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- 09/04/15--19:01: _What does the Augus...
- 09/05/15--08:34: _Clinton: Use of pri...
- 09/05/15--09:38: _Cooperation in Cong...
- 09/05/15--10:08: _Tribal Justice: Pro...
- 09/05/15--11:23: _Japan allows reside...
- 09/05/15--11:59: _The dy(e)ing art of...
- 09/05/15--12:07: _VP Biden’s reluctan...
- 09/05/15--12:35: _Photos: Thousands o...
- 09/05/15--12:43: _What to expect this...
- 09/05/15--13:57: _Sally Field, Stephe...
- 09/05/15--14:05: _How Ohio voters are...
- 09/05/15--14:06: _How are different c...
- 09/05/15--14:43: _Behind the dangerou...
- 09/06/15--08:51: _Iran nuclear deal g...
- 09/06/15--10:02: _What’s the grade fo...
- 09/06/15--10:34: _Pilot recalls child...
- 09/06/15--10:38: _6 ‘Trumpisms’ that ...
- 09/06/15--11:31: _Japanese-American g...
- 09/06/15--12:26: _Pope calls for pari...
- 09/06/15--12:36: _What accounts for t...
- 09/04/15--19:01: What does the August jobs report mean for the Fed?
- 09/05/15--08:34: Clinton: Use of private email system not ‘best choice’
- Iran: Clinton noted her support for an Obama-backed agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and said she would address what she would do as president to enforce the deal, hold Iran accountable and “make clear that no options were off the table. That they can never ever have a nuclear weapon.”
- Trump: Clinton suggested that Trump, the leading GOP candidate at this juncture, did not have the temperament to lead the nation and conduct foreign policy. “Loose talk, threats, insults, they have consequences. So I’m going to conduct myself as I believe is appropriate for someone seeking the highest office in our country,” she said.
- Biden: Clinton declined to offer a comparison to the vice president and fellow Democrat, saying he had a “really difficult decision” to make.
- 09/05/15--09:38: Cooperation in Congress key to tackling full fall agenda
- 09/05/15--11:23: Japan allows residents to return to town near Fukushima
- 09/05/15--11:59: The dy(e)ing art of Mexico’s Mixtecs
- 09/05/15--12:07: VP Biden’s reluctance to run in 2016 centers on family concerns
- 09/05/15--12:43: What to expect this fall from the GOP 2016 race
- 09/05/15--13:57: Sally Field, Stephen King, among arts medal recipients
- John Baldessari, visual artist, Venice, California
- Ping Chong, theater director, choreographer and video and installation artist, New York City
- Miriam Colón, actress, theater founder and director, New York City
- The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, New York City
- Ann Hamilton, visual artist, Columbus, Ohio
- Meredith Monk, composer, singer and performer, New York City
- George Shirley, tenor, Ann Arbor, Michigan
- University Musical Society, Performing Arts Presenter, Ann Arbor, Michigan
- Tobias Wolff, author and educator, Stanford, California
- Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, historian, Auburndale, Massachusetts
- Annie Dillard, author, Key West, Florida
- Clemente Course in the Humanities, Annandale-On-Hudson, New York
- Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, novelist and philosopher, Boston
- Larry McMurtry, novelist, essayist and screenwriter, Archer City, Texas
- Everett L. Fly, architect, San Antonio
- Jhumpa Lahiri, author, New York City
- Fedwa Malti-Douglas, professor and scholar, Rhinebeck, New York
- Vicki Lynn Ruiz, historian, Irvine, California
- 09/05/15--14:05: How Ohio voters are feeling about the 2016 cycle so far
- 09/05/15--14:06: How are different countries reacting to the migrant crisis?
- 09/05/15--14:43: Behind the dangerous trade of migrant smuggling
- 09/06/15--08:51: Iran nuclear deal gains further momentum
- 09/06/15--10:34: Pilot recalls childhood fascination with flying in new memoir
- 09/06/15--10:38: 6 ‘Trumpisms’ that would mean a political end for anyone but Trump
- 09/06/15--12:36: What accounts for the dramatic dip in SAT scores?
Unemployment Friday, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy added 173,000 jobs in August while the unemployment rate dropped to 5.1 percent — the lowest it’s been since April 2008.
Considering we’ve been averaging gains of 247,000 per month for the past year, August’s jobs numbers may not, at first blush, seem all that strong. However, June and July’s jobs numbers were both revised upward — 44,000 more jobs added to the economy than previously reported.
With healthy upward revisions and a drop in the unemployment rate, one might even say that the economy is humming. And some did, including a former member of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors:
Unemployment is down 1 percentage point over the year and at its lowest since 2008 at 5.1 percent. This is real progress.
— Betsey Stevenson (@BetseyStevenson) September 4, 2015
Just where is that progress? August saw significant growth in health care and social services — child day care and services for the elderly and disabled — with the addition of 56,000 jobs in those sectors, 41,000 of which are in health care. These numbers are indicative of a larger trend: Over the year, health care has added 457,000 jobs and social assistance another 107,000.
Professional and business services also saw real gains — 33,000 new jobs in August and 641,000 over the year. Among them, health care, social assistance and business services account for about a third of the roughly three million jobs created in the past year. By contrast manufacturing and mining haven’t added any.
Another encouraging fact from August’s jobs report: the drop in the number of people not officially counted as “in the labor force,” because they haven’t looked for work in the past four weeks, but who say they want a job. That number has rarely dipped below six million, but did in August.
And who, you might ask, dropped out of this category? Two possible groups. First, people unemployed for so long that they have finally given up hope and decided, “Enough already! I don’t even want a job anymore,” or some variation thereof, and said as much to the BLS person who administered the survey to them in August. Second, more and more Baby Boomers are hitting retirement age — 10,000 reach 66 every day — and are simply deciding to call it a career. So they’re “not in the labor force” (not looking for work) and they have no intention of doing so.
Finally, in August we saw another marker of economic stability: after a 6-cent raise in July, average hourly earnings rose another 8 cents in August to land at $25.09. Over the year, hourly earnings are up 2.2 percent, compared to a 12-month inflation rate barely above zero. And if you take the August numbers seriously, an 8-cent wage bump would translate into an annual pay increase of nearly four percent,
A final bit of statistical good news: our Solman Scale’s U7, which counts the officially unemployed and then adds part-timers looking for full-time work and anyone who says they want a job but don’t have one (that 5.9 percent figure from above), fell from 14.23 percent one year ago to 12.48 percent. To put this in perspective, when we began calculating the U7 back in August 2011, it stood at 18.29 percent. So yes, we’ve come a long way.
Of course, we probably shouldn’t look at a jobs report without mentioning the Federal Reserve’s plan to increase interest rates in September. For months, the Fed suggested it would increase interest rates from their near-zero levels, only to later decide that there was too much slack in the labor market to do so. While some economists argue that the Fed won’t hike interest rates with a volatile stock market and a stumbling Chinese economy, others say the labor market is strong–strong enough that the Fed should go ahead and hike.
Kevin Hassett of the conservative American Enterprise Institute doesn’t see the report being “good enough for the Fed to hike interest rates at the next meeting in September.” He explains that because of seasonal variation, August is historically difficult for the BLS to determine the number of jobs added. In the following months, economists expect to see the number of jobs revised upwards some 70,000. And as a result of that prediction, this jobs report “exists in between tenuously positive and tenuously negative,” says Hassett. The Fed, however, won’t know until the job revisions, not to be released until after they meet.
As to what he thinks the Fed ought to do? That’s simple. “The Fed needs to normalize policy,” says Hassett, though he admits “there’s never a good time for that.” On the other hand, says Hassett, a 5.1 percent unemployment rate falls into the Fed’s definition of full employment.
Others, like the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute’s Elise Gould, don’t think it’s time for the Fed to make a move on interest rates.
We need to see consistently stronger wage growth before the Fed considers action that would slow the economy down. pic.twitter.com/03HTdWbGNS
— Elise Gould (@eliselgould) September 4, 2015
Describing the August jobs report as neither good nor bad, but “meh,” Gould says wage growth over the past year is anemic and that the number of jobs created on average this year is 212,000 per month, down noticeably from the 260,000 we all saw last year. This, she believes, indicates a slowdown in the recovery.
“The Fed, I applaud them. They’ve been doing the right thing [by waiting to raise interest rates],” say, Gould adding, “Don’t get impatient for the sake of getting impatient.”
The post What does the August jobs report mean for the Fed? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton says her use of a private email system at the State Department wasn’t the “best choice” and acknowledged she didn’t “stop and think” about her email set-up when she became President Barack Obama’s secretary of state in 2009.
The Democratic presidential front-runner said in an interview with NBC News that she was immediately confronted by a number of global hotspots after joining the new Obama administration as its top diplomat and didn’t think much about her email after arriving at her new job.
“You know, I was not thinking a lot when I got in. There was so much work to be done. We had so many problems around the world,” Clinton said. “I didn’t really stop and think what kind of email system will there be?”
But Clinton did not apologize for her decision when asked directly, “Are you sorry?” Instead, she again said she wishes she had “made a different choice” and that she takes responsibility for the decision to use a private email account and server based at her home in suburban New York.
She added it was a choice that should not raise questions about her judgment.
“I am very confident that by the time this campaign has run its course, people will know that what I’ve been saying is accurate,” Clinton said, adding: “They may disagree, as I now disagree, with the choice that I made. But the facts that I have put forth have remained the same.”
Republicans criticized Clinton’s unwillingness to apologize for the decision and said it underscored polls which have shown large numbers of people questioning her trustworthiness. “What’s clear is Hillary Clinton regrets that she got caught and is paying a political price, not the fact her secret email server put our national security at risk,” said Michael Short, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee.
The Washington Post reported Friday night that the Clintons personally paid a State Department employee, Bryan Pagliano, to maintain the private email server she used while secretary of state. Earlier this week Pagliano told a House committee investigating Clinton’s use of the email server that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if called to testify.
The subject of emails led off a wide-ranging NBC interview that included Vice President Joe Biden’s interest in a potential Democratic primary bid, Clinton’s plans to address the Iran nuclear deal and her views of Republican front-runner Donald Trump.
Following a summer in which both Trump and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s chief rival for the Democratic nomination, drew large campaign audiences, Clinton sought to cast her candidacy as one rooted in tackling the problems “that keep families up at night.”
“Because I think you can come with your own ideas and you can, you know, wave your arms and give a speech, but at the end of the day, are you connecting with and really hearing what people are either saying to you or wishing that you would say to them?” she said.
Sanders campaign spokesman Michael Briggs responded: “Bernie is doing more than attracting large crowds. He has a concrete set of proposals to take on the billionaire class and rebuild the disappearing middle class. That’s what people are responding to.”
Clinton’s interview comes as current and former aides are testifying before a congressional panel investigating the deadly 2012 Benghazi attacks. The committee has also delved into Clinton’s email practices at the State Department. She is scheduled to testify publicly before the panel next month.
Clinton in August handed over to the FBI her private server, which she used to send, receive and store emails during her four years as secretary of state. Clinton has said she set up her own system instead of using a State Department account for the convenience of using a single Blackberry device.
But her comments that she didn’t stop to think about setting up a private email server in her home belied the careful planning and technical sophistication required to set up, operate, maintain and protect a private server effectively – especially one responsible for the confidential communications of the U.S. government’s top diplomat as she traveled the globe.
Even homebrew servers typically require careful configuration, Internet registration, data backups, regular security audits and a secondary power supply in case of electrical problems.
In the interview, Clinton said, as she has in the past, that she “should have had two accounts, one for personal and one for work-related.”
Thousands of pages of her emails publicly released in recent months have shown that Clinton received messages that were later determined to contain classified information, including some that contained material regarding the production and dissemination of U.S. intelligence.
But Clinton reiterated that she did not “send or receive any material marked classified. We dealt with classified material on a totally different system. I dealt with it in person.”
Clinton also addressed other topics, including:
The post Clinton: Use of private email system not ‘best choice’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — Congress returns on Tuesday with a critical need for a characteristic rarely evident through a contentious spring and summer – cooperation between Republicans and President Barack Obama.
Lawmakers face a weighty list of unfinished business and looming deadlines, including a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open beyond Sept. 30. The most intractable issues – a solution to a yearlong battle over agency budgets and a deal on a long-sought highway bill – have been kicked to the fall.
“It’s going to take a sense of give and take on both sides,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. “The big deal will be, `Can you come to a deal on transportation, debt ceiling and avoiding sequester?’ So a large budget deal will determine, I think, whether or not we’ve really been successful.”
Painful automatic budget cuts are the result of the law Obama signed in a 2011 deal commonly known as the “sequester.”
GOP leaders are playing down talk of a government shutdown that’s being driven by conservatives determined to use the spending legislation to strip funds from Planned Parenthood. The organization is under intense scrutiny after secretly recorded videos raised uncomfortable questions about its practices in procuring research tissue from aborted fetuses.
Cole said passing a short-term spending bill will not be “a contention-free exercise.”
The first days for Congress will be marked by a fierce debate over the nuclear deal with Iran that Republicans insist makes too many concessions to Tehran. Democrats have rallied behind the president and have already demonstrated they have the votes to sustain a promised Obama veto of a resolution challenging the hard-won agreement.
Also on the crowded fall agenda are efforts to increase the government’s borrowing authority and avoid a first-ever federal default; extend some 50 tax breaks; pass a defense policy bill that Obama has threatened to veto; and renew the Federal Aviation Administration’s authority to spend money.
A historic address to Congress by Pope Francis on Sept. 24 promises a welcome respite from the partisanship that has gripped the Capitol for most of the year.
Some tea party lawmakers say they will only back legislation to keep the government open in the new budget year, which begins Oct. 1, if the measure also terminates Planned Parenthood’s federal money – even if their battle with Obama over the issue should spiral into a government shutdown.
“I’m for doing everything” to halt funds for Planned Parenthood, said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. “There is no way they can get taxpayer support.”
Conservative groups such as Heritage Action are backing the strategy, though establishment anti-abortion organizations aren’t throwing their influence behind it.
Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the powerful National Right to Life Committee, said recently that while blocking Planned Parenthood’s funds “makes sense,” the Senate lacks the votes to do so and abortions would continue anyway. He said lawmakers should also focus on bills halting abortions.
“We just don’t have the votes to get the outcome that we’d like,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told a Kentucky television station last week. He called ending Planned Parenthood’s funding “another issue that awaits a new president.”
Past efforts to use must-pass funding bills to block Obama’s health care law and his executive actions on immigration have failed badly, with the heath law dispute resulting in a partial government shutdown in 2013.
As a result, House GOP leaders are considering separate legislation this month cutting Planned Parenthood’s funds and the health overhaul, according to a GOP aide and a lobbyist. They hope such a bill, which would advance free of a filibuster threat by Senate Democrats, would satisfy Planned Parenthood’s opponents and free up the temporary government funding bill.
Obama would be certain to veto such a bill, but it would allow Republicans to vote for those changes and underscore the need for a GOP president to institute them.
Facing demands for negotiations to lift domestic agency budgets hit by the return of automatic spending cuts, McConnell has signaled that he is open to talks on a deal that would pair increases for domestic programs with budget relief for the Pentagon.
To get to an agreement, however, Republicans must strike a deal with Obama and his Democratic allies over companion spending cuts elsewhere in the budget to defray the cost of new spending for the Pentagon and domestic programs. There’s a limited pool of such offsets, at least those with an acceptable level of political pain, and considerable competition over what to spend them on.
For instance, McConnell helped assemble a 10-year, $47 billion offsets package to pay for a Senate bill with small increases for highway and transit programs. Democrats are eying the same set of cuts to pay for boosting domestic agencies.
No one is underestimating the difficulty in reaching agreement. Speculation is growing that Republicans will try to advance a bill that would keep most federal agencies operating at current budget levels, with only a few changes for the most pressing programs. The White House has pledged to block that idea.
One potential glimmer of hope for the talks is that earlier this year Republicans reversed a position they held in talks two years ago and declared that additional defense spending doesn’t require companion spending cuts.
Congress also needs to raise the government’s $18.1 trillion borrowing cap by mid-November or early December, an uncomfortable prospect for GOP leaders already facing potshots from tea party purists and Republican presidential candidates as next year’s nomination contests loom.
The post Cooperation in Congress key to tackling full fall agenda appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
STEPHEN FEE: Lisa Brunner spent her childhood on and around the White Earth Indian reservation, a huge tract of land in northern Minnesota that’s home to around 4-thousand Native Americans like her. Brunner grew up surrounded by domestic violence and since has become a leading advocate for Native victims of abuse.
LISA BRUNNER: “It’s happening every day.”
STEPHEN FEE: Native women in the U-S face some of the highest levels of violence of any group. According to the Justice Department, one in three Native women has been raped. And three out of five will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. Lisa says she too is a victim of rape and sexual assault. She had enough, she says, when a boyfriend slapped her across the face while she cradled her nine-month-old child.
LISA BRUNNER: “And I packed up and left the next day, and I never went back. And I vowed thereafter that no man will ever touch me again. I will not — my babies will not know the life that I had to survive.”
STEPHEN FEE: Lisa says that as an adult, she seldom went to the police — and that much of that has to do with the fact that some of the men who attacked her were not Native Americans.
STEPHEN FEE: “So why does that matter? Up until recently, non-Native people were immune from prosecution in tribal courts. That’s crucial for two reasons: one, the Justice Department says non-Native men commit the vast majority of assaults and rapes against Native women. And two, federal attorneys — who are often the only lawyers who can try non-Natives who commit crimes on reservations — often don’t prosecute them.”
LISA BRUNNER: “I knew when I had been raped and been victimized and whatnot, I never tried to report it because nothing — I knew nothing would ever happen. I knew nothing would be done”
THERESA POULEY: “When you have the combination of the silence that comes from victims who live in fear and a lack of accountability by outside jurisdictions to prosecute that crime, you’ve created if you will, the perfect storm for domestic violence and sexual assault, which is exactly what all the statistics would sort of bear out.”
STEPHEN FEE: In a 1978 decision, the U-S Supreme Court said Indian tribes with their own tribal justice systems and courts were not allowed to charge non-Indians — unless Congress changed the law. Congress didn’t act for 35 years. Then, two years ago, when Congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act — the VAWA — lawmakers granted tribal courts jurisdiction over a limited number of domestic and dating violence crimes committed by non-Indians on reservations. That change took effect in March.
STEPHEN FEE: Earlier, three Indian reservations had taken part in a pilot program for those prosecutions: one in Arizona, one in Oregon, and this Indian reservation, the Tulalip Reservation, an hour’s drive north of Seattle. Theresa Pouley, who has served as chief judge on the Tulalip Tribal Court since 2009, says the responsibility to prosecute offenders on Indian reservations belongs to tribal courts.
THERESA POULEY: “The confused jurisdiction in Indian country, which leaves those responsibilities oftentimes to the state and federal government, who don’t effectively prosecute those crimes, creates this place where you have a category of people on Indian reservations who are essentially above the law.”
STEPHEN FEE: “What does this tribal provision in VAWA do to help close that gap?”
THERESA POULEY: “It allows me to treat all domestic violence perpetrators exactly the same, Indian or non-Indian. So I have authority over Indians who commit that crime. This just gives me authority over non-Indians who commit the exact same crime.”
STEPHEN FEE: In the past 17 months, the Tulalip tribal prosecutor has brought charges against nine alleged non-Indian domestic violence defendants — five pleaded guilty, two await trial, one was referred to federal prosecutors, and one case was dismissed.
But will this new authority actually help stop the crisis of violence against Indian women? One concern: the new law only covers domestic and dating violence — it does not include crimes like assault by a stranger or even rape. Michelle Demmert is the Tulalip Tribes’ lead attorney.
MICHELLE DEMMERT: “Unfortunately it’s not quite gone far enough. In just three recent cases, we had children involved, and we’re not able to charge on the crimes that were committed against those children including endangerment, criminal endangerment, possibly assault, other attendant or collateral crimes.”
STEPHEN FEE: “You’re able to prosecute one crime but not the other.”
MICHELLE DEMMERT: “That’s right. That’s right.”
STEPHEN FEE: Former U-S Senator Tom Coburn, from Oklahoma, a state with one of the highest Native American populations, co-sponsored the original Violence Against Women Act 20 years ago, and he thinks the change in the law is wrong – that tribes should not be allowed to exert their authority over non-Indians.
FMR. SEN. TOM COBURN: “You cannot cast tribal sovereignty on me. I’m not a member of the tribe.”
STEPHEN FEE: Instead of granting expanded authority to tribal courts, Coburn says, Congress should have required federal prosecutors to take on domestic violence crimes on reservations more vigorously. Coburn also believes the new law could be found unconstitutional.
FMR. SEN. TOM COBURN: “There’s no way you can assure and guarantee constitutional provisions under what passed. So this provision will eventually be thrown out, be challenged, and on appeal they’ll lose, because you cannot guarantee American citizens their constitutional rights if they’re non-tribal members in a tribal court.”
STEPHEN FEE: But the Justice Department’s Sam Hirsch says any tribe that proceeds with prosecutions must adhere to a list of Constitutional guarantees laid out in the new law.
SAM HIRSCH: “Here’s the evidence that it’s working: under the pilot project, more than two dozen non-Indians have been charged with domestic violence and dating violence crimes. They all have the right to go straight to federal court and ask to be released if their rights are being violated. And how many have done so? Zero.”
STEPHEN FEE: “So far?”
SAM HIRSCH: “So far.”
STEPHEN FEE: Hirsch concedes the law is limited — especially because it only covers domestic violence and not more serious crimes— but he says the Justice Department is stepping up its prosecution rate against non-Natives.
SAM HIRSCH: “At the same time, we have to recognize that when federal prosecutors and FBI agents are often located hundreds of miles away, many hours’ drive away, it’s very hard for them to play the role of local law enforcement, especially on misdemeanor level crimes and lower-level felonies.”
STEPHEN FEE: In the years leading up to the Tulalip Reservation’s ability to prosecute non-Indians, Chief Judge Theresa Pouley says she’s already seen one mark of success.
THERESA POULEY: “The reporting of domestic violence and sexual assault cases have gone up at Tulalip for the last three years steadily as victims know that perpetrators will be held accountable — and as they know they’re going to be listened or heard, they actually report it more often. So if you just look at the numbers, you sort of see that it changes the level of reporting and that’s really the first step towards stopping it.”
STEPHEN FEE: Back on the White Earth reservation, Lisa Brunner is still concerned about the limitations of the new law — that it doesn’t cover crimes like rape. It’s especially personal, because she says one of her daughters was raped a few years ago by non-Native men who came on to the reservation.
LISA BRUNNER: “Of course they threatened her and she didn’t tell me until after the fact. But we did report it to law enforcement and um — that was it.”
STEPHEN FEE: “Nothing happened after that?”
LISA BRUNNER: “No. Nothing.”
STEPHEN FEE: In the past six months, since Indian tribes obtained the authority to prosecute non-Indian defendants, five tribes have done so and more plan to join them.
The post Tribal Justice: Prosecuting non-Natives for sexual assault on reservations appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Residents returned to a town near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Saturday, as Japanese government officials celebrated a lift on a four-and-a-half-year evacuation order, deeming the area safe after radiation levels had fallen.
More than 7,000 Nahara residents were forced to evacuate in March 2011, following the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that resulted in the meltdown of the power plant.
“I have opened these storm windows of this corridor for the first time since the disaster,” an elderly resident told national broadcaster NHK, upon returning and beginning to clean her home.
“I am happy. I tell everyone I see now hurry up and return home,” she said.
Roughly 100 residents have returned to Nahara since a trial period began in April, the Associated Press reported.
Nahara, located 12 miles from the nuclear plant, is the third municipality to lift such an order. Nine municipalities and a total of approximately 70,000 residents were affected by the catastrophic event, according to NHK.
At the moment, it is unclear exactly how many residents will return.
The town is still without a fully functioning hospital, although a medical clinic is expected to open in October, and while a supermarket began free grocery deliveries in July, there will not be a shopping center in Nahara until 2016, according to the Guardian.
PBS NewsHour science correspondent Miles O’Brien visited the area crippled by the nuclear disaster in 2014.
The post Japan allows residents to return to town near Fukushima appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
On the shore of Mexico’s Huatulco National Park, Habacuc Avendaño loosens a snail out from underneath the craggy rocks.
Holding several strands of white thread, he flips over the snail to reveal its flesh, gently squeezes it and rubs the white liquid that emerges onto the string.
The thread turns yellow, green and finally purple after drying in the sun.
As he has done for decades, Avendaño returned the snail to its humid but shady home among the rocks.
For centuries, the indigenous Mixtec people of Mexico’s Oaxaca region have used the purple dye that comes from milking a sea snail to make their brightly colored clothing, but the snail – and their way of life – is in danger.
Advocates say the snail (Plicopurpura pansa), known to the Mixtecs as tixinda, is under threat from poachers and increased tourism in the area.
The purple marine mollusk of Oaxaca is related to the Mediterranean muricids, which were used by the Pheonicians as early as 1570 BC to dye the fabrics worn by the upper class a reddish-purple shade known as Tyrian purple.
A bluer hue of the color became known as royal purple during the Elizabethan era.
Patrice Perillie, an immigration attorney who supports the indigenous dyers and weavers with her organization Mexican Dreamweavers told PBS NewsHour that dyers need around 1,000 snails to color four ounces of cotton thread.
While Mexico’s National Commission of Aquaculture and Fishing has regulated the collection of the snails since 1988, Avendaño estimates that in five years there are likely to be no more milkable snails, unless something more is done to protect them.
Perillie said that some 300,000 Mixtecs have gone to the U.S. over the years, often because they were unable to make a living selling their woven wares.
“Let’s not force them to migrate,” Perillie said. “I want people to preserve this ethnic group.”
Avendaño, 74, who has been milking the purple snail since 1956, came to the U.S. for the first time at the end of August to speak about his craft at The New York Botanical Garden, following a screening of the 2006 documentary about his work.
He is one of 15 men, all over the age of 50, who are licensed to farm and milk the snails – a tricky operation if the person wants to preserve the snail’s life – in Pinotepa de Don Luis, one of the last places where this traditional practice continues.
Age has caught up with Avendaño. His hands tremble and the added weight he has put on over the years make it challenging to balance on the sea rocks and squeeze between them to collect the Plicopurpura pansa, he said.
But Avendaño still returns to the beach every lunar cycle, or 28 days, to practice his craft.
“Of course, this is not work you can live by,” he said. “It is a culture that was passed down to us by our ancestors, and one which we are working on preserving today.”
WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden’s reluctance to enter the presidential race centers on his family. His wife, Jill, has never relished political life and is said to share his misgivings about whether the Bidens are emotionally equipped for another campaign.
Those close to the second lady say she won’t stand in the way of her husband’s political ambitions, but her feelings about a White House bid are a major factor in Biden’s decision. Only three months after losing their son, Beau, to brain cancer, the 72-year-old Biden appeared somber and weary at an Atlanta synagogue Thursday night as he pondered his family’s readiness. “The honest-to-God answer is I just don’t know,” he said.
While the vice president’s deliberations have played out in semi-public fashion, Jill Biden’s have taken place away from the spotlight. She has yet to discuss in detail with her staff her views on a possible presidential run. But she has been looking out for her husband and echoing his concerns about whether he can completely devote himself to a hard-fought campaign, according to several people who have spoken to her in recent weeks.
Some of these people demanded anonymity because they didn’t feel comfortable publicly discussing the family’s private deliberations.
Sonia Sloan, a Biden family friend since the 1970s who volunteered for his past campaigns, said she saw the Bidens at a mutual friend’s funeral a few weeks ago and that their grief was “just written all over them.”
“Beau was always a part of those deliberations, and they are grieving terribly,” Sloan said. “When he’s run in the past, the family’s been a very active part. This time, given the situation, it will be a really long, thoughtful process.”
Jill Biden campaigned actively for her husband when he ran in 2008, and then when he joined President Barack Obama’s winning ticket. As second lady, she has played a visible role promoting education and military families. Said her spokesman, James Gleeson: “Anyone speculating about Dr. Biden is only doing just that – speculating.”
She previously has said her husband would make an excellent president, Gleeson noted, adding that “she will continue to support him in his career, as he has always supported Dr. Biden in hers.”
Speculation about a late entrance by Biden has spiked in recent weeks as he has actively explored the possibility of jumping in. Such a move would reshuffle the Democratic primary at a time when some in the party are concerned about Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign struggles and pine for more options. Forty-five percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said they wanted Biden to run in a Gallup poll last month.
Biden has been speaking with donors, longtime supporters and potential endorsers as aides and friends tally how much money they might be able to raise for a campaign and how quickly. He and his advisers have told potential supporters that if he were to run, he would not attack Clinton, despite persistent questions about her use of a private email account and server while secretary of state.
“He has to make a really difficult decision,” Clinton said in an interview with NBC News on Friday. “You can see him struggling with it and I just wish the best for him and his family. If he gets into this race, there will be plenty of time to get into the debate and the back and forth.”
Biden, in his most extensive public remarks on his deliberations, said Thursday it would come down to his family’s emotional outlook – not on practical considerations like the other candidates’ standing and building a viable campaign organization.
“The factor is can I do it. Can my family undertake what is an arduous commitment that we’d be proud to undertake in ordinary circumstances?” Biden said.
Weighing heavily is Beau’s wish, conveyed before his death, for his father to run. Another son, Hunter, has been among those reaching out to potential supporters. And sister Valerie Biden Owens, who led previous campaigns, has been intimately involved with the discussions, aides said.
After Biden’s wife and infant daughter died in a 1972 car crash, Jill Biden adopted Beau and Hunter. In 2008, Beau Biden corrected NBC’s Ann Curry when she referred to Jill Biden as his stepmother. “My mom,” he interjected.
Asked whether she was his father’s top adviser, Beau Biden added, “I call her his number one partner. And it covers all facets.”
A community college professor and former high school teacher, Jill Biden has never hid her lack of enthusiasm for life in the public spotlight, despite supporting her husband’s career. In his 2007 book, “Promises to Keep,” Biden said his wife was “sensitive to the demands of a presidential campaign” before he ran in 1988 and told him their “children’s lives would surely change.”
She has continued teaching full time throughout his vice presidency, maintaining her own life in addition to her work as second lady. “She says her students inspire her,” Biden said Thursday, noting that she returned to the classroom two weeks ago.
“She’s a tough, smart, compassionate woman who cares about him and about the family,” said Mark Gitenstein, a former U.S. ambassador and Biden friend who worked for him in the Senate. About Biden’s family, Gitenstein said, “He won’t do something they don’t want to do, and they won’t do something he doesn’t want to do.”
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After days of being held back, at least 6,500 migrants crossed from Hungary into neighboring Austria on Saturday, with several thousand continuing West, hoping to reach Munich, Germany.
Hundreds more, who did not board the Hungarian buses and trains, began walking the 100 miles from Budapest toward Vienna.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that every asylum seeker entering Germany will get a fair hearing, and pledged there would be no cap on the number the country will accept.
“The right to political asylum has no limits on the number of asylum seekers,” Merkel told reporters. “As a strong, economically healthy country we have the strength to do what is necessary.”
British finance minister George Osborne said Saturday that a comprehensive plan was necessary to stem the migrant crisis, and that any long-term solution would need to deal with the root cause of the problem, Reuters reported.
“You’ve got to deal with the problem at source, which is this evil Assad regime and the ISIL (Islamic State) terrorists, and you need a comprehensive plan for a more stable, peaceful Syria,” Osborne told Reuters. “A huge challenge of course, but you can’t just let that crisis fester. We’ve got to get engaged in that.”
The post Photos: Thousands of migrants reach Austria as European officials call for comprehensive plan appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — It was a chaotic summer for the unruly pack of 17 major Republican presidential contenders.
Surges and slides. Millions of dollars raised and spent. Policy debates, insults hurled.
Labor Day marks a new phase in the campaign, when voters traditionally start paying closer attention and the candidates sharpen their strategies.
With Iowa voters set to open the primary voting calendar in less than five months, look for the candidates to take their voter outreach to the next level, both on television and direct campaigning.
In a field this large, there will be no shortage of story lines to monitor in what could be the most wide-open Republican primary season in a generation.
Some things to watch from Republicans this fall.
TRUMP TRUMP TRUMP
Donald Trump rocketed into front-runner status and has shown remarkable staying power. Can he keep it up when voters start paying more attention?
Political veterans in both parties are skeptical, yet the billionaire businessman has repeatedly proved the conventional wisdom wrong.
A public relations master, the former reality television star aims to continue dominating the GOP debate as his competitors struggle for attention.
WHAT CAN $100 MILLION DO?
Trump may be leading the polls, but many Republican officials still consider former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush the most likely candidate to win the nomination, if only because of his massive bank account.
Bush faces sinking poll numbers, frustrated donors and growing questions about his campaign strategy.
The good news? His campaign and allied super political action committee have yet to spend very much of their $100 million fundraising haul on advertising.
That’s about to change.
In September alone, Bush and his allies plan to spend more than $20 million on a national advertising campaign. Bush aides insist they’re not panicking about his summer slump. If the September advertising blitz doesn’t help his numbers, they may start.
WHO WILL BE THE FIRST TO LEAVE
It’s only a matter of time before the field begins to narrow. Who will be the first to go?
Speculation has begun to swirl around former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. He stopped paying the majority of his campaign staff in August because of fundraising difficulties.
Yet like many candidates, Perry has an allied super PAC that has raised millions of dollars to help keep him going. Some also think Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul may be considering an early exit to focus on his re-election to the Senate next fall.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see one of the lower-tier candidates get out, among them former New York Gov. George Pataki and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore.
TONING IT DOWN
Led by Trump, several candidates have spent the summer offering harsh rhetoric against immigrants who are in the country illegally. The strong language comes in defiance of the GOP’s recommendation after a disastrous 2012 election to embrace a softer tone on the issue.
Trump may have generated the most attention when, in his campaign announcement speech in June, he described Mexican immigrants as criminals and “rapists.”
But most of his rivals are demanding a wall along the Mexican border and many are challenging “birthright citizenship.”
Even Bush, whose wife was born in Mexico, embraced the term “anchor babies.”
If the GOP doesn’t change its tone, the party may struggle to win swing states with surging Hispanic populations, such as Colorado and Florida, no matter who’s on the ticket.
Everyone likes an underdog story, and with a Republican field this large and talented, it’s only a matter of time before someone exceeds expectations.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson already have shined for a time.
Will they surge again? Will another candidate emerge?
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has elite political skills. Former technology executive Carly Fiorina exceeded expectations on the night of the first GOP debate. Tea party firebrand Ted Cruz, a Texas senator, may be in line to inherit some of Trump’s following should Trump start to slip.
WASHINGTON — Actress Sally Field and author Stephen King are among luminaries set to receive a National Medal of Arts or a National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama.
Obama will bestow the honors on 18 people and three institutions during a White House ceremony Thursday.
Field, of Los Angeles, is receiving an arts medal for showing dignity, empathy and fearlessness in performances that have touched audiences worldwide, as well as for showing those same qualities in her off-screen advocacy for women, LGBT rights and public health.
King, of Bangor, Maine, is also receiving an arts medal for combining storytelling with analysis of human nature, and for thrilling readers through decades of work.
Alice Waters, chef-owner of the organic restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, is receiving a National Humanities Medal for her work as a champion of a holistic approach to eating and health.
The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities were created by Congress in 1965 to provide grants to support artistic excellence and creativity, and to advance the understanding and appreciation of history, literature, philosophy and language. Both independent agencies are celebrating their 50th anniversaries this year.
The remaining recipients are:
National Medal of Arts:
National Humanities Medal:
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COLUMBUS, Ohio — It’s been a tumultuous political summer.
The unexpected rises of billionaire Donald Trump and socialist Bernie Sanders. Signs of weakness for Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton. Curiosity about the future of Vice President Joe Biden.
Yet in Ohio, the nation’s most reliable general election bellwether, voters are taking a more measured view of a race they ultimately may decide.
“It’s all just chatter,” said Judith Anderson, 40, a Democrat from Cincinnati. “We’re a ways out.”
Anderson is one of the more than 50 voters interviewed by The Associated Press the week before Labor Day in Ohio, which along with Florida will be one of the most coveted states in the 2016 election.
They report that the Republican primary is wide open, even as Trump holds steady atop early polls. There’s little interest in establishment candidates such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and a surprising lack of energy for Ohio’s own governor, John Kasich.
But they also say there’s room for someone other than Trump to tap into voters’ frustration with a political system they believe has abandoned them.
When it comes to Trump, Ohio Republicans have a palpable excitement about his brash brand of politics, and a deep uncertainty about his qualifications to serve as president.
Earl Taggart, 44, a Cincinnati-area electrician, said Trump’s bluntness is forcing other candidates to address issues they would rather avoid, including illegal immigration. But could Taggart see Trump becoming president?
“I don’t think he’s got a shot in hell,” he said. “He’s not the mouthpiece we want for America.”
The interviews also highlighted nagging concerns about Clinton’s honesty and trustworthiness amid the continued revelations about her use of a private email account and server while serving as secretary of state.
While some Democrats are intrigued by Sanders, the self-declared “democratic socialist” from Vermont, many see the senator more as a novelty than a credible alternative.
There’s even less interest among Ohio Democrats in Biden getting into the race.
The voters represent just a slice of the Ohio electorate, and many say they’re just starting to pay attention to the campaign. Still, their views provide insights into the direction the White House race might take as the turbulent summer fades into fall.
As is the case elsewhere, Trump is dominating the political discussion in Ohio.
Republicans, independents, and even a few Democrats say they welcome the real estate mogul’s willingness to speak his mind and challenge opponents.
“I’m tired of everything being politically correct,” said Carol Gruber, a 56-year-old Republican from Cincinnati. “He’s a little crass, but I like that he tells it like it is.”
But many of those who say Trump is playing an important role in the race are nonetheless reluctant to elect him president.
“It makes me nervous,” said Beverly Kaiser, an independent voter from Columbus.
For Shannon Balnes, the question is still whether Trump is even serious about his White House aspirations. “I still don’t know if this is a game he’s playing,” said Balnes, a 44-year-old Republican from Cincinnati.
Nearly all of the voters drawn to Trump said there were other GOP candidates they would consider supporting, namely other political novices: retired surgeon Ben Carson and former technology executive Carly Fiorina.
“Let’s change it up. It can’t hurt,” said Bruce Ost of Louisville, Ohio, a 60-year-old independent who voted for Republicans in the past two presidential elections.
For the more experienced politicians in the field, there’s little to latch on to in the views of the state’s voters. Most garnered barely a mention from Republicans voters, including Kasich, who became a favorite of political insiders after the first Republican debate.
Kasich’s most enthusiastic endorsement came from Zita Patton, 60, a retired teacher from North Canton. “I’m used to him. He’s comfortable,” she said as she headed back to her car after shopping at a farmer’s market.
One political veteran whose name did come up frequently was Bush – but only in the context of rejecting the idea of electing a third Bush as president.
“We’ve already had two Bushes,” said Randy Wadsworth, a 62-year-old retired steelworker from Canton who is solidly behind Trump. “It’s time to give someone else a chance.”
With progressive urban centers, swing suburbs and conservative rural areas, Ohio is a political microcosm for the rest of the country.
Other states offer more electoral votes than Ohio’s 18. But no other state has been as predictive of the general election winner.
History shows that for Republicans in particular, an Ohio victory is crucial: No GOP nominee has won the White House without carrying the state.
Ohio solidified its prominence in presidential politics during the 2004 election, when it was the deciding factor in President George W. Bush’s victory over Democrat John Kerry.
President Barack Obama won Ohio comfortably in 2008, but only closely in 2012, casting himself as the savior of Ohio’s auto industry, which was on the brink of collapse during the recession.
Like much of the country, Ohio’s economy has rebounded since the depths of the crisis. The statewide unemployment rate sits at 5 percent, slightly lower than the national average. Ohio’s economy is growing.
After two consecutive losses to Obama, the GOP is determined to turn it around. Republicans held their first debate in Cleveland and will return to the city next summer for the nominating convention.
Ohio has long been friendly to Clinton.
She handily defeated Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary, helping her stay afloat in a race she ended up losing. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, carried Ohio in both of his general election campaigns and is viewed fondly by many Ohio Democrats, who associate his two terms with a booming economy, in the state and the country.
Yet many aren’t giving Clinton a pass on questions about her email habits at the State Department.
“I don’t know whether she’s telling the truth or lying,” said Daniel Brown, a 50-year-old painter from Cincinnati. “She’s been avoiding it. Well, not even really avoiding it, but not answering either.”
Clifton Duckson, a program administrator who has voted for Democrats and Republicans in presidential elections, questioned why local government employees have to follow rules about public records but Clinton doesn’t.
“What’s good for us isn’t good enough for her?” asked Duckson, 58, of Columbus.
But even among Democrats concerned about Clinton’s activities at the State Department, there was only moderate interest in hanging the party’s White House hopes on another candidate.
While Washington insiders have been scrutinizing Biden’s every move for signs that he will make a late entry into the race, only a few Ohio Democrats interviewed by AP said they would consider voting for him. They did so only after being asked about his potential candidacy.
There was more intrigue surrounding Sanders, who has been drawing massive crowds in liberal strongholds and moving up in early polling throughout the summer.
“He shows that he has values and he does his best to stick with them,” said Sandra Aska, a 72-year-old Democrat from Columbus.
She has not settled on a candidate and is torn between Clinton’s experience in international affairs and Sanders’ populist economic positions. “Maybe they’d make a good ticket together,” she quipped over breakfast at a local market.
Other Democrats said they, too, like Sanders’ calls for free college tuition and better wages for the middle class. But some shared the view of 30-year-old Aaron Singleton of Canton, who said Sanders’ plans seem “so far-fetched as to how he’s going to implement them.”
The only Democrats who raised the prospect that Sanders could defeat Clinton were her ardent supporters. They remember well when an insurgent Obama grabbed the nomination from the presumed front-runner in 2008.
Annette Greenwald, a 56-year-old from Alliance, said she’s always liked Clinton and wants to see a woman in the White House. But Sanders’ surge feels familiar, Greenwald said, and she worries young people will rally around the Vermont senator the way they did around Obama.
“I think she better watch out,” Greenwald said.
The post How Ohio voters are feeling about the 2016 cycle so far appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
ALISON STEWART, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: NewsHour special correspondent Malcolm Brabant is covering the surge of migrants into Northern Europe and how neighboring countries are treating the crisis differently.
This week, a Syrian refugee, now in Sweden, told him about his journey across the Mediterranean Sea, leaving his family behind.
KHALED AL-HABASH, SYRIAN REFUGEE: How can I bring my children to here? I can’t make — put him in this boat, dangerous boat. I can’t do that. For, me maybe it’s OK. But for my children, it’s impossible.
ALISON STEWART: Malcolm Brabant joins me now via Skype from Copenhagen, Denmark.
And, Malcolm, in times of danger, the conventional wisdom is to get the children out, get them to a safer place, but from your reporting, the opposite seems true in this situation. Why is that?
MALCOLM BRABANT, NEWSHOUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that parents are genuinely terrified of the dangers in the Mediterranean. As Mr. al-Habash was saying, it’s absolutely a complete lottery. It’s Russian roulette.
You don’t know what sort of vessel you’re getting into. There have been horrendous stories of traffickers beating people down into the holds of boats, and it just takes a small shift in the balance of a boat with people rushing to one side or the other for it to tip over, because they’re all so heavily overcrowded.
And so, there are many parents taking the decision that it’s just not worth risking their children’s lives, and they’re leaving them behind, and they’re coming to country where’s they hope there will be a good family reunification policy, as Sweden has. But Mr. al-Habash, he’s waiting for 10 months.
ALISON STEWART: The war in Syria has been going on for years, but what’s been the catalyst for all these people leaving now?
MALCOLM BRABANT: Well, I think there are two things, as far as we can see, really. Right now, it’s the end of the summer, and the Mediterranean suddenly changes from being a fairly benevolent sea as it has been over the past three months into something that is very perilous indeed.
There’s a wind called “Meltemi” that blows in September that creates winds of force 8 to 10, and it’s extremely dangerous. Even just for the three miles that it takes you to get across from the Turkish coast to an island like Lesbos, for example, the waves can be incredibly high, so bad, that Greek ferries, for example, won’t sail in this kind of weather.
So, there is a rush to get across before the weather really changes. But, also, people I have been speaking to on Lesbos, which is one of the main island that people come to in Greece, they’re saying, what we’re hearing from the Syrians is that the situation inside Damascus, the Syrian capital, is becoming very grave, indeed, and there is an imperative to get out.
So, maybe there is something happening on the various war fronts there that is driving people out.
But, certainly, I — the — all of the refugees that you talk to on the various stages of the route, they’re all in touch with each other. They know which places are — you know, the ways to go.
They’re getting messages backwards and forwards, and, you know, they must be sort of able to read the ruins to see that Europe is wavering at the moment. Countries don’t want to be on the wrong side of history because this is a very emotional time for people, especially after the publication of that terrible picture of the little boy who drowned in Bodrum.
ALISON STEWART: From your reporting, you’ve talked to folks who were businessmen, and from other stories that I’ve read, there seems to be a middle-class and upper-middle-class movement here of people finally deciding to leave.
One, why are they finally deciding to leave? Why did they stay in place? And, two, what does this mean for people who don’t have money to get out?
MALCOLM BRABANT: The one thing that’s really quite noticeable, actually, on the road, the people who do seem to have money are Syrians. They all talk about having a fairly prosperous lifestyle.
But if you go on to social media and look at people — from Human Rights Watch, for example, they’ve been posting pictures saying, if you wonder why it is that people are leaving now, have a look at this photograph, and what they’re doing is they’re posting pictures of places like Kobani, which is the place on the Turkish-Syrian border where there was a massive battle between ISIS and the Kurds, and the place is completely flattened.
They’re also posting pictures of Homs, which is Syria’s city, and the place is just absolutely devastated. I mean, it looks as though there’s nothing left standing. And so, how people can stay there is beyond belief.
Some of the cooler heads in Europe would say, well, hang on a minute. Those people coming from Syria, you know, they’re not coming directly from the war.
They have — once they’ve got out of the country, they’ve been in safer places like Turkey, like in Jordan, so they’re not exactly running away from war. They want to get away from that particular area.
But then you talk to people in the refugee agencies and others who have been to that area and you say, you just cannot stay in these terrible conditions in the refugee camps on the front line state because temperatures are just absolutely appalling.
The conditions are not great, and that’s why there’s this big shift towards Europe.
ALISON STEWART: Malcolm Brabant, thank you so much for sharing your reporting.
The post How are different countries reacting to the migrant crisis? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
ALISON STEWART, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: One way migrants get to and through Europe is with the help of smugglers who offer passage on rickety boats, by taxi and truck, and even by chartered aircraft, all for a price.
A truck with 71 dead migrants found along an Austrian highway last week called attention to the dangers of smuggling. In the Libyan coastal city of Zuwara yesterday, 300 people protested the human trafficking and the rash of migrants dying on their shore.
Washington Post reporter Michael Birnbaum has investigated the migrant smuggling trade and joins me now via Skype from Brussels.
Michael, when did this kick into high gear as a true, full-fledged business?
MICHAEL BIRNBAUM, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, this has been an evolving transformation over the last couple of years as this tremendous flow of refugees and migrants has increased into Europe.
But what we’ve seen is that a lot of preexisting criminal networks, especially in Eastern Europe, have sort of just changed their business, they see this as a good opportunity, and now they’re offering their services to people who want to make it into Western Europe.
ALISON STEWART: And I have to imagine the internet has played a role in this exploding.
MICHAEL BIRNBAUM: That’s right. It’s now easier than ever, if you are a migrant or if you are a refugee, just to look, particularly on Facebook. There are smugglers who just advertise their services very openly, usually in Arabic.
On Facebook, you can look. You can find promises of passage for, you know, whatever kind of level of service you want, but typically from Turkish refugee camps to particular countries inside Europe. And those prices range anywhere from $2,500, up to $10,000, or even more.
ALISON STEWART: Without being flip I’m going to use the word “menu”. There are practically menus of options for people out there.
MICHAEL BIRNBAUM: Well, there are a couple different ways– they really do look like menus. Their entire list just goes down with different prices. And the choices range both from the country that you go to, the countries that are particularly desirable are Germany and Sweden.
They’ve been the most open to refugees, and then the level of service along the way, so that can range anything from below deck on a rickety fishing boat coming up from Egypt or Libya that will take you to a Greek or Italian island in the Mediterranean.
And I spoke to a Swedish police official who told me that in one instance, there was even a private charter jet that took off from Istanbul, just flew straight into Stockholm, and when people landed, they claimed asylum right when they hit the tarmac.
ALISON STEWART: What are people doing, what are countries doing to combat the smuggling?
MICHAEL BIRNBAUM: Well, just in the last week, week and a half, Austria in particular, where the 71 people were found dead on the side of a highway, has significantly increased highway controls. They have been searching basically all trucks and vans that are entering Austria from Hungary. That’s been a big effort that takes a lot of work.
They have been finding more instances of people smuggling, including a couple of very dangerous situations when people were, indeed, locked into the back of these vehicles without much air. But it’s a tremendous challenge.
And, you know, I was speaking to a colleague of mine who’s in Hungary today where there’s yet another crisis, and all of those Austrian police who have been doing that have been tasked today with other jobs trying to process just the tremendous inflow of asylum seekers who are coming in.
ALISON STEWART: Michael Birnbaum from The Washington Post — thank you so much for your time today.
MICHAEL BIRNBAUM: Thank you so much for having me.
WASHINGTON — Already a done deal in Congress, the Iran nuclear agreement is gaining more momentum.
Former Secretary of State Colin (KOH’-lihn) Powell and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who heads the Democratic National Committee, are backing it.
Powell – secretary of state under President George W. Bush – tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the agreement is “a pretty good deal” and would reduce the threat of Iran gaining a nuclear weapon.
Wasserman Schultz calls her decision the most difficult she’s made in nearly 23 years in elected office.
The Florida lawmaker, who’s Jewish, writes in The Miami Herald that the deal “provides the best chance to ensure” security for the U.S., Israel and other allies.
The White House has clinched the necessary Senate votes to ensure Congress will uphold the deal.
ALISON STEWART: Jaylon Jenkins just started third grade. And every day after school, he does homework with the aunt that is raising him, Antonia Williams.
ANTONIA WILLIAMS: Remember, we talked about the tenses, from ride to…
JAYON JENKINS: R, O, D, E.
ANTONIA WILLIAMS: I’m not a tyrant. When he first comes home I normally have– let him have a 20-minute break. He gets a snack.
You want apple?
And then we start his homework. I’ll give him a break in between because it’s a lot to retain and to comprehend, so this is our– this is our daily schedule.
ALISON STEWART: A schedule that already includes an extra hour of reading EVERY DAY, for Jaylon and for every other student at his school: Phyllis Wheatley Elementary in Apopka, Florida, just northwest of Orlando in Orange County.
Antonia, what did you think when you first heard that Jaylon’s school was going to require one extra hour of reading?
ANTONIA WILLIAMS: I was like, “Yes.”
ALISON STEWART: Yeah?
ANTONIA WILLIAMS: I was, like, “Yes.” I mean, what else would a child be doing that hour after school, you know? Yes, it would be a longer day and I was concerned about him being focused and staying on task for such a long time. But he’s in a structured environment. You know, it’s not like they’re on the playground for an extra hour. They’re reading.
ALISON STEWART: Has he asked you why he stays an extra hour?
ANTONIA WILLIAMS: I don’t even think he realizes it.
ALISON STEWART: The extra hour of reading at Wheatley Elementary is not voluntary. A 2012 law required the 100 lowest-performing elementary schools in Florida to add an hour of reading instruction. The rankings were determined by the state’s standardized reading test results. The expansion is estimated to cost more than $4 million dollars annually for Wheatley and 19 other public schools in Orange County, Florida, the 10th largest school district in the country.
SEAN BROWN: What do you think it is…?
ALISON STEWART: When we visited “Phyllis Wheatley” last year, Sean Brown was the school’s principal.
SEAN BROWN: Once we hit that last hour of the day, it’s strictly reading.
ALISON STEWART: From fourth graders working on reading comprehension questions…
STUDENT: We could eliminate underground…
ALISON STEWART: To 1st graders just learning the basics…
STUDENTS: They get darker and darker…
ALISON STEWART: Students, taught by teachers from the school…
ALISON STEWART: Read, read. And read some more.
SEAN BROWN: We want to hone in on the reading skills and then just push the students– academically as much as possible.
ALISON STEWART: A high-poverty school where all students get free breakfast and lunch, Phillis Wheatley Elementary is in a neighborhood with a high crime rate. And is the type of school administrators think could particularly benefit from the extra reading time.
Do you think your students need this extra hour?
SEAN BROWN: Yes. I do.
ALISON STEWART: Why is that? Is it– is it because they’re so far behind? Is it just not enough time during the day to teach these kids?
SEAN BROWN: There’s several reasons. I know that with poverty and adding things of that nature, I know that a lot of our students they’re so much further behind a student that has two parents or a student that has a high working-class family. So this is the mechanism that will help close that gap between the students that are living in poverty and students that are not living in poverty.
ALISON STEWART: After instituting the hour of extra reading every day in 2012, Wheatley saw the number of children reading a grade level go from 26 percent to 41 percent. Such a big improvement that Wheatley was freed from the reading mandate the following year. And reading scores then dipped slightly to 38 percent.
Statewide, in the first year 76 percent of schools with extra reading time saw an improvement in kids reading at grade level. 69 percent of the low performing schools also saw an increase the second year.
DAVID SIMMONS: The results have turned out to be dramatic
ALISON STEWART: Republican State Senator David Simmons is the force behind the state law adding the extra hour. The son of two public school teachers, he says he first heard about adding extra time from a principal at a struggling Orlando school.
DAVID SIMMONS: And– in talking to him he said, “If I just had more time with these children, I could make a big, big difference with them.” And he said, “It’s not that they can’t learn. It’s they don’t have enough time to learn.”
ALISON STEWART: last year Senator Simmons pushed to expand the number of elementary schools required to have extra reading time…from the 100 lowest-performing to the 300 lowest-performing, including Phyllis Wheatley. By expanding the list, Simmons believes, schools that improve their test scores one year won’t lose the extra reading time the next. This year the same 300 schools will provide that extra hour of reading time.
When you first presented the idea of this additional hour of reading to your colleagues, what kind of questions did they have for you?
DAVID SIMMONS: Is it gonna work?
ALISON STEWART: Make the case for me.
DAVID SIMMONS: Okay. Certainly. Other nations, industrialized nations, send their children to school, all of their children, significantly longer than we do here on average in the in the United States. We’re talking about– trying to cram a huge amount of information into the minds of these children in a limited amount of time.
It’s like trying to put 25 pounds of sugar in a 10 pound sack.
RICK ROACH: Senator Simmons is looking at a piece of fool’s gold, and he believes it’s real genuine gold.
ALISON STEWART: Rick Roach served on the Orange County School Board for 16 years. The retired teacher and guidance counselor is not convinced mandated extra reading time is the solution that it seems.
RICK ROACH: I don’t think it has true educational value. And I think it could be more helpful if you just take your eyes off of a test score. It doesn’t necessarily mean that that child comes out of there a better reader or has developed a love of reading.
It simply means they’ve jammed up a raw score on a single measure test.
ALISON STEWART: And there’s the question: Who gets to decide the best way to help kids learn?
What was the debate like or the discussion like when it first came up, “Should we have kids read for an extra hour after school?”
RICK ROACH: Please– I have to laugh at that one. There was no debate on that. There was simply– the command came down from the Hill, “Thou shalt put an extra hour into the school.” There was no debate, the board didn’t discuss that. Local– there was no local feedback into that.
Not to mention the fact that many people who make these laws never taught one day in a classroom.
ALISON STEWART: There are other concerns as well: District officials find out which schools are required to add the extra reading hour just weeks before school starts. Bus schedules have to change and teaching staff secured. Some parents voiced concern over the exhaustion level of kids whose days are pushed an hour later.And the reduction of family time. And while kids who scored the highest level on the reading section of the state’s standardized test can opt out. For the most part, everyone is required to stay the extra hour.
Roach says the data that supporters cite only tells part of the story…and that similar students without the extra hour of reading have shown improvement in proficiency in the past few years.
If something like this happens and it helps anybody, isn’t it worth continuing and trying?
RICK ROACH: You know, I think few people would disagree with the fact that– we’re going to give kids who– may be low readers extra time to read. But there’s a consequence to that. You may in fact drive up a reading score, but you also lose other– other features as well.
If they’d gave us some options. You could’ve extended the year by 20 days and kept the same number of hours if you let local control come into play for the same money.
ALISON STEWART: The criticism I’ve heard from a couple of different folks who are involved in education that they work on the local level. They’re in the schools.
And the idea that they have to take this money, come up with it and put it just on reading, everybody supports reading but perhaps that’s not what their school needs.
DAVID SIMMONS: If the vast majority of your students have on our tests, you know, standardized tests, shown that– they cannot read at grade level, then they need reading instruction. That’s a simple fact of life.
TEACHER: Thumbs up if you remember and you understand.
ALISON STEWART: And there’s still the issue of funding; who pays for it now and in the future.
What would it take for this program to be guaranteed funding? Right now it’s year to year to year, if the district can come up with the money.
DAVID SIMMONS: I can tell you that it is my commitment, now that we are seeing the performance that– that we will in fact dedicate the funding for this in order to get this accomplished.
ALLISON STEWART: But this year state legislators did not earmark new money for extra school reading time. Senator Simmons had also proposed expanding the mandate to include summer reading instruction and notifying schools no later than July if they must add the extra hour of reading in the fall. But the amendment was not successful.
Amidst the debate, Phyllis Wheatley Elementary is committed to keeping the extra hour, and has sought a federal grant to make sure Wheatley can pay for the longer school day whether it is mandated to, or not,
And it isn’t lost on anyone that the school is named after Phyllis Wheatley a former slave who became a writer, the first African-American woman poet to be published.
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ALISON STEWART, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: 35 million Americans are traveling this holiday weekend, including 14 million by air. But flying these days often involves crowded airports, cramped seats, and no meals.
Still, some find enjoyment in flying – especially pilots – as British airways captain Mark Vanhoenacker describes in a new memoir “Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot.
The NewsHour’s Stephen Fee caught up with the author via Skype from London’s Heathrow airport before a recent trip.
STEPHEN FEE: Mark, you’re at London’s Heathrow Airport right now, and in a couple hours, where are you headed to?
MARK VANHOENACKER, PILOT AND AUTHOR: I’m heading to Sao Paulo tonight on the BA 247, one of my favorite routes. So, to fly there, it’s just a real treat.
You know, we’ll take off from London in a few hours, we’ll say farewell to the English coastline near Southampton, and the next time we see land will be over Fortaleza on north coast of Brazil.
STEPHEN FEE: Your book in a lot of ways gives us a little bit of magic back in flying. Why did you write this book? Was it to reintroduce us to that element of flying?
MARK VANHOENACKER: It was. And also to recapture my own childhood fascination with flying. I was obsessed with flying as a kid. I still feel like a big kid when I walk through Heathrow, and I see this enormous 747 that we’re going to fly off to Sao Paulo. I think the planes look absolutely beautiful.
STEPHEN FEE: There was a time in aviation when you used to be able to take people up into the cockpit during a flight. Unfortunately, that’s not the case anymore, but in a lot of ways you bring us into the cockpit in this book.
MARK VANHOENACKER: Well, one of the reasons I wrote the book was exactly as you mentioned. When I was a kid I was always going up into the cockpit, I had some previous careers before I became a pilot, and I was flying as a business traveler, and I went up into the cockpit during flight.
So the book is my attempt to show you, in words, what I would tell you if you could come up. Perhaps we’ve forgotten just what an amazing, what an amazing thing it is to be able to move around the planet this way.
STEPHEN FEE: You’ve asked a lot of your readers to submit photos to your website, and one of the things you talk about in your book is whenever we take pictures out of airplanes, you always leave in a little airplane, you know, if it’s the side of the window or the wing.
Why is that? Why do you think it is that we do that?
MARK VANHOENACKER: I think it speaks to kind of our amazement at the machines themselves. That they really are beautiful machines, and they are — they are to me the most glorious creation that we’ve managed to put together.
They’re just beautiful. I was in College Park, Maryland a few months ago; there’s a wonderful air museum there, and they have some photos on the wall and exhibits. And one of my favorite ones is of — it’s taken by a woman who went flying, I guess, in the 20s, and she’s taking a photo of her hometown down below, and of course her feet are in the photo.
Because you’re basically on the handlebars of a bicycle back then. And for her to have these pictures of the bar of the footrest and her feet in the — her feet sort of standing on the Earth. I think perhaps the image of having the plane in the photos is part of the same thing.
It’s a way of really understanding that flying is almost not natural.
It’s something that we’ve made, and we make the machines that make it possible, and that they’re as wondrous as the experience they make possible.
STEPHEN FEE: Mark Vanhoenacker the book is Skyfaring. Thank you so much. Have a safe flight.
MARK VANHOENACKER: Thank you.
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WASHINGTON — Lobbing rhetorical stink bombs at a large group of voters is not the normal way to get ahead in U.S. politics. Nor is alienating prominent figures of your own party.
But Donald Trump has turned the do’s and don’ts of campaigns on their head, prospering with tactics that could sink anyone else.
A review of “Trumpisms” that only Trump could get away with.
ABOUT THOSE HUDDLED MASSES YEARNING TO BREATHE FREE
After Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss to President Barack Obama, the Republican Party went through a period of soul-searching and determined that candidates needed to stop alienating Latino voters if they wanted to recapture the White House.
Enter Trump, who in his announcement speech accused the Mexican government of sending its criminals and rapists across the border and has proposed building a massive border wall and deporting every person in the country illegally.
Romney, in contrast, earned plenty of grief merely by suggesting that people in the country illegally would deport themselves if the U.S. denied them work and public benefits.
MOCKING PRISONERS OF WAR
Arizona Sen. John McCain may not be some conservatives’ cup of tea, but he nonetheless spent 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war after his plane was shot down over North Vietnam. He refused to leave, ahead of his fellow prisoners, when given the chance.
Trump, who has accused McCain of doing too little to help veterans, knocked the senator in July, first disputing that he was a hero, then declaring: “He’s a war hero `cause he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK?” Even the most partisan Democrats hail McCain’s service to his country.
TAKING ON MEGYN KELLY AND FOX NEWS
Trump was furious at Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly for asking about his history of insulting comments aimed at women during the first GOP debate, and he has not forgiven her in the weeks since.
Trump repeatedly has questioned Kelly’s professionalism and went as far as to tell CNN that she had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever” during the debate.
The Kelly feud has led to clashes between Trump and Roger Ailes, the Fox News chairman, who has called on Trump to apologize. Republicans tend not to pick a fight with Fox.
LATE NIGHT TWEETS FROM TRUMP
It’s late in the night and all through the house, not a creature is stirring – except Trump. He’s developed a habit of logging onto Twitter in the wee hours to deliver an assortment of broadsides, often at the previous evening’s cable news shows.
While other candidates might be sunk by petty name-calling and a hair-trigger reaction to what is said about him, that seems to slide off Teflon Trump.
Flip-flopping is trouble for most politicians, but Trump has done it merrily and with apparent impunity. He has shrugged off his old support for abortion rights and a single-payer health care system, and his former identification with the Democratic Party, with that-was-then-this-is-now nonchalance.
Trump says conservative darling Ronald Reagan was once a Democrat, too, and Trump says he shouldn’t be held accountable for past views.
Two brothers were on their way home from a Boston Red Sox game when, police said, they brutally beat a sleeping homeless man who is Hispanic. One later allegedly justified the attack by saying Trump “was right” about deporting “all these illegals.”
While he eventually denounced the incident, Trump’s initial response was tepid. “I think that would be a shame,” he said, before adding: “I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate. They love this country. They want this country to be great again. And they are very passionate.”
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Ben Kuroki, who overcame widespread discrimination to become the only Japanese-American gunner to fly missions over Japan during World War II has died. He was 98.
Born in Nebraska to Japanese immigrants, Kuroki enlisted in the U.S. Army after Pearl Harbor and pressed commanders to train him as an air gunner.
He flew 30 bombing missions over Europe and North Africa and received special permission from the Secretary of War to participate in 28 raids over the Pacific.
In the 1991 Op-Ed, “The Hidden Heroes”, the New York Times wrote:
Ben was an authentic hero. Gen. George Marshall asked to meet him; so did Generals Bradley, Spaatz, Wainwright and Jimmy Doolittle. He was feted on his return and pressed to make speeches. Yet this, his 59th mission, needed valor of a different kind. For Ben, as one historian notes, “couldn’t walk into a barber shop in California; he couldn’t be sure of getting a hotel room in New York.” His ancestry was Japanese.
The Army awarded him the Distinguished Service Medal in 2005, one of its highest honors.
He was later the subject of the PBS documentary “Most Honorable Son.”
Kuroki died Tuesday at his home in California.
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In his weekly address on Sunday, Pope Francis announced the Vatican would host migrant families fleeing war and hunger, and asked that every religious institution in Europe do the same.
“I appeal to the parishes, the religious communities, the monasteries and sanctuaries of all Europe to show the true meaning of the Gospel and take in one family of refugees,” he said to a crowd of thousands in St. Peter’s Square.
Each of the Vatican’s two parishes will provide shelter to a refugee family in the coming days, he announced.
The calling came the same day as the Pope penned a criticism of Hungary’s handling of the mass migration, Reuters reported.
“It is violence to build walls and barriers to stop those who look for a place of peace,” Pope Francis said in a letter to a church association. “It is violence to push back those who flee inhuman conditions in the hope of a better future.”
The grandson of Italian emigrants to Argentina, the Pope has spoken out against some nations’ policies addressing the migrant crisis as far back as June.
Hundreds of thousands of migrants have poured into EU nations so far this year, according to the BBC. Those numbers have recently surged.
PBS NewsHour special correspondent Michael Brabant spoke about the various reasons for the migration and the myriad responses from world nations on Saturday.
There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.
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ALISON STEWART: From measuring the reading skills of elementary school students, we turn to testing high school students eying college.
This year’s scores for the SAT were released this week, and they are the lowest since the test was revamped a decade ago. This year, the average total score was 1490 out of a possible 2400, down from 1497 last year and 1498 the year before. The average math score was 511 out of a possible 800, the lowest since 1999. And the average reading score was 495, the lowest since 1972.
So, what do these numbers mean?
Joining me now to discuss that is Bloomberg News reporter Janet Lorin.
Did anything significant change about the test in the past year or two that would point to the decline?
JANET LORIN, Bloomberg News: Well, we know that more people are taking the test.
This year, we had a record number of test-takers. And part of the reason was because the College Board was able to get more states to pay to take — for every student to take the test.
ALISON STEWART: OK.
JANET LORIN: So, when you have more people taking it, the socioeconomic diversity is going to be different, and that could be certainly one reason for it.
Next year, we are going to see pretty significant changes with the SAT. Starting in March, it is going to be a completely new test. It is actually going to look a lot more like the ACT, its competitor. You won’t be penalized for wrong answers. Those esoteric words that everybody studied for, those are going to be gone.
It’s going to be testing more, supposedly, what you know in school, and there will be an optional writing test.
ALISON STEWART: Let’s talk about that population a little bit. So, the population expanded, and you had more students who were perhaps underserved…
JANET LORIN: Yes.
ALISON STEWART: … taking the test?
JANET LORIN: Yes.
You know, when the state is paying for every student to take the test, you have a range of students taking it, rather than, you know, typically more wealthy students had taken it, and they had also gotten a lot of test prep.
One thing we hear a lot of is that high test scores correlate with income. So it shouldn’t be surprising that wealthier kids do better on this test. In fact, in the last couple of years, you have seen quite a number of very selective colleges say, we are not going to this as a measure for admissions, schools with such brand names like Wesleyan and Connecticut and Brandeis.
ALISON STEWART: So, how is the SAT going to stay relevant if you have competitive colleges saying, you know what, it’s optional?
JANET LORIN: That’s a good question.
For some schools that attract, you know, 30,000 applications, they still want some — some measure, in addition to your grade-point average and other things. You know, it is a way to benchmark students. And when they are getting thousands, it is just practical to keep that requirement in there.
ALISON STEWART: So, this writing portion of the test has been in for about the past decade. Did it have any influence on the lowering of the test scores?
JANET LORIN: Well, the writing test, as you can see from the charts, has gone down.
And it’s — some people had criticized because it, in some ways, could be gamed. It was writing, you know, not necessarily about anything that would be fact-based, but it would be sort of like an essay. And a criticism was, you could actually memorize a couple of points to include, and it didn’t actually matter if it was factual.
And, you know, it wasn’t necessarily scored about an excellent piece of writing. It was, did you use some big words and things like that?
ALISON STEWART: So, what do the folks at the College Board and SAT think about these scores? What — how are they deciding to address this issue?
JANET LORIN: Well, they say, you know, of course, it is not good that the scores are down, but perhaps this is a reason why they are changing the test, to measure, you know, learning in a better way.
ALISON STEWART: Janet Lorin from Bloomberg, thanks for sharing your reporting.
JANET LORIN: Thanks for having me.