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

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    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addresses the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Summer Meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 28, 2015. REUTERS/Craig Lassig - RTX1Q3JA

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addresses the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Summer Meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 28, 2015. Photo by Craig Lassig/Reuters

    MINNEAPOLIS — The only trace of the vice president came on a candy wrapper.

    Joe Biden may be considering whether to enter the race for president, but he sat out this past week’s meeting of the Democratic National Committee. In his place, backers greeted a curious few in a hotel suite 20 floors above the official gathering, handing out chocolate bars wrapped with a stylized photo of Biden behind the wheel of a convertible and an “I’m Ridin’ with Biden” label.

    In any other year, a sitting vice president would have headlined such a meeting as the heavy favorite for the party’s nomination. Instead, the gathering served as proof that if Biden choses to run, he’ll do so as an underdog to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    Clinton’s years-long flirtation with a second White House campaign – time her allies used to lock up support of much of the Democratic Party’s leadership – and her undeniable political celebrity have upended the traditional script. Rather than inheriting his party’s machine, a Biden campaign would have to find a way to take it back.

    “Secretary Clinton’s folks have been talking to these people for a very, very long time,” said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose vibrant crowds and steady poll numbers make him Clinton’s strongest current challenger. “So she has a huge advantage.”

    Yet Biden’s supporters see an opening, due in no small part to Clinton’s inability to shake questions about her use of a personal email server while serving as secretary of state. His candor, long history of fighting for Democratic causes and personal struggles – a widower at a young age now grieving over the recent death of his son Beau – make him an admired figure in the party.

    “He’s one of us. He gets it,” said Jon Cooper, a supporter who this summer began working with a group encouraging Biden to enter the race. “Everybody likes Joe Biden.”

    That group, a super PAC named Draft Biden, is a blend of Chicago-based fans of the vice president and political operatives with ties to his family. It sent five employees to the DNC meeting, emailing attendees and passing out fliers in hallways to invite people to their pro-Biden hotel suite.

    A total of about 75 came to four open house sessions, said Josh Alcorn, a former aide to Beau Biden who joined the group with the family’s blessing.

    “People seemed excited about the possibility and were willing to take a look,” he said.

    Some Democrats who heard the pitch asked to stay in touch. Others remained skeptical.

    “I asked them, `What’s his path?'” said Mitchell Ceasar, a Florida attorney and party operative. Their answer – that he could cobble together votes from all sorts of Democratic coalitions – prompted a shrug.

    “The challenge to the vice president is to present a compelling argument why someone should get on a different train, a different train that’s going in the same direction,” he said.

    The practicalities of running also remain difficult for the vice president. His supporters say he must decide before the first Democratic debate, in mid-October.

    While Biden has no campaign operation beyond the small Draft Biden group, Clinton has for months built a sprawling machine of hundreds of employees working out of her Brooklyn campaign headquarters and in dozens of offices across the country. Her version of Draft Biden, a since shuttered outside group called Ready for Hillary, spent years before Clinton got into the race amassing millions of email addresses of potential supporters.

    Money is another challenge. Biden represented the small state of Delaware in the Senate and has never raised significant sums for his own campaigns. Draft Biden, just a few months old, raised less than $100,000 through the end of June. While supporters say bigger checks have been rolling in recently, Clinton is a former first lady and senator from New York with a strong fundraising history. In the first three months of her campaign, she raised $45 million for the primary contest alone.

    Clinton’s team has also devoted significant resources already to wooing super delegates – the party and elected officials empowered to select the presidential nominee at the Democratic national convention regardless of the 2016 primaries.

    Clinton backers, who sported gold “H” lapel pins at the DNC meetings, were rewarded for their loyalty with invitations to private briefings from Clinton and top campaign officials.

    Several hundred Democratic delegates who signed cards pledging to support her mingled atop a skyscraper in downtown Minneapolis Thursday night. Clinton talked for about 15 minutes, drawing cheers when she assured them, “I’m not a quitter.”

    Ed Cote, a Washington state Democratic leader and a Clinton admirer, said that event was a perfect example of why Biden would find himself in a tougher primary than a sitting vice president might expect.

    “Most of the people there have votes on the first ballots, and they’re solidly with her,” Cote said. “She’s doing exactly what she needs to be doing.”

    Clinton learned the importance of that support in 2008, when she ended her long, hard-fought primary campaign after it became clear she lacked enough delegates to capture the nomination.

    “We are working really hard to lock in as many supporters as possible,” Clinton said Friday. “This is really about how you put the numbers together to secure the nomination.”

    This report was written by Lisa Lerer and Julie Bykowicz of the Associated Press.

    The post Ridin’ with Biden? Clinton poses big challenge for VP appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Robert Young is helped through a window by members of the FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Missouri task force while searching through homes during their door to door search for survivors or human remains near Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans, September 17, 2005. REUTERS/J.P. Moczulski  JPM/PN - RTROF4R

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, was widely blamed for a lack of preparedness and an inadequate response. FEMA was slow to deliver food and supplies and housed displaced residents in toxic trailers.

    University of Delaware Professor Rick Sylves studies FEMA and joins me now to discuss its changes during the past decade.

    So, I think the question that most people are going to wonder is, has FEMA improved? And if so, how?

    RICK SYLVES, UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE: Yes, they do extremely good jobs on relatively small-scale disasters. They’ve done a tremendously good job in enhancing the capacity of state and local government emergency management. If anything, the field of emergency management that’s growing even academically across the country owes its origins to FEMA, and we need to thank that agency for that.

    In addition, few other countries have FEMA-like emergency management organizations. Even the most developed don’t come close to providing, through agencies like FEMA, the range of post-disaster assistance that this country provides.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And at the same time, this is still housed inside the Department of Homeland Security?

    RICK SYLVES: Yes. I think this has been a predicament ever since that — ever since it was folded into the Department of Homeland Security in 2002.

    One of the problems is that Homeland Security’s mission is to counter terrorism. And FEMA’s job is to provide, really, disaster assistance and to provide for preparedness for disasters. And clearly there are terrorism duties that legitimately fall to FEMA. But, unfortunately, when they take on those duties, they also have — they take on requirements of state secrecy that make the agency much less transparent than it probably should be, particularly given its civilian responsibilities and disaster circumstances.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: What about the money? Has the budget for FEMA increased or for preparedness around the country in case another Hurricane Katrina or a Superstorm Sandy happen?

    RICK SYLVES: The money has increased significantly. There is a president’s disaster fund that is the main receptacle for monies to be dispensed not only to FEMA but to a great many other federal agencies that are called into action during periods of disaster. But you still find that when you have a catastrophic disaster, even the generous infusion of new funds into those account isn’t enough to meet the spending demands.

    I think for Katrina, $61 billion of federal money, Superstorm Sandy, $48 billion. And these numbers aren’t fixed. They continue to go up over time for both of those disasters. So, when we have catastrophic disasters, there’s a significant financial burden imposed on the national taxpayer and the federal government as a consequence.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Professor Rick Sylves from the University of Delaware — thanks so much for joining us.

    RICK SYLVES: Thank you. I appreciate it.

    The post How has FEMA changed in the ten years since Hurricane Katrina? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to the media during the National Federation of Republican Assemblies at Rocketown in Nashville, Tennessee August 29, 2015.  REUTERS/Harrison McClary  - RTX1Q7TE

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to the media during the National Federation of Republican Assemblies at Rocketown in Nashville, Tennessee August 29, 2015. Photo by Harrison McClary/Reuters

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Donald Trump says he’s going to make a decision once and for all about whether he’ll mount a third party bid if he loses the Republican nomination for president.

    Trump told reporters following a speech in Nashville Saturday that he’s going to make a decision “very soon.”

    He says he thinks the decision will make a lot of people “very happy.”

    Trump has so far refused to pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee. He says it gives him leverage.

    But his hands are largely tied: He’ll have to sign a pledge to do so if he wants to appear on the ballot in South Carolina and potentially several other states.

    Trump was courting tea party voters at a conference hosted by the National Federation of Republican Assemblies.

    The post Trump will decide ‘very soon’ on third party bid appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Residents and visitors of New Orleans, surrounded by the sound of church bells and jazz music, marked the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on Saturday, remembering victims of the storm and celebrating the region’s resiliency.

    “We saved each other,”Louisiana Mayor Mitch Landrieu said at New Orleans’ memorial to the unclaimed and unidentified dead. “New Orleans will be unbowed and unbroken.”

    The city, which was left 80 percent underwater in 2005 due to its failing levee system, held a series of events, including lectures and tours, leading up to Saturday’s anniversary.

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    A brass band performs in Jackson Square one day before the ten year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 28, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman - RTX1Q4A9

    A brass band performs in Jackson Square one day before the ten year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 28, 2015. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

    NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 29:  The sun rises in front of the re-constructed levee wall along the Industrial Canal in the Lower Ninth Ward on August 29, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. A levee breach along the wall devastated the area with massive flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The 10th anniversary of the historic storm is August 29.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

    The sun rises in front of the re-constructed levee wall along the Industrial Canal in the Lower Ninth Ward on August 29, 2015 in New Orleans. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

    A man and his dog watch a brass band perform on Bourbon Street one day before the ten year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 28, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman - RTX1Q4B3

    A man and his dog watch a brass band perform on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 28, 2015. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

    The Kinfolk Brass Band performs at a Make It Right Foundation function marking the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans, Louisiana August 29, 2015.  REUTERS/Edmund D. Fountain - RTX1Q6P5

    The Kinfolk Brass Band performs at a Make It Right Foundation function marking the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans, Louisiana August 29, 2015. Photo by Edmund D. Fountain/Reuters

    Marchers, including Jennifer Jones (C), mark the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina by taking part in a remembrance and second-line parade through the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 29, 2015.  REUTERS/Edmund D. Fountain - RTX1Q7PN

    Marchers, including Jennifer Jones (C), mark the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina by taking part in a remembrance and second-line parade through the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans. Photo by Edmund D. Fountain/Reuters

    Mary Kay, second queen of the Wild Tchoupitoulas Mardi Gras Indian Tribe, raises her arms along the Industrial Canal levee in the Lower 9th Ward at a ceremony marking the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 29, 2015.  REUTERS/Edmund D. Fountain - RTX1Q7PM

    Mary Kay, second queen of the Wild Tchoupitoulas Mardi Gras Indian Tribe, raises her arms along the Industrial Canal levee in the Lower 9th Ward at a ceremony marking the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 29, 2015. Photo by Edmund D. Fountain/Reuters

    NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 29:  Kids are dressed in Mardi Gras Indian costumes along the repaired levee wall in the Lower Ninth Ward on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  A levee breach along the Industrial Canal in the Lower Ninth Ward devastated the area with massive flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

    Kids are dressed in Mardi Gras Indian costumes along the repaired levee wall in the Lower Ninth Ward on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2015 in New Orleans. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

    NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 29:  Women hug in front of the repaired levee wall in the Lower Ninth Ward on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  A levee breach along the Industrial Canal in the Lower Ninth Ward devastated the area with massive flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

    Women hug in front of the repaired levee wall in the Lower Ninth Ward on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2015 in New Orleans. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

    Performers from Gallery of the Streets participate in a ceremony at the site of the 2005 Industrial Canal levee failure marking the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans, Louisiana August 29, 2015.  REUTERS/Edmund D. Fountain - RTX1Q7Q0

    Performers from Gallery of the Streets participate in a ceremony at the site of the 2005 Industrial Canal levee failure marking the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans. Photo by Edmund D. Fountain/Reuters

    NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 29:  U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (L) and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu carry a flower arrangement as they lay a wreath during an event to remember the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina at the New Orleans Katrina Memorial where the remains of hurricane victims who were either unidentified or unclaimed are held in mausoleums on August 29, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Hurricane Katrina killed 1836 people and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

    U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (L) and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu carry a flower arrangement as they lay a wreath during an event to remember the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina at the New Orleans Katrina Memorial Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    The post Photos: Through tears and cheers, New Orleans honors victims 10 years after Hurricane Katrina appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Customers are served at a McDonald's in Times Square in New York July 23, 2015.  McDonald's Corp's new chief executive expects global sales at established restaurants to grow in the current quarter, reversing more than a year of declines, and said his turnaround plan is showing early signs of taking hold. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid  - RTX1LJSK

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: Once again, we take a look at the changing nature of work in the new economy. This week, the National Labor Relations Board made a ruling that could play an important role, stating that an employer is legally responsible for employees even when they are hired through subcontractors or by their independently-owned franchises. Many of those workers are low-wage, part-time or temporary.

    Joining me now is reporter Melanie Trottman of The Wall Street Journal.

    So, what’s at the core of this case here?

    MELANIE TROTTMAN, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: How much control does a company have over the workers in question? So, McDonald’s, for example, do they control the wages and working conditions at an independently owned store in Iowa?

    It used to be that you had to have direct control to be considered a joint employer. That meant you would co-determine things like wages and working conditions. Well, now, the board says even indirect control, you reserve the right to have control over those workers. So, that can make you a joint employer.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what are the ripple effects here? Does that mean McDonald’s Corp. is responsible for the wages or whether or not these employees can unionize?

    MELANIE TROTTMAN: Well, what it means is a McDonald’s Corp. or a company that subcontracts workers could be drawn into collective bargaining talks with workers at a restaurant or, you know, workers at a temporary staffing company who want to unionize. And the rationale is that, you know, unions say, look, these companies affect the wages and working conditions of these workers, and so, the companies need to be at the table for us to bargain effectively for the worker.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: This has got to be getting some pushback from the business community, saying, “It’s going to be harder for me to employ people. It’s going to be harder for me to negotiate every time.”

    MELANIE TROTTMAN: What they’re saying is that, “Look, this is going to undermine the efficiencies of contracting and franchising. You know, we set up our businesses up this way to have flexibility and, you know, this could result in less flexibility. It could raise our costs. It could cause major problems.”

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Melanie Trottman from “The Wall Street Journal,” joining us from Washington, thanks so much.

    MELANIE TROTTMAN: Thanks for having me.

    The post What you should know about the national labor ruling on subcontractors appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is putting a new twist on the topic of securing the border, a staple among the GOP candidates running for president, by pointing north.

    Walker said in an interview that aired Sunday that building a wall along the country’s northern border with Canada is a legitimate issue that merits further review.

    Republican candidates for president have often taken a get-tough approach on deterring illegal immigration, but they usually focus on the border with Mexico. Walker was asked Sunday morning on NBC’s “Meet the Press” whether he wanted to build a wall on the northern border, too. Walker said some people in New Hampshire have asked the campaign about the topic.

    “They raised some very legitimate concerns, including some law enforcement folks that brought that up to me at one of our town hall meetings about a week and a half ago. So that is a legitimate issue for us to look at,” Walker said.

    The U.S.-Canada boundary is the longest international border in the world at 5,525 miles long.

    Billionaire Donald Trump is riding the issue of illegal immigration to the top of the Republican presidential primary polls. He has said he would make Mexico pay for completing a permanent wall along the border. He also says he would also end automatic citizenship for those born in the United States, a right guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution that was originally added to grant citizenship to freed slaves and their descendants after the Civil War. His positions appear to have pushed rivals to also take strong stands on immigration.

    Walker, at one point, echoed Trump’s call for ending birthright citizenship, but later said he’s against any such repeal.

    The post Walker: Building a wall along the Canadian border a ‘legitimate issue’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    NEW YORK - JUNE 3:  Neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks speaks at Columbia University June 3, 2009 in New York City. Dr. Sacks, who was appointed Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in 2007, is the author of several bestselling books. His 1973 book "Awakenings" was adapted into the Academy Award-nominated film of the same name starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams and his latest book is "Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain".  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

    Neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks speaks at Columbia University June 3, 2009 in New York City. Sacks died at his New York City home on Sunday from cancer. He was 82. Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    Oliver Sacks, the famed neurologist and author who was called the “poet laureate of medicine” died in his New York City home on Sunday. He was 82.

    Sacks revealed he had terminal cancer in February and had been writing about his experience for the New York Times.

    “It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me,” he wrote then.

    Oliver Sacks was both a path-breaking researcher and a bestselling author, who had a gift for explaining how we perceive the world around us.

    The act of writing, when it goes well, gives me a pleasure, a joy, unlike any other. It takes me to another place — regardless of my subject — where I am totally absorbed and oblivious to distracting thoughts, worries, preoccupations, or indeed the passage of time.

    Often drawing on his own experience with patients, Sacks penned more than a dozen books that sold millions of copies. “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat,” published in 1985, was one of his best sellers.

    British neurologist and author, Oliver Sacks pictured in London on 10th March 1983. (Photo by United News/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

    Dr. Oliver Sacks is pictured in London on March 10, 1983. Photo by United News/Popperfoto/Getty Images

    “We see with the eyes, but we see with the brain as well,” he said in his 2009 TED talk. “And seeing with the brain is often called imagination.”

    Sacks grew up in England, went to medical school in California, and practiced in New York.

    His final book, the memoir “On the Move,” was published earlier this year.

    The post Oliver Sacks, neurologist and acclaimed author, dies at 82 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — Oregon’s Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley on Sunday became the 31st senator to announce support for the Iran nuclear deal, as momentum builds behind the agreement the Obama administration and other world powers negotiated with Tehran.

    Merkley’s backing puts supporters within reach of the 34 votes required to uphold a presidential veto of a congressional resolution disapproving the agreement, which curbs Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief.

    Republicans are unanimously against the deal. But with an overwhelming number of Senate Democrats in favor, some have now begun aiming to amass 41 yes votes, which would allow them to kill the disapproval resolution outright in the Senate and protect Obama from having to use his veto pen.

    A vote on the nuclear deal the U.S. and other world powers negotiated with Iran is scheduled for early September.

    Merkley said that while he thinks the deal has “significant shortcomings,” it is the best strategy to block Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

    “Because of these shortcomings, many have argued that the United States, instead of implementing the agreement, should withdraw from it, persuade our partners to set the agreement aside and work together to negotiate a better deal,” Merkley said in a statement. “However, the prospects for this are slim. All of our partners … believe that the current deal – in regard to its central goal of blocking Iran’s pathways to a nuclear bomb – is sound. They have committed the good faith of their governments behind the agreement and intend to honor the deal as long as Iran does likewise, with or without the United States.”

    The post Support for Iran nuclear deal rises to 31 in Senate appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    MuholiArt

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    ZANELE MUHOLI: The mission is to ensure that we have– a visual history that speaks to the moment that will inform the future. And also to ensure that we document and archive the history of our people who are on a daily basis violated simply because of our gender expression and also because of our sexual orientation.

    TRACY WHOLF: Zanele Muholi’s work focuses primarily on the black lesbian experience, from moments of celebration and joy, to intimate portraits and stories that depict the violence many gay South Africans experience…everything from corrective rape, where lesbian are sexually assaulted by men who want to ‘turn them straight’ to murder.

    TRACY WHOLF: Are you concerned about repercussions against your own family for the work that you do?

    ZANELE MUHOLI: Unfortunately, a lot of innocent souls have been killed without even doing anything at all. But then if anything happens to me, at le– at least I’ll die, you know, peacefully ’cause I’ll know that I’ve acted to challenge any phobias that– that still persist.

    TRACY WHOLF: Catherine Morris is the curator of Muholi’s exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum.

    CATHERINE MORRIS: Zanele’s engagement with her community is coupled with her extraordinary photographic talent. She is simultaneously documenting her community, but at the same time speaking very eloquently about the history of photography and history of portraiture. And these black and white photographs resonate on so many levels because of that push/pull between the history that she’s capturing and the community she’s committed to.

    TRACY WHOLF: Muholi struggled with her own identity as a black lesbian and even had thoughts of suicide when she was younger, but someone gave her a point-and-shoot camera and she began taking self-portraits and found it to be therapeutic.

    ZANELE MUHOLI: Like, I’m one of those people who really doesn’t mind to photograph– the self, you know? And I think it’s the right thing to do. It’s very, very important for us to look at us before we look at what is happening in the neighborhood.

    TRACY WHOLF: Muholi’s portrait series called ‘Faces and Phases’ is a collection of intimate photos she’s taken of friends and acquaintances, people she refers to as ‘collaborators.’

    TRACY WHOLF: What are you looking for when you’re setting up a shot and you’re working with a collaborator?

    ZANELE MUHOLI: I’m looking for me. You know, when some people say, ‘You look at someone and you see yourself in them–‘ I’m looking for me that I never was. So I’m looking for the person, that person who– that lies in each and every one of us no matter what.

    TRACY WHOLF: Despite gay rights being protected by law in South Africa, attacks against black lesbians are often overlooked and under investigated by authorities, according to human rights groups.

    ROSALIND MORRIS: It’s– it’s– much harder to be a black lesbian in South Africa than it is to be a white lesbian.

    TRACY WHOLF: Rosalind Morris is a professor of anthropology at Columbia University.

    ROSALIND MORRIS: Violence against women is– not uncommon. So one finds a kind of intensification of that violence directed against black women for not conforming to ideals of femininity, on one hand, and for appearing to betray a– black cultural or a black national cause.

    TRACY WHOLF: And while Muholi’s work has been celebrated and embraced by art critics around the world, some of her more explicit and revealing photographs have led conservative politicians in South Africa to criticize her work – calling it ‘immoral’ and ‘offensive.’

    TRACY WHOLF: Your work has been met with criticism or controversy. How do you respond to those statements, those sentiments, that pushback?

    ZANELE MUHOLI: When I’m being called a black lesbian controversial photographer, they basically say, “Continue to do it because you are doing the right thing.”

    TRACY WHOLF: Muholi’s latest American show will run through November at the Brooklyn Museum in New York.

    The post Photos document life as a black lesbian in South Africa appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    solarbike2

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    SASKIA DE MELKER: Marissa Muller pedaled across America with a 10 pound solar panel converting sunlight to electricity.

    MARISSA MULLER: The real purpose was to expose solar to everybody. There are some early adopters who have applied to their rooftops and seen the benefits. But I really wanted to get out there, get out in the streets, and engage everybody and really show them how solar works.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: This solar panel charges a battery, which charges the motor here on the rear wheel. The motor provides 40 percent of the pedal power which made it easier for Muller to average 17 miles an hour and cover 70 miles a day.

    MARISSA MULLER: It was a beautiful way to see the country. Slow and steady and full focus on what was ahead.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: On the road, the custom made bike was a conversation starter and that was the point.

    MARISSA MULLER: I’d say on average, five people a day would come over and inquire.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: Muller’s journey took her from her home in San Francisco through National parks and across the famed Route 66. She rode past the Jefferson Memorial and, finally, over the George Washington Bridge into New York City.

    Along the way, she did stop to smell the roses, and take days off.

    MARISSA MULLER: I would take breaks in cities I felt some connection with. So, in Santa Fe, I was really curious about the whole arts scene, Georgia O’Keefe, took some art classes there

    SASKIA DE MELKER: Having worked in the solar industry, Muller sees more possibilities for using solar energy.

    MARISSA MULLER: I don’t see everybody schlepping a solar panel. It is quite cumbersome. I see an upgrade from traditional bikes to electric bikes and the evolution from a traditional bike rack to a solar docking station. So you could zip to work, dock your bike, gives you a lock and a charge. At the end of the day, hop back on with some speed and power and get back home.

    The post Woman completes solar-powered bike ride across U.S. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump signs autographs during the National Federation of Republican Assemblies at Rocketown in Nashville, Tennessee August 29, 2015.  REUTERS/Harrison McClary  - RTX1Q7SM

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump signs autographs during the National Federation of Republican Assemblies at Rocketown in Nashville on August 29, 2015. Photo by Harrison McClary/Reuters

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call for mass deportation of millions of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, as well as their American-born children, bears similarities to a large-scale removal that many Mexican-American families faced 85 years ago.

    During the Great Depression, counties and cities in the American Southwest and Midwest forced Mexican immigrants and their families to leave the U.S. over concerns they were taking jobs away from whites despite their legal right to stay.

    The result: Around 500,000 to 1 million Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans were pushed out of the country during the 1930s repatriation, as the removal is sometimes called.

    During that time, immigrants were rounded up and sent to Mexico, sometimes in public places and often without formal proceedings. Others, scared under the threat of violence, left voluntarily.

    About 60 percent of those who left were American citizens, according to various studies on the 1930s repatriation. Later testimonies show families lost most of their possessions and some family members died trying to return. Neighborhoods in cities such as Houston, San Antonio and Los Angeles became empty.

    The impact of the experience on Latinos remains evident today, experts and advocates say.

    “It set the tone for later deportations,” said Francisco Balderrama, a Chicano studies professor at California State University, Los Angeles.

    Two weeks ago, Trump said that, if elected president, he would expand deportations and end “birthright citizenship” for children born to immigrants who are here illegally. Under his plan, American-born children of immigrants also would be deported with their parents, and Mexico would be asked to help build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

    “They’re illegal,” Trump said of U.S.-born children of people living in the country illegally. “You either have a country or not.”

    Amid his comments on immigration, polls show negative impressions of Trump among Latinos. A Gallup poll released Aug. 24 found that Hispanics were more likely to give Trump unfavorable ratings than favorable ones by 51 percentage points.

    Some immigrant advocates pointed to the removal of prominent Latino journalist Jorge Ramos from an Iowa press conference last week as a metaphor for the candidate’s desire to remove Latinos from the United States.

    “Mr. Trump should heed the following warning: Our Latino and immigrant communities are not going to forget the way he has treated them,” the Washington, D.C.-based Fair Immigration Reform Movement said in a statement.

    Ramos, an anchor for Univision, was escorted out by a Trump aide after Ramos, who had criticized Trump previously, tried to question Trump about his immigration plan. Trump interrupted Ramos, saying he hadn’t been called on, and ultimately told Ramos, “Go back to Univision.”

    Ramos was saying, “You cannot deport 11 million people,” as he was escorted away. He was later allowed to return.

    Trump has provided few details on how his proposed deportation effort would be carried out. The conservative-leaning American Action Forum concluded in a report it would cost between $400 billion to $600 billion and take 20 years to remove an estimated 11.2 million immigrants living in the country illegally.

    The large-scale deportation he envisions would be impractical to enact, due to the extent to which Mexican immigrants have integrated into U.S. society, said Columbia University history professor Mae Ngai.

    U.S.-born children of immigrants have been automatically considered American citizens since the adoption of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment in 1868. A Supreme Court ruling in 1898 halted previous attempts to limit the birthright of Chinese-American citizens after the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act.

    The ruling upheld the clause for all U.S.-born children, Ngai said, and there have been no successful challenges to the clause since.

    In the 1930s, Balderrama said, officials skirted the issue of birthright citizenship by saying they did not want to break up families.

    “But they did break up families and many children never saw their parents again,” said Balderrama, co-author of a book about Mexican repatriation in the 1930s with the late historian Raymond Rodriguez, who testified before a California state committee about seeing his father for the last time at age 10, before the father left for Mexico.

    That legacy lingers in songs, often played on Spanish-language radio stations, that allude to mass deportations and separation of loved ones, said Lilia Soto, an American studies professor at the University of Wyoming.

    For example, the lyrics to “Ice El Hielo,” by the Los Angeles-band La Santa Cecilia, speak of a community afraid that federal agents about to arrive and launch deportations raids at any moment. The ballad “Volver, Volver,” sung by Mexican ranchera performer Vicente “Chente” Fernandez, speaks of someone vowing to return to a lover despite all obstacles.

    “They’re about families being apart,” Soto said. “The lyrics are all indirectly linked to this past.”

    The post Trump’s call for mass deportation reminiscent of Depression-era policy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — International rivals would be mistaken to assume he wouldn’t be prepared to use military force if that’s what circumstances required, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said in an interview that aired on Sunday.

    The Vermont senator says the United States should have the strongest military in the world. The U.S. should be prepared to act when it or its allies are threatened or in response to genocide.

    “Yes, there are times when you have to use force. No question about it,” Sanders said. “But that should be a last resort.”

    During his nearly 25 years in Congress, Sanders’ record on authorizing military force is mixed. He voted to send troops to Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But he voted against going to war with Iraq in 1991 and again in 2003.

    Sanders comments came during an interview that aired on ABC’s “This Week.” His campaign has focused on the economy and gained momentum. His chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Rodham Clinton, served as secretary of state for about four years. Sanders was asked why national security and foreign policy are missing from his campaign’s website.

    “In all fairness, we’ve only been in this race for three-and-a-half months. And we’ve been focusing, quite correctly as you’ve indicated, on the economy, on the collapse of the American middle class, on massive income and wealth inequality,” Sanders said.

    Sanders cited the war in Iraq as one of the “worst foreign policy blunders we have ever seen” because it led to an enormous destabilization of that region. He also said he believes his vote against the first Gulf War was correct.

    “I think we could’ve gotten Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in a way that did not require a war,” Sanders said. “… Do we need to go to war in every instance or can we bring pressure of sanctions and international pressure to resolve these conflicts?”

    Sanders is among of the 31 senators who supports the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by President Barack Obama’s administration and other countries.

    The post Bernie Sanders: U.S. should be prepared to use military force appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Studio shot of contact lens case on eye chart

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: About 40 million Americans wear contact lenses to correct their vision, and how much the lenses cost is now the subject of a courtroom battle.

    A recent federal appeals court ruling temporarily allows discounters like 1-800-CONTACTS to charge less than the largest lens manufacturers would prefer. The lens makers don’t want eye doctors who sell contacts to be undercut by discounters who go below a suggested minimum price.

    At stake is $4 billion Americans spend on contact lenses.

    Yesterday, I spoke with Associated Press reporter Lindsay Whitehurst, who is covering the case.

    Four billion dollars is a big amount. Forty million Americans using contact lenses is something that we all sort of take for granted. What happened in this specific case?

    LINDSAY WHITEHURST, Associated Press: So, in this case, the state of Utah actually passed a law that banned minimum prices for contact lenses, so told the manufacturers, you can no longer set minimum prices for your products.

    The manufacturers — and there are a few big manufacturers that really dominate this industry — had set some prices and told resellers that if you sell our contacts, our products at a price below this, we will yank our products; we won’t sell to you anymore.

    And, in particular, this affected discount sellers, like Costco and 1-800-CONTACTS, which happens to be based in Utah.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, when we say resellers, most people end up getting their prescription filled the optometrist. Unlike other health care providers, optometrists can actually sell you stuff too.

    LINDSAY WHITEHURST: Right.

    And they make prescriptions that are brand- and product-specific. And unlike discount sellers, they can introduce patients to new products. So, they might say, hey, this product from Johnson & Johnson just came on the market; I think it would be great for you.

    A discount seller, just by the nature of their business, that’s — that’s now how — that’s not what they do. They won’t suggest new products to customers. So, the manufacturers, eye doctors are central to their business plan, because they actually bring in new customers.

    So, that’s one reason why the manufacturers want to make sure those eye doctors aren’t losing business.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, the manufacturers and the eye doctors have to say, listen, 1-800-CONTACTS or Costco doesn’t have the expertise that I do when I prescribe you something.

    LINDSAY WHITEHURST: Right. Exactly.

    And, of course, there’s something to that. You do want to have a trained professional who teaches you how to put them in your eyes. And there — it’s certainly a medical thing. So, there’s definitely something to that.

    But, of course, contacts — contacts can get kind of expensive, so customers are looking for ways to save a little money. And they’re looking to places like 1-800-CONTACTS. They have actually managed to capture about 10 percent of this $4 billion market now.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK. So, the manufacturers must be trying to appeal this, but, at this point, what is the state of play?

    LINDSAY WHITEHURST: So, right now, a discounter like 1-800-CONTACTS, they have actually lowered some of those prices below those minimums set by the manufacturers.

    And so this law only applies in Utah, but because 1-800-CONTACTS is based here, they can sell anywhere in the country. Those transactions, if you are in New York or in Montana, and you buy contacts online from 1-800-CONTACTS, that’s considered an in-state transaction, no matter where the customer is.

    And this is really central to the problem manufacturers are basing their appeal on. Or the argument they’re basing their appeal on is, they’re saying this violates interstate commerce rules.

    And, so far, this hasn’t gained a lot of traction in the courts, but it’s really kind of an interesting idea, an interesting concept in the age where people buy a lot of things online.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Lindsay Whitehurst joining us from the Associated Press, thanks so much.

    LINDSAY WHITEHURST: Thank you.

    The post Price of contact lenses at issue in court case appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Migrants walk along in the sunset after crossing into Hungary from the border with Serbia near Roszke, Hungary, August 30, 2015. Photo by Bernadett Szabo/Reuters.

    Migrants walk along in the sunset after crossing into Hungary from the border with Serbia near Roszke, Hungary, August 30, 2015. Photo by Bernadett Szabo/Reuters.

    Officials from Germany, Great Britain and France called for a more comprehensive plan on Sunday to process and distribute the hundreds of thousands of migrants who have poured into Europe this year, undertaking journeys that have turned deadly and exposing gaps in countries’ refugee infrastructure.

    Interior ministers Thomas de Maiziere of Germany, Bernard Cazeneuve of France and Theresa May of Britain stressed the need to set up “hot spots” in Greece and Italy by the end of the year to register migrants, pressed for a list of European Union countries that are considered safe, and called an emergency meeting to discuss how to “strengthen the European response” of the continental crisis for September 14 in Brussels.

    A Syrian migrant child sits on the floor while waiting to leave Hungary outside a train station in Budapest, Hungary August 29, 2015. Picture taken August 29, 2015. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh - RTX1QAWV

    A Syrian migrant child sits on the floor while waiting to leave Hungary outside a train station in Budapest, Hungary August 29, 2015. Photo by Laszlo Balogh/Reuters

    More than 300,000 migrants, many of whom are fleeing conflict in Africa and the Middle East, have entered southern Europe this year, with at least 100,000 arriving during July alone.

    In response to the differing laws across Europe governing the steady influx of asylum seekers, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Sunday criticized eastern European countries that have refused to take in migrants, singling out Hungary, which built a fence along its border with Serbia to keep migrants out.

    French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius attends the Socialist Party's "Universite d'ete" summer meeting in La Rochelle, France, August 28, 2015. Photo by Stephane Mahe/Reuters.

    French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius attends the Socialist Party’s “Universite d’ete” summer meeting in La Rochelle, France, August 28, 2015. Photo by Stephane Mahe/Reuters.

    “Hungary is not respecting Europe’s common values, so the European authorities need to have a serious, even a stern discussion with its officials concerning refugees,” Fabius said. “With regard to all those people who are politically chased out of their country and who are in war-torn countries, we have to be able to welcome them.”

    Meanwhile, seven died on Sunday after a boat carrying migrants capsized off the coast of Libya, officials said.

    “We had reports this morning that there are seven bodies of illegal migrants that sank off Khoms (east of Tripoli) … but we don’t have any details how many migrants were on board,” Mohamad al-Misrati, a spokesman for the Red Crescent in Tripoli, told Reuters.

    Pope Francis, framed by the water of a fountain, talks from the window during his Sunday Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican, August 30, 2015. REUTERS/Max Rossi - RTX1Q9A9

    Pope Francis, framed by the water of a fountain, talks from the window during his Sunday Angelus prayer in Saint Peter’s square at the Vatican, August 30, 2015. Photo by Max Rossi/Reuters

    Pope Francis led prayers on Sunday for the migrants who’ve died attempting to cross into Europe, including the 71 found dead in a truck on an Austrian motorway last week.

    The victims found in the truck, which included a baby girl and three children, are thought to be refugees from Syria or Afghanistan, Reuters reported.

    At St. Peter’s Square in Rome, Francis asked the crowd to pray silently with him for those who die “on their terrible journeys,” the Guardian reported.

    He also urged cooperation to stop these crimes that “offend the entire human family.”

    The post European leaders call emergency meeting to address migrant crisis appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A general view of Mt. McKinley on May 14, 2014 in Denali National Park, Alaska. Photo by Lance King/Getty Images.

    A general view of Mt. McKinley on May 14, 2014 in Denali National Park, Alaska. Photo by Lance King/Getty Images.

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says he’s changing the name of the tallest mountain in North America from Mount McKinley to Denali.

    He’s giving the mountain its traditional Alaska Native name on the eve of a historic presidential visit to Alaska.

    Denali is an Athabascan word meaning “the high one.” The name has long been a sore spot for Alaskans, who have informally called the 20,320-foot mountain Denali for years.

    The mountain was named after former President William McKinley. There have been several efforts by Alaska politicians change it to Denali. But politicians from McKinley’s home state of Ohio have opposed changing the name.

    Obama is citing the Interior Department’s authority to change the name.

    Obama departs Monday for a three-day visit to Alaska aimed at focusing attention on climate change.

    The post Mount McKinley to be renamed Denali, White House says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Swiss scientists have proven that DNA can be used to store information for up to 2,000 years, with the potential for storage up to a million years. Illustration by Philipp Stossel, FML, ETH Zurich

    Swiss scientists came up with a technique to use DNA to store information for up to 2,000 years, with the potential for storage up to a million years. Illustration by Philipp Stossel, FML, ETH Zurich

    Scientists have discovered a way of storing vast quantities of information for up to 2,000 years on strands of DNA.

    Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich announced earlier this month that they pioneered a process of creating a fossilized form of data storage by encapsulating strands of DNA in glass. The results of the experiment were published in the journal Angewandte Chemie in February.

    The breakthrough could lead to the creation of digital archives, storing everything from ancient texts to Wikipedia pages in DNA form that could survive for hundreds of thousands of years without the loss of any data. By comparison, today’s most powerful hard drives hold about 6 terabytes of data and last for only decades.

    “We will show how we can use modern chemical and information engineering tools for the safeguarding of actual digital information in the form of DNA,” the researchers said at the 250th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Boston on August 17.

    Led by Robert Grass, researchers converted 83 kilobytes of text from the medieval Swiss Federal Charter of 1291 and the Methods of Archimedes from the 10th Century, into a code based on sequences of DNA’s four chemical building blocks.

    “On a hard drive, we use zeros and ones to represent data, and in DNA we have four nucleotides, A, C, T and G,” Grass said.

    The code was sent to a lab and transformed into synthetic strands of DNA.

    The scientists heated the glass-encased strands to 160 degrees Fahrenheit for several weeks — the equivalent to storing DNA at 50 degrees Fahrenheit for 2,000 years — and then decoded the 83 kilobytes of data back to the original text using the Reed-Solomon codes, an error-correcting algorithm used for satellite communications.

    Only by protecting the strands of DNA in glass and using an error-correcting code, is it possible to store data in DNA for significant amounts of time, Grass told PBS NewsHour.

    “If you go back to medieval times in Europe, we had monks writing in books to transmit information for the future, and some of those books still exist,” Grass said. “Now, we save information on hard drives, which we wear out in a few decades.”

    Based on their findings, the researchers noted that if stored at subzero temperatures, DNA could be used to save data for up to one million years.

    Despite DNA’s density and capacity to hold virtually limitless amounts of data, it is not rewritable and it cannot be reused, and it has no inherent filing system, meaning it’s impossible to isolate a single file of data from a strand of DNA.

    “This is of course impractical,” Grass said, “so we are working on novel ways to select specific pieces of information written with DNA.”

    The post Looking for a way to store data for millennia? Try DNA. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    People carry Lebanese national flags and banners as they take part in an anti-government protest at Martyrs' Square in downtown Beirut, Lebanon August 29, 2015. Thousands of protesters waving Lebanese flags and chanting anti-government slogans converged on a square in central Beirut on Saturday for a rally against political leaders they say are incompetent and corrupt.Their "You Stink" protest campaign was mobilised after the government failed to solve a crisis in trash disposal, leaving piles of refuse rotting in the summer sun. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi - RTX1Q75O

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Lebanon has seen mass protests again this weekend. Thousands gathered in the capital city of Beirut yesterday to demand changes in the government, and have the garbage picked up, something that hasn’t happened in a month. Protesters call their campaign You Stink.

    Lebanon is a country of 4.5 million people without a president, without legislative elections for six years, and with a government many describe as dysfunctional.

    Joining me now from Beirut is Washington Post reporter Liz Sly.

    Liz, even in setting up this interview, it’s been so difficult, because you have had power outages throughout the day. It’s why we’re talking to you on the phone. But, besides the trash piled up outside, these power outages, water cuts, this all seems to be normal for the average Lebanese citizen.

    LIZ SLY, The Washington Post: Yes, that’s right.

    Basically, this summer in particular — it’s been like this for a long time, but in the past few weeks, the infrastructure here seems really to have ground to a halt. It’s breaking down. And people have had enough.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And how is this dysfunction dealing with the influx of refugees that you have coming in from Syria and other places?

    LIZ SLY: Well, there is a tangential connection to the influx of refugees.

    The refugees have swelled the population of Lebanon. This is a country of four million people. There are 1.1 million refugees here registered with the United Nations. The Lebanese government says there’s hundreds of thousands more than that, people who are working here or coming here for whatever reason who are not registered, but that they are also fleeing the war.

    And, basically you have got between a quarter and a third of the population is now a refugee. That has put a strain on the country’s infrastructure. But the core cause of this is the dysfunction of the government and the corruption that paralyzes the government, makes it unable to take decisions that are needed to be taken to move the country forward, to keep the services going, and basically to keep this country running.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But what happens next? What is the goal of the protesters? They said that they would escalate if the government didn’t respond and at least get the trash off the streets and get going.

    LIZ SLY: Well, the thing is, it’s all kind of rather cynical and rather sad.

    The crowds aren’t that enormous. They are genuine people out there demonstrating. They genuinely hope that they can change the system by going onto the streets. But they’re not that huge.

    This country is stuck in a system of sectarian politics, quotas, rivalries that give everyone, if you like, a stake in the way it’s already run, and don’t seem enough, if you like, to kind of really bring the kind of impetus that we saw, say, in Tahrir Square in Egypt, or even in Syria, where huge crowds tipped the country into civil war.

    At the moment, it’s sort of on the fringes of the — of the wider system that most people remain locked into.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Liz Sly of The Washington Post joining us via phone from Beirut, thanks so much.

    LIZ SLY: Thank you.

    The post Thousands take to Beirut streets, bolstered by ‘You Stink’ campaign appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Bear Grylls appears in episode 204 of his show "Running Wild with Bear Grylls" in episode 204. Photo by Mark Challender/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

    Bear Grylls appears in episode 204 of his show “Running Wild with Bear Grylls.”President Barack Obama will appear with Grylls on an upcoming episode of the show. Photo by Mark Challender/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

    NEW YORK — Survival expert Bear Grylls has bagged his biggest celebrity yet for a walk in the wilderness — President Barack Obama.

    NBC and the White House said Monday the president will meet with Grylls during his visit to Alaska to discuss climate change, then spend some time in the wilderness. NBC said Grylls would give the president a crash course in survival techniques for an episode of his show, “Running Wild,” to air later this year.

    Grylls has taped previous episodes of his show with the likes of Kate Winslet, Drew Brees, Kate Hudson and Channing Tatum.

    “I will not deny your suspicion that there may have been some suggestions put forward by the Bear Grylls team that were not approved by the Secret Service,” said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. “We have been able to work with the Secret Service to find a couple of interesting things” for the president to participate in, he said.

    Earnest called it “an admittedly unorthodox but legitimately interesting way for the president to reach an audience that obviously cares about conservation.”

    Before joining NBC, Grylls starred in the Discovery Channel’s “Man vs Wild” series.

    The post Obama to take wilderness trip with Bear Grylls appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    At 6 a.m. today, hundreds of shoppers at the HEB in Brenham, Texas, were able to do something they haven’t been able to since April: buy a half gallon of their favorite Blue Bell ice cream. By 7 a.m., nearly half of the 1,100 cartons delivered to the store were gone, according to ABC affiliate KTRK in Houston.

    This is what good news on a Monday looks like. #BlueBellisback

    A photo posted by Freddy Cruz (@freddycruzkrbe) on

    Blue Bell ice cream returned to stores in Texas and Alabama Monday, four months after voluntarily pulling all of its products — ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks — due to a deadly listeria outbreak. Ten cases, traced to its Oklahoma facility, in four states resulted in three deaths, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The Brenham, Texas-based company said it was rolling out distribution of its products to 15 states in a series of phases. Blue Bell posted the schedule of roll outs on its website:

    • Phase Two: North central Texas and southern Oklahoma
    • Phase Three: Southwest Texas and central Oklahoma
    • Phase Four: The majority of Texas and southern Louisiana.
    • Phase Five: Complete the states of Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas and begin distribution in Arkansas, Florida, northern Louisiana and Mississippi. This phase will also include only parts of the following states: Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

    The ice cream is currently being produced in the company’s Sylacauga, Alabama, facility. Additional production facilities in Brenham and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, are still undergoing upgrades to ensure safety, said Ricky Dickson, vice president of sales and marketing for Blue Bell Creameries.

    #bluebell about as fresh as it gets !Just down the street from the creamery !

    A photo posted by Brian Farr (@farrbc) on

    Current flavors in stock include Homemade Vanilla, Dutch Chocolate, The Great Divide and Cookies ‘n Cream.

    The post Blue Bell ice cream hits shelves after four-month hiatus due to outbreak appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    close up of mature couple hands holding in meadow. Related words: Social Security, Medicare, senior, Photo by Buero Monaco/Getty Images

    Larry Kotlikoff answers your Social Security questions. Photo by Buero Monaco/Getty Images

    Boston University economist Larry Kotlikoff has spent every week, for over two years, answering questions about what is likely your largest financial asset — your Social Security benefits. His Social Security original 34 “secrets,” his additional secrets, his Social Security “mistakes” and his Social Security gotchas have prompted so many of you to write in that we feature “Ask Larry” every Monday. Find a complete list of his columns here. And keep sending us your Social Security questions.

    Kotlikoff’s state-of-the-art retirement software is available here, for free, in its “basic” version. His new book, “Get What’s Yours — the Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security Benefits,” (co-authored with Paul Solman and Making Sen$e Medicare columnist Phil Moeller) was published in February by Simon & Schuster.

    Watch Larry explain how Paul and his wife could collect an extra $50,000 in Social Security benefits:

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


    Joan: Thank you so much for taking my call today. I wasn’t expecting you to answer the phone on a Saturday, and I really wasn’t prepared to ask the right question. Although you did answer my question, I’m not sure that I completely understand the answer.

    I’m an 80-year-old woman and took an early Social Security retirement at age 62. I am divorced and have never been married longer than seven years.

    I have met a nice gentleman and feel we would be happy and good companions. I would like to be married and just need to understand what I am about to do. Upon marriage will I still receive my own Social Security check or will that $624 go away? I think you said if my future husband’s earnings were greater than mine, I could receive a spousal benefit and would no longer receive the $624 Social Security that are from my earnings. I would have a larger one as his earning were far greater. If I survived him I would then get his full Social Security check that he was receiving prior to his demise. I think that only happens if we are married at least nine months prior to his passing.

    I was worried I didn’t clearly state my concerns. I did sense you were feeling it was a positive choice and a great opportunity to enjoy the next chapter in my life’s adventure!

    I so appreciated your speaking with me. I’m delighted with the book as the humor adds so much comic relief to a very confusing and serious subject, and the lighthearted manner is so appealing and cracked me up… many thanks.

    Larry Kotlikoff: After you are married for one year, you can apply for a spousal benefit on your husband’s work record. You’ll continue to get your $624 per month. But you will also likely get what’s called an excess spousal benefit. If your husband passes away after you have been married for nine months, you’ll get your $624 per month plus your excess widow’s benefit, which, together, will equal essentially the retirement benefit he now collects each month. So, YES, get married!


    Selma: My husband turns 66 in February. I saw that Medicare premiums are expected to rise 52 percent next year unless you qualify under the “hold harmless” provision of Social Security. We were planning to file and suspend and realize that the monthly increase in benefits would more than offset the premium increase, but wondered if it would be possible to file now (to be effective in November 2015) and then suspend as soon as my husband turns 66 in February. Would this be a viable strategy to lock us in under the “hold harmless” provision, but allow us to grow his benefits until age 70?

    Thank you for all your good work and helpfulness.

    GOT SOCIAL SECURITY QUESTIONS?

    Pose Your Questions to Larry Here

    Larry Kotlikoff: Thanks for your question. To be eligible for the premium freeze, a person must be entitled to both monthly benefits and Part B of Medicare (also known as Medicare Supplementary Medical Insurance or SMI) no later than November of the year before the increase. Your adjusted gross income must also be below the level that results in higher premiums, which is a $170,000 per year for a married couple. ​Also, your earned income must also be low enough so as not to be entirely wiped out by the earnings test and to actually permit payment of benefits for at least November and December.

    So if your husband isn’t earning too much such that he’ll lose all his benefits under the earnings test, and if he is either already entitled to SMI or eligible to sign up for it effective no later than November 2015, and if your adjusted gross income is below $170,000, then this strategy would work. ​You didn’t mention your own age, but you would also need to meet all of the same requirements in order for the freeze to apply to your SMI premiums.

    ​You should also be aware that the “hold harmless” provision, which keeps low- and moderate-income people who are already receiving Social Security benefits from experiencing Medicare Part B premiums from rising by more than their Social Security’s COLA (cost of living adjustment), is not a permanent benefit for those in this boat. Whatever Medicare Part B premium increases weren’t applied in the past due to the “hold harmless” provision will be applied in the future to the extent the cost of living adjustment is large enough. Consequently, people who are “held harmless” this year will see much smaller Social Security benefit check increases in future years as Medicare takes out not just the new Medicare Part B premium, but also what’s needed to recoup the premium increases in the past, which weren’t yet applied.


    Charles – Fair Oaks, Calif.: I heard your piece on claiming and suspending spousal benefits. My wife and I are 62. She has significantly higher earnings than I over the last 40 years. Which spouse should claim and suspend spousal benefits and at what age, 62 or 66? We both have much more earnings potential before we retire. She owns her own C Corporation, and I am employed by same. Thanks in advance for helping out.

    Larry Kotlikoff: You can’t suspend spousal benefits, only retirement benefits and only at full retirement age. What you two should do, if you have a pretty high maximum age of life is: a) have your wife file for and suspend her own retirement benefit at full retirement age; b) have your wife wait until 70 to restart her retirement benefit; c) file just for your spousal benefit when you reach full retirement age; and d) file for your own retirement benefit at 70.


    Michele – Phoenix, Ariz.: I’m 62 years old. If my primary insurance amount at full retirement age (66) is more than half of my ex’s, can I still collect on his record for four years and allow my benefit to grow until age 70? I so appreciate your book, but I am still unclear on this point.

    Larry Kotlikoff: When you reach full retirement age at 66, you can file just for your divorcee spousal benefit on your ex’s work record. Then you can let your own retirement benefit grow through age 70. If your own retirement benefit at 70 exceeds your spousal benefit, you’ll get your own retirement benefit from 70 onward. ​


    Bob – El Paso, Texas: I’m 67 and am starting my Social Security. I get dinged pretty hard because I have 20 years with Teachers Retirement System of Texas in addition to my 20 years of paying Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes prior to teaching. My spouse is looking at her full retirement age in June, but she is thinking about continuing to work and drawing a spousal benefits until age 70. Social Security said she will also get a reduced amount of spousal benefits due to my retirement from Teachers Retirement System of Texas. Isn’t Social Security double dinging us? Reading the rules, her benefits should rest on her record with Social Security, not my records with both Social Security and Teachers Retirement System of Texas.

    Larry Kotlikoff: You, but not your wife, will be subject to both the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) Provision. But your wife’s spousal benefit that she receives from your covered earnings record will be based on your full retirement benefit, which is impacted by the WEP. ​

    ​So in this sense you are being dinged twice. This double dinging, however, doesn’t occur with respect to widows benefits. So were you to pass away, Social Security would calculate your wife’s widows benefit based on a retirement benefit that isn’t impacted by the WEP.


    Phyllis – Lubbock, Texas: I am the 62-year-old wife of a 64-year-old man, and I am the high earner. We are both in reasonably good health and have concerns about how to maximize our Social Security income. He is ready to retire but doesn’t have to if it makes more sense to wait. What would you advise? I’m confused about spousal benefits since I don’t think he can claim spousal benefits while I am still working, but then again, I’m not sure about anything with Social Security.

    Larry Kotlikoff: You have two options. The first is to have your husband file and suspend his own retirement benefit when you reach full retirement age (66). He’d then reinstate his retirement benefit at 70. You’d file just for a spousal benefit when you reach full retirement age and start you own retirement benefit at 70. Or you could file for your own retirement benefit now or sometime before reaching full retirement age, and thereby permit your husband to collect a full spousal benefit on your work record. He’d then wait until he turns 70 to collect his own benefit. However, if you continue working, the Social Security earnings test may cause both you and your husband to lose some or all of your benefits until you reach age 66. If you do start your benefit early to let your husband collect a full spousal benefit based on your work record, you can suspend it upon reaching full retirement age and start it up again at 70 at a 32 percent higher level on an inflation adjusted basis.

    The post What happens to your Social Security benefit when you marry? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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