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- 09/12/15--13:09: _In wake of Colorado...
- 09/12/15--14:02: _To help delinquent ...
- 09/12/15--14:05: _Clinton had right t...
- 09/12/15--14:08: _Buried underwater, ...
- 09/12/15--14:13: _Before influx of ne...
- 09/12/15--14:29: _Trump’s first victi...
- 09/12/15--15:30: _European Union stru...
- 09/13/15--08:30: _Report: Company has...
- 09/13/15--08:47: _Despite populist rh...
- 09/13/15--08:56: _‘More than a shoe':...
- 09/13/15--09:05: _Infographic: Sneake...
- 09/13/15--09:49: _For White House vis...
- 09/13/15--10:30: _Gentler justice: Fl...
- 09/14/15--09:16: _Photos: Refugees ri...
- 09/14/15--10:31: _1 person killed in ...
- 09/14/15--11:07: _Read the first-ever...
- 09/14/15--11:09: _Pentagon says Russi...
- 09/14/15--12:47: _Researchers reveal ...
- 09/14/15--14:34: _While a national co...
- 09/14/15--14:58: _These new heart fai...
- 09/12/15--13:09: In wake of Colorado spill, EPA suspends work at 10 mining sites
- 09/12/15--14:05: Clinton had right to delete personal emails, Justice Dept. affirms
- 09/12/15--14:29: Trump’s first victim? Perry exits in early 2016 shake-up
- 09/12/15--15:30: European Union struggles to find unified response to migrant crisis
- 09/13/15--08:30: Report: Company has no knowledge Clinton server was ‘wiped’
- 09/13/15--08:47: Despite populist rhetoric, GOP tax proposals tilt to wealthy
- 09/13/15--09:05: Infographic: Sneakers by the numbers in America
- 09/13/15--09:49: For White House visit, pomp and protocol await Pope Francis
- 09/14/15--09:16: Photos: Refugees risk sea voyage in quest for safer life
- 09/14/15--10:31: 1 person killed in shooting at Delta State University
- 09/14/15--11:07: Read the first-ever poetry journal by trans writers
- 09/14/15--11:09: Pentagon says Russia may be setting up an air base in Syria
- 09/14/15--12:47: Researchers reveal new prosthetic hand that senses touch
- 09/14/15--14:58: These new heart failure treatments show promise, but at a huge price
BILLINGS, Mont. — The following mining sites are affected by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency decision to suspend investigations and some cleanup work at locations with similarities to a mine involved in a 3-million-gallon wastewater spill near Silverton, Colorado, in August:
-Leviathan Mine, near Markleeville, California. An open-pit sulfur mine that closed in 1962. Acid mine water drains from the 250-acre site and has killed off aquatic life in nearby creeks.
-Iron Mountain Mine, northwest of Redding, California. After operating for a century, the mine closed in 1963. Periodic uncontrolled spills have caused major fish kills in surrounding waterways.
-Standard Mine, near Crested Butte, Colorado. The former zinc, lead, silver and gold mine in the Gunnison National Forest shut down in 1966. Heavy metals including cadmium, zinc, lead and copper have contaminated Elk Creek, which drains into another stream that provides drinking water for Crested Butte.
-Southwest Jefferson County mining complex, near De Soto, Missouri. As many as 190 mines once operated in this 166-square-mile area first developed in the early 1800s. Lead has contaminated the soil and groundwater of residential properties in the area.
-Argonaut Mine, Jackson, California. A former gold mine that closed in 1942, Argonaut was the site of a 1922 fire that killed 47 workers. The 65-acre site contains highly contaminated soils and mine tailings.
-Flat Creek/Iron Mountain Mine, near Superior, Montana. It produced silver, lead, gold and other ores and closed in 1953. Mine tailings were used as fill and roadway material in Superior. Flooding has spread piles of contaminated waste throughout the Flat Creek flood plain.
-Upper Tenmile Creek mining area, southwest of Helena, Montana. Mining in the area, which is upstream of drinking-water sources for Helena, largely ceased in the 1930s. Surface waters and river sediments contain high levels of leads, arsenic, cadmium, copper and zinc that drained from the mines.
-Camp Bird Mine, near Ouray, Colorado. A former gold and silver mine that also produced other metals and operated from 1900 to 1990. Colorado health officials said they were not aware of any cleanup work being done.
-James Creek, 40 miles northwest of Denver. Colorado health officials said they were not aware of any cleanup work being done. No further information was available.
-Eagle River, central Colorado. No further information was available.
The post In wake of Colorado spill, EPA suspends work at 10 mining sites appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Correspondent Megan Thompson is currently a fellow with the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism program.
MEGAN THOMPSON: On an afternoon in August, 17-year-old Soozee Stuart, there in the pink dress, stands before a judge in Jacksonville Florida.
Over the last few years, she’s been charged with domestic battery, resisting arrest and possession of marijuana, and cycled in and out of juvenile detention.
She violated probation repeatedly and was on the road to a long-term sentence. But that’s not going to happen today.
Because this is Girls Court, a year-old experiment to rehabilitate rather than incarcerate delinquent girls. Stuart’s one of the first nine teens to go through it. Girls Court recognizes that, while many of these girls committed crimes, many are also victims.
JUDGE GOODING: Girls experience trauma at a different frequency and different kinds of trauma than boys, girls react differently, and respond to that trauma differently.
MEGAN THOMPSON: A 2014 study showed 31 percent of girls in Florida’s juvenile justice system have been sexually abused. That’s four times the rate of boys; 41 percent of girls have been physically abused. Girls like Soozee Stuart.
SOOZEE STUART: I felt like a reject. I felt like I couldn’t get it right, no matter what.
MEGAN THOMPSON: To hear Stuart tell it, her problems began when she was 9-years-old. Her mother was in prison for a domestic dispute with a boyfriend. And Stuart says her father was physically abusive. She spent time in foster care and a state home for troubled kids. At 15, she ran away, then became a teen mom.
SOOZEE STUART: Angry. Disappointment. Confusion. You know, I didn’t know who I was, or what my worth was. My self-esteem was so low, it’s not even funny.
MEGAN THOMPSON: After her first arrest, a domestic battery charge, and then detention, Stuart says she needed help but never found anyone she could trust.
How do you feel like you were treated along the way?
SOOZEE STUART: I feel like everybody had an attitude of, “You’re not going to make it anyways.” So, I started believing it. Back then I was like, “I ain’t got nothing to lose. I’m going to get locked up anyways.” Doing stuff I wasn’t supposed to, I’d do it at the drop of a dime, because everyone made me feel like that’s what- that’s all I was worth.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Juvenile detention only reinforced her low expectations, even when she was released.
SOOZEE STUART: I said, “Okay, I’m leaving. Y’all won’t see me again.” “No, you’ll be back.” That’s the kind of stuff they told us. You know? “You’ll be back.”
MEGAN THOMPSON: And she was — by her count around six times. So her probation officer recommended her case be transferred to the new Girls Court. It was launched by judge David Gooding and children’s advocates like Lawanda Ravoira. She runs the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, an advocacy and counseling group for girls in Jacksonville.
LAWANDA RAVOIRA: What we see often times when the girls have had a traumatic experience/ she doesn’t always have a vocabulary to explain what’s going on. And so, she will act out.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Although the total number of both girls and boys entering the juvenile justice system has dropped in Jacksonville and across the nation, rates have dropped more slowly for girls. Research suggests zero-tolerance polices and more aggressive policing of things like fights at home have impacted girls more than boys.
LAWANDA RAVOIRA: Often, the system’s response is to push girls away, by punishing them, and not getting to the root cause of what’s driving the behavior.
MEGAN THOMPSON: To be clear, though, I mean, a lot of these girls have committed serious crimes and they do need to be held accountable for their behavior. Right?
LAWANDA RAVOIRA: Absolutely. We would be the first to say that girls must be held accountable for their behaviors. But that has to be balanced with recognizing where we have failed to intervene early.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Earlier intervention may have helped Mia Paz. As a teen in Orlando, she cycled in and out of Florida’s juvenile justice system.
MIA PAZ: There was resisting arrest. There was possession of marijuana // I also had possession of alcohol. I had fleeing and eluding, a cop chase, a car chase.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Paz believes she was acting out because of trauma at home. She says her uncle began to sexually abuse her when she was in seventh grade.
MIA PAZ: It started just, like, very awkward and weird questions. And then feeling weird from all- un- unwanted touching. And then it wasn’t until I thought, “No, I don’t want to do that,” then it was more violent.
MEGAN THOMPSON: She began getting into trouble, drinking and using drugs with her friends.
MIA PAZ: During the time that I was being abused I was really trying to avoid being at home. //00:25:43 It wasn’t like I was smoking pot because I was bored. For me, it was because I- I was self-medicating. I would rather be high than think about the two hours until I go home kind of thing.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Paz says she kept the abuse secret and it made her distrust and fear adults, especially the police.
MIA PAZ: I was almost like a cornered dog. I would run. It was the fight or flight mentality. And when you have a police officer talking to you, you can’t fight them or run.
MEGAN THOMPSON: But that’s what Paz did. She was expelled, and she says she probably spent about six months of her high school years in rehab or detention.
MIA PAZ: I was very scared. I was very, very scared. Because I felt like the girls- Like, I always felt like I was the toughest of my friends. And here I am in a group full of people that are all tougher than me.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Paz finally found help at another alternative for at-risk teens: The Pace Center for Girls, a network of schools for girls started in Jacksonville 30 years ago as an alternative to incarceration. It offers high school classes and counseling at 19 schools across Florida. Paz finally talked about her abuse. She flourished, went to college and then law school.
MIA PAZ: And it wasn’t until at Pace that I didn’t have to be the- the tough kid.
I wanted to talk not just to my friends, but to my favorite counselors, to my favorite teachers. 00:37:43And I stopped looking at adults as the enemy, really.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Lawanda Ravoira, who used to be the president of Pace, says it’s crucial to find out what’s driving girls’ criminal behavior.
LAWANDA RAVOIRA: One of the major challenges that we have is that so many of the girls coming into the system have serious mental health issues that have gone untreated and we expect the juvenile justice system to be the mental health provider.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Ravoira’s policy center partners with Florida’s department of juvenile justice to provide that care. Sometimes that’s group therapy for girls who are detained.
JENNA KRAMER, COUNSELOR: You all have powerful voices. To me, I see a lot of leaders in this room.
MEGAN THOMPSON: And counselors like Jenna Kramer will stick with these girls after they get out.
JENNA KRAMER, COUNSELOR: So when you’re back at home, you’re out, you have that opportunity to make those shifts.
MEGAN THOMPSON: The policy center also helps girls incarcerated far away stay in touch with their families and therapists with counseling sessions via web cam.
The Jacksonville area locks up girls at higher rates than other parts of the state. Brooke Brady heads the juvenile division for the local state attorney’s office and says it can be explained in part by an uptick in violent crime.
BROOKE BRADY: Unfortunately, there are some cases that it may be a first offense, but it’s extremely violent, and we feel that that person’s a danger to the community.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Brady also says sometimes her office has no choice but to pursue incarceration for girls repeatedly violating probation.
BROOKE BRADY: And to get them the services that they need if they’re not staying at home and cooperating with that, unfortunately, commitment’s the only alternative at that point.
If there’s any way to divert a case, we certainly look to do that.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Brady says Girls Court has helped her with that. Her office gets more information about the situations of girls like Soozee Stuart. Improving the chances they will get services rather than a sentence.
JUDGE GOODING: Soozee’s been straight for a long time. I trust her.
MEGAN THOMPSON: Judge Gooding works with attorneys on both sides, probation officers and counselors to keep girls on track. They’ve all pooled existing resources to make girls court happen.
JUDGE GOODING: We try to reach the girl where she is. We try to provide a support system, not only for her, but also her family. / Whatever the needs of the girl might be.
MEGAN THOMPSON: The team got Stuart counseling at the policy center and into the Pace Center for Girls. Now they’re trying to find childcare for her two-year-old daughter.
JUDGE GOODING: You’re more articulate than a lot of the lawyers I hear. I know you can do this.
MEGAN THOMPSON: For the first time, Stuart says she has hope.
SOOZEE STUART: Even when I don’t want to do it no more, they continuously push me. “No, you have to do it. Remember, you got a baby. You have to do it. You can’t give up.” So, then I start thinking like that. Even when I want to throw in the towel, I have to tell myself, “No, I can’t. I can’t.”
The post To help delinquent girls, programs aim to rehabilitate rather than incarcerate appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had the right to delete personal emails from her private server, the Justice Department told a federal court.
Lawyers for the government made the assertion in a filing this week with the U.S. District Court in Washington, part of a public records lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that seeks access to Clinton’s emails.
Clinton, the former secretary of state and front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, has been dogged by questions about her use of a private email account for government business.
She has said that she sent and received about 60,000 emails during her four years in the Obama administration, about half of which were personal and deleted. The others were turned over to the State Department.
The FBI has been investigating the security of Clinton’s email setup, which she said she used as a matter of convenience. She has since acknowledged that her use of a private email server to conduct government business was a mistake and apologized this week.
Clinton asserts that she had the right under government rules to decide which emails were private and to delete them. This week’s filing puts the Justice Department’s approval on Clinton’s claim.
“There is no question that former Secretary Clinton had authority to delete personal emails without agency supervision – she appropriately could have done so even if she were working on a government server,” attorneys from the Justice Department’s civil division wrote.
Judicial Watch had requested a court order from the judge to ensure that Clinton’s emails were being preserved. But the Justice Department said there was no need for such an order given that Clinton had the right to delete personal emails and that those messages are not subject to the public records law.
The government said Judicial Watch had presented no evidence to suggest Clinton had mistakenly or intentionally deleted government records instead of personal emails, and said “government agencies are not required to take steps to recover deleted material based on unfounded speculation that responsive information had been deleted.”
The Justice Department brief argues that “there is no legal basis in the (Freedom of Information Act) for requesters to obtain employees’ personal records and, therefore, there is no legal basis for the court to order the State Department to preserve, or to take steps to preserve, the personal records of the former secretary or any other current or former federal employee.”
The post Clinton had right to delete personal emails, Justice Dept. affirms appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN: An exhibition of Egyptian artifacts discovered in ancient cities buried underwater has opened to the public in Paris.
The exhibit at the Arab World Institute features 250 artifacts from a pair of ancient cities discovered 15 years ago.
It took seven years of underwater excavation to retrieve the artifacts, from a 40 square mile area of the Mediterranean Sea near Alexandria, Egypt.
The objects – covered in sediment – and partially protected by the sea, date back 2,800 years.
Like this giant tablet with hieroglyphic writing. Some objects came out of the water only last year.
The French marine archeologist who discovered the cities believes they became submerged 1,200 years ago.
FRANCK GODDIO, ARCHAEOLOGIST: The cities were submerged because of natural calamities, earthquakes, big tides, collapsing of ground, which made it possible that sea could cover those sites.
HARI SREENIVASAN: One of the biggest finds is the 30-foot statue of a pharaoh, which the archeologists believe, stood at the entrance to a temple now underwater.
The ancient cities were called Thonis, Heracleion and Canopus.
Many of the artifacts are thought to be in tribute to the ancient Egyptian God: Osiris.
MOHAMMED ABDELMAGUID, EGYPTIAN DEPT. FOR UNDERWATER ANTIQUITIES: The artifacts have aesthetic value, but at the same time, this shows us there is a continuity in Egyptian beliefs from the ancient pharaoh civilization and to Greek and Roman times. We have Osiris, who became Dionysus in Greece and then Bacchus in Roman times.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The exhibit comes at a precarious time for antiquities in the Middle east, as militants from the Islamic State, or ISIS, have destroyed artifacts across Iraq and Syria.
MOHAMMED ABDELMAGUID: We should take care of the world heritage because in reality it is not only our heritage only, it is the world’s heritage.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The Paris exhibit will run through January, and then travel to the British Museum in London.
The post Buried underwater, Ancient Egyptian artifacts rise to the surface in Paris appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR ANCHOR: As many as 10,000 migrants are expected to arrive in Munich today. Germany takes in more asylum seekers than any other country in Europe and expects to handle at least 800,000 this year.
For more on that, we are joined via Skype by Noah Barkin of Reuters.
So, how is Germany receiving this influx of humanity day after day?
NOAH BARKIN, REUTERS: Well, we’ve all seen the pictures, the images in the media, Germans welcoming asylum seekers who come over from Hungary through Austria, most of them arriving in Munich, welcoming them with open arms, signs of welcome, handing out bananas and chocolate bars and things like that.
So, that’s what we’ve seen over the past — over the past week, but there are signs that the mood is shifting, and as more come in. We have about I think 4,000 came in, into Munich this morning.
They’re expecting another 7,000 or so by the end of the day, and the German foreign minister said yesterday that there could be as many as 40,000 who come in this weekend. That would be double what we saw last weekend. So, there is a bit of concern here in Germany that the influx won’t stop.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Is there political pressure on the Angela Merkel now?
NOAH BARKIN: Merkel is hugely popular. She has record popularity ratings, unprecedented in postwar Germany. So, she’s in a good position. The German economy is doing well, and I think that’s one of the reasons, one of the main reasons she can do this.
But I spoke with one of her — one of her top advisers on Thursday, and that person said that the mood can shift very quickly. We’re already seeing attacks from her conservative sister party, the Christian Social Union, which is based if Bavaria. That’s where most of the refugees are coming in. She has to be concerned about the mood shifting, certainly.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. There were also stories today about marches all across Europe in solidarity with the refugees.
NOAH BARKIN: That’s right. I mean, it’s been interesting. We saw Merkel welcome these refugees with open arms, scenes of her taking — refugees taking selfies with her when she visited a shelter this week.
And that seems to have had an effect on the rest of Europe. There was a French magazine “Le Point” that put a big picture of Merkel on its cover this week and said, “If only she were French.”
So, there is a bit of an outpouring of sympathy towards the refugees, I think partly because Germany has been so welcoming, but there are other countries — Hungary, for example, which is — which is pushing the refugees out as fast as they can.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And in the longer term pictures, do you see Germany embracing these refugees as perhaps the future of their economy? I mean, these are young, sometimes very skilled people that are coming in.
NOAH BARKIN: Well, that’s the big question. I mean, Germany does have a history of immigration. There were lots of Turks, Greeks, Italians who came after World War II to help rebuild the economy. So, this is something a lot of Germans have in their — you know, they heard around the dinner table when the young.
But at the same time, I think — you know, I think the key things are, you know, if Germans feel the government has this under control, it’s too early to say whether we’re going to see — whether this same sort of acceptance is going to be here in a few months.
We have the winter coming, and the authorities are going to have to find winter-proof shelters for these refugees. If they don’t, if they’re unable to do that and it’s a huge, huge task, then you could see the mood beginning to shift.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Noah Barkin of Reuters joining us live from Germany tonight, thanks so much.
NOAH BARKIN: Thank you.
The post Before influx of new migrants, what’s Germany doing to help the crisis? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
ST. LOUIS — A growing divide has emerged in the Republican Party’s unruly presidential contest, as the race bid farewell to a once-powerful White House contender. On one side stands billionaire businessman Donald Trump and his allies, on the other are those who oppose him.
A day after Rick Perry, Texas’ longest serving governor, ended his second Republican presidential run with a whimper, Trump marked the shake-up by embracing his role as his party’s 2016 bully on Saturday.
“Mr. Perry, he’s gone. Good luck. He was very nasty to me,” Trump told Iowa voters after touting his tough-talking style in an interview.
“It’s an attitude that our country needs. We get pushed around by everybody,” he told Fox News. “I think it’s part of the reason I’m so high in the polls. We have to push back.”
Perry had all but declared war on the billionaire businessman in July, calling Trump “a cancer on conservatism” who could destroy the Republican Party. On Saturday, Trump’s campaign was soaring while Perry’s White House ambitions were dead. And with the real estate mogul suffocating the rest of the packed field, it’s only a matter of time before he helps push another GOP candidate out of the race.
Perry was a leading voice in the anti-Trump movement, a group that has suffered in the polls as Trump’s public allies largely avoid backlash from the anti-insider wave that made Trump the unlikeliest of Republican presidential front-runners.
Republican officials and donors alike are left in a state of mass confusion about Trump’s remarkable staying power despite his repeated gaffes and inexperience on key issues.
“There is no play in the playbook for where we are right now,” said John Jordan, a California winery owner and major Republican fundraiser. “Donors don’t know what to think. Nobody saw the Trump phenomenon coming. Probably a lot of Jeb donors wish they had their money back.”
In still-early polls, the real-estate mogul and reality TV star has more support that the once-top-tier trio of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio combined. In second, by the way, is another political rookie: Ben Carson, a retired surgeon who repeatedly refused to criticize Trump in recent days.
Perhaps Trump’s biggest ally, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, declined to address the Trump effect on Perry’s exit.
“I recognize that the media enjoys seeing Republicans bicker back and forth with each other and throw rocks at each other. But I think the American people could not care less,” Cruz told reporters Saturday after addressing the same gathering of social conservatives in St. Louis that Perry shocked the night before with his surprise announcement.
“We have a tremendous field of candidates – probably the greatest group of men and women,” Perry said Friday evening. “I step aside knowing our party is in good hands, as long as we listen to the grassroots, listen to that cause of conservatism.”
Perry on Friday made several sly references to Trump, a last warning of sorts to a GOP experiencing its most serious identity crisis in a generation. Trump may favor tax increases on the rich, once supported abortion rights, gave money to Hillary Rodham Clinton and said kind things about government-run health care in other countries, but he’s become the GOP’s unquestioned presidential front-runner.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, among Trump’s chief critics, wondered aloud what is happening to his party: “What does it say about GOP when a 3 & half term Gov w/ a successful record of creating jobs bows out as a reality star leads in the polls?” Paul tweeted shortly after Perry’s departure.
Perry’s allies at three well-funded super PACs found they couldn’t share the money they’ve raised or coordinate their activities with his campaign. Austin Barbour, a leader of the pro-Perry super PACs, said the groups have as much as $13 million in the bank. He planned to talk Saturday morning with lawyers to “see what the law says we can do with this money.”
Perry’s Republican rivals praised him publicly and privately – and began courting his political network. Cruz on Saturday said Perry did “a remarkable job as governor” and praised him for running “an honorable campaign.”
A person close to the Cruz campaign, who was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity, says the fellow Texan’s camp will be “immediately” reaching out to Perry donors and supporters. “If we don’t jump in, other campaigns are going to try to,” the person said.
Meanwhile, as Perry’s political career was ending, Trump spent his Friday basking on “The Tonight Show.” As his appearance drew to a close, host Jimmy Fallon proposed a new campaign song for Trump to consider, an anthem by DJ Khaled called “All I Do Is Win.”
“What do you think?” asked Fallon.
“Honestly,” Trump beamed, “it happens to be 100 percent true.”
The post Trump’s first victim? Perry exits in early 2016 shake-up appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Good evening and thanks for joining us.
European leaders are trying to unite behind a plan to cope with their ongoing surge of migrants and refugees arriving mainly from the Middle East and Africa.
More than 430,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean Sea for Europe this year, most pushing toward northern and western Europe.
On Monday, the 28-nation European Union will hold an emergency summit in Brussels, Belgium, to try to agree on how many asylum seekers each country will accept.
The NewsHour’s William Brangham has been reporting all week from Hungary, he is now in Vienna, Austria and I spoke to him earlier today.
Among the European nations, Hungary has been the most critical of Europe’s broader response to the refugees’ arrival.
You’ve been there in Hungary all week, so what are the Hungarians arguing ought to be done with the thousands of people coming to their door?
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Hungary is trying to do everything it possibly can to shut that door. Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban has been very critical of the way the Europeans have responded to this migrant crisis.
He’s arguing that for his country and for Europe as a whole, this is about them defending what he calls the “Christian identity” against this largely-Muslim group of refugees coming to Europe.
He has done more than any other European nation to do everything he can to stop those people from coming.
He’s building a fence along its southern border with Serbia, he’s deployed the military to come out and start to guard that border.
And he’s pressed for new laws and abilities for the new government to arrest people who are coming in.
So at this meeting on Monday in Brussels, the Hungarians and the Hungarian position is going to be one of the biggest thorns in the side of the EU ministers who are trying to get some kind of consensus here.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The EU is proposing a quota system where different nations would accept different numbers of refugees depending on their size, their economic strength.
How are these different member nations responding to this idea, and what are the remaining challenges?
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Right now it’s really not looking good. Just yesterday, the EU tried to get several Central European nations to agree on a tentative agreement with regards to this quota plan, and that was rejected.
The tricky part about of all this, is that the numbers just keep getting bigger and bigger.
The EU right now is haggling over this issue, it’s trying to settle 160,000 refugees over the next two years, but earlier this week the UN put out an estimate that we are going to see at least 850,000 people coming in over this year and next year.
So the numbers just keep snowballing and there’s actually some concern that as these numbers grow bigger and bigger that that growing number could even undermine some of the goodwill that exists in some of the friendlier nations, so-called friendlier nations like Sweden and Germany.
If they see increasing numbers of people coming to their borders, they might start to get cold feet about this whole idea.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Why they are coming, why they are taking this risk on this journey, why now after years of war?
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Quite simply, it’s the Syrian Civil War.
The majority of people we’ve met were Syrians, and they said they left their country because of the violence that has been tearing their country apart for the last five years.
We met a father earlier this week, who told me a story about his four-year-old daughter. He was traveling with his four-year-old and a three-year-old.
He said that his four-year-old daughter is now reluctant to let him walk out the door anytime because she is not sure if he is going to come back in.
I think if you’re a father – if you are any parent – and the war all around you has gotten so pervasive that your four-year-old is afraid to let you go out the door to work in the morning, I think most parents could agree that that’s a pretty good reason to leave your life behind and try to find a better life somewhere else.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Put these numbers in perspective for us. People have been fleeing Syria since the civil war there started four-and-half years ago.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: It’s true. The Syrian refugee crisis is not a new thing, it’s been going on as long as the civil war in Syria has been going on, which is almost 2011 now.
The thing that is new, is where the refugees are going. For years these refugees simply poured into the bordering Arab states: Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.
The numbers there are pretty staggering, it is estimated that three to four million people have now fled Syria and gone into those nations.
You look at places like the Zatari refugee camp in Jordan, it’s now become one of the biggest cities in that entire country.
So while the numbers coming to Europe are large, they really pale in comparison to what these smaller, bordering nations of Syria have been taking in.
HARI SREENIVASAN: NewsHour’s William Brangham joining us from Austria. Thanks so much.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Thanks Hari.
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WASHINGTON — The company that managed Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private email server says it has no knowledge that the server was “wiped,” which could mean that more than 30,000 emails Clinton says she deleted from the device could be recovered, according to a report in The Washington Post.
Clinton has said that personal correspondence sent and received during the four years she was secretary of state were deleted from the server. About as many emails pertaining to administration business have been turned over to the State Department, which is reviewing them and releasing them periodically by court order.
Deleting emails is not the same at wiping a server. Deleted emails often can be recovered from a device that has not been “wiped,” which PC Magazine defines as “a security measure when selling, giving away or retiring a computer. A file wipe completely erases the data from the hard disk.”
A spokesman for Platte River Networks, the Denver-based firm that has managed the system, said the company has no information indicating the server was wiped, the Post reported on its website Saturday. Platte River took over the device in June 2013, about four months after Clinton left the State Department, and turned it over to the FBI last month, the newspaper reported.
“All the information we have is that the server wasn’t wiped,” spokesman Andy Boian told the newspaper.
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said Saturday they will seek a review of the deleted emails if they can be recovered, the Post reported.
As she pursues the Democratic presidential nomination, Clinton has faced relentless questions and criticism regarding her use of a private email account for government business. The FBI has been investigating the security of Clinton’s email setup.
Clinton asserts that she had the right under government rules to decide which emails were private and to delete them, a claim the Justice Department supported in a recent filing with the U.S. District Court in Washington. The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch is seeking access to her emails under a public records lawsuit.
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DENVER — Jeb Bush went to Detroit and talked about leveling the playing field. Marco Rubio wrote a book about helping the working class. Rand Paul is promising to expand the Republican Party beyond its traditional base.
Yet all three Republican presidential candidates have offered tax proposals that would, for reasons such as nomination politics and tax rate realities, benefit overwhelmingly the wealthiest.
In doing so, they have drawn criticism from Democrats who call it proof that the GOP’s eventual nominee will mainly try to help the rich.
Even some conservatives expressed concerns after Bush released his proposed tax cut this past week. Then there was the analysis Thursday from the Washington-based Tax Foundation that concluded his plan would initially help the top 1 percent of earners 10 times as much as it would those in the bottom 10 percent.
“Republicans should be countering the caricature of themselves as slavishly devoted to the interests of rich people and corporations, not playing into it,” according to an editorial in the conservative National Review. The magazine nonetheless praised Bush’s effort to reduce income and business tax rates.
The trio’s tax plans do contain elements aimed directly at middle- and working-class voters. Rubio proposes to expand the child tax credit and Bush wants to double the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is designed to help the working poor.
But experts note that any broad income tax cut inevitably will benefit the rich more than anyone else, because they pay much more in federal income taxes than the middle class or poor.
About 40 percent of the country does not pay federal income tax. The top 1 percent of earners pays about 35 percent of the income tax.
“It is a mechanical problem,” said Howard Gleckman of the Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the centrist Brookings Institute and left-leaning Urban Institute.
“If you start from the place where any tax plan has got to cut tax rates, you start with a plan that is already regressive and it becomes challenging and complicated to ameliorate that.”
Michael Strain of the conservative American Enterprise Institute said Republicans have good reason to push for across-the-board cuts, despite the inevitable benefit to the wealthy.
“There’s a genuine concern on the part of conservatives about economic growth and having tax code that fosters economic growth because of a belief that you need a growing economy to help everyone in the country,” Strain said.
John Cogan, a Stanford economist who served in the Reagan administration and consulted on the Bush plan, argued that the tax reductions can help cure the inequality that critics contend they exacerbate. “Economic growth is absolutely essential to reducing the degree of inequality,” Cogan said.
That’s how Bush, a former, Florida governor, has tried to sell his plan. On Thursday, he brushed aside Democratic criticisms that the proposal was a giveaway to his wealthy donors and could increase the deficit, under his own supporters’ estimates, by more than $3 trillion.
The U.S. must get back to “high, sustained economic growth,” Bush said during a CNN interview. “We need to boost people’s spirits by giving them more money to be able to make decisions for themselves.”
Bush’s plan condenses seven different brackets to three – 28 percent for top earners (who are now taxed at as high as a 39.6 percent rate), 25 percent and 10 percent for families making up to $87,000.
He would drop the corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. To help middle- and working-class families, he would double the standard deduction and raise the Earned Income tax Credit.
Bush surprised observers by pledging to eliminate a tax break that benefits investment managers – a small but symbolically potent change to a Wall Street benefit that comes weeks after rival Donald Trump called for such a move.
Florida Sen. Rubio wrote a book in December outlining proposals to help low-income and middle-class families.
In February he signed on to a sweeping tax proposal that does not cut top rates as much as Bush’s plan but does eliminate taxes on investment income. That would slash federal tax bills for many of the wealthiest in the country.
Paul, a Kentucky senator, followed with a proposal to drop the tax rate to 14.5 percent across the board, which analysts argue may be an even bigger windfall for the rich.
Conservative commentator Ramesh Ponnuru wrote in a column Thursday that the GOP should look to cutting other levies, like the payroll tax, which fall the heaviest on lower- and middle-income laborers. He said the GOP tax cut plans might end up being compared to Mitt Romney’s in 2012, which a majority of voters thought helped the rich, according to exit polls.
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TYE WALLEN: These are like my children.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Tye Wallen says he wears every last one of his 300 pairs of “children,” though you might just call them sneakers.
Since the 22-year-old Brooklyn college student began collecting vintage and new basketball shoes 10 years ago, he estimates he spent close to $50,000 on them, from $25 to $1,500 a pair.
TYE WALLEN: I’m into them because of the style, how they look, how they feel. I get stopped all the time about the different sneakers I wear. I won’t get rid of any of them unless I really have to.
IVETTE FELICIANO: When he buys sneakers secondhand, Wallen keeps the original box to preserve their history.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Out of all of these shoes, how many would you say you actually wear?
CHRIS VASQUEZ: Ten, 15 pairs?
IVETTE FELICIANO: Ten, 15 pairs out of more than 100 pairs of shoes?
CHRIS VASQUEZ: Yeah.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Unlike Wallen, 21-year-old Chris Vasquez, who’s also from Brooklyn, keeps most of his more modest, 100-pair collection stored away in his closet.
CHRIS VASQUEZ: I mean, if you just look at the way these sneakers look and the box that they came in, this is more than a shoe; it’s art. So, I think, if you wore them, you kind of, like– you kinda destroy them. I mean, you wouldn’t wear a painting, would you?
IVETTE FELICIANO: No.
CHRIS VASQUEZ: Yeah.
IVETTE FELICIANO: If both Vasquez and Wallen, who consider themselves “sneakerheads” needed any validation their collections are art, thye need to look no further than this exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum.
IVETTE FELICIANO: The story begins in the mid-1800s, when the company Goodyear invented the vulcanized rubber sole.
The fact that we are in an exhibit dedicated to sneaker culture, what does that say about the industry and where it’s headed?
JIAN DELEON: I mean, it’s a double-edged sword…
IVETTE FELICIANO: Jian Deleon is the Deputy Style Editor at Complex Magazine, which covers urban fashion and hip hop culture.
JIAN DELEON: This culture that was once for a certain group of insiders who were super passionate about it has become mainstream.
IVETTE FELICIANO: In 1917, Converse introduced the first canvas-top sneakers made just for basketball. The “All-Star” was later named after athlete Chuck Taylor.
Fast forward to the 1980s, sneaker companies saw an emerging market in black and urban communities.
JIAN DELEON: Sneaker culture, hip-hop culture, street wear, they’re all part of this community that stems from, you know, hip-hop in the ’80s. There was a distinct mode of dress that, you know, for a lot of minorities, like, these were our status symbols.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Nothing brought more status than owning a pair of J’s or Air Jordans, created by Nike in the basketball icon’s rookie season. Deleon believes this is when sneakerhead culture was born.
JIAN DELEON: It’s like advertising was made to make us want these as luxurious items that represented: “Okay, I have enough to spend $200 on a shoe.” You know, “My house may not be as big as I want it to be, but I got them J’s, though.”
IVETTE FELICIANO: Sneaker sales in the U.S. today are $34 billion a year. Dozens of blogs and forums announce sneaker release dates and where to snag a coveted pair.
Deleon points to high-end sneakers on display at the museum by designers such as Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo and even Chanel. This 2009 collaboration sneaker between Louis Vuitton and Kanye West retailed for $960. This Ebay seller is asking for $3,400 for her pair.
TYE WALLEN: It’s a great feeling, but it’s never over.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Tye Wallen says he cares less about brand-name recognition or price tags. Sneakers simply make him happy. He knows many people may not understand his pricey hobby, but he’ll keep collecting sneakers for years to come, keeping a running wish list on his smartphone.
TYE WALLEN: Any shoe that I bought, I don’t regret. You can be anybody you wanna be through a pair of sneakers.
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Not only have sneakers become an icon in American pop culture (seemingly since Run DMC’s “An Ode to the Adidas Superstar”) but sales of the popular footwear are big business, to the tune of about $34 billion dollars a year in the U.S. alone.
This represents roughly 40 percent of the industry worldwide, estimates Matt Powell, a sport industry analyst from NPD Group and contributor to Forbes.
In the U.S., Nike and subsidiary Jordan Brand account for more than 90 percent of basketball shoe sales, Powell said.
Currently, Brooklyn Museum’s “The Rise of Sneaker Culture” exhibition explores how the sport shoe became an obsession in the U.S. and around the world.
Watch the full report from PBS NewsHour Weekend.
WASHINGTON — When Pope Francis arrives in the United States, he will get an airport welcome that few world leaders have ever received: a plane-side greeting from President Barack Obama.
The extraordinary gesture on Sept. 22 is just the beginning of the pomp and protocol that Washington will put on display to welcome the popular leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics and the head of Vatican City on his first U.S. visit.
The next day, Francis will be just the third pope to visit the White House, being greeted as most heads of state are, with his car pulling slowly up the South Lawn’s driveway to the spot where a red carpet will be rolled out and Obama and his wife, Michelle, will be waiting.
Thousands of invited guests, including many Catholics, will gather on the lawn to receive Francis.
“Like millions of Americans, I am very much looking forward to welcoming Pope Francis to the United States,” Obama told a prayer breakfast this year.
The president and the pope met for the first time in March 2014 at the Vatican, and Obama has been outspoken about his admiration for the 78-year-old native of Argentina. Despite differences over abortion, the two have found common ground on such issues as U.S. policy toward Cuba and Iran, climate change, and poverty and income inequality.
Nothing that happens behind the iron gates of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on the late-September morning of Francis’ visit will come as a surprise to the Holy Father. It is standard for White House staff, including from the first lady’s and social secretary’s offices, to work out the details of appearances like these beforehand with the visitor’s representatives.
“So much of arrival ceremonies are steeped in history and tradition,” said Anita McBride, who was an assistant to President George W. Bush, who received Pope Benedict XVI at the White House in April 2008. “Every arrival ceremony is important. Every single foreign visitor is treated with the same level of respect and planning.”
Francis has shown little interest in protocol and the trappings of his office, shunning both the fancy papal apartment and motorcade, for example. But he does put himself through the motions of diplomatic etiquette to be respectful of his hosts.
The motions at the White House for Francis will last for just about 90 minutes, the sum total of the pontiff’s visit.
Shortly after he arrives on the South Lawn, the anthems of the U.S. and the Vatican will play following military honors that include a 21-gun salute and band members dressed in colonial garb. Obama will welcome the pope with remarks followed by a reciprocal address from Francis. They will then head inside the White House and reappear on the balcony.
Inside, Francis will sign the official guest book. He and Obama will exchange gifts before their Oval Office meeting.
While a handshake is considered an appropriate way to greet Francis, Catholics have the option of kissing the gold ring the pope wears on his right hand, according to the State Department protocol office. Vice President Joe Biden, a devout Catholic, opted not to kiss the ring after he attended Francis’ installation Mass at the Vatican in March 2013.
Dark-colored clothing is recommended for the occasion. Women’s hemlines must cover knees; sleeves must hide elbows.
He should also be addressed as “Your Holiness.”
Popes and U.S. presidents share a nearly 100-year history of interaction, with more than two dozen meetings since the first one at the Vatican on Jan. 4, 1919, between President Woodrow Wilson and Pope Benedict XV after World War I.
President Jimmy Carter received the first papal visit to the White House by John Paul II in October 1979.
Nearly 30 years passed before Pope Benedict XVI would make the same trip.
Benedict’s visit was doubly memorable because it fell on his 81st birthday. More than 13,500 people who were invited to the South Lawn for the official welcoming ceremony, one of the largest crowds ever put together by the White House, sang “Happy Birthday” twice to the German-born pope. The White House pastry chef also presented Benedict with a tiered birthday cake.
Bush and his wife, Laura, greeted Benedict at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland upon his arrival in the U.S. The military base just outside of Washington is the official point of entry for visiting foreign dignitaries.
Obama travels there regularly for his out-of-town trips, but rarely goes just to welcome visitors. He’ll be accompanied next week by his wife.
An exception came last year when Obama met French President Francois Hollande at Andrews. They immediately flew to Charlottesville, Virginia, for a visit.
“The president definitely wanted to do this” for Francis, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.
Associated Press writers Nicole Winfield and Frances D’Emilio in Rome contributed to this report.
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For many of the girls who come through the doors of the Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Jacksonville, Florida, life has been tough.
A 2014 study showed 31 percent of girls in Florida’s juvenile justice system have been sexually abused and 41 percent of girls have been physically abused.
“Girls experience trauma at a different frequency and different kinds of trauma than boys, girls react differently, and respond to that trauma differently,” Judge David Gooding of the Duval County Family/Dependency Court Division in Jacksonville, Florida, told PBS NewsHour.
That’s why, in an effort not to traumatize them further, the center has tried to make an otherwise stark facility a little more comfortable. And officials say the reforms have led to big changes in the kids’ behavior.
NewsHour was recently granted rare access to film inside the detention center. Watch the video with NewsHour’s Megan Thompson above.
Watch the full report on programs in Jacksonville, Florida, that aim to rehabilitate rather than incarcerate delinquent girls.
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A record number of migrants have risked crossing the Mediterranean Sea this year to escape conflict in their home countries, facing uncertainty but relative safety in Europe.
The Geneva-based International Organization for Migration said Friday that more than 430,000 refugees and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe so far in 2015, more than double last year’s total.
Many risk traveling in rickety boats and 2,748 have drowned in the attempt, according to the IOM.
In one particular disaster, 34 refugees drown off the coast of the Greek island Lesbos — nearly half of them children — when their wooden boat capsized, Reuters reported.
The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child said the “shocking images” of desperate migrants trying to reach safe havens underscores the need for a coordinated approach that protects the children involved. European Union ministers met Monday to try to come up with a standard plan.
Germany, which expects to take in 1 million migrants this year, is tightening border security by conducting random vehicle checks along major roads bordering Austria.
Austria and Slovakia also have reintroduced border checks, while Hungary has erected a razor-wire border fence to try to keep out migrants making their way to other European countries.
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One person has died in a shooting at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi. The campus remains on lock down amid reports that an active shooter remains on campus.
Delta State University has confirmed one fatality. Campus remains under lockdown. Please stay inside and away from windows.
— Delta State (@DeltaState) September 14, 2015
According to Bolivar County Deputy Coroner Murray Roark, the victim was identified as Ethan Schmidt — an assistant professor of American history in his 50s who was killed inside his office in Jobe Hall. The shooter has been — Sarah Bleau (@sarahbleauFOX13) September 14, 2015 There are over 4,000 students at Delta State. The Delta State Teachers College opened its doors 90 years ago today. According to USA Today, the university had planned a day-long celebration for the anniversary. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which advocates for gun control, recently gave Mississippi an “F” on their gun laws. According to the organization, the state does not require gun owners to receive a background check when transferring gun ownership between private parties, nor does it require licensing for gun owners. Delta State University has cancelled classes for the rest of the day. The post 1 person killed in shooting at Delta State University appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
— Sarah Bleau (@sarahbleauFOX13) September 14, 2015
There are over 4,000 students at Delta State. The Delta State Teachers College opened its doors 90 years ago today. According to USA Today, the university had planned a day-long celebration for the anniversary.
The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which advocates for gun control, recently gave Mississippi an “F” on their gun laws. According to the organization, the state does not require gun owners to receive a background check when transferring gun ownership between private parties, nor does it require licensing for gun owners.
Delta State University has cancelled classes for the rest of the day.
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The literary world reached a milestone this month with the debut of “Vetch,” the first submission-based literary journal devoted to poetry by transgender writers.
Liam O’Brien, one of the journal’s founders who is pursuing an MFA in poetry at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, said the journal is a space where trans poets can address their experiences without needing to explain them. “We want to publish poetry that doesn’t bother to translate itself for a cis audience,” he said.
Last year, O’Brien and fellow poet Stephen Ira began planning the journal and contacted poet Kay Gabriel and designer RL to ask them to co-edit. The group put out a call for submissions and plans to release two editions per year, on Sept. 1 and March 1.
The journal is named for the vetch plant, a hardy legume that is often planted in ditches and other places where ground has been disturbed. “This is the kind of resilient beauty of which we know trans poetry is capable,” the editors wrote in a preface to the journal.
“Vetch” assumes its audience knows what it means to be transgender, or if not, can do the necessary research to find out, O’Brien said. Freeing the poets themselves from providing that explanation gives them the space to address new material, he said.
“If we’re [not] under the impression that everything we write about being trans has to pause and take into account the fact that not everybody might know what being trans means, then it really frees us up to write more and to start from fresher places,” he said. The first edition supports this mission with a wide diversity of work, including poems by Sara June Woods, Maxe Crandall and Ira.
With the publication of the anthology “Troubling the Line” and literary journals like “THEM,” more avenues than ever are opening for trans poets to publish, O’Brien said. “I do think that things are changing right now, pretty fast,” he said. “And that feels like an exciting time to be alive and to be writing.”
O’Brien wrote the poem “Salt Sheet” in response to images from “Golden Vanity,” a ballad about a cabin boy who drowns at sea after helping to sink an enemy ship, along with the Dylan Thomas poem “Lie Still, Sleep Becalmed.” The piece is informed by formal tradition, but experiments with newer rhythms too, according to O’Brien. It attempts to engage with the story of being both trans and gay in today’s world, he said.
Listen to O’Brien read “Salt Sheet” or read the text of the poem below.
There’s a wound in me, wound up in me, expert
like a corkscrew unscrewed. And the cork is kept.
Press a palm over it—help, there’s a wound in me—
no, three. No, more. No, here is a ship at sea
and she sinks. She was the enemy. So the borer—
the boy with his brace & auger—he swims over
to the Golden Vanity. Entreaty. Captains,
can’t trust them far from land. And so he ends—
the boy—I’m drifting with the tide. They stitch
him in his hammock—it was so fair and wide.
How many holes got the enemy? How many
left to plug, crew bailing, boys tiring in the tide?
Fight’s over, brace & auger. Wrap me in my salt sheet.
What deserves disease will get it, or has already.
Liam O’Brien grew up on a small island outside Seattle. In 2012, he graduated from Sarah Lawrence College, where he received the Stanley and Evelyn Lipkin Prize for Poetry and the Nancy Lynn Schwartz Prize for Fiction. His work can be found in print in “Unsaid Magazine,” and online at “The Offending Adam,” “Blackbird VCU,” “Buffalo Almanack,” and “Industrial Lunch.” He is currently pursuing his MFA at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop.
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WASHINGTON — Russia is in the midst of a steady military buildup at a Syrian airport, indicating Moscow intends to create an air operations base there, although no fighter jets or helicopters have arrived yet, the Pentagon said Monday.
A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said the U.S. is closely monitoring the buildup, but he declined to reveal specifics about the Russian military personnel and equipment being flown to the base in Syria’s coastal province of Latakia.
“We have seen indications in recent days that Russia has moved people and things into the area around Latakia and the air base there that suggests that it intends to establish some sort of a forward air operating base,” Davis said.
He declined to provide an estimate of the number of Russian troops there or say what kinds of military equipment have arrived. He said the U.S. has concerns about ensuring that any Russian military air operations not come into conflict with U.S. and coalition airstrikes that are being conducted in other parts of Syria against Islamic State targets.
“We have said before that we would welcome Russian contributions to the overall global effort against (the Islamic State group), but that things that continue to support the Assad regime — particularly military things — are unhelpful and risk adding greater instability to an already unstable situation,” Davis said.
In an interview with Russian state television aired Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said it was “absurd” for the West to exclude the Syrian armed forces from the fight against the Islamic State group.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that Russia has legitimate interests and significant investments in Syria.
“That’s why we … have urged Russia to reconsider how they can constructively coordinate their efforts” with the international coalition that is combatting the Islamic State, Earnest said, suggesting that President Barack Obama may discuss the issue directly with President Vladimir Putin.
“With all their differences, the president does feel like they have the kind of relationship that allows them to be pretty blunt with each other,” Earnest said.
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The U.S. military research agency DARPA has given an unnamed 28-year-old paralyzed man the ability to feel people touch his prosthetic hand.
DARPA is primarily known for its work in military robotics, such as weaponizing drones, but the agency also has a program dedicated to revolutionizing prosthetic limbs. This technology has been implemented in DARPA labs before, but this has “broken new neurological ground” because it routes electrical signals from the prosthesis directly back to the sensory cortex, the part of the brain that feels touch.
Before being fitted with the prosthetic hand, the 28-year-old volunteer subject underwent brain surgery to have tiny micro-electrode arrays implanted in his brain.
The hand, which was developed at the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, has torque sensors that are able to detect applied pressure and then send electrical signals to the brain. Wires are run from the motor cortex, the part of the brain that controls movement, to the prosthesis.
Justin Sanchez, who manages the DARPA program, said in a released statement that the clinical trials proved that the feelings the man was perceiving through the prosthetic hand were “near-natural.”
“At one point, instead of pressing one finger, the team decided to press two without telling him,” he said. “He responded in jest asking whether somebody was trying to play a trick on him.”
This breakthrough in prosthetics technology could potentially help the more than 1.6 million people in the U.S. that are in need of prosthetic limbs, but it has not yet been standardized to be distributed to the masses.
“We’ve completed the circuit,” Sanchez said. “Prosthetic limbs that can be controlled by thoughts are showing great promise, but without feedback from signals traveling back to the brain it can be difficult to achieve the level of control needed to perform precise movements. By wiring a sense of touch from a mechanical hand directly into the brain, this work shows the potential for seamless bio-technological restoration of near-natural function.”
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David Gardner travels around Texas handing out thumb drives listing some of the most sensitive possible statistics about the performance of the state’s universities: how much they really cost, how many of their students actually get degrees, how much money their graduates make, and whether those incomes justify the cost of their tuition.
These are the kinds of facts and figures students and their families increasingly seek out before investing in the rising price of a college education.
It’s also some of the exact same information that has been the subject of a years-long push and pull in Washington. Some of the rest is even more detailed than envisioned by a national college ratings system proposed by the Obama administration that’s been delayed and watered down in the face of opposition from higher-education groups and threatened by Republicans in Congress.
With the apparent philosophy that something is better than nothing, President Barack Obama on Saturday unveiled a “College Scorecard,” which includes such things as the earnings of graduates from particular institutions but is based on limited data. Those average salaries of graduates, for instance, are calculated using the tax returns of only federal financial-aid recipients, since the federal government has no way to track anybody else.
But while the much more extensive national college ratings system the White House originally wanted remains mired in Washington vitriol and politics, the same and even better information about colleges and universities is already widely — if almost without notice — being made available by states including Texas.
Thirty-two states require their universities and colleges to provide this data. Many have begun to make it freely available to consumers on everything from thumb drives to smartphone apps — some, ironically, paying for the process with part of the $9 billion in federal stimulus money they got during the three years following the economic downturn.
“Because of the push on accountability, and issues with debt and other things, [states] are developing reporting systems that make sense rather than waiting for someone to tell them to do it,” said Gardner, deputy commissioner for academic planning and policy at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which provides the information on at least three different websites and is building an app for it.
Students and their parents “definitely do” demand this, he said. “And we want them to have a better feel for what college is going to cost, and what it gets them.”
The state action is being driven by more than Washington inertia. Many states have changed the way they subsidize their public universities and colleges, doling out funding based on graduation rates and other targets rather than solely on enrollment. That requires collecting much more information about the institutions’ success at meeting goals including keeping student debt low and training graduates for jobs, information most of those states also now provide directly to the public. Plus, since states operate their own public universities, they don’t have to jump through hoops to get the data in the way the federal government does. They can just tell the universities to hand it over.
“It goes back in a way to education being primarily a state responsibility, and that’s been the case forever,” said George Pernsteiner, president of the State Higher Education Executive Officers association and former chancellor of the Oregon State University System. “Now states are recognizing what they need to do in order for their citizens to be successful, and part of that is providing this information.”
Even some private universities and colleges are voluntarily giving data to their states, since they know prospective students can get it from the public institutions they compete with. At least one state, Virginia, requires its private universities to provide consumer information in order for their students to remain eligible for state financial aid.
Among other things, states including Texas offer so-called “gainful employment” figures, which measure whether graduates’ incomes in particular fields are enough to repay the debt they rack up to pay for their degrees. When the federal government set out to do the same thing, the principal association of for-profit colleges sued to stop it, and while the government has prevailed in court, the colleges promise to appeal.
The surprises some four-year institutions might be sensitive about include this: Students with associates’ degrees in some fields from community colleges make more money than their counterparts with bachelors’ degrees from four-year colleges and universities, even 10 years after graduation.
Texas, which has been in the vanguard of this work, also tracks individual students through its education system to accurately measure their success in a process known as “student-unit recordkeeping.” The federal government has been blocked from doing this after lobbying of Congress by groups mainly representing private, nonprofit colleges and universities, some of which fear being put at a disadvantage if precise measures of their graduation rates are made public.
The congressional ban on student-unit recordkeeping, which legislators including Republican Senator and presidential hopeful Marco Rubio have now proposed repealing, is one reason the federal government “is failing to produce the types of information that contemporary students, policymakers, and institutions need to make informed decisions,” the nonpartisan Institute for Higher Education Policy concluded in September. That’s because the feds are forced to estimate such things as graduation rates using far less exact computations than they could by following individual students through the process.
But not only is Texas using it; it and other states including Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington are going far beyond what the new College Scorecard does, by publicly reporting such things as salaries of graduates, by major and institution, culled from records listing the earnings of employees whose companies pay for state unemployment insurance. And while universities and colleges complain these figures are also unreliable, since those records don’t track students who move out of state or who work for the government, states are now reaching across borders to improve their accuracy.
“Academics hate this. University presidents hate this. And to some extent they’re justified, because the data need work,” said Mark Schneider, a former head of the National Center for Education Statistics who as a vice president of the American Institutes for Research has been an advocate for providing income figures. “But there’s no such thing as 100 percent accurate information. We’re giving people fundamental advice about the likely outcomes of specific programs at particular universities. And consumers, who are spending tons of money — they should know this.”
Participating states now can share their graduates’ wage data through something called the Wage Record Interchange System, coordinated by the state of Maryland. That allows them to track alumni who move away. Four states — Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington — swap even more statistics through an exchange run by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, or WICHE, which hopes to expand this collaboration to 10 states. It’s already helped increase by 7 percent the proportion of graduates the states are following, and what they earn. (The WICHE initiative is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which also funds The Hechinger Report.)
Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, and Utah are working together to measure something else the federal government doesn’t: what exactly university graduates have learned, in something called the Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment. And while the main push is to help universities identify and correct their weaknesses, “The other side is the consumer side, and can this information help a consumer, and I think there is potential for that,” said Sandra Bailey, director of assessment at the Oregon Institute of Technology, who is involved in the project.
Even as the fight rages on in Washington over rating colleges, there’s been little controversy in the states already providing the same information, and more. “Many states have been doing this for a decade, and nobody’s died,” Schneider said wryly.
That’s precisely because, among other reasons, they’ve been at this for a while. States including Texas also give institutions the chance to explain variations in the figures they report — that, at one school, for example, a hurricane affected enrollment.
The federal government, meanwhile, is operating separately from the states in its long-running quest to provide consumer data, and is compiling its own information for the Scorecard and other tools using different, and often less dependable, sources.
“The federal government can learn some lessons from states in terms of how best to provide data and what data to make available,” said Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University who studies college accountability.
That doesn’t mean the information is always easy to find and understand. While some states illustrate the figures they collect with glitzy graphics, others put them onto websites that are dense and unreadable. One of the websites in Texas that provides statistics has so many of them that officials are working on ways to scale it back.
Still, said Mary Fulton, a senior policy analyst at the Education Commission of the States, “Even if it’s not reported in a nice, clean, easy way, it’s reported.”
And while the debate about someday providing more information like this drags on in D.C., said Schneider, in the states, “It’s not going to happen. It is happening.”
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Two new treatments for congestive heart failure cost too much in the short term and would drive up spending by insurers and government programs, a nonprofit group said in an analysis released Friday, just days after the same researchers took similar aim at expensive new cholesterol drugs.
The treatments — one a $17,750 sensor implanted in the pulmonary artery and the other a $4,600-a-year prescription pill — are the first new treatments in more than a decade for heart failure, a life-threatening condition.
At their current prices, the two treatments could add $25 billion to the nation’s health care tab over five years, at an annual pace that exceeds growth in the overall economy, said the analysis from the nonprofit Institute for Clinical and Economic Review.
“We need to figure out if there are ways to make them more affordable,” said Steven Pearson, founder and president of ICER.
Cutting the price of the pill by 17 percent and the device by 60 percent would reduce their short-term budget impact to acceptable levels, the report concluded. Private insurers, Medicaid and prescription benefit managers are often able to negotiate discounts in the range of 17 percent, the report noted.
Congestive heart failure — a fluid buildup in the body — affects an estimated 6 million Americans. It can be caused by coronary artery disease, heart attack, high blood pressure or other conditions and has a five-year death rate similar to many cancers. Patients are often in and out of the hospital, leading to high health care costs.
The ICER analysts said the new pill — Entresto by Novartis — provides clear health benefits to patients and reduces hospitalization rates when compared with current standard treatments. Over the long-term, the group judged it as cost effective because of those advantages.
“We are pleased that ICER found Entresto to be cost effective,” said Novartis spokeswoman Elizabeth Power. “Entresto represents a major medical advance.”
For the first five years, however, ICER estimated the drug’s budget impact to be $17 billion, even including savings resulting from patients’ improved health. That’s more than the $904 million annual net cost that ICER sets as its threshold for sounding an alarm that a drug or medical treatment is too costly.
Another reason why it is cost effective over many years, but a budget-buster in the short term, is because so many people are expected to seek treatment in the initial years, said Pearson. An estimated 390,000 patients would receive the drug initially, growing to 1.9 million over 5 years.
“Just because it’s a good long-term value doesn’t mean you could afford it today without jacking up health care premiums a whole lot or doing other things to make money available,” he said.
The ICER report said there is insufficient evidence to determine if the other treatment – the sensor called CardioMEMS by St. Jude Medical — provides a health benefit. The paper-clip sized device measures pressure in the pulmonary artery, sending the information wirelessly to the patient’s doctor. It aims to reduce hospitalizations by giving patients and their doctors time to adjust medications or make other changes before a patient’s condition requires hospitalization.
St. Jude spokeswoman Kate Stoltenberg said the company is “confident in the value and benefits demonstrated by the CardioMEMS HF System and are joined by many leading physicians … who believe that the technology is a significant breakthrough in the way heart failure patients are managed.”
The ICER analysis of the new treatments comes amid growing interest in considering cost in evaluating effectiveness of medical treatments, fueled in part by last year’s rollout of a hepatitis C drug that costs $1,000 a pill. ICER is among a handful of groups doing such work, which is often considered by health insurers in making coverage decisions for new treatments and negotiating prices with drug and device makers.
“These issues around costs can become politicized, but we think America is mature enough to have a more open and honest discussion about price, and not just about drugs, but other parts of the health system,” Pearson said. “This is a discussion that is long overdue.”
After seeking public comment, the draft report will be reviewed in October by a California commission of medical experts and then finalized.
On Tuesday in a separate report, the group said new injectable cholesterol drugs — priced at about $14,000 a year — were too high for the health benefits they might provide or the savings they might tally through reduced number of heart attacks and strokes. The cost of those drugs needs to drop by 85 percent to avoid straining state and federal health care budgets, the report concluded.
Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.
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