: Fish and Wildlife police officers are the only thing standing between bad guys that poach bivalve shellfish from areas that they shouldn’t and human health and safety.

    KATIE CAMPBELL: Officers are on patrol day and night, searching for poachers, staking out businesses and collecting evidence. They say cheating the system is much easier than policing it.

    Shellfish are a high-risk food because they’re filter feeders. They suck in whatever is in the water, toxins, harmful pathogens or even pollutants. Thousands of people get sick from tainted shellfish each year in the United States. Some even die.

    The difference between poached seafood and legal seafood isn’t something you can see. For clues, Washington Fish and Wildlife Sergeant Erik Olson has to check the paperwork.

    ERIK OLSON, Sergeant, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife: So, do you have any paperwork for this?

    WOMAN: I should have.

    ERIK OLSON: Do you keep the containers?

    WOMAN: No, sir.

    ERIK OLSON: You don’t keep the box or anything that it comes in?

    KATIE CAMPBELL: The paperwork is meant to ensure that shellfish can be traced back to the beach from where it was harvested. It’s a low-tech process based on the honor system.

    BILL DEWEY, Taylor Shellfish Farms: If a customer wants to know where these oysters are from, how do you know?

    KATIE CAMPBELL: Bill Dewey works for Taylor Shellfish Farms. He is also chair of the committee that develops the nationwide rules for tracking shellfish.

    BILL DEWEY: So, when we do a harvest on the beach, the harvesters generate a handwritten tag with all of the information about the date, the bed that it’s harvested, and all of our company information, our certification number and so on.

    KATIE CAMPBELL: These tags accompany the shellfish from the beach to the processing plant, all the way to the marketplace, supposedly guaranteeing these shellfish are safe to eat.

    BILL DEWEY: If you’re in a restaurant and you order oysters, you should be able to ask your waitstaff to see the tag that came with that shellfish when it was delivered to the restaurant.

    KATIE CAMPBELL: But a system based on trust is also vulnerable to abuse.

    BILL DEWEY: If people want to sell illegal shellfish, you can do it. You can game the system.

    KATIE CAMPBELL: Cheating the system is as easy as creating a fake tag.

    BILL DEWEY: There’s got to be somebody out there writing tickets once in a while to keep everybody in check and make sure you’re doing it right.

    ERIK OLSON: You don’t have one ounce of labeling anywhere throughout this place. OK? If you cannot prove where it came from and that it’s safe for human consumption, I can’t let you sell it.

    KATIE CAMPBELL: With thousands of markets and restaurants in the Seattle area alone, Olson says if he had more time or more officers, he could file a felony-level shellfish violation pretty much every day.

    What’s even more alarming is that Fish and Wildlife investigations are finding the shellfish black market is operating through businesses that have little to do with seafood, places like nail salons, gas stations or even a video store.

    MIKE CENCI: Frankly, if someone would’ve told me that an Asian video store would be a place that shellfish would be trafficked, I wouldn’t have believed them. And we know now that any business, any storefront could be potentially involved in the seafood trade.

    KATIE CAMPBELL: Of all the shellfish that sell on the black market, one clam is above the rest: the geoduck. Most Americans have never heard of, much less eaten, a geoduck.

    So, why is there such a thriving black market for their meat? Before we answer that, let’s get one thing out of the way. It may be spelled geoduck, but it’s pronounced gooey-duck. Geoducks are the largest burrowing clam in the world. Predominantly found in Puget Sound, they can live up to 160 years; that’s one of the longest life spans in the entire animal kingdom.

    An adult geoduck weighs around one to three pounds, and in Asia their meat is a prized delicacy. About 90 percent of the geoducks harvested in the U.S. are sent across the Pacific. That’s about $70 million worth a year. In China, geoduck was once reserved for elite banquets, but China’s growing middle class has developed a taste for the delicacy and the disposable income to afford it.

    This rising demand has sent geoduck retail prices to as high as $150 per pound, and soaring prices create a big incentive for poachers. Here’s how it works. Harvesting wild geoduck is allowed only in certain areas of Puget Sound; the state auctions off each area, but there’s a still limit on how much can be dug up within each area.

    The man who decides that limit is Bob Sizemore. He’s Washington State’s lead geoduck research scientist.

    BOB SIZEMORE, Research Scientist, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife: You need to be very careful with the harvest rate. Basically, if you cut down a forest, it takes a very long time to come back.

    KATIE CAMPBELL: Each time an area is harvested, it takes about 40 years for the geoduck population to recover. That’s why harvest rate is 2.7 percent; anything higher wouldn’t be sustainable.

    Out in Puget Sound, Sizemore and his team count geoducks before and after an area is harvested. But with just five divers, they’re only able to survey about 3 percent of areas geoducks are found.

    BOB SIZEMORE: We still see signs of illegal harvest. We see signs of poaching, and we don’t find any recovery.

    KATIE CAMPBELL: On any given night, tons of fresh seafood pass through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. It’s a bottleneck where Fish and Wildlife officers can check the cargo as it’s moving through.

    ERIK OLSON: The overwhelming majority of that product is, in fact, geoduck. It’s just thousands of pounds. If shellfish is not accompanied by a Department of Health certification tag, then I am required to seize that.

    KATIE CAMPBELL: Officers must look at each tag to find out whether the shellfish came from an open area and were harvested by a licensed harvester.

    ERIK OLSON: That is not salmon.

    KATIE CAMPBELL: There’s no electronic system or any quick way to determine if the information on the tags is accurate.

    ERIK OLSON: It looks like some kind of rockfish filet.

    KATIE CAMPBELL: Everything must be hand-checked. Officers confiscate seafood that’s not properly tagged, but they’re only able to check a fraction of the boxes, and there’s no telling how much illegal shellfish slips through.

    ERIK OLSON: If the incentive is there — and, trust me, it’s there — we’re talking big money — then people are going to take advantage of the holes in the system. And right now, we have holes that you could drive a semitruck through.

    KATIE CAMPBELL: For the NewsHour, I’m Katie Campbell in Seattle.

    The post Wildlife detectives bust shellfish poachers in Washington state appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Ben Carson with NewsHour's Gwen Ifill

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    GWEN IFILL: More than a dozen Republicans gathered in New Hampshire last night to explain why one of them should be president. The rollout continues Thursday night, as the 10 most popular gather in Cleveland for the first in a series of poll-tested, party-sanctioned formal debates.

    This afternoon, FOX News announced the stage will include Donald Trump, who tops the polls, and Ohio Governor John Kasich, who squeezed Texas Governor Rick Perry out for the 10th slot.

    Also making the cut, the only physician in the race, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

    I spoke with him a short time ago as part of our continuing series on the men and women competing in 2016. We call it Running.

    Thank you for joining us.

    DR. BENJAMIN CARSON, Republican Presidential Candidate: My pleasure.

    GWEN IFILL: I want to talk to you as a physician. It’s the one thing that makes you very unique in this race from all the other more than a dozen candidates. And as you prepare to go on the debate stage in Cleveland on Thursday, I’m sure a lot of these questions will come to you as well.

    You have been talking a lot about Planned Parenthood and about how it should be defunded.

    DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: And I want to ask you, as a physician, who would happen to the people who go to Planned Parenthood for treatment other than abortion? Where should they get treat — where should they get services?

    DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: Well, you know, I have had an opportunity to be the guest speaker at fund-raisers for multiple pregnancy centers around the country. They’re all over the place. And they can get those same services there.

    Plus, they get somebody who counsels them on all the alternatives that they have, and doesn’t sort of push them in one direction.

    GWEN IFILL: So you’re saying there are other alternatives which don’t involve government money, government funding?

    DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: Yes, most of those are privately funded.

    GWEN IFILL: Another question for you as a physician: There has been much discussion recently around the country about the Black Lives Matter movement. And you have made clear that you believe that all lives matter.

    So, as a physician who has dealt with gun violence, who has obviously worked in emergency rooms, who has dealt with the fallout from that, what should we be doing about gun violence in this country, and does it disproportionately affect one population over another?

    DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: Well, certainly, you see a lot more gun violence in inner cities.

    I have spent many, many a night, you know, working on the heads of people who have been shot in the head, you know, black people primarily, but white people as well. And it’s devastating. And of course those lives matter.

    And I believe what we’re going to have to do is really concentrate on, where is all this violence coming from? And it’s not all coming from one specific area. But it’s coming from a general lack of respect for life, and, you know, this person pissed me off, and I got a gun, I’m going to kill them.

    I mean, when did we get like that and the values that used to be put into people? And I think a lot of it stems from the fact that we don’t really like to talk about values anymore, because whose values are they, we ask? You know, it’s all relative. There is no right there. There is no wrong. You know, it’s all relative.

    That’s the same thing that the Romans did.

    GWEN IFILL: But that’s not the same thing as a solution to the problem.

    DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: No.

    The solution to the problem is, we have to start teaching values again, teaching people to respect one another again, and to understand that human life is valuable. Even if somebody disagrees with you, their life is still valuable.

    GWEN IFILL: Another question to you as a physician. You have called for the repeal, like many, probably all Republican candidates have, of the president’s health care plan. What would you replace it with?

    DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: I would replace it with a system that put the care back in the hands of the patients and the health care providers.

    It would revolve around health savings accounts, which everybody would have made available to them from the day they’re born until the day they die, at which time they can pass it on to their family. I would pay for it with the very same dollars that we pay for traditional health care with, although we wouldn’t have to use as much.

    And people would have real control of their health savings account. It wouldn’t be the kind that has a whole bunch of bureaucrats involved in it. And you would give people the ability to shift money within their HSA within their family. So, let’s say you were $500 short. Your sister could give it to your or your cousin or your uncle or your grandmother, anybody in your family. It makes everybody their own — every family their own insurance company with no middleman.

    GWEN IFILL: So many other things I want to talk to you about. And I don’t want to cut you off, but I do want the move on to immigration…

    DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: OK.

    GWEN IFILL: … which the president has obviously talked that he has an approach. Donald Trump has said he has an approach, building a wall, which I think you said is stupid.

    And you have suggested perhaps creating a guest-worker program that allows people back into the country. How do you, at the root, though, get — take care of those or somehow deport those 11 million undocumented immigrants who are here now?

    DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: Well, I haven’t said anything about deporting them.

    What I said is we have to secure all the borders, not just the southern borders, because it’s not just people from Mexico and Honduras. It’s jihadists. We need to be able to secure those borders. And then we need to turn off the spigot that dispenses all the things that they’re coming here to get.

    If there’s no reason for them to come here, that stops the influx. Now, you still have 11.5 million people here, some of whom have never been anyplace else. Where are you going to send them to? We have to be pragmatic here.

    And those people, I would give an opportunity to become guest workers. They have to register. They have to pay a back tax penalty. And they have to pay taxes going forward, but they don’t have to live in the shadows at that point. And also we don’t collapse the farming industry, we don’t collapse the hotel industry and a bunch of other industries. It doesn’t give them citizenship. It doesn’t give them voting rights.

    If they want to get citizenship, they get in the back of the line and go through the same process as everybody else.

    GWEN IFILL: I want to read back to you something you said last night at the forum in New Hampshire and you have said before, in which you talked about how religious freedom is under attack

    And you went on to say, “There’s a war on women, racial wars, income war, religious wars. Every war that you can imagine is going on,” you said.

    Why do you think that is? And what is it that a president can do to speak to that conflict?

    DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: Why are the purveyors of hatred and division having a field day in our society?

    I think some of it comes from the fact that we are not resisting them. And our positions of leadership, in some cases, we actually play into the hands of the purveyors of division, rather than pointing out what we all have in common. And that’s something that I think the bully pulpit is particularly useful for doing.

    GWEN IFILL: So the bully pulpit is a solution to all of these wars that you describe?

    DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: It’s not a solution, but it helps tremendously.

    And, you know, we have to make it very clear to the American people that we’re not each other’s enemies. And just because somebody happens to disagree with you about something doesn’t mean that they become your mortal enemy and that you should try to destroy them and destroy their life and destroy their family.
    Where did this kind of stuff come from? Obviously, it doesn’t come from anybody who is interested in strengthening our country.

    GWEN IFILL: Dr. Ben Carson, good luck on Thursday night. And thank you for joining us.

    DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: Thank you very much.

    The post Ben Carson talks ‘all lives matter,’ immigration reform appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    hungary

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We return now to Europe, and another look at the continent’s growing migrant crisis.

    In the former communist nation of Hungary, the government is racing to complete what opponents are calling a new Iron Curtain along its border with Serbia by the end of the month. Leaders there say they cannot cope anymore with the tens of thousands of migrants who are entering the country after arriving in Europe through the Greek islands.

    Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: This family is more than 3,000 miles away from home in Congo. After months on the road, they have just slipped across the frontier from Serbia and have been stopped by the Hungarian police.

    The adults don’t want to be filmed, for fear of jeopardizing their chances of reaching France another thousand miles away. In this porous border region, the country lane is teeming with migrants on a relentless march to Northern Europe.

    You’re in Hungary.

    MAN: No, you are in Hungary.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: You are in Hungary.

    Where have you come from?

    MAN: I’m from Serbia. OK. Enough.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Nearby, a member of a right-wing vigilante group which claims to protect a local village stands guard over a group of Pakistanis who also just entered Hungary. Some fled for economic reasons, others because of persecution.

    MAN: I wanted to marry some girl. The Muslim religion, we don’t have permission for it, so they kill her. So they don’t — they want to kill me, and now I’m running. Even my family want to kill me, my relatives, everybody, because we cross a religion. So, this is me running from there.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The migrants fear a repeat of violence they say was inflicted by police in Bulgaria.

    MAN: They hit us here and here, here. And they take all money, SIM cards, mobile. Everything, they take from us.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: But the vigilante lets them go. The authorities estimate as many as 2,000 people are crossing illegally into Hungary every day. Although most have no intention of remaining in the country, their sheer numbers intimidate some on isolated farms.

    The owner of this small holding complains of aggressive migrants climbing over her fence late at night.

    HALAZS JOZSEPHNE, Farmer (through interpreter): We have got no idea what these people are like. I’m afraid of them because I live on my own.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Her neighbor shows off a gas spray he keeps for protection.

    In this hostile climate, the Hungarian army is on the move, building a 110-mile-long fence along the border with Serbia. Opponents call it Europe’s new Iron Curtain. Despite being one of the poorer members of the European Union, the government here is allocating more than $80 million to the project, much to the approval of local ultranationalist mayor Laszlo Toroczkai.

    LASZLO TOROCZKAI, Mayor, Asotthalom, Hungary: They destroy all their documents before they arrive to the Hungarian side. They don’t want to show their identity. We never know who is that migrant. Maybe there is a few terrorists in the groups.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: So far this year, 80,000 migrants have crossed into Hungary. This group is waiting for a bus chartered by the Hungarian authorities that will take them part of the way toward refugee camps.

    Julia Evan is a law officer with Hungary’s Helsinki Committee, which advocates on behalf of migrants and helps them with their applications for political asylum.

    JULIA IVAN, Attorney, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights: Building a fence will not be an effective tool to stop people from coming, to stop refugees from fleeing war zones. It’s more seen as a political action, as a propaganda measure by the government to reinforce their popularity or to stop the decrease of their popularity amongst Hungarian voters.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: One hundred miles from the border in the capital, Budapest, the government argues that other walls and fences around the world have been effective and dismisses accusations that it’s being erected in order to win support inside Hungary.

    A government spokesman, Zoltan Kovacs, says the influx left them with no alternative.

    ZOLTAN KOVACS, International Spokesperson, Hunary: It’s an unstoppable flood. It’s going to speed up by the end of the year. As a matter of fact, the Hungarian border again is the European border. So, when we are protecting the borders of Hungary, we are — at the same time are protecting Europe.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Socialist opposition parties have accused the government from isolating Hungary from its allies and lacking in humanity, but Marton Gyongyosi, a leading lawmaker with the nationalist Jobbik Party, believes the fence alone is not enough and that additional protection measures are needed.

    MARTON GYONGYOSI, Jobbik Party: The migration that is hitting the borders of the European Union is absolutely unbearable. From the southern direction or from the eastern direction, we’re having a flow of migration which is going to come to a situation whereby Europe is going to collapse, given the demographic trends in Europe, given the economic and the financial situation in Europe, and of course, given also this migration. Europe is going to disintegrate if we don’t get down to business with regard to the issue of migration.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: It’s long been the dream of European federalists to have a union free of border controls, to facilitate the uninhibited movement of people and goods.

    But the scale of the migrant crisis has caused many politicians to question the wisdom of having eradicated passport checks. This fence may be on the outer reaches of the European Union, but will it encourage other member states the start reinstituting border controls inside? And what’s clear is that the concept of a united states of Europe is being undermined by this human tide.

    In Serbia, another transit country on the long refugee trail north, the decision to build a fence has been met with alarm. Serbia says it can’t afford to pay, to accommodate and clean up after the migrants, and they have asked the financially strapped U.N. Refugee Agency to cover its costs.

    But Mihaily Bimbo, a local mayor, claims his municipality will run out of money soon and fears the fence will exacerbate his problems.

    MIHAILY BIMBO, Mayor, Kanjiža, Serbia (through interpreter): It’s the sovereign right of any country to build a fence on its territory, but the worst thing is they could be stuck here for a longer period of time, and we don’t know what to do with them.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Serbia is reported to be speeding up efforts to help the refugees on their way. They arrived in the southern Hungarian town of Szeged, where they get a chance the clean up. Very basic facilities provided by volunteers sympathetic to the migrants’ plight and paid for by donations do help.

    MAN: Some milk.

    MAN: We all remember what the term Iron Curtain meant. Like, my parents’ generation, they have very sad memories about building walls or fences between nations in Europe. They were all very happy in 1990, when this so-called Iron Curtain was removed. So I think it’s very, let’s say, anachronistic to build fences or walls between countries.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: After a brief stay in Szeged, they’re sent by train the Budapest. But instead of being taken to a refugee camp, many of them end up camping out in the subways beneath the main railway station.

    Andras Lederer, one of the volunteers, is angry that the government is not doing more to help.

    ANDRAS LEDERER, Volunteer: I think it’s both outrageous and extremely inhuman. It’s very cynical at the same time. What they try to do now is boost their popularity by pointing to these people as the common enemy. The reason why these people are here is simply because the government refuses to treat them as human beings.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: There’s less squalor, but undiminished despair in a Budapest park where a 20-year-old Asmal Khan from Afghanistan is resting after walking through Iran and part of Turkey.

    He’s helping a young mother and her child on their journey. They have become something of a surrogate family after, he says, Islamists killed his parents, brother and sister and burned his home.

    Where do you want to go?

    MAN: I don’t know. I want to go to a place that have peace and they respect me.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: But where?

    MAN: Like Germany, like another country, England. They respect me. They give me a home. They give me like — like rat, like human, not like anywhere. We are human. We have a right to live in this world.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Every migrant carries a personal tale of hardship, but many Europeans are becoming selectively deaf as the numbers grow and their governments are divided about how to respond.

    In the meantime, the migrants are racing to beat the fence before it is completed.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Malcolm Brabant on the Hungarian-Serbian border.

    The post Why Hungary is building a new ‘Iron Curtain’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    “When you're harvesting geoducks, it's like picking up $20 bills,” says Bob Sizemore, WDFW geoduck research scientist. Photo by Laura James/EarthFix/KCTS9

    “When you’re harvesting geoducks, it’s like picking up $20 bills,” says Bob Sizemore, WDFW geoduck research scientist. Photo by Laura James/EarthFix/KCTS9

    Of all the shellfish that sell on the black market, one clam is above the rest — the geoduck.

    Pronounced “gooey-duck,” these hefty clams bury themselves in sand where they stay for 100 years, doing little more than stretching their meter-long, fleshy siphons up into the water column to feed on phytoplankton.

    In shallows when tides have retreated, people dig up geoduck clams with shovels. In deeper areas, scuba divers spray high-pressure hoses into the seafloor to unearth them.

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

    Wholesale geoduck prices at Puget Sound docks have more than doubled from $4 per pound in 2006 to as much as $15 per pound today. With the average adult geoduck weighing one to three pounds, a good geoduck diver can harvest thousands of dollars’ worth in a few hours.

    “When you’re harvesting geoducks, it’s like picking up $20 bills,” says Bob Sizemore, lead research scientist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

    The total amount of geoduck catch reported by fishers (landings) has remained fairly steady since a 2.7 percent harvest rate was established in the 1980s. At the same time, the overall value of geoduck prices has risen dramatically. Graphic from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

    The total amount of geoduck catch reported by fishers (landings) has remained fairly steady since a 2.7 percent harvest rate was established in the 1980s. At the same time, the overall value of geoduck prices has risen dramatically. Graphic from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

    Rising demand, especially among China’s growing middle class, has sent geoduck retail prices in Asia to as high as $150 per pound. Those soaring prices have created an incentive for poachers back in Puget Sound, giving rise to an international black market.

    About 90 percent of the geoducks harvested in the United States are sent to Asia, where they are served raw at sushi restaurants in Japan, used in soups and stews in Korea, or cooked in a fondue-style hot pot in China.

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

    A Midnight Patrol

    It’s past 11 p.m. on a rainy January night in Puget Sound. Clouds blot out the moon and the stars, making it nearly impossible to tell where the sky ends and the water begins. A boat runs blind through the inky blackness — no onboard lights, no radar signals announcing the location. The motor’s hum and the faint spray of bioluminescence in the boat’s wake is the only evidence of its presence.

    The boat is a Fish and Wildlife patrol vessel and Sgt. Erik Olson of Washington State Fish and Wildlife is at the helm. His partner, Officer Carly Peters, peers through night-vision binoculars, calling out directions to avoid floating logs or buoys.

    Sgt. Erik Olson, WFDW, patrols Puget Sound by night looking to catch shellfish poachers in the act. Photo by Katie Campbell/KCTS9/EarthFix

    Sgt. Erik Olson, WFDW, patrols Puget Sound by night looking to catch shellfish poachers in the act. Photo by Katie Campbell/KCTS9/EarthFix

    “We’re looking for anything and everything on the water tonight,” Olson says. “The harvest location is the only place we’re locked solid in terms of if we caught someone poaching. It is the hardest place to patrol, but we’ve got to give it a shot.”

    Olson scans a fraction of that shoreline appearing on the radar screen. He’s looking for small red dots offshore that could be a boat of divers illegally harvesting geoducks.

    Soon they see a blip. It’s another boat that’s running without any lights. Peters can barely make out a boat with a couple people on board.

    “They’re supposed to have that all-around white light,” Olson says. “It looks like they’re looking for something. What are they looking for?”

    He squints.

    “Now they’re hoofing it,” Olson says. “All right let’s go stop them.”

    Olson turns on the overhead police boat flashers. The other boat slows. It’s a farmed shellfish crew. They say they’re not harvesting tonight, just checking on some of their beds. Olson checks their registration and tells them they need to have an all-around light on their boat.

    “Well, that was really anti-climatic,” he sighs after climbing back aboard the fish and wildlife boat.

    Olson and Peters continue patrolling the darkness. Over the course of two full nights, they will stop a handful of boats on the water. But they find no one who seems to be poaching geoduck or other shellfish.

    “I guess you always wonder what you’re missing,” Olson says. “Our biologists have confirmed that these areas are being poached. I just continually try to rack my brain to try to figure out ways to tackle this.”

    The geoduck lab

    Despite the black-market pressure, Washington’s wild geoduck fishery has been called one of the best-managed fisheries in the world. That’s in part, officials say, because of the ongoing scientific research that informs the harvest limit.

    From a WDFW lab in Olympia, Sizemore and his team study geoducks by analyzing their shells. They cut cross-sections and look at them under a microscope to determine how old they are and what kind of a life they’ve had.

    “They have rings that you can count, just like a tree,” says Bob Sizemore, turning a hard white shell over in his hands. “Some of these clams are 160 years old. They were alive when Abraham Lincoln was president.”

    A cross section of a geoduck clam's shell shows its growth rings. Photo from WDFW

    A cross section of a geoduck clam’s shell shows its growth rings. Photo from WDFW

    The rings reveal their growth rates. And that information helps Sizemore’s team decide how many can safely be harvested. These slow-growing, long-lived clams have been called Puget Sound’s old-growth trees.

    “If you cut down a forest, it takes a very long time to come back,” Sizemore says. “So you need to be very careful with the harvest rate.”

    Puget Sound has hundreds of millions of geoducks, a seemingly endless supply. But each time a geoduck bed is harvested, it takes about 40 years for the population there to recover. That’s why the total allowable harvest rate is 2.7 percent — anything higher would not be sustainable.

    What’s the impact of overharvest?

    “Ten percent sounds like a pretty low number, but for a very long-lived animal with very low natural mortality, 10 percent is huge,” Sizemore says. “In 10 years, you would wipe out the population.”

    In addition to studying geoducks in the lab, Sizemore’s team of five divers check on geoduck beds in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. They dive 150 times per year, but they’re only able to visit about 3 percent of the geoduck harvest areas.

    “Our ability to detect [poaching] is pretty low. But even given that, we still see signs of illegal harvest,” Sizemore says.

    The WDFW divers return to geoduck beds about every 10 years to check on how the population is recovering. Normally they would see geoduck numbers increasing. But in recent years, they’ve seen numbers staying the same or continuing to fall. And they’ve also seen signs of poaching: a sandy seafloor pock-marked by recent digs and littered with bright white fragments of geoduck shells.

    Poachers have been known to leave bags of geoduck clams on the seafloor to retrieve later. Sometimes they hide their bounty in the hulls of their boats. Or they dive in the middle of the night in secluded coves where there’s little chance of being caught.

    Airport inspection

    For all the challenges of catching people selling illegal shellfish to customers in Washington, there’s another challenge: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

    On any given night, tons of fresh seafood pass through Sea-Tac. It’s a bottleneck and most of the seafood is geoduck packed with gel ice in plastic foam containers.

    Officer Natalie Vorous unpacks boxes of geoduck at Sea-Tac searching for evidence they were harvested legally. These were not. They were confiscated. Photo by Katie Campbell/KCTS9/EarthFix

    Officer Natalie Vorous unpacks boxes of geoduck at Sea-Tac searching for evidence they were harvested legally. These were not. They were confiscated. Photo by Katie Campbell/KCTS9/EarthFix

    A geoduck clam harvested illegally from Puget Sound in the afternoon could be on a plane that evening, leaving only a few hours for enforcement officers to get involved. That’s why Sgt. Olson takes his entire five-officer detachment to conduct airport inspections.

    When Olson’s team arrives at Sea-Tac one evening, hundreds of boxes labeled “Live Seafood” are already waiting. It’s a race against the clock, and all the checking — each box, each certification tag — must be done by hand.

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

    They dig in — opening boxes and cross-checking the information on the tags with online databases to make sure the harvest grounds were indeed open. It quickly becomes clear they won’t be able to check all the boxes before time runs out.

    “If you hold up [a shipment], and it misses its flight and gets spoiled, our department is on the hook,” Olson says. “And there had better be a violation. I’m not going to stop something just because I have a hunch. If I can’t confirm information right now, then I’ve got to let it go.”

    Olson says a more sophisticated electronic shellfish tracking system would allow his team to scan a barcode to see exactly who harvested the shellfish and from where. A system like that, he says, would make it more difficult to cheat. But many in the farmed shellfish industry have balked at the idea of an electronic system, saying it would be cost-prohibitive for their businesses.

    “People are going to take advantage of the holes in the system,” Olson says. “And right now there are holes that you can drive a semi-truck through.”

    Soon an officer finds a box that has no certification tag at all. Then there’s another. And another.

    “If shellfish is not accompanied by a department of health certification tag, I am required to seize that,” Olson says.

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    Olson notifies airport officials those boxes won’t be going abroad. After five hours of spot checking the towers of white boxes, Olson realizes they’re out of time.

    “This is overwhelming,” Olson says. “It’s an unrealistic task.”

    He gathers his team and leaves for the night, taking with him a few boxes of confiscated geoduck. But much more will go unchecked this night — several tons. The hangar pulses with activity as workers load box after box onto planes bound for Asia.

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    Dr. Michael Bell from CDC

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    GWEN IFILL: Doctors and health authorities are increasingly sounding the alarm about the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.

    In the United States, they infect at least two million people and kill 23,000 each year. Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a call to slow the rate of hospital-acquired infections, which alone account for more than 600,000 cases.

    One particular bacteria is accountable for 15,000 of those deaths. The CDC is urging hospitals, health departments and others to change their approach to the germs’ spread, action that it says could save 37,000 lives.

    Dr. Michael Bell is a deputy director there who specializes in infectious diseases. He joins me now.

    Welcome, Dr. Bell.

    Explain to us in layman’s terms, first of all, what are drug-resistant infections?

    DR. MICHAEL BELL, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Ah.

    So, when we talk about drug resistance, we’re talking about antibiotic resistance. We’re talking about germs that can cause infections, which normally we could have treated with antibiotics, but now we can’t. The germs continue to develop new ways of getting around the antibiotic.

    GWEN IFILL: What is the source of these germs?

    DR. MICHAEL BELL: Well, the germs come from all over the place. You’re surrounded by them. We’re covered in them. We’re full of them.

    The environment that they live in is the same one that we inhabit. The key is to keep them from going places where they don’t belong and, if they do get there, to be able to treat them. And that’s the challenge with antibiotic resistance.

    GWEN IFILL: So we focus a lot on the kind of superbugs we hear about in hospitals, but you’re saying that these bugs, these germs are everywhere?

    DR. MICHAEL BELL: Germs in general are, in fact, everywhere. Superbugs are often found in hospitals, because that’s where people with either devices like catheters or surgical wounds tend to be, and those are also people who tend to get antibiotics.

    When you put those together, it’s a great way to generate more of these very resistant bacteria.

    GWEN IFILL: What is it about antibiotics that makes these germs take hold or stops their — or makes it difficult for them to stop spreading, I guess?

    DR. MICHAEL BELL: Well, so the issue that we’re facing is that, in the past, we would have antibiotic resistance to one or two drugs, but we had more drugs in the pipeline. Right now, we’re coming awfully close to the cliff, where we don’t have new drugs coming on the market very soon, and, at the same time, these bacteria, the nightmare bacteria, are developing more and more resistance to a wider range of drugs.

    So, that means not only that we won’t be able to treat an infection. What worries us a great deal is that we’re going to lose the ability to deliver types of care that we take for granted. So, for example, surgery, if I’m in a traffic accident, I can be repaired by a talented surgeon, but without antibiotics, I might very well die from an infection of the wound.

    Similarly, with cancer treatment, if my immune system has to be turned down temporarily, that’s fine for the cancer treatment, but without antibiotics, I might die from an infection. So, there’s a lot about modern health care that hinges on the availability of good antibiotics.

    GWEN IFILL: What would it cost for us to start to implement some of the ideas, some of the recommendations that the CDC is making to head this off?

    DR. MICHAEL BELL: It’s all about scale.

    We know that the techniques and approaches that we discussed in a press conference today, where multiple hospitals collaborate, inform each other and work with the health department to give each others heads-up of hot spots of infection, of patients who might be carrying something, this is a very good thing.

    And some health departments, some health care systems are already doing it. But they’re in the very small minority. And so what we’re looking at is making it possible for all patients in this country to benefit from that kind of coordinated care.

    GWEN IFILL: Who is at risk at most, and what do we do? Just simply wash our hands?

    DR. MICHAEL BELL: In terms of what we can do as individuals, yes, handwashing is great. Insisting that people wash their hands before they touch you if you’re in a health care setting is also very important, not being afraid to speak up.

    Similarly, handwashing is good for clinicians, but there are more things to be done. One is using antibiotics correctly and wisely. There’s a concept of antibiotic stewardship that focuses on making sure that we use the right antibiotic for the right amount of time, and then we stop as soon as it’s not necessary anymore, so that we don’t give bacteria the opportunity to become resistant.

    That stewardship approach is something that is rapidly becoming standard of care in most of our health care facilities, and it’s something that we’re very actively promoting. We want to make sure that even if we’re fortunate enough to develop new drugs in the coming several years, we won’t see those used up as quickly as we have seen every other antibiotic in the past.

    GWEN IFILL: And the elderly and infants and people with compromised immune systems are the ones who are most likely to be affected?

    DR. MICHAEL BELL: Well, so, that’s true of many things, but in addition to those fragile, vulnerable people, we also have the patients that I just described, somebody who is in a traumatic car accident, somebody who is receiving care for cancer or some other operation.

    Pretty much anybody in a health care setting is at risk. We’re also seeing that, because antibiotics are used in the community, as well as in hospitals, some of these organisms can be also coming from the community. It’s one of the reasons that having the health department as an active part of the collaboration is so valuable, because they can look across settings, not just in one hospital, but also into the community.

    GWEN IFILL: Dr. Michael Bell, the deputy director of the CDC Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, thank you very much.

    DR. MICHAEL BELL: Thank you.

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    A Baltimore police officer guards a crime scene where orange cones mark the site of shell casings that were found at the scene of a shooting at the intersection of West North Avenue and Druid Hill Avenue in West Baltimore, Maryland May 30, 2015. Local media have reported more than 35 murders in the city of Baltimore since the April rioting over the death of 25-year-old resident Freddie Gray and shootings continue regularly in his West Baltimore neighborhood.  REUTERS/Jim Bourg - RTR4Y6CN

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We turn now to two police chiefs dealing with this every day, Chief Edward Flynn from Milwaukee and Chief Samuel Dotson, the police chief of Saint Louis.

    Gentlemen, we welcome you both to the program.

    Chief Flynn, to you first. Milwaukee, an 88 percent — in homicides just since last year. What is going on?

    EDWARD FLYNN, Chief, Mailwaukee Police Department: Well, we’re seeing a number of different dynamics playing out.

    Certainly, one of the things we have seen is a dramatic increase in the use of firearms, particularly semiautomatic pistols, in our violent deaths. We have seen that our shootings are up significantly, our homicides are up dramatically. Over 85 percent of our homicides are committed with firearms, and, of those, over 85 percent are committed with semiautomatic pistols.

    We have recently passed a ludicrously weak gun law that allowed basically concealed carry permits to be granted to people who meet the statutory definition of career criminals. We have also got a situation where no matter how many times you are arrested for carrying a gun illegally, it remains a misdemeanor, even though a second offense for carrying marijuana can be prosecuted as a felony.

    So very weak and relatively recent gun laws are certainly a major contributor to our dramatic spike in firearms-related violence.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Chief Dotson, what about in Saint Louis, a 64 percent increase over last year? Is it all about guns?

    COL. SAM DOTSON, Chief, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department: I’m seeing exactly the same thing that they’re seeing in Milwaukee, the availability of guns.

    We have a constitutional amendment in our state that was passed within the last year that makes it an inalienable right to have a gun. We have had courts that have declined to prosecute convicted felons that we arrest with guns. I’m seeing exactly the same thing, high-capacity magazines, a willingness to use the guns, and a judiciary that sometimes doesn’t follow through on the prosecution.

    We had research done from a university here. Of about 250 cases of unlawful use of a weapon, over 61 percent of those cases got probation. That means those people are right back out on the street committing crimes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Chief Flynn, is this different in Milwaukee from the situation last year and the year before? There was a drop in the homicide rate up until a year or two ago. Now it has shot back up.

    Is there such a difference in people’s — accessibility people have with guns?

    EDWARD FLYNN: I think the consensus among the chiefs at the discussion was a desire to learn just what are the components of what appears to be a tipping point? What are the series of small changes that taken together have created a dramatic spike across the country in our central cities?

    Certainly, our firearms law went into effect in November of 2011. And almost immediately, we started to see an increase in the use of pistols. The tie-in to crime in Milwaukee through the use of a pistol in a crime, the biggest single number is under three months. Our firearms are easily bought legally. Ninety percent of the crime guns we seize at the scene of a crime were bought legally and sold legally, because secondary sales don’t require background checks.

    It’s not the only variable. It’s significant components to our violence problem here and in other similarly situated cities. But certainly the easy availability of firearms, of large-capacity magazines is resulting in many more bullets being used at our crime scenes and many more guns being used at our crime scenes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, both of you have been — have talked to the news media about this, and you have also attributed other factors.

    Chief Dotson, last November, this was a few months after the Michael Brown incident in Ferguson, you told — you said — quoting, you said, “Police officers had been drawing back from everyday enforcement due the fears they could be charged.” And as a result, you said the criminal element is feeling empowered.

    Is that still the case there in Saint Louis?

    COL. SAM DOTSON: I think it’s part of a conversation that has to happen nationally.

    We talked about it yesterday when we were in Washington, D.C., about the Ferguson effect, and about how some departments may see officers that have a little bit of trepidation when they go into an enforcement situation. We see criminals that have a little feeling of empowerment around the movement that’s going on.

    So I think when you layer that in with the availability of guns, the trepidation of police officers and in Saint Louis a little bit now an uptick in the use of heroin, crack cocaine, difficult to find. Heroin is the drug of choice. I think we’re seeing a lot of street-level disputes that are solved with firearms because of that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Chief Flynn, you said — in an interview with a reporter not long ago, you said society over the last 25 years has delegated its social problems to the criminal justice system, and the criminal justice system, you said, is insufficient to the task. What did you mean by that?

    EDWARD FLYNN: Well, our most challenged neighborhoods are populated by folks who are suffering from generations of poverty and unemployment.

    If you draw an ellipse over our highest-crime neighborhoods, you’re going to find that those capture the highest percentage of abandoned and foreclosed house, the highest poverty rates, the highest unemployment rates and so on. Public space violent crime is one of the many symptoms of endemic intergenerational poverty.

    And the problem that, for the last 30 to 40 years, we have disinvested in mental health services, disinvested in social service, disinvested in virtually everything that folks in these conditions need, except the police. Eighty percent of our work, even in our highest-crime neighborhoods, is fundamentally social work.

    And I need to add something else as well. Obviously, the criminal justice system is coming under a lot of scrutiny right now, as well as it should in a free society. But I would simply ask that, as we cover the needs for possible changes in the criminal justice system, we stop ignoring the fact that the biggest disparity in the criminal justice system is criminal victimization.

    In my city, if you’re an African-American, you are 18 times more likely to get shot than if you are if you are white. You’re nine times more likely to get murdered. The levels of crime within these challenged neighborhoods are extraordinary. And it’s that disparate victimization to which the police respond and sadly too often are criticized because they’re there in the first place.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Chief Dotson, who do you — I don’t want to ask you flat out if you agree with what he said, but what is your perspective on that, on the role that these social problems, that the fact that the police have been asked to solve social challenges in our country?

    COL. SAM DOTSON: I think he’s absolutely right.

    Police officers have become the face of government in a lot of communities. And as we have seen school systems fail, as we have seen cutbacks in mental health services, in health services overall, when you dial 911, the police officers are the ones that respond first and most quickly. And we’re asked to solve a lot of those systematic social problems that have happened over generations.

    Crime has been trending down as a country for the last 20 years. But now we’re at a point where, as Ed Flynn said, the disinvestment into those neighborhoods, we’re starting to see the outcome or the results of that. We have to get back to focusing resources into those neighborhoods. And by resources, I don’t mean police officers. We need to make sure that there are quality education opportunities, economic opportunities, jobs, substance abuse programs.

    All of those are outside of law enforcement, but those are exactly the issues that law enforcement deals with in the community every day, because we’re the only face of government in some neighborhoods.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Just very quick final question to both of you.

    In Baltimore, they are embedding 10 federal agents to work with the city police department, to help them solve, address some of their violence issues. Is that the kind of thing that would make a difference, to both of you quickly, Chief Flynn?

    EDWARD FLYNN: Well, we use FBI agents on a couple of our anti-gang task forces. And we also have a partnership with the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms administration in a separate gang task force.

    So, certainly, forming effective partnerships with other law enforcement agencies is useful, and working with the feds gets you into federal court, where the sanctions can be significant.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And Chief Dotson?

    COL. SAM DOTSON: We’re taking many cases to the federal authorities, U.S. attorney here.

    And we have done it just the opposite. We have taken police officers from the city and the county and embedded them with federal agents on a task force to focus on the violence and the rapid-response force, so not just the homicides, but the violence, because a precursor to the homicides are the shootings that Ed talked about that are happening far too frequently, high-capacity magazines, lots of victims.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Chief Samuel Dotson of Saint Louis, Chief Edward Flynn of Milwaukee, we thank you both.

    EDWARD FLYNN: Thank you.

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    People gather for a candlelight vigil against gun violence in the Englewood neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois, United States, July 3, 2015. Extra police patrols and long shifts were not enough to prevent nine deaths and about 50 injuries from gun violence in Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend, when homicides jump almost every year. Chicago, with 2.7 million people, is the most violent large city in the United States, with poverty, segregation, dozens of small street gangs, and a pervasive gun culture all contributing to the problem. Picture taken July 3, 2015.   REUTERS/Jim Young    - RTX1JA3U

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The first half of this year has been a more violent and tragic one in many cities, leading police, community leaders, families and friends of victims to ask, what’s happening?

    Across the country, scenes like these are playing out, at an escalating pace. The Major Cities Police Chiefs Association reports homicides have spiked this year after hitting 50-year lows in 2013. Members of the group voiced alarm at a Washington meeting on Monday.

    J. THOMAS MANGER, President, Major Cities Chiefs Association: What we focused on was the fact that we’re going to shooting scenes now where you have got more and more victims being shot, you have got more spent rounds being collected as evidence, and we’re finding more and more high-capacity magazines involved in these shootings.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The association reports homicides are up an average of 19 percent in 35 big cities. Chicago has the dubious distinction of leading the list, with 252 killings, up 20 percent. But Saint Louis and Milwaukee have seen increases of 64 to 88 percent. The city of Baltimore had 45 homicides in July alone, the most since 1972.

    That followed the death of Freddie Gray in police custody last April, and the resulting riots. Yesterday, Baltimore leaders announced federal agencies will embed special agents with city detectives.

    Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings:

    REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), Maryland: The only people who are getting — making — doing pretty good now are the morticians. They’re the only ones. And I say that we are a city that is better than that. And so to all of our — all those folks who think that you have got to — you get your power from carrying a gun and shooting somebody and hurting somebody, I’m begging you, put your guns down.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, police chiefs say they are still trying to fully understand what’s behind the surge in killings.

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    Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 6.37.25 PM

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    GWEN IFILL: The largest of 27 wildfires in California kept expanding today. The Rocky Fire has now spread across more than 100 square miles. It’s burning some 100 miles north of San Francisco, and, so far, it’s only 12 percent contained. Overnight, the blaze jumped a highway that served as a barrier. It’s endangering several thousand homes, and officials have urged about 13,000 people to leave the area.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The family of a black woman who died in a Texas jail has now filed a wrongful death suit in federal court. Sandra Bland was pulled over by a white trooper for a traffic violation. Three days later, she was found hanging in her jail cell. Officials say she committed suicide.

    Today, in Austin, her mother said whatever the circumstances of Bland’s death, her constitutional rights were violated.

    GENEVA REED-VEAL, Mother of Sandra Bland: I am still confident in the fact that she knew enough about Jesus that she wouldn’t take herself out. I’m the first one to tell you, if the facts, the facts — I’m not talking about the fiction — if the facts show without a doubt that that was the case, I will have to be prepared to deal with that. But the bottom line is, she never should have been inside of the jail.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Bland’s family wants a federal investigation of her death, plus full toxicology results from the time of her death.

    In Yemen, pro-government forces, backed by Saudi airstrikes, have gained more ground from Shiite rebels allied with Iran. New clashes erupted today outside the southern city of Aden. A day earlier, loyalist troops recaptured a strategic military base that the rebels had held since spring.

    GWEN IFILL: Formal efforts began today in the U.S. Congress to kill the nuclear deal with Iran. Republican Ed Royce, chairing the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced a bill to disapprove the agreement.

    Senate Republicans, including South Dakota’s John Thune, promised a similar effort.

    SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), South Dakota: The president, who has up until recently said that no deal is better than a bad deal, has now all of a sudden changed his language. It’s evolved now to where it’s this deal or war. And I think that the American people see through that. And it’s really important that we have this discussion, we have this debate.

    GWEN IFILL: President Obama has promised to veto any resolution that rejects the Iran deal. He won the support today of three key Democrats, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, Barbara Boxer of California and Bill Nelson of Florida.

    SEN. BILL NELSON (D), Florida: I believe it’s in the U.S. interests that Iran is not a nuclear power sponsoring terrorists. As dangerous a threat that Iran is to Israel and our allies, it would pale in comparison to the threat posed to them and to us by a nuclear-armed Iran.

    GWEN IFILL: Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again condemned the Iran deal in a Webcast to members of American Jewish groups.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Authorities in Israel have arrested the alleged head of a Jewish extremist group after a fatal arson attack. A Palestinian child died last week, when his family’s home was set on fire. Israeli leaders have blamed Jewish extremists and vowed to crack down on their activities.

    GWEN IFILL: American Airlines today joined United and Delta in banning the transport of big-game trophies. That follows an international uproar over the killing of Cecil the lion by an American dentist traveling in Zimbabwe. The airlines say they will no longer accept lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo trophies.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And on Wall Street, after some disappointing earnings reports, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 47 points to close at 17550. The Nasdaq fell about 10 points, and the S&P 500 slipped nearly five.

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    In October, a new rule goes into effect making it easier for people to safely dispose of unneeded prescription drugs throughout the year at participating retail pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, narcotic treatment programs and prescription drug manufacturers. Credit: Flickr user ep_jhu.

    Photo by Flickr user ep_jhu

    The accident happened 10 years ago when Chris Young was 35. He owned a salvage yard in Maui, Hawaii, and his employee had hoisted a junker on a machine called an excavator when the hydraulics gave out. The car fell on him from above his head, smashing his spine.

    “He was crushed accordion-style,” says his wife Lesley.

    The accident left Young with a condition known as “partial paraplegia.” He can’t walk and he needs a wheelchair, but he does have some sensation in his legs. Unfortunately for Young, that sensation is often excruciating pain.

    “It feels like electric shocks, like lightning bolts going down my legs. And when it gets down to the bottom, it feels like someone is driving a big metal spike up my legs,” says Young.

    To control the pain, Young, who has since moved to Florida, needs high doses of narcotic painkillers, but he can’t always fill his doctor’s prescription. He is not alone. In what may be an unintended side effect of a crackdown on prescription drug abuse, Young and other legitimate chronic pain patients are having increasing trouble getting the medicine that allows them to function on a daily basis.

    Young’s pharmacy runs out every month.

    “They just do not have the medications because they have run out of their allocation within the first week,” he says. “It’s just that bad, where I know I am going to end up in the E.R. because of not having my medications. We don’t know what to do. We’ve tried everything.”

    Young’s pharmacist is Bill Napier, who owns the small, independent Panama Pharmacy in Jacksonville. Napier says he can’t serve customers who legitimately need painkillers because the wholesalers who supply his store will no longer distribute the amount of medications he needs.

    “I turn away sometimes 20 people a day,” says Napier.

    Last year Napier says federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents visited him to discuss the narcotics he dispensed.

    “They showed me a number, and they said that if I wasn’t closer to the state average, they would come back. So I got pretty close to the state average,” Napier says. He says he made the adjustment “based on no science, but knowing where the number needed to be. We had to dismiss some patients in order to get to that number.”

    According to Napier, DEA agents took all of his opioid prescriptions and held on to them for seven months. Napier hired a lawyer and paid for criminal background checks on his patients taking narcotics to help him decide which ones to drop.

    “We’re being asked to act as quasi-law enforcement people to ration medications,” says Napier. “I have not had training in the rationing of medications.”

    Until a few years ago, Florida was considered the epicenter for the trafficking of illegal prescription narcotics. The DEA and local law enforcement shut down more than 250 so-called “pill mills” — clinics where doctors could sell narcotics directly to people for cash. Now Florida doctors can no longer dispense narcotics directly to patients. Wholesalers, who paid to settle claims for failing to report suspicious orders of drugs, now limit the amount they sell to pharmacies, Napier says.

    Jack Riley, who is acting deputy administrator of the DEA, credits a decline in opioid overdose deaths in Florida with an upsurge in law enforcement activity. The problem of addiction and the drug trade is dire, he says.

    “A hundred and twenty people a day die of drug abuse in this country,” Riley said. “If that doesn’t get your attention, I don’t think anything can.”

    Riley also says law enforcement efforts cannot be blamed for any claim of rationing of painkillers.

    “I’m not a doctor. We do not practice medicine. We’re not pharmacists. We obviously don’t get involved in that,” said Riley. “What we do do is make sure the people that have the licenses are as educated as possible as to what we’re seeing, and that they can make informed decisions as they do dispense.”

    Doctors, too, say DEA enforcement actions have made it harder for them to prescribe narcotics. Last year, hydrocodone products, such as Vicodin, were changed to Schedule II status, meaning they have a high potential for abuse and cannot be prescribed in large quantities.

    “What we’ve seen is dramatic reductions in our ability to provide appropriate care for our patients in pain,” says Dr. R. Sean Morrison, director of the palliative care program at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

    Morrison’s patient Ora Chaikin has been taking high levels of narcotics for years to control her pain. She has had multiple surgeries because her bones and ligaments disintegrate, a problem caused by rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases. But Chaikin, who lives in Riverdale, N.Y., says her mail order pharmacy, CVS/caremark, has been denying her medications.

    “Every month there’s a reason they won’t give me my medication,” says Chaikin. “Sometimes it’s ‘Well, why are you taking this dose?’ ‘My doctor prescribed it.’ ‘Well, why did your doctor prescribe so much?’ ‘Ask my doctor,’” she recounts. “That’s the dose that works for me and you’re made to feel like a drug addict.”

    The DEA investigated both CVS and Walgreens, and both pharmacy chains settled civil suits in 2013 for record-keeping violations of the Controlled Substances Act. Walgreens paid an $80 million civil penalty, and CVS paid an $11 million penalty.

    Riley, of the DEA, says it would be wrong to draw a line between these actions and problems like those Chaikin is experiencing. “If there is a chilling effect, it’s clearly not at our direction,” Riley said. “We’re simply enforcing the law, taking bad people off the street and really trying to interrupt the supply of illegal prescriptions.”

    In a statement, CVS/caremark said that the dosage of pain medication prescribed to Chaikin “exceeded the recommended manufacturer dosing.” It also said that she “continued to receive her controlled substance prescriptions from CVS/caremark without interruption.”

    CVS/caremark said it has a legal obligation to make sure controlled substance prescriptions are for legitimate ailments and “that patients are receiving safe medication therapy, including appropriate dosing.”

    Ora Chaikin’s wife, Roseanne Leipzig, who is a geriatrician and palliative care physician, says when it comes to narcotics, there is nothing in medical literature that says a dose is too high.

    “There is no maximum dose for narcotics,” she says. “It’s the dose you need to take care of the pain.”

    The Florida Board of Pharmacy, which is responsible for licensing pharmacists and educating them on safe practice, has heard enough complaints from pain patients that it is addressing the issue in public meetings. In June, Lesley Young testified before the board on behalf of her husband. She said she has driven more than 100 miles trying to find a pharmacy that would fill her husband’s prescriptions for painkillers.

    “I’ve had to do the pharmacy crawl like many of us here,” Lesley told the board. “I’ve been the one who had to go in and beg, crying, with stacks of his medical records, with stacks of imaging, only to get turned away, often rudely, saying ‘We don’t deal with those kinds of patients.’”

    The next Florida Board of Pharmacy hearing is set for Monday. A representative of the DEA has been invited to attend.

    This story was produced in a collaboration between NPR’s Here & Now and Kaiser Health News. Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. You can view the original report on its website.

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    Mourners visit the memorial for Michael Brown on a street in Ferguson, Missouri on March 13, 2015. He was shot on Aug. 9, 2014 by a police officer who was not indicted. Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    Mourners visit the memorial for Michael Brown on a street in Ferguson, Missouri on March 13, 2015. He was shot on Aug. 9, 2014 by a police officer who was not indicted. Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — A majority of blacks in the United States — more than 3 out of 5 — say they or a family member have personal experience with being treated unfairly by the police, and their race is the reason why.

    This information, from a survey conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, comes as the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, approaches its first anniversary and the nation continues to grapple with police-related deaths of black Americans.

    African-Americans said they felt especially targeted by the police. Half of black respondents, including 6 in 10 black men, said they personally had been treated unfairly by police because of their race, compared to 3 percent of whites. Another 15 percent said they knew of a family member who had been treated unfairly by the police because of their race.

    White Americans who live in more diverse communities — those where census data show at least 25 percent of the population is non-white — were more likely than other whites to say police in their communities sometimes treat minorities more roughly, 58 percent to 42 percent. And they’re more likely to see the police as too quick to use deadly force, 42 percent to 29 percent.

    Larry Washington, 30, of Merriville, Indiana, described his encounter with a white police officer when he was arrested for theft in Burbank, Illinois, as a teenager. “When I got to the police station, the officer who arrested me told me that I looked like I wanted to do something about it,” Washington said, adding, “And he kept calling me ‘nigger.'”

    “It’s been like this for a long time,” Washington said. “It’s just now that everybody starting to record it and stuff, it’s just hitting the spotlight. Most Caucasians, they think it’s just starting to go on when it’s been like this.”

    The AP-NORC poll shows stark differences between whites and blacks when it came to attitudes toward law enforcement:

    —More than two-thirds of blacks — 71 percent — thought police are treated too leniently by the criminal justice system when they hurt or kill people. A third of whites say police are getting away with it, while nearly half — 46 percent — say the police are treated fairly by the criminal justice system.

    —When asked why police violence happens, 62 percent of whites said a major reason is that civilians confront the police, rather than cooperate, when they are stopped. Three out of 4 blacks, or 75 percent, said it is because the consequences of police misconduct are minimal, and few officers are prosecuted for excessive use of force. More than 7 in 10 blacks identified problems with race relations, along with poor relations between police and the public that they serve, as major reasons for police violence.

    —Whites and blacks disagreed over whether police are more likely to use deadly force against blacks. Nearly 3 out of 4 whites — 74 percent — thought race had nothing to do with how police in their communities decide to use deadly force. Among blacks, 71 percent thought police were more likely to use deadly force against black people in their communities, and 85 percent said the same thing applied generally across the country. Fifty-eight percent of whites thought race had nothing to do with police decisions in most communities on use of deadly force.

    Seventy-two percent of whites said they always or often trust police to do what is right for them and their community, while 66 percent of blacks said they only sometimes, rarely or never trust the police to do what is right.

    David A. Clarke Jr, who is sheriff in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, said African-Americans have more encounters with police than whites because of crime rates in urban areas. “If you have more interaction with the police because of the crime and the disorder in our urban centers — the American ghetto I like to say it — it’s going to skew the numbers,” Clarke said.

    David Thomas, 80, of Vienna, Georgia, recalled being treated roughly when stopped by police as a young man in Savannah, Georgia. He said relations between black communities and law enforcement have improved since then.

    “Everything is not right, but it’s better,” Thomas said. “We have bad cops and we have good cops. I don’t know where we’re going to from here, but we need police.”

    The AP-NORC Poll of 1,223 adults, including 311 black adults, was conducted online and by phone July 17-July 19, using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points. For results among black respondents, the margin of error is plus or minus 9.1 percentage points.

    Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for Amerispeak who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were interviewed over the phone.

    ___

    AP News Survey Specialist Emily Swanson contributed to this report.

    The post Half of blacks say police have treated them unfairly appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Barack Obama’s foreign policy speech at American University is planned for 11:20 a.m. EDT on Wednesday. You can watch it live above.

    President Barack Obama plans to explain again why the Iran nuclear deal will make the world safer in a foreign policy speech Wednesday at American University in Washington, D.C.

    Years of diplomatic wrangling culminated in a breakthrough in mid-July when Iran and six world powers reached an agreement aimed at preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. The U.N. Security Council endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on July 20.

    The Iran package faces some opposition in Congress, which has a deadline of Sept. 17 to approve or reject it. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., introduced legislation this week to disapprove the pact. “This deal gives up too much, too fast, to a terrorist state — making the world less safe, less secure and less stable,” he said.

    If lawmakers vote to reject the deal, President Obama said he would veto the result. A two-thirds vote in Congress would be needed to undo his veto.

    The post WATCH LIVE: Obama’s speech on Iran nuclear pact at American University appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Senior couple sitting on back door steps. Photo by Cultura/Attia-Fotografie/Getty Images

    Medicare Maven Phil Moeller answers your Medicare questions. Photo by Cultura/Attia-Fotografie/Getty Images

    Editor’s Note: Journalist Philip Moeller, who writes widely on health and retirement, is here to provide the Medicare answers you need in “Ask Phil, the Medicare Maven.” Send your questions to Phil.

    Medicare rules and private insurance plans can affect people differently depending on where they live. To make sure the answers here are as accurate as possible, Phil is working with the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) and the Medicare Rights Center (MRC).


    Loren – Md.: I’m 71 and have had Medicare Parts A and B since age 65. I am about to get Medigap — either Plan F or Plan N. Can you explain what the differences are in detail?

    GOT MEDICARE QUESTIONS?

    Ask Phil Here

    Phil Moeller: Plan F covers more than Plan N and charges a higher premium. Whether the extra benefits are worth it will ultimately depend on your future healthcare needs. Also, because you have had basic Medicare for several years, your rights to get a Medigap plan on favorable terms have long since expired. There generally is a six-month window following the beginning of basic Medicare when people have such “guaranteed access” rights to Medigap. Once that window closes, insurers may choose not to sell you a plan, or if they do, they have the right to charge you higher premiums due to your age and any pre-existing conditions. They can’t do this under guaranteed access rules. Medigap is regulated at the state level, so you should check with the Maryland Insurance Administration to see what your Medigap rights are in your situation. Here’s a list of local SHIP offices in Maryland that might be able to help you.

    With that, here are the details you requested.

    Both plans cover these items:

    Part A coinsurance and hospital costs up to an additional 365 days after Medicare benefits are used up. Paying the 20 percent of covered hospital expenses that Medicare does not pay can be by itself a benefit easily worth your entire Medigap premium. Further, basic Medicare only covers 150 days of hospitalization your entire life. Having an additional 365 days would save all but the wealthiest families from the poor house. Now, it is true that very few people would ever need that much time in a hospital. But having the extra coverage is nonetheless comforting.

    Blood (first 3 pints).

    Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayment.

    Skilled nursing facility care coinsurance. Remember from the last chapter that this coinsurance costs $157.50 from days 21 to 100 (or up to a total of $12,600). Letter plans A and B do not offer this coverage and plans K and L cover only parts of it.

    Part A deductible. The 2015 hospital deductible is $1,260.

    Foreign travel exchange (up to plan limits). This coverage is for emergencies, not medical tourism or a cleansing ritual at a five-star spa. If you travel outside the U.S. frequently, you should compare Medigap travel coverage against other trip insurance.

    Here’s where the coverage of the two plans differs:

    Part B coinsurance: Plan F covers these 20-percent coinsurance costs. Plan N covers most of them as well but will charge a $20 copay for doctor visits and up to $50 for emergency room visits that do not result in being admitted to a hospital.

    Part B deductible: The annual 2015 Part B deductible is $147. Plan F covers this; Plan N does not.

    Part B excess charges: Many doctors and other health care providers charge you more than the Medicare approved rate for their services. Plan F covers these charges; Plan N does not.


    Jane – Ala.: Does Medicare cover any parts of a bill for products and labor that go to retrofit your house for independent care after a stroke — showering, preparing meals, maneuvering a wheel chair through widened doorways, ramp building, etc.?

    Phil Moeller: Home-based care is clearly on the rise. More and more people are choosing to stay in their homes as they age. However, odds are you’re on the hook for this retrofitting. Medicare generally does not cover anything that is involved with custodial care, which is what you’re describing. It does cover short-term care that has been certified by your doctors as medically necessary. And if you have a medical need for, say, a special kind of bed, you should talk with your care provider and ask Medicare to cover this. As I’ve said frequently, there are exceptions to most if not all of the general statements about Medicare. Even if Medicare will not cover you, there are other programs that might help, including disability resource centers and local aging non-profits. Contact your local SHIP office to see if it can help with contacts. Also, if someone has a low income and qualifies for Medicaid, it offers in-home support services as an alternative to living in a nursing home. Here are details on Alabama’s Medicaid in-home support program.


    Bebe – N.C.: I am a clinical social worker who has specialized in working with people with psychotic disorders for more than 20 years. Many of them are disabled and receive Medicare. Sometimes they are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, which can complicate Medicaid payment for services. Medicare, however, does not provide coverage for the enhanced services that many with severe mental illness need to live successfully in the community. Can you give me any information about Medicare coverage of mental health needs?

    Phil Moeller: As always, the devil is in the details, and these treatment situations can be very complicated. However, you asked a general question, so I will provide a broad response, courtesy of the Medicare Rights Center. The Medicare Rights Center has a good overview on Medicare’s coverage of mental health services. Pay special attention here not only to what’s covered, but what beneficiaries might have to pay. Mental health providers are the most likely group of any care providers to choose not to accept Medicare’s payment schedule for services. Thus, make sure you understand ahead of time what such visits will cost. Here’s what the Medicare Rights Center has to say:

    Original Medicare pays 80 percent of its approved amount for the outpatient mental health services listed below. You or your supplemental insurance is responsible for the remaining 20 percent coinsurance. Medicare Advantage plans must cover the same services as Original Medicare; however, your plan will likely require you to see an in-network mental health care provider. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, contact your plan to see what your copayments are for seeing an in-network mental health provider.

    The services Medicare covers include:

    • Individual and group therapy
    • Family counseling to help with your treatment
    • Tests to make sure you are getting the right care
    • Activity therapies, such as art, dance or music therapy
    • Occupational therapy
    • Training and education (such as training on how to inject a needed medication or education about your condition)
    • Substance abuse treatment
    • Laboratory tests
    • Prescription drugs that you cannot administer yourself, such as injections that a doctor must give you

    You can get mental health services in an outpatient hospital program, a doctor’s or therapist’s office or a clinic. Medicare will help pay for outpatient mental health services you receive from:

    • general practitioners
    • nurse practitioners
    • physicians’ assistants
    • psychiatrists
    • clinical psychologists
    • clinical social workers
    • clinical nurse specialists

    If you see non-medical doctors (such as psychologists or clinical social workers), make sure that these providers are Medicare-certified and take assignment, meaning that they accept Medicare’s approved amount as payment in full. Medicare will only pay for the services of non-medical doctors if they accept Medicare and take assignment (participating providers).

    Medicare will pay for the services of medical doctors (such as psychiatrists) who do not take Medicare assignment (non-participating providers), but these doctors can charge you up to 15 percent above Medicare’s approved amount in addition to the Medicare coinsurance. Some states have stricter limits on how much doctors can charge you. Click here for more information on the different types of Medicare providers.

    Know that psychiatrists are more likely than any other type of provider to opt-out of Medicare. Be sure to ask any provider if they take Medicare before you begin receiving services. Remember, if you see an opt-out provider, they must have you sign a private contract. The contract states that your doctor does not take Medicare and you must pay the full cost of the service yourself. Medicare will not reimburse you if you see an opt-out provider. If your provider does not have you sign a contract, you are not responsible for the cost of care.
    To save money, only use doctors who take assignment.

    Annual Preventive Screening for Depression

    Medicare covers yearly screenings to detect depression that you receive in doctor’s offices or other primary care settings that can assure appropriate diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. For more information on Medicare’s coverage of the yearly depression screening, please click here.

    *Keep in mind that Medicare prescription drug plans (Part D) must cover almost all antidepressant, antipsychotic, and anticonvulsant prescription drugs used to treat mental health conditions.

    Lastly, here’s a Medicare Rights Center primer on how Medicare and Medicaid work together.

    Note: Ask Phil gets a slew of retiree healthcare questions from people who worked in government and the military. Medicare rules for these folks often differ.


    Sharron – Colo.: I am turning 65 this year. My husband is a retired federal employee with Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage. He says that I am covered under his policy and do not need Medicare. Is this true? Do I need Medicare as well as his retiree coverage?

    Phil Moeller: The coordination of Federal Employee Health Benefit (FEHB) programs and Medicare benefits is, well, what would you expect from the interaction of two federal programs? It’s tough sledding. The general answer is that your husband is correct. Usually. Maybe. No, seriously, if he has an FEHB HMO (health maintenance plan), Medicare is not required. But it is complicated. I’d suggest you spend time with this explanation of how Medicare and FEHB programs work with one another. Many FEHB programs do require Medicare. So, I’d ask your husband to make sure he’s right by calling his retiree benefits office.

    If you or he has at least 40 quarters of work experience at jobs where Social Security payroll taxes paid, you qualify for free Part A hospital insurance from Medicare. This can come in handy, and you should call your local Social Security office (which administers Medicare sign-ups) and get it.

    Also, and this may not be trivial, if you do need Medicare, you should enroll soon in Part B to avoid late-enrollment penalties. Part B insures you for covered doctor, outpatient and medical equipment expenses. The late-enrollment penalty can be steep. It is a 10-percent premium surcharge for each year you are late in enrolling. Even if you don’t currently need Medicare Part B now, you should think about whether you might need it in the future, because this penalty is cumulative — 10 percent for each year, for the rest of your life. A key factor in this decision is how your FEHB premiums compare with Part B, and how the two coverages compare. (Such comparisons are easier said than done, I know.)


    Dean – Wash.: I am a retired U.S. Navy veteran. My wife and I have Tricare medical. I am 57, and my wife is about to turn 65. She already receives Social Security. What are our options as far as Medicare? Do we have to enroll in it and pay the premiums? Or can we just use the Tricare?

    Phil Moeller: Your wife will have to get Parts A and B and pay required premiums to participate in the Tricare for Life program. She will need to work with Tricare to make this transition. However, on the upside, Tricare charges no premiums itself. And it offers prescription drug coverage, so she should not need a Part D Medicare drug plan. Lastly, basic Medicare can be used anywhere in the country.


    Christina – Ariz.: I am still working and don’t plan to retire until I’m 70. I signed up for Part A Medicare but will not use it until I quit. I am covered by my employer’s health plan as my primary, but when I turned 65 two months ago, Tricare told me that the only way I could use them to help cover my co-pays for medications was if I used Medicare Part D for medications! I’m about to run out of some of my meds and have relied on the military to help me pay for them. Now what? I’ve called several people at Tricare and one tells me, “You’re fine,” while another says I have to now use Medicare. I am getting a different answer from each person I ask. Do I have to buy Medicare Part D at a cost of $150 a month in order to have it cover what Tricare used to cover? I didn’t think you could use any part of Medicare if you were still working? Help, please.

    Phil Moeller: As my answer to Dean stated, Tricare generally provides its own prescription drug coverage so you shouldn’t need a Part D plan. Check these Tricare pharmacy eligibility rules to make sure. You should call Tricare again and refer them to these rules in case you get someone on the phone who says you must get a Part D plan.


    Mary – Va.: I am 72 years old and have full coverage with Medicare/Tricare. I have a medical need for intermittent home health care for a few days a year when I am disabled with Meniere’s disease. Is there any coverage at all with Medicare for this need? I am a low-income senior, and Tricare will only pay secondary to Medicare. So if Medicare doesn’t cover it, Tricare will not kick in.

    Phil Moeller: Medicare does provide short-term care in your home so long as it’s medically necessary. The care needs to be skilled and medical in nature and not what’s called custodial care — for meals, housekeeping and the like. Work with your doctor’s office on this, and make sure any care provider you use is approved by Medicare and has agreed to its rates for the services you need. Medicare usually pays only 80 percent of care costs, but your Tricare coverage should pick up the rest. If it doesn’t, there are support programs for low-income beneficiaries. Call your local SHIP office if you need additional help.

    The post Which Medigap plan should you get? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary leads a protest against the killing of Osama bin Laden outside the U.S. Embassy in London on May 6, 2011. A rival rally by the English Defense League celebrating the death of the al-Qaida leader was nearby. Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images

    Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary leads a protest against the killing of Osama bin Laden outside the U.S. Embassy in London on May 6, 2011. A rival rally by the English Defense League celebrating the death of the al-Qaida leader was nearby. Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images

    Anjem Choudary, a British-born Muslim cleric, is one of two men charged in England with inviting support for Islamic State militants on Wednesday.

    He and the second man, Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, were arrested in September on suspicion of being members of the Islamic State group, and released on bail. They were slated to appear in court later Wednesday on charges under Section 12 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

    The prosecution said the two men “invited support for [the Islamic State group] in individual lectures which were subsequently published online.”

    Choudary has about 32,600 followers on his Twitter account. Groups like “Muslims against Anjem Choudary” have taken to Facebook to counter what they call his extremism.

    Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner reported from London about friction with the Muslim community.

    Choudary is a lawyer of Pakistani descent who supports establishing Sharia law in Britain. He spoke of the appeal of the Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate, or Islamic state, among Muslims in Western Europe in a PBS NewsHour report in January.

    “People are going there (to the caliphate) to experience the Sharia, to look at life you know of the divine law, to bring up their children where they don’t face the vices of gambling, prostitution, you know alcohol etc. And in fact have a proper Islamic upbringing,” he said.

    The post Muslim cleric in Britain charged with supporting Islamic State militants appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    High school students in the pre-college course, "Introduction to Medicine: Do You Want to Be a Doctor?" at Brown University. Photo by Karl Dominey/Brown University.

    High school students in the pre-college course, “Introduction to Medicine: Do You Want to Be a Doctor?” at Brown University. Photo by Karl Dominey/Brown University.

    Sophie Uldry knew early on that she wanted to go to Brown, the highly selective Ivy League university hundreds of miles from her home in Puerto Rico. This summer, she is — kind of.

    “It’s very different from my school,” she says. “It’s a lot of work.”

    The 15-year-old is taking a summer course here in Providence called “Introduction to Medicine: Do You Want to Be a Doctor?”

    “My mom was like, ‘I see you being a doctor,’ and I was like, ‘Really? Well, I should try it out,'” says Sophie.

    Some students pay the full $5,500 sticker price. Others, like Sophie, receive scholarships.

    It’s 8:30 in the morning, and Sophie and 140 other teenagers file into a large lecture hall proudly wearing their Brown t-shirts and lanyards. Today’s lesson? Cardiac arrest.

    Hear this story

    There’s no credit for the three-week course. For Sophie, it’s more about hoping this summer school will pay off in another way.

    “I’ve been looking into the school to see if I could get accepted since last year,” says Sophie.

    There’s nothing in the online video advertising Brown’s camp that promises admission, but the pictures of students studying in Brown’s library and playing Frisbee on the quad can be enticing to the student who’s set her sights on a selective school.

    “I do a lot of activities in Puerto Rico,” Sophie says. “I’m an all-around student. I do almost anything and I know that will help me for getting in,” she adds.

    Sophie isn’t alone, many high school students are now enrolling in expensive pre-college summer courses they hope will catch the eye of admissions officers they’d like to impress.

    But Brown’s dean of admissions Jim Miller doesn’t give any extra weight to summer programs.

    “Zero,” he says. “We actually don’t know who’s been to our summer school. Some tell us. Some don’t. We have no idea what courses they’ve taken. We have no idea what their grades are.”

    Related: How Much Should ‘Elite’ Matter When Deciding Where to Go to College?

    Miller says the university doesn’t favor anyone who’s had the resources to attend summer courses.

    “We are very conscious about drawing a pretty clear line,” says Miller.

    And faculty here say the program is about more than building a resume.

    “It’s a lot about where do you want to go to college,” says Dr. Juli Ip, Associate Dean of Medicine and a teacher of this summer course. “And what is it like to be independent, live in a dorm, and not have mom and dad to here to tell you what to do.”

    Dr. Ip admits she encouraged her own son to take the university’s summer engineering program. But even she worries about the heightening admissions competition.

    “I’m crossing my fingers that it doesn’t contribute to the mania, but, in fact, helps the students think for themselves,” says Ip.

    College counselors say it all depends on students and their families. Beth Heaton works as a private counselor in Newton, Massachusetts, helping teenagers get into selective schools that are increasingly out of reach.

    “If you’re going into it with the idea that, ‘Well I’m going to do this program and therefore I’m going to be a more competitive candidate,’ I think it can contribute to the mania,” says Heaton.

    Before she was a college coach, Heaton worked in admissions at the University of Pennsylvania. She says when she saw summer programs like Brown’s on applications, she was unimpressed.

    “I did not place much value on them when I was at Penn and reading files,” she says. “What I really felt was, ‘Oh great more school,’ and it’s really wonderful that the student had this opportunity, but to me it didn’t help them stand out in any way.”

    While these programs don’t improve students’ chances, Heaton says living on campus for a few weeks can calm their nerves in what’s become a stressful process.

    “There is value to be had. The question is, is it worth the high price, and then the big thing also is, it doesn’t have to be at a big name school. ”

    And, Heaton admits, when it comes to elite college admissions, summer should be less about getting an Ivy League lanyard, and more about getting some life experience.

    This story comes from On Campus, a public radio reporting initiative focused on higher education produced in Boston at WGBH.

    PBS NewsHour coverage of higher education is supported by the Lumina Foundation and American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

    The post Pricey summer programs at elite universities may not give students admissions edge appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A suspect is dead after police in Antioch, Tennessee, responded to reports of an active shooter at the Carmike 8 Cinema on Wednesday afternoon.

    Officials said the suspect entered the theater, located southeast of Nashville, at about 1 p.m. and began firing shots. The suspect had a gun and hatchet and fired his weapon at an officer, according to the Associated Press. The officer fired back and a SWAT team entered the theater, then another round of gunfire occurred. The suspect was found dead afterward.

    The shooting happened just weeks after John Russell Houser opened fire on a showing of “Trainwreck” at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, injuring nine people and killing three, including himself.

    This post will be updated.

    The post Suspected shooter at Tennessee theater reported dead appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Jin Lee/Bloomberg

    Photo by Jin Lee/Bloomberg

    Netflix announced Tuesday that it will be offering unlimited maternity and paternity leave for one year following a child’s birth or adoption.

    In a blog post on their website, Netflix stated that the policy was intended to allow new moms and dads to easily balance the needs of growing families without worrying about their job or incomes. The policy will allow parents to work part-time, full-time, or come in and out of work as needed, while still receiving full pay.

    With the policy, Netflix joins a host of other tech companies offering substantial paternal leave packages. Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Apple, Reddit and Twitter all offer at least 16 weeks of paid maternity leave, in addition to substantial time off to fathers.

    However, tech companies are the exception in America, which is the only developed country in the world that does not have guaranteed paid paternity leave. A study of OECD countries found that on average, mothers in those countries receive 17 weeks of paid maternity leave around childbirth.

    The country’s lack of guaranteed paid paternity leave has attracted criticism in recent years. Opponents have pointed out that the policy negatively affects women, contributing to the gender pay gap, and women dropping out of the workforce.

    More recent studies have also found that paid paternity may actually be good for business. A study by California’s Center for Economic and Policy Research found that 91% of businesses said paternity leave had either a positive effect on profitability or no effect at all. Another study in 2014 conducted by McKinsey & Co. further found that companies with balanced leadership roles between men and women were more likely to have financial returns above the industry median.

    The idea that paid paternity leave may be a sound business decision is reflected in Netflix’s blog post, which focuses less on altruism, and more on benefits for the company. “Netflix’s continue success hinges on us competing for and keeping the most talented individuals in their field,” the post reads. “This new policy … allows employees to be supported during the changes in their lives and return to work more focused and dedicated.”

    Watch tonight’s PBS NewsHour to learn more.

    The post Netflix offers one-year paid maternity and paternity leave appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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