Articles on this Page
- 08/26/15--15:50: _News Wrap: Two jour...
- 08/27/15--04:49: _Obama says New Orle...
- 08/27/15--05:29: _‘Mic drop’ and ‘awe...
- 08/27/15--06:39: _Surgeons’ late-nigh...
- 08/27/15--10:23: _3 ways China’s econ...
- 08/27/15--12:30: _The race for the un...
- 08/27/15--13:36: _Federal election re...
- 08/27/15--13:48: _How this NewsHour r...
- 08/27/15--15:15: _New generation of R...
- 08/27/15--15:20: _Court gives SeaTac ...
- 08/27/15--15:25: _Why actor Wendell P...
- 08/27/15--15:30: _Hurricane Katrina e...
- 08/27/15--15:35: _Is it still too ear...
- 08/27/15--15:40: _When a shooter’s vi...
- 08/27/15--15:45: _Slain journalist’s ...
- 08/27/15--15:50: _News Wrap: Islamic ...
- 08/28/15--09:00: _The secrets behind ...
- 08/28/15--09:23: _Greece swears in it...
- 08/28/15--09:39: _Photos: LGBTQ Afric...
- 08/28/15--09:49: _Appeals court rever...
- 08/26/15--15:50: News Wrap: Two journalists murdered during live newscast
- 08/27/15--04:49: Obama says New Orleans is ‘moving forward’ after hurricane
- 08/27/15--06:39: Surgeons’ late-night work doesn’t cause patients harm, study says
- 08/27/15--10:23: 3 ways China’s economic slowdown will affect your finances
- 08/27/15--12:30: The race for the unbreakable password is almost over
- 08/27/15--13:48: How this NewsHour reporter became a zombie
- 08/27/15--15:20: Court gives SeaTac workers a raise after $15 minimum wage exclusion
- 08/27/15--15:30: Hurricane Katrina exposed ‘deeper tragedy’ of inequality, says Obama
- 08/27/15--15:35: Is it still too early to raise interest rates?
- 08/27/15--15:40: When a shooter’s violent video goes viral
- 08/27/15--15:45: Slain journalist’s father vows to work for stricter gun control
- 08/27/15--15:50: News Wrap: Islamic State suicide bomb kills 2 Iraqi generals
- 08/28/15--09:00: The secrets behind the Big Easy’s comeback from Katrina
- 08/28/15--09:23: Greece swears in its first female prime minister
- 08/28/15--09:39: Photos: LGBTQ Africans express identity in ‘(Limit)less’ ways
- 08/28/15--09:49: Appeals court reverses ruling that found NSA program illegal
GWEN IFILL: After taking a beating for six days, Wall Street stormed back and had its best day in nearly seven years. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 620 points to close at 16285. The Nasdaq rose more than 190 points and the S&P 500 added more than 70.
The market’s volatility has been driven by a sweeping sell-off in China, where the main index lost another 1 percent today. We will explore the Chinese problem after the news summary.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Two TV journalists in Roanoke, Virginia, were shot dead today during a live morning newscast. Reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were doing an interview when a former co-worker,Vester Lee Flanagan, opened fire. He then posted his own video of the act online.
Several hours later, after a highway chase, Flanagan ran off the road, shot himself and died at a Northern Virginia hospital. And that left investigators with a mystery.
BILL OVERTON, Franklin County, Virginia, Sheriff: Right now there has not been a motive as per se. Many of you have gotten a lot of the correspondence, e-mails that had been sent out. It’s obvious that there was — this gentleman was disturbed in some way of the way things had transpired at some point in his life. It would appear things were spiraling out of control, but we’re still looking into that.
JUDY WOODRUFF: A man claiming to be the gunman sent a lengthy fax to ABC News in New York. After listing grievances, he wrote that he was — quote — “a human powder keg just waiting to go boom.”
The woman being interviewed this morning was also shot. She’s in stable condition.
GWEN IFILL: The Colorado movie theater shooter, James Holmes, was formally sentenced to life in prison without parole today. He shot and killed a dozen people and wounded 70 others during the 2012 attack. Today, Holmes, wearing a red prison jumpsuit, listened as his fate was pronounced. The life term became automatic when the jury could not agree unanimously on the death penalty.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In Afghanistan, two men dressed as Afghan security forces opened fire on NATO troops, killing two American soldiers. It happened at an army base in Helmand Province. The shooters were killed by return fire. It’s the third so-called insider attack so far this year.
GWEN IFILL: There’s word the mastermind of the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia has been captured nearly 20 years after the attack. Saudi reports and U.S. officials say Ahmed al-Mughassil was arrested in Lebanon and is now in Riyadh. The 1996 bombing killed 19 American troops at a U.S. military housing complex. Saudi officials blamed Shiite extremists inspired by Iran.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Hungary’s border with Serbia was a picture of chaos again today amid talks of sending in the army. Desperate people mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan climbed through razor wire. A scuffle broke out at a refugee center and police used tear gas, while some lawmakers called for a hard line.
GABOR VONA, President, Jobbik Party (through interpreter): The only solution is that Hungary makes it clear for the international community, for Serbia, for the European Union that it has closed its borders and we will turn everybody back who shows up at the borders.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, in Germany, protesters jeered Chancellor Angela Merkel as she visited an asylum center. She condemned attacks on refugees as — quote — “shameful and repulsive.”
The president of South Sudan has signed a peace deal to end 20 months of fighting that’s killed thousands and driven two million people from their homes. But Salva Kiir told regional leaders that he was signing despite serious reservations. The rebel leader already signed the agreement.
GWEN IFILL: In the U.S. presidential race, Republican Donald Trump defended his actions in a confrontation with TV journalist Jorge Ramos. The Univision host challenged Trump on his immigration plan at a news conference Tuesday in Dubuque, Iowa, and the candidate fired back.
DONALD TRUMP Republican Presidential Candidate: Excuse me. Sit down. You weren’t called. Sit down. Sit down. Sit down.
No, you don’t. You haven’t been called. Go back to Univision.
GWEN IFILL: With that, Trump’s security hustled Ramos out. A short time later, he was allowed back, and the two resumed arguing.
Today on NBC, Trump said Ramos was totally out of line.
Ramos, speaking on ABC, said, “As a journalist, you have to take a stand.”
Civil rights leader Amelia Boynton Robinson died today, after she’d suffered a major stroke in July. She was a key organizer of the 1965 voting rights drive in Selma, Alabama, and she was beaten unconscious there by state troopers on Bloody Sunday. This year, she joined President Obama in crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery march. Amelia Boynton Robinson was 104 years old.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And one of two newly-arrived giant panda cubs has died at the Washington National Zoo. The mother, Mei Xiang, gave birth to twins over the weekend, but focused her attention on the larger cub. The smaller one died this afternoon.
The post News Wrap: Two journalists murdered during live newscast appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says New Orleans is “moving forward” a decade after Hurricane Katrina dealt it a devastating blow, and has become an example of what can happen when people rally around each other to build a better future out of the despair of tragedy.
Obama was marking the storm’s 10th anniversary by meeting Thursday with residents who continue to rebuild their lives and communities. He was also delivering remarks at a newly opened community center in the Lower 9th Ward, a largely African-American neighborhood that was one of the hardest hit by the storm. It is still struggling to recover.
“Not long ago, our gathering here in the Lower 9th might have seemed unlikely,” Obama says in speech excerpts released by the White House. “But today, this new community center stands as a symbol of the extraordinary resilience of this city and its people, of the entire Gulf Coast, indeed, of the United States of America. You are an example of what’s possible when, in the face of tragedy and hardship, good people come together to lend a hand, and to build a better future.”
“That, more than any other reason, is why I’ve come back here today,” Obama plans to say on his ninth trip to the city. He also visited on the hurricane’s fifth anniversary in 2010.
Obama was in the first year of a U.S. Senate term when Katrina’s powerful winds and driving rain bore down on Louisiana on Aug. 29, 2005. The storm caused major damage to the Gulf Coast from Texas to central Florida while powering a storm surge that breached the system of levees that were built to protect New Orleans from flooding.
Nearly 2,000 people died as a result, mostly in New Orleans, 80 percent of which was flooded for weeks. One million people were displaced.
Video of residents seeking refuge on rooftops or inside the Superdome or the convention center dominated the news coverage as Katrina came to symbolize government failure at every level. The storm went down in history as the costliest natural disaster to strike the U.S., with $150 billion in damages to homes and other property. It was also one of the deadliest.
In the speech, Obama says Katrina helped expose structural inequalities that long plagued New Orleans and left too many people, especially minorities, without good jobs, affordable health care or decent housing and too many kids growing up in the midst of violent crime and attending inefficient schools.
Ten years out from Katrina, the rebirth underway in New Orleans has been helped by billions of dollars in federal recovery money, much of it funneled to the city under Obama’s watch. The city has recovered much of its pre-storm population, new businesses are opening faster than the national average and better flood protection plans are in place.
Still, income inequality and rising crime rates are among the challenges that remain in a place Mayor Mitch Landrieu calls “America’s comeback city.”
Obama says acknowledging the loss and pain Katrina caused is important, “not to harp on what happened, but to memorialize it.”
“We do this not in order to dwell in the past, but in order to keep moving forward,” he says. “Because this is a city that slowly, unmistakably, together, is moving forward.”
Obama says the rebuilding was not simply to restore New Orleans as it had been. “It was to build a city as it should be — a city where everyone, no matter who they are or what they look like or how much money they’ve got has an opportunity to make it.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama would also stress that the federal government and communities need to start investing in “resilience” so that they will be ready for the more intense storms and wildfires that a warming planet will bring.
“There’s no denying what scientists tell us, which is that there’s reason to be concerned about these storms getting worse and more violent,” he told reporters Wednesday.
But Obama’s plan to sound a fresh alarm about climate change didn’t sit well with Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican waging a long-shot bid for his party’s presidential nomination who told the president that the anniversary is a time to mourn the loss of loved ones, not to espouse “the divisive political agenda of liberal environmental activism.”
Jindal has expressed some doubt about human influence on the climate. His office said he planned to greet Obama at the airport.
“A lecture on climate change would do nothing to improve upon what we are already doing,” Jindal told Obama in a letter Wednesday. “Quite the opposite; it would distract from the losses we have suffered, diminish the restoration effort we have made and overshadow the miracle that has been the Louisiana comeback.”
Associated Press writer Melinda Deslatte in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, contributed to this report.
The post Obama says New Orleans is ‘moving forward’ after hurricane appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Oxford Dictionaries added 1,000 new words to its informal language collection on Thursday, including slang expressions “mic drop,” “cakeage” and “cat café.”
“Mic drop” literally can be dropping a microphone at the end of a performance or speech to mark its excellence, or figuratively when the speaker feels he made an impressive point.
“Cakeage” is the fee a restaurant charges for serving a cake the customer has brought.
And “cat café” is, of course, a cat café.
Oxford Dictionaries is not the same as the traditional Oxford English Dictionary, however, both are published by Oxford University Press.
Other words Oxford Dictionaries added this year include “brain fart,” a temporary mental lapse, “bitch face,” a scowling facial expression, and “fur baby,” someone’s beloved pet. OK, that’s pretty “adorkable.”
View more new words and vote on your favorite.
The post ‘Mic drop’ and ‘awesomesauce’: Oxford Dictionaries adds 1,000 new slang terms appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Patients receiving common operations in the daytime fared no worse in the short-term if their attending physician worked a hospital graveyard shift the night before than patients whose doctor did not, according to a new study examining the effects of sleep deprivation on surgeons.
Patients whose physicians worked from midnight to 7 a.m. the night before a daytime operation were as likely to die, be readmitted to the hospital or suffer complications within 30 days of their procedure as other patients who had the same operations in the daytime from physicians who had not worked after midnight, researchers said. Short-term outcomes were compared for patients receiving 12 elective procedures such as knee and hip replacements, hysterectomies and spinal surgeries. The study, conducted in Ontario, Canada by researchers in Toronto, was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. It included 38,978 patients and 1,448 physicians.
Its conclusions are at odds with previous research linking sleep deprivation in physicians to reduced performance.
In the New England Journal article, researchers said most earlier studies have focused on medical trainees, otherwise known as residents, but not on attending physicians. For example, working surgeons have more experience than trainees, which could compensate for reduced performance, they said. Nancy Baxter, one of the co-authors, said working surgeons have more control over their schedules than residents have and can schedule daytime surgeries with longer breaks between nighttime shifts.
Medical school residents once were expected to work 24- to 36-hour long shifts without scheduled breaks for sleep. New rules implemented in 2003 by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, which set standards for medical residencies, capped all residents’ schedules at a maximum 80 hours per week or 24 consecutive hours on duty. They should not be on call more than every third night. Under rules set in 2011, first-year residents are limited to 16-hour shifts and require eight hours off between shifts.
But questions about attending surgeons’ rest persist.
A small survey study published in 2009 found that only 40 percent of surgeons — or 55 of 136 — limited their working time to no more than 30 continuous hours.
David Bates, who has previously researched the relationship between physician medical errors and their lack of sleep, said the new study should be reassuring to patients who get surgery after their doctor has worked overnight. But he cautioned the results do not address the effects of long shifts that last days without rest on patient outcomes.
Such a study would be difficult to conduct in the U.S. because data on attending surgeon hours isn’t routinely collected, he said. Canada also has a single-payer system, meaning researchers could cull massive amounts of information from one source. Doing a similar study in the U.S. would be nearly impossible because of the number of insurance companies involved in health care, Bates said.
The study reported in the New England Journal dealt only with short-term outcomes on patients, but a physician’s performance could have long-term effects on patient health too.
Jeffrey Rothschild, a hospitalist physician at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Massachusetts, published a study in 2009 finding that post-surgical complications rose when physicians at a single hospital had less than six hours of opportunity for sleep.
More studies should be done looking at long-term effects of sleep deprivation on physicians and at the quantities of sleep to patient outcomes, he said.
Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. You can view the original report on its website.
The post Surgeons’ late-night work doesn’t cause patients harm, study says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Global financial markets are bouncing around like a Mexican jumping bean, driven in large part by China’s popping stock-market bubble. And while it’s fun to talk about China’s equity boom and bust, the real story to focus on has almost nothing to do with the Chinese stock market and everything to do with the Chinese economy.
As economic growth slowed between 2011 and 2014, the People’s Bank of China increased its efforts to stimulate the economy. With the GDP growth rates consistently falling and the stock market stagnating, Chinese leaders started cutting rates in late 2014 to stimulate the economy. They also lowered reserve requirements for banks and eased restrictions to promote additional liquidity. Although the economic impact is unclear, one thing was certain: Chinese equity markets took off, rising more than 50 percent between January and June of this year.
Along the way, domestic interest in the stock market grew by leaps and bounds. By April, Chinese speculators were opening more than 4 million new brokerage accounts per week. And data from the China Household Finance Survey revealed that the average investor fueling the rally was a high-school dropout.
Many Chinese speculators were betting on a flood of price-insensitive foreign buyers after the country’s stock market became a part of the much-followed Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) global emerging markets index. And so when MSCI chose not to include Chinese stocks in the emerging market benchmark, the bubble popped.
The People’s Bank of China immediately sprung to action. It eliminated loan ratio caps, provided liquidity support for margin finance, lowered interest rate and even devalued the Chinese currency. The China Securities Regulatory Commission also joined in with a de facto ban on short selling, adding to its prior six-month ban on any selling by major shareholders. Even the press was told to avoid reporting on financial panic or plunging prices.
But the focus on Chinese equity markets is distracting us from paying attention to the more important underlying development: China’s economy is slowing, and this will have global implications. China’s credit-fueled, investment-driven economic growth engine is kaput. Its consumption engine has not generated enough momentum to matter (yet).
MORE FROM MAKING SEN$E
The slowdown matters for many reasons. I’ll highlight three to illustrate the breadth of the impact. First, China grew to be the world’s most important consumer of iron ore, lead, steel, zinc, copper and many other industrial or investment commodities. A slowdown in Chinese economic growth implies a slowdown in demand growth for these commodities. That likely means lower prices (a deflationary shock) for these and other commodities that China has been voraciously consuming.
Deflationary pressures imply that interest rates will stay lower for longer. Even if the U.S. Federal Reserve begins to raise interest rates this year, any increase is likely to be nominal and probably won’t have any material impact. While I can’t comment on what your credit card company will do, I suspect banks will continue to offer mortgages at historically low rates and you’ll continue to get very little return on money you leave at the bank. Don’t let your banker force you into an early refinancing with suggestions of rapidly rising rates!
Second, a slowing China may mean lower prices (or at least lower competition) for that Louis Vuitton bag that you’ve been eyeing. That’s right. Less prosperity in China means fewer purchases of fancy goods. Further, the devaluation of the Chinese yuan makes the bag more expensive to Chinese buyers, and given that more than 25 percent of Louis Vuitton’s sales are from non-Japan Asia, it seems safe to bet the company will be seeking buyers anywhere and everywhere they can. Not a fan of Louis Vuitton bags? No worries. Greater China accounts for around 30 percent of sales at Burberry, roughly 20 percent at Prada, and as much as 35 percent at Harry Winston, Omega, and Balmain. And by the way, these numbers likely underestimate the Chinese impact as they don’t capture Chinese purchase of luxury goods while traveling overseas.
Third, don’t fool yourself into thinking your portfolio is immune. The world is simply too interconnected for Chinese growth rates to not affect the earnings of companies in your mutual funds and retirement accounts. Many of America’s leading multinationals generate significant revenues and profits from China and Asia. And even those companies that appear relatively immune from the Chinese economy (think Verizon, for instance) may find their stock prices moving in sympathy… as investment managers find themselves selling strong companies to keep their portfolios balanced.
The bottom line? What happens in China won’t stay in China.
The post 3 ways China’s economic slowdown will affect your finances appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
What Ashley Madison needed was quantum cryptography.
Quantum cryptography is the use of physics, specifically quantum mechanics, to build secret codes. It is so secure, so difficult to intercept, some call it unhackable. Banking, medical, business and government records around the world could be made secure from outside intruders.
As the name suggests, the idea is based on quantum mechanics — a branch of physics that explains the peculiar behavior of atomic and subatomic particles. Theoretical physicist Richard Feynman once said, “It is safe to say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.” We’re going to take a stab in this article at explaining it. But before we dive into its murky principles, let’s tackle why quantum cryptography is needed in the first place.
Even though encryption has existed since the age of Caesar, it’s only in the last five to 10 years that the topic has moved from being small-scale — an attack on a home computer or a single company — to multi-level attacks that can impact millions of people at a time, said Richard Moulds, a data security, cryptography expert and vice president at Whitewood Encryption Systems. Think eBay, JP Morgan Chase or the federal Office of Personnel Management. The stakes have always been high: Codebreakers led to the execution of Mary Queen of Scots in 1587 and helped defeat the Axis powers in World War II. But modern data breaches implicate the personal information — home addresses, phone numbers, credit cards — of whole swaths of society, and the cost of dealing with these hacks are huge.
Data breaches cost U.S. companies $6.5 million on average in 2014, according to The Ponemon Institute. If your company lost over 500,000 records, this number jumped to $11.9 million.
Naturally, these costs get passed onto the consumer, and since 2005, the annual cost per capita for data breaches has risen from $138 to $217. That means you are losing 200 bucks each year due to data breaches. (For a cool visual of the world’s biggest hacks in recent years, check out Information is Beautiful.)
Hacking With Light
Hackers or codebreakers have become increasingly adept at breaking the modern security that safeguards digital information. That’s because at the end of day, most types of computer encryption and passwords are based on a random number, and hackers are getting better at guessing or stealing those numbers.
Take, for example, RSA encryption, which is the foundation for most Internet security today. RSA uses math to conceal data with two randomly selected prime numbers.
“Getting a [traditional] computer program to generate a random number is almost an oxymoron because computer programs do the same thing over and over and over again. They do what they’re programmed to do, and they don’t do things randomly,” Moulds said. “As the bad guys’ computers get better, faster and stronger, then in principle, those random numbers get easier to guess.”
Such was the case of last year’s hack of Sony Pictures. Infiltrators used an advanced computer program with enough brute force to guess the company’s passwords. Once inside, the hackers alleged to have collected sensitive data for nearly a year, before they started wiping many of the computers and tried to publicly damage the company’s reputation.
But if the Sony hack seemed bad, it pales in comparison with what could have happened, had the bad guys used a quantum computer.
The pursuit to build the first quantum computer mirrors the Cold War-era space race or the WWII-era hunt for a nuclear weapon. Such a computer would use the quantum physics of photons — light particles — to outmatch any traditional computer or digital security system that has ever been created.
Unlike classic computers that use electricity to represent information in binary bits (1s and 0s), quantum computers use photons to represent information as 1s, 0s or both values simultaneously. That’s because at the quantum level, photons can exist in more than one state at once. (Remember, quantum mechanics doesn’t make sense). As such, a quantum computer can make more than one calculation at once, significantly cutting the time it takes to process information. For instance, a quantum computer could guess the random numbers that reinforce most passwords and data encryption in a matter of minutes.
Last week, the National Security Agency issued a bulletin that warned companies to prepare for the emergence of a quantum computers.
“Our ultimate goal is to provide cost effective security against a potential quantum computer,” the statement reads.
The advisory, wrote Dan Goodin wrote for Ars Technica, signals the growing recognition that quantum computing “could soon represent a practical threat on U.S. national security. Until now, the lack of consensus about how long it will take for scientists to build a working quantum computer has kept the NSA from making such concrete recommendations.”
As Goodin points out, it could take 10 to 50 years before a quantum computer is ready to replace our PCs, but the components for such a device exist. On August 14, physicists at Bristol University in the UK announced that they had engineered a 4-inch by 1.5 inch optical chip that can serve as a quantum central processing unit (CPU).
“It can implement all the basic gates [or circuits] required for quantum computing,” said University of Bristol physicist Anthony Laing, who led the project. His group teamed with Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT), a major telecommunications company, and their invention was reported in the journal Science.
Bristol University’s optical chip tests quantum theories with unprecedented speed. Quantum experiments that would otherwise months to a year can be completed in just minutes, even seconds, with this chip. It would allow Laing and other physicists to can push the limits of computer science. Consider the Church-Turing thesis, which is named after American mathematician Alonzo Church and the British mathematician and Engima machine codebreaker Alan Turing.
“Church-Turing thesis is a foundational idea in computer science that every realistic, physical system should be efficiently simulated by a classical computer,” Laing said, but since quantum computers don’t operate by classical laws, they’re immediately in conflict with the idea. Some strong supporters don’t believe that quantum computers could ever exist, because they’re forbidden by this thesis.
“So MIT computer scientist Scott Aranson had a neat idea. He said instead of building the final package [quantum computer], let’s just build a quantum device that can specifically overthrow the Church-Turing thesis,” Laing said. The result was a phenomenon called called boson sampling.
“We were able to implement 100 boson experiments back-to-back in rapid fire with three and four photons,” Laing said. That’s not at the scale where they could challenge the Church-Turing thesis, but by using more photons and building a larger version of the device, which would be relatively easy to do, they could disprove the Church-Turing thesis, and in essence, could shake what we know about the traditional computer.
The Antidote: An unbreakable quantum password
Quantum computers are knocking on humanity’s door. Google wants one. IBM wants one. The NSA wants one. The devices could solve complex math problems, create new drugs or speed up your Google searches, but when used nefariously, they could tap your encrypted messages. In fact, computer scientist Lov Grover and MIT mathematician Peter Shor conceived the “quantum software” for the job around 20 years ago.
So what can everyone else do to protect their digital messages and data from the potential of quantum hackers?
Simple. “You send the messages in a quantum state,” said Boston University quantum physicist Alexander Sergienko.
Quantum cryptography uses photons to send secret messages between two people. Think of it as a tin-can telephone, wherein a nylon string transmits two people’s voices via tin cans. With quantum cryptography, the string is replaced by a stream of photons — the basic unit of rays of light. So rather than sending email as electronic bits (1s and 0s), the two people send quantum messages using photons with two different physical states.
Due to the foundations of quantum — namely the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle — it’s impossible to copy or intercept these photons without altering them and alerting the message recipient. To return to the tin-can telephone analogy, it’s impossible for an eavesdropper to intercept a quantum message without cutting the string.
“It would be the niche of absolutely secure communication. It means no one could break it. It’ll stay secure for 10, 20, 30 years down the road, unlike many conventional encryption technologies,” Sergienko said. As long as the equipment isn’t flawed, that is.
In 2003 and 2004, Sergienko teamed with scientists at Harvard University and BBN Technologies to build a three-node, 18-mile network for sending quantum encrypted messages along fiber optic cables in Boston. Since then, groups in Europe and Japan have demoed citywide networks. China plans to build a 1,200-mile quantum connection between Beijing and Shanghai, while the Ohio-based research and development company is constructing a quantum network that stretches from Boston to Georgia to California.
However, distance is a major impediment to quantum messages, as photons tend to be absorbed or disturbed the further that they travel through a fiber optic cable.
“Several papers show an upper limits of 124 to 186 miles. Also, the longer that you go, the lower the rate. The question is how useful is sending data 186 miles at one bit per second, when everything in modern telecommunications goes at megabits and gigabits per second?” said Sergienko.
This bandwidth issue could take years to fix. Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico are not only working on ways around it, but on how to reinforce our current data security with quantum mechanics. Last autumn, Los Alamos struck the biggest deal in its history with Richard Moulds’ parent company Allied Minds to commercialize these products.
Earlier this month, it unveiled a quantum-based generator that creates random numbers — the same random numbers that fuel passwords and other current forms of digital security. The quantum number generator — dubbed The Entropy Engine — looks like a regular computer board that you would slide into a server. Unlike passwords made by conventional computers, these quantum passcodes (or keys) would be difficult to guess by brute force, thus, impeding brute force attacks like the Sony Picture hack.
“Eventually, random number generators like the Entropy Engine would be placed in data centers to continuously generate passwords and data encryption. Most people would be consuming it as a security service from their email, Internet or cloud provider, rather than buying hardware. The cost might run between $5,000 and $10,000,” Moulds said.
Quantum random number generator churns out encrypted passcodes/keys so fast that it could make life harder for hackers like the ones that struck Ashley Madison or Home Depot, where an insider possibly revealed the passwords or weakened security systems so hackers could access an internal network.
“Our quantum random number generator generates entropy so rapidly that one could create new cryptographic keys very rapidly and not need to reuse keys,” said Los Alamos physicist and leader of the quantum communications team Raymond Newell. “As an analogy, if you only have one key, you’ll need to build all your locks to match it, and anyone who steals your key can open all your locks. But if you have many many keys, you can build a different lock for each [door], and anyone who steals a key can open only one lock.”
Moulds points out that another issue with the Ashley Madison hack “was that they only bothered to encrypt some of their data.”
“The attacker wasn’t interested in accessing accounts, he or she was focused on attacking and discrediting Ashley Madison as an organization. Therefore being able to steal large quantities of non-encrypted personal information was exactly what the attacker was looking for – details about sexual preferences is much more sensational than passwords,” Moulds said. “What this shows, is that for organizations that acknowledge that they might suffer a data breach (which really should be everyone) then they should encrypt all data that might be interesting to anyone. To encrypt only a subset of your data is like locking the front door but leaving the windows open.”
The next stage is beefing up security that involves moving quantum keys, which would involve a quantum network. Los Alamos ran its secure communications on a secret quantum Internet for two years and has since put that technology into a package called QkarD.
“The first targeted market would be not directly to consumers, but rather for the type of Internet corporations that are securing their internal communications,” Newell said. “Our team and others around the world are working on those distance challenges, but it will be two to five years before QkarD reaches consumers.”
Newell’s team is working to circumvent the problem and send faster quantum messages via the air like satellite signals. Chinese scientists are also developing a quantum satellite, slated to launch in 2016.
“If you think about the progression from where we are today and how we can make sure that our security in 20 years is able to withstand quantum computing effects. We’ve got to migrate our cryptosystems over the next two decades to much stronger systems,” Moulds said
The post The race for the unbreakable password is almost over appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Democratic National Committee barely has more cash than it does IOUs, and it is being outraised month after month by its Republican competitor.
Its $24 million debt from the 2012 presidential election, only recently paid down, has squeezed investments in the next White House race. Underdeveloped party resources such as voter data files could become a serious disadvantage for the eventual nominee, particularly if that person is not front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, who would enter a general election contest with her own outreach network.
Those fundraising realities are top of mind as Democratic officials, donors and activists meet Thursday through Saturday in Minneapolis. Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Sens. Jim Webb of Virginia and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island are scheduled to speak to attendees Friday.
Federal Election Commission reports tell a disappointing story for the party: The DNC collected $36.5 million in the first six months of the year and had almost no money in special accounts, including one designated for its convention. It had about $7.6 million in available cash and $6.2 million in debts and loans.
The Republican National Committee, coming out of years in the red, posted $63 million in receipts through June, leaving it with $16.7 million cash on hand and $1.8 million in debts and loans. Party fundraising dominance has flipped: At this point before the 2012 election, the DNC was outpacing the RNC.
Republicans also have been far more active in using the accounts created last year by Congress that enable donors to give at higher levels, investing about eight times what Democrats have.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC’s chairwoman, said she isn’t worried.
“We are building the organization now to make sure that whoever our ultimate nominee is, they are in the best possible position to win next November,” she said in a statement, “and we are confident we will have the resources we need.”
Raymond Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said that while state parties will always want more, he’s happy with the investments the national committee has made across the country.
“A successful 2016 is going to depend on what’s on the ground locally,” he said, adding that the DNC’s assistance to state parties, in the form of enhanced voter files and leadership training, is “light years” ahead of where it was in previous years.
But the DNC’s financial situation has given others pause. The Clinton campaign delayed signing a joint fundraising agreement with the party, in part because of perceived disorganization at the DNC. The next nominee is likely to send a new leadership team to the DNC.
On Thursday, the DNC and Clinton campaign completed their joint fundraising plan. The four other Democratic candidates are still in negotiations with the party officials. Such arrangements are mutually beneficial, enabling the nominee to use the party’s resources while helping the DNC raise more money to invest in voter outreach and technology.
The role of the parties has diminished over the past five years as super PACs and nonprofit policy groups that don’t reveal their donors have risen to prominence. Unlike candidates and the political parties, those outside groups aren’t constrained by contribution limits. Donors now have more choices about where to send their money and often see outside groups as a better way to influence elections.
President Barack Obama — the de facto leader of the Democratic Party — has contributed to the array of options.
After his 2012 re-election, his campaign formed a policy shop called Organizing for Action rather than folding back into the Democratic National Committee. That group raised about $5 million in the first six months of the year and maintains control of a social network and email list of millions of Democratic supporters, making it somewhat of a second DNC.
Still, Obama is a top draw for the party. He has spoken at 19 DNC fundraisers this year, more than his Republican predecessor George W. Bush did in his seventh year of office. Obama also is on track nearly to match President Bill Clinton’s prodigious fundraising pace from 1999, when he attended 44 DNC fundraisers.
“The president is the most effective fundraiser there is,” said Brendan Doherty, an associate professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, who researches presidential fundraising. “No one in political life is able to command more donors, and no one can better serve the party.”
The DNC is poised to quicken its fundraising pace. Top party financiers meet Friday in Minneapolis. In late September, the DNC will host an LGBT gala in New York, a major fundraiser. And Democratic presidential debates, which begin in October, also may foster donor interest in the party.
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Editor’s Note: In November, the NewsHour’s Mike Melia reported on Sam Suchmann and Mattie Zufelt, two teenage filmmakers who raised more than $68,000 in wildly successful Kickstarter campaign to make a zombie movie. This summer, Melia was asked to be a zombie extra. Video shot by Tim Forster and edited by Ariel Min.
It’s rare to witness someone’s dreams come true, even if they are the stuff of nightmares.
I first spoke with Sam Suchmann and Mattie Zufelt on the phone back in October. I had seen their Kickstarter video the day before and knew they were onto something. A week later, I arrived at Sam’s house in Providence with a local Rhode Island camera crew. It was their first TV interview.
They were naturals on television. And before we turned off our cameras, Sam removed a folded-up piece of paper from his pocket, and began to read this message: “My whole life,” he read, “I feel like I never fit in anywhere or had a voice, but someday that will change. I will be somebody. And that day is today.”
In many ways, Sam was right: their lives were about to change dramatically.
It all began two years ago when Sam and Mattie had the idea for an epic zombie movie. It would include romance, action and betrayal; heartbreak, redemption and sex. They drew up storyboards, talked constantly about it with family. And their mission was to raise not only the $50,000 for the teen zombie movie, but also enough for a documentary on the making of the film. In the end, they pulled in $68,936 from 1,494 backers.
“I kept hearing the same scenes come up,” Jesse Suchmann, Sam’s older brother told me. “And I was like, do you have like a plot for this worked out? And he did. And so I realized, before we tried to do it in a DIY way, it might be best to just go big.” Jesse Suchmann managed the Kickstarter, and with the help of childhood friends Bobby Carnevale and Tim Forster, they did just that — they went big.
They brought in producers and a camera crew from New York. They hired Silver Scream FX Lab out of Atlanta to do makeup. During their 16-day shoot, which they just wrapped, there were stunt professionals on set, filming in multiple locations from a city courthouse to a boat.
The best friends, now 19, first met at the Special Olympics in grade school. Both have Down Syndrome, but family members say that’s beside the point. They’re just honest, awesome dudes.
In fact, Microsoft named Sam and Mattie their official “spokesdudes” for the World Games of the Special Olympics in Los Angeles this summer. They visited Hollywood, where they rubbed elbows with celebrities like Vanessa Williams, Michael Phelps and Maria Schriver. In addition to the NewsHour, Sam and Mattie have been profiled by local news, Buzzfeed, even People Magazine and the Today Show. And two weeks ago, they invited me back to Providence to visit the set and be a zombie.
I arrived at 8 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. It was their 11th day of shooting. One of the original storyboards called for a big cruise ship party. They were on their second day filming on a yacht, donated by a family friend of the director.
On Sam and Mattie’s original wish list were celebrity cameos. Topping that list was The Jersey Shore’s DJ Pauley D. He had been there the day before I arrived, I was told, DJ’ing the zombie boat party.
I hung around for part of the morning before heading to makeup. It took about 30 minutes to be transformed from a mild-mannered reporter to a legit zombie. My close-up came later in the day when a vinyl record split my head.
Peter Farrelly, a film producer behind hits like “Dumb and Dumber” and “Something About Mary,” was also on set. He, too, was taken by the Kickstarter video and has offered his support along the way. His daughter made her own contribution as a background zombie. And many involved in the film had a personal connection to someone with a developmental disability. For me, that’s my aunt and godmother, Lois Melia.
“Once you meet them there’s no going back,” said Bobby Carnevale, the film’s director. “There is such an energy about them … They exude this energy that’s amazing, and people want to be a part of that, of watching this magic happen.”
They have more than 300 hours of video for the documentary. Tim Forster is leading that project.
“We’re always thinking about the doc, but want to get the feature out too,” Forster said. “That will be our way of sharing with the world who Sam and Mattie are, and hopefully, people will want to come back and see the story of how they made their movie.”
GWEN IFILL: Twenty years after its genocide, which saw the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, Rwanda has by many accounts seen a remarkable recovery.
Tonight, we take a look at the new generation leading the charge, using new technology to help the East African nation move beyond its scars.
The NewsHour’s P.J. Tobia has our story, produced in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
A warning: The story contains some graphic images.
P.J. TOBIA: Bringing milk to market in Rwanda, harder than it sounds. Farmers milk their cows and hand it off to middlemen. Next stop, the local collection center, usually on the back of a bicycle. From there, it’s off to factories, processors and other wholesale buyers. At least, that’s how it is supposed to work.
TWINE DACIEN, IAKIB Milk Cooperative: Sometimes, they deliver the milk to the transporter. Then the transporter may not take all the milk he collected from the farmer to the milk collection center.
P.J. TOBIA: Twine Dacien runs the IAKIB Milk Cooperative in Northwest Rwanda near the border with Uganda. Sometimes, middlemen fudge the numbers, while other times a portion of the milk may get lost in transit.
TWINE DACIEN: We have the ask the person, who took the milk from him? where is the milk? Where did he put it?
P.J. TOBIA: Back in the capital, Kigali, Walter Rwamucyo, sits in kLab, one of Rwanda’s first technology hubs, with a solution. Armed with an I.T. degree from one of Rwanda’s top universities, the 26-year-old runs GUMAHO, a software development company.
WALTER RWAMUCYO, GUMAHO: My grandfather was a farmer, from a farmer family.
P.J. TOBIA: Last year, the government asked for innovative tech solutions to agriculture dilemmas. Rwamucyo heard the call. To help make milk collection more efficient, he created a text message-based system that allows farmers to keep better tabs on their products. When their milk arrives safely at the collection center, the farmer gets a text.
Farmers can also use the platform to order feed, request a vet, or check disease alerts, all from their phone.
WALTER RWAMUCYO: Our system is actually helping the whole supply chain in terms of information. They can get the information in real time and when needed.
P.J. TOBIA: Rwamucyo works with about 2,000 farmers. He dreams of reaching millions more across Africa and turning a profit along the way. He charges for each text message sent and every gallon of milk registered.
WALTER RWAMUCYO: We are looking at expanding. And we hope, within two months, we will break even and start making enough money for supporting our overhead things, the costs.
P.J. TOBIA: Sara Leedom directs the Inkomoko business incubator in Kigali. She works with dozens of young Rwandan entrepreneurs, from pig farmers to developers like Rwamucyo.
SARA LEEDOM, Inkomoko: No place that I have been so strongly equates entrepreneurship with patriotism and nation-building. The first thing out of almost any young entrepreneur’s mouth is, “I want to contribute to the growth of Rwanda.”
P.J. TOBIA: The 1994 genocide devastated Rwanda. For 100 days, ethnic Hutu militias brutally targeted the Tutsi minority. An estimated one million people died in total.
WALTER RWAMUCYO: The 1994 genocide still rings around in the minds of people. But Rwandans have actually changed a lot.
P.J. TOBIA: Today, downtown Kigali is home to high-rise buildings and high-speed mobile Internet, but young people are entering the work force much faster than Rwanda’s economy can absorb them.
JEAN PHILBERT NSENGIMANA, Rwandan Minister of Youth and Information and Communication Technology: Today, government can only employ 4 percent.
P.J. TOBIA: Jean Philbert Nsengimana is the minister of youth, information communication technology. The rise in entrepreneurship was planned. By 2009, entrepreneurship classes were mandatory in secondary school. The government also runs workshops, radio programs and contests aimed at promoting entrepreneurialism.
JEAN PHILBERT NSENGIMANA: Entrepreneurship, a mind-set, and an entrepreneurial environment or ecosystem is not present everywhere by anyone — that we have decided to make it available to our people.
WALTER RWAMUCYO: An entrepreneur actually is someone who got an idea and got a passion. Actually, you find a way to turn that idea into a business.
P.J. TOBIA: But at this point, it’s unclear how many people are actually benefiting. The average Rwandan home still lives on less than $2 a day and only about 20 percent of homes have electricity.
In short, the entrepreneurship pipeline in Rwanda is full of kinks. Back at kLab, Walter plugs away. The IAKIB Cooperative recently agreed to adopt his system, and he’s got a group of new farmers to train.
Penina Nyirarukundo owns three cows and is excited about the milk tracking system. Reliable data might even help her get a bank loan.
PENINA NYIRARUKUNDO, Rwanda (through interpreter): We’re going to know how the cows are doing, the quality of the milk and do some sort of account with how much money we’re making.
P.J. TOBIA: It’s the type of impact Rwamucyo hoped for.
WALTER RWAMUCYO: Actually, when a farmer tells me, thank you, I feel competent, more motivated, and that’s the best reward you can expect when you’re an entrepreneur.
P.J. TOBIA: Well, that and a healthy return on investment.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m P.J. Tobia.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: how low-paid workers are winning some key battles.
Today, the National Labor Relations Board ruled a large company could be held responsible for labor decisions held by a contractor it hires, even if it doesn’t directly supervise the employee. That could mean unions may be able to negotiate directly with McDonald’s Corporation, for example, instead of just its franchises.
That win comes after another recent victory over a wage hike at Washington’s Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The state’s Supreme Court ruled last week that employers must pay workers $15 an hour. Airport businesses had challenged a 2013 referendum.
Our economics correspondent, Paul Solman, has updated his report.
Here’s a reprise of his Emmy-nominated story. It’s part of our weekly story Making Sense, which airs every Thursday on the news hour.
PAUL SOLMAN: A lot was at stake last week in SeaTac, Washington, home of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, as local citizens decided the fate of a proposition to jack up the minimum wage there to $15 an hour, for thousands of workers, the promise of a huge pay hike, 63 percent if they were making the state minimum of $9.19 an hour, plus paid sick leave, which promised to be a benefit for the flying public as well.
WOMAN: Every employee that I work with comes to work sick because they have to put food on the table.
ABDIRAHMAN ABDULLAHI, Car Rental Employee: Imagine you’re flying on an airplane. The worker who clean up the airplane before you fly, he was sick and he’s cleaning the airplane, imagine you eating on that table, you know?
PAUL SOLMAN: But higher costs would boomerang against low-income workers, business spokesman Maxford Nelson insisted.
MAXFORD NELSON, The Freedom Foundation: The workers who retain their jobs might be better off, but an increased number of other workers lose their jobs entirely.
PAUL SOLMAN: A bitter, costly campaign ensued, a recount, and, in the end, the ayes had it by 77 votes.
But, on decision day, Alaska Airlines, the main opponent of the $15 minimum wage proposition, filed a lawsuit in county court, arguing that a city can’t set ordinances for an airport operating within its borders.
HEATHER WEINER, Yes! for SeaTac: Unfortunately, a county judge agreed with Alaska Airlines and took away the benefits for about 4,700 workers at SeaTac Airport.
PAUL SOLMAN: Heather Weiner is spokesperson for the pro-$15 minimum wage side.
HEATHER WEINER: I’m being a little cheeky when I say this, but it’s like a mini-Bangladesh over there right now. You know, we have got high-end products and airfare, and people with high income flying in and out of SeaTac, 30 million people a year. And yet the people who are moving the bags, pushing the wheelchairs, serving the food, selling the magazines aren’t able to support their families. It’s really a tragedy.
PAUL SOLMAN: Just outside the airport, at SeaTac’s larger hotels and parking lots, some 1,600 workers did get their raises. But for the 5,000 or so workers on airport property, the court decision, which was being appealed, was a body blow.
WOMAN: Hearing this, my heart just sunk. I feel that now I can never get ahead.
PAUL SOLMAN: Jenay Zimmerman, who manages taxis at the airport, still made just $11.90 an hour. Baggage handler Joshua Vina of Menzies Aviation, which services several airlines here, including Alaska, still earned a mere $9.50 an hour.
JOSHUA VINA, Menzies Aviation: It was actually going to help me pay a lot of things off. It was going to help me have a lot more things to give to my wife and my son. And I’m barely supporting them right now with this.
PAUL SOLMAN: A decade ago, Alaska Airlines’ ramp workers had a union contract paying over $20 an hour, plus benefits, if you had worked there a few years. But when we visited, we saw some current workers on a free food line at church.
Heather Weiner was eager to tell us why.
HEATHER WEINER: In 2005, Alaska Airlines fired 500 people. They just laid them off without any kind of notice, and replaced those people with low-wage jobs at Menzies Aviation. Menzies Aviation is now the corporation that handles more than half of the bags and other services for Alaska and at SeaTac Airport.
And, Meanwhile, Alaska Airlines’ profits are way up. They reported half-a-billion dollars in profits in 2013, and the way they did that was in part by making sure that the people who work for them don’t make any more than minimum wage.
PAUL SOLMAN: The connection between wages and profits is pretty obvious, says Seattle venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, an outspoken advocate for the $15 minimum wage.
NICK HANAUER, Second Avenue Partners: Clearly, the CEO and senior managers of Alaska Airlines, and their board of directors, and their shareholders would prefer that most of the value created by that enterprise goes to them, and almost none of the value created by that enterprise goes to their workers.
PAUL SOLMAN: Alaska Airlines declined our interview request, but sent a written statement — quote — “Alaska is profitable now, but the past decade has been the most challenging in the history of airlines. In order to survive, we turned to airport-based contractors that work for multiple airlines and provide economies of scale. While we can’t dictate the labor relations practices of our business partners, we do strive to work closely with them on pay rates that reflect the job market” — unquote.
We tried to reach Alaska’s business partners, and other SeaTac airport contractors, 21 companies in all, none of which agreed to an interview.
MAN: I appreciate the call, but we’re going to pass.
PAUL SOLMAN: Even the off-airport employers complying with the law took a pass, though some lamented it to local reporters.
DAVID ROLF, Union Leader: The Cedarbrook Lodge said that they were going to have to lay off employees, and instead they’re doubling their room capacity and hiring.
PAUL SOLMAN: Union leader David Rolf was a prime mover behind Proposition 1.
DAVID ROLF: I think there was a lot of rhetoric designed to scare people leading up to that election, and so far all of the doom and gloom has not proven correct.
PAUL SOLMAN: Meanwhile, as both sides awaited the state Supreme Court’s ruling on appeal, some SeaTac Airport workers weren’t waiting around for judicial relief.
Workers like Hani Osman, a driver at SeaTac Airport’s Avis Budget Rent A Car, which the Teamsters recently succeeded in organizing with the help of this Somali refugee.
HANI OSMAN, Avis: We don’t get vacation. We don’t get sick call. We don’t get nothing, and that’s why we fought for the union.
PAUL SOLMAN: We met Osman at the SeaTac Teamsters hall, where she and others were voting on their first union contract, which would guarantee health care, retirement, vacation, sick leave, a grievance procedure, and $15 an hour if the lower court decision were overturned.
Are you really excited about the fact that you have now gotten a union?
HANI OSMAN: We’re so happy about it. Everybody’s so happy about it. And now we’re getting some results.
PAUL SOLMAN: What kind of results?
HANI OSMAN: For example, if we hit a car, we used to get suspended. You move like 100 cars a day, and if you scratch a little car, you get suspended for two weeks without pay.
PAUL SOLMAN: Really?
HANI OSMAN: Yes. And now we don’t have to see that again.
PAUL SOLMAN: Which brings us to one final note: The company that directly employs Hani Osman and colleagues isn’t Avis Budget. It’s the GCA Services Group.
HEATHER WEINER: GCA is a contractor that has 30,000 employees around the country. They are owned by Blackstone, which is a major Wall Street investment group, which is worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
PAUL SOLMAN: That prompted a last question for multimillionaire investor Nick Hanauer about his fellow one-hundredth of the 1 percenters.
How do you personally feel when you hear that a company like Blackstone has taken workers who used to work for Avis and Budget back to minimum wage, subcontracted?
NICK HANAUER: On the one hand, I feel like it’s a moral abomination, but the truth is that they may have felt that they needed to do that because their competitor had already done it and they wouldn’t be able to compete on price if they hadn’t.
PAUL SOLMAN: The seemingly inexorable pressure of competition, in other words, which is why the workers of SeaTac had organized, they explained, to counter with pressure of their own.
This is economics correspondent Paul Solman, reporting for the PBS NewsHour from SeaTac, Washington.
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GWEN IFILL: Now we look at one historic neighborhood before and after Katrina. It’s the home of actor Wendell Pierce, who tells his story in the forthcoming memoir “The Wind in the Reeds.”
Jeffrey Brown recently spent a day with Pierce in the neighborhood he grew up in, Pontchartrain Park, near the Gentilly district of New Orleans.
WENDELL PIERCE, Actor: I played on this golf course every day.
JEFFREY BROWN: You played…
WENDELL PIERCE: Football, tag.
WENDELL PIERCE: Everything but golf. And my game shows for that.
JEFFREY BROWN: A place for a child to play, for neighbors to enjoy green space and a sense of community. Can a golf course embody so much?
WENDELL PIERCE: I would hide in the bunker back here.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes, says actor Wendell Pierce, that and much more.
WENDELL PIERCE: This is our anchor. This golf course is historic. It was the only place where black golfers could play. This was the epitome of what the civil rights movement was all about. This is hallowed ground.
JEFFREY BROWN: The golf course is in the heart of Pontchartrain Park in an enclave built in the 1950s as a separate but equal suburban-style development for middle-class blacks.
WENDELL PIERCE: OK. Hear me out.
JEFFREY BROWN: Pierce, who trained at Juilliard, is best known as Detective Bunk Moreland from the HBO series “The Wire,” and then as a down-and-out musician in post-Katrina New Orleans in the TV series “Treme.”
WENDELL PIERCE: And these are our first two model homes.
JEFFREY BROWN: But perhaps the role he relishes the most these days is that of a community builder, or rebuilder, trying to bring back the neighborhood where he got his start.
Pierce’s parents, Amos, a janitor, and Althea, a schoolteacher, moved here in 1955 to provide a better life for their three sons.
WENDELL PIERCE: Listen, that is the heart and soul of the American dream, homeownership, the idea of being able to buy a house and start to build your family.
JEFFREY BROWN: It was a secure and happy home for the Pierces, until, with Katrina, it wasn’t as floodwaters rushed into Pontchartrain Park, damaging everything in their path. The family escaped in time. And three months later, Pierce returned with his elderly parents and took this home video.
WOMAN: We’re in my bedroom, what used to be my precious, gorgeous bedroom.
JEFFREY BROWN: Debris, mud, a life overturned; 90-year old Amos Pierce told us of that moment.
AMOS PIERCE, Father of Wendell Pierce: I started crying. My wife started crying. The water line was up about a half-a-foot from the ceiling.
WENDELL PIERCE: I saw not this elderly couple. I saw a young couple with all their hopes and dreams in 1955 buying a house, and seeing it — seeing all of their dreams destroyed.
JEFFREY BROWN: Wendell Pierce made a vow to rebuild, so his parents could return.
WENDELL PIERCE: He fought so long and hard, my mother, too, to make sure that we had a decent place to grow up and a decent life. I wanted to make sure that they got back here no matter what.
JEFFREY BROWN: And they did, 16 months after the storm. Althea Pierce lived there until her death in 2012.
In the aftermath of Katrina, Wendell Pierce also felt called to respond through his art.
WENDELL PIERCE: It was on this road that I saw the lights of cars. And I said, it couldn’t be. Is it possible that they’re coming to see the play?
JEFFREY BROWN: The play was “Waiting for Godot,” the absurdist classic written by an Irishman, Samuel Beckett, in 1949.
WENDELL PIERCE: This is the corner where we did the play.
JEFFREY BROWN: But that somehow took on a powerful new resonance when staged in 2007 in the neighborhood hardest hit by Katrina, the Lower Ninth Ward.
WENDELL PIERCE: I knew it would be special, because the play spoke to what we were going through so perfectly.
JEFFREY BROWN: Is that why you wanted to be a part of it?
WENDELL PIERCE: Absolutely. I knew that it was going to be a special moment. I knew that it was going to be the best display of power of art and the role that art plays.
Recognize the place? Recognize? What is there to recognize?
Two characters waiting in desolation in a void on a road waiting for something outside of themselves to save them or to give meaning to what they’re going through, and they can’t remember what their purpose in life is.
What are we doing here? That’s the question.
JEFFREY BROWN: In the middle of the performance, Pierce says, he felt a new call to action.
WENDELL PIERCE: I turned to the audience and, almost breaking character, I said, let us do something while we have the chance. At this moment, at this place, this hallowed ground where so many people died, we owe it to them. Let’s do something while we have the chance.
JEFFREY BROWN: Pierce formed the Pontchartrain Park Community Development association, a nonprofit group that builds affordable homes on abandoned properties. So far he’s built 40, including one for himself, with plans for another 85.
He’s also opened four convenience stores around the city. But an attempt to start a full-sized market in an area considered a food desert failed.
WENDELL PIERCE: The margin in the business is very thin, in the grocery store business. Ultimately, it was a difficult location, but we haven’t given up on it. And I’m going to keep going, you know?
JEFFREY BROWN: You’re an actor who’s learning to be a businessman, huh?
WENDELL PIERCE: Yes.
JEFFREY BROWN: With the success and sometimes failure that comes with that.
WENDELL PIERCE: Absolutely. When you succeed, it is sweeter when you know you have failed, you know?
JEFFREY BROWN: The learning goes on. And Pierce cites continuing battles with what he sees as the bureaucracy, inefficiency, and even corruption of various government entities. Still, 10 years after Katrina, his old home, Pontchartrain Park, has seen a resurgence.
WENDELL PIERCE: What was great about this neighborhood is back, which is families, churches, homes filled with homeowners, schools, all the stuff that makes for a really wonderful life and gives people a shot to build not only wealth in terms of finances, but wealth of love and family and just sense of community.
JEFFREY BROWN: A community that has survived and even thrived.
From Pontchartrain Park, New Orleans, I’m Jeffrey Brown for the PBS NewsHour.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, we continue our weeklong series on how the Gulf Coast is faring after Katrina.
We start with President Obama’s visit to the area today.
Ten years after the costliest natural disaster in American history, President Obama today declared New Orleans is moving forward. He spoke at a newly opened community center in the Lower Ninth Ward, one of the city’s hardest-hit neighborhoods.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, United States: You are an example of what is possible, when, in the face of tragedy and in the face of hardship, good people come together to lend a hand and, brick by brick, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, you build a better future. And that, more than any other reason, is why I have come back here today.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Mr. Obama was in his first year as a U.S. senator when Katrina struck Louisiana in August 2005. It devastated the Gulf Coast, from Texas to Florida, while breaching the levee system built to protect New Orleans from flooding.
More than 1,800 people died and a million were displaced. Damages reached $150 billion.
MAN: We need more resources here.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Aside from praising the city’s resilience, the president also acknowledged the failure of government to look out for residents of New Orleans.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The storm laid bare a deeper tragedy that had been brewing for decades, because we came to understand that New Orleans, like so many cities and communities across the country, had for too long been plagued by structural inequalities that left too many people, especially poor people, especially people of color, without good jobs or affordable health care or decent housing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: As a candidate in 2008, Mr. Obama sharply criticized then President George W. Bush for his administration’s handling of the storm’s aftermath.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, today, a cheering crowd greeted the president as he toured Treme, one of the country’s oldest black neighborhoods. It was badly flooded in the deluge that swamped New Orleans.
After meeting with residents, Mr. Obama emphasized that much work remains.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Just because the houses are nice doesn’t mean our job’s done. This is a community obviously that still has a lot of poverty. This is an area where young people still too often are taking the wrong path before they graduate from high school. This is a community that still needs resources and still needs help.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The city as a whole has seen positives, like a near return to its pre-storm population. But New Orleans is still plagued by severe income inequality and a rising crime rate.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The good economic news out today adds yet another layer of complexity to a crucial decision that could affect millions of American households. Will the Federal Reserve Board finally raise interest rates next month?
It’s a much debated question, one that’s taken on new urgency given the market turmoil of late, worries over China and more. It’s also the subject of much attention at the Fed’s annual retreat now under way in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Greg Ip follows this all closely as the chief economics commentator for The Wall Street Journal. And he joins us again.
Great to have you back, Greg.
GREG IP, The Wall Street Journal: Hi, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, there are all these arguments growing louder every day, yes, raise rates, no, don’t raise rates. And then you had just yesterday the president of the New York Fed, an influential man, William Dudley, saying now there is a less compelling argument. What is he talking about?
GREG IP: Well, it really is a crucial decision moment for the Fed.
They have had interest rates at zero for basically seven years now in this effort to try and get a badly beaten-up economy growing normally again. And when you look at things like the unemployment rate, they have succeeded. It’s down to 5.3 percent. That kind of looks normal. And you have these abnormally low interest rates.
So almost all the officials on the Fed have felt all year that the time would be right by the fall to start raising interest rates up from zero. But what changed in the last few weeks? Well, one of the things that’s not normal is the inflation rate. It’s still too low for the Fed’s taste.
With what we have seen in the last few weeks, we know a couple things. The price of oil has fallen. The dollar has gotten stronger and some things that we import will get cheaper, so inflation is going to go even lower. And it looks like a very tender time in the financial markets.
Those two factors suggest that maybe it’s still a bit too soon to start moving interest rates higher.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But you do have the argument — I saw this just today — the Kansas City Fed president, Esther George, said because the U.S. economy is fundamentally strong, the Fed shouldn’t hesitate to go ahead and raise rates.
And you had those new GDP numbers we cited earlier in the program, strong growth earlier this year.
GREG IP: Absolutely.
If you were just looking at the situation of the U.S. economy alone, this would be a no-brainer. As you say, we had very good GDP numbers for the second quarter, 3.7 percent annualized growth. We have now seen data for the month of July and we know that factory activity was quite good. Employment was very strong. You have even seen housing sales.
All these things tell us that the U.S. economy is doing just fine and what’s going on in the market really is just a market event. So if they could somehow put that aside, then really they shouldn’t feel that nervous about starting that process.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see the Fed dividing up on this? Obviously, they’re not talking openly about this, Greg, but how do you see the — what kind of a conversation are they going to be having about this?
GREG IP: So, you can divide Fed officials, of which there are 17 or 18, I think, now, into three groups.
You have the hawks, who will always think that they should start raising rates. Ms. George could be considered one of those. You have doves, who think that the Fed should always be slow to raise interest rates. And then there is a group in the middle that is always looking carefully at every last data point, and they’re not sure.
And that group of people, who is led by Janet Yellen, the chairwoman, is right now undecided. If you look at where the markets are, they believe that the odds of a rate increase at their meeting next month have gone from well over 50 percent to now around 25 percent.
And I think that they’re betting that when Janet Yellen looks at the troubles in the markets out there, the likelihood that inflation is going to go lower, rather than higher, she’s going to say, maybe not now, maybe we will think about this in December instead.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we pointed out she’s not attending this conference, this Fed conference at Jackson Hole. Her vice chairman, Stanley Fischer, is there. And there was a story today about he was walking past some of these protesters.
There’s a liberal group called the Center for Popular Democracy that’s holding protests all weekend out there. Is that something that can influence these Fed governors, or do they just look the other way?
GREG IP: They have heard these arguments on and off for several years, both from groups on the more liberal side who have felt strongly that the Fed needs to do more to get the economy growing faster, unemployment lower. This would be very good for people’s wages.
We have even heard Larry Summers, who isn’t exactly a bleeding-heart liberal, making that case in the op-ed pages this week, that this is exactly the wrong time to raise interest rates. But there are people on the other side of the argument — in fact, some of those people will be out there at Jackson Hole offsetting the cries to stay at zero to say, no, no, no, now is the time to start moving rates up, you’re doing more damage with these ridiculously low interest rates than you’re helping.
So they have pressure on both sides.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we have a few weeks to go before they meet to make this decision one way or another, but it’s never too soon to start talking about it.
GREG IP: Yes, absolutely not. What else would we do? What else would we have to talk about?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Greg Ip with The Wall Street Journal, we thank you.
GREG IP: Thank you.
GWEN IFILL: We look now at what made this latest shooting sadly familiar and shockingly different with Lance Ulanoff, chief correspondent & editor at large at Mashable, the digital media Web site, Barry Rosenfeld, a professor of psychology and director of clinical training at Fordham University, and Deborah Potter, the founder of NewsLab, a nonprofit journalism resource center. She is also a former television news correspondent and anchor.
Lance Ulanoff, was it only a matter of time before someone live-tweeted something so horrific?
LANCE ULANOFF, Mashable: Yes, unfortunately, I think that’s true.
We are never without our technology. It surrounds us. It permeates our lives. We have powerful computers in our pockets, and we have been — you know, we are training our children from the youngest age to use social media, so it’s something that comes very naturally to us.
And what I noticed as part of this, this horrifying crime, is that the use of social media seemed to be kind of a natural act happening as he was doing these things. It didn’t feel — that part of it didn’t feel particularly premeditated.
GWEN IFILL: Well, not only his act, but also was it a natural act that people instinctively shared what he put up online?
LANCE ULANOFF: Yes. Yes, it is.
But, you know, it’s funny, because I look at this guy, Flanagan, and I think to myself, this is a person who committed a heinous crime who wasn’t in his right mind, and used social media in a way that terrifies me. The people who reshared what they saw, I understand the impulse, because you see something, it’s newsworthy, that is what we do in this modern age.
But I am surprised that they didn’t stop for a moment and realize and think about what they were doing. And that’s kind of where I think we probably have to take a closer look.
GWEN IFILL: Deborah Potter, let’s pick up on that.
Given what we know about technology and the ease with which we can now disseminate this kind of information, what is the responsibility for coverage?
DEBORAH POTTER, Founder, NewsLab: Well, I think the point has been made that journalists are not the only ones who are sharing information anymore.
And so for news organizations, there were very detailed conversations yesterday. Should we air this video? What should we do with it?
GWEN IFILL: It was in our newsroom.
DEBORAH POTTER: Exactly.
But it doesn’t really matter, because people are going to be able to find it in their own Twitter stream, on their own Facebook page. Other people are sharing it. So, I think, for news organizations, we’re having the same conversation we have always had. What’s the responsible thing to do? But that horse is already out of the barn.
GWEN IFILL: The difference this time is, we have adjust for carnage that seems to happen in real time. How do you even anticipate something like that?
DEBORAH POTTER: You can’t. And that’s the problem.
And this crew could in no way have anticipated that they were going to be in danger. There was a lot of talk today about, should we have armed guards go out with correspondents and cameras when they’re going to go live somewhere? That’s not going to happen. Should we have fewer live shots? Yes, I think we should. I think that would be a really good outcome if we didn’t do so many sort of empty live shots.
But at the same time, this is how we present the news. And that’s what television does. It goes to places where things are happening. Should newsrooms talk more about the safety of their people and make sure people are aware of the dangers that they face, even when you don’t think it could possibly be dangerous? Absolutely.
GWEN IFILL: Yes, it’s one thing to go out and cover a riot and expect something to happen. Nothing when you’re talking to a Chamber of Commerce leader.
Barry Rosenfeld, I feel like we ask this question every time, but what are the signs that we should be on the lookout for in these kinds of cases? Were there signals in everything we know so far about Vester Flanagan that should have tipped somebody off?
BARRY ROSENFELD, Fordham University: Well, you know, this is the hardest question there is, because it is easy to see signals with hindsight.
So there are posts apparently on Twitter about him being a powder keg. He’s had this history of animosity and paranoia towards people that he worked with. Is it surprising that this is a workplace-related shooting, given what we know about him? No, I don’t think so.
But of the countless people out there who have a beef with their workplace, who feel like they have been mistreated, who feel like there’s racial injustice, can we identify the sliver that are going to potentially become violent? Not without a much more detailed approach, not without really taking things seriously when someone is brought to our attention, and I don’t think anyone brought him to their attention.
I don’t think any clinician, I don’t think any mental health person saw him with the question of, should we be concerned about him?
GWEN IFILL: In general, are targeted workplace shootings like this different in — in just the way we should assess them than random movie theater shootings, random mass shootings?
BARRY ROSENFELD: Well, there’s a different profile of who that person might be.
So, the movie theater shooting, that’s a much more sort of psychotic-like offense. And the workplace shooting is usually somebody who has been or feels like they have been pushed to the breaking point, somebody who is — their ego, their self-esteem has been squelched by problems in the workplace. They see other people as the source of their problems. So it’s a different profile.
But, you know, I don’t want to use that word profile to imply that we can go out there and find these people, because, again, it’s that needle in a haystack problem.
GWEN IFILL: Lance Ulanoff, I want to circle back to the tech part of this, because I wonder whose responsibility it should be when the technology has outpaced our ability to stop awful things from happening, if we were ever capable of it. Is it the responsibility for the Twitter and the Facebooks of the world to not make that possible, or is it the responsibility of the disseminators or the consumers of the information?
LANCE ULANOFF: Well, I try and explain to people, technology is super smart and also completely dumb. It doesn’t know what you’re putting on there.
It works almost in an automated fashion. The idea of Twitter and Facebook is that you put something in, you press a button, and it goes to the people you have already set it up to share with. Facebook has over a billion users. Twitter has well over 300 million users. This was a remarkably savvy psychopath, to be quite honest, because as he was driving, he was sharing these things to his social networks.
And what happens on the other side is, people who were either already following him or, as many in the media at that moment were doing, including me, who were looking for him to find traces of who this person is and what they’re all about, basically stumbled on his live blog of his — of these murders.
And he put them up there so quickly, while he was on the road, using his smartphone. And as soon as Facebook and Twitter were aware of what was happening, they pulled them down. It was approximately seven minutes, but, as your other guests said, cat’s out of the bag. It was already out there and people — it was being shared all around. People had pulled the video down.
It is not — I don’t think it’s the responsibility of them. But there is one caveat here, one very important caveat, something new that was added fairly recently to Twitter and also exists on Facebook. And it’s autoplay, meaning that the videos play the moment they are in — they have the focal point on your screen.
And I think that’s a place where you suddenly can’t get away from it. The video is playing, and I saw this video. And you cannot look away.
GWEN IFILL: Yes.
LANCE ULANOFF: And you don’t even realize exactly what you’re seeing until it happens.
GWEN IFILL: That happened to me as well. And I figured out how to stop that from happening.
LANCE ULANOFF: Yes.
GWEN IFILL: Let me ask Deborah Potter — but let me ask Deborah Potter about that, which is, what is our responsibility as news gatherers, as news disseminators, not only to protect ourselves, but also to protect the people who read and view what we watch?
DEBORAH POTTER: Well, I think the point Lance is making is a very good one with new technology. That is the whole question of autoplay.
That can be disabled at the producer’s end and should be in situations like this as soon as possible. And also I think it’s important for newsrooms to talk to their audience about what it is they’re doing and why. So, if CBS, as they did, decided to show the video that was shot by the perpetrator from his perspective, and stop it at the point where you see him pointing the gun, they need to explain why they did that.
Why is it so important for us to show that to the public? And if we’re not showing it, why are we not showing it?
GWEN IFILL: And, Barry Rosenfeld, I started this by saying it was very — sadly familiar, but shockingly different. Well, do you agree with that? Was this very different from everything we have seen before?
BARRY ROSENFELD: Well, it’s — I guess I wouldn’t say it’s very different. It’s not what the last couple of mass shootings have been, but it’s a workplace violence incident.
What makes it different is the Twitter feed, the live broadcasting of it. And I think that is just a sign of the times, that people are savvy with technology. And had this technology been around 15 years ago, the Columbine would have been on YouTube just as quickly.
If I could just go back to a comment that your last guest made, you know, the other place where I guess I would hope people would maybe feel some responsibility is when a post is put on Facebook or on Twitter that “I’m a powder keg,” maybe that’s a place where friends or family could jump in or could say, you know, what’s this about? Have you talked to somebody about this?
I mean, I think there are other avenues other than the media necessarily or the government surveilling our posts. But there are some opportunities here for people to notice that he is at his wits’ end, basically.
GWEN IFILL: We have probably just scratched the surface on this, but I thank you all for helping us to.
Barry Rosenfeld from Fordham University, Lance Ulanoff from Mashable, and Deborah Potter of NewsLab, thank you, all three, very much.
DEBORAH POTTER: Thanks.
BARRY ROSENFELD: Thanks, Gwen.
LANCE ULANOFF: Thank you.
GWEN IFILL: For a second day, a shocking televised murder is raising a wide array of questions about the perpetrator and about how quickly horrific images can infect the national bloodstream online.
We will have our own conversation about some of this in a moment, but, first, more of this day’s reactions to the Virginia shootings.
WOMAN: Please join us now in a moment of silence.
GWEN IFILL: WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia, paused this morning to remember cameraman Adam Ward and reporter Alison Parker at the exact moment the two were shot and killed yesterday during a live on-air interview.
Their killer, 41-year-old Vester Lee Flanagan, was a former reporter for the station. He was known on-air as Bryce Williams and was fired in 2013.
JEFF MARKS, General Manager, WDBJ: He was an angry man. We didn’t know that when we hired him.
GWEN IFILL: WDBJ president Jeff Marks:
JEFF MARKS: When something was amiss in his performance, he would deflect it onto others and blamed other people for all of his issues. And then he blamed back by making these wild accusations about racial insensitivity and all of that. And it’s just not true.
GWEN IFILL: In the hours that followed the attack, Flanagan faxed a 23-page document to ABC News. In it, he said his actions were triggered by the apparent racism of Dylann Roof, a white man who has been charged with the murder of nine black worshipers during Bible study at a Charleston, South Carolina, church this June.
Flanagan also claimed he had been subjected to racial discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying at work. Using his on-air moniker, Flanagan posted footage he filmed of the shooting to Facebook and Twitter. Both accounts were later taken down.
After fleeing the scene, police said Flanagan committed suicide yesterday afternoon on a Virginia highway. Today, Alison Parker’s father, Andy, pledged to work for stricter gun control.
ANDY PARKER, Father of Alison Parker: I’m going to do everything I can now to make sure her life has meaning, that people remember her and that they’re — that we don’t have another Newtown, that we don’t have another movie theater shooting, that we don’t have another Charleston. The politicians have got to stand up to the NRA and close some of these loopholes, so that crazy people don’t get guns.
GWEN IFILL: Joined by the WDBJ staff this afternoon, station president Marks said Flanagan was at one point sent to an employee counseling program because of performance and behavior issues.
Even as he spoke, a makeshift memorial continued to grow nearby, as friends, viewers and co-workers paid tribute to the murdered journalists.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: A rash of consumer, business and government spending pushed U.S. economic growth into better-than-expected territory. The nation’s gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of 3.7 percent from April to June, according to the Commerce Department. That’s more than a percentage point higher than initial estimates. For comparison, Japan’s economy shrank and Germany and the U.K. grew by less than a percent for the same time period.
GWEN IFILL: Stocks in China rebounded today and shook off a six-day slump triggered by concerns over the health of the Chinese economy. The two major Chinese indices surged by more than 5 percent, snapping a losing streak that had rippled around the financial world. Other Asian and European markets followed suit.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The Asian rally extended to Wall Street, helped along by the encouraging U.S. economic numbers. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 369 points to close above 16600. The Nasdaq rose 115 points, and the S&P 500 added 47 points. For oil, it was also a good day, the biggest one-day rally in nearly seven years. U.S. oil prices rose by nearly $4 a barrel, more than 10 percent, to $42.56.
GWEN IFILL: In Iraq today, an Islamic State militant killed two generals and three soldiers in a suicide bombing. A vehicle filled with explosives hit the troops as they advanced towards the ISIS-controlled city of Ramadi in Anbar province. A funeral procession for the generals passed through Baghdad this afternoon.
Iraqi Prime Minister al-Abadi walked behind the coffins and vowed to defeat ISIS. The Islamic State claimed the attack was revenge for the recent killing of a senior militant fighter.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Police in Austria today discovered the decomposed bodies of as many as 50 refugees piled inside a truck on a highway from Budapest to Vienna, this as a summit on Europe’s migrant crisis began today in Vienna.
Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News has this report from the scene of the discovery.
LINDSEY HILSUM: We were on our way to the Balkans summit in Vienna, where leaders were to discuss migration, when we saw police around a truck at the side of the road. The stench of death blew in through our car window.
The consequence of European governments’ failure to deal with the tide of refugees and migrants was right here at the side of the motorway. The police first noticed the vehicle around 11:00 a.m.
HELMUT MARBAN, Austrian Federal Police: They thought at first this was a breakdown, and then looked and they found no driver. And then they saw that blood comes out of the car. And the smell was like — yes. And then they call alarm.
LINDSEY HILSUM: Forensic teams worked on the outside. It’s believed that the people inside may have been dead for several days. The lorry had the logo of a Slovakian chicken meat company, but the license plates were Hungarian and the vehicle was reportedly bought by a Romanian last year.
Police are investigating the network of people smugglers that brings refugees and migrants into Austria. The families who climbed into that truck must have thought that they were heading away from death, not towards it. But this then is what it’s come to: people suffocating to death at the side of a motorway in one of the richest countries in the world.
Today’s summit was overshadowed by the tragedy. Only Germany is responding to the crisis, accepting 800,000 Syrian refugees this year.
CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL, Germany (through interpreter): Naturally, we are all shaken by the appalling news that up to 50 people lost their lives because they got into a situation where these traffickers didn’t look after them, even though these people were on the way in search of safety and protection. And they had to die such a tragic death. This reminds us that we must tackle quickly the issue of immigration.
LINDSEY HILSUM: The E.U. leadership knows it’s failing.
FEDERICA MOGHERINI, Foreign Policy Chief, European Union: We understand very well that we cannot continue like this, with a minute of silence every time that we see people dying.
LINDSEY HILSUM: E.U. leaders know that Balkan countries can’t cope with the influx. They’re too poor and only recently recovering from war themselves. Yet rich E.U. countries, including Britain, are refusing to accept refugees. It’s everyone’s and no one’s problem.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Just yesterday, authorities in nearby Hungary detained more than 3,200 refugees at its southern border with Serbia. That’s the highest number so far this year.
GWEN IFILL: Authorities in China have detained 11 people for their role in the massive warehouse explosion that killed at least 145 people. They’re accused of negligence and abuse of power in the country’s most — worst industrial disaster in recent years. The August 12 explosion at a chemical site devastated the port city of Tianjin and left 115 police and firefighters among the dead and missing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: A cloud of smoky air hung over much of the Northwestern U.S. today from about 50 large wildfires that are now burning. The National Weather Service imposed air quality alerts for parts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. A fire in Okanagan, Washington, has now grown to almost 438 square miles, making it the largest fire ever recorded in that state.
Fire officials are working hard to contain it.
TODD PECHOTA, Incident Commander: Containment remains at 17 percent and we have nearly 1,800 people from 33 states here supporting the firefighting efforts on the ground. Our priorities have not changed in terms of our objectives. The public — the safety of the public and our firefighters remains our number one concern.
JUDY WOODRUFF: A contingent of firefighters from Australia and New Zealand were deployed today to help battle the Washington wildfire.
GWEN IFILL: New data released today shows that, although the vast majority of American children are vaccinated, those who are not still pose a big threat to public health. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that less than 2 percent of parents nationwide asked for vaccination exemptions last school year. But in certain states, the number is much higher, as high as 6.5 percent in Idaho.
The report follows a measles outbreak in California that sickened more than 100 people earlier this year.
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It was — but no one yet knew it — just days before Hurricane Katrina and the failure of the federal levee system would put 80 percent of New Orleans under water. And then-Mayor Ray Nagin was walking on air. A big time developer named Donald Trump had just committed to build a downtown condotel that would replace the Shell tower as the tallest building in the city. It was a feather in Nagin’s not-yet-sullied cap, as big a project as the moribund New Orleans economy had seen in decades. It would be a basis for bragging rights when Nagin — now a federal prisoner (through no fault of Trump’s) — faced re-election the following spring.
Ten years later, and with other cities and regions facing disaster around the world, New Orleans provides revealing lessons on the role business and economics did and — and didn’t — play in the city’s now notably vigorous recovery.
The early months after the flood were filled with dire warnings. The city’s muscular preservationist lobby, never too happy with Trump’s plan in the first place, now denounced it as a probable opening wedge in a Philistine campaign to seize the moment and win the kind of zoning variances that would turn an economically desperate Big Easy into Buffalo.
But forget Buffalo. How about Vegas? Nagin’s contribution to the nightmare vision of insensitive post-disaster development was to propose jumpstarting recovery by letting all the big downtown hotels become casinos. Fortunately, the plan went nowhere.
A more nuanced anxiety centered on what was called Disneyfication: To prop up the all-too-important tourist trade, New Orleans, it was feared, would contrive a fake version of the street culture that, without subsidy or any direction from City Hall, makes the French Quarter a living theater of pass-the-hat brass bands, jugglers, magicians and sketch artists operating against a backdrop of gorgeous old architecture.
“But predictions of doom remained a local currency… public assets would be privatized for profit and our social safety net would be shredded by the spawn of Milton Friedman.”
As it turned out, there was no reason to fret about either of the Donalds: Duck or Trump. The latter soon showed New Orleans the back of his hand and reneged on the condotel scheme. And somehow, wonderfully, the buskers and trumpet players and card sharps grew bored with Houston and Atlanta and found their way back to New Orleans, dispelling concerns that Disneyfication would replace them with hoop-skirted Voodoo queens and pirates from central casting.
But predictions of doom remained a local currency. The most pessimistic among us had read and admired free-market critic Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine” with its dire prophesy that our ravaged city would soon be no more than a lingering morsel of food stuck in the snapping fangs of “disaster capitalism.” As in Pinochet’s Chile — Klein’s analogue to what lay ahead — public assets would be privatized for profit and our social safety net would be shredded by the spawn of Milton Friedman and other Chicago School economists who figured importantly among Pinochet’s advisers.
Consistent with such predictions, Nagin signaled that he was open to the idea of turning the storied and shattered working-class neighborhood known as the Lower 9th Ward into a sprawling factory for the production of prefab housing to replace the tens of thousands of residential units rendered uninhabitable by the flood — another half-baked idea that went nowhere.
What looked like an apocalypse to the left held promise for many conservatives. Katrina was an opportunity to reinvent a corrupt and industrially fading city that had come to be called the hemisphere’s northernmost banana republic.
The Wall Street Journal caught up with one plutocrat who had fled to Texas and quoted him saying, in an unguarded moment, that if the city didn’t seize the opportunity to offload a good part of its sizable underclass — that is, poor blacks — he and his buddies were done, never coming back. The more wholesome dream was that rebuilding after Katrina might be an opportunity to diversify an economy way too dependent on tourism.
Fortunately, reality delivered neither Klein’s vision of full-bore disaster capitalism nor the ethnic cleansing the plutocrat seemed to yearn for. Unfortunately, it also didn’t do much to diversify the economy. The city remains as dependent on tourism and conventions as before.
Indeed, to a startling degree Corporate America was a no-show in the early going. Trump wasn’t the only one to pull out. Chevron beat a retreat and moved its regional headquarters to a distant suburb. (Shell was the exception; it chose to double down on New Orleans, not only by remaining in place but becoming a Medici of local arts and cultural sponsorship.)
It would be the better part of a decade before corporate America blessed New Orleans with more routine levels of investment, especially in the areas that flooded heavily, in particular New Orleans East, a vast swath of the city that is home to many black millionaires as well as a substantial part of the black middle class. Years passed before Walmart set up shop and made groceries available in any abundance. The huge mall that was once the center of retail out that way remains a parking lot; its movie multiplex but a memory.
“Equally notable has been the eruption of ‘social entrepreneurship,’ usually nonprofit outfits with a business plan but more interested in doing good than doing well.”
In place of Trump or Chevron or a prefab housing plant, the energy in the business sector has been home-grown and entrepreneurial. Start-ups began to dominate the local economy in ways they hadn’t for as long as anyone could remember. Even with the population still off by a quarter, there are more restaurants in New Orleans today than there were before Katrina. Magazine Street, once a miles-long parade of used furniture stores and vacant plate glass windows now hops with boutiques and galleries, financial services firms, and inevitably, more restaurants.
Equally notable has been the eruption of “social entrepreneurship,” usually nonprofit outfits with a business plan but more interested in doing good than doing well. In essence, what happened was this: Folks in the army of churchgoers, youth groups and adventure seekers who came down to help rebuild immediately after the storm fell in love with New Orleans. After helping to gut our houses and ladle soup, they decided to stay. Freshly minted college graduates began doing the same thing — many of them Teach for America recruits attracted to the city’s convulsive effort to shake alive the previously abysmal public school system.
The big foundations were hugely important in the recovery’s early hours as were the universities. Out-of-state institutions flooded the city with students and professors who saw New Orleans as a living laboratory for social change. Locally, despite (or because of) staggering devastation of their campuses, Tulane and Xavier in particular figured out ways to turn disaster into an opportunity to rethink both curricula and their mission. Applications have soared.
Utterly unexpected 10 years ago, New Orleans has become a hot town for twenty- and thirty-somethings, one of the last places in America still cheap enough for a would-be film-writer, rock star or world-saver to support herself quite nicely with a day job waiting tables.
But here’s where the story gets a little edgier, because even if Big Capital chickened out in the early going, New Orleans hardly staged the comeback on its own, even counting all that help from Big Philanthropy. Federal subsidies became available through the post-Katrina Gulf Opportunity Zone and accounted for what little new development the region saw in the first few years (alas, a woefully small part of it within New Orleans city limits.)
The single biggest construction project, not counting the $14 billion federal levee upgrade and the $10 billion in federal money allocated for home reconstruction through the botched Road Home program, was not a Trump hotel; it was the giant — some say oversized and doomed to fail — public hospital complex that the Veterans Administration and Louisiana State University have built a few blocks from their old digs.
And tax breaks and giveaways at the state level powered New Orleans already burgeoning movie and TV industry into rivalry today with Hollywood itself.
In sum, capitalism has hardly been the rampaging jihad that Klein foresaw; it has seemed to need an awful lot of handholding by the nanny state. Where the shock doctrine has come closest to fulfillment, perhaps, has been in the overhaul of the city’s once enormous inventory of public housing.
Amid seething controversy, a year after Katrina the City Council voted unanimously to accept hundreds of millions in federal aid to tear down and rebuild the four biggest projects, containing some 5,000 units. Advocates for low-income tenants were outraged that this meant refusing to reopen the old projects — albeit government-run ghettos — at a time of housing shortages. The flood and high winds had already KO’d over 100,000 housing units, some of them irreparably.
And, yes, capital was given a role in the construction and management of the new developments. The overhaul was conducted under the Hope VI program, a Clinton-era confection that (1) strives to replace old uniformly low- to no-income projects with mixed-income communities and to do so (2) through public-private partnerships — again an instance of government helping poor old capitalism to the buffet table.
Rent and real estate prices have shot skyward — by as much as 50 percent in some neighborhoods according to recent tabulations. The prices pose an obvious problem for the still substantial part of the New Orleans population that lives below the poverty line, including the influx of Mexican and Central American workers who came north to help us put our world back together.
Where true believers also try to apply Kleinian analysis is in explaining the takeover/makeover of what, in 2005, were notoriously crappy public schools, a nearly all-black system that had been largely abandoned for decades by both whites and the Creole elite. Here the shock doctrine offers initial insights, because, without doubt, the agents of a sweeping shake-up saw disaster as an opportunity worth exploiting for radical change. It’s the disaster-capitalist part of the narrative that proves to be kind of a poor fit.
Yes, the entire public school payroll was laid off and the teachers’ union effectively busted within weeks of the storm. Those actions — along with the deeply counterproductive decision to shut the schools down for an entire year — was the work of the duly elected and deeply dysfunctional parish school board, though both decisions are frequently and wrongly attributed to state-level officials who masterminded the ensuing takeover.
For their part, the state bureaucrats — frantic to restore some semblance of public education on a much faster timetable — activated something called the Recovery School District. It was a receptacle for failing schools that, despite its Katrina-esque name, had been authorized by the state legislature two years before the disaster. And yes, after taking over every New Orleans public school that failed to meet minimum academic standards — the vast majority — it is true that the state technocrats favored and fostered the charter school management model.
“In sum, capitalism has hardly been the rampaging jihad that Klein foresaw; it has seemed to need an awful lot of handholding by the nanny state.”
Today, all but a handful of the city’s 100-plus public schools are chartered. It is fashionable for critics of the shake-up to say they have been “privatized,” which might be a classic instance of disaster capitalism at work except for this: the schools are tax-payer financed, their boards volunteer, and they must meet state standards for curriculum and student performance.
That the radically transformed system has made huge strides, particularly in the academic performance and college readiness of black males, is a source of disappointment to those who believe chartering amounts to slipping a public asset into the pockets of fat cats. In fact, the few for-profit management teams that convinced a charter to give them a try mostly failed and have been run out of town.
The anniversary has provided us with an opportunity to look back and look ahead. The big takeaway is that post-disaster corporate capitalism turned out to be a frail sister to homegrown entrepreneurship, philanthropy and good old government money.
Incidentally, New Orleans also provided a textbook test of stimulus spending’s impact. The Keynesians were right. The ’08-’09 financial crash swept past New Orleans like a hurricane veering back toward Florida. With billions flowing from Washington, official employment levels barely dipped. (The upstate fracking boom further juiced the economy, though of course that sector is now sputtering.)
But while much of New Orleans has been revived, some efforts died aborning. The overhauled housing developments are a source of delight to the residents lucky enough to have landed a lease. But one selling point of the do-over was that de-ghettoizing the poor would somehow mitigate the city’s crime problem. It hasn’t. Drug dealing and violent crime remain stunningly rife in New Orleans. The bad guys have merely scattered.
Nor has New Orleans’s resurgence brought huge swaths of people out of poverty. Our child poverty rate stood at 38 percent before Katrina. It dipped for a few years. Today, 39 percent of young New Orleanians are deemed to be living in poverty.
Some economic issues are immune to recovery.
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Greece saw its first female prime minister, Vassiliki Thanou, sworn in on Thursday as the new head of the financially troubled nation’s caretaker government. New elections will be held next month.
Thanou, Greece’s top Supreme Court judge, was appointed by President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and takes over at a time of financial turmoil for the country which has jeopardized its eurozone membership.
Former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras resigned last week after holding the position for seven months. Tsipras, who was part of the leftist Syriza party, saw a split in his own party after negotiating a new bailout deal.
Tsipras has said he needs a stronger mandate in order to implement tougher austerity measures. After he stepped down, party opposition leaders tried to form a new government to no avail.
Tsipras has indicated he will run again in the next elections, which are expected on Sept. 20, in the hopes of achieving an outright majority.
Meanwhile, Thanou historically has been vocal against austerity measures and the bailout. Her new Cabinet, sworn in Friday, will implement several austerity measures that are conditions of the new bailout, according to the Associated Press. She also signed a decree dissolving Parliament.
Among the new Cabinet members is Giorgos Houliarakis, the chief negotiator in the third bailout package, who will serve as finance minister. Diplomat Petros Moliviatis will serve as foreign minister and popular Greek singer Alkistis Protopsalti as tourism minister.
LGBTQ African immigrants are the heart of “Limit(less),” a photography documentary project that illuminates the lives of first and second-generation LGBTQ Africans in the diaspora.
Photographer Mikael Owunna‘s childhood as a queer Nigerian-American informed his work and the creation of the project, he said. Owunna said he wanted to document the “limitless” ways in which LGBTQ Africans live multifaceted lives while navigating a society that views their multiple identities as mutually exclusive.
“It’s always been a struggle for me trying to resolve these two aspects of my identity,” Owunna said. “Because this rhetoric that LGBTQ Africans are ‘un-African’ has been weaponized against me, I’ve dealt with so much stuff from my own family in terms of homophobia. So that’s been always on my mind, struggling with these two parts of my identity.”
A graduate of Duke University, Owunna lived in Taiwan for year on a Fulbright scholarship while he developed a photography project. After he returned home to Pittsburgh, a visit to the Carnegie Museum of Arts inspired him to pursue his newest project.
“I walked into the main foyer and the whole wall was dedicated to the queer African artist Zanele Muholi’s ‘Faces and Phases’ project. And when I saw it I was immediately reduced to tears,” he said. “It was so moving because my entire life I’ve never seen anything that reflected me in any capacity.”
Expanding the current visual archives of queer African life is crucial to Owunna. “When I started, I only knew one LGBTQ African my entire life, one friend; I felt completely alone,” he said.
Owunna spent months searching for people to document on Tumblr and through word-of-mouth, then conducted preliminary interviews to discuss participants’ comfort with the project and any potential risks they could face as a result of participating.
“That’s something that I’m constantly thinking about — what could happen to some of the people that I’m documenting,” he said.
Participants shared their experiences in their own words, filling what one participant called a void of “intersectional LGBTQ African representation” in mainstream LGBTQ discourse.
Owunna recently returned from photographing more participants in Trinidad and hopes to gain more funding to expand the project in other countries. See below for more of his work.
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WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court on Friday ruled in favor of the Obama administration in a dispute over the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone data on hundreds of millions of Americans.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed a lower court ruling that said the program likely violates the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches.
But the impact of the appeals court’s ruling is uncertain because Congress has passed legislation designed to replace the program over the next few months. The appeals court sent the case back for a judge to determine what further details about the program the government must provide.
The ruling is the latest in a succession of decisions in federal courts in Washington and New York that at various points threatened the constitutionality of the NSA’s surveillance program, but have so far upheld the amassing of records from U.S. domestic phone customers.
The appeals court ruled that challengers to the program have not shown “a substantial likelihood” that they will win their case on the merits.
Judge Janice Rogers Brown said it was possible the government would refuse to provide information that could help the challengers win their case. In a separate opinion, Judge Stephen Williams said the challengers would need to show they actually were targeted by the surveillance program.
Judge David Sentelle dissented in part, saying he would have thrown the case out entirely because the plaintiffs offered no proof they were ever harmed.
All three judges were appointees of Republican presidents.
The lawsuit was brought by Larry Klayman, a conservative lawyer, and Charles Strange, the father of a cryptologist technician who was killed in Afghanistan when his helicopter was shot down in 2011. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled in 2013 that the collection was likely unconstitutional, but he put that decision on hold pending a government appeal.
An appeals court in New York ruled in May that the USA Patriot Act could not be interpreted to allow the NSA’s bulk collection of phone surveillance.
But the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret judicial body that oversees the surveillance program, ruled in June that the New York court was wrong. Neither of the decisions against the government interrupted the collection of electronic records while the legal disputes played out.
In June, Congress approved a measure that would phase out the program over the next six months and replace it with one that keeps the records with phone companies, but allows the government to search them with a warrant.
The uproar over the NSA’s program began in June 2013 when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details of the surveillance to the news media. The agency has said it collects the phone numbers of calls made and received and how long a call lasts, but does not monitor the contents of a call. The FISA court authorizes the phone data program and reviews it about every 90 days.
Critics of the administration’s surveillance program say collecting massive amounts of data on phone numbers is a violation of Americans’ privacy rights. In response, the government has said it reviews only a tiny fraction of the information it collects.
Associated Press writer Stephen Braun contributed to this report.
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