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

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    A woman shops for back to school supplies at a Walmart store in San Diego, California August 6, 2015.      REUTERS/Mike Blake - RTX1NDM1

    A woman shops for back to school supplies at a Walmart store in San Diego, California August 6, 2015. Those U.S. students who have already returned to school ahead of the Labor Day holiday, may be among those who are still waiting for the results to the Common Core tests they took for the first time last year. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — No more sleeping in.

    With new backpacks, pens and pencils and clothes, millions of children are back in school or heading there after summer vacation. Many are excited, some are anxious – and still waiting for the results of the new tests they took last spring aligned to the Common Core academic standards.

    Congress returns from its summer vacation after Labor Day and on its agenda is a rewrite to the No Child Left Behind education law that requires the annual academic testing. The House and Senate passed competing versions, and congressional negotiators need to reconcile them.

    Some things to know as students, parents and teachers embark on a new school year.

    ENROLLMENT

    About 50.1 million students will attend public elementary and secondary schools this fall. Enrollment is expected to be slightly higher than a year ago, when 50 million students were enrolled in public schools, according to the Department of Education.

    An additional 4.9 million students are expected to attend private schools this fall.

    The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that 3.3 million students will graduate from high schools, public and private, at the end of the school year.

    In all, about $634 billion will be spent in the 2015-2016 school year for public elementary and secondary schools. Costs include salaries for school personnel, benefits, student transportation, books and energy costs. The cost per student is projected at $12,605 for the current school year.

    Enrollment is also growing at the nation’s colleges and universities, with 7 million students at two-year colleges and 13.2 million at four-year schools, according to center.

    It says colleges and universities are expected to award 952,000 associate’s degrees, 1.8 million bachelor’s degrees, 802,000 master’s degrees and 179,000 doctor’s degrees in 2015-16.

    COMMON CORE TESTS

    This past spring saw the rollout of new tests based on the Common Core standards. The reading and math tests replace traditional spring standardized tests. About 12 million students in 29 states and the District of Columbia took the tests developed by two groups – the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

    According to Smarter Balanced, only a few states have released scores from the spring – Connecticut, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Missouri, West Virginia, and Vermont. Most states have not been able to put out test scores before the start of classes. The delay was expected in the exam’s first year, but it’s still frustrating for some teachers and parents.

    Scores for the almost 5 million students who took the PARCC tests still have yet to be released. PAARC is still setting benchmarks for each performance level. The partnership says they’re due for release this fall, and that the goal in future years of the tests is to release the results as close to the end of the school year as possible.

    AMERICA’S TAKE ON STANDARDIZED TESTS

    Many in the country question the idea of rating a teacher based partly on how students perform on standardized tests – something supported and encouraged by the Education Department as part of the No Child Left Behind education law.

    A recent Gallup Poll found 55 percent of those questioned opposed linking teacher evaluations to their students’ test scores. Among those with children in public schools, opposition was stronger, at 63 percent.

    More than 40 states are moving forward with plans to evaluate teachers and principals in part on how well their students perform on standardized tests, according to the department. It says other factors, such as student work and parent feedback, should be considered, too. Teachers, unions and others worry there’s too much emphasis on test scores.

    The survey was funded by Phi Delta Kappa International, an association for educators that supports teachers and educational research.

    NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND UPDATE

    Congressional negotiators will have to iron out differences between House and Senate bills rewriting the much-criticized and outdated No Child Left Behind education law from 2002.

    Both bills would maintain the annual testing requirements in reading and math in third grade through eighth grade, and once in high school. But they would allow the states to determine whether and how to use those tests to assess the performance of schools, teachers and students. The bills would bar the Education Department from mandating or giving states incentives to adopt or maintain specific academic standards, such as Common Core.

    The biggest differences in the bills are school choice and funding.

    The House measure would federal money to follow low-income children to public schools of their choice; under current law, those dollars remain at the struggling schools.

    Democrats do not support the idea, and the Obama administration has made clear it won’t back the House bill. The Senate rejected an attempt to add this change to its bill.

    SLEEPY TEENS

    Most teenagers aren’t getting the kind of sleep they need as they begin a new school year.

    Fewer than 1 in 5 middle and high schools began the day at the recommended 8:30 a.m. start time or later during the 2011-2012 school year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    CDC and Education Department researchers looked at nearly 40,000 public middle and high schools or combined schools, and found that the average start time for school was 8:03 a.m. Forty-two states reported that 75 percent to 100 percent of the public schools in their states started before 8:30 a.m.

    Louisiana had the earliest average school start time, 7:40 a.m.; Alaska had the latest, 8:33 a.m. No schools in Hawaii, Mississippi and Wyoming started at 8:30 a.m. or later.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that middle and high schools start the day no earlier than 8:30 a.m., so teenagers get the sleep they need to be healthy and successful in school.

    The post As school begins, many kids still waiting on Common Core results appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Free Syrian Army fighters fire rockets towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the northern countryside of Quneitra, Syria, June 17, 2015. Rebels in southern Syria announced a major offensive on Wednesday to capture remaining positions held by the Syrian military in Quneitra province, near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, where bombardments could be seen a short distance away. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX1GWBT

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    ALISON STEWART: The biggest catalyst for the mass migration to Europe is Syria’s civil war, which is believed to have killed 250,000 people and driven an estimated 11 million Syrians from their homes.

    Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russia’s foreign minister this weekend about reports of Russia increasing specific types of support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Kerry says the increased support could escalate the conflict and the refugee crisis.

    Joining me now from Washington to discuss the war in Syria is Anthony Cordesman, who is the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    Sir, let’s begin with Secretary of State Kerry’s concerns. At this point in the conflict, what would a Russian infusion of support for Assad’s army and his regime mean?

    ANTHONY CORDESMAN, Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy, Center For Strategic International Studies: People are concerned, as there’s evidence that they may be providing — or Putin may be providing something like a thousand people’s worth of prefabricated housing.

    That has led some analysts to believe that Russia may be deploying air units and modern combat aircraft or a new kind of advisory team. Any buildup will help Assad ride out or survive, at least for awhile, the opposition.

    Any kind of active air presence would present serious problems for the United States, for Turkey, for the other coalition countries flying air sorties because of the risk that there might be some kind of incident between the Russians and the air forces operating against the Islamic State.

    And no matter what happens, that kind of operation would present problems for the United States because our Arab allies, particularly Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, are supporting some of the forces on the ground that are opposing Assad directly.

    ALISON STEWART: This conflict began in 2011. It is 2015. At this point, what stands out to you as the major issues keeping us from a diplomatic solution here?

    ANTHONY CORDESMAN: Well, I think there are several reasons, but the most important one is, no one has emerged as a credible alternative.

    Syria is now divided really into four parts. There is a Kurdish area. The Kurds have no great incentive to be part of Syria. They were treated as second-class citizens before this began. And many didn’t even have identification papers.

    You have the Islamic State, which occupies a significant part of Eastern Syria, particularly along the river area. It’s not a densely populated area, but it’s one the Islamic State can actually control. You then have a mix of some 26 to 35 different opposition groups that are doing most of the fighting against Assad.

    They are more in the central, heavily populated areas of Syria, but they have almost nothing in common with the Assad regime, with the Islamic State or with the Kurds. And while there are groups outside Syria that claim to represent the opposition, the fact is that many of them were tied to more moderate, secular military movements which have effectively been defeated and virtually disappeared.

    ALISON STEWART: There has been quite a bit of criticism about neighboring countries not stepping in to help ease the humanitarian crisis, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates.

    What is your analysis as to why these countries have not stepped in and stepped up?

    ANTHONY CORDESMAN: All of them, frankly, are deeply concerned at what these refugees might be and who they might have alignments with.

    All of them are dealing with their own problems, Iran, Yemen, Islamic State groups, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. And all of them tend to be relatively closed societies, where security puts very tight limits on any form of immigration.

    ALISON STEWART: Anthony Cordesman, thank you so much for helping us understand it a bit more.

    ANTHONY CORDESMAN: Thank you.

    The post What increased Russian support for Assad could mean for Syria appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    GettyImages-484797684

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters after his rally at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on August 21, 2015 in Mobile, Alabama. The Trump campaign moved tonight’s rally to a larger stadium to accommodate demand. Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

    NORWOOD, Mass. — Donald Trump insults and exaggerates.

    He dismisses the need for public policy ideas, gets confused about world affairs and sometimes says things that flat out aren’t true.

    And the cheers from his supporters only grow louder.

    By the standard that voters typically use to judge presidential candidates, Trump probably should not have survived his first day in the 2016 race.

    Yet as the summer draws to a close and the initial votes in the nominating calendar appear on the horizon, Trump has established himself as the Republican front-runner.

    Listen to these voters:

    • “It’s totally refreshing. He’s not politically correct. He has a backbone and he cannot be bought,” said Leigh Ann Crouse, 55, of Dubuque, Iowa.
    • “This country needs a businessman just like him to put us back on track, to make us stop being the laughing stock of this world,” said Ken Brand, 56, of Derry, New Hampshire.
    • “He says everything that I would like to say, but I’m afraid to say. What comes out of his mouth is not what he thinks I want to hear,” said Janet Boyden, 67, of Chester, Massachusetts.

    They are among the dozens of voters interviewed in the past two weeks by The Associated Press to understand how Trump has defied the laws of political gravity.Uniting them is a deep-rooted anger and frustration with the nation’s political leaders – President Barack Obama and conservative Republicans who, these voters say, haven’t sufficiently stood up to the Democratic administration.

    Some haven’t voted in years, or ever, and may not next year. But at this moment, they are entranced by Trump’s combination of utter self-assurance, record of business success and a promise that his bank account is big enough to remain insulated from the forces they believe have poisoned Washington.

    By the way, they say it’s not that they are willing to look past Trump’s flaws to fix what they believe ills the country. It’s that those flaws are exactly what makes him the leader America needs.

    “At least we know where he stands,” said Kurt Esche, 49, an independent who was at Trump’s recent rally outside Boston. “These other guys, I don’t trust anything that comes out of their mouths. They’re lying to get elected. This guy’s at least saying what he believes.”

    “He may have started as a joke,” Esche said, “but he may be the real deal.”

    Crouse is a merchandise processor at a retail distributor outside Dubuque, the Mississippi River town where Trump tossed Univision anchor Jorge Ramos from a news conference.

    A political independent who has never participated in Iowa’s leadoff presidential caucuses, Crouse said she began following Trump from the moment he referred to Mexican immigrants as criminals during his campaign kickoff.

    “He’s just attracting people who are frustrated, and as you can see, there are a lot of us,” she said.

    Illegal immigration is the perfect summation of Trump’s unorthodox campaign.

    He claims it’s an issue the GOP would not be discussing if not for his presence in the race, even though the topic has been at the center of political debate for years.

    It’s the only one on which he has made a concrete proposal; his rivals, by comparison, have rolled out lots of ideas on a range of issues.

    Here’s Trump’s pitch: deport millions of people who are living in the United States illegally and build a border wall. Critics deride this approach as naïve, but his supporters say it’s the obvious solution.

    “As crazy as it might be, I think he’s addressing something that needs to be heard,” said Randy Thomas, 40, of Bedford, New Hampshire. “I think he’s saying something that everybody thinks always has to be addressed. If you have a country of laws, you have to abide by the laws.”

    Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who recently held a discussion with a group of nearly 30 Trump backers in Virginia, said such support is emblematic of Trump’s popularity. It stems less from their love for the candidate and more from a belief those in power have failed.

    “He activates the anger and frustration they have toward Washington and Wall Street,” Luntz said.

    For many, Trump’s rise is a reaction to Obama, long criticized by opponents as a weak leader who appeases America’s enemies rather than asserting U.S. dominance on the global stage.

    The voters interviewed by AP said much of Trump’s appeal stems from their belief he is a decisive and forceful leader who never backs down or apologizes, even when maybe he should.

    Many appear convinced that the sheer force of Trump’s personality can reverse decades of global realignment, and that his pledges to rid the country of people living in the U.S. illegally and penalize imported goods will restore manufacturing jobs lost to China and boost an economy still scarred by the recession.

    “We’re just so weak. We’re not respected anymore,” said Jerry Welshoff, 56, of Franklin, Massachusetts. He arrived at a recent Trump event near Boston unsure about the candidate; he emerged sold on the candidate.

    “We’ve appeased everything. We can’t negotiate. I would want Donald Trump to sit across a table from (Russian President Vladimir) Putin or Iran or the Mexican prime minister to cut a deal because he’s done it his whole life,” he said.

    The frustration among voters isn’t limited to their feelings about Obama.

    Welshoff said the Republican Party has done nothing but acquiesce to Obama despite taking control of Congress in 2014.

    It’s the same complaint heard from Duane Ernster, 57, of Dubuque. He is disappointed by the few accomplishments of tea party candidates elected to Congress in 2010.

    “Things just didn’t happen. It just hasn’t happened the way we’d hoped,” he said. “Maybe we need a warrior instead of a politician. People compare Mr. Trump to Putin. There’s something to be said about the man, who takes care of the Russian people.”

    Others are simply blown away by Trump’s wealth and his promise to pay for his campaign out of his own pocket. “He won’t owe anybody,” said Susan Sager, 57, of Aiken, South Carolina.

    This is an important point of distinction with both Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who began the campaign viewed as the GOP front-runner due in no small part to his ability to raise huge amounts of money.

    “Remember this. They have total control over Jeb and Hillary and everybody else that takes that money,” Trump said this past week, adding: “I will tell you this. Nobody’s putting up millions of dollars for me. I’m putting up my own money.”

    The argument that Trump is uncorruptible is powerful.

    “I just think he’s doing it for all the right reasons,” said Nancy Adam, 60, at the rally near Boston. “It’s not about the money. It’s not about the political power. He’s already got everything. He has nothing to lose by doing this.”

    Trump’s uncanny ability to stumble without consequence has befuddled his rivals.

    The latest misstep for Trump came Thursday. After pledging only to run as a Republican, he fumbled a series of foreign policy questions from radio host Hugh Hewitt. Trump confused the Quds Force, an elite Iranian military unit, and the Kurds, an ethnic group of more than 30 million people.

    He said the line of inquiry amounted to a “gotcha question.”

    “I mean, you know, when you’re asking me about who’s running this, this this, that’s not, that is not,” Trump said, “I will be so good at the military, your head will spin.”

    Such an answer would invariably be attacked as disqualifying if offered by anyone other than Trump. His rivals have yet to figure out how to challenge an unpredictable opponent who appears immune to such gaffes.

    “He just keeps repeating things over and over again. And you all just accept it for the truth, and it’s not,” Bush told reporters in New Hampshire on Thursday.

    Indeed, Trump’s foibles often appear to make him stronger.

    During his recent discussion with Trump supporters, Luntz played several video clips of the billionaire’s least flattering moments.

    One was Trump’s rejection of Arizona Sen. John McCain’s status as a war hero – “I like people that weren’t captured, OK?” Another was his complimenting daughter Ivanka’s figure and saying that if she “weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”

    Instead of being rattled, the participants ate up Trump’s comments and left the meeting feeling even more confident in their support for him than when they had arrived.

    “I think the Trump candidacy is here to stay and I think Republicans need to figure out how to deal with it,” Luntz said. He said there is little the party establishment, journalists or his rivals with a background in politics can do to knock Trump down, because the candidate’s supporters distrust those groups so strongly.

    “In essence, he’s Teflon because the people most able to take him down can’t because of the very jobs that they do,” he said.

    It’s for that reason that Herman Cain, the former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza who rose to the top of the polls in the fall of 2011, only to see his fortunes derailed by allegations of sexual harassment, said he believes that Trump can succeed.

    “It is a totally new paradigm for how the race for president is unfolding,” said Cain, making the case that Trump, as well as two other Republican candidates, former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson, had tapped into a portion of the electorate that is typically disengaged from the political process.

    Many of the Trump supporters interviewed by AP said there was a chance they might change their minds before voting next year or sit the contest out. Trump’s campaign operation lacks the sophistication of many of his rivals, who in some cases have years of experience in politics and the business of getting out the vote.

    For all of Trump’s success so far, he’s yet to drive any candidate from the race.

    There are several debates still to come and five months until the Iowa caucuses – enough time for a rival to build a winning coalition of voters such as Marvin Smith, a Republican from Independence, Kentucky, who said Trump “scares the hell out of me.”

    “He’s appealing to some base emotions. But my worry is that he splinters the Republican Party,” Smith said. “He’s saying the message people want to hear, but I don’t like the way he’s saying it.”

    But anyone who has bet against Trump so far in this campaign has come up – as Trump would say – a loser.

    Paul Demerjian, a 55-year-old small business owner from Stoneham, Massachusetts, said he isn’t much into politics. But there he was at a recent Trump rally outside Boston, mobbing Trump’s SUV as he made his exit.

    “I haven’t been passionate about a politician running for office since Ronald Reagan,” he said.

    Associated Press writers Thomas Beaumont in Dubuque, Iowa, Bill Barrow in Greenville, South Carolina, and Julie Pace in Cincinnati contributed to this report.

    The post Fed-up and angry supporters let Trump defy political gravity appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks to the GLACIER Conference at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska August 31, 2015. Obama set off for a three-day tour of Alaska on Monday, aiming to shine a spotlight on how the United States is being affected by warming temperatures and rising oceans. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX1QICE

    President Barack Obama in Anchorage, Alaska on August 31. President Obama will sign an executive order Monday ordering federal contractors to provide paid sick leave to their employees. Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Showing solidarity with workers on Labor Day, President Barack Obama will sign an executive order Monday requiring paid sick leave for employees of federal contractors, including 300,000 who currently receive none.

    The White House wouldn’t specify the cost to federal contractors to implement the executive order, which Obama was to address at a major union rally and breakfast in Boston. The Labor Department said any costs would be offset by savings that contractors would see as a result of lower attrition rates and increased worker loyalty, but produced nothing to back that up.

    Under the executive order, employees working on federal contracts gain the right to a minimum of one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours they work. Stretched out over 12 months, that’s up to seven days per year. The order will allow employees to use the leave to care for sick relatives as well, and will affect contracts starting in 2017 — just as Obama leaves office.

    The Obama administration has been working on the executive order for months, and chose Labor Day to announce it as Obama works to enact what policies he can before his presidency ends despite resistance in Congress to laws he’s proposed to improve workplace conditions. That push has reverberated in the 2016 campaign, where Democratic candidates are seeking to draw a distinction with Republicans on who’s most supportive of the middle class.

    “There are certain Republicans that said we can’t afford to do this,” said Labor Secretary Thomas Perez. He lamented how paid leave is seen as a partisan issue in the U.S. despite broad support in Europe. “The Republican Party is out of step with similar conservative governments around the world,” he said.

    Roughly 44 million private sector workers don’t get paid sick leave — about 40 percent of the private-sector workforce, the White House said. In his speech to the Greater Boston Labor Council’s breakfast, Obama was also to renew his call for Congress to expand the requirement beyond contract workers to all but the smallest U.S. businesses, an idea that has gained little traction on Capitol Hill.

    The Labor Day gathering in Boston was attracting other bold-named politicians, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh among them. Union leaders like American Federation of Teachers President and Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry hitched a ride on Air Force One for the flight to Boston. And Vice President Joe Biden, who is considering entering the Democratic presidential primary, was to echo the labor rights theme in a march with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Monday at a Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh.

    Unable to push much of his agenda through a Republican-controlled Congress, Obama has in recent years used executive orders with frequency to apply policies to federal contractors that he lacks the authority to enact nationwide. His aim is to lay the groundwork for those policies to be expanded to all Americans. Earlier executive orders have barred federal contractors from discriminating against workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, raised the minimum wage for contractors and expanded the number of contract workers eligible for overtime.

    Although labor groups have hailed those moves, they remain deeply skeptical of Obama’s push to secure sweeping new trade deals with the Asia-Pacific region and with Europe. Many unions have warned that the deals could lead to the widespread elimination of certain types of U.S. jobs.

    The White House said it couldn’t estimate how many federal contractors don’t offer paid leave now, citing a maze of state and local laws that make crunching the numbers difficult. Officials also declined to put a dollar figure on how much contractors would face in added costs.

    Cecilia Muniz, director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, said the administration has an obligation to get the most out of every federal tax dollar. She said the change to the government’s contracting rules would not increase federal spending.

    The post Obama to require paid sick leave for federal contractor employees appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Video edited by Justin Scuiletti.

    It doesn’t get any cuter than this. Tiny tiger cubs, some barely two months old, stretching, yawning, rolling lazily in the grass and peering adorably up at the children surrounding them. On Saturday, more than a dozen rare white lion and Siberian tiger cubs were set free to frolic with young visitors at a safari park in Crimea’s Belogorsk town, part of a local campaign to raise awareness about protection of the wild animals.

    Siberian tigers are the world’s northernmost tiger species. Only about 500 of these tigers exist worldwide. That’s up from just dozens at the beginning of the 20th century, but scientists still consider the species endangered. White lions are even more rare: only about a hundred exist.

    “The objective of today’s promotional campaign is to grab people’s attention on the subject of defense of wild animals,” Taigan Safari Park director Oleg Zubkov told Reuters TV as cubs sprawled across his lap. “We are against hunting. Today everyone can try to pet wonderful, rare animals just like this, and to understand that they are unique to their kind, and they should be protected.”

    The post Watch: Crimean tiger cubs adorably frolic in public park appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Video by Button Poetry.

    In her first poem, Aja Monet tackled the question: why do we write?

    Aja Monet was in class at Baruch College Campus High School in Manhattan when a terror attack brought down the World Trade Center. The day awakened her to the “interconnectedness” of people and brought her a new perspective on her place in the world, she said.

    “For me, language was always about trying to articulate my own truth,” she said. “It was the beginning of me starting to feel valuable in the human narrative.”

    Monet, a Brooklyn-based poet of Cuban and Jamaican descent, soon began writing and performing with the organization Urban Word NYC and performing in talent shows at her high school. In 2007, she became the youngest-ever poet to win the Nuyorican Poets Café Grand Slam Champion at the age of 19.

    The relationship between storytellers and the public is shifting, with the media paying more attention than ever to the issues poets have been raising for years, she said.

    “There [are] many moments that we are participating in right now, as black people in this country, that [are] causing us to start to rethink ourselves and how we talk about who we are,” she said. “I feel like there have always been poets. Now there’s a lane, there’s more interest. The public is ready to deal with those poems in a way that they weren’t before.”

    “The First Time” arose from Monet’s first experience seeing her brother be “talked down to” during an interaction with a police officer. She described the experience as “a reckoning of power” that changed her perspective on the relationship between people of color and law enforcement.

    “It’s a series of sometimes very nuanced things that happen to you in your life, as a person of color, that build the type of relationship with this country where you feel like you don’t belong,” she said. “This is the moment, for me, that the people I was told were meant to protect us became our enemy — became the people that I resented and could not understand, as much as I wanted to try to understand.”

    The poem also examines the intertwined entities of light, by which skin color is perceived and used in policing, and “shade,” the behavior by which police instill fear, she said.

    “Toward the end of the poem, I want to assert this notion, that we’re children of the sun and police stay throwing shade,” she said.

    These subtle interactions generally receive less public attention than violent aggressions against people of color, she said.

    “What the police have perfected is instilling fear in our community,” she said. “And that’s the core of what the poem is trying to share. It’s trying to share some sort of counter-narrative to the mass narrative that we hear around these sorts of issues. And also, too, I love my brother.”

    The First Time

    I hated a cop he was
    mouthing off the tongue to
    my brother about how he ought
    to show him some respect
    carrying on and whatnot
    as if my brother didn’t
    have a little sister watching
    who looked up to him
    like moonlight and stars on humid nights
    those days he lead and I followed
    and he kept on
    like my brother wasn’t
    a sky scraper or something
    like he wasn’t
    the bridge that led to boroughs
    like he wasn’t
    my hero
    like he wasn’t
    the grandson of a union worker
    who died building a water tunnel
    for a coupla knucklehead kids
    trying to  turn  fire hydrants into car washes
    I saw how brown and black boys grow
    into themselves angry at the world that day
    how no matter what
    a sister did to show her love
    she couldn’t make a boy no man
    he wasn’t bent on becoming
    and even when I thought I was fighting him
    I was fighting them
    we were always fighting them
    all those people out their fighting us
    doing everything to remind us
    of our place,
    and I couldn’t undo
    all the hate that builds

    watching the men you love cower

    watching the men you love cower

    lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllcower

    bending on their knees

    to the scowls of overseers
    all the bright and magic that dims
    the light that lowers

    the bright and magic
    lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllldims
    being policed for being
    too poor
    too much the shade

    a color
    a shade of color
    too close to the root
    too close to the color
    llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllof a heart

    a beating heart
    beingllllllllbeaten
    beating

    lllllllllllllllllheart

    for being

    too close

    to the color
    lllllthe shade.

    The post When the people meant to protect us become our enemy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Contra Costa County Mosquito and Vector Control District technician David Wexler carries a container of BVA Larvacide Oil before spraying a catch basin with standing water and mosquito larvae on June 29, 2012 in Pleasant Hill, California. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    Contra Costa County Mosquito and Vector Control District technician David Wexler carries a container of BVA Larvacide Oil before spraying a catch basin with standing water and mosquito larvae on June 29, 2012 in Pleasant Hill, California. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    West Nile virus hit California harder than ever last year, with a record 561 cases of neuroinvasive disease–the most serious types of the illness–reported from the mosquito-borne virus, according to federal health data released Thursday.

    The number of these serious California cases was 83 percent higher than the previous record number reported in the state in 2005, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Most of those cases — 70 percent — were reported from Los Angeles and Orange counties, which recorded 15 West Nile deaths last year. Statewide, 31 people died of West Nile disease in 2014.

    Public health experts say there’s no single explanation for why some West Nile virus seasons are more severe than others.The West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes can become infected when they feed on birds carrying the virus. Most people infected will have no symptoms, but about one in five will develop a fever with other symptoms. Even fewer people will develop the serious neuroinvasive disease tracked by the CDC, including West Nile-caused meningitis and encephalitis, but most of them will require hospitalization.

    Public health experts say there’s no single explanation for why some West Nile virus seasons are more severe than others.

    California’s drought, last year’s particularly warm summer temperatures, and changes in bird and mosquito populations all played a role in making the 2014 West Nile virus season one of the state’s worst, said Dr. Rachel Civen, medical epidemiologist in charge of vector-borne diseases for the Los Angeles County Public Health Department. The drought reduces water available for birds and mosquitoes, which then crowd together among remaining water sources, spreading the virus.

    Civen noted that while the new CDC data focus on neuroinvasive cases, local public health agencies, including hers, report all West Nile virus infections, including people without symptoms whose infection is detected when they donate blood.

    In that respect, “we’re actually seeing a lot fewer cases” this year, Civen said. This week, Los Angeles County will report 10 infections, six of which were detected in asymptomatic blood donors. Last year in the same week, 49 infections were reported.

    Statewide, 83 human cases of West Nile virus have been reported this year, according to the California Department of Public Health. Two people, from San Bernardino and Nevada counties, have died from the disease.

    In Orange County, which had California’s highest number of infections in 2014, environmental health officials next week will start a large-scale aerial spraying campaign to control mosquitos. This will be the first aerial spraying campaign for the county, which in the past instead has “fogged” smaller areas with insecticide. The spraying campaign on Sept. 9 and 10 will cover the cities of Orange, Tustin and Villa Park, and parts of Anaheim, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Santa Ana and Stanton.

    As of last week, five people in Orange County had been infected with West Nile virus, according to the county’s public health department.

    West Nile virus emerged in the United States in 1999 and was first reported in California in 2002. By 2004, the virus was reported in all of the state’s 58 counties.


    Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

    The post West Nile virus cases hit record numbers in California last year appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    An American flag flutters in the wind next to the sign for a Social Security Administration office in Burbank, California October 25, 2012. Photo by Fred Prouser/Reuters

    An American flag flutters in the wind next to the sign for a Social Security Administration office in Burbank, California October 25, 2012. Photo by Fred Prouser/Reuters

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

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

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

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


    Kathleen — Fort Collins, Colo.: For several years I was employed at a state university that did not pay Social Security taxes for employees. Instead, my funded retirement plan during this employment was a 403B variable annuity plan into which the university paid an annual sum. Is this plan a “pension” subject to the Windfall Elimination Provision
    (WEP) or to the Government Pension Offset(GPO)? Thanks!

    Larry Kotlikoff: Yes, your 403(b) from your uncovered employment is considered a “pension” subject to both the WEP and GPO. But there are exceptions when it comes to the WEP.

    Let me, to begin, explain the WEP formula, which reduces your PIA — your Primary Insurance Amount, which is also called your full employment benefit. If your PIA is lower, so will be your own retirement benefit and the child benefits, spousal benefits, divorcee spousal benefits, and child-in-care spousal benefits that your current and former family members can collect on your work record.

    This year’s formula for your PIA is given by:

    (a) 90 percent times the WEP factor times the substantial earnings factor of the first $826 of your average indexed monthly earnings, plus
    (b) 32 percent of your average indexed monthly earnings over $826 and through $4,980, plus
    (c) 15 percent of your average indexed monthly earnings over $4,980.

    Your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME) is your highest 35 years of indexed (for economy-wide wage growth through age 60) covered earnings divided by 12. The WEP factor is 40/90. So if the substantial earnings factor is 0, the 90 percent value is lowered to 40 percent. The substantial earnings factor is (X -20)/10, where X is the number of substantial years of covered earnings. The factor is zero if X is 20 years or less, and equals 1 if it’s 30 or more.

    If this isn’t perfectly easy to understand, have your member of Congress explain it to you. They wrote this law and are surely on top of it.

    Now to the exceptions to being WEP’d.

    First, if you had 30 years of covered earnings, which exceeded Social Security’s prevailing substantial earnings threshold, you won’t be WEP’d. And you’ll be only partially WEP’d if you have between 20 and 30 years of substantial earnings.

    This year’s substantial earnings limit is $20,050. (This Social Security Administration page provides a table of substantial earnings thresholds in the past. ) If you make this amount or anything above it, you receive a year’s substantial earnings credit and reduce the degree to which you are WEP’d by 10 percent once the number of years of substantial earnings exceeds 20. When it reaches 30, if it does do so, you’ll have reduced the WEP factor by 10 percent times 10 years or by 100 percent.

    Note what I view as a virtually criminal injustice. Namely, that if you make even a penny less than the substantial earnings limit in covered employment in a given year, you get no credit whatsoever with respect to the amount of substantial earnings when it comes to reducing the degree to which you are WEP’d. In many states, where the minimum wage is low, you can work for 30 or more years full time in an Social Security-covered job and never receive credit for a single year of covered employment.

    Second, once you pass away, you are no longer WEP’d. This is important when it comes to the survivor benefits that your current spouse, your ex spouses (to whom you were married for over 10 years), your children (while still in grade school and below 19 or simply disabled, regardless of age, if they became disabled before 22), and your parents (who were dependent on you for more than half their support) can collect on your work record.

    Third, the degree to which you are WEP’d can’t lead you to lose more, with respect to your annual Social Security full retirement benefit, than half of your non-covered pension. Stated differently, your maximum annual exposure to the WEP is half of your full retirement benefit.

    How does Social Security translate a 403(b) balance into an annual pension, which it can use to set this maximum exposure? It has a conversion formula that it uses to do this.

    Finally, neither the WEP nor GPO kick in until you start receiving your non-covered pension or are judged to be able to start withdrawing funds from your 403(b) account. In some non-covered jobs with 403(b)s, you can’t collect your 403(b) until you leave your non-covered employment. In this case, you can delay both the WEP and GPO from being activated until you stop working in the non-covered job. So one way to collect un-WEP’d and un-GPO’d Social Security benefits for yourself and current and former relatives is to keep working. While you do this, your 403(b) will continue to earn a return in the market. As far as I can tell, you could work until, say, 90, and not be WEP’d or GPO’d until then provided you can’t initiate withdrawals from your 403(b) until you stop working. Furthermore, the minimum distribution requirements — how much you’d have to start withdrawing from your 403(b) starting at age 70.5 — don’t kick in if you are still working and contributing to your 403(b) plan.

    Now to the GPO, which reduces benefits that you, not your current and former family members, can collect on your current or ex-spouses’ (to whom you were married for 10 or more years) work records. These benefits that you can collect are spousal, child-in-care spousal, divorcee spousal, widow(er), and divorcee widow(er) benefits. When you are GPO’d, these benefits are reduced by two-thirds of your non-covered pension or your imputed pension from your 403(b), but only after you are judged to be in non-covered pension collection status.

    There is one exception to the GPO. If your non-covered pension comes from work outside the country, you aren’t subject to the GPO. Why this is the case is everyone’s guess. I’d ask my members of Congress to explain.


    Gary — Uxbridge, Mass.: My wife is a teacher and has a state retirement plan from Rhode Island worth about $1,600 a month, which she cannot access until she is 65.5. She also has some Social Security credits that will give her a full retirement amount of $946 a month. She is 59, I am 60. Considering the Government Pension Offset, would it not be better to take her Social Security at 62, which would be $698 a month for 3.5 years as the Government Pension Offset will cut her monthly benefit to almost nothing when she takes her State Retirement at 65.5? I have worked in the private sector all my life and have a full retirement amount of $2,389 a month.

    Larry Kotlikoff: Absolutely. This means of temporarily avoiding the WEP and GPO is something Paul and Phil and I discussed in our book and that I mention above in today’s column. The longer your wife can delay taking her RI retirement plan pension or a lump sum from it, provided she is getting full compensated by RI for waiting to collect, the longer she can collect Social Security benefits based on her own covered work record and your work record without worry about either of these nasty provisions.


    Lawrence — Kohler, Wisconsin: If a divorcee who is collecting spousal benefits based on her ex-husband remarries, how soon can she begin receiving spousal benefits based on the benefit being received by her new husband? Both are over 70, if that makes any difference, and both began receiving Social Security at age 65.

    Larry Kotlikoff: In most cases, a spouse must be married for a full year before they can become entitled to spousal benefits. However, if a person is already drawing benefits as a divorced spouse, they can become entitled to spousal benefits on their new spouse’s record as early as the first full month of marriage. In this case, it also pays to get married on the first day of a month. Otherwise, they won’t be entitled on either record for the month in which the marriage occurs.


    Annick — Los Angeles, Calif.: A good friend of mine read your book “Get What’s Yours — the Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security Benefits,” and tells me that I may be eligible for an increased Social Security benefit as a divorced widow, based on my deceased former husband’s earnings record. I am writing because I would like to verify this with you.

    Larry Kotlikoff: Hi Annick, If you aren’t remarried or remarried after age 60, this may be true. I say “may be”, because if you are collecting your own retirement benefit or have filed for it and suspended it, Social Security will just pay you the larger of your widow’s benefit and your own retirement benefit. Hence, if your retirement benefit is larger and you are collecting it or even have filed for it and suspended it, you won’t collect a widow’s benefit. On the other hand, if you haven’t filed for your retirement benefit, you can collect your widow’s benefit starting at 60 (50 if disabled) and then wait until 70 to collect your own retirement benefit when it starts at its maximum value. Or you can collect your own retirement benefit first, starting at 62, and then, depending on whether your deceased husband took his own retirement benefit early, start collecting your widow’s benefit before or at full retirement age. Expert software sold commercially is the only way to figure out exactly what to do.


    Anonymous: I was born June 10, 1936 in France, and I am now 78 years old. I married my husband, an American citizen, in 1958 in France. I immigrated to the United States in 1959. We had two children. I became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1971. My husband and I divorced in 1972, after 13.5 years of marriage. I never remarried.

    I began working in the United States about 1974, and retired in 2001.

    In 2001, I began to receive a small “social security” payment from the French Government for work I had performed in France before I came to America (approximately $150 to $200 per month, depending on exchange rates). I applied for American Social Security on my retirement in 2001 — at Full Retirement Age — informing the Social Security Administration of my French payment.
    When I applied for my American Social Security, the SSA office told me that the benefit based on my work record was greater than the “50 percent” benefit I was eligible to receive based on my ex-husband’s work record.

    My ex-husband died in 2002, at age 68. He had remarried twice, and was still married to his third wife at the time of his death. He had two children with this third wife. I do not know if he had applied for his own Social Security; and if he did, when he did.

    My friend tells me that based on his reading of your book, I am now eligible for a Social Security benefit based on my deceased ex-husband’s work record. He says that since I worked at relatively low-paying clerical jobs, and my ex-husband worked as an advertising executive and commercial director, the odds are that his Primary Insurance Amount (plus Delayed Retirement Credit, if any) is greater than my Primary Insurance Amount — perhaps significantly so. In addition, as I am now a divorced survivor, my insurance benefits also would be based on 100 percent of my ex-husband’s Primary Insurance Amount (increased or decreased by any adjustments), not the 50 percent I was eligible for as a divorced spouse. On the downside, any possible insurance benefit may be reduced if my ex-husband applied for his Social Security benefit before his full retirement amount – but to no less than 82.5 percent of my ex-husband’s PIA.

    Further, my friend states that if I apply for a divorced widow’s insurance benefit, and it turns out that this benefit is less than my current benefit (based on my earnings), under no circumstances will my current benefit be decreased. And, if I do apply and receive a divorced widow’s insurance benefit, that will not reduce any benefits due to my husband’s other two wives. From your knowledge, is he correct? And if he is correct, are there any gotchas I should beware of when I file?

    Larry Kotlikoff: Your friend sounds like he read our book very carefully and what he told you is absolutely true. So head over to your local Social Security office and file for your divorcee widow’s benefit. Ask for six months of retroactive benefits, which is the most they will give you. And, don’t worry. This can only mean more money per month!


    Lyle: If you don’t mind, I have a follow-up question on the heels of finishing your Social Security book. First, thanks to you and your colleagues for putting together a clear, helpful, and funny piece on such a potentially confusing topic.

    I am pretty sure that I have it correct: That when I turn 66 in October 2016 and my wife turns 66 a bit sooner, in February 2016, I am assuming that I can sign up and suspend my benefits, and my wife, the lower earner of the two of us would qualify to receive spousal benefits, with both of us continuing to grow our Social Security benefit until age 70. Is this correct?

    What I am less clear about is this: If I actually start taking my own benefit at age 66, would my wife still be eligible to request at the same time a spousal benefit from me, continuing to grow her own Social Security benefit until age 70, at which time she would switch from spousal to take her own full benefit?

    Larry Kotlikoff: Yes, your wife will be able to start her full spousal benefit at the same time as you file and suspend your retirement benefit.

    The post How soon after the wedding can I start collecting social security benefits? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A loggerhead sea turtle hatchling. This summer's hatching season has hit new records alongside the Southeast United States coast. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region.

    A loggerhead sea turtle hatchling. This summer’s hatching season has hit new records alongside the Southeast United States coast. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region.

    Sea turtles have delivered a nesting season for the record books.

    The Associated Press reported today that 2015 has held “one of the strongest summer nesting seasons on record” for sea turtles along the beaches from North Carolina to Florida. According to researchers, the season has proven to be a rebound for the creatures after a 2014 slump.

    Two more states have seen individual nesting records broken during their seasons. In Georgia, where the nesting season runs from May through August, scientists and volunteers recorded 2,292 loggerhead sea turtle nests, setting a new state record for the fifth season in six years.

    Though Florida’s nesting season will continue through October, green sea turtles have already broken a record within the state’s Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge: 12,000 of the endangered creatures dug nests along the beach there, a number never seen before seen at the refuge.

    This year’s numbers are giving researchers hope that sea turtle numbers are making a comeback.

    “Every big year we get, the more confident we are in that conclusion that we’re in a recovery period,” Mark Dodd, a biologist at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, told the AP. “So we feel really good about it.”

    Any sort of celebration may have to wait for at least a quarter century, however. Kate Mansfield, head of the Marine Turtle Research Group at the University of Central Florida, told the AP that turtles can’t reproduce until they’ve reached at least 25 years old.

    “It’s promising and exciting, but the long term perspective is needed and helps put what we see now in a broader perspective,” Mansfield said. “For the past five years we’ve had good years, but we have to look at this over 25-plus years.”

    The post Sea turtles deliver record nesting seasons in Southeast U.S. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    not trending

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, time for a look at some interesting reporting that’s Not Trending.

    Gwen Ifill recently recorded our conversation.

    GWEN IFILL: This week, we’re looking at innovative thinkers you may not have heard of who are using advances in technology and science to chart important new paths. That includes an effort to create a kind of a bionic brain, a new way of building an eco-friendly battery made partially out of saltwater, and a choreographer attracting new ballet lovers via YouTube.

    Carlos Watson is the founder and CEO of OZY, which has stories about all of this on its site. And he joins me now.

    All the tech all the time, Carlos.

    CARLOS WATSON, CEO, OZY: Why not? I mean, you told me basketball was off the table — or football, rather, was off the table. So let’s go tech.

    (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s — talking about this — the idea of creating a working electronic model of the brain.

    CARLOS WATSON: It would be really interesting, would allow researchers to do all kinds of things to pursue cures for things like Alzheimer’s and other things, instead of using mice brains and other things, if you had a really important and well-functioning simulated electronic brain.

    So, they’re starting to make progress, Gwen. The U.S. has put $3 billion, Europe $2 billion, others, but still a little ways off.

    GWEN IFILL: But what does that mean? How would it work? Exactly what are we talking about? An actual model that you plug in or something?

    (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL: I don’t know.

    CARLOS WATSON: There’s all kinds of forms it could take. And that’s kind of one form, where it could live on a chip inside something that looks a little more friendly.

    You know what was interesting? One of the researchers in Manchester, the U.K., told me that in order to power that — so while it may come in a small case, whatever the case looks like, in order to power that, he says the computer power would take an airplane hangar. Like, that’s how much power they would need in order to do that.

    GWEN IFILL: And the practical application is what?

    CARLOS WATSON: So, two ones to think about.

    One idea is faster, better, more research, which hopefully brings us cures for things like Alzheimer’s and other things. Number two, eventually — and again, a number of these things are decades away, not even years away, but they’re not hundreds of years away — might be helping you with short-term or long-term memory lapses.

    GWEN IFILL: What did you say? I’m sorry. I forgot what you said.

    (LAUGHTER)

    CARLOS WATSON: You know what? You had a youthful moment, as we call them.

    GWEN IFILL: Yes, I did.

    CARLOS WATSON: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: So, let’s talk about this idea of a battery that is powered by saltwater?

    CARLOS WATSON: Don’t you love that?

    GWEN IFILL: Yes.

    CARLOS WATSON: Everything is going eco-friendly. It’s not just Whole Foods anymore, right?

    GWEN IFILL: That’s right.

    CARLOS WATSON: The idea was that the more we start tapping sun and wind power, right, whether it’s panels on people’s homes or all sorts of other things, it’s great when the sun is out, but what about when the sun goes down? How do you store that energy and in fact being able to use it?

    And so a lot of folks have begun to look at different kinds of batteries, kind of big stable batteries, not the kind that go in your car or go in your computer, but kind of a battery that might be in your home or in a university.

    GWEN IFILL: Who is this guy Jay Whitacre?

    CARLOS WATSON: You have got to like this Carnegie Mellon professor who a number of years ago said that there is a better way forward, that in fact can we create a batteries that store some of this sun and wind power, but they have got to not admit kind of toxic things?

    So, they have go to be, if you will, more eco-friendly? And in fact he wanted to prove that it was so eco-friendly and used saltwater to make it and all that, that, for an investor or two, he actually bit into one.

    GWEN IFILL: You’re kidding?

    CARLOS WATSON: No, he’s really not going to eat it, instead of the good stuff.

    (CROSSTALK)

    GWEN IFILL: But he’s proving that it is safe?

    CARLOS WATSON: But he’s proving that it is safer than the kind of toxic battery waste that you’re used to thinking about.

    GWEN IFILL: And what would you use them for?

    CARLOS WATSON: You would use them for everything.

    So, let’s say you put solar panels on your house. You generate a lot of energy during the day, but you want to use some of that energy at night. These batteries may actually store it and allow you to use it at night, instead of using the electric grid.

    GWEN IFILL: So, let’s talk about another piece of this, which is a new venue promoting an old art, which is to say YouTube. Who is Guillaume Cote?

    CARLOS WATSON: Well, he’s a Quebecois, for those out there who are from Canada. He’s a 33-year-old principal dancer at the National Ballet of Canada.

    And while that, in and of itself, is impressive, what’s he’s done is, he’s kind of ushered in an era of ballet on the Web. And I know you’re thinking, well, isn’t everything on the Web?

    GWEN IFILL: Yes.

    CARLOS WATSON: And to some extent, it’s been.

    But he did that was really special is he began to create these little two-minute films, these gorgeous films of him and in some cases others doing ballet, and really brought in not maybe 100 or 200 people.

    GWEN IFILL: And gorgeous films and a gorgeous man with the gorgeous films, which is why people — part of the reason people are watching. Right?

    CARLOS WATSON: You know what?

    As he said to me — I was talking to him earlier. He said, the honest truth is that I’m dancing naked, right? He said, I have got little tights on. But the truth of the matter is, here’s a fit athlete who, for two minutes in slow motion, with really clear facial expressions that you wouldn’t normally get if you were sitting at the ballet.

    And so he’s bringing in literally not hundreds of thousands, but millions of new fans, who, as he said himself, despite the fact he was one of the world’s best dancers, didn’t know him much before.

    GWEN IFILL: Is there an economic model to support reaching new audiences this way?

    CARLOS WATSON: Not yet.

    And that worries him, because making some of these, even though they’re only two minutes’ long, sometimes he will spend $25,000, even $50,000 doing them. So, he’s only made a couple, used a Kickstarter campaign. But he’s hoping there’s a way forward.

    Now, the exception to this are some of the big ballet companies like the New York City Ballet and others, who are smartly creating these kind of films as ways to get Gwen and Carlos to go to the ballet and to buy $800, $200, $300 — I know you do the nice tickets, do the nicer tickets.

    GWEN IFILL: It’s who I am.

    CARLOS WATSON: That’s who you are. So, who knows. Maybe there’s a way that way.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, the brain, batteries and dance all in one place.

    Thank you very much, Carlos Watson.

    CARLOS WATSON: Always good to be here.

    The post Not Trending: Inventors and innovators you’ve never heard of appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    DENMARK - MAY 27: Wind turbines dotted between cultivated fields, Aero island, Denmark. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The nation of Denmark has been a pioneer in wind energy production. Last year, nearly 40 percent of its electricity came from wind power, and, by 2050, it’s set an ambitious goal of having renewable energy provide 100 percent of the country’s energy.

    In the U.S., the Obama administration recently released the Clean Power Plan, which it hopes will lead to more renewable energy production.

    Stephanie Joyce traveled to Denmark to see how that country is tackling the challenge. She reports for Inside Energy. It’s a public media collaboration funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, focusing on America’s energy issues.

    STEPHANIE JOYCE: Erik Malmkvist’s job used to be a lot easier, before renewable energy. Malmkvist runs the power grid for Bornholm, an island of 40,000 people off the coast of Denmark. The island’s electricity consumption is fairly predictable.

    ERIK MALMKVIST, Denmark: You can see people get up in the morning about half past 5:00, then make something. And then they go to eat, and then they just stop. And that’s every day. And that’s the curves we are making.

    STEPHANIE JOYCE: But the island’s electricity supply is becoming less predictable. Like most places, Bornholm used to get most of its power from coal and gas, but now more than half comes from wind and solar, which fluctuate constantly.

    ERIK MALMKVIST: You can see the wind. And then suddenly it goes up and down all the time. So, it’s very, very unstable.

    STEPHANIE JOYCE: As Denmark adds more renewable energy, that mismatch between when electricity is being produced and when it’s needed is a growing problem.

    But this sleepy fishing island is home to a cutting-edge energy experiment that could make the variability of wind and solar less of a problem. Bornholm has branded itself the bright green test island and welcomed a series of futuristic experiments focused on the electric grid. The most ambitious experiment is called EcoGrid E.U.

    At the demonstration house, project leader Maja Bendtsen shows off how it works.

    MAJA BENDTSEN, Project Leader: So, this is some of the equipment that we’re using in the project.

    STEPHANIE JOYCE: The EcoGrid project shakes up the traditional relationship between electricity supply and demand. It gets people to use more power when there’s lots available and less when there isn’t. It’s called demand response.

    Bendtsen uses a LEGO model to help explain how demand response helps integrate wind and solar into the island’s grid. It’s something she learned about as a kid, when her father installed a wind turbine on their property.

    MAJA BENDTSEN: When it was windy, we turned up all the radiator valves full open and could heat the house. But because it was windy and the wind turbine — the wind turbine was spinning anyway, the energy was free and abundant.

    STEPHANIE JOYCE: The EcoGrid experiment also relies on using more power when there’s cheap renewable energy available, and less when there isn’t. But unlike when Bendtsen was a kid, no one has to run around opening and closing radiator valves.

    MAJA BENDTSEN: A signal goes through to the gateway, and then a signal to the relay saying turn off the heat pump because now the power price is high, and we are within boundaries.

    STEPHANIE JOYCE: The equipment gets information about the real-time price of electricity. When it’s high, the equipment turns down the heating and turns it back on again when prices drop, so long as the temperature stays within a specified range, say, 70 to 75 degrees.

    MAJA BENDTSEN: Demand response has nothing at all to do with energy savings. It has to do with using the energy when it’s there.

    STEPHANIE JOYCE: Which helps with balancing the grid, if it works.

    KATHRI MARLUSSEN, Denmark: And this is the power from the EcoGrid. They installed this one when I was signed in to the project.

    STEPHANIE JOYCE: Kathri Marlussen lives on Bornholm and is a participant in the project.

    KATHRI MARLUSSEN: This is the price now. When it’s red, it’s expensive.

    STEPHANIE JOYCE: But although Marlussen can access real-time electricity prices through the project, the devices controlling her heating stopped working months ago. The automation equipment still has some serious bugs.

    KATHRI MARLUSSEN: The idea of the project is really good. But then there are some technical problems thus that I can’t use it the way it was supposed to.

    STEPHANIE JOYCE: Marlussen sometimes checks the price before doing laundry or running the dishwasher, but those consume almost no electricity compared to heating and cooling.

    KATHRI MARLUSSEN: It’s a shame that it can’t work the way it’s supposed to do.

    STEPHANIE JOYCE: She’s not the only one who thinks so. Back on the mainland, I met Jorgen Christensen, the chief technology office for Dansk Energi, the Danish energy association. He agrees it’s a shame demand response isn’t ready for prime time.

    JORGEN CHRISTENSEN, Dansk Energi: So, we are overinvesting because we are not utilizing the energy that we produce in a smart way.

    STEPHANIE JOYCE: Overinvesting in things like transmission lines and backup power plants, which wouldn’t be necessary if demand response worked better. Christensen is confident the technical problems with demand response will get sorted out. But he’s worried that it will take time to convince people of the benefits, maybe too much time, given the country’s renewable energy goals.

    JORGEN CHRISTENSEN: If I would ask my sister whether she would have a flexible or smart charging of her electric vehicle or of heat pump today, she would say, well, I haven’t heard about it today. So that’s where we are there.

    JACOB OSTERGAARD, Danish Technical University: On the left side you have a picture of Bornholm, and the green dots are substations.

    STEPHANIE JOYCE: On the campus of the Danish Technical University, researchers are tackling both the technological and the consumer side of the problem. They have been analyzing the results of the Bornholm experiment, and are excited about its promise.

    But Jacob Ostergaard, who is in charge of the lab, says what they have done so far is just the beginning, and compares it to the nascent cell phone industry.

    JACOB OSTERGAARD: You can say that what we have developed is, basically, we have developed the smartphone and one app.

    STEPHANIE JOYCE: The app being demand response.

    Now, in the analogy, Ostergaard wants to build other apps to transform electricity in the same way the smartphone changed the phone. He thinks, in a few years, we won’t even think about electricity the same way.

    JACOB OSTERGAARD: Instead of buying kilowatt hours, which are very difficult to understand how much is a kilowatt hour and what is it, we could buy comfort, for instance. We could buy 21 degrees Celsius in our house.

    STEPHANIE JOYCE: That’s a comfortable 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Whatever those new ways of thinking about electricity end up being, more likely than not, you will find them on Bornholm first.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Stephanie Joyce in Bornholm, Denmark.

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    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign event at Uncle Nancy's Coffee in Newton, Iowa, September 6, 2015. REUTERS/Scott Morgan - RTX1RDTA

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: While many Americans enjoyed a day off today, those eying the White House or already working there used the occasion to speak to voters.

    It’s a holiday that historically kicked off the race for the White House in the year before the election. But this Labor Day, with almost two dozen candidates already running hard, it was another day on the trail.

    Republican Scott Walker, who gained national headlines a few years ago by taking on organized labor as governor of Wisconsin, took to Twitter to stand out from the pack, writing: “In Wisconsin, people have the freedom to choose if they want to be in a labor union or not. That’s pro-worker”

    President Obama’s not running, but he fired back, without naming them, at Walker and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. At a Boston rally, the president took some of his most direct swipes yet at the Republican field.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: One candidate, he is bragging about how he destroyed collective bargaining rights in his state, and says that busting unions prepares him to fight ISIL.

    And then there was the guy — these guys are running for office — they’re running for the presidency — who said a union deserves a punch in the face.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Vice President Biden, who’s deciding whether to run, echoed the Democrats’ rallying call to organized labor and the issue of income inequality.

    VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN: Back in the ’70s, when you were getting started in the steel mills, Leo, when the situation was that the CEO made on average 25, 26 times the average employee. Now they make 400 times as much. What happened? What happened?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Other Republican candidates were out on the trail. But Donald Trump, who is leading all national GOP polls, didn’t have any public events.

    As we enter this next phase of the 2016 campaign, it’s a particularly good Monday for Politics Monday.

    Joining me are Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

    Welcome, and thank you for being here on Labor Day.

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So we have been reporting — and I know you have seen it as well — on this refugee crisis in Europe. We have talked about how the European countries are — more of them are offering to take in the refugees.

    Just in the last hour or so, Tamara, we understand the White House is now telling reporters that they are looking seriously at what the United States can do. What are you hearing about that?

    TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: Yes, an administration official has confirmed to me that they are considering a wide range of options in responding to the refugee crisis, including possible refugee resettlement.

    And I e-mailed back and said, in the U.S.? And they said yes. So, that is a change. That is a response that is clearly not fully defined yet, but they’re working on it and they want people to know that they’re working on it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And I was reading the U.S. already spends something like $4 billion a year in Syria, so they’re looking I guess also at spending more money.

    Amy, do you see this becoming an issue? There is some talk about — well, more than talk — about whether Congress is going to look at this when they come back into town.

    AMY WALTER: Well, and, certainly, if the administration now is saying we’re looking at bringing Syrian refugees into the country, I think it absolutely will be an issue.

    And you’re seeing the Republicans taking this up as a security issue, and the concern that is being raised by many of the 2016 candidates at least is that a Syrian refugee may be a terrorist. We may — by letting all these people in, we may be letting some elements in that are dangerous to the U.S. How can we screen them properly?

    So that, I think, will be brought up absolutely on the campaign trail and will be brought up in Congress.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Do we see a difference? We know a couple of the Republicans, Tamara, I guess even Donald Trump, even with his tough position on the border, on immigration, has said, you know, possibly the U.S. may have to take in…

    TAMARA KEITH: And I think that is basically all he has said thus far. It hasn’t been a detailed policy prescription or statement.

    John Kasich also said possibly more money could be sent to help with the crisis. And then otherwise, the candidates have largely — the Republican candidates have largely been saying this is a European problem and trying to push that off and make it a European problem.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But pretty much, generally, the Democrats are saying, we will do what we have to do.

    TAMARA KEITH: Yes. And Martin O’Malley, who is running for president, a Democrat, former Maryland governor, has come out and said that he thinks that the U.S. needs to dramatically increase the number of Syrian refugees allowed into the country in the coming year.

    AMY WALTER: But everybody has been very — to be clear, everyone’s been very vague. No one wants to sort of step out on this, besides the Martin O’Malley number. Even Hillary Clinton wasn’t being very specific about it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, I did notice that.

    So it is Labor Day. And, Amy, you have been — I notice you have said that this is the traditional jumping off point for the campaign.

    AMY WALTER: Right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We have had these men and women running for months and months and months. But things are going to change.

    AMY WALTER: Right. We have been doing Politics Monday now for a long time. And there has been a lot to talk about.

    But, believe it or not — and I’m sorry for you people who live in the early states for this — the money has not even begun to be spent yet. We’re starting to see now the super PACs and the candidates tell us publicly that they’re going to start advertising in these states.

    They’re putting big, big media buys in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. So, we’re going to hear more about candidates. We’re going to see more issues being raised. We have another debate coming up on September 16 with the Republicans. Democrats, we don’t see until October. But there’s going to be a lot more in the mix now and a lot more money spent than we have seen up until now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is advertising going to be the main difference, do you think, Tamara?

    TAMARA KEITH: Well, Hillary Clinton’s campaign has announced that they’re going to putting in another $4.1 million for ads that will keep the ads on the air through September and October in New Hampshire and Iowa. So that is a change.

    I mean, they have been on the air since August. They will continue to be on the air. The ads are one thing. I think that we likely will see more of the candidates also. But it gets to be crunch time.

    AMY WALTER: Yes. Hillary Clinton was on with Andrea Mitchell last week.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: She had her first long interview in a long time.

    TAMARA KEITH: She is going to be on the Ellen DeGeneres show this week, which her campaign says television is a way for her to reach a larger audience. Certainly, Ellen DeGeneres has a large audience and sort of a different audience than some other outlets.

    AMY WALTER: Right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But it may also reflect her feeling that she needs to get her message out there at a time when she’s having difficulty.

    There was yet another poll today, Amy, a Marist, I guess, NBC poll showing she’s not only behind Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire. She’s farther behind. And now he’s even starting to catch up with her in Iowa. What does this say? We’re looking at some difficulties. Is this more about Hillary Clinton or is it about Bernie Sanders and maybe Joe Biden getting in?

    AMY WALTER: I think it’s a combination of all of these things.

    Now, if you talk to the Hillary Clinton campaign — and they said this from the very beginning — we expect this to be close. Nobody has ever won on the Democratic side Iowa or New Hampshire by a significant margin. It is usually by less than 50 percent of the votes, so we knew this race was going to get tight, they said.

    Now, they said this at the very beginning. But the one thing that we have to think about with Bernie Sanders, the question is not how well is he going to do in Iowa, New Hampshire, is, what happens next? Where Bernie Sanders does very well is with liberal voters and he has been doing really well in two states that have a lot of liberal voters and white voters.

    The question for Bernie Sanders is, can he do well among the minority voters that make up a very significant chunk of the Democratic base? And the next polling I would like to see is from South Carolina, a state that comes third in the map, but has an electorate on the Democratic side that’s 50 percent or more African-American.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Tamara, is that really going to shake out? Are we going to under — are we going to see the contours of that before we get to the South Carolina primary?

    TAMARA KEITH: I think that we will have a sense. Once some decent polling comes out, we will have a sense of how South Carolina is going.

    He’s back in the state again. He definitely is not taking it for granted, but — or he wants to work for it. But he has admitted that he has a great organization in Iowa, he has an OK organization on the ground in New Hampshire, and he has a lot of work to do in South Carolina and Nevada.

    Meanwhile, Clinton’s people are saying, well, we have got a 50-state strategy, which they sort of do. They had people organizing on the ground in all 50 states until July. So — but you can’t account for momentum and Bern — or Bern-mentum or feeling the Bern.

    (LAUGHTER)

    TAMARA KEITH: And I have say that Bernie Sanders supporters are not saying they don’t like Hillary Clinton. They are saying they like Bernie Sanders, that he’s saying something that speaks to them. And that can’t be written off.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let’s talk quickly about the Republicans. There are lot of them to talk about.

    But, Amy, what do you make of the president taking a shot? He didn’t name Scott Walker or Chris Christie, but it was very clear.

    AMY WALTER: But he really did name them, right? There is only one candidate in the race who has made collective bargaining and taking on the unions the centerpiece of his campaign.

    Look, this is the same message that Barack Obama had going into the 2012 election, wanting to make it this choice between people — the Democrats looking out for the regular people, Republicans looking out for the special interests. He’s going to keep driving that home.

    Two big changes, though, is, in 2016, he’s not on the ballot, and, number two, his policies are on the ballot. This will be eight years of an Obama economy that the Democrats are going to have to defend. And, finally, I think this is actually a good thing for Scott Walker, an opportunity for Scott Walker, who has been having a very difficult summer.

    His numbers dropped dramatically, especially in a place like Iowa, a state he needs to win. Being able to be taken on by the president and using that as a badge of honor, that is particularly helpful for him.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, just quickly, Amy, it raises his profile.

    (CROSSTALK)

    TAMARA KEITH: Yes.

    And he put out a statement saying: The fact that Barack Obama is coming after me means that the Democrats think that I am the biggest threat.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, the one man who wasn’t out on the trail today, we know for a fact, was Donald Trump. So I guess we’ll have to wait and talk about him next week.

    AMY WALTER: Yes. That will be…

    AMY WALTER: … to see what he is doing on the stump.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, thank you.

    TAMARA KEITH: Thank you.

    AMY WALTER: Thanks, Judy.

    The post Will 2016 candidates enter the migrant crisis debate? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    German police officers walk in front of the Brandenburg Gate during a rally of BAERGIDA members, Berlin's section of anti-immigration movement Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA), in Berlin, Germany September 7, 2015.  REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch - RTX1RJ20

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, as we have been reporting, thousands of Syrian refugees and others arrived in Germany over the weekend, sometimes to cheering crowds.

    Tonight, we take a look at what it’s like after the fanfare fades.

    Matt Frei of Independent Television News filed this report from Berlin.

    MATT FREI: On a hot late summer’s day, a walk in the park in Moabit in Central Berlin revealed something unexpected. At first, you might think the clusters of people in the shade on the grass are here for a picnic. But then you notice their luggage and their children and their despair, and the numbing fatigue of ordinary families for whom the extraordinary has become the new normal.

    Most of the people here are Syrian refugees. The last time they slept in their own beds could have been a year ago, perhaps two years ago. But for now, this is the end of their odyssey from Syria via Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Austria, to the country in Europe that is more willing to take them than any other.

    Syrians are at the top of the pecking order. They’re virtually guaranteed asylum. But if you’re from Gaza, and you have been waiting for eight days for your papers, you get a little nervous, like Mohamed.

    MOHAMED: Hopefully, this is going to be my new country, my new home. But I’m not sure about that.

    MATT FREI: You’re not sure about it?

    MOHAMED: Yes, I’m not sure about right now.

    MATT FREI: Until you have your papers?

    MOHAMED: Yes. Hopefully.

    MATT FREI: You will get them. And why did you choose Germany and not Sweden or not Britain?

    MOHAMED: Actually, Germany, there’s a lot of opportunities in Germany. It’s a big country. Education is free. I can complete my master’s. Actually, I got scholarship from Germany before I came here. But they — I could not go out from Gaza.

    MATT FREI: After the refugee trauma comes the refugee bureaucracy, the anxious wait for official papers, accommodation and emergency money of 200 pounds a month per family.

    And then there’s the matter of food, courtesy of the soup and sandwich brigade, all of them volunteers. Five-year-old Hassan is a study in under-aged resilience. He tries to get his hands on some soup and bread, fourth time lucky. And then this urchin of the refugee trail hands the bowl to his mother.

    By the end of the day, the food distribution is more chaotic. In fact, the Berlin authorities are so overwhelmed by the numbers, they can barely cope. So, most of the work is done by volunteers, lots of them.

    Aneta, the second from the left, is a single mother of two and currently unemployed. And Frank, opposite her, is a retired bank manager with a few languages up his sleeve.

    FRANK: It’s boring sitting on the couch watching TV.

    MATT FREI: So, you’re here helping out?

    FRANK: I’m here helping out. Yes. I’m happy with this job. It’s not paid, but I’m quite happy.

    MATT FREI: Germany is taking in 1 percent of its population, 800,000 people, this year as asylum-seekers. That’s an awful lot, isn’t it? It’s a huge number.

    ANETA: It’s a huge number. But if it comes to faces, when you see the people actually, I think we have a duty at least to help.

    MATT FREI: Are you also motivated by Germany’s history, maybe by some collective historical guilt about what Germany did to the rest of Europe in the past?

    ANETA: Yes, I think so. I think — I was born in ’63,.

    MATT FREI: Like me.

    (LAUGHTER)

    ANETA: In West Germany. So it’s kind of — you know, you learn this at school, and you have to — it’s — well, it’s kind of guilt, but not only guilt. It’s something — is to do something better.

    MATT FREI: On to the next challenge, find a place to stay.

    As night falls, the makeshift camp empties out and there is a scramble. As a refugee, you’re always rushing from one bare necessity to the next. Families, women and children, get put on buses to army barracks or schools turned refugee centers, but the men tend to be left on the street, unless they find a volunteer host like Philip Bushne and his family, one of hundreds who have put people up.

    We joined them for breakfast, their 2-year-old son Oscar, mother Suzie pregnant with number two, and their Syrian house guests, Reza and Abdu, fleeing ISIS. The Bushnes don’t speak Arabic or Kurdish, and the guests don’t speak English or German, so table talk is a little complicated.

    PHILIP BUSHNE: Six? Twenty-five?

    ABDU: Twenty-five.

    PHILIP BUSHNE: Ah, 25. Reza?

    ABDU: Twenty-six.

    PHILIP BUSHNE: Twenty-six.

    MATT FREI: So, here, we have got a little Google Translate history of the table talk. The word schwanger pops up, pregnant, because Suzie is pregnant. Schwarzer tee means black tea. Wilkommen in Deutschland means welcome to Germany.

    What do you say to those people who would say, well, actually, I don’t want to have foreigners in my house; I don’t know who they are?

    PHILIP BUSHNE: I say do your “Star Wars” again. Like Yoda said, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering. So, just drop it. There is nothing to be afraid of, seriously.

    MATT FREI: The man with the tattooed neck would beg to differ. “Those who don’t love Germany should leave Germany,” he and his friends shout.

    This is a march organized by the tiny NPD. They scored 0.3 percent of the vote in the last federal election.

    “Whoever makes it to Germany can stay here forever. Are we living in a madhouse?” The regional leader of the National Democratic Party asks.

    The party has couched its hatred of foreigners in a mission against Islamic fanaticism, even though that’s precisely what so many of the Syrian refugees are fleeing.

    On the other side of the road, the anti-fascist pro-refugee gather, slogans in English. Germany has been more welcoming and tolerant of refugees than any other country in Europe. That’s why Angela Merkel is trying to shame the rest of the E.U. to share in more of the burden. This country knows more than perhaps any other about the perils of intolerance, about where all this could lead.

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    Demonstrators hold signs during demonstrations asking for higher wages in the Manhattan borough of New York

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: It was just three years ago when more than 100 fast food workers in New York City first began walking off the job to demand higher wages and better working conditions. Now a $15-an-hour minimum wage is becoming a reality for many low-wage workers across the country.

    Jeffrey Brown has our Labor Day look.

    JEFFREY BROWN: This summer has been a big one for the movement. Los Angeles officials agreed to raise the minimum wage from $9 an hour to $15. Mayors of eight other cities near San Francisco, including San Jose, are expected to soon endorse a similar plan. And New York State is moving toward a $15-an-hour wage for all fast food workers; $15 has already been signed into law in other cities, including Seattle, with wages hiked gradually, depending on the city, between 2017 and 2021.

    We look at the movement’s growing success and questions about its impact.

    Robert Reich is former secretary of labor and now professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He led a workers walkout at a McDonald’s in April. His new book is called “Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few.” And Michael Strain is an economist who studies labor market and wages. He’s a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

    And I want to welcome both of you.

    Robert Reich, let me start with you.

    Overview first. Is it fair to see this movement as taking real hold and why do you think it has picked up so much momentum?

    ROBERT REICH, Former U.S. Labor Secretary: Jeff, I do think that it is taking hold.

    I think it’s picked up momentum because, for one thing, the minimum wage in real terms, adjusted for inflation, keeps on dropping. If we had the same minimum wage we had as in 1968, adjusted for inflation, it would be over $10 today.

    I think a lot of people who are middle class, lower middle class and poor are just saying, look, this is just simply unfair. And, finally, you have got a lot of middle class who are people are saying, we’re paying more and more taxes to keep working people out of poverty, which is effectively a subsidy to all of these low-wage employers. And that’s not fair either.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Michael Strain, how do you assess the strength of the movement and what is behind it?

    MICHAEL STRAIN, American Enterprise Institute: Well, I think there’s no question that the movement is strong and seems to be growing stronger and, by their metrics of success, they have racked up some real victories.

    I think if we raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour or similar levels in these cities, it will create winners, it will create losers. In my judgment, there are going to be more losers than winners. I think it’s a very risky strategy. But I certainly understand what’s motivating these workers and these organizers, and I admire the goal, which is to help the working poor and working class Americans.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Is there evidence enough yet to support the losers proposition that you’re making? Do you see things, or is this what you are speculating?

    MICHAEL STRAIN: Well, this is all very new.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    MICHAEL STRAIN: And there have been some very anecdotal pieces of evidence that you have seen in the newspaper.

    It’s much too early for any sort of systematic economic study of the effects of this, so we’re all kind of flying blind, which I think increases the riskiness of the strategy and makes it even less wise than if we had quite a bit of evidence about it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Robert Reich, there are still questions at this point about what kind of countereffects one might see and at what point it might kick in if you move very fast and very far. What do you see so far?

    ROBERT REICH: There’s a lot of research around the country that has compared states where you have the federal minimum wage, $7.25, to states that have put their minimum wage above the federal level — and that’s permissible under federal law — comparing on both sides of border what’s happened to labor.

    And they have actually found that in states that have raised their minimum wages, there has been little or no negative job effect, that is, no increase in unemployment, probably for two reasons, one, because if you give people more money, they will spend it, and that creates jobs in that local labor market, and, secondly, because a lot of people are attracted into the labor market who might not otherwise look for a job when minimum wages are raised.

    And that gives employers more choice of whom to hire, meaning less turnover, more reliability. Employers save money.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And what’s the downside that you’re seeing, Michael Strain, or that you worry about?

    MICHAEL STRAIN: Well, I think that Secretary Reich is correct that there are some studies that show that there are not strong job losses. Some studies show there are strong job losses.

    It’s worth noting that the nonpartisan and highly respected Congressional Budget Office thinks that, if we raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10, there will be hundreds of thousands fewer jobs. So I don’t think the debate is settled on this.

    I’m worried about the magnitude of the increase. This minimum wage increase, $15 an hour in big cities, will go very high up the wage distribution. It will cover a quarter, a third of workers in some of these cities. That is something to be concerned about.

    And in addition…

    JEFFREY BROWN: Let me just stop you there. Do you think it has a different impact on different wage earners?

    MICHAEL STRAIN: Oh, I think so. Yes.

    I think the existing evidence looks at modest increases in the minimum wage and looks at a broad class of workers. Going from, you know, $9 an hour or whatever it is in these states to $15 is not a modest increase.

    And, in addition, doing this only for a city causes problems, potential problems as well, because it puts workers in that city at a comparative disadvantage to a very nearby suburb. And the question is, are we going to see suburban businesses grow and are low-wage workers living inside the city limits going to be being at a significant disadvantage?

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Robert Reich, that’s one I have heard and we have all heard over the last couple of years, just the differentials that it creates even within a particular region. What’s your response to that?

    ROBERT REICH: Well, it would be better for the entire federal minimum wage to be raised uniformly across the country much higher than it is right now and still allow states to raise their own state minimum wages.

    But — and I also think that Michael has a good point about the possibility of job loss. I mean, we just don’t know. But most of the places that have increased their minimum wage are phasing them in. They’re not doing it suddenly overnight.

    We also have an ethical issue here. Even if there are job losses, we — you know, as a society, we have established minimum levels of decency. We don’t have child labor. We require employers to provide safe workplaces, even though that increased dramatically in some cases the cost of labor.

    We simply don’t say the market is going to define everything about the way we work. And so decency, morality, kind of ethical considerations obviously do play a part here.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Let me ask you both in our last couple of minutes — I will start with you, Michael Strain — the larger issue, the larger context, is that wage growth has been so flat over the — and remains so flat. Why?

    MICHAEL STRAIN: Well, I think that’s a complicated question. Lots of possibilities.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Of course it is. We only have about 30 — I’m kidding you.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JEFFREY BROWN: But I know it’s a hard question, but it’s one we have been asking for several years now.

    MICHAEL STRAIN: Yes.

    I subscribe to the simple answer that we got hit really hard in the great recession and that we’re still suffering from a loss of demand, and that when demand comes back and businesses will be faced with the need to compete harder to attract workers and to retain workers, and that’s going to cause wages to go up, and I think we’re just not there yet.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Robert Reich, what’s your answer to that hard, big question?

    ROBERT REICH: Yes, I will tell you, it’s not just the great recession.

    If you go back to 1978-’79, wages began to flatten and diverge from productivity gains. And really the typical wage earner has had almost no increase in wages, adjusted for inflation, since the late 1970s.

    I think the real reason is that companies have really pushed wages down, using outsourcing, globalization, substituting technology for workers, and creating — and basically busting unions. All of that has generated lower wages.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Michael Strain, you get a quick last word, since he started.

    MICHAEL STRAIN: Well, I would like to address something that he said earlier.

    I completely agree that this is a moral issue, and the goal of helping low-wage minimum wage workers is a very good goal and policy should be used, not just markets. I think there are better alternatives to the minimum wage. The Earned Income Tax Credit puts money directly in these workers’ pockets. It doesn’t have the risk of putting workers out of work. It actually brings people into jobs.

    And I think it’s just a much superior tool. So, we don’t disagree on the goal. We disagree on the means to get there. And I think there are just simply much better policy tools than the minimum wage.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, we will leave it right there.

    Thank you both very much, Michael Strain and Robert Reich.

    ROBERT REICH: Thanks, Jeff.

    MICHAEL STRAIN: Thank you very much.

    The post How does the fight for $15 affect the labor market? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Syrian and Iraqi refugees walk along rail tracks on their way to cross Greece's border with Macedonia, near the Greek village of Idomeni, September 7, 2015. Thousands of migrants and refugees were crowding at Greece's border with Macedonia on Monday morning, their entry slowly rationed by Macedonian police. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis - RTX1RJAD

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We return now to the migrant and refugee crisis in Europe.

    Joining me to discuss the latest developments and what they mean as the continent grapples for a solution is Leonard Doyle of the International Organization for Migration.

    Leonard Doyle, welcome.

    So now, as we see more and more countries offering to take in tens of thousands of these migrants, is that going to be sufficient to accommodate all of them?

    LEONARD DOYLE, International Organization for Migration: We will have to wait and see.

    First of all, thank you so much for having me on.

    But the generosity that’s been seen from the European public is extraordinary. And we’re seeing that they’re ahead of the politicians, who quite often are fearful of the right wing or indeed fearful of the cost, the budgetary implications of bringing in migrants and refugees.

    But what we’re seeing is encouraging, but it’s also going to bring a tidal wave of new people from Syria. There are 11 million displaced people and word is out that they’re welcome in Europe. So, let’s expect to see lots more on the way.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, in other words, just the idea that they’re now accepting them sends a signal it’s okay for more to come.

    LEONARD DOYLE: Indeed.

    And this has of course been the fear of politicians, the so-called pull factor, that if you open the doors too wide and give too much of a wedge, you will encourage more and more to come. And, indeed, it’s the price that they’re paying for the lack of decisions, the lack of a coherent policy and lack of a system to bring people in, in an orderly and managed way.

    Because it’s so chaotic, you see people coming across in boats and indeed drowning, like that tragic scene of the young Syrian boy that moved international hearts and minds so much over the last couple of days.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We know, Leonard Doyle, that many, many of the migrants and refugees had already left Syria, Afghanistan, other places, the African continent, to go to other countries in the region, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, for example.

    Why is it not sufficient for them to stay in some of these countries that are closer to home?

    LEONARD DOYLE: Well, it’s a good question.

    I think if they had any confidence that Syria was any day soon going to return to stability, they would probably stay, because, you know, It’s — refugees, displaced people don’t like leaving home. They have got very good bonds of kinship and bonds to their country. They don’t want to leave that behind.

    But I think the despair of what’s happening in Syria, the lack of any political solution means that they’re moving on. And who would want to stay in a camp in Jordan, however safe that camp may be? These are people who want to raise their kids, want to get an education for them and want to move on in life.

    So, even though they may be technically safe where they are, they want to get a proper security for their future. And I think that is really what this is telling us. It’s a proper indictment of the international community really for not sorting out the problems in Syria to ensure that innocent people are not suffering.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Why don’t we see countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar taking in refugees? What’s going on there?

    LEONARD DOYLE: Well, that’s a very good question.

    There’s been a lot of criticism pointed at the Gulf states, but some of it is misplaced. They have paid inordinate amounts of money towards the humanitarian cause of Iraq and indeed of Syria. They have taken in vast numbers of people. A key difference is that they’re not offering them a track toward citizenship. They’re not offering them asylum status.

    And refugees, they know what they want, and they want a secure place to be in the future. And so I think they’re voting with their feet and going elsewhere, even though it’s culturally quite different for them perhaps. And it’s an indictment in a way of the lack of welcome that they’re now getting from the Arab states. And I think it’s been a wakeup call for them, too.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Leonard Doyle, does it matter how we refer to these people, whether we call them migrants or refugees? How do you see that?

    LEONARD DOYLE: Well, it is, indeed, very important.

    You have — the refugees are a specific category, those who are fleeing war or human rights abuses, and they are entitled to asylum under international law, under the Geneva — under the convention in 1951. So, it’s not for governments to decide. It’s an international compact.

    Now, if everybody is going to be called a refugee, then governments would be reluctant to extend that welcome as they should. So I think it’s terribly important we remember that the broad mass are called migrants, those who are moving for all sorts of reasons, whether for human rights reasons or whether for economic improvement.

    They could also be people being trafficked, sex trafficking, labor trafficking or, indeed, unaccompanied minors, young children. So it’s important to keep the distinction. They’re all migrants, but within them there’s very specific categories who need protection.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you have a good sense now of what it is — what kinds of services they are going to be provided once they arrive in these destination countries, whether it’s Germany or France or the U.K. or someplace else? What are they getting when they get there?

    LEONARD DOYLE: Well, I think one thing that’s happened is that these countries have been shamed really into opening their doors and into providing proper care and assistance for them.

    Whereas they may have been trying to cut down for budgetary reasons, their public opinion has said it’s not good enough. So, now they can expect to be housed properly. They may be in temporary housing like barracks, but they will be fed and clothed and they will be given integration packages to help them learn about the new culture that they’re in, language courses, clothing, care for their children.

    Many of them need psychosocial help. They have had horrific experiences where they have come from. So, I think the ones who make it into the European Union are the lucky ones, those who perhaps stay in the refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon or, indeed, Turkey, maybe not so lucky.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And just finally, for people watching who want to help in some way, whether they’re in the United States or somewhere else, what can they do?

    LEONARD DOYLE: Well, there are many ways people can extend their generosity.

    And one way is of course to donate. Our own organization, International Organization for Migration, has a Web site called USAIM. And there are many others where we would really encourage people to contribute, because it makes a big difference. Looking after one refugee family is a very costly exercise, one migrant family equally.

    And it’s not easy to do this. And if you can’t help them directly, well, let’s help them indirectly, because to see innocent people suffering in this way is shocking in the extreme.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Leonard Doyle with the International Organization for Migration, we thank you.

    LEONARD DOYLE: Thank you very much, Judy, for having me on.

    The post Will welcoming refugees actually put more at risk? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Hungarian police officers push back migrants at collection point in the village of Roszke, Hungary, September 7, 2015. Police used pepper spray on a crowd of migrants attempting to break through a cordon at Roszke, on Hungary's border with Serbia, on Monday, a Reuters witness said.        REUTERS/Marko Djurica - RTX1RIT5

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: There was renewed trouble today as countries across Europe tried to cope with the influx of thousands of migrants and refugees. Hundreds of people broke through Hungarian police lines near the Serbian border and marched north on the main highway to Budapest. The refugees outnumbered police, who used pepper spray to try to maintain order. Some 340,000 asylum-seekers have arrived in the 28-nation European Union already this year.

    The developments come as all of Europe debates how to handle the new wave of refugees. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that all E.U. countries should pitch in. But Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, questioned a proposed quota system.

    Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande pledged to take 24,000 refugees over the next two years. And British Prime Minister David Cameron said that Britain will expand its refugee program, and resettle up to 20,000 Syrians over the next five years.

    PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON, Britain: Britain should fulfill its moral responsibility to help those refugees, just as we have done so proudly throughout our history. But in doing so, we must use our head and our heart by pursuing a comprehensive approach that tackles the causes of the problem, as well as the consequences. That means helping to stabilize countries where the refugees are coming from.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A U.N. official estimated that as many as four million Syrian refugees will now try and head to Europe, unless the world helps Syria’s neighbors, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, offset costs of caring for them.

    President Obama used this Labor Day holiday to require companies doing business with the federal government to give paid sick leave to their employees. The White House estimates the executive order will benefit some 300,000 workers. The president said the policies also benefit employers by improving retention and recruitment.

    The defense minister of Iraq narrowly escaped being hit by a sniper outside Baghdad today. Islamic State gunmen targeted his convoy as it traveled near Islamic State-controlled territory. One guard was wounded in the attack. Meanwhile, in Syria, human rights activists reported that Islamic State militants have taken control of another oil field, this one at Jazal in the central province of Homs.

    In Guatemala, there will be a runoff presidential election after candidates split yesterday’s vote. It comes just after the resignation of the country’s leader amid a corruption scandal. Ballot counting went on overnight, and showed a wealthy businessman and a former first lady both trailing former TV comic Jimmy Morales, who’s never held political office.

    JIMMY MORALES, Guatemalan Presidential Candidate (through interpreter): We are part of a dissatisfied population that doesn’t want more of the same, of course. Our proposal has come to be understood and our proposal is reduced into one sentence: A healthy and educated population thrives.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The top two finishers will advance to the runoff election set for October 25.

    In economic news, Chinese stocks were down today, even after the head of China’s Central Bank said that his country’s market turmoil appears to be coming to an end. But that assurance did calm investor jitters in Europe, as markets there managed modest gains, still, trading lighter than usual with Wall Street closed for the Labor Day holiday.

    Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig has become the sixth Democrat to enter the race for the White House. The 54-year-old South Dakota native made the announcement yesterday in an interview with ABC, after his presidential exploratory committee raised $1 million. Lessig has pledged to make campaign finance reform and voting rights issues top priorities.

    And scientists in Britain announced today they believe they have found an even bigger prehistoric monument near the ruins of Stonehenge, but it’s underground. University of Bradford researchers used remote sensor technology to find about 100 stones toppled in the shape of a large arena. Some of them would have stood more than 15-feet high when they were built around 4,500 years ago. The site is about two miles from Stonehenge.

    The post News Wrap: France, UK pledge to take in thousands of refugees appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    What is thought to be one of the earliest printed pictures of a game of tennis, found in a book by Guillaume de La Perriere called "Le theatre de bons engins", or the theatre of fine devices, published in Paris in 1540. The 16th century images were found by archivists at the University of Glasgow in a newly acquired French printed picture book. Photo credit: University of Glasgow

    What is thought to be one of the earliest printed pictures of a game of tennis, found in a book by Guillaume de La Perriere called “Le theatre de bons engins”, or “The theatre of fine devices”, published in Paris in 1540.  Photo credit: University of Glasgow

    As the second week of the final Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year moves closer to crowning champions in New York, archivists across the Atlantic Ocean at the University of Glasgow in Scotland have discovered what may be the earliest printed pictures of the game of tennis.

    The images were found in a French book published in Paris in 1540 and just recently acquired by the University Library. The 16th century book by Guillaume de La Perriere , is titled “Le theatre de bons engins” or “The theater of fine devices”. The pictures show a game that’s a precursor to the modern game of tennis — jeu de paume, or game of palms, played with a much shorter racket and much bulkier clothing.

    University of Glasgow professor Laurence Grove described the picture book as “Instagram for the 16th century,” and that the images came as a total surprise to archivists.

    “You never know what’s in there. There are some funny images, and they remind us that what you think is modern isn’t modern. It’s been there for four centuries,” Grove said.

    Two men playing an early version of tennis, called jeu de paume,  or game of palms. Photo credit: University of Glasgow

    Two men playing an early version of tennis, called jeu de paume, or game of palms.
    Photo credit: University of Glasgow

    The book includes a range of pictures on different subjects, all accompanied by mottoes or sayings about life in general. One page highlights a moth and candles and warns against rushing into war.

    Scotland is also home to the oldest tennis court in the world, built for James V, King of Scots, at Falkland Palace in 1539.

    The post Newly discovered images show what tennis looked like in the 16th century appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis was jailed last week for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Photo courtesy of Carter County Detention Center/Handout via Reuters

    Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis was jailed last week for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Photo courtesy of Carter County Detention Center/Handout via Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is heading to a Kentucky jail to support the county clerk imprisoned for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

    Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier says the Texas senator will meet with Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis on Tuesday afternoon. Another Republican presidential hopeful, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, had previously announced plans to meet with Davis Tuesday.

    Davis has become a conservative hero since being jailed last Thursday. The GOP’s evangelical wing says she should be allowed to deny same-sex marriage licenses because of her religious beliefs. The Supreme Court made same-sex marriage the law of the land in June.

    Frazier says Cruz won’t attend an afternoon rally with Huckabee and other Davis supporters outside the Carter County Detention Center where Davis is being held.

    The post Ted Cruz to visit jailed Kentucky clerk appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Congress returns to Washington from their summer recess this week, and will focus on the partisan debate over the Iran nuclear deal. Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

    Congress returns to Washington from their summer recess this week, and will focus on the partisan debate over the Iran nuclear deal. Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — Democrats struggled Tuesday for the votes to block a disapproval resolution against the Iran nuclear deal as one undecided senator announced a surprise “no” vote shortly after lawmakers returned from a five-week summer recess.

    Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia had spoken supportively of the international deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from economic sanctions.

    Manchin said he fears the pact would not keep Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state over the longer term. “I cannot gamble our security, and that of our allies, on the hope that Iran will conduct themselves differently than it has for the last 36 years,” Manchin said in a statement.

    The announcement left Democratic supporters three votes shy of the 41 votes they would need to bottle up the disapproval resolution in the Senate with a filibuster later this week. Four Democratic senators have yet to announce their stance and more announcements were coming later Tuesday.

    Still, the ultimate outcome was not in doubt. Even if the disapproval resolution passes, President Barack Obama has promised to veto it, and Democrats have the votes in hand to uphold his veto.

    “This agreement will stand,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a speech Tuesday morning at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “America will uphold its commitment and we will seize this opportunity to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”

    But the White House and Democratic allies led by Reid would like to spare Obama the embarrassment of having to use a veto to rescue his top foreign policy priority. They were waiting to hear from the undeclared senators: Ron Wyden of Oregon, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Gary Peters of Michigan.

    The agreement struck by Iran, the U.S. and five world powers in July will provide Iran hundreds of billions of dollars in relief from international sanctions in exchange for a decade of constraints on the country’s nuclear program.

    Republicans who control the House and Senate strongly oppose the pact, saying it makes dangerous concessions to Iran, and hope to push through a resolution of disapproval this week.

    Leaders of Israel have been strongly lobbying against the deal they say could empower Iran, but had succeeded in winning over only three Senate Democrats, albeit all of them prominent figures — Chuck Schumer of New York, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Ben Cardin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Manchin added his name to that list Tuesday.

    But the majority of Democrats have swung behind the president, and predictions that the issue would dominate discussion during Congress’ August recess never came to pass as political headlines were largely overtaken by Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. The two topics will converge on Wednesday, though, when Trump joins Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for a rally to oppose the deal — the same day Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers a speech supporting it.

    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. Iran is currently assessed to be only 2 to 3 months away from being able to enrich enough uranium for a bomb, if it decides to do so.

    The post Democrats struggle to block Iran deal disapproval resolution appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Michael Derrick Hudson photo from his profile on the Poetry Foundation's website

    Michael Derrick Hudson photo from his Poetry Foundation profile

    When Michael Derrick Hudson had his poem “The Bees, the Flowers, Jesus, Ancient Tigers, Poseidon, Adam and Eve” rejected 40 times, he decided to try a different approach. He submitted it under the name “Yi-Fen Chou.”

    The poem was rejected nine more times. But then it ended up in front of Native American writer Sherman Alexie, the editor of this year’s “The Best American Poetry” anthology. Among the hundreds of poems Alexie read, Hudson’s poem stood out to him for its unique title and the fact that a Chinese poet had written a poem with “affectionate European classical and Christian imagery,” he wrote.

    When Hudson received word that his poem had been chosen, he contacted Alexie to tell him he is not, in fact, the Chinese woman that his pseudonym seemed to suggest. Instead, he is a white poet based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, working at the Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library.

    At this point, Alexie faced a difficult choice, he wrote in a lengthy blog post. On one hand, the poem was submitted under false pretenses; Alexie could have left it out of the anthology and avoided embarrassment and criticism.

    But to do so would have implied that Alexie “only chose poems based on identity,” he wrote. Ultimately, he considered it the most “honest” choice to include the poem with a full disclosure of what had happened. He wrote:

    If I’d pulled the poem then I would have been denying that I gave the poem special attention because of the poet’s Chinese pseudonym. If I’d pulled the poem then I would have been denying that I was consciously and deliberately seeking to address past racial, cultural, social, and aesthetic injustices in the poetry world. And, yes, in keeping the poem, I am quite aware that I am also committing an injustice against poets of color, and against Chinese and Asian poets in particular. But I believe I would have committed a larger injustice by dumping the poem. I think I would have cast doubt on every poem I have chosen for BAP. It would have implied that I chose poems based only on identity.

    An outpouring of criticism followed on Twitter:

    Hudson has published under the name “Yi-Fen Chou” before, notably whenever he has trouble getting a poem published under his own name. “As a strategy for ‘placing’ poems this has been quite successful for me,” he wrote in a bio for the anthology.

    If the strategy works, it is because of an effort on the part of editors to correct an imbalance in publishing female poets and poets of color. Alexie recognized this effort in his statement, which listed this among the rules he followed while picking poems: “I will pay close attention to the poets and poems that have been underrepresented in the past. So that means I will carefully look for great poems by women and people of color.”

    In the past, that imbalance has also compelled many such poets to use white, male pseudonyms in an effort to get published, including George Eliot, George Sand, and J.K. Rowling, whose publisher urged her to use initials because young boys might “be wary of a book written by a woman.”

    Now, Hudson’s move assumes the opposite: that the pendulum has swung so far in the other direction that white men are now at a distinct disadvantage in publishing. But according to the numbers, this just isn’t true, Jia Tolentino pointed out at Jezebel:

    Look at the last names on the bestseller lists, the table of contents of lit journals, the VIDA count, the New York Times reviewing 90 percent white authors, the 86 percent whiteness of the newspaper industry, the status quo in literary fiction that ensures that even in the best, most inventive novels of the year, white people are still described as just people, and people of color are described as such.

    These imbalances often originate in the submission process itself, before poems even reach a judge, agent or slush pile. Many journals and contests require submission fees, which are a deterrent to low-income poets, and that participants be legal residents of the U.S., making undocumented poets unlikely to participate. And in spite of groups that support the work of poets of color, including Kundiman, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and the Undocupoets movement, those policies continue to exist at a number of institutions.

    This is not the first time that a white poet has used a pseudonym to assume another racial identity. Poet David Dwyer in the 1970s had work published in the feminist journal “Aphra” under the guise of Ariana Olisvos. When “Aphra” discovered that there was no such poet, they demanded Dwyer buy back the rights to his work. Dwyer has said he created the character to see if he was “getting it right, whether it was convincing” and attributed the move to “arrogance.”

    In another instance, the poet Araki Yasusada, an alleged Hiroshima survivor whose work garnered praise in the 1990s, was later discovered to be a hoax. Many people attribute the work to Kent Johnson, a professor at Highland Community College in Freeport, Illinois, though he has never claimed credit.

    These poets, like Hudson, assumed that racial identity is a “strategy” white writers can employ at will. For Hudson at least, the strategy seems to be fading. “Prairie Schooner,” the journal that first published his poem, has said it will never again publish work by Hudson under a pseudonym. Alexie himself came to a positive conclusion:

    The post Why a white male poet was just published in ‘The Best American Poetry 2015′ as ‘Yi-Fen Chou’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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