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

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    A fire fighter watches flames from a back fire at the Canyon Creek Complex Fire as a power line stands in the foreground in this handout photo taken August 17, 2015 and released to Reuters August 19, 2015. About a dozen large fires are burning across the state, threatening hundreds of structures, authorities said.  REUTERS/Gert Zoutendijk/Oregon State Fire Marshal/Handout ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. - RTX1OU5H

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: But, first, wildfires in the Northwest. New evacuation orders went out today affecting hundreds of homes.

    William Brangham reports on a fire season that’s pushed the system to the breaking point.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Since last week, smoke has poured into the skies outside Chelan, Washington, as more than 1,000 firefighters and volunteers struggle to gain control. The complex of fires has grown to more than 170 square miles, destroying more than 50 homes and leaving charred debris.

    WOMAN: We had a really big, big living room. I didn’t take any family pictures or anything like that. I didn’t think anything was going to happen.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In all, well over 100 fires are burning in the states across the Northwest. More than 50 of those from Northern Washington down to Oregon and Idaho are larger than 100 acres.

    California also faces new outbreaks just days after containing the massive Rocky Fire north of San Francisco. All told, roughly a million acres of land has burned. The flames are being fueled by drought, low humidity and high temperatures that turn vegetation into dry tinder for lightning strikes. And the sheer number of fires has stretched budgets and personnel to the limit.

    MAN: Past 10 hours, we’re up here. It’s hot. I got new boots yesterday. We’re breaking them in. Getting blisters on my heels.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Yesterday, National Guard units arrived in Chelan with heavy equipment, including helicopters. And for the first time since 2006, 200 active-duty Army troops are being called out. They will deploy to a separate fire in Northern Washington. For now, there’s no end in sight, with immediate forecasts calling for more heat.

    The post Widespread wildfires prompt Army, National Guard to join the fight appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    In America, many scholarships are given out based on merit, handed out to students who have good grades and high test scores. While this plan is meant to attract the best and the brightest, it can also mean that money goes to students whose families can already afford college, bypassing those who can’t. This, in turn, can contribute to the wide graduation gap.

    Now, however, some schools are choosing to do away with merit-based scholarships, and instead giving out only need-based awards. To discuss this phenomena the NewsHour will be holding a Twitter chat at 1 p.m. EDT Friday on merit-based versus need-based scholarships.

    We will be joined by Troy Onink (@TroyOnink) who writes about financial planning to pay for college for Forbes, Sara Goldrick-Rab (@saragoldrickrab), a professor of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Daniel Porterfield (@DanPorterfield) President of Franklin and Marshall College, and Jamey Rorison (@IHEPTweets) Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for Higher Education Policy.

    You can follow the conversation by following us at @newshour and by following the hashtag #NewsHourchats.

    The post Twitter Chat: Merit vs. need-based scholarships appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A pedestrian red light is seen near the U.S. Capitol dome in Washington D.C., June 8, 2015. Congress convenes in a rare Sunday session July 26. Reviving the federal Export-Import Bank and repealing Obamacare are both measures on the agenda. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Associated Press reports today that under an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors to investigate one location it has been accused of using to develop nuclear arms.

    This comes about halfway through the 60-day period that Congress has to scrutinize the Iran nuclear deal with the U.S. and five other countries, a period in which we’re seeing a multimillion-dollar lobbying campaign. Both houses of Congress plan to vote next month on a measure to disapprove, or block, the deal. But opponents face a few hurdles. They first need 60 votes in the Senate. And then, if they get a disapproval bill to the president, he’s expected to veto it, meaning they would then need a two-third vote to override him.

    Joining me now for a midway check up on all this, our chief foreign affairs correspondent, Margaret Warner, and our political director, Lisa Desjardins.

    Welcome to you both.

    So, Margaret, I will start with you.

    Where do things stand right now?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, Judy, the White House has given up all hope that in fact this deal might be considered on the merits with no partisan consideration and they might actually get an endorsement or some Republicans.

    So they are focused, as you said, on just making sure they have a rock-hard 34 votes to override a veto. And the president is right now working overtime, both from his vacation home in Martha’s Vineyard and before that in lots of meetings, to try to get at least 34 to come out publicly.

    That said, right now, they only have 23 to 24 publicly declared supporters. But they did get a boost today when a conservative Democrat from Indiana, Joe Donnelly, who had been on the fence, came out late today and said he would support the deal.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: This is a House member?

    LISA DESJARDINS: No, senator.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator. I’m sorry.

    MARGARET WARNER: No, so this was big. And this was quite a surprise.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, Lisa, you’re watching the Hill very closely. What do you see?

    LISA DESJARDINS: Right.

    I think, from the Hill’s perspective, things look pretty good for the president, to be honest, and that’s because, as you explained, the president really has two chances to win here. First of all, can opponents get 60 votes to say, we want to block this deal? It’s not clear that they can.

    If they do get those 60 votes, then going down the line following all of that together, then they’d need to override a presidential veto, and virtually no one I talk to on the Hill, Judy, thinks that those 67 votes are there right now.

    Why is there some stress, why is there some concern from Democrats? It’s because they are still that group of undecided Democrats. It’s about a dozen, and that’s about as many votes as you need to override the president. So the concern is if there’s some breaking news, a story or something that shifts opinion in the next few weeks.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, Margaret, we know the Israelis — we mentioned the millions of dollars that are being spent lobbying on this. We know the Israelis have been very heavily involved. The American Jewish community has been very involved and indeed has been split on this.

    You have been looking at that and also looking at how the rest of the world views everything that’s happening in Washington.

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, Judy, as you said, Ron Dermer, the ambassador from Israel, has been really working hard — and the White House is pretty furious about that — trying to undermine this deal.

    But, interestingly, the ambassadors of the five countries that negotiated the deal with the U.S. that is the British, the French, the Germans, and the Chinese and the Russians, all got together and met with 25 Senate Democrats about two or three weeks ago. And as one European diplomat said to me, I think this is unprecedented. Our interests never converge.

    And their message was, don’t fool yourself. If the U.S. Congress blocks this deal, there is no better deal out there.

    That said, they are — overseas, it’s watched with dismay. No other country, other than perhaps Iran, is even taking it to the parliament. And the deputy German ambassador said, the prospect of a rejection of a deal makes us very nervous.

    In Germany, everyone supports the deal. So they are going to feel a lot better if the White House actually has not 24, but 34 announced supporters.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Lisa, you were saying to us earlier today, with so much of the focus now on these Democrats, a lot of this depends on the president’s relationship with these Democrats. Margaret mentioned Senator Donnelly.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Right. Right. Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But there are others they have to work on.

    LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right.

    Also today, though, we had Senator Ed Markey come out. He’s more on the liberal side from Massachusetts, and that’s what the White House is doing is they want to roll out a number of yes-votes. They’re coming more slowly than the White House wants.

    But I think, Judy, the interesting thing here is, at a tough vote like this, which this is, a president can often be a wild card. If it’s a strong relationship, that wild card swings votes the president’s way. This president doesn’t have that capital with his Democrats in Congress to earn their trust. They frankly don’t quite trust him enough to say yes without evaluating this deal extra carefully.

    MARGARET WARNER: And I’m told, Judy, they are really — at this point, it’s really down to substantive and penetrating questions and what happens after year 10.

    And just to follow up from what Lisa said, there’s been a lot of dismay or some dismay in Democratic quarters over the president’s tone at times, for instance, his speech at American University, where he — one person said he appeared to be lecturing and he equated the opponents here with Iranian hard-liners, which offended some Democrats.

    And then I’m told by a leader of a major Jewish organization who supports the deal, but he was in that private meeting that the president held with heads of Jewish organizations. He said the president’s frustration really showed through. He said, he was like a professor who said, I have been teaching this class for five years, and they still don’t get it.

    That said, the White House believes that, one way or another, either by frustrating the 60 votes that the opponents need to even get to a vote, if you understand, or by actually overriding a veto, they can make this deal go through.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, finally, Lisa, who are they watching the most? Who is this coming down to in the Senate?

    LISA DESJARDINS: We haven’t from Harry Reid or Patty Murray yet, Democratic leaders, but it would be a surprise if they vote against the Iran deal.

    I think the ones to watch are, say, Cory Booker in the Senate and Michael Bennet. Bennet is up for reelection. The time to watch will be the week of September 7. That’s when the Senate is expected to start debate.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Labor Day week.

    MARGARET WARNER: And there is a belief that Senator Ben Cardin is a very important vote — he’s the ranking Democrat now on Foreign Relations — and that he’s going to be very tough, given the district, given his home in Baltimore.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Interesting to watch the intra-Democratic back-and-forth and argument on this.

    MARGARET WARNER: That’s right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Lisa Desjardins, Margaret Warner, we thank you.

    LISA DESJARDINS: My pleasure.

    MARGARET WARNER: A pleasure.

    The post Where does the Iran nuclear deal stand in Congress? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A picture taken on March 14, 2014 shows a partial view of the ancient oasis city of Palmyra, 215 kilometres northeast of Damascus. From the 1st to the 2nd century, the art and architecture of Palmyra, standing at the crossroads of several civilizations, married Graeco-Roman techniques with local traditions and Persian influences. AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH EID        (Photo credit should read JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images)

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Joining me now to talk about Khaled al-Asaad and his work is his former colleague Amr Al Azm, a professor of Middle Eastern history and anthropology at Shawnee State University in Ohio. He joins us tonight from Prague by way of Skype.

    Thank you for joining us.

    Tell us what you can about Khaled al-Asaad.

    AMR AL AZM, Shawnee State University: I mean, Khaled al-Asaad was really an iconic figure here in terms of Palmyra and the history and archaeology of the site of Palmyra itself.

    He worked there from — right from the very beginning. He was involved — this is going back to the ’50s and ’60s — he was involved in the excavations and the restoration. And later on, he became the director of the Department of Antiquities in Palmyra, oversaw the management and administration of the site for many years until his retirement in 2003.

    It’s this very rich source of information, I believe, that we have lost today with his death.

    GWEN IFILL: How did the rise of ISIS affect his ability to do his work? He was retired, but he was certainly well-respected. How did that change?

    AMR AL AZM: I mean, ultimately, when ISIS takes over any territory, Palmyra or otherwise, essentially, they are in charge, and they make certain that everybody understands in no uncertain terms that they’re absolutely in charge.

    So, for someone like Khaled al-Asaad, he would have had basically — he would have been no able to have any sort of communication or contact or involvement with the site with the cultural heritage. And, in fact, he was arrested very shortly after.

    ISIS, soon after they took over the city, they rounded up hundreds of people they considered to be their enemies. They had lists of names ready and available for them, and Khaled al-Asaad was on that list and would have been — and was — we know was taken away then, and this is back a few months ago.

    GWEN IFILL: When did art and archaeology become political?

    AMR AL AZM: Archaeology, archaeological sites, cultural heritage have been a victim of war, at least in Syria, from quite early on, when the conflict in early 2012 changed from one of protests by civil society against the regime to an armed confrontation between regime and opposition.

    Once that happens, we immediately note a very steep rise in basically acts of violence against archaeological sites and monuments ranging from a very marked increase in looting to actually where the archaeological sites themselves become casualties of war because they’re on the front lines.

    And as the areas of conflict expanded in Syria, more and more sites were increasingly vulnerable and became sort of destroyed or damaged as a result of that conflict. And Palmyra is no different in that.

    GWEN IFILL: And what do we know tonight of the state of the 2,000-year-old UNESCO history site, protected site, the ruins, the Roman ruins? Do we know that they’re still intact?

    AMR AL AZM: In the case of Palmyra, they have decided that right now there’s no need to destroy it. In fact, they have said — we have heard, in fact, news from some of our contacts telling us that actually they’re not going to do anything to Palmyra because they see it as a prospective safe haven from the coalition airstrikes.

    No air coalition is going to strike a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. And this is not the only site they have done it too. They have done that in Resafa, near Raqqa. They have done in at Qalaat Jaabar on the Euphrates.

    So, you know, they’re very clever about how they use it. They loot what they can loot. They will destroy what they cannot sell or need to make a propaganda statement, and they will hide amongst what will give them safe sanctuary. They’re very versatile and very clever in how they use that.

    GWEN IFILL: Amr Al Azm, thank you so much for telling us about your friend.

    AMR AL AZM: Thank you.

    The post Destroy, sell, hide: How Islamic State exploits antiquities appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Khaled al-Assad

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: The world learned of another brutal Islamic State killing in Syria, this time, the victim an archaeologist who reportedly refused to give up his country’s famed artifacts.

    Alex Thomson of Independent Television News has this report.

    A warning: Some of the images may be disturbing.

    ALEX THOMSON: You cannot speak of Palmyra, they say, without speaking of Khaled Asaad, the father of this place who for 50 years researched and welcomed the people of the world, every creed and color, to what was for them a World Heritage Site.

    For Khaled Asaad, it was his home, his life, his trademark spectacles still peering into and unearthing Palmyra’s mysteries in his 82nd year.

    ALAA EBRAHIM, Journalist: He was very passionate about Palmyra as a city and as an archaeological site. And I urged him to leave actually towards — when ISIL took control of the city, and he refused.

    ALEX THOMSON: And that is the world-renowned scholar, the 82- year-old man whose beheaded body was left hanging from a lamppost. The placard accuses him of supporting idolatry and the Syrian government.

    I.S. fighters came for him a month ago along with his son. He was tortured. They wanted to know where the artifacts from the site had been hidden. I.S. sells them on to fund its war. Khaled Asaad apparently told them nothing.

    In a statement given to Channel 4 News, I.S. said: “Khaled Asaad was a member of the infidel Baath Party with ties to Christian scholars and Shiites. He also promoted the worship of statues. After he was arrested we offered him the chance to repent and pledge allegiance to the caliphate, but he refused.”

    I.S. took Palmyra in May. Locals remained and looked on as they took over, but the U.N. says around 70,000 others have fled. By June, I.S. had vowed not to destroy the vast Roman ruins. Instead, they set about detonating pre-Roman sites. A month later, in July, they were using the Roman Amphitheater, not wrecking it, using it for mass public executions.

    The post A protector of Syria’s ancient past executed by Islamic State militants appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    People play in the water at Coney Island in the Brooklyn section of New York on June 23, 2012. Photo by Eric Thayer/Reuters

    People play in the water at Coney Island in the Brooklyn section of New York on June 23, 2012. Photo by Eric Thayer/Reuters

    This past July will go down as Earth’s hottest month since records began in 1880, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday.

    NOAA’s latest data showed that the average global temperature in July was recorded at 61.86 degrees Fahrenheit, surpassing a previous high mark set in July 1998 by 0.14 degrees.

    NOAA’s data builds on the same conclusion that NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency reported days ago.

    Graphic provided by NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information

    Graphic provided by NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information


    With El Niño continuing to warm ocean waters, 2015 is on track to be the hottest year on record. Previously, 2014 held that title, NOAA climate scientist Jack Crouch told the Associated Press.

    The last decade has seen nine of the 10 hottest months on record, and the first seven months of 2015 made up the warmest January-July period on record.

    “Five months this year, including the past three, have been record warm for their respective months,” NOAA’s report said. Not to mention, last January was the second warmest January on record, and last April was the third warmest.

    Crouch told the AP these records confirm that the Earth is warming.

    The post July 2015 was Earth’s hottest month on record appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Activity in the trenches at the Ness of Brodgar dig site. Excavation this year was extended to 8 weeks with funding from an anonymous donor. Photo by Robert Scarth

    Activity in the trenches at the Ness of Brodgar dig site in July 2015. Excavation this year was extended to eight weeks with funding from an anonymous donor. Photo by Robert Scarth.

    KIRKWALL, Scotland — It’s been described as an outdoor cathedral of sorts, and to me that’s exactly how it feels.

    As I stand on this windswept bit of Orkney looking down at the Ness of Brodgar dig site, there’s a salty sea loch to my left, a freshwater loch to my right, and standing stones in front of and behind me. I can perfectly imagine why in 3,300 BC people might have flocked to this unique spot – this vast complex of buildings that was used for 1,000 years.

    The Orkney Islands are littered with a collection of world-famous archaeological sites. Skara Brae is a superbly preserved Neolithic hut settlement. Maeshowe is a chambered stone tomb, built so the midwinter sun shines along its low entrance hall. The Standing Stones of Stenness, one of the oldest henge sites in the British Isles, is just a stone’s throw away from “the Ness,” where I stand.

    Sheep graze among the Stones of Stenness, one of many Neolithic sites in Orkney. Just beyond the standing stones lies the Ness of Brodgar, a Neolithic complex without parallel in Western Europe. Photo by Lorna Baldwin.

    Sheep graze among the Stones of Stenness, one of many Neolithic sites in Orkney. Just beyond the standing stones lies the Ness of Brodgar, a Neolithic complex without parallel in Western Europe. Photo by Lorna Baldwin.

    The Neolithic site under excavation here has been called an archaeologist’s dream, filled with impeccable sandstone walls, paved walkways, slate roofs, painted walls and decorated stonework. It is also full of mystery. What did people do here some 5,000 years ago?

    Archaeologist Nick Card shows off a Neolithic carved stone slab unearthed from one of the 20 structures at the Ness of Brodgar, in Orkney, Scotland.  Photo by Lorna Baldwin.

    Archaeologist Nick Card shows off a Neolithic carved stone slab unearthed from one of the 20 structures at the Ness of Brodgar, in Orkney, Scotland. Photo by Lorna Baldwin.

    Nick Card, the dig director for the Archaeology Institute at the University of the Highlands and Islands, has been on a quest to answer that question since the dig site was discovered more than a decade ago. In 2012, during a lecture tour to the U.S., he sat down with the NewsHour to explain his work. At the time, he said the enclosure of 20-plus structures encircled by a massive wall likely had a religious function — something to do with life and death.

    Now, three years later, his understanding of the site’s function has shifted. Artifacts unearthed suggest that people traveled long distances to the imposing complex people to perform rituals, but also to feast, trade goods, gossip and celebrate.

    “This was a place where obviously everybody wanted to have representation for their community,” Card said. “And what you see is that they are almost competing with each other, each community. A lot of the buildings look like they’re built on a kind of similar theme, but they’re all different, and they all are kind of extravagant.”

    The Ness of Brodgar from the air in 2012. Photo courtesy Nick Card.

    The Ness of Brodgar from the air in 2012. Photo courtesy Nick Card.

    Anthropological records from Polynesia and other places support this idea of competition as a driving force — who could move the biggest stone, for example or who could feed the most people.

    “I think all too often the Neolithic is seen as this kind of hippiedom of prehistory,” Card said, “but there’s a growing amount of evidence to show that you see trauma, a lot of trauma, and disease in skeletons, and I think there was competition which occasionally spilled into not quite warfare but a bit of nastiness.”

    The Neolithic site under excavation here has been called an archaeologist’s dream, filled with impeccable sandstone walls, paved walkways, slate roofs, painted walls and decorated stonework.

    Alison Sheridan, the principal curator of Early Prehistory at the National Museums Scotland and an expert in the Neolithic and Bronze Age in Britain and Ireland, said the Ness of Brodgar contains some of Europe’s best constructed Neolithic stonework.

    “Orcadian society was not egalitarian, but instead markedly competitive,” she said. “Imagine prosperous farmers in the rich Orkney landscape, whose forebears had farmed successfully for a good 500 years there. Some groups or individuals wanted to be more powerful than others, and so they indulged in acts of competitive conspicuous consumption, like building tombs that were bigger, better and more elaborate than anything that had gone before.”

    The 'butterfly' motif is repeated on many stone slabs found at the Ness of Brodgar. Photo by Lorna Baldwin

    The ‘butterfly’ motif is repeated on many stone slabs found at the Ness of Brodgar. Photo by Lorna Baldwin

    As we talk at the edge of the site, Nick Card rolls and lights a cigarette in an effort to disperse the cloud of midges, or biting flies, that encircles us. He tells me about the decorated stonework found in every structure, more than 650 pieces in all. They include a cup and ring pattern known as the “Brodgar Eye,” along with a “butterfly” motif.

    “You get the repetition of certain designs,” he said. “It’s not like an alphabet, it’s not like writing, but at the same time it was there to transmit something, and whoever saw this equally understood that this meant something.”

    The dig site is covered with 5000 sandbags, tarps and tires to keep  out the cold and wind. Photo by Lorna Baldwin.

    The dig site is covered with 5,000 sandbags, tarps and tires to keep out the cold and wind. Photo by Lorna Baldwin.

    By the end of August, the site will be covered with tarps, 5,000 sandbags and stacks and stacks of tires to protect it from the elements. Until this year, the dig lasted six weeks in the summer. This year, through an anonymous donation, it was extended to eight weeks. Why such a short dig season, I ask.

    Funding, Card said.

    “But it’s not only the funding of the dig, it’s what the dig creates post-excavation, which costs an awful lot of money and even with the use of volunteers and students it still costs in the region of [$3,100] a day to run the site.”

    Some funding comes from the local Orkney Islands excavation fund, a bit more from Historic Scotland, but the bulk of money comes from public donations and charities, including the American Friends of the Ness of Brodgar.

    Americans play a prominent role in the dig effort. Willamette University in Salem, Oregon sends a group of undergraduates each summer. It was an American student who found a rare example of a carved stone ball — an intricate, asymmetrical, nubbed ball reminiscent of a prehistoric Rubik’s Cube.

    This summer, 20-year-old American student Tori Maatta from Pennsylvania helped excavate what’s been dubbed “Trench T”, a Neolithic dumpster, known as a “midden”.

    “Our midden threw every archaeologist on the islands for a loop,” Maatta said. “It turned out that we had a structure too.”

    Earlier geochemistry hadn’t turned up any evidence of a structure underneath, so it was a total surprise to the entire team when one appeared.

    University of Pittsburgh student Tori Maatta stands proudly in front of her find -- a stone drain running parallel to an interior wall. Photo courtesy Tori Maatta.

    University of Pittsburgh student Tori Maatta stands proudly in front of her find — a stone drain running parallel to an interior wall. Photo courtesy Tori Maatta.

    “I was evening out my section, thinking about the wall and what I wanted for dinner that night, when my trowel scraped along a long slab of particularly thin flagstones,” she said. “Enthusiastically, since I had found nothing ‘cool’ yet that day, I followed the slab and removed all of the soil from it. It ran parallel to a similar strip of stones about six inches away from it.” It was a drain — only the second to be found on the site.

    Only 10 percent of the complex is under excavation, leaving more mysteries to solve and a life’s work for Card and other archaeologists .

    If he could, Card said, “I’d dig all year round.”

    The post Keeping up with the Joneses, Neolithic Scotland edition appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Dr. Bryon Harbolt treats patient Barbara Kilgore in his Cathedral Canyon Clinic where he has been seeing her since 1984 in Altamont, Tennessee July 14, 2013. Harbolt, 89, who charges as little as $15 for an office visit, sees patients six days a week in the rural clinic he opened in 1960.  Photo taken July 14, 2013.     REUTERS/Harrison McClary  (UNITED STATES  - Tags: HEALTH SOCIETY) - RTX11NMW

    Dr. Bryon Harbolt treats patient Barbara Kilgore in his Cathedral Canyon Clinic where he has been seeing her since 1984 in Altamont, Tennessee July 14, 2013. Harbolt, 89, who charges as little as $15 for an office visit, sees patients six days a week in the rural clinic he opened in 1960. Photo taken July 14, 2013. REUTERS/Harrison McClary (UNITED STATES – Tags: HEALTH SOCIETY) – RTX11NMW

    WILLCOX, Ariz.— Ask Sam Lindsey about the importance of Northern Cochise Community Hospital and he’ll give you a wry grin. You might as well be asking the 77-year-old city councilman to choose between playing pickup basketball—as he still does most Fridays—and being planted six feet under the Arizona dust.

    Lindsey believes he’s above ground, and still playing point guard down at the Mormon church, because of Northern Cochise. Last Christmas, he suffered a severe stroke in his home. He survived, he said, because his wife, Zenita, got him to the hospital within minutes. If it hadn’t been there, she would have had to drive him 85 miles to Tucson Medical Center.

    There are approximately 2,300 rural hospitals in the U.S., most of them concentrated in the Midwest and the South. For a variety of reasons, many of them are struggling to survive. In the last five years, Congress has sharply reduced spending on Medicare, the federal health insurance program for the elderly, and the patients at rural hospitals tend to be older than those at urban or suburban ones. Rural hospitals in sparsely populated areas see fewer patients but still have to maintain emergency rooms and beds for acute care. They serve many people who are uninsured and can’t afford to pay for the services they receive.

    Several months ago, Northern Cochise sought to strengthen its chances for survival by joining an alliance with Tucson Medical Center and three other rural hospitals in southwestern Arizona. Together, the Southern Arizona Hospital Alliance is negotiating better prices on supplies and services. And the Tucson hospital has promised to help its rural partners with medical training, information technology and doctor recruitment.

    “We are committed to remaining autonomous for as long as we can,” said Jared Wilhelm, director of community relations at Northern Cochise. “We think this gives us the best leverage to do so.”

    Northern Cochise and the other rural hospitals in the alliance, which is similar to ones in Kansas, Mississippi, Washington state and Wisconsin, hope that by joining they will avoid the fate of 56 rural hospitals that have closed since 2010. Another 283 rural hospitals are in danger of closing, according to the National Rural Health Association (NRHA).

    Right now, some Arizonans in the region are learning what it’s like to lose a hospital. Cochise Regional Hospital, in Douglas, near the Mexican border, closed earlier this month, following Medicare’s decision to terminate payments because of repeated violations of federal health and safety rules. The hospital was part of a Chicago-based chain and its closing leaves Arizona residents in the far southeastern portion of the state up to 75 miles away from the closest hospital emergency room.

    Sam Lindsey shudders to think what a long drive to Tucson would have meant for him last Christmas.

    “If I’d have had to go 85 miles,” he said, “I don’t think I’d be here today.”

    Multiple Advantages

    The alliance offers the rural members multiple advantages. One of the most important is in purchasing. Their combined size will enable them to get discounts that are beyond them now. For example, instead of being a lone, 49-bed hospital with limited bargaining leverage, alliance member Mount Graham Regional Medical Center, in Safford, is suddenly part of a purchasing entity with more than 700 beds.

    “If I’m just Mount Graham and I’m going to buy one MRI every seven years, the sales people will say, ‘Oh, that’s very nice,’ ” said Keith Bryce, Mount Graham’s chief financial officer. “But as part of this alliance that they want to do regular business with, they are going to give us a much better price.”

    Bryce said that he expects the added purchasing power alone will save Mount Graham “in the six figures” every year.

    Similarly, the hospitals expect the combined size of the alliance to result in lower costs for employee benefits, workers’ compensation and medical malpractice insurance.

    The alliance also helps the rural hospitals recruit doctors and other medical providers, many of whom are reluctant to work, let alone live, in isolated areas. Rural hospitals rarely have the contacts and relationships that help urban hospitals find doctors. “We’ve been trying to recruit another primary care doctor to this community for the last year with no success,” said Rich Polheber, CEO of Benson Hospital, another alliance member.

    Tucson Medical Center has pledged to use its own recruiting muscle to help its rural partners find providers who are willing to live in rural areas, or at least regularly see patients there. As an incentive, Tucson will offer interested doctors help in managing the business aspects of their practices.

    The rural alliance members also want Tucson’s help with medical training and IT. Some have dipped into telemedicine, which is particularly valuable for rural hospitals underserved by specialists, and are looking to expand those efforts. Copper Queen Community Hospital, in Bisbee, the fourth rural member of the alliance and probably the rural hospital in the best financial shape, is the most advanced user of telemedicine. Its networks in cardiology, neurology, pulmonology and radiology can connect doctors and their patients to specialists at major institutions such as the Mayo Clinic and St. Luke’s Medical Center, in Phoenix.

    The alliance also will make it easier for patients who have surgery in Tucson to be transferred back to their home hospitals for recovery and rehabilitation, saving them and their families from traveling long distances.

    A Defensive Strategy

    Despite the numerous advantages for the rural partners, the idea for the alliance began with the Tucson hospital, which approached the others with the proposal last spring. At the outset, some of the rural hospitals were skeptical.

    “At first, we were like, ‘OK, so why are they doing this? What’s in it for them? Do they want to absorb us?’ ” said Bryce, the Mount Graham CFO.

    But after a series of meetings, the suspicions disappeared and the rural hospitals eagerly signed on.

    The Tucson hospital was frank about its motivation: to remain independent in an industry moving toward consolidation. As a result of acquisitions in the last few years, it is the last locally owned, independent hospital in Tucson.

    “All of a sudden, we were in a situation where [Tucson Medical Center] found itself isolated and facing its own competitive market pressures because the environment had so dramatically changed,” said Susan Willis, executive director of market development at the hospital and president of the new alliance.

    Nearly a quarter of Tucson’s patients come from outside the city, many from the areas served by the rural hospitals in the new alliance. Cementing the relationship with those hospitals, Willis said, will help Tucson maintain a flow of patients who need medical services that are beyond the capabilities of the rural hospitals. The rural members have laboratories, diagnostic equipment and therapeutic services, but some have little or no surgical or obstetrical services. Not one is equipped to perform complicated surgeries.

    “Certainly you could describe it as a defensive strategy,” Willis said.

    Decades of Pressure

    Many of the problems plaguing rural hospitals date to 1983, when Medicare began paying hospitals a set fee for medical services and procedures rather than reimbursing them for the actual costs of providing that care. From 1983 to 1998, 440 rural hospitals closed in the U.S., according to the NRHA. That prompted Medicare to begin reimbursing certain rural hospitals for their actual costs, which helped stabilize them.

    But the recession hit rural hospitals especially hard, as did 2011 budget cuts that reduced Medicare payments by 2 percent. Because the rural population tends to be older, rural hospitals rely heavily on Medicare payments. The pressure increased in 2012, when the federal government reduced by 30 to 35 percent its reimbursements to hospitals for Medicare patients who don’t cover their share of the bill.

    “That’s an example of how a little policy change that seems insignificant in Washington can have profound effects in the rural areas,” said Brock Slabach, NHRA’s senior vice president for member services.

    Finally, more insurance plans are increasing copayments and other out-of-pocket costs. Many of the patients at rural hospitals have low incomes. And when they can’t cover their costs, the hospitals have to pick up the tab. “We don’t have cash reserves,” said Polheber, the Benson Hospital CEO. “We live on the edge, day to day, week to week. [The alliance] seemed like the best way to keep us going.”

    Given the threats to the nation’s rural hospitals, many are eager to learn from any models that work, which is why the Arizona alliance has attracted notice.

    Slabach, for one, calls it a promising model, although one that may not be replicable everywhere. “You have to have willing partners willing to collaborate and provide assistance to each other,” he said. “You need partners that share a cultural fit with you.”

    The rural members of the alliance are major employers in their communities and assets in attracting other employers and residents, including the snowbirds, who flock to the area every winter. But hospital leaders, workers and patients say saving lives is the main reason the hospitals must remain open.

    “In medicine, distance lessens the chances of survival,” said Pam Noland, director of nursing at Northern Cochise. “Even if a patient has to be transferred to [Tucson Medical Center] or somewhere else, stabilizing them here is the difference between life and death.”

    This copyrighted story comes from Stateline, the daily news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

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    Editor’s Note: “Don’t buy this jacket.”

    Those words are awfully counterintuitive for a business that makes and sells clothing, but outdoor clothing company Patagonia ran that directive as part of a widespread ad campaign. “We want to do the opposite of every other business today,” its website reads. “We ask you to buy less and to reflect before you spend a dime on this jacket or anything else.”

    Indeed, Patagonia has fashioned itself as anti-consumption and green, going as far as to offer free repairs to reduce its footprint.

    At one of its repair centers, economics correspondent Paul Solman spoke with Cathy Averett, a clothing repair technician for Patagonia. Averett was part of a Patagonia team of tailors that took a “worn wear” bus tour across the country, fixing up beat-up jackets at stops along the way. She spoke to Paul about her conversion to Patagonia’s way of thinking.

    TELLURIDE, CO - JULY 7, 2014: A Patagonia store is among the several shops catering to outdoor enthusiasts in Telluride, Colorado. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

    Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images

    Paul’s conversation with Averett has been edited and condensed for clarity and length below. Tune into tonight’s Making Sen$e, which airs every Thursday on the NewsHour, to learn more about this company’s unusual business model.

    Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor


    Cathy Averett: I am going to patch a pair of corduroy pants that I got today. Are you guys sitting down? Because this is pretty horrifying. So I cut a piece of fabric off some old corduroy jeans that we had here. Now I’m just trying to go with the grain.

    Paul Solman: Now I’ve had probably hundreds of pairs of corduroys, pretty much that color, actually, in the course of my life. It has never occurred to me to get them fixed.

    Cathy Averett: I get that. I do too. I have a bunch of them at home and now that I’ve worked here, I know that it can be done. But it does take some patience, andwe just don’t slap a patch on and we’re done. We actually do surgery. I feel like I’m Dr. Averett sometimes. And it’s kind of challenging, and it’s fun. It’s like a puzzle.

    Paul Solman: But the only reason I can imagine for getting them patched as opposed to buying a new pair of corduroys is it’s like a badge of honor or something.

    Cathy Averett: That’s a great way to think of it. Wouldn’t you like to have a closet full of clothes that had all these badges all over them? You have some kind of memory attached to this pair of pants. Or this shirt or jacket, you know? So when I get something like this, I do my best to make it kind of special. It doesn’t look new but so what. I don’t look new anymore. It’s okay.

    Paul Solman: And are you a champion of the Patagonia way: buy less so that we have a cleaner planet?

    Cathy Averett: I’m going to tell you the truth. When I first started here I was excitedoh, Patagonia man, they’ve got good stuff, I bet they’ve got a good employee discount, I can’t wait to work here. I could never afford to buy it. I thought I could get me some Patagonia. And I did, I started buying some Patagonia. I have a few pieces now. But after I went on the worn wear tour, I’ve changed my way of thinking. I cleaned out my closet, and I was so surprised. I had a mountain of clothes that I did not wear. And I thought, I’m only going to buy what I need. I’m not going to have all this extra stuff. It doesn’t make sense. So yeah, I’m a believer. I walk the walk. Talk the talk.

    Paul Solman: What’s your favorite story from the tour you did?

    Cathy Averett: My favorite stop was at Smith Rock Park in Oregon. Not only was it just spectacularly beautiful, and I couldn’t have wished to sew in a better spot in the world, but I had this opportunity to meet Patagonia climbing ambassador Mikey Schaefer. And he brought with him this jacket, this coat. I have it with me. The condition of this jacket was the absolutely worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It had all these black sewn-on patches, like I can’t even explain it, it was so ugly. And he says, this jacket went to that peak on the Patagonia label. It went to Fitzroy. He says he was climbing up the mountain, and this guy, this young man, was climbing down wearing this jacket, all nasty, tore-up, beat-up. And Mikey had a brand new Patagonia jacket. Mikey’s a nice guy, so he felt for the guy, and he says I’ll trade you. So Mikey gives him his new jacket, and he takes the old beat-up one. And he brings it to us at the event at Smith Rock Park. I don’t think he intended for us to fix it. But I was so inspired by that story that I said, “You know what Mikey, I’m going to give it nine more lives. I’m going to bring it home. I’m going to tune this son of a gun up.” I did one arm already. But it took me a long time. So it might be a few more months.

    Paul Solman: Wait a minute, you’re doing this on your own time?

    Cathy Averett: Yeah, I am. I call it my labor of love. I promised him I’d do it. I’m doing it. If it’s the last thing I do on this earth, this thing is going to get done.

     

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    Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio. Photo courtesy of Sinclair Community College.

    Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio. Photo courtesy of Sinclair Community College.

    This piece was produced by Inside Higher Ed, a free, daily online publication covering the fast-changing world of higher education.

    Few colleges have signed onto the national college completion agenda with as much vigor as Sinclair Community College. And while national graduation rates have seen only a slow inching up, Sinclair has managed a big jump.

    The two-year college, in Dayton, Ohio, first began working to improve student success in a systematic way back in 2000. That was when Sinclair was picked by the League for Innovation in the Community College as one of its Vanguard Learning Colleges — a recognition of institutions that made “learner-centric” completion a central goal.

    Since then Sinclair has tried over 100 completion-related projects, ranging from participation in Completion by Design to making new student orientation mandatory and conducting interventions in local high schools.

    graduation-gap“Every department on campus is focused on increasing student completion,” said Kathleen Cleary, Sinclair’s associate provost for student success, a position the college created in 2011.

    However, the college has begun pruning its student success portfolio, to sharpen its focus and concentrate on what works. One recent trim has been its participation in Achieving the Dream, a national nonprofit with more than 200 community college members.

    The college’s various completion initiatives fit into seven categories, Cleary said. They include teaching and learning, student engagement, K-12 partnerships, student orientation and advising, career exploration and workforce connections, streamlining the pathway to a degree and student support services. Last June Sinclair released a completion plan that describes the various pieces and overarching strategy.

    Related: A Texas-sized experiment is personalizing remedial math education

    “They’re doing everything,” said Mark Milliron, a former official with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and president of WGU Texas. Milliron is a co-founder and chief learning officer at Civitas Learning, a student-success oriented company that offers predictive analytics to colleges, which Sinclair uses.

    The time, effort and money — much of it coming from foundations like Gates — is paying off.

    Sinclair, an urban college that enrolls about 24,000 students, created its own metric to track completion rates. It looked at three groups of students during five-year periods after they first enrolled.

    Less than a third of students who enrolled in 1999 earned degrees or certificates, transferred or were still enrolled in good standing and making progress toward a credential by 2003. However, that number rose to 56 percent for the group of students Sinclair tracked between 2009 and 2013, a 75 percent increase (see chart, below).

    Sinclair graph(1)Sinclair has had stable, committed leadership for a long time. Steven L. Johnson arrived at Sinclair as chief operating officer 15 years ago. He became president three years later, in 2002. That continuity is a big plus for making graduation rate improvements, said several experts on student completion.
    The college also has had outside funding for some of its student success work.

    “They were supported by foundations to come into Achieving the Dream,” said Carol Lincoln, a senior vice president for the nonprofit completion group. “They’ve got a resource base that’s quite different than other institutions.”

    Even so, Sinclair has made unusual progress.

    Nationwide, the percentage of adults who hold college credentials only increased 2.1 percentage points between 2008 and 2013, to 40 percent, according to the Lumina Foundation. And the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center said only 39 percent of community college students who first enrolled in 2008 earned a college credential by 2014.

    Amicable Split

    After 15 years, Sinclair has reached a rare form of maturity in its approach to student success. As evidence of this shift, the college has begun contemplating how to pare back, by eliminating some completion-related programs so it can focus on others.

    “We haven’t always been good at stopping,” Cleary said.

    That’s hardly unique in higher education, which is an additive industry. Ask a college president which programs he or she has cut in recent years and you’re likely to hear a dodge or a long-winded version of “none.”

    As a result, some faculty members complain of “initiative fatigue,” which can also be a big drain on institutional research departments.

    “You have to have focus,” said Josh Wyner, vice president and executive director of the College Excellence Program at the Aspen Institute. “You need a real commitment to analysis of what works.”

    A notable example of Sinclair making hard choices to cut back is its recent decision to suspend its formal relationship with Achieving the Dream.
    The split was amicable. But it was still disappointing to Achieving the Dream, said Lincoln.

    Achieving the Dream’s 200 community college members pay dues to participate in data-driven completion work. The group seeks to help colleges make deep, lasting changes to help more students get to the finish line.

    Sinclair signed up in 2004, as one of Achieving the Dream’s second group of participants. Since then Achieving the Dream has recognized Sinclair as a “leader” college for its progress.

    “They felt like they had been in long enough that they had learned what to do,” Lincoln said of Sinclair. “What they’re doing is really impressive.”

    One reason for the departure, Cleary said, was that the group requires colleges to report a large amount of data on an annual basis. Sinclair currently is required to send similar data reports to the feds, the Ohio Board of Regents, and local and national foundations.

    “In an environment where we have to use resources as efficiently as possible, it did not make sense for us to continue to commit financial human resources to writing reports and providing data on an annual basis for Achieving the Dream,” Cleary said via email. “Our current student success work has benefited greatly from our early work with Achieving the Dream and we will continue to share learning with the AtD network as opportunities arise.”

    Related: Effort to increase graduation ends late registration in Nevada

    Both the college and Achieving the Dream said they plan to maintain ties. For example, Cleary will speak at one of the group’s events this year.

    Some community colleges have taken a break and later returned to participating in Achieving the Dream, including New Mexico’s Santa Fe Community College, and Big Bend Community College, which is located in Washington.

    “There’s a rhythm to these things,” said Lincoln, who added that colleges should regularly reassess which projects they do. “That’s the way you can decide what works and what doesn’t work.”

    Sinclair has nixed other completion initiatives, sometimes because of lackluster results.

    For example, Cleary said the college dropped its experimentation with learning communities — where students work together in group-based learning.
    “Maybe we just didn’t resource them the right way,” she said. “It wasn’t working. We pulled the plug.”

    That sort of sober honesty appears to have helped with faculty buy-in to the college’s completion push.

    Mike Oaster is an assistant professor who teaches emergency medical services and leads Sinclair’s Faculty Senate. He says the college has avoided initiative fatigue and been able to make serious changes in part because faculty members know the completion projects aren’t about chasing fads.

    Sinclair’s approach is “not one where we thought the money was going to go away after a couple years,” he said.

    For example, the college has worked to reduce the number of credits students must complete in order to earn an associate degree. Now degrees require 60-65 credits, which is fewer than at many two-year colleges.

    Cutting credit requirements is not an easy task, and can require the reduction of classes. That can be scary to instructors, Oaster said.
    “You’re sawing on a limb and you’re still sitting on it,” he said.

    But Oaster said faculty members had confidence in Sinclair’s administrators during that process, believing the goal wasn’t about eliminating faculty jobs.
    “It’s working,” he said of the credit reduction work. “We’re getting more people through at a quicker clip.”

    It wasn’t always so. Johnson, Sinclair’s president, said Vanguard and other completion efforts were controversial back in the day.

    The shift happened around 2005. Unflattering graduation numbers from participation in Achieving the Dream helped create some urgency, Johnson said. And, just as important, after a few years the national projects became integrated into the college’s day-to-day work.

    That was the “breakthrough,” said Johnson, where the “not invented here” resistance to projects faded away. “These national partners became a part of us.”

    Show Me the Data

    Sinclair’s completion push isn’t just altruistic. Its leadership and faculty realize that pressure from lawmakers to improve graduation rates isn’t going away.

    In Ohio, as in a growing number of states, colleges now are funded in part based on a formula that factors in completion. Likewise, the Obama administration wants to tie federal funding to performance measures as part of its pending ratings system.

    In some ways, Sinclair’s refocusing mirrors that of the Gates Foundation. After seven years of work on completion goals, the mega-foundation announced a set of four policy priorities based on lessons learned from its grant making. Gates also is working on performance metrics it will require colleges to use as part of completion-oriented grant projects.

    As state governments, foundations and feds get more aggressive about trying to hold colleges accountable, Sinclair is leaning on Civitas and other data-intensive tools to figure out what works best.

    For example, the college is a participant in the Predictive Analytics Reporting (PAR) Framework. The nonprofit group began as a project the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education managed, largely with funding from Gates. It recently spun off into an independent nonprofit.

    The group provides student retention information, based on a huge amount of data points, for its more than 350 participating campuses, ranging from community colleges to research universities. For example, it helps colleges figure out what obstacles prevent students from graduating, and why. Members can compare data across institutions, too.

    The goal of the work is to find causation in what is most effective in student interventions, said Russ Little, the PAR Framework’s chief innovation officer, who previously worked at Sinclair. Being able to control for student characteristics is an important feature, he said.

    Colleges can use it to figure out if there are “interventions that work for different groups better than others,” Little said.

    Sinclair has used PAR and other sources of data to try to better understand the impact of its student success work, Cleary said. For example, early numbers were promising for My Academic Plan (MAP), a student advising effort that combines prescriptive advice for students about their path through an academic program with technology-supported record keeping.

    The data showed that students who received one of the plans were 3.4 times more likely to stay in college than were those who didn’t. They were also twice as likely to earn a credential.

    “As a result of these and other early metrics, the college redesigned its academic advising system,” said Cleary. “All new students are now assigned an academic adviser who creates an individualized MAP for them and follows their progress to the completion of their credential.”

    The completion work is ongoing at Sinclair. After all, almost half of its students are still dropping out before they graduate or transfer. But both faculty members and administrators said they are excited about having moved the needle so far.

    “It’s terrific,” said Cleary. “We’re proud to be from Sinclair.”

    Inside Higher Ed is a free, daily online publication covering the fast-changing world of higher education.

    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.

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  • 08/20/15--14:57: Watch the PBS NewsHour live
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    GWEN IFILL: Now to our weekly feature Brief But Spectacular.

    Tonight, we hear from Jason Dunn of Made In Space, a company based out of Singularity University, the California-based firm responsible for making the first 3-D printer to operate out of this world.

    JASON DUNN, Made In Space: I think that, in our lifetime, everybody we know will have a chance to go to space.

    It’s really hard to do space exploration today, because we are dependent on bringing everything on rockets from the surface of the planet. So, what we started working on was the idea of 3-D printing in space and in fact just building the things you need wherever you need it.

    Today’s version of space exploration is like a camping trip. We bring everything we need with us, and, if something goes wrong, we go back home really quick or we call home and ask for some help.

    So if we want to go live on Mars one day or go back to the moon and set up a base, we need to learn how to be self-sufficient in the way we explore space.

    Figuring out how to make a 3-D printer work in zero gravity was one of the most difficult parts. We got to take our 3-D printers into an aircraft that flies acrobatic maneuvers in the sky. You get a little period of weightlessness and you actually float inside of the airplane.

    Everything is falling into place that we can actually send people to Mars and to the moon and to the asteroids, that we can build entirely new worlds of our own like large space stations. And that’s really the vision, is that we have the entire universe at our disposal to go out and explore.

    Growing up in Florida was — for me, it was a lot about exploration. I lived on the Gulf of Mexico. I had my own boat. I spent most of my days exploring mangrove swamps and estuaries and things like that.

    Space is like the ocean that I grew up sitting on the edge of, and I feel like, as humanity, we’re on this — like, the surface of the planet, which is like the shore, and we’re ready to now finally go out and see what’s out in the ocean.

    My name is Jason Dunn, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on why our future will be made in space.

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    patagonia

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: a look at a seemingly counterintuitive business model.

    Economics correspondent Paul Solman goes inside an American clothing company that has been growing rapidly, while marketing itself as an anti-growth business.

    It’s part of our weekly series Making Sense, which airs every Thursday on the NewsHour.

    WOMAN: Are you guys sitting down, because this is pretty horrifying. OK? Dog bite? Shark attack?

    PAUL SOLMAN: Seamstress Cathy Averett couldn’t care less.

    CATHY AVERETT, Patagonia: When I get something like this, I do my best to make it kind of special, you know? It doesn’t look new, but so what, OK? I don’t look new anymore. It’s OK.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Averett stitches for Patagonia, the outdoor clothing company high-end enough to have earned the nickname Patagucci. Downstairs, the company’s Reno, Nevada, warehouse and distribution center sends its garments hither and yon, to be worn by rock and mountain climbers, skiers and snowboarders, surfers, trail runners, or folks who just want to dress as if they do all that stuff.

    And each day, some of those clothes make their way back to Reno, to what’s billed as the largest clothing rehab facility in North America.

    WOMAN: They mess them up and we fix them up.

    (LAUGHTER)

    DOUG FREEMAN, Chief Operating Officer, Patagonia: Behind me are 55 people extending the life of our product for our customers.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Doug Freeman is Patagonia’s chief operating officer.

    DOUG FREEMAN: We want our customers to invest in great product, and when it’s worn out, we want to repair it for them.

    PAUL SOLMAN: It doesn’t sound economical for the company.

    DOUG FREEMAN: I can understand why you would say that. But the way we view it is that we want to reduce consumption.

    PAUL SOLMAN: That’s what makes Patagonia so odd, a supposedly anti-consumption corporation. Since its founding in 1973, it’s always had a so-called ironclad guarantee, including free repairs. But, recently, the company ramped up its promotion of that pledge, with a cross-country Worn Wear bus tour, biodiesel-fueled, of course, tailors reviving garments at stops along the way.

    And though it spends little on advertising, Patagonia donates more than twice as much to environmental causes.

    LISA PIKE SHEEHY, Environmental Programs Director, Patagonia: We give away 1 percent of sales each year to grassroots environmental organizations around the world.

    PAUL SOLMAN: The company is always on message, as in a famous full-page New York Times ad: “Don’t Buy This Jacket.”

    MAN: It seems kind of oxymoronic.

    PAUL SOLMAN: It certainly does. In fact, sales are booming, up 25 to 30 percent a year since that ad ran.

    But we wanted to know, is this just a sales gimmick? So we went to the new Patagonia store in New York City’s SoHo district, which boasts its own repair center, and, in keeping with the reduce/reuse/recycle ethos, features wood beams salvaged from the former Domino sugar factory and marble counters reclaimed from the renovation of the Museum of Modern Art.

    Turns out customers like yoga instructor Kim Larkin buy into don’t buy this jacket.

    KIM LARKIN, Yoga Instructor: It’s intriguing, because nobody is saying that. Everybody wants you to buy their stuff.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But are you less or more likely to buy something once you have been told not to buy it?

    KIM LARKIN: I think I’m more likely to buy it.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Why?

    KIM LARKIN: Because it feels like it’s against consumerism in some way.

    PAUL SOLMAN: So what’s going on? Well, according to Patagonia, if you buy stuff that lasts, and gets revived, so it will last even longer, well, in the long run, less stuff will get made and consumed.

    DOUG FREEMAN: We hope our existing customers do indeed buy less. But we hope to attract more customers that are interested in our message: to build the best product, to reduce our impact and cause the least amount of environmental harm.

    PAUL SOLMAN: The way you could really reduce the company’s footprint is by not selling any product at all.

    DOUG FREEMAN: Sure, but if we can show the business community that we’re successful, we think we’re holding ourselves as a great example for how business can be done differently.

    PAUL SOLMAN: So you’re trying to knock off all the competitors out there who are making throwaway products, essentially?

    DOUG FREEMAN: That’s right.

    PAUL SOLMAN: So that’s the message. And it’s certainly working.

    Thirty-year old Rich Daniel is an aspiring men’s fashion designer who would like to emulate Patagonia’s less-is-more philosophy.

    MAN: I think this Patagonia campaign is definitely a part of a bigger movement, fewer, better things. I’m not interested in disposable fashion.

    PAUL SOLMAN: In fact, he was shopping for a Patagonia jacket to replace one his parents had bought him when he 15.

    But do you feel at all as if you’re being kind of suckered? Don’t buy this jacket, and yet please buy the jacket.

    MAN: Sure. I mean, their goal is to sell clothes, no matter what it takes. But I know that I’m going to have something that’s going to last me a really long time.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Could the company be accused of conning the customer?

    District manager Betsy Pantazelos.

    And, in the end, there is more consumerism, not less?

    BETSY PANTAZELOS, District Manager, Patagonia: I think not only can that be said. I think people have said that. But at the end of the day, this is really, truly who we are, and we’re trying to invent a different approach to economics and to consumerism, and that we recognize we just need to start having a conversation.

    PAUL SOLMAN: OK, let’s grant the company the benefit of the doubt.

    But how, in short-term, Wall Street-driven corporate America, have they gotten away with a long-term strategy?

    Founder Yvon Chouinard, whom we were unable to interview because he was fly-fishing, told an environmental forum recently that, because Patagonia is privately held, he’s free to reject traditional corporate values.

    YVON CHOUINARD, Founder, Patagonia: The problem with a lot of public companies is that they’re forced to grow 15 percent a year. They’re forced to show profits every quarter. There’s not one public company that will voluntarily restrict their growth for the sake of saving the planet.

    PAUL SOLMAN: In fact, Chouinard has taken legal steps to try to prevent Patagonia from ever going public.

    But what’s so curious to observers is that Patagonia, by voluntarily restricting growth, has fueled more growth.

    YVON CHOUINARD: So, I am faced with this growth thing. We could be a billion-dollar company in a very few years. And I — it’s not something I ever wanted or even want.
    TIMMY O’NEILL, Rock Climber: So don’t buy this jacket, yes. Do you really need it?

    PAUL SOLMAN: The Worn Wear truck’s latest stop: a music festival at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, Massachusetts.

    Renowned rock climber Timmy O’Neill is another Patagonia marketing ploy: not a pitchman, but a brand ambassador.

    TIMMY O’NEILL: It’s not: Hi. I’m Timmy O’Neill. Buy this jacket. It’s: Hi. I’m Timmy O’Neill. Get outside and experience wilderness.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And he seems to mean it, as does clothing rehab artist Cathy Averett.

    CATHY AVERETT: I’m going to tell you the truth, OK? When I first started here, I was excited. I’m going, ooh, Patagonia, man, they got good stuff. I bet they got a good employee discount.

    But after I went on the Worn Wear tour, I have changed my way of thinking. I’m only going to buy what I need.

    PAUL SOLMAN: This is economics correspondent Paul Solman, reporting for the PBS NewsHour from Reno, Nevada, where old clothes go to live another day.

    The post How a clothing company’s anti-consumerist message boosted business appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    RETHINKING COLLEGE

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    GWEN IFILL: Next, we continue our series Rethinking College: Closing the Graduation Gap.

    Tonight, Hari Sreenivasan looks at an effort in Florida to redefine the mission of community college.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: For years, college students like Shanae Mullings have had the odds stacked against them. As a first-generation American from a low-income family with no college experience, Mullings is a statistical long shot to graduate from a four-year university.

    SHANAE MULLINGS, University of Central Florida Student: I really just want to make sure I get a stable living, so I can support myself, support my family, this — just be that difference.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But a unique agreement on two campuses in her hometown of Orlando may dramatically improve her chances.

    This January, Mullings was able to transfer from community college to the University of Central Florida. The agreement, called DirectConnect, guarantees these Valencia Community College students who earn a two-year associate’s degree to admission to UCF

    University of Central Florida’s president John Hitt:

    JOHN HITT, President, University of Central Florida: Their success in earning that degree convinces us that they’re a good bet for admission to UCF. So, we take all of them.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: DirectConnect tackles a tough problem in higher education. While the majority of college freshmen in America today begin at two-year community colleges, their credits often don’t transfer to four-year institutions. In fact, nearly one in seven community college students lose 90 percent of their credits when they transfer to a four-year institution.

    SANDY SHUGART, President, Valencia College: It houses our partnership with the University of Central Florida.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The idea of DirectConnect came from Sandy Shugart, president of Valencia, who says community colleges should be seen as a stepping-stone.

    SANDY SHUGART: We are not a destination. Most colleges want to think of themselves as a destination, come here, and we will make you happy and we will be your alma mater forever. We’re not a destination. We’re a bridge. I want to be the best bridge we can be.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: UCF president John Hitt says universities need to open their doors to more community college graduates.

    JOHN HITT: There is some still something of an abiding prejudice against the graduates of many community colleges.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Both men were motivated by a desire to diversify Orlando’s economy. Much of the region’s labor force works in low-wage tourism and hospitality jobs.

    JOHN HITT: If you ask the question how is social mobility attained in the U.S., it is predominantly through gaining higher education. We have got to do a better job of making education available to people from all income groups.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: A dream of a better life brought student Alexandrea Castro to Valencia’s community college campus.

    ALEXANDREA CASTRO, Valencia College Student: It’s right here on a silver platter for me. Why not — why wouldn’t I take it, because, in the end, I’m only benefiting myself?

    SANDY SHUGART: A third of our economy here is fairly low-wage and service-oriented. Part of our mission is to find those people, equip them and let them move on. There is nothing wrong with a $9- or $10-an-hour job in the service industries, if it’s your first job. If it’s your last job, there is a problem, because you can’t sustain a family on it.

    WOMAN: Everybody understand how to upload a file?

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Other states have similar programs, but what makes DirectConnect so valuable is the guarantee of a university not far from home. That’s important to community college students, the majority of whom are commuters.

    In Alexandrea Castro’s case, she lives at home to help with younger siblings while her mother works.

    ALEXANDREA CASTRO: I take morning classes, so that even with — even when I’m on the bus, I come home to them on time. And then, you know, I make them lunch or dinner. I will check their homework. I will take them to baths. Then I have time to do my homework. And then I go to sleep. And it’s just — so, like, I’m helping her out.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Using DirectConnect, community college students pay thousands of dollars less than students who start the University of Central Florida as freshmen. So, what does UCF get out of the DirectConnect deal? Diversity.

    In the past five years, the number of Hispanic students earning bachelor’s degrees has jumped 134 percent. The number of graduating black students has nearly doubled.

    JOHN HITT: If they’re the first in their family to get a degree, it not only changes their life, but then the chance that their children will go to college and graduate goes up enormously.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Shanae Mullings believes a bachelor’s degree will protect her from the financial insecurities she faced growing up.

    SHANAE MULLINGS: We lived in an apartment. It was very frugal living. Like, sometimes, you know, maybe like something might get cut off, the electricity cut off. I don’t want to live my life like that, like having to borrow. I want to be able to support myself.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But should community college students feel compelled to pursue a four-year degree?

    MICHELLE WEISE, Clayton Christensen Institute: We have the sort of mantra that says college is the gateway to social mobility. And I think, in the past, you were able to enter into the middle class more assuredly. Now it’s just not the case.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Michelle Weise, who tracks higher education issues for the Clayton Christensen Institute, says the push for bachelor’s degrees may be an expensive and unnecessary pursuit.

    MICHELLE WEISE: There is stuff in between the two-year and four-year degree. Those are things that we should think about in terms of leaders for social mobility. In terms of wage earnings, it’s actually probably a better idea for those students to get a professional certification or certificate instead.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Weise says certificates, many sponsored by employers, can lead to good-paying jobs.

    MICHELLE WEISE: Web development, logistics, and supply chain management, big data and data analytics, these are all things where they’re trying to create this pipeline of students who can immediately get recruited into jobs, once they finish, sometimes a six- to 12-week program.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Nationally, 80 percent of students entering community college say they want a four-year degree. But only 17 percent actually succeed.

    For their part, Valencia Community College transfers are earning degrees at four times the national rate.

    SANDY SHUGART: Our transfer students represent almost a fourth of all the graduates at the second largest public university in America. At the point of graduation, they’re graduating with virtually the same GPA.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Shanae Mullings plans to be one of those graduates.

    SHANAE MULLINGS: My parents like knowing that I can support myself, that I have — went and got higher education. So they’re very proud of me.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: From Orlando, Florida, I’m Hari Sreenivasan for the PBS NewsHour.

    The post How community colleges can help close the graduation gap appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    On Thursday, Britain witnessed its first ever strike by migrants. It was called by a group of Polish immigrants who are pushing back at being blamed for Britain’s economic problems. The stoppage is a European version of the Great American Boycott of 2006, organized predominantly by Latin Americans in the U.S., who wanted to underline their importance to the country. The UK action was smaller than expected and split many members of the community as some Poles thought the action would do more harm than good. In the latest of his reports on migration in Europe, special correspondent Malcolm Brabant examines the relationship between the immigrant workers and the country they’d like to call home.

    The post Why Polish migrants decided to strike in the UK appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A radiologist examines breast X-rays after a regular cancer prevention medical check-up at a radiology center in Nice, November 5, 2012.      REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (FRANCE - Tags: HEALTH SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) - RTR3A0O1

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: There was other big news today related to cancer.

    A study published in “The Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology” found that women given lumpectomies and mastectomies as treatment for very early-stage breast cancer had similar survival rates to those patients who had less radical cancer treatments. Those findings may call into question some of the standard assumptions on how to treat the disease.

    For a closer look at the study and its potential implications, we turn to two cancer specialists. Dr. Steven Narod is a researcher at the Women’s College Research Institute in Toronto. He was the study’s lead author. And Dr. Monica Morrow is chief breast cancer surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

    Dr. Morrow, Dr. Narod, welcome to you both.

    I’m going to start with you, Dr. Narod.

    On this study, we did read that it’s the most extensive collection of data ever analyzed on this particular type of cancer. Boil down the findings for us.

    DR. STEVEN NAROD, Women’s College Research Institute: We focused on 100,000 women with the earliest form of cancer. Some say it’s not even cancer. It’s a precursor lesion. We call it DCIS, or ductal carcinoma in situ.

    So, this, because it’s a very good prognosis, we followed the 100,000 women for up to 20 years and we found that, at 20 years, about 3 percent of them had died of breast cancer. Roughly a third of the patients were treated with lumpectomy alone, which is removing the DCIS, the focus of cancer. One-third of the patients, probably, had a lumpectomy plus radiotherapy, and one-third of the patients approximately had the entire breast removed through mastectomy.

    And what we found, that there was no difference in the survival at 20 years between women treated with any of the three ways.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What is the — you said one-third, one-third, one-third. What do these findings tell you that the treatment should be?

    DR. STEVEN NAROD: Well, it tells us about — something about the early stages of breast cancer.

    The reason I say that is because, of those 3 percent of the women who died of breast cancer, most of them, 54 percent of them, between the time they had DCIS and the time they had a distant recurrence or a metastatic disease, never experienced another breast — cancer in the breast.

    So, that leads me to think that when that DCIS was removed by the surgeon, it had already spread around the breast and it took years, up to 20 years, in order for those cells that had spread to flourish and to be metastatic and to ultimately cause the breast cancer death.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, just to quickly interpret what you’re saying and to turn to Dr. Morrow, it sounds as if what we’re hearing and what the article says, Dr. Morrow, is that these findings would suggest that a minimal treatment is going to be just as effective as the maximal treatment. What’s your interpretation?

    DR. MONICA MORROW, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: Well, I’m not necessarily sure the article says that.

    I think a critical finding of this study is how good the prognosis for DCIS is, and women should be reassured, because we know that women with DCIS estimate their risk of dying of breast cancer to be as high as 30 percent. And this study says that’s just simply not true.

    I think what it does tell us is that, to date, physicians have been pretty good at selecting low-risk DCIS, which can be treated minimally with lumpectomy alone. I think it says we should think hard about expanding the indications for minimal treatment.

    But I think it’s also important for women to be aware that we can only say there is nothing there but DCIS after we have removed the entire area. Thirty percent of women who are — or — sorry — 20 percent of women who are diagnosed as having DCIS on a needle biopsy will actually be found to have invasive cancer when you remove the entire area.

    So the idea that you can do nothing at all for DCIS and end up with the same extremely favorable outcomes that Dr. Narod reports remains to be proven and should be the subject of future research perhaps.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And I just want to clarify again for our audience who is watching, we’re throwing around the term DCIS, which, again, most — it stands for the least advanced stage of cancer, also known as stage zero.

    So, Dr. Narod, how — are you — you heard what Dr. Morrow said, that she doesn’t believe the treatment should change as a result of this study. Are you saying something different should be done, that women should wait if they have a very early-stage breast cancer?

    DR. STEVEN NAROD: No, and, certainly, I defer to Dr. Morrow, who is a practicing surgeon, of which I’m not.

    What I do say, though, is there are two clear goals of treatment for DCIS, and those are separate goals. The first goal, the one that we have been accustomed to and the one we have always prioritized, is to prevent a new breast cancer event or recurrence.

    If the goal is to prevent the breast cancer death, then we found no benefit from the radiotherapy and no benefit from the mastectomy, from the more extensive surgery.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, let me just go back to Dr. Morrow.

    So, Dr. Morrow, what should a woman watching this who is — you know, has to make a decision, or a woman who has had the more radical treatment in the past and is now wondering if she should have had it, what are these women to think now?

    DR. MONICA MORROW: Well, I think women who have had radical treatment can be reassured that they have an extremely high probability of not dying of the DCIS that they have been treated for, and that’s a very good position to be in. We can’t always say that for radical treatment of invasive breast cancer.

    For women who are looking at treatment today, though, I think they have the opportunity to ask the surgeon who is counseling them, what are my options, what are the factors that suggest I might benefit from more aggressive treatment? If you’re not given options, that’s a good time to seek a second opinion.

    The other thing I say is that, although death was the primary end point of this story, for many women, recurrence in the breast, even if it’s not associated with death, is a psychologically devastating complication that they would like to seek additional treatment to avoid.

    And there, I think a person’s individual values is important in deciding what is right for her to do.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, as you said at the outset, what every woman should do is to certainly have a very close conversation with her own physician. And we will leave it on that note.

    And we want to thank both of you, Dr. Monica Morrow and Dr. Steven Narod. We appreciate it.

    DR. MONICA MORROW: Thank you.

    DR. STEVEN NAROD: Thank you very much.

    The post Study raises questions about treatment for early breast cancer appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter  (C) takes questions from the media during a news conference about his recent cancer diagnosis and treatment plans, as his grandson Jason Carter (R) listens on, at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia August 20, 2015. Carter said on Thursday he will start radiation treatment for cancer on his brain later in the day. Carter, 90, said he will cut back dramatically on his schedule to receive treatment every three weeks after doctors detected four spots of melanoma on his brain following recent liver cancer surgery. REUTERS/John Amis - RTX1OYC8

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    GWEN IFILL: But, first, we turn to former President Jimmy Carter’s cancer diagnosis. The 90-year-old revealed today he has spots of melanoma on his brain. He talked about life, faith and the course of the disease with reporters at the Carter Center today, just before beginning radiation treatment at Atlanta’s Emory Hospital this afternoon.

    JIMMY CARTER, Former President of the United States: In May, I went down to Guyana to help monitor an election, and I had a very bad cold.

    And I left down there and came back to Emory, so they could check me over. And in the process, they did a complete physical examination, and the MRI showed that there was a cancer, or a growth, a tumor on my liver.

    And they did a biopsy and found that it was, indeed, cancer and it was melanoma. And they had a very high suspicion then and now that the melanoma started somewhere else on my body and spread to the — to the liver.

    At first, I felt that it was confined to my liver, and that they had — the operation had completely removed it, so I — quite relieved.

    And then, that same afternoon, we had an MRI of my head and neck, and it showed up that it was already in four places in my brain. So, I would say that night and the next day, until I came back up to Emory, I just thought I had a few weeks left.

    But I was surprisingly at ease. Now I feel, you know, it’s in the hands of God, whom I worship. And I will be prepared for anything that comes.

    I feel good. I haven’t felt any weakness or debility. The pain has been very slight.

    Both of the — former President Bush, he called me at one time, and then George H.W. Bush, Bush Sr., called me yesterday afternoon again. I think I appreciated that very much, and their wives were there on the telephone with them.

    President Obama called. The vice president called. Bill Clinton called. Hillary Clinton called. The secretary of state called, the first time they’ve called me in a long time.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JIMMY CARTER: For a number of years, Rosalynn and I have planned on dramatically reducing our work at Carter Center. We have not done it yet.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JIMMY CARTER: We talked about this when I was 80. We talked about it again when I was 85. We talked about it again I was 90.

    So, this is a propitious time, I think, for us finally to carry out our long-delayed plans. So I’m going to cut back fairly dramatically on my obligations.

    I think I have been as blessed as any human being in the world, becoming president of the United States of America, and governor of Georgia, and worked at the Carter Center, and a big and growing family, and thousands of friends.

    So I don’t think — and living to be 91 years old 1st of October. So, I have had — everything has been a blessing for me.

    QUESTION: Is there anything you wish that you had not done or that you had done differently?

    JIMMY CARTER: I wish I had sent one more helicopter to get the hostages, and we would have rescued them and I would have been reelected. But that may have…

    (LAUGHTER)

    JIMMY CARTER: And that may have interfered with the foundation of the Carter Center. And if I had to choose between four more years and the Carter Center, I think I would choose the Carter Center.

    QUESTION: In the time that you have left, what would give you the most satisfaction to see something happen?

    JIMMY CARTER: Well, in international affairs, I would say peace for Israel and its neighbors. That’s been a top priority for my foreign policy projects for the last 30 years.

    Right now, I think the prospects are more dismal than any time I remember in the last 50 years. It’s practically — the whole process is practically dormant.

    As far as the Carter Center’s concerned, I would like to see guinea worm completely eradicated before — before I die. I would like the last guinea worm to die before I do.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Carter, we will all pulling for you.

    And you can watch my conversation with President Jimmy Carter from last month, before his diagnosis, where we discussed his latest book, “A Full Life.” That’s at PBS.org/NewsHour.

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    U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign town hall meeting in Derry, New Hampshire August 19, 2015.   REUTERS/Brian Snyder - RTX1OV0G

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    GWEN IFILL: Donald Trump, anchor babies, and the latest big debate on the campaign trail.

    DONALD TRUMP, Republican Presidential Candidate: I will build the greatest wall that you have ever seen.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    GWEN IFILL: Donald Trump’s strong language on immigration has vaulted him to the top of the Republican presidential field. In a policy statement on Sunday, he moved beyond border security concerns, saying he also favors ending constitutionally mandated birthright citizenship. It allows children born in the United States to be U.S. citizens, whether their parents are or not.

    The wording of the 14th Amendment is key. “All persons,” it reads, “born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”

    That includes children whose parents are here illegally. Trump and others argue that goes too far and encourages people to give birth here as a way of allowing entire families to stay. In some circles, those children have come to be called Anchor babies.

    DONALD TRUMP: The parents have to come in legally. Now we’re going to have to find out what’s going to happen from a court standpoint. But many people, many of the great scholars say that anchor babies are not covered. We’re going to have to find out.

    Other Republicans candidates agree, including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Senators Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Ted Cruz of Texas.

    TED CRUZ, Republican Presidential Candidate: It makes no sense, right now, that we have millions of people coming here illegally to this country, and that current law grants their children citizenship.

    GWEN IFILL: Still others including Governors Chris Christie and Senator Rand Paul say the 14th amendment should at least be reexamined. But former governor Jeb Bush who does not support repeal, used the issue today to criticize Trump’s overall approach.

    JEB BUSH, Republican Presidential Candidate: You want to get to the policy for a second? I think that people born in this country ought to be American citizens. Okay, now we got that over with.

    GWEN IFILL: In New Hampshire yesterday, Trump called the 14th Amendment unconstitutional, but he stopped short of demanding outright repeal.

    Joining us now to provide a little legal and political background are Suzanna Sherry, professor of law at Vanderbilt University, and Alan Gomez, who covers immigration for USA Today.

    Professor Sherry, I want to ask you this, and Alan as well. Is this a constitutional argument we’re having here or a political one?

    SUZANNA SHERRY, Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University: I think it’s a constitutional argument, because the 14th Amendment does guarantee birthright citizenship. And so it has to be amended if anybody wants to change that.

    GWEN IFILL: Alan Gomez, a political argument?

    ALAN GOMEZ, USA Today: Well, of course there is part of that as well.

    There are some in Congress who feel that it doesn’t — they don’t need an entire new amendment to repeal this. They just need to rework the law, interpret it a little bit differently. But, obviously, as we’re seeing on the campaign trail, there is a very heavy political component to this.

    GWEN IFILL: So, Professor Sherry, give us a history lesson, the genesis of this debate.

    SUZANNA SHERRY: Well, the 14th Amendment was passed in 1868.

    And this first sentence, the primary purpose of that sentence was to reverse the 1857 case of Dred Scott, which had held that blacks could not be citizens. So this made everybody who was born here, black or white, a citizen of the United States.

    And it was assumed, actually from much earlier than that, from the first founding in the 1780s, it was assumed that citizenship went with birth. That was what common law was at the time. And nobody even challenged it until 1850, when a New York State court found that someone who was born here was a citizen.

    And then in 1898, the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in and held that a man, a Chinese man who had been born in San Francisco of Chinese citizens and then had left, he could come back, despite the current law that excluded Chinese immigrants. He could come back, because, being born here, he was a citizen. The court said that birth here is a complete and sufficient qualification of citizenship.

    GWEN IFILL: Now, Alan Gomez, to be clear, this is not a debate or a question that Donald Trump started.

    ALAN GOMEZ: Absolutely not.

    This is something that various Republicans have been trying to push for quite some time. This argument goes back well over a decade, trying to change this. They have wanted to resort to the courts, but they haven’t figured out how to get standings in order to sort of challenge these rulings.

    So, in Congress, we have seen repeated efforts. Senator Graham, for example, is one that has co-sponsored one of these to try to change the interpretation of the 14th Amendment to deny citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants, the argument being that, as we saw in the wording of the language, that undocumented immigrants are not the jurisdiction of the United States, that they’re sort of stateless, and so that they don’t qualify for that benefit.

    GWEN IFILL: So, Alan, what would it take for — if this bill were to pass or a bill like it, what does it actually take for Congress to repeal or otherwise to void a constitutional amendment like this?

    ALAN GOMEZ: I mean, to repeal the actual amendment, that obviously is an incredibly high hurdle. And so then we’re starting — talking to get into sort of three-quarter majorities, things like that.

    But just to pass a law to say that there is a new interpretation of it, that’s another thing, obviously. This president would veto it, but who knows what the next president might think. So, that’s where we get into sort of the political aspect of it, and that’s why we’re seeing it become such a big issue on the campaign trail right now.

    GWEN IFILL: Professor Sherry, when’s the last time that Congress or anybody was able to take a right away that is protected in the Constitution? Has it ever happened before?

    SUZANNA SHERRY: Well, that’s — it’s only happened once. That is, the Constitution has been amended only once to contract rights, rather than expand them. It’s been amended a lot of times to expand them.

    And the only — the one and only time that the amendment — that an amendment contracted rights was the 18th Amendment, which was prohibition, and we all know that that one was repealed several decades later.

    GWEN IFILL: Alan, we know, of course, that not all of the Republican candidates are in favor of revoking birthright citizenship. In fact, we heard Jeb Bush today talk about it and say he didn’t necessarily think it was a great idea.

    But he also used that term anchor babies. Tell me about the political genesis of that term and why it seems to stir up such dust.

    ALAN GOMEZ: I mean, it’s perceived as such a slur to a lot undocumented immigrants, a lot of Hispanics, a lot of immigrants generally who are at least within that first or second wave of immigration.

    This goes back for quite some time. I remember Steve King from Iowa, one of the biggest immigration hard-liners we have seen in a long time, and, much like Trump, a bit bombastic in the way he approaches things, using that term quite a bit just a few years ago. And that is when it kind of gained steam, as best as I can remember.

    And so it really sort of kind of speaks to this idea. They had Jeb Bush talking about needing to improve the tone with the Hispanic community in this country, calling on his other Republican candidates to improve the tone, yet he would not back away from using the term anchor babies.

    And it’s — I think it’s also important to understand that, while Bush was saying that he didn’t believe that we need to change birthright citizenship, he wants to enforce it to try to prevent pregnant parents, pregnant mothers from coming into the country specifically for the purpose of giving birth.

    Marco Rubio, a Florida senator, has also endorsed that approach. So even though everybody is not on board with birthright citizenship, we’re seeing a lot of folks who are trying to get at it in different ways.

    GWEN IFILL: Professor Sherry, is this a uniquely American, that, if you’re born here, you’re a citizen here?

    SUZANNA SHERRY: It’s almost uniquely American. The only other developed country that has birthright citizenship is Canada.

    There are a number of South African countries that have it as well. It’s — but no place in Western Europe, no place in Asia, not Australia. A number of European countries, as well as Australia and New Zealand, had birthright citizenship, and they repealed it. I don’t believe it was constitutional in those cases. But they repealed birthright citizenship over the last 20 or 30 years.

    GWEN IFILL: And on this idea of anchor babies, is it — is there any evidence to support the notion that this is a widespread idea that women come here to have babies and gain citizenship for them? Is there any number — are there any numbers to back that up?

    ALAN GOMEZ: I mean, it’s always hard to quantify intentions.

    But, yes, I can tell you, just in the reporting that I and some of my colleagues have done over the years on this issue, that there is absolutely an industry of people who come here or send people to this country for the purpose of giving birth.

    In China, for example, travel agencies advertise that you can come over here. They teach you and coach you on how to speak to the customs and border agent as you’re coming in so that you can get in, have your baby, get the citizenship and head on back.

    And, unquestionably, there are some undocumented immigrants from Central and South America who have done the same thing when they cross over. But in terms of the numbers, the last time I saw anybody even try to take a look at that was the Pew Research Center a few years ago. And they found that well over 90 percent of the people who gave — of the undocumented immigrants who gave birth in the United States had arrived in the United States at least two years prior.

    So, in other words, they had come here and they were not pregnant while they were doing so.

    GWEN IFILL: And, Alan, I have one more question for you. Is there — how does this work for the Democrats?

    ALAN GOMEZ: For the Democrats, they pretty are much sitting back and smiling at this point.

    I mean, if the purpose of what the Republicans are trying to do right now is to win the Republican nomination, there is a lot of support among Republican voters for a lot of these ideas that we’re talking about, including changing birthright citizenship.

    But when you transition over to the general election, look, Mitt Romney didn’t go this far, right? And he only garnered 27 percent of the Hispanic vote. So if they have any hopes of trying to win over at least 27 percent, if not more, of the Hispanic vote, which is the fastest growing demographic in this country, these kind of things are very, very dangerous.

    GWEN IFILL: No discussions of self-deportation this year at least.

    Alan Gomez of USA Today and Suzanna Sherry of the Vanderbilt University School of Law, thank you both very much.

    The post Should citizenship be a birthright? Why some GOP candidates say no appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is received by Greece's President Prokopis Pavlopoulios (unseen) in Athens, Greece, August 20, 2015. Tsipras resigned on Thursday, hoping to strengthen his hold on power in snap elections after seven months in office in which he fought Greece's creditors for a better bailout deal but had to cave in.   REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis - RTX1OZMD

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: There was another dramatic chapter in the Greek economic crisis this evening, as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced to his nation that he’s resigning.

    ALEXIS TSIPRAS, Greek Prime Minister (through translator): My fellow Greeks, I leave it up to your judgment, and my conscience is clear. I am proud of the battle my government and I have fought. We fought to stay true to our promises. We negotiated hard and insistently for a very long time. We held out against pressures and blackmail. It’s true we reached our limit, but we made the Greek issue into an international issue.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Joining us now with more on the prime minister’s announcement is journalist John Psaropoulos.

    So, John, what does this mean for the nation of Greece?

    JOHN PSAROPOULOS, Blogger, THENEWATHENIAN.com: It means that this party, the left-wing Syriza Party, will probably be reelected with a broadened majority in about a month’s time, and will see that as a vindication of the effort that it made last month to negotiate an austerity-free bailout loan with its European creditors, something that clearly it didn’t succeed in doing.

    And because that had been a key election promise back in January, it says that it now needs a renewed mandate. This, though, has to do with two other things. First, it has to clear its own house. It’s got to get rid of its far-left backbenchers, who are now a very powerful internal opposition and have drawn a third of Syriza’s members of Parliament away from the prime minister.

    And the second thing that is going on here is that Syriza sees an opportunity to win single-party government, in other words, to be able to rule without a coalition partner and to achieve broadened authority.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, are you saying Tsipras thinks he’s stronger as a result of what’s happened lately?

    JOHN PSAROPOULOS: Well, counterintuitively, yes, the polls seem to indicate that he would come out stronger as a result of seven months at the helm, during which the economy transitioned from one that had a positive outlook of 3 percent growth this year to renewed recession from — and also after a period during which he essentially didn’t succeed in sticking to his campaign promises.

    But Tsipras has played the election rule book devastatingly well. He triggered an early election back in 2012, which saw his party go from 16 percent of the popular vote to 26, and he did it again in January this year, when he refused to join the conservative — well, the people who were then the ruling country, the ruling Conservatives, in a bipartisan consensus to elect a new president of the republic.

    And that saw him come to power 36 percent. So he’s leapt forward by 20 percentage points in — through the tactic of triggering early elections. I think Syriza believes that it can achieve this result again a third time.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, John Psaropoulos, what happens to the austerity measures that were passed? They had a referendum just a matter of weeks ago. They were approved by the Greek Parliament, they were passed by the European Union. Where does all that stand?

    JOHN PSAROPOULOS: Well, all of that has been broadcast here in the local media. It has been run in the local press.

    But everyone I have spoken to hasn’t, except a hazy idea, of what it really involves for them. They do know that Syriza suffered a serious defeat in Brussels when talking to their creditors. They do know that the government essentially did a U-turn on the austerity issue, was forced to swallow it.

    I think what’s going on is that people believe that, even though Syriza didn’t succeed, it failed not because of its own tactical errors, but because Greece as a nation isn’t strong enough to face down international creditors, international institutions and 27 European Union partners, all of whom have voting publics to answer to.

    So I think people are essentially willing to give this government the benefit of the doubt for another term.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, quickly, the austerity measures that will be implemented will be what we — what they were supposed to be before, or will they be weakened as a result of this?

    JOHN PSAROPOULOS: No, the conservatives, when they fell from power, were negotiating something in the neighborhood of a billion dollars in additional austerity measures that would have taken effect this year.

    The deal that we now have in July looks — is set to impose austerity measures worth at least $15 billion over three years, roughly 2, 2.5 percent of the economy each year. Therefore, it is much worse. But what Syriza argues is that, yes, we were forced to bow to this, but we did also get a $40 billion investment program, a development program from the European Commission. That’s being funded federally, if you like. We did also got an understanding that our primary surpluses — that means the amount of money that will be extracted from the Greek economy to pay creditors — will be far lower than what was originally foreseen.

    Syriza says that the Greek public has been spared about $22 billion worth of payments to creditors. And, thirdly, the party says, we will be distributing the burden of the present austerity much more fairly, much more equitably. It won’t be just the poor and middle class. The rich will also pay their share.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: John Psaropoulos in Athens, we thank you.

    The post As Greek PM resigns, will his party come back stronger in snap elections? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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