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

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    Clark park

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    GWEN IFILL: And finally, we bring you a last blast of summer from the southwest corner of Detroit.

    For generations, Clark Park has offered young people opportunities to grow and learn from community leaders and passionate mentors.

    Student Reporting Labs fellow Evan Gulock produced this story while interning at Detroit Public Television.

    MAN: For this community, this is our Central Park. A lot of people call it the pearl.

    WOMAN: Our park is the best kept secret in Detroit. It’s a jewel for everybody that comes.

    ZIGGY GONZALEZ, Co-Founder, Clark Park Coalition: We didn’t know if we were going to be successful in keeping it open without the city’s help. But we did it that first year. And I think the city got the message after that. They had closed seven other parks, the state closed, and they noticed Clark Park was different, because the community went to bat for the park.

    ANTHONY BENAVIDES, Executive Director, Clark Park: So we were running a program here after school and during the summer, youth programs, here at Clark Park.

    There’s always been baseball here at Clark Park for over a hundred years. And since then, we have added tennis, lacrosse, a garden program. I’m trying to say, hey, listen, guys, while you’re playing, recreating, guess what, school is right around the corner. What are we going to do here?

    Graduation rates at Western High School, which is right behind us here, in Southwest Detroit has improved dramatically. And we see it every day with our kids. Every semester, more and more kids are graduating from high school.

    We have programs for kids that are thinking about going to college. We help them with their ACT exams, prepare them for their tests or SAT exams. We also take them on college tours within Michigan.

    BELICIA FLORES, Student: I want to get looked at by, like, a lot of colleges already. Clark Park has helped me in more ways than I can imagine. Like, Clark Park is who I am.

    MAN: Yes, I still feel that the reason I’m still here at age 84 is to help these children out and to keep them away from drugs and gangs, and to give them a positive option in life. We want them to go to college and make something of their lives.

    STUDENT: Everybody around here is so supportive, and they want you to do good. And they want you to succeed. And it’s like — it’s good feeling knowing that there’s people that actually care.

    MAN: Good job. Good job.

    WOMAN: The older girls teach the younger girls. And the younger girls, they teach the itty-bitty girls, as I call them. So, everybody is a work in progress here. And nobody is to be denied anything.

    HERIBERTO GALLEGOS, Clark Park: Whether it’s ethnic diversity or economic diversity, they just want to be a part of the community. There’s no amount of money in the world that can give you that sense, that feeling, that family.

    MAN: That’s all you want is to be given that opportunity to better your life. There’s no place I would rather be than at Clark Park.

    The post Young and old learn from each other in Detroit’s green space appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A protester wears sunglasses decorated with Lebanese national flags as she takes 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/Hasan Shaaban - RTX1Q7G3

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    GWEN IFILL: We turn now to another corner of the Middle East, Lebanon, where a crisis surrounding trash and what to do with it has sparked a political movement that’s shocking the country’s leadership.

    NewsHour special correspondent Jane Ferguson reports from Beirut.

    JANE FERGUSON: People here are angry that their government cannot provide them with even the most basic services.

    MAN: We want to say that this is enough, no electricity, no water. We are in 21st century, and we are asking for our needs.

    JANE FERGUSON: The Lebanese government is increasingly so ineffective, people cannot even rely on trash collection. After years of water shortages and rolling power blackouts, the halting of garbage collection was the tipping point.

    Whether you are a Christian, Muslim, or Druze, life without basic services is a struggle. These popular protests are the first in Lebanon’s modern history to not be centered on religion or political parties. Keeping it that way will be the biggest challenge for their organizers.

    WOMAN: When you walk between the people, you can see people from everywhere. You can see people from all the religions. You can see people from all the regions in Lebanon, from the south, from the north, from everywhere.

    JANE FERGUSON: Is that unusual in Lebanon?

    WOMAN: Yes, it is unusual.

    JANE FERGUSON: Lebanon’s government is carved up between the country’s Muslim, Christian and Druze factions. After the brutal sectarian civil war from 1975 to 1990, power-sharing became even more important. It keeps the peace, but at a cost.

    When politicians disagree, government grinds to a halt. This summer, Lebanon’s main garbage dump reached capacity, and it was shut down before the country’s leaders could agree on a new one. In the midst of a heat wave, piles of stinking garbage are everywhere. An online movement used the hashtag #YouStink to call for protests.

    After violent clashes with protesters outside the main government building, a large concrete wall was erected. Some poked fun at the move. This sign in Arabic reads: “Thank you for this wall. It helps us express our opinions.” The wall was quickly removed.

    The government did get the message, and have tried to deal with the crisis. A temporary solution to keep trash off the streets of the capital is to truck it out into the countryside to various areas and illegally dump it. And now it’s increasingly common for truck loads of stinking rubbish to be dumped in areas of great natural beauty.

    Lebanon’s landscape is one of the most stunning in the Middle East. But illegal dumping is turning a political crisis into an environmental one. Shocking images like this are also drawing people to the protests.

    Nadine Mazloum lives in a rural area near an illegal garbage dump.

    NADINE MAZLOUM, Local Resident: It’s basically because the government has a monopoly over the garbage. It’s a multimillion, if not billion-dollar industry. It creates so much money for the government, and that’s why it doesn’t want to let go — it doesn’t want to let go of the privatization of the garbage.

    JANE FERGUSON: Like many in Lebanon, she blames corruption, saying the companies that are bidding to get the contracts to manage waste are connected to the politicians.

    NADINE MAZLOUM: Of course, of course. I mean, until now, it’s — we have had garbage on the streets for over a month. And they — it’s like they can’t find a solution. It’s not that they can’t find a solution. They don’t want to find a solution. They just want to be able to divide that pie, that garbage pie, among themselves. It’s really obvious.

    JANE FERGUSON: Fabulous wealth is on display in Lebanon, and the income divide is getting much wider. The civil war in neighboring Syria has caused over one million refugees to flee to Lebanon, a country of less than five million.

    People here are worried their government is too weak to run the country.

    MAN: All the people, they are fed up with the insecurity, with instability, with garbage, with corruption, with the lack of electricity, with polluted water, with the absence, the paralysis of the government, the closure of the parliament, which means a nonfunctioning country, as if we are becoming a failed state.

    JANE FERGUSON: Protest organizers have given the government until tomorrow night to find a solution to the crisis and fire the environment minister. Otherwise, they say they will hold protests across the country.

    But demands are also being made for wider changes, like calls for fresh parliamentary elections. It will be a significant moment in Lebanon’s history if a grassroots movement that includes people from all religions and sects can create real political change here.

    Jane Ferguson, PBS NewsHour, Beirut, Lebanon.

    The post Lebanese say #YouStink to government’s garbage crisis and corruption appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    EDITORS' NOTE: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on leaving the office to report, film or take pictures in Tehran. 

A young boy stands behind a flag as he and his mother, supporters of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, wait for his arrival at Tehran's Mehrabad International Airport May 5, 2010, after his trip to attend the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at United Nations Headquarters in New York.  REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl (IRAN - Tags: POLITICS RELIGION IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR2DHZS

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    GWEN IFILL: Over the weekend, Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley became the 31st senator to announce his support for the Iran nuclear agreement. His backing puts President Obama three votes away from winning a veto-proof majority in the Senate. That would derail any resolutions disapproving the agreement.

    Tonight, we continue our series of conversations on the Iran nuclear deal. Last time, we heard from a former head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency who supports the agreement.

    Tonight, we hear from an opponent. Stephen Rademaker was an assistant secretary of state for the Bureaus of Arms Control and International Security and Nonproliferation under President George W. Bush. He’s now a principal at the Podesta Group in Washington and an adviser to the Bipartisan Policy Center.

    Thank you for joining us.

    In a nutshell, what is your opposition to this deal as it is written now?

    STEPHEN RADEMAKER, Former U.S. Arms Control Official: I believe there are number of major flaws with the agreement.

    But the single most important one is that it basically locks in that Iran will be a threshold nuclear weapons state. That means that Iran is going to be able, in very short order, to produce nuclear weapons.

    GWEN IFILL: Explain to people the difference between threshold, just a little definitional question, and actually having the weapons?

    STEPHEN RADEMAKER: Well, being on the threshold means a country can be very, very close to actually having a nuclear weapon, but hasn’t actually produced one. The term is often used that they can be a screwdriver’s turn away from actually putting together a nuclear weapon.

    And experts have said for years, for decades that if Iran is allowed to become a threshold nuclear weapon state, that will stimulate a cascade of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, which of course is a very dangerous region of the world. And there are other countries there that, if Iran was allowed to have that capability, they are going to want exactly that same capability.

    GWEN IFILL: And so your reading of this agreement is that by doing this, we are empowering Iran, instead of weakening it?

    STEPHEN RADEMAKER: Exactly.

    You need to distinguish between the short-term and the long term. The president in his effort to sell this agreement has focused on the short term. And his argument, his main argument in favor of the agreement is that it will reduce Iran’s nuclear breakout time from two or three months today to a year, or I guess I should say it will extend their nuclear break — it will take longer for them to produce a nuclear weapon, to produce the material, the fissile material, the highly enriched uranium they would need for a nuclear weapon.

    GWEN IFILL: Yes.

    STEPHEN RADEMAKER: And that is true in the short term.

    But in the long term, President Obama conceded that starting in about 13 years, the breakout time will reduce to almost zero.

    GWEN IFILL: And when you testified about this to Congress, you described it as a Faustian bargain.

    STEPHEN RADEMAKER: Exactly. Faust was this mythological figure who sold his soul for the — to the devil in exchange for magical powers for — I think it was 26 years.

    For 26 years, he had magical powers. At the end of 26 years, the devil came to claim his soul. And I think that is a pretty good analogy to what this deal provides. For 10 years, it’s not a bad deal. After 10 years, it becomes a horrible deal and it gives Iran everything they have always wanted. After — President Obama concedes, after 13 years, the breakout time is almost zero.

    GWEN IFILL: When you were a congressional aide, you were party to the conversation about the agreed framework involving North Korea. Is this different or the same, or are they apples and oranges?

    STEPHEN RADEMAKER: I think they were similar, in the sense they were both Faustian bargains.

    The agreed framework with North Korea was a good deal for us in the short term, and a very bad deal in the long term. The difference, however, was that, in the case of North Korea, there was a reason to believe that, when the devil came to claim our soul, when the deal — the benefits of the deal reversed and went to the other side, that there would be a very different government in North Korea.

    But, remember, this was in 1994, when communist regimes were collapsing all over the world. And so it wasn’t unreasonable to believe in 1994 that, in 15 years or whenever the bargain had to be delivered to North Korea, that it would be a very different regime, that communism would be gone from North Korea, just as it was gone from Russia and all of Eastern Europe.

    Of course, we know today communism is still there, so in fact would have been a bad deal. I think the difference with the Iran deal is, there’s absolutely no reason to think that in 10 or 15 years, we will have a fundamentally different regime in Iran. Quite the contrary. This agreement is going to result in the almost immediate transfer to Iran of somewhere between $100 billion and $150 dollars, which for Iran is an enormous amount of money, relative to the size of their economy and their budget.

    GWEN IFILL: But let’s talk about the economic problem here, because part of the argument is — part of the stick and the carrot involved in this deal was that the sanctions would eventually be lifted, that Iran would be able basically to feed their people again.

    And you’re saying that’s exactly the incentive, perverse incentive, that would empower Iran, part of the empowering.

    STEPHEN RADEMAKER: Well, I’m saying Iran will be empowered because of the restrictions on nuclear activities will go away. That’s why they’re going to be empowered in the security sense.

    In an economic sense, yes, they will be empowered economically as a result of the — in the first instance, they get a huge cash transfer, because there’s money, pursuant to the U.S. sanctions, that is being segregated — it was being held in foreign banks.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    STEPHEN RADEMAKER: They will get that money.

    Then they will get increased trade, increased ability to export their oil, increased foreign investment in their economy. So, over the longer term, there will be many other economic benefits.

    And I’m not saying it would be a bad bargain to trade that for meaningful long-term permanent restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program. The problem I have is, we have traded those benefits to Iran in exchange for very short-term — imagine, if 13 years ago, 15 years ago, President Bush had cut a deal with Iran that said, OK, for 15 years, you behave, but at the end of 15 years, you can pretty much do whatever you want. You can be a screwdriver’s turn away from having a nuclear weapon.

    Had President Bush cut that deal 15 years ago, we’d be cursing him today.

    GWEN IFILL: So, do you also think that this deal in some way, because of those economic incentives, because — are propping up the current regime, that they do not provide a disincentive for this regime or for the political environment to change?

    STEPHEN RADEMAKER: I think ending U.S. sanctions, and delivering these significant economic benefits to the Iranian regime, will tend to support the regime, which is why I said this is not at all like North Korea, where there was a reason in 1994 to believe that the tide of history was running against communist regimes in Asia.

    STEPHEN RADEMAKER: There’s no reason to think — there’s no objective reason, looking at the situation in the Middle East, to think that the Iranian regime is going to be in big trouble after this deal.

    GWEN IFILL: So, as we reported, the president seems to be rolling up support one by one by one. He’s now at 31. And there’s some distinctions about whether he — where he needs to get to make sure that he wins this deal in Congress.

    What — assuming this passes for a moment, assuming that you can’t quite make your case strongly enough to members of Congress before the vote happens, what can be done, if anything, to make this a less harmful deal in your — through your perspective?

    STEPHEN RADEMAKER: Well, I don’t think I’m alone is saying the biggest problem is with what is referred to as the sunset clause, the fact that, beginning in 10 years and in the years thereafter, the restrictions go away.

    Everyone who studies this who is sort of an expert on the subject says that, yes, that’s the biggest weakness. And there was a group of experts convened by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy that included many of President Obama’s former advisers on Iran, his nuclear nonproliferation experts.

    And they agreed that this was a big problem. And they said the United States should unilaterally tell the Iranians that, notwithstanding what is in this deal, as a matter of our national policy, we’re not going to allow them to produce fissile material in the quantity that they could use to produce a weapon.

    GWEN IFILL: If the U.S. could just say that and have it happen, wouldn’t that have happened?

    STEPHEN RADEMAKER: You know, I have had this conversation with some of these — these are very — former national security advisers, very senior people who signed on to this policy statement.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    STEPHEN RADEMAKER: And I think the signers should be held to it.

    And I think, if we’re trying to make the best of a very, very bad deal, which is what I think we may be forced to do if the votes are not there in Congress to disapprove this, then the advice we got from this group is probably pretty good. We ought to tell the Iranians that, notwithstanding what you think you won in the negotiation, you will be in a world of hurt if you try to produce a nuclear weapon.

    GWEN IFILL: OK.

    Stephen Rademaker of the Bipartisan Policy Center, among other things, thank you very much.

    STEPHEN RADEMAKER: My pleasure. Thank you.

    The post Nuclear deal will dangerously empower Iran in the long term, says former U.S. arms control official appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    15964472300_823bce19f3_o

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    GWEN IFILL: While global leaders meet to discuss action on climate change, one new threat has emerged in the world’s oceans.

    As Scott Shafer from our San Francisco station KQED reports, the threat may not be visible to the naked eye, but it changes the very chemistry of essential parts of the marine ecosystem.

    SCOTT SHAFER, KQED: Coral reefs like these, vibrant and teeming with life, may hold clues to the future of the world’s oceans.

    STEPHEN PALUMBI, Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University: Coral reefs only make up a fraction of 1 percent of the ocean, but they hold 25 percent of the ocean’s species. Not only that, but they feed hundreds of millions of people, and a billion people or more get some income from coral reefs. So this is an ecosystem that is really fundamental to humans on the planet.

    SCOTT SHAFER: Steve Palumbi is the director of Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station. He has studied coral reefs around the world.

    For decades, warming ocean waters have damaged, even killed coral. But Palumbi says reefs are now facing an insidious threat from a chemical change that is making ocean water more acidic.

    STEPHEN PALUMBI: Ocean acidification affects the entire globe’s oceans. And it affects organisms by reducing their growth rate and by making it more difficult to make shells. We know that fish actually react to dangers differently.

    SCOTT SHAFER: With ocean surface waters now 30 percent more acidic than they were two centuries ago, protecting the reefs from acidification is no easy task.

    STEPHEN PALUMBI: It’s not a problem you can just turn around very quickly. It’s a problem that, once it gets really bad enough, so that it’s having an incredible global effect, there’s nothing you can do about it. You have to stop it before that point.

    SCOTT SHAFER: The increase in acidity is largely the result of people burning coal, oil, and other fossil fuels. That pumps massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which then sinks into the ocean waters at a rate of nine billion tons per year.

    The carbon dioxide robs the oceans of an essential element that corals and other animals need to thrive.

    STEPHEN PALUMBI: Corals make skeletons. That’s the white part of the coral reef. And those skeletons are made of calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate tends to dissolve if the acid level in the water gets too high.

    SCOTT SHAFER: This model shows how the ocean chemistry has changed since 1885, and how it is expected to change over the next 80 years. The blue represents ocean conditions good for shell and coral growth. The orange represents conditions that make it difficult for many animals to grow shells or skeletons.

    JIM BARRY, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute: There’s a few of them right here. Most of them might be deeper.

    SCOTT SHAFER: Jim Barry is a senior scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. He is looking at the effects of ocean acidification on a variety of sea life, including deep sea coral.

    JIM BARRY: The ocean critters out there are faced with a faster and larger change in ocean chemistry than they have seen for 30 to maybe 300 million years, through much of their evolutionary history.

    SCOTT SHAFER: Barry says, if one species suffers, an entire food web can suffer.

    Barry and researcher Charles Boch are studying how ocean acidification affects abalone, specifically, whether it interferes with the ability of the shellfish to reproduce.

    Inside a chilly lab, Boch is inducing female abalones to spawn. Each female releases streams of small green eggs through its respiratory holes. An abalone can spawn tens of thousands of eggs at a time. In one tank are the females, in another, the males.

    MAN: What you are seeing here is puffs of clouds, white streams that are the sperm being released.

    SCOTT SHAFER: Boch and Barry are putting the eggs and sperm together in water with varying levels of acidity to examine how it affects fertilization.

    JIM BARRY: Maybe what we saw in the last experiment, where fertilization was lower in low pH, maybe it’s because the sperm are not swimming as fast.

    SCOTT SHAFER: Their research suggests that ocean acidification significantly reduces the abalones’ fertilization rate. Abalone are an important source of food for sea otters, who in turn help keep kelp forests in balance.

    JIM BARRY: We know that ocean acidification is huge. This is one of the biggest things that has happened to this earth in the last many tens of millions of years. It’s a huge environmental change that’s happening right in front of us.

    SCOTT SHAFER: Terry Sawyer runs Hog Island, an oyster farm on Tomales Bay, 30 miles north of San Francisco.

    TERRY SAWYER, Hog Island Oyster Co.: And this is a big Pacific oyster. This is how big they will get.

    SCOTT SHAFER: Sawyer says ocean acidification is already affecting his business.

    TERRY SAWYER: It’s really scary. It’s a very scary place to be.

    SCOTT SHAFER: The wakeup call for him came in 2005. That’s when there were massive die-offs at oyster hatcheries along the Oregon and Washington coasts. Those hatcheries supplied Sawyer and many other shellfish farmers with the seeds and larvae they needed to grow their oysters.

    TERRY SAWYER: The larvae was completely dying and their seed was completely dying. This is not a way to run a business.

    SCOTT SHAFER: Sawyer says he is concerned, not only for his business, but for all the animals who live in or depend on the oceans.

    TERRY SAWYER: It feels like we’re in the position of being the canary in the coal mine. The thing is, I am holding a canary. And so I have got a responsibility to say, well, all right, we have symptoms here that — that animal just died. OK, what are we going to do now?

    SCOTT SHAFER: Sawyer and researchers from the University of California, Davis, are now monitoring the water quality in real time.

    TERRY SAWYER: The purple line is pH.

    SCOTT SHAFER: The data helps Sawyer and other oyster farmers in the area adjust planting schedules. To prepare for changing conditions, Hog Island is building its own hatchery.

    A larger oyster hatchery has already moved to Hawaii, leaving the more caustic waters of the Pacific Northwest.

    JIM BARRY: That’s great for that hatchery, but what does it mean for all the animals that are already living there? They can’t move.

    SCOTT SHAFER: Jim Barry fears it may already be too late to save coral reefs. He points out that four of the last five big extinctions on Earth included ocean acidification. Scientists say it’s unclear if ocean acidification has reached a tipping point.

    STEPHEN PALUMBI: Some people think we might be 80 years from being there. Now is probably the last generation where we can actually change the trajectory.

    SCOTT SHAFER: For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Scott Shafer in Monterey, California.

    GWEN IFILL: Later tonight on PBS, a look at the recovery of Monterey Bay, California.

    In a BBC co-production over the next three nights, “Big Blue Live” will tell the story of whales, sea otters and other marine animals who have returned to the bay after they almost disappeared decades ago.

    The post The invisible ocean threat that ripples through the food chain appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    alaska

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    GWEN IFILL: But, first, President Obama made history today simply by becoming the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in the Alaskan Arctic.

    In anticipation of the trip, the trip the White House made another kind of history, announcing that Mount McKinley, the nation’s highest peak, will be returned to its native name, Denali.

    William Brangham has more on the president’s trip.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: On his three-day trip, the president will attend a meeting of what’s known as the Arctic Council. And to stress the need for action on climate change, the president will visit some of Alaska’s glaciers and then meet with native Alaskans whose lives have been affected by rising tides and temperatures.

    For more on the president’s trip, I’m joined by journalist Elizabeth Arnold, who’s in Anchorage.

    Elizabeth Arnold, three days is a long trip for a president to make. We know the president is going to be stressing the need to act on climate change, but why now and why Alaska?

    ELIZABETH ARNOLD, NPR Contributor: Well, it started out as just a drop-in by Secretary of State John Kerry, and then it turned into this three-day visit by the president, when the White House saw this as a great opportunity for the president to build a sense of urgency for addressing climate change and build momentum for the upcoming meeting in Paris, where world leaders will try to negotiate an agreement to cut carbon emissions.

    The idea, obviously, is to put a face on the impact of a warming climate. And more than a few officials have described this as a show-and-tell. Alaska is the place where coastal villages are eroding into the sea and have to be relocated, glaciers are receding at a rapid rate, fisheries — everything is happening here at a much faster pace, almost like a time lapse.

    And the U.S. has just assumed chairmanship of what is called the Arctic Council — eight nations are involved for — the next two years. And most Americans don’t even know we’re an Arctic nation. And we have been a member of the council for 13 years before we ever sent a representative to the meeting.

    But now, because of the warming climate, everyone is suddenly interested in the Arctic for a variety of reasons. And the U.S. is now in a leadership position for the next two years.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I mean, Alaska is obviously a very interesting place to talk about climate change. As you describe, there’s huge impacts in the state because of climate change, yet it’s also a state that is hugely dependent upon the fossil fuels that drive climate change.

    ELIZABETH ARNOLD: Absolutely.

    The impacts of climate change are devastating for some and an opportunity for others. I mean, here in Alaska, it’s extreme weather, fall storms, permafrost that is no longer permanent, walrus falling out onshore in the hundreds of thousands. And this has really impacted indigenous people here, Alaska natives who live on the coast and depend on hunting and fishing so subsist.

    On the other hand, less ice means open water. And if you’re in the business of extracting oil, it means it’s a good thing. It means a safer season, better transit for shipping. So, it’s kind of a blessing and a curse, depending on your perspective.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: It seems like there’s another contradiction as well, that the president wants to talk about reducing fossil fuel usage, and yet he’s been criticized quite severely for just granting Shell a permit to dig up more fossil fuels out of Alaska.

    I mean, is he giving a bit of a mixed message there?

    ELIZABETH ARNOLD: They don’t see it this way. They see it — that the rational is — and they reiterate it repeatedly — that we need new sources of oil, domestic oil, for a gradual transition from dependence on fossil fuels.

    But it’s risky, William. I was just out on an icebreaker several weeks in the High Arctic, and it was 20-foot, 30-foot seas. There has been a storm out in the Chukchi this past week that forced Shell to suspend their drilling. And the coast has been pounded by a storm surge.

    Secretary Kerry last night described it as a test. He said he’s always been leery of offshore drilling, but, in this case, the leases were sold. The president was convinced it could be done safely. And, basically, they’re saying Shell now has to prove — Shell now has to prove itself, that it’s a test.

    Meanwhile, other nations, though, such as Russia, are looking to exploit new oil and gas opportunities off the Arctic as well. So, we’re not the only ones.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Yes. As you mentioned, Russia has obviously been taking staking its own claim there, as these seas and shipping lanes open up. Will that be part of the conversation at the Arctic Council meeting this week as well?

    ELIZABETH ARNOLD: It will.

    Russia has sent a delegation, not the highest members of the delegation. They are by far the most aggressive nation. They have put on recently unannounced military exercises, which involves thousands of vessels and troops in the Arctic.

    They also just resubmitted their claim to almost 500,000 square miles of the Arctic Ocean, including the North Pole. Now, Denmark, Norway, and Canada, also members of the council, are also submitting claims to the U.S.

    And Russia says it’s also going to man search-and-rescue stations all along the Northern Sea Route and rebuild military bases all across the Arctic. And I asked Secretary Kerry about this posture last night, and it was interesting. He said the U.S. should be cautious and vigilant about what the Russians are and are not doing, which is really an important point.

    A lot of this is theatrics. I was up and down the Chukchi coast just recently on this icebreaker, and some of the very places where these stations are going to be located, William, are old abandoned buildings with polar bears denning inside. So, some of this is talk.

    Russia is in the midst of a severe economic recession. Oil prices are low. And as much as we all in the media kind of want to portray this as this race to control the Arctic, and the U.S. is lagging behind, it’s not really what is happening. Russia has been cooperative in the Arctic Council thus far, which operates by consensus. And any kind of territorial claims also have to be settled by consensus and all of the Arctic nations at the end of day.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right. Elizabeth Arnold from Anchorage, thank you so much.

    ELIZABETH ARNOLD: Thank you, William.

    The post Obama to highlight climate change on first-ever presidential visit to the Alaskan Arctic appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    GWEN IFILL: Next: a closer look at how major hacks of U.S. data are being used by China and Russia to target U.S. spies.

    Today’s Los Angeles Times reports that intelligence services in those two nations are aggressively cross-referencing leaked information, including security clearances, airline records and medical insurance forms, to reveal the identities of intelligence officers and agents.

    Jeffrey Brown has more.

    JEFFREY BROWN: We hear about these high-level data breaches all the time. Today’s story connects some of the dots in a chilling way, claiming, for example, that at least one clandestine network of American engineers and scientists who work with U.S. undercover agents overseas has already been compromised.

    One of the article’s authors, L.A. Times reporter Brian Bennett, joins me now.

    And welcome to you.

    So, we hear about these acts. This is about what happens afterwards, right, cross-indexing and putting together the information. What kind of clues are they looking for?

    BRIAN BENNETT, The Los Angeles Times: So, right now, countries like China and Russia are collecting massive amounts of data on the lives of Americans and the lives of government workers.

    And this is going to allow them to get a dossier on people and know about their medical history, their banking information, if they have financial difficulties and might be vulnerable to blackmail or something else, their — any marital indiscretions that may have come out, their connections overseas. And all this information is put together in massive databases and powerful computers can crunch them and give a very detailed view of people traveling.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You even seen cited things — we all remember like the U.S. Office of Personnel Management database last year, millions and millions of amounts of information on people. And then there’s the more recent — it’s the Ashley Madison database, right? You can sort of put all these things together. Is it difficult to do?

    BRIAN BENNETT: It is difficult to do. And it’s technical to do.

    But computers have become so advanced now, that countries like China and Russia are fully capable of doing this, and not only that, but they can work with criminal networks in their own countries, Chinese hackers and Chinese companies. And they can collect the data and put it together.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, this is one of the things that struck me in your article. You were talking about governments, China and Russia specifically, but working with mobs, mob groups, working with private companies in their own countries to do this. Why would they be working with such groups?

    BRIAN BENNETT: So, in the case of China, for example, intelligence officials have analyzed the data breaches that have been associated with China, and they determined that there’s a hacking ring, a criminal hacking ring that is working at the behest of the Chinese government.

    And that ring, for example, was behind the data that was stolen from Anthem health insurance. That was 80 million files on different people stolen from that. And that information never made it to the black market. Usually, when there’s a big data breach like that, the information would be sold to the highest bidder. Well, it never appeared.

    And so intelligence officials are confident that the hack was done at the behest of a foreign government and that China is using that information combined with other information they have stolen from U.S. government computers.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, now, speaking of using, because that’s what also is coming out here, is not just the gathering and then the cross-indexing, but the using of this information, you say there’s been at least some evidence of at least one network that has been compromised. What do we know about in that case?

    BRIAN BENNETT: So, what was described to me by these officials I spoke with for the article was that they aren’t concerned at this point so much about the trained spies, the Americans who have had years and years of experience doing this work.

    They’re more concerned about a network of American scientists and engineers who have day jobs, but occasionally they moonlight for the intelligence community. They have an expertise, and when asked they help out, and they have a security clearance.

    Well, now, because China was behind the OPM data breach that was able to dig into the security clearance files, they now know and can cross-index information on people’s travel records, people’s health care records and whether they have a security clearance or not.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And compromised in this case means, do we know how — was the information given to these scientists or presented to them?

    BRIAN BENNETT: So, intelligence officials say that they have evidence that China has this information and is using it.

    We don’t know exactly how they are using it. And in the espionage world, spy agencies, they try to hide their tracks, and so they won’t necessarily detain or hold onto an individual. One warning that was given out to government officials, for example, was that if you’re at an airport and someone approaches you and they seem to have a lot in common with you, be very wary of that. So, there are of these sort of soft advances is what the intelligence community is talking about.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And are authorities telling you that they suspect this has happened in other cases, that there are other compromises?

    BRIAN BENNETT: Yes.

    They’re very concerned about that. Particularly, they’re concerned about the Russian government doing this, the Chinese government, and they’re also concerned about the Iranian government being able to collect these massive amounts of data and use it to identify people working with U.S. intelligence.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And do we know what steps the U.S. is taking, are able to take to counteract any of this?

    BRIAN BENNETT: So, right now, the U.S. is aggressively trying to educate the government work force, and tell them, look, when you travel overseas, here is what you need to be worried about. When you’re sitting at your desk and you receive an e-mail that looks like it’s from aunt May and it has an attachment, be very careful, because these foreign intelligence services know so much about you, they can cater these messages and convince to you click on a link that may damage or collect information off of government servers.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right.

    Brian Bennett of The L.A. Times, thanks so much.

    BRIAN BENNETT: Good to be with you.

    The post How China and Russia are mining major U.S. data hacks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    politics-monday-faces

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    GWEN IFILL: Over the weekend, Republican and Democratic presidential candidates were out campaigning, dodging slings and arrows, and positioning themselves for the fall.

    With Labor Day in sight, presidential candidates are surging and stumbling.

    DONALD TRUMP Republican Presidential Candidate: I love Nashville.

    GWEN IFILL: Republican Donald Trump, in Super Tuesday state Tennessee over the weekend, still leads in early state polls. But the biggest surge belongs to rival Ben Carson.

    In a Des Moines Register Iowa poll, Trump attracts 23 percent of likely caucus goers, with Carson now just five points behind him. A new Monmouth poll, also of Iowa Republicans, today shows a Trump-Carson dead heat. As they surge, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker slows in Iowa, dropping from first place a few months ago, to third place now in one poll, fifth place in another.

    On “Meet the Press” this weekend, he talked tough on immigration, suggesting new controls be placed on U.S. borders, north and south.

    GOV. SCOTT WALKER Republican Presidential Candidate: Secure the border, enforce the laws, no amnesty,

    GWEN IFILL: Jeb Bush, once the prohibitive favorite, is also struggling, as an increasing number of voters begin to view him unfavorably.

    On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders’ surge is expanding. The Des Moines Register survey has him just seven points behind Hillary Clinton. Both appeared at the Democratic Party meeting in Minneapolis, with Sanders taking aim at establishment leaders.

    By contrast, Clinton courted them, while focusing her attacks on the top Republican.

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON Democratic, Presidential Candidate: Trump actually says he would do a much better job for women than I would.

    (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL: Meanwhile, many eyes remain on Vice President Joe Biden, who paid a surprise visit to a Democratic Party event Delaware this weekend, and announced plans to travel to Pittsburgh on Labor Day.

    A perfect time to turn to Politics Monday, with Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

    Tamara, late today, late in the dark of night, apparently, Hillary Clinton — the State Department is going to release the latest tranche of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. This seems like — there’s the gift that keeps on giving. This is the drag that keeps on dragging.

    TAMARA KEITH, NPR: Exactly. And 9:00 p.m. Eastern time, great time to start poring through thousands of pages of e-mails.

    The State Department said that about 150 of them have been retroactively classified and they have been redacted, so there will be black marks on them. And that, of course, just adds to the swirl around Hillary Clinton. She’s not going to be testifying before the Benghazi committee until October 22 is the latest date, so this is going to just keep dragging and dragging and dragging.

    Every month, there will be another tranche of e-mails.

    GWEN IFILL: And if they were retroactively classified, that still is in keeping with her defense on this, which is that they were not classified at the time.

    TAMARA KEITH: That’s correct. She continues to say that she never knowingly sent or received anything that was classified at the time, nothing was marked classified.

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s talk about this soaring Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton has dropped 20 points in Iowa. That is not potatoes, small potatoes.

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: No.

    And, look, the Hillary Clinton people will tell, as I’m sure they have showed you time and time again, we always knew this race was going to tighten, this should be a competitive race, it always has been.

    The really interesting thing though about the tightening of the race in Iowa and then New Hampshire as well with Bernie Sanders is that it’s not because voters in either place, Democratic voters, think that Hillary Clinton is less likable or that her negative ratings have gone up appreciably.

    It’s that they see in Bernie Sanders somebody that I think they connect with emotionally, that they see as more authentic, genuine, somebody who is enthusiastic. He looks happy when he’s out there campaigning, sort of the happy warrior.

    GWEN IFILL: The happy warrior.

    AMY WALTER: Let’s put it that way.

    She still doesn’t look as comfortable and as — like she’s having as much fun out there as he is.

    GWEN IFILL: And yet we see her getting maybe expected endorsements from Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire, kind of a key state, Tom Vilsack, former governor of Iowa, kind of a key state.

    She is not — a little soon to be counting her out, isn’t it?

    TAMARA KEITH: Well, goodness gracious, she’s not actually losing in these polls yet. But as the pollster in Iowa Ann Selzer said, it’s starting to look like 2008 all over again. That’s not something Hillary Clinton’s campaign wants to hear.

    But they’re not doing a major course correction. They’re starting to announce these big name-endorsements. But somebody who is a fan of Bernie Sanders isn’t going to say, oh, gosh, Jeanne Shaheen supports Hillary Clinton, maybe I should change my mind.
    However, these big endorsements do point to things that Hillary Clinton has, which is, she has money. She has infrastructure. She has the top Democratic campaign staffers in the country. She has armies of volunteers who they are working. They have a system. They have an organization.

    And they promise — her campaign promises this time around they know how to count delegates and they especially know how to count superdelegates like Jeanne Shaheen.

    GWEN IFILL: Joe Biden, should she be more worried that he might run or that he might not run, Amy?

    AMY WALTER: Gosh, that is the puzzle, isn’t it?

    The theory of Joe Biden getting into the race, one theory, is that he will help to engage this race and engage her.

    Right now, she is fighting against herself. It’s like boxing up against this e-mail server vs. against a real campaign, a real candidate. And they can go out and have debates. And the focus in the media will be about the two candidates, what they’re saying, what Bernie Sanders is saying, as opposed to the vacuum being filled with stories about Hillary Clinton’s problems.

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s talk about the Republicans, the 17 of them, but actually just four or five of them, because, all of a sudden, Ben Carson is looking strong in Iowa. What’s happening there?

    TAMARA KEITH: It’s a good question.

    I think most likely what’s happening is that the evangelical voters, the voters who in the past voted for Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, they aren’t going for Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, who are both running this time.

    GWEN IFILL: Or Ted Cruz.

    TAMARA KEITH: Or Ted Cruz.

    GWEN IFILL: Yet.

    TAMARA KEITH: Yet. They’re going for Ben Carson.

    And he is — just like Donald Trump, he’s not a politician. He’s just a regular, really talented neurosurgeon who became a candidate for president because people told him he should run for president. He has ads running in Iowa. And right by the airport in Des Moines, at least last time I was there, there was this giant billboard. I don’t think his campaign actually put it up. But there was this giant billboard.

    GWEN IFILL: And all around the state fair as well when I was there.

    TAMARA KEITH: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: Does that mean that Donald Trump has made it easier or harder for people who thought of themselves as outsiders in this race? He is the ultimate outsider. Right?
    AMY WALTER: He’s the ultimate outsider. But Ben Carson is as well.
    And Carly Fiorina can count herself as an outsider.

    And none of them have any political experience. They haven’t been elected to anything. And if you add up in national polls and in these Iowa polls the percent that is going to a candidate with zero political experience, it is about 40 to 45 percent. You can argue at this point Republicans — 40 percent of the Republican base is looking for somebody who is not just an outsider, like, oh, I have been a governor or I haven’t been part of Washington for awhile, but really never been in public office.

    GWEN IFILL: Never been in public office.

    Let me ask you an interesting thing about the two insiders, perceived insiders, two former — one current governor, former governor, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush. Donald Trump is out there taking real shots at Jeb Bush and it seems to be working. What has happened to Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, who were seen to be strongest people in the race just a minute ago?

    TAMARA KEITH: I think with Jeb Bush, there’s a certain element of not wanting to be told who the inevitable candidate is. And I think that there’s been resistance to that all along.

    Jeb Bush has the money, he has the infrastructure, but he hasn’t gotten people excited. And Scott Walker initially that that bump, but then he hasn’t been getting people excited much lately either.

    GWEN IFILL: And is perceived as having committed some unforced errors along the way.

    AMY WALTER: Policy stumbles, as well as he was the committed conservative. He was the guy with the record in Wisconsin taking on labor unions, succeeding both in beating them back, as well as being reelected.

    And since Trump’s success, what we have seen is, it looks like he’s just not as committed to his own position, that he’s moving away from some of the positions he took a year ago or two years ago. So, there’s a question about, where is his center, number one, and why is he moving away from the message that has helped him get this far?

    GWEN IFILL: Does that leave room for anybody else who is in the race to get in, in that little split between Trump up here and, say, Bush and Walker kind of not doing so well?

    AMY WALTER: I think Marco Rubio still fits in a very interesting position, because, if you look just on paper, he has the most room to grow in terms of people who say they like him vs. people who say they don’t.

    And he still appeals to a very broad range of voters within the Republican primary. The problem is, nobody is really paying much attention to him.

    GWEN IFILL: Oh, well, wait. Maybe we will all start to pay attention next week. We have a debate in a couple weeks.

    GWEN IFILL: Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, thank you both.

    TAMARA KEITH: Thanks.

    The post Why some ‘insider’ candidates are struggling to appeal to voters appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    migrants

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    GWEN IFILL: The mass migration crisis in Europe escalated today, as Austria held up traffic and trains on its border with Hungary. That came as charges and countercharges flew over the human wave streaming into Europe from the Middle East and Africa.

    We have a report from Fatima Manji of Independent Television News.

    FATIMA MANJI: In Austria, there were extra controls on the roads heading into the country, but authorities denied violating Europe’s passport-free zone, saying this is about targeting traffickers after the bodies of 71 people were found in a lorry last week.

    MAN: This are not border controls, of course. We have diverse focus points which the policemen are looking for.

    FATIMA MANJI: It was a scene replicated in Germany, the country that now expects to take 800,000 refugees this year, far more than any other E.U. state.

    But faced with its own backlash from far-right anti-migrant groups, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned, all of Europe must share the responsibility.

    CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL, Germany (through interpretor): If Europe fails on the question of refugees, its close connection with universal civil rights will be destroyed. It won’t be the Europe we imagine.

    FATIMA MANJI: This Syrian woman spent eight hours walking to the Hungarian border with her children.

    WOMAN: No help. No help. The children, no help, family. Why, I don’t know.

    FATIMA MANJI: Hungary has now installed a fence at its border with Serbia, accusing Germany of having boosted hopes among migrants with its more permissive policies. In turn, this is what the French foreign minister thinks of Hungary’s policy.

    LAURENT FABIUS, French Foreign Minister (through interpreter): Extremely harsh. Hungary is part of Europe, which has values, and we do not respect those values by putting up fences that we wouldn’t even use for animals.

    FATIMA MANJI: Quick to fire back, Hungary summoned the French ambassador over those comments.

    And so, as the sight of migrants heading westward becomes an everyday scene at European borders, there are extraordinary exchanges between E.U. countries.

    GWEN IFILL: E.U. foreign ministers plan to meet in mid-September to discuss the crisis.

    One of the world’s largest food companies announced a major push today on climate change. General Mills said it plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions 28 percent by 2025. The plan will cost about $100 million.

    Climate change is also the centerpiece of President Obama’s trip to Alaska this week, and we will talk about that later in the program.

    Tropical weather dominated today’s climate news. The Caribbean island of Dominica struggled to recover from Tropical Storm Erika. It killed at least 20 people and inflicted major damage last week.

    Farther out in the Atlantic, Hurricane Fred blew toward the Cape Verde Islands. And Pacific Hurricane Ignacio weakened, and bypassed the Hawaiian Islands.

    Police in Thailand are now hunting two more suspects in the Bangkok shrine bombing that killed 20 people. They’re looking for a Thai woman and a foreign man of unknown nationality. On Sunday, police and army troops searched an apartment that the female suspect had rented. They found bomb-making materials inside, and said today it’s not just a homegrown plot.

    SOMYOT POOMPUNMUANG, National Police Chief (through interpreter): First, there is the issue of the route in and out of Thailand, second, the preparation of accommodations, third, the route of escape, fourth, the process of the bomb and components. Foreigners alone cannot do all of this. There must be Thai people supporting them and involved in the process.

    GWEN IFILL: A man with a Turkish passport was arrested on Saturday.

    The Islamic State has targeted yet another ancient site in the Syrian city of Palmyra. This time, it was the 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel. Local residents reported a large explosion there Sunday. But the extent of the damage is still unknown. It’s the second Palmyra temple the militants have attacked in a week.

    Back in this country, Wall Street skidded again, finishing its worst month in more than three years. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 115 points to close below 16530. The Nasdaq fell more than 50 points, and the S&P 500 dropped 16. Meanwhile, oil prices soared nearly 9 percent, as new data showed U.S. production has fallen. The price in New York trading settled at just over $49 a barrel.

    And two deaths of note tonight. Former Maryland Governor Marvin Mandel, who served prison time for political corruption, passed away Sunday. The two-term governor was widely seen as an innovator, but he was convicted in 1977 for mail fraud and racketeering. His conviction was later overturned. Marvin Mandel, who succeeded Spiro Agnew as governor in 1969, was 95 years old.

    And horror film aficionados mourned the loss of Wes Craven today. The writer/director died Sunday of brain cancer. In 1984, Craven’s “Nightmare on Elm Street,” and its villain, Freddy Krueger, carved a new path for the genre. He scored again with “Scream” in 1996, setting off another wave of sequels.

    In 2010, Craven spoke to ABC’s “Nightline” about the changes he wrought, especially in depicting heroines.

    WES CRAVEN, Director: Neve Campbell in the first “Scream” says, why should I be interested in a horror film? They are always about some big-breasted girl with no brain, no acting talent who runs upstairs, instead of out the front door, you know? So, it’s that awareness, it’s that sort of intelligence that is informed throughout these — these films.

    GWEN IFILL: Craven was 76 years old.

    The post News Wrap: Austria holds up roadways, trains to target migrant traffickers appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Watch this Oliver Sacks interview from 1989.

    In 1989, not long after Oliver Sacks wrote the bestseller, “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,” and just before his 1973 memoir “Awakenings” made its movie debut starring Robin Williams, “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour” interviewed the famed neurologist.

    Sacks — who died on Sunday at age 82 after a long bout with cancer — talked about his research, breakthroughs and commitment to recording the stories of those who might otherwise be forgotten.

    “I have a need to look at people, who perhaps through no fault of their own, through biological chance, have been thrust out of the mainstream, and in general, to see the tremendous adaptability of the human organism and the human spirit,” Sacks said.

    When correspondent Joanna Simon asked Sacks how he’d like to be remembered in 100 years, he said:

    “I would like to be thought that I had listened carefully to what patients and others had told me, that I had tried to imagine what it was like for them, and that I had tried to convey this. And to use a biblical term, the feeling, ‘he bore witness.’”

    The post WATCH: 26 years ago, Oliver Sacks wanted to be remembered like this appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A woman from the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of about 180,000 refugees living at the Kakuma refugee camp in northwestern Kenya. Photo taken on May 17, 2012 by Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

    A woman from the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of about 180,000 refugees living at the Kakuma refugee camp in northwestern Kenya. Photo taken on May 17, 2012 by Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

    While working on a documentary in the Netherlands, brothers David and Christopher Mikkelsen met a 17-year-old Afghan refugee who had lost contact with his family while fleeing the Taliban.

    In trying to help him, the brothers talked to different refugee agencies and learned that to reunite families there wasn’t any digital system that crossed all agencies. The existing manual system “was very cumbersome and all done by pen and paper,” said David Mikkelsen.

    “We wanted to decentralize the process and bring the masses into the fold, so you could have not one person trying to help 600,000 people, but 600,000 people helping 600,000 people,” said his brother Christopher.

    In 2008, they created a family-tracing service called Refunite on a mobile platform, because many potential users had regular mobile phones not smartphones.

    When refugees register with Refunite, they are asked a set of questions about their missing person, such as their home town, clan, year of birth, and a teacher they had growing up, which Refunite then runs through its database.

    The users can get text messages — or call into a toll-free hotline if they don’t know how to read — to get information about possible matches.

    The brothers work with Swedish telecom company Ericsson and other mobile network operators in 14 countries across Africa and the Middle East to provide the free matching service.

    Refugees from Jonglei State in South Sudan wait at a registration center in Kakuma refugee camp in Turkana District, northwest of Kenya's capital Nairobi, on May 17, 2012. Refugees fleeing violence in parts of Sudan and South Sudan have been arriving in Kakuma refugee camp in large numbers. Photo by Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

    Refugees from Jonglei State in South Sudan wait at a registration center in Kakuma refugee camp in Turkana District, northwest of Kenya’s capital Nairobi, on May 17, 2012. Refugees fleeing violence in parts of Sudan and South Sudan have been arriving in Kakuma refugee camp in large numbers. Photo by Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

    The nonprofit also teamed up with the Red Cross, U.N. refugee agency and other international aid organizations operating in camps to train local refugees on the technology so they can help with the family searches.

    “Educating people in that sense gives them not just the opportunity to reconnect their community members with missing families but it gives them a strong sense of purpose and work to do,” while they’re waiting in the camps to return home, said Christopher Mikkelsen.

    The local volunteers “are instrumental in creating trust because they are the ones advocating for our system,” David added.

    Kakuma in northwestern Kenya is one such refugee camp where their system is in play. The camp, in existence since 1992, hosts people fleeing violence from countries including Sudan, Somalia and an ever-growing population from South Sudan.

    Kujien Nyak is one of the outreach volunteers in Kakuma camp in Kenya helping track down missing family members. Photo courtesy of Refunite

    Kujien Nyak is one of the outreach volunteers in Kakuma camp in Kenya helping track down missing family members. Photo courtesy of Refunite

    Warring factions in South Sudan have driven an additional 46,000 refugees to Kakuma, bringing the total population of the camp to 185,000, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

    Kujien Nyak, 29, is one of Refunite’s outreach volunteers from South Sudan. Fifteen years ago, he fled Upper Nile state, where fighting has intensified between forces protecting the local government and the South Sudan Army.

    He is still seeking his own family members, and in the meantime is trying to help other Kakuma camp residents find their relatives.

    The hardest part is tempering people’s expectations that they will find their missing loved ones right away, Nyak said via email. Sometimes there are instant reconnections, but it also can take months before other family members sign up for the alerts. “It’s very important to keep checking the platform on a regular basis,” he said.

    An aerial view shows recently constructed houses at the Kakuma refugee camp in northwestern Kenya on June 20, 2015. Photo by Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

    An aerial view shows recently constructed houses at the Kakuma refugee camp in northwestern Kenya on June 20, 2015. Photo by Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

    It’s hard to tell how many relatives and friends have found each other under the Mikkelsens’ system, because it’s an anonymous platform and the refugees who do find each other tend not to report back, said Christopher Mikkelsen. But based on matching key words and phone numbers, which they use to validate matches, they have extrapolated that they have helped reconnect about 1,500 families and an additional 100-150 families per month, he said.

    Their call center in Nairobi has about 15 agents working 12 hours a day, answering an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 calls per month, he said.

    The brothers are continually trying to make the system more understandable, such as tailoring and localizing instructions in places where most people are illiterate. “Whether we’re operating in the Congo, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, there are challenges everywhere, it’s never easy … and you have to figure out what really works in this region.”

    They view themselves as a purely technical organization, putting their tools in the hands of people on the ground. “We don’t want to reinvent the wheel,” just make the wheel better, David Mikkelsen said.

    View more of our Social Entrepreneurship profiles and tweet us your suggestions for more groups to cover.

    The post When refugees scatter, here’s how family members can find each other appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Obesity in midlife has long been suspected of increasing the risk of Alzheimer's. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health took a closer look and reported Tuesday that being overweight or obese at age 50 may affect the age, years later, when Alzheimer's strikes. Among those who eventually got sick, more midlife pounds meant an earlier onset of disease. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    Researchers at the National Institutes of Health may affect that being overweight or obese at age 50 may affect the age, years later, when Alzheimer’s strikes. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — One more reason to watch the waistline: New research says people’s weight in middle age may influence not just whether they go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease, but when.

    Obesity in midlife has long been suspected of increasing the risk of Alzheimer’s. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health took a closer look and reported Tuesday that being overweight or obese at age 50 may affect the age, years later, when Alzheimer’s strikes. Among those who eventually got sick, more midlife pounds meant an earlier onset of disease.

    It will take larger studies to prove if the flip side is true — that keeping trim during middle age might stall later-in-life Alzheimer’s. But it probably won’t hurt.

    “Maintaining a healthy BMI at midlife is likely to have long-lasting protective effects,” said Dr. Madhav Thambisetty of NIH’s National Institute on Aging, who led the study reported in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

    About 5 million people in the U.S. are living with Alzheimer’s, a number expected to more than double by 2050, barring a medical breakthrough, as the population ages.

    Alzheimer’s starts quietly ravaging the brain more than a decade before symptoms appear. With a cure so far elusive, researchers are hunting ways to at least delay the disease, and lifestyle changes are among the possible options.

    To explore obesity’s effects, Thambisetty’s team turned to the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, one of the longest-running projects to track what happens to healthy people as they get older. They checked the records of nearly 1,400 participants who had undergone regular cognitive testing every year or two for about 14 years; 142 of them developed Alzheimer’s.

    The researchers checked how much those Alzheimer’s patients weighed when they were 50 and still cognitively healthy. They tracked BMI, or body mass index, a measure of weight to height. Every step up on the BMI chart predicted that when Alzheimer’s eventually struck, it would be 6½ months sooner.

    In other words, among this group of Alzheimer’s patients, someone who had been obese — a BMI of 30 — during middle age on average had their dementia strike about a year earlier than someone whose midlife BMI was 28, in the overweight range, Thambisetty explained.

    The threshold for being overweight is a BMI of 25.

    The Alzheimer’s study didn’t track whether the patients’ BMI fluctuated before or after age 50. There’s no way to know if losing pounds after that age made a difference in dementia risk, although a healthy weight is recommended for many other reasons.

    Some of the Baltimore Longitudinal study participants underwent brain scans during life and autopsies at death. Those tests found people with higher midlife BMIs also had more of the brain-clogging hallmarks of Alzheimer’s years later, even if they didn’t develop dementia.

    Tuesday’s study adds to previous research linking midlife obesity to a risk of Alzheimer’s, but it’s the first to also find those brain changes, a clue important to examine further, said Heather Snyder of the Alzheimer’s Association, who wasn’t involved in the work.

    Meanwhile, the Alzheimer’s group has long recommended a healthy weight: “What’s good for your heart is good for your brain,” Snyder noted.

    The post Study: Midlife obesity may spur risk for earlier Alzheimer’s appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The Obama Administration proposed a ban on discrimination against transgender people in the healthcare system on Thursday. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    The Obama Administration proposed a ban on discrimination against transgender people in the healthcare system on Thursday. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — Mirroring a shift in society, the Obama administration proposed Thursday to ban discrimination against transgender people throughout the health care system.

    Once the proposed regulations are final, they should expand insurance coverage for gender transition and prohibit health care facilities from denying transgender people access to restrooms that match their individual gender identity.

    The new protections are part of a broader rule from the Department of Health and Human Services to carry out anti-bias provisions of President Barack Obama’s health care law. In a first, the law specified that sex discrimination is prohibited in health care, and the regulation carries it a step further, clarifying that “gender identity” is included under that protective umbrella.

    “This is a huge step,” said Michael Silverman, director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York. “It covers a lot of ground.”

    The new transgender policy comes as social attitudes about sexuality and gender are undergoing major changes. The Supreme Court recognized a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry, and the gender transition of Olympian Bruce Jenner from male to female — Caitlyn — has brought new awareness about a group often ostracized by society.

    The long-delayed rule amounts to a manual for carrying out the health law’s prohibition against medical discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. Those underlying provisions already are in effect.

    Jocelyn Samuels, head of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, said the rule does not explicitly require insurers to cover gender transition treatment, including surgery. But insurers could face questions if they deny medically necessary services related to gender transition by a man who identifies as a woman, or a woman who identifies as a man.

    “It is basically a requirement that insurers use nondiscriminatory criteria,” Samuels told reporters.

    Advocates for transgender people note that insurers already pay for services such as hormone treatments and reconstructive surgery, but decline to cover them when they’re part of a gender transition.

    “What the rule says is they cannot exclude transgender people from the services that other people have,” said Harper Jean Tobin, policy director for the National Center for Transgender Equality.

    Currently, 10 states plus Washington, D.C., require private insurers to cover transgender health care, while six states plus the nation’s capital cover such services through their Medicaid programs, according to advocates.

    The new requirements would have impact throughout the health care system because service providers who accept federal dollars would have to comply.

    Medicare and Medicaid are the cornerstone of hospital finances. That means transgender people could not be restricted from access to bathrooms or hospital wards consistent with the gender that they identify with, Samuels said.

    Most doctors would be covered. Insurers that offer plans through HealthCare.gov would have to comply with the requirements in their plans off the health insurance exchange as well.

    The regulation may not be final for many months. The public comment period extends through Nov. 6, and officials are seeking comment on a range of difficult issues, including religious conscience protections for service providers and whether sexual orientation — whether a person is a gay man or a lesbian — should also be protected.

    Other advocates were disappointed with a separate section of the rule addressing discriminatory insurance benefits. That can happen, for example, when an insurer requires patients to pay a large share of the cost for all drugs used to treat a given condition.

    The AIDS Institute and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network said the regulation was not specific enough, and the final version needs to provide examples of benefit designs that would be considered discriminatory.

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    USA, New Jersey, Jersey City, Mother with baby boy (2-5 months ) taking nap together. Photo by Tetra Images/Getty Images

    Claire Prestwood, an employee of the federal government and new mom, spoke of the difficulties of a mere 12-week unpaid maternity leave. Photo by Tetra Images/Getty Images

    Editor’s Note: Netflix made headlines last month when it announced that it would offer a full year of paid parental leave to most of its employees. It’s part of a larger trend of high-profile tech firms, including Google, YouTube, Adobe and Microsoft, that have recently expanded their parental leave policies.

    But these companies are in a minority. More than 70 percent of employers in the United States don’t offer paid maternity leave, and more than 80 percent don’t offer paid paternity leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act only guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid time off within one year of a child’s birth. And small businesses with less than 50 employees are exempt.

    In January, Economics correspondent Paul Solman and producer Diane Lincoln dove deep into the debate on whether time off is good for new parents and business. The segment was so popular — and heavily used in a John Oliver Mother’s Day segment — that the NewsHour decided to rerun an updated version on tonight’s PBS NewsHour.

    In exploring the issue of unpaid family leave, Diane Lincoln spoke with Claire Prestwood, an employee of the federal government and new mom. Prestwood spoke of the difficulties of a mere 12-week maternity leave, unpaid. The following conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.

    Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor


    Claire Prestwood: My daughter is three, her name is Ainslee. Declan is six days old, and we are doing pretty well so far.

    Diane Lincoln: What is your employer’s maternity leave policy?

    Claire Prestwood: I get the 12 weeks I’m entitled to under the Family Medical Leave Act. So it’s all unpaid. And the only opportunity I would have to receive additional paid leave would be to use my vacation time or accrued sick leave. In some cases, we can solicit leave donations within the agency, and colleagues or work friends will donate. So far, I’ve received two donations, which is fantastic. Any little bit helps.

    Diane Lincoln: Besides the donated days are you going to use any vacation or sick time?

    Claire Prestwood: I’ve used pretty much all of my sick and leave time already, because when you have a young child, almost all of your paid leave goes to their sick days or any time you need to take off to bring them to the doctor for a regular checkup, so I rarely use sick time for myself. It usually goes to my first child, and I have used all of it this year to take care of her. So when the maternity leave came around for the second time for Declan, I basically was out of leave. So I have to take 12 weeks unpaid.

    Diane Lincoln: So it’s all unpaid, except for the two days that your generous coworkers donated to you?

    Claire Prestwood: Yes. And federal holidays. (laughs)

    Diane Lincoln: Are you worried about managing without your income for three months?

    Claire Prestwood: We timed our birth basically to be able to save up and have a cushion. I couldn’t afford to take more than 12 weeks though. We just budgeted for 12 weeks of coverage, because we knew that’s how much time I would be able to take. And we are comfortable where we had enough time between both kids where we could save up a bit more.

    Diane Lincoln: Why do you think maternity leave is important?

    Claire Prestwood: I think first, women have to heal after they have children. To expect someone to be back at work two weeks after they have a baby is really a high expectation given the lack of sleep and the physical process that your body goes through.

    Second is being able to care for your baby. There’s no one else except the mother who can really best care for the child in the first two weeks of their life given needs for nursing and bonding and the fact that you’re the only human being that baby’s really ever known.

    Third is if anyone expected me to go back to work two to six weeks after I had a child, I would be the most unproductive employee in the office. I would be exhausted, and I would be worried about my child. It really wouldn’t be worth it for me to be in the office or for them to have me there trying to work, because it just wouldn’t work well.

    Diane Lincoln: So if you could — if you were paid for longer — would you take a longer leave?

    Claire Prestwood: I would. I would take a longer leave. I mean, it’s very important to me to be home with my child and take care of him for the first several months of his life. I think that it’s a benefit to both the family, but also to the workforce, to have an employee who feels like they’re supported and cared for both in their private life as well as in their professional life.

    Diane Lincoln: Do you think that 12 weeks is enough?

    Claire Prestwood: For me, it was enough. It may not be enough for others, but for me personally, it was fine. But I also had the comfort of knowing that my husband would be home with our child for at least a month after I went back to work, so it wouldn’t be like I was sending such a small, tiny person to a daycare or to strangers to be cared for. My spouse was there. That’s also something that we have that’s very fortunate.

    Diane Lincoln: You’ve touched on this before, but tell me, do you see drawbacks to the employer if parents come back too soon?

    Claire Prestwood:  Yeah, you’re mentality is going to be split between what’s going on with your child at home, being exhausted and then also worrying about whether or not you’re meeting the standards they expect you to meet at work. It’s, you know, the typical sort of mom-guilt that people refer to. But it’s a lot more complicated than that, because it’s not just, “Oh, I should be home with my baby,” it’s, “I’m exhausted, I want to be home with my baby, but I’m also required to be here, and I need to do a good job, because they’re paying me to do a good job.”

    The post A working mom on her employer’s unpaid family leave policy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry  meets with foreign ministers of Germany, France, China, Britain, Russia and the European Union during the Iran Talks meetings at a hotel in Vienna, Austria July 7, 2015. A dispute over U.N. sanctions on Iran's ballistic missile programme and a broader arms embargo were among issues holding up a nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers on Monday, the day before their latest self-imposed deadline. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    Secretary of State John Kerry, seen during the Iran nuclear talks in Viennain July, and the rest of the Obama Administration consider Democrats’ support of the deal a major victory. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Now a done deal, the Iran nuclear agreement gained critical backing from three more Democratic senators Thursday, boosting White House hopes of blocking a disapproval resolution in the Senate so the president wouldn’t have to veto it.

    Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Mark Warner of Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota announced their support in quick succession for the deal that aims to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for wide relief from economic sanctions.

    The announcement from Booker, in particular, was closely watched because he was under immense pressure from segments of the Jewish community in New Jersey to oppose the deal, and New Jersey’s other Democratic senator, Bob Menendez, is an outspoken opponent.

    In a statement, Booker voiced deep reservations but concluded: “It is better to support a deeply flawed deal, for the alternative is worse. Thus, I will vote in support of the deal. But the United States must recognize that to make this deal work, we must be more vigilant than ever in fighting Iranian aggression.”

    Warner and Heitkamp added their voices not long after. Warner called the accord negotiated by the United States, Iran, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China “the best option for advancing the goal of keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” Heitkamp declared: “If we reject this deal, Iran will be closer to developing a nuclear weapon, and we will reduce our standing and authority in the world.”

    Their announcements came a day after Senate Democrats clinched the 34 votes needed to uphold President Barack Obama’s veto, if necessary, of a resolution of disapproval that Republicans are trying to pass this month. Booker, Warner and Heitkamp made it 37 Democratic or independent senators in favor of the deal, just four short of the 41 needed to allow senators to block a final vote on the disapproval resolution in the Senate and save Obama from exercising his veto power.

    For their part, opponents have been reduced to trying to prevent a filibuster of the agreement. Powerless to stop the deal, they still hope to see congressional passage of a resolution putting Congress on record against it — even with the certainty that the measure would be vetoed.

    “Since it looked like the administration was closing in on enough votes to sustain a presidential veto we’ve been asking people, just in fairness, ‘Let this come to a vote,'” said former Democratic-turned-independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, who’s rallying opposition to the deal. Given the importance of the agreement, “to have it defeated on a procedural tactic I think is unfair and unwise,” Lieberman said.

    The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which has spent millions opposing the deal, is also encouraging senators to allow a final vote on the disapproval resolution even if they intend to vote “no.”

    “On an issue of this significance to the national security of the United States, the American people deserve a direct up or down vote on the agreement,” said the group’s spokesman, Marshall Wittmann.

    The White House is eager to spare Obama the embarrassment of having to veto a disapproval resolution, and administration officials kept up their strong defense of the deal. In Florida Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden offered a robust endorsement of the accord, amid speculation about his own presidential ambitions

    “I tell you, I firmly believe, and I will go into some detail here, it will make us and Israel safer, not weaker,” Biden said at a round-table discussion alongside Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., chair of the Democratic National Committee, who remains uncommitted on the pact.

    Biden sought to allay concerns of South Florida Jewish leaders who fear Iran won too many concessions. His motorcade passed by hundreds of protesters outside a Jewish community center where he spoke.

    The Israeli government and GOP lawmakers who control the House and Senate contend the deal would keep Iran perilously close to developing nuclear weapons while enriching a government that has funded anti-U.S. and anti-Israel militants throughout the Middle East.

    The deal sets Iran back so that it is at least a year away from being able to produce enough nuclear material for a weapon, before the restrictions ease after a decade.

    All signs point to raucous wrangling when Congress comes back into session next week after a five-week summer recess.

    Both the House and the Senate will plunge immediately into debate on the Iran measure as the week begins. On Wednesday, Donald Trump will join fellow GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz at a rally outside the Capitol against the deal — even as Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton defends it in a speech across town at the Brookings Institution.

    House Republican leaders moved up debate on the disapproval resolution, ensuring that the House will go on record against the deal shortly after Congress returns from recess, regardless of the outcome in the Senate. The tally of House Democrats publicly favoring the deal ticked up toward 100 Thursday, but unlike their Senate counterparts, House Democrats don’t possess the tools as the minority party to block the resolution from passing.

    Associated Press writer Ken Thomas contributed to this report from Davie, Florida.

    The post With three more senators vowing yes, support piles up for Iran deal appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The three-year-old boy’s name was Aylan Kurdi. His family was one of many trying to escape Syria’s civil war for Greece when their boat capsized. Eleven others drowned, including his five-year-old brother and their mother.

    If you’ve seen the photos, then you know that Aylan’s red shirt, blue shorts and velcro shoes still clung to him when his body was found washed ashore on a Turkish beach. If you’ve heard the interview with his dad, then you know Abdullah Kurdi did everything he could to save his family before they were swept away.

    “I tried to catch my children and wife but there was no hope. One by one they died,” Kurdi told the BBC.

    The photos of the young boy went viral this week after Human Rights Watch director Peter Bouchard, among others, shared one on Twitter. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a tragic image or story from the Syrian refugee crisis. (Listen to PBS NewsHour’s podcast Shortwave from producer P.J. Tobia to learn more about some of those refugee children.)

    But this story, in particular, has seen international response in a way that others have not.

    Perhaps the photo resonated with so many because of the stark nature of it — it’s not always the norm for international and national media to run a photo so graphic. Or perhaps it’s because Aylan looks like an normal boy, who is in an ordinary, peaceful setting, not in a war-torn land where violence can be expected. Of course, many children who have left Syria did once lead normal, ordinary lives.

    Kate O’Sullivan, Save the Children’s communications manager of Greece’s response to the refugee and migrant crisis, says she thinks the image of Aylan struck a chord because it arrived in the midst of a massive build-up of awareness around the crisis.

    In the past few weeks, more than 70 refugees and migrants were found dead in the back of a truck in Austria; hundreds died in transit off the coast of Libya; and in Hungary, thousands are stranded in Budapest.

    In the middle of it all, the image of a small, innocent child emerged.

    “Obviously it’s tragic. But it’s not unusual, it’s not new … All of us wished it didn’t take something like this to galvanize people.”

    “People need to know that these people are fleeing. It’s really not a choice.”
    If Aylan and his family had made it to Greece, their journey would have been far from over. O’Sullivan says that services are overwhelmed, while the number of migrants are increasing daily.

    “People need to know that these people are fleeing. It’s really not a choice.”

    After landing in Greece, some are bussed to registration facilities miles away; others, including the elderly, the pregnant and the young, walk the distance in the burning heat.

    “Increasingly, more people are sleeping in roadsides or ports. They don’t know what to do, or what is happening.”

    Some sleep in tents, some use branches or cardboard for shelter. O’Sullivan says that those who try to find accommodations at nearby hotels typically find them full with tourists.

    If nothing else, Aylan’s story puts a face and a name to a crisis so often viewed as a lump sum of faceless individuals.

    “Every child I meet talks about going to school, and becoming doctors and engineers. Sometimes the numbers dehumanize people, and that becomes a huge injustice.”

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    bbslamayor

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    GWEN IFILL: Now to our weekly feature, Brief But Spectacular.

    Tonight, we hear from Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles.

    With California in the midst of a severe drought, the state imposed mandatory water restrictions earlier this year. Last week, the mayor’s office announced that, for the month of July, Los Angeles saved even more water than the state asked them to, using two million fewer gallons.

    ERIC GARCETTI (D), Mayor of Los Angeles: The droughts in Los Angeles and in California are here to stay. So, we have got to make it a little bit more exciting, make it a little more sexy.

    Ah, water. We see so much water misused, wasted, thrown out to the ocean, or bad decisions made that take up more water than we need to sustain life. The Save the Drop campaign in Los Angeles is all about mindfulness. It’s about being conscious of our behavior and our use.

    I’m half-Mexican, half-Jewish, so it’s going to be a combination of intelligent forward-looking action and old-fashioned guilt. Drought shaming is when you go to your next-door neighbor and say, you know, you have never been on that grass in your front lawn. Why don’t you get rid of it?

    I would say, if you have a lawn you are using, great. Keep it. Water less frequently, but keep it. But 90 percent of lawns, maybe even more, go completely unoccupied.

    We’re being very innovative here in Los Angeles with water, with the plentiful water we actually still have, switching out our turf and paying people to do that, to have better plans that use less water, and then recycling water. About 60 percent of our daily use of water, equivalent of that, gets treated through our sewage treatment plants to a standard you could basically drink. But then we wash it out to the ocean, instead of putting it back into the land here.

    We’re not just planning for the next two years to get through the immediacy of the drought. But we have got a 10-year and a 20-year plan to wean ourselves off of water that we import.

    This is a nonpartisan issue. Water doesn’t care what your party registration is. It just cares that you are wasting it. I hope to leave behind a legacy in which we reengineer Los Angeles once again, but in a way to live more sustainably with the water we already have.

    I’m Mayor Eric Garcetti. And this is my Brief But Spectacular take on California and our relationship with water

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    Illustration by PBS NewsHour

    Illustration by PBS NewsHour

    WASHINGTON — Army Secretary John McHugh has suspended operations at four Defense Department laboratories that handle biological toxins, as the military scrambles to explain and correct problems that led to the accidental shipment of live anthrax to dozens of other labs around the country and the world.

    In a memo Thursday, McHugh also ordered a safety stand-down and directed a broad review at nine department labs involved in the production, shipment or handling of biological toxins. He also ordered a report on the reviews within the next 10 days.

    The nine labs under review in the U.S. are in Ohio, Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia and Utah. Others are in Egypt and Peru.

    His order expands the initial moratorium announced in July, which suspended activities with anthrax. And he directs the labs to review all their training on safety procedures, maintenance on equipment, record-keeping, and standard practices for the handling of the toxins.

    “Prior to resuming the activities prohibited above, laboratories must seek and receive my approval,” McHugh said in his memo. “I understand that these measures will affect ongoing research activities, and I expect to grant waivers in appropriate circumstances.”

    The moratorium was first reported by USA Today.

    According to the Pentagon, samples of live anthrax from the Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah were shipped to 194 labs, including facilities in all 50 states and nine countries. Anthrax from the Dugway batches was initially sent to 88 labs in the U.S. and seven countries, but some labs sent anthrax on to other secondary facilities.

    No illnesses have been reported, although more than 30 Americans — including some who work for the military — have taken medication as a precaution.

    Dugway works with biological and chemical agents, and is the military facility that produces the largest amount of anthrax shipped to other labs for research.

    Medical technicians are supposed to kill the anthrax bacteria with gamma rays, and then test samples from the lots to make sure the radiation succeeded in killing them. Investigators believe they were trying to kill too much at a time, and then doing inadequate testing afterward.

    The problem came to light in May when a private commercial lab in Maryland tested a shipment from Dugway and found live bacteria.

    According to McHugh’s orders, the four labs affected by the moratorium are: Dugway Proving Ground Life Sciences Test Facility in Utah and three facilities in Maryland: Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, and the Naval Medical Research Center.

    The nine facilities ordered to conduct safety reviews, some of which include the labs undergoing a moratorium, are Dugway Proving Ground, Utah; 711th Personnel Wing, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, Maryland; U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit 3 in Egypt; U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit 6 in Peru; U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center in Massachusetts; Naval Medical Research Center, Fort Detrick, Maryland; Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren, Virginia; U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Frederick, Maryland.

    The post Army suspends operations at labs due to anthrax probe appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady exits the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York, August 31, 2015. The National Football League and its players union failed to reach a settlement in their dispute over New England quarterback Tom Brady's four-game "Deflategate" suspension despite weeks of talks, leaving a federal judge to resolve the issue in the coming days. Following a final round of unsuccessful private discussions, U.S. District Judge Richard Berman said at a brief court hearing on Monday that he will likely decide whether to uphold or throw out the suspension within one or two days. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid - RTX1QGPG

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    GWEN IFILL: Within minutes of a judge’s decision to overturn the suspension of quarterback Tom Brady, the New England Patriots took to Twitter to celebrate with this picture. It was a big win for Brady in his battle with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell over what’s become known as Deflategate.

    The judge didn’t rule on whether Brady was aware of, or involved with, a plan to deflate footballs. But he said Goodell didn’t properly inform Brady of what he was accused of and the potential punishment. He also noted Brady’s legal team was unable to examine one of the lead investigators in the case.

    Dan Shaughnessy is a sports columnist for The Boston Globe. And Kevin Blackistone is a professor of sports journalism at the University of Maryland. And he also reports on sports for The Washington Post and ESPN.

    Gentlemen, welcome to you both. Dan Shaughnessy, how big a victory is this for Tom Brady?

    DAN SHAUGHNESSY, The Boston Globe: It’s an official state holiday here in Massachusetts moving forward. This day in September will always be commemorated in future years.

    (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL: But deservedly so, you believe?

    DAN SHAUGHNESSY: Well, this is a good — they have waited a long time for this. This is vindication, validation, all that stuff. And there’s a game tonight, a preseason game where Tom Brady, I will doubt he will play, but he has a chance to run on the field.

    And if Belichick has any sense of theater, he will send him out for a play to hand the ball off and get the Charles Lindbergh-type ovation no doubt is coming his way.

    GWEN IFILL: Kevin Blackistone, is this what was supposed to happen, based on what you understand about the facts of this case?

    KEVIN BLACKISTONE, University of Maryland: Well, I was surprised, given that I understand that the precedent is that judges rarely overturn arbitrations, but in this case that happened, and with a sweeping gesture from this judge, cleaning the slate for the Patriots, as well as for Tom Brady.

    And I think as long as this thing has dragged on, this started way back in January — here we are in September. Another football season is about to start. I think a lot of fans have just been paralyzed by the continuation of leaks from the story and the conversation about the story. And they are just ready for it to move on.

    And, quite frankly, given the way that the league has handled some other matters that are much more serious, I think, than the PSI in a football, I think people felt that there was no way that the league was going to be able to hammer Tom Brady in the same manner that it had some other athletes who had gone astray of the real law.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, picking up on Kevin’s reference to other matters which have arisen for Roger Goodell, Dan Shaughnessy, how big of a defeat, how big a setback was this for him today?

    DAN SHAUGHNESSY: Oh, this is bad for him, I mean, because if this were upheld — and it could be years before we know that. I don’t know how quickly the Superior Second Circuit Court rules.

    But this basically tells you if you are an NFL player and you get punished by the commissioner, you just go to federal court, that the CBA means nothing. So, that is a bad precedent for the league to have. And they’re on a losing streak in court. And this is a big setback for them, definitely.

    GWEN IFILL: The commissioner has also said, Kevin Blackistone, that he will appeal this. What are the chances of that, or are we just going to keep stretching this out?

    KEVIN BLACKISTONE: You know, I think he’s just going to keep stretching it out.

    I mean, the cynic in me suggests that this is a molehill built into a mountain with purpose by the NFL, to stop people from looking at the real issues, such as the concussion story. I mean, back in April, the league had to raise its ceiling for what it’s going to pay for concussion lawsuits to over a billion dollars. We just saw the report from The New York Times a few days ago about this new Will Smith movie called “Concussions,” where the NFL apparently got involved with Sony, one of its corporate partners through video gaming, to try and tone down any messaging in that film that would implicate the NFL in the entire concussion issue.

    And, of course, that court case back in April, where they were forced to pay over a billion dollars in settlement, also included information where the NFL didn’t have to reveal what it knew and when it knew and how much it knew about this entire concussion story. So that is far more serious, yet their marketing and their public relations has pulled all of us in the media and all the fans into talking about PSI in footballs.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, there also have been questions about Goodell’s handling of some player abuse cases, Dan Shaughnessy.

    We always raise the question after every one of these cases, will Roger Goodell survive? Do you see any shift in that landscape for him today?

    DAN SHAUGHNESSY: I think it’s a setback today. I would be mad at the lawyers, mad at the commissioner if I were an NFL owner.

    At the same time, the Ray Rice thing a year ago was far worse in terms of public relations. Here, you have got a guy abusing his wife in an elevator, video of it, and gets two-game suspension, national outrage, and yet the league had one of its best years ever. It always does. People love NFL. They love to gamble. They love the television of football.

    And it goes on. The thing moves on. The other 31 owners, it’s up to them. We know Bob Kraft is mad at Roger Goodell. How do the other 31 feel? I would say he survives this.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, let me ask you both whether — in the end, whether it is about the PSI case, which is what is on the table today, or anything else, is football damaged? Is Tom Brady vindicated? What is the outcome after a ruling like today’s, Kevin Blackistone?

    KEVIN BLACKISTONE: Well, I mean, I think the damage is on Goodell, as you started to mention at the beginning of this. He suffered another blow to his reputation as a steward of this game.

    However, as Dan alluded to, this game just goes on. The game is going to make more money this year than it made last year, and last year was a record year, which is why Roger Goodell’s pockets continue to get lined with tens of millions of dollars from the men who he works for as owners of the franchises in this league.

    And as soon as the games start for real, people will forget about this. Broadcasters won’t talk about it. Those of us who write about the game won’t write about it that often. We will be talking about wins and losses and injuries and surprises, and rookies who are showing out and veterans who are on the downside of their careers and how the Patriots are managing the season.

    (CROSSTALK)

    GWEN IFILL: And about the game, basically.

    KEVIN BLACKISTONE: Sure, the game.

    And with all of this, I would bet that the first Patriots game of this season is going to be one of the most watched games of all time.

    GWEN IFILL: So, Dan Shaughnessy, does that mean Tom Brady does a real victory lap, an uninterrupted victory lap?

    DAN SHAUGHNESSY: When he’s playing in Foxborough, it is always going to be that way. It would have been that way even if he lost today. Don’t worry about that. But they have a preseason game tonight. Opener is a week from tonight, as Kevin said, national TV. That will be a big victory lap.

    They are going to unfurl the championship banner, and Tom Brady will be there at quarterback.

    GWEN IFILL: Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe and Kevin Blackistone of The Washington Post and ESPN, thank you both very much.

    KEVIN BLACKISTONE: Thank you.

    The post Tom Brady’s court win takes the air out of the NFL’s punishment appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    DAVIE, FL - SEPTEMBER 03:  General view of protests outside the David Posnack Jewish Community Center where U.S. Vice President Joe Biden meeting with Jewish community leaders at the David Posnack Jewish Community Center to discuss the nuclear deal reached with Iran on September 3, 2015 in Davie, Florida.  (Photo by Johnny Louis/FilmMagic)

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama got three more senators to back the Iran nuclear deal today, Democrats Cory Booker, Mark Warner and Heidi Heitkamp, bringing the total number now to 37.

    Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden was at a Jewish community center in Florida this morning to press what has been a high-stakes lobbying campaign for the support of American Jews.

    Tonight, chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner takes a closer look tonight at that community and how the Iran issue is triggering a rigorous debate.

    MARGARET WARNER: The campaign within the Jewish community over the Iran deal has been intense and bruising, with ads over the airwaves and Internet from the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, and its affiliated groups.

    NARRATOR: Iran could build a nuclear weapon in two months. Congress should reject a bad deal. We need a better deal.

    MARGARET WARNER: And from advocacy groups like J Street favoring it.

    NARRATOR: This deal prevents Iran from producing a nuclear weapon. It is good for America, good for Israel, and makes both countries safer and more secure.

    MARGARET WARNER: And in direct appeals from the two countries’ leaders in competing Webcasts sponsored by the Jewish Federations of North America.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning of the dangers.

    BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Israeli Prime Minister: This is a time to stand up and be counted. Oppose this dangerous deal.

    MARGARET WARNER: And President Obama asserting the special bond the U.S. feels with Israel.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Like all families, sometimes, there are going to be disagreements. And sometimes people get angrier about disagreements in families than they do with the folks who aren’t family.

    AARON DAVID MILLER, Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars: This is, in fact, perceived to be a core strategic existential issue.

    MARGARET WARNER: Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Wilson Center in Washington, is a veteran Middle East peace negotiator under several presidents.

    AARON DAVID MILLER: American Jews worry for a living. And the reality is that never in my 40-some years have I seen a community more energized, more conflicted and at times more reluctant to engage in what one Jewish leader described as fratricide.

    MARGARET WARNER: How difficult a decision is this for members of the American Jewish community?

    TAMARA WITTES, Brookings Institution: It’s a very stark choice. Either you support this deal or you oppose it.

    MARGARET WARNER: Former Obama State Department official Tamara Wittes runs the Middle East Policy Center at the Brookings Institution.

    TAMARA WITTES: It is not easy to say that there is some third path, some compromise available to knit together opposing sides. The situation of the Middle East is more tense and complicated and scary in many ways than it has been in a long time. And American Jews feel that too. Their concerns about Israel are as sharp as ever.

    MARGARET WARNER: That sharpness is felt here, far from the tense and scary Middle East, at the Kol Shalom conservative synagogue in Rockville, Maryland, outside Washington.

    The debate within this congregation has focused on whether the Iran deal is good for America, good for Israel and how to weigh the two. Last Friday evening, just before the Sabbath began, we came to Kol Shalom to sample opinion. And we found, amidst the polls of certainty for and against, doubt and dismay.

    College student Mark Reichel has yet to make up his mind.

    MARK REICHEL, Student: Certainly, in my family, there has been a lot of arguing just over dinner and stuff, yes, it’s been quite intense debate.

    MARGARET WARNER: Digital strategy company president Jeffrey Rum is undecided too, but bemoans the tone of the debate.

    JEFFREY RUM, Digital Strategist: It is sad to see that the Jewish community has become so divisive over the Iran deal. I think that, at a time when we need to be coming together, we’re being taken apart.

    MARGARET WARNER: With a bird’s-eye view of the debate within Kol Shalom, Rabbi Jonathan Maltzman.

    It’s a politically aware congregation, with vocal opponents and supporter of the deal. And in e-mails and personal entreaties, both sides have pressed him hard to announce a position.

    Now, you have not taken a public stand. Why not?

    RABBI JONATHAN MALTZMAN, Kol Shalom: I don’t think this is a moral or an ethical issue that I have a right to take a stand on. This is a political question. And I believe that both sides, underlying both sides there is a feeling that we love Israel and we just want the best for Israel. But there are different ways of looking at it.

    MARGARET WARNER: We met two members firmly on opposite sides. Biotech executive Lewis Schrager is an amateur photographer and playwright.

    DR. LEWIS SCHRAGER, Vice President of Scientific Affairs, Aeras: After a lot of thinking about this, careful thinking about it, after reading the agreement, talking to people I know, both here and in Israel, and reading everything I can, I have come down on — with a position that this should be supported.

    MARGARET WARNER: Talk a little bit more about why it’s difficult.

    DR. LEWIS SCHRAGER: Well, because there’s a lot at stake.

    You know, every one agrees that a nuclear-armed Iran is an existential threat to Israel. It simply is. It’s a small country. And it is surrounded by states that don’t have its best interests in mind. There is always a sense of vulnerability. We have to take that very seriously.

    MARGARET WARNER: What is your view of it?

    AL HELLMAN, Former Science Director, National Cancer Institute: I find it — it’s just a piece of paper, because if they have — we have had 30 years through which the Iranians have been cheating.

    MARGARET WARNER: Holocaust survivor Al Hellman, a former science director at the National Cancer Institute, hears the echoes of history. He is certain the deal will endanger Israel and the United States in the long run.

    So what is the alternative, given where we are now?

    AL HELLMAN: The alternative, first of all, is to basically set a red line that, in the event that they do not conform within the next six months, that we are going to destroy their nuclear facilities.

    MARGARET WARNER: The solution is military?

    AL HELLMAN: The solution is military. I know what happened during the — prior to the Second World War. I look at this deal, and from the very beginning, the same way I think I looked at it when Chamberlain came back with peace in our time.

    MARGARET WARNER: So when you bring up the Chamberlain example, are you essentially saying that, wittingly or unwittingly, those who support this deal are engaging in appeasement?

    AL HELLMAN: I think so, absolutely.

    LEWIS SCHRAGER: One of the big concerns for me as I reached my conclusion about this is a concern about what I call the A-word in the American Jewish community, which is appeasement. If I honestly thought this was appeasement, I wouldn’t go anywhere close to it.

    MARGARET WARNER: Also playing a role in this debate are mixed feelings about both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama. A majority of Jews are Democrats, and some have been offended by Netanyahu inserting himself so vociferously into a U.S. domestic debate.

    LEWIS SCHRAGER: He’s the prime minister of a sovereign country about which I care deeply. But the way he is intervening politically, I find deeply troubling.

    MARGARET WARNER: Yet Schrager also harbors doubts about President Obama’s resolve to enforce the deal.

    LEWIS SCHRAGER: I have been troubled by Obama’s, I don’t want to call it fickleness or lack of commitment, in my view, particularly in dealing with, say, the Syrian mess. That doesn’t show strength.

    MARGARET WARNER: All this has left American Jews in a bind, said Tamara Wittes.

    TAMARA WITTES: A deal like this involves uncertainty. It involves risk. And, most of all, it involves uncertainty about the intent of the guys on the other side of the table, of the Iranian regime.

    And so at the end of the day, people have to make a make a judgment call, and that’s very hard.

    MARGARET WARNER: Even as the White House nails down the congressional votes it needs, for American Jews, assessing what this deal will mean remains very hard indeed.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Margaret Warner in Washington.

    The post Why the American Jewish community is divided over the Iran deal appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Pope Francis arrives at his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican on June 17. The pontiff will arrive in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 22. Afterwards he will travel to New York City and Philadelphia. Photo by Max Rossi/Reuters

    Pope Francis arrives at his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican on June 17. The pontiff will arrive in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 22. Afterwards he will travel to New York City and Philadelphia. Photo by Max Rossi/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — House Democrats are pushing Pope Francis to address the minimum wage, hunger and the environment in his historic speech to Congress later this month, hoping his embrace will give momentum to three party priorities.

    In a letter to the pontiff, 94 House Democrats lauded Francis’ schedule during his six-day U.S. trip, which includes visits to a Philadelphia prison and a school in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood.

    “Your powerful example of solidarity with the poor and the marginalized will undoubtedly help inform our current debates around major U.S. policy affecting all Americans,” the lawmakers wrote. “Your message of hope could not come at a more crucial time, in particular to those in our nation that are struggling on a minimum wage salary, or relying on public assistance to put food on the table.”

    The Democrats cited instances in which Republicans have blocked Democratic efforts to increase the federal minimum wage and bolster food and environment programs. “We look forward with great anticipation to your visit and to your words on all these issues,” they said.

    Francis’ U.S. visit will include a Sept. 24 address to Congress, the first by a pope, and is certain to bring throngs of people to the capital. He arrives in the U.S. on Sept. 22.

    The letter is dated Aug. 12 and was first reported by Politico.

    In a second letter, 13 House lawmakers who graduated from Jesuit schools described how their educations encouraged them to serve needy people and politely asked if the pope had time in his already packed schedule to meet with them. Francis is a Jesuit.

    “We look forward to your visit to Washington, D.C., and if time permits, we welcome the opportunity to discuss how best to serve our constituents, our country, our world and our God,” they wrote in the Aug. 31 letter.

    The post House Dems ask pope to address poor, environment in U.S. visit appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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