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

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    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) delivers an address to Liberty University students at the school in Lynchburg, Virginia September 14, 2015. REUTERS/Jay Paul - RTS12UB

    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders delivers an address to Liberty University students at the school in Lynchburg, Virginia. Reuters /Jay Paul.

    LYNCHBURG, Va. — In an unlikely appearance at a prominent Christian university, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said Monday the “massive injustice” of income and wealth inequality should unite people across the political spectrum.

    From the outset, Sanders noted in his speech at Liberty University that he believed in women’s rights and gay marriage, drawing some cheers but mostly tepid applause in the cavernous Vines Center, where the school regularly assembles during the week. But the Vermont senator said the problems of wealth inequality and economic justice showed that “maybe, just maybe, we can try to work together to resolve that.”

    “It would be hard to make the case that we are a just society or anything resembling a just society today,” Sanders said at the influential Christian college in Virginia that usually draws Republican presidential candidates. “In the United States of America today, there is massive injustice in terms of income and wealth inequality.”

    His pitch was met with scattered applause and many students sat politely with their arms folded during his appearance, declining to clap.

    In a question-and-answer session, the student body erupted when Liberty senior vice president David Nasser noted that many students felt “children in the womb need our protection.” Sanders defended abortion rights, acknowledging it was “an area where we disagree,” but said it should not be a decision dictated by the government.

    “I do understand and I do believe that it is improper for the United States government or state government to tell every woman in this country the very painful and difficult choice that she has to make on that issue,” Sanders said.

    Sanders’ appearance at Liberty was the boldest example yet of his attempt to appeal to people outside the traditional umbrella of the Democratic party and expand the party’s base — something he called engaging in “civil discourse.” The independent who calls himself a “democratic socialist” is challenging Hillary Rodham Clinton for the party’s presidential nomination.

    “It is easy to go out and talk to people who agree with you,” Sanders said, adding, “But it is harder, but not less important, for us to try and communicate with those who do not agree with us on every issue.”

    In an interview at the University of Virginia, Sanders contrasted himself with Clinton on issues like trade, the Keystone XL pipeline and Social Security. He also pointed out that he voted against authorizing the war in Iraq in 2002.

    “I’m not the former secretary of state but I think my judgment has been pretty good,” said Sanders, who was appearing at a Monday night rally in Manassas, Virginia.

    Liberty, founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell in 1971, is a familiar stop for Republican presidential hopefuls seeking to connect with conservative evangelicals. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz launched his GOP presidential campaign there last March and Republican hopeful Dr. Ben Carson is scheduled to speak at the convocation in November. But it has hosted fewer Democrats over the years.

    Sanders said he was “far from a perfect human being” but was motivated by the vision of the religious teachings of Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism. The senator was raised in a Jewish family and is non-observant, but his campaign said he stopped at a Rosh Hashanah gathering Monday at the home of Michael Gillette, Lynchburg’s mayor.

    Pointing to Scripture, Sanders cited the “Golden Rule” of Matthew’s Gospel as a guiding principle to treat others as you would like to be treated.

    As the U.S. prepares for the arrival of Pope Francis, Sanders said he agreed with the pope’s views that the financial crisis “originated in a profound human crisis” that saw too many people place a greater emphasis on the pursuit of wealth than faith.

    Sanders’ rallies have drawn tens of thousands of supporters but his appearance at the school’s convocation, which students are required to attend with few exceptions, was one of his more unusual stops. Before he spoke, Sanders looked on as students sang along to a Christian rock band that performed before nearly 12,000 people.

    Many students said they respected Sanders for speaking but said his views on social issues were a deal-breaker. Danielle Eschedor, a 19-year-old sophomore from Wellington, Ohio, said the senator had a “good heart” and she was glad he spoke at the school. But Eschedor said “the responsibility falls on the church” to address many of the nation’s social problems.

    “I’m glad they invited him but I wouldn’t vote for him,” said Nathan White, a junior from Houston. White said he opposed gay marriage and abortion rights and described himself as a capitalist.

    The post Bernie Sanders courts Christian conservative students at Liberty University appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Area residents talk to police after a shooting incident in St. Louis, Missouri August 19, 2015. Police fatally shot a black man they say pointed a gun at them, drawing angry crowds and recalling the racial tensions sparked by the killing of an unarmed African-American teen in nearby Ferguson, Missouri, just over a year ago.  REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant - RTX1OV2H

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Just over a year after the city of Ferguson, Missouri, exploded in unrest after the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, a local commission today released a blunt new report.

    Focusing on race, inequity and history, the 16-member Ferguson Commission issued 189 calls to action, including improvements in police practices, education, housing, and health care access.

    “What we are pointing out,” the commission concluded, “is that the data suggests, time and again, that our institutions and existing systems are not equal, and that this has racial repercussions.”

    Joining me now to discuss the report and its possible impact are commission co-chair the Reverend Starsky Wilson, and Missouri State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal.

    Thank you both for joining us.

    So, call to action, Reverend Wilson. What was the single most surprising and the single least surprising thing that you found in this report?

    REV. STARSKY WILSON, The Ferguson Commission: Well, thank you for having us on.

    First, quite frankly, the most surprising thing was that so many people lived in enclaves of comfort without understanding that folks just five, 10 miles away live in Third World circumstances when you talk about health outcomes, life expectancy.

    It was surprising to note that there is a $15 billion cost in our regional gross domestic product for these racial inequities that we see in our community. It was surprising to note that we are 42nd among the top 50 metropolitan areas in the nation in economic mobility, the capacity for a child to do better than their parents.

    And so, with those surprises, I was shocked a little bit as we went throughout the process as this — that there are so many people of such goodwill to be able to come around these issues when they came to know about the issues, when they recognized the challenges, to actually be a part of the process.

    And so we’re pleased that the process, this bold experiment and inclusive democracy has produced a result in this report, in these recommendations. And now it’s time to aggressively pursue them through activism, advocacy and agitation, quite frankly, of power structures that can make them happen.

    GWEN IFILL: Senator Maria Nadal, was this — were the findings here about the structure of way the city, the state, the region is structured, or is it about something more profound than that?

    MARIA CHAPPELLE-NADAL (D), Missouri State Senator: It’s absolutely about how this system is structured.

    And let me just tell you, Gwen, what we’re dealing with right now is the fact that African-Americans are at the bottom of the economic food chain. They’re in the mud. They’re right alongside catfish in the Mississippi.

    So we have to do something that’s different. We have to really look at how our system is structured. Yes, we have been looking at racial inequity for a very long time, if you look at President Truman’s freedom from fear. We were looking at racial inequity in 1968, when you had President Johnson looking at inequity in the Kerner Commission.

    And 47 years later, we’re still talking about racial inequity, which means we still have environmental inequity, social inequity, economic inequity. And so because all of these things still are existent and around means that there is something fundamentally wrong and flawed in the structure in which we are operating right now.

    GWEN IFILL: Reverend Wilson, let me tell you about two things I found in the report that surprised me. One is that there is a 40 percent difference — 40-year difference in life expectancy based on what zip code you live in.

    And the other is that 75 — that black motorists are 75 percent more likely to be pulled over than motorists of the majority race. I — those things surprise me. So what do you do about that? What does the commission report do to address those kinds of issues?

    REV. STARSKY WILSON: Yes. The commission report calls for several things, particularly as it relates to policing.

    It calls for us to upgrade to make more robust our racial profiling law in our state. It calls for a database on police incidents, so that we actually have the data. That’s the great value of this conversation, is that we have accumulated some data to hold people accountable. That should be happening in an ongoing way as relates to police stops in our state, so we can see where inequities lie geographically and demographically.

    The application of a racial equity lens to the various areas of the report is one of the things that we think should be happening with legislation at every level. But, ultimately, this takes us back to what brought us here. It brings us back to this issue of police accountability and oversight, police training.

    And so we have made a call as far back as April, actually, to increase the required training under the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission in the state of Missouri for officers in counties of our size that they should go from 41 required hours to 120 required hours in mandated training in use of force, cultural competency and officer wellness.

    We’re pleased to know that the commission — that the post-commission is moving towards that. And with a December 1 deadline, we look forward to hearing more about that. But we need to see more police accountability and oversight moving in Saint Louis County, in other areas throughout our region, as it has been won in the city of Saint Louis over the course of the last 12 months, after folks have been fighting for it, quite frankly, for more than 25 years.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, Senator Chappelle-Nadal, picking up on that point, you are an elected official. You know the difference between recommendation and implementation. How tough will it be to take the next steps called for in this report?

    MARIA CHAPPELLE-NADAL: Well, I have to tell you, I actually pre-filed a lot of this legislation last December.

    When it comes to body cameras, I filed that. When it comes to ensuring that police officers get proper training, I filed that. Special prosecuting attorney in these kind of cases, filed that legislation. Upholding our constitutional rights, I filed that legislation.

    So I have been dealing with this for quite a long time. We were very, very close to passing the deadly force law. As you may know, Missouri is 30 years out of compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in not only 1985, but also 1989, which is the upgrade on what our deadly force is supposed to look like legislatively.

    So I’m going to continue fighting for many of the suggestions that were recommended that came out today. A lot of this, I have already filed, but there were some good suggestions that I didn’t file that I want to follow up on, but I really want to ensure that we are looking seriously at this.

    Literally, we have been talking about racial inequity for decades, and Starsky is absolutely right. It’s going to take agitation. And we cannot be — succumb to different interest groups that are out there who are trying to water down this movement, this change in the system that is so needed right now, so that individuals can have trust.

    Well, one of the things I would follow up on, though…

    GWEN IFILL: Go ahead.

    MARIA CHAPPELLE-NADAL: One of the things I would follow up on, though, has to do with the environment and housing, as well as education.

    I’m ranking member on the Education Committee. I also serve on my local school board simultaneously. And I feel as though the focus just on early education really was a short step. That’s low-hanging fruit, to invest in early ed. But we have to focus on children who are at risk who are in middle school and who are in high school who potentially can end up in the pipeline to prison.

    The report didn’t talk about that. And there are other environmental issues.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, let me ask Reverend Wilson about, because one of — you call for agitation. The senator calls for agitation. I don’t think anybody watching from around the country would say there has not been enough agitation in Ferguson.

    What stops this report from ending up on a high shelf covered in dust?

    REV. STARSKY WILSON: First, I say to the senator, I wholly agree with her, investment and engagement there in early ed.

    What we have taken is a broad approach to young people, understanding that academics are one indicator of their well-being, but they’re not the only indicator of their well-being, and stage-appropriate development is what we’re calling for in the report.

    There’s actually a very…

    GWEN IFILL: But I really want to ask you about that, the dusty shelf idea, before we run out of time.

    REV. STARSKY WILSON: Yes, absolutely.

    So, one of the things that we have done is made the report shareable, clickable, digital first, so that people can engage around it, so that they can come in and find a place for them to work in this.

    Over the course of the next three months, we will be working to find a successor organization and intermediary to work toward this common agenda by setting up shared measurement systems, assuring mutually reinforcing activities from several actors throughout the area, and working toward driving continuous communication, which will include a policy strategy here.

    GWEN IFILL: Reverend Starsky Wilson, co-chairman of the Ferguson Commission and CEO of the Deaconess Foundation, and state Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal, thank you both very much.

    REV. STARSKY WILSON: Thank you for having us.

    MARIA CHAPPELLE-NADAL: Thank you.

    The post What we’ve learned about racial inequity in Ferguson appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    monkey

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    GWEN IFILL: When the Ebola epidemic spread through West Africa last year, the focus was on the human toll of the virus.

    Science correspondent Miles O’Brien looks at the controversial race to develop a vaccine, this time with animals in mind.

    With Ebola thinning their ranks in Africa, 10 captive chimpanzees in Louisiana are enduring one last medical experiment focused not on human health, but, rather, the survival of their species. They are receiving an experimental Ebola vaccine.

    PETER WALSH, University of Cambridge: I don’t really like to see chimps in a cage. It kind of upsets me a little bit. But I weigh the individual welfare of those chimpanzees against the survival of wild chimpanzees.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Disease ecologist Peter Walsh is leading a controversial effort to vaccinate wild chimps and gorillas against the deadly Ebola virus.

    PETER WALSH: It killed, I would say, roughly a third of the gorilla population and a bunch of chimpanzees. We don’t have good numbers, but we know, from based on how much area it affected, we’re talking about a third of the gorillas.

    KENNETH CAMERON, Wildlife Conservation Society: You could say that Ebola has decimated portions of the great ape population.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Kenneth Cameron is a field veterinarian with the Wildlife Conservation Society based in the Republic of Congo. We met at the Bronx Zoo, which is run by the WCS.

    Over the years, the virus has wiped out entire local populations of apes, 10,000 to 15,000 fatalities at a time.

    KENNETH CAMERON: I don’t think that anybody really believes that Ebola virus is going to result in the extinction of western lowland gorillas or central chimpanzees, for that matter. But what it may do is reduce the populations to such a degree that the other threats, such as excessive logging, habitat loss and hunting pressure, may finally lead to the demise of the species.

    MILES O’BRIEN: With the stakes that high, Peter Walsh believes the end justifies the means in this case. We met him at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, New Iberia Research Center, the largest primate testing facility in the U.S.

    Captive trials make it easier to limit the variables and apply strict scientific controls to an experiment.

    PETER WALSH: There’s no free lunch. And the cost of lunch here is that we’re going to do vaccine trials on captive chimpanzees in order to save the ones in the wild. That’s the trade-off. And that — it’s a messy world, you know? That’s just the way it is. If I could do it without doing the captive trials, I would do it. But I can’t.

    MILES O’BRIEN: But there is a lot of heated debate about whether it is necessary to use captive chimpanzees in this vaccine trial.

    Brian Hare strongly objects.

    BRIAN HARE, Duke University: This is a Hail Mary. They are hoping that this could launch a new way to do research with chimpanzees.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Hare is a professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University. He works, and plays, with apes in Central Africa. He says the vaccine experiments should be conducted there, in ape sanctuaries, where the animals live in relative freedom.

    I think they are just taking advantage of a bad situation in Africa to continue to get funds that they desperately need to pay for infrastructure at their essentially arcane laboratories. We can also go and do all of the types of research that used to be done in laboratories in the United States. We can do it now in these sanctuaries.

    So, I think the question really is not whether research needs to be done, but where it needs to be done.

    PETER WALSH: The facilities here are comparable to a hospital, a human hospital. That’s what we’re dealing with. We go to Africa, we don’t have that. It endangers the animals.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Medical testing of any kind on chimpanzees has long been a source of emotional debate. The vaccinations we witnessed occurred in the same facility where this gut-wrenching scene was captured, one of many like it recorded during a nine-month undercover investigation by the Humane Society in 2009.

    Andrew Rowan is president and CEO of Humane Society International. He spoke with us in 2012.

    ANDREW ROWAN, President and CEO, Humane Society International: What we found was that, frankly, well, a lot of suffering and conditions that we felt were inappropriate for chimpanzees. And so that’s why we sort of came out and said, this is — this is ridiculous.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Jane Fontenot is the head of research resources at New Iberia.

    JANE FONTENOT, New Iberia Research Center: There were things I would have definitely preferred to have been done differently. It’s research. It’s not always something that everybody wants to see.

    MILES O’BRIEN: And, in fact, they wouldn’t let us see them anesthetize the chimps in this study, instead releasing a brief clip showing a single compliant chimpanzee receiving an injection.

    MAN: Good boy.

    MILES O’BRIEN: We did get a brief tour of the sprawling facility. In addition to the 230 chimpanzees here, there are more than 6,000 other primates used in medical research. Managers here say they have learned some hard lessons, and the animals are treated humanely.

    JANE FONTENOT: They will not be harmed. After the study is done, they will go back into their social groups. And it will have no long-term effect, other than they will have antibodies against Ebola.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Vaccinating wild animals is not an easy task. But it is not unprecedented. Vaccines protect buffalo at Yellowstone from brucellosis and stem the spread of rabies in wild raccoons and foxes in the U.S. and Europe. In fact, the safety and success of bait laced with the oral rabies vaccine gave immunologist Matthias Schnell the inspiration for his vaccine.

    A researcher at Thomas Jefferson University, he wondered if a tiny piece of the Ebola virus could hitchhike on the rabies vaccine.

    MATTHIAS SCHNELL, Virologist, Thomas Jefferson University: What we did is actually putting in one Ebola gene which encodes for one important protein to get an immune response against the virus.

    MILES O’BRIEN: They are racing to get all this done before September 14, when a federal rule goes into effect that will eliminate medical research on captive chimpanzees in the U.S.

    But there is one loophole: Experiments on chimps can continue if the goal is the preservation of the species itself. New Iberia must seek and obtain a special permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in order to continue this experiment. They have not made a decision whether to apply.

    Researchers would like to expand the trial beyond 10 individuals. But maintaining 230 chimps just for this one purpose may not make sense financially.

    RAMESH KOLLURU, University of Louisiana at Lafayette: Certainly, that is part of the calculation. But this is one of those rare opportunities that I believe we have, as a research university, as a community of scientist and researchers, to give something back.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Ramesh Kolluru is vice president for research at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette.

    RAMESH KOLLURU: For us, this is a great way of saying thank you to chimpanzees for all that they have done to help improve human health.

    MILES O’BRIEN: If it all ends on the 14th, what happens to the research? Is it all for naught?

    MATTHIAS SCHNELL: For now, it’s really off, and we can’t do what we like to do. So, we can’t do any follow-up studies until it’s approved. So, hopefully, that will change.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Dr. Schnell hopes he can gather enough data and make his vaccine stable without refrigeration in time for Peter Walsh to begin distributing oral vaccines among a half-dozen gorilla groups at two sites in Africa in early 2016.

    And they will also assess a technique to test for the Ebola antibodies in the chimpanzees’ feces, essential to judge the success of vaccinations in the bush. If all goes well, Walsh will keep pushing for mass vaccinations of wild apes.

    But is that level of human intervention appropriate?

    PETER WALSH: The problem is, we’re intervening in so many other ways there in a bad way that we really — it’s a moral imperative that we actually intervene in a good way sometime. And — and vaccination is a way that we can intervene in a good way.

    If we don’t do this, we’re going to lose our closest relatives.

    MILES O’BRIEN: There are still big questions about how to vaccinate wild apes and if it’s a good idea. But thousands of humans have now received experimental Ebola vaccines, with good results. So, in this case, humans may, in some small way, be the guinea pigs for the chimps.

    Miles O’Brien, the PBS NewsHour, New Iberia, Louisiana.

    The post Why researchers are racing to test an Ebola vaccine for apes appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) delivers an address to Liberty University students at the school in Lynchburg, Virginia, September 14, 2015. REUTERS/Jay Paul - RTS12T6

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: The push and pull of 2016 politics in recent weeks have devolved into name-calling, counterpunches and bitter accusation.

    Lost in all of that, some of the candidates have actually been talking about policy, from taxes to foreign policy to income inequality.

    We explore some of that and preview Wednesday’s second big Republican debate this Politics Monday.

    I’m joined by Susan Page of USA Today and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

    Ladies, let’s start by talking about Bernie Sanders, who today was at Liberty University, a conservative Christian school in South Carolina, and he was making the case that, in fact, the income inequality that he talks about in his speeches is actually a moral issue. Let’s listen to a little bit of it.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, Democratic Presidential Candidate: There is no justice when, in recent years, we have seen a proliferation of millionaires and billionaires, while at the same time the United States of America has the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country on Earth.

    GWEN IFILL: It should be said there was some pushback at Liberty, which, by the way, is Virginia, not South Carolina. There was some pushback, in which people said, well, what about abortion? We consider caring for children to also be about children, children’s issues and equality issues.

    So what was Bernie Sanders up to, Susan?

    SUSAN PAGE, USA Today: I think this is such a smart thing. I think politicians are so wise to go to places that are not their natural audiences and make their case.

    I mean, what could be more appealing, and what could we possibly need more in our politics than people who are willing to talk to people who disagree with them? He was making a — he did go there with a point to make, though. There are probably not six votes for Bernie Sanders in the student body at Liberty University, but he was making the case that caring for people, the biblical injunction to take care of the neediest among us, is something that applies to the case he’s trying to make in terms of a liberal economic policy.

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Yes.

    And it’s not just that he was willing to go into the lion’s den, so to speak, somewhere that is not going to be naturally looking to vote for somebody like Bernie Sanders, but it also highlights this authenticity that Bernie Sanders is really taking and doing a lot with.

    And I think it’s part of the reason that you have seen him do so well in the polls, is that people see him as somebody that’s really — he’s got a message. He goes anywhere. He doesn’t care where that is and gives that same message.

    GWEN IFILL: He didn’t back down.

    AMY WALTER: And will not back down on any of that. And there is something that is incredibly appealing about that.

    SUSAN PAGE: And he acknowledged their differences.

    AMY WALTER: That’s right. He said, we’re not going to agree on…

    SUSAN PAGE: He acknowledged that they differed on issues like same-sex marriage and abortion. That doesn’t mean that they can’t have a conversation about the issues that face the country.

    GWEN IFILL: And then it ended with a prayer with his interviewer on the Rosh Hashanah, a Jewish — he is Jewish — at a Christian university, praying for the future of the world. So, maybe that’s the way it ought to be.

    Let’s move on to Hillary Clinton, who gave a speech today about sexual assault on campus, in which she’s trying also to stay on policy. But even as she focuses on policy, on issues which draw attention to what she sees as her strengths, we see a new poll today. And in this new poll, it shows, in the past eight weeks, Hillary Clinton has dropped from 71 percent approval among Democratic women down to 42 percent.

    That’s a big drop. What’s going on with Hillary Clinton?

    AMY WALTER: Well, and that’s why, this week, actually the next two weeks, are dubbed women for Hillary.

    So this event on campus rape follows — she had an appearance with Ellen DeGeneres. She’s talking about her speech she had in 1994 where she talked about women’s rights being human rights at the U.N., and really trying to remind women voters about the fact that she is a historic candidate, would be obviously the first woman to be president.

    Hillary Clinton has enjoyed the support of women without ever making the case for why it would be important to be a female candidate. But we’re seeing here flashes of what we saw in 2008 as well, which is, one, it’s difficult to make the case purely on a gender basis for why Hillary Clinton should be elected. She’s not necessarily comfortable doing that, doesn’t want to be just seen as a gender candidate.

    And the second is that even female voters are looking for other — something else in the other candidates. This is where the authenticity, being different, being different on some of the issues in the way that Bernie Sanders…

    GWEN IFILL: She clearly knows that she’s in some sort of trouble.

    I want to move to the Republicans, Susan, because we know that Trump has been the big shadow over all of this case. But we have seen Jeb Bush giving a speech about — about income — I mean, about taxes. We have seen Scott Walker talking about labor unions. We have actually seen these candidates trying to talk about these issues.

    But one of the ones that seems to have taken hold, speaking of women voters, was with Carly Fiorina, who has been coming up somewhat in the polls, when Donald Trump said that — gave an interview to “Rolling Stone” in which he said: Look at that face. Would you vote for that face?

    She responded with this ad, of which we will show you a little bit in part.

    CARLY FIORINA, Republican Presidential Candidate: Look at this face and look at all of your faces, the face of leadership, the face of leadership in our party, the party of women’s suffrage.

    GWEN IFILL: And at end, she ends up saying, and this is what a 61-year-old face looks like, wrinkles and all.

    Is this her attempt to go for the same folks that Hillary Clinton is also trying to go for?

    SUSAN PAGE: Well, it’s brilliant. I think it’s like the best ad of the cycle, not that there have been so many, in that she took something that was meant as a slur and that she could have taken offense at and called him on for sexism, and said she turned it to her advantage and she made this very effective ad.

    I will be very curious to see what she does in the debate Wednesday night, when she makes it on stage with the top tier of candidates. She has been a very interesting candidate, in that she sits in the outsider mold of the people who are doing well.

    If you look at the top two Republicans in the ABC/Washington Post poll, who got 53 percent of the support of Republicans between them, they’re both — neither of them have been elected anything ever, Trump and Dr. Carson. Add that — Fiorina, that, clearly, this is a year in which there is a willingness to consider folks that we would not traditionally have considered qualified to be considered for president.

    GWEN IFILL: Is that the secret, perhaps, to out-Trumping Trump, my newest favorite phrase, by the way, which is that you find — you take the things he throws that you and turn it to the subject you want to talk about?

    AMY WALTER: Well, we will see, I think, in this debate at how successful some candidates are.

    I think you’re right, that Carly Fiorina is really honing that message to be able to come back at Donald Trump. And I’m sure every single other candidate is trying to find that one really good turn of phrase to get back at him.

    The hope is two things among Republicans, one, that he just sort of jumps the shark, to use a TV term, that he just — it just becomes something of a bore, that — his doing this over and over again. And the second is that they are going to turn it to their advantage, one, by saying, I have a cute quip to come back to you, but also we’re going to talk about some of the policy issues, specifically calling Donald Trump out as not being true conservative, calling Donald Trump out for not really having any depth of policy.

    GWEN IFILL: Even though there are no polls that seem to show that…

    AMY WALTER: That that is actually working.

    GWEN IFILL: That that is actually working.

    AMY WALTER: One interesting thing aside, too, about the Carly ad, just to show the new era that we’re in, in campaigns, that’s actually a super PAC ad.

    And the reason that you see she’s not talking to the camera is because she can’t. They can’t coordinate, with the rules.

    SUSAN PAGE: They can’t “coordinate.”

    GWEN IFILL: “Coordinate.” There’s lot of air quotes this election year.

    OK, so, quickly, what are you guys watching for in this debate? Who are you watching most closely and what would you like to see come out of it?

    SUSAN PAGE: The lead in this debate is going to have Donald Trump’s name in it. There’s no way it doesn’t. What does he do? What do others do to him?

    And you know this idea that you can call him out on policy or say he has not been a consistent conservative, people don’t care about that. They care that he’s somebody who is going to break the china, get things done. They think the system is corrupt, the government doesn’t work. Why not go with somebody as unexpected as Trump to shake things up?

    AMY WALTER: Well, and that is the question, is that, will it last over time?

    I think this is what voters are looking for today. Is that going to be the same thing they’re looking for in October, in November, in December, as we start to get closer to voting time?

    But I think I’m also looking to see if Scott Walker and Jeb Bush can improve their performances. They’re both seen as sort of lackluster. They didn’t really get a strong message out. It’s not just about pushing back against Trump. It’s showing who they are, why they want to be president.

    GWEN IFILL: And whether Ben Carson can take advantage of this latest surge which he’s also enjoying.

    AMY WALTER: Absolutely true, absolutely.

    GWEN IFILL: Amy Walter, Susan Page, as always.

    AMY WALTER: Thank you.

    SUSAN PAGE: Thanks.

    GWEN IFILL: See you debate night.

    The post Above the campaign noise, candidates talk issues appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) headquarters strands in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, April 9, 2014. The deadline for filing 2013 U.S. taxes is April 15. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    Starting next year, your check won’t be any good at the IRS — if you’re making a tax payment of $100 million or more. Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    WASHINGTON (AP) — No checks, please. Starting next year, your check won’t be any good at the IRS — if you’re making a tax payment of $100 million or more.

    The IRS says it will reject all checks for more than $99,999,999 because check-processing equipment at the nation’s Federal Reserve banks can’t handle checks that big.

    Checks of $100 million or more have to be processed by hand, increasing the risk of theft, fraud and errors, according to a pair of memos from the IRS and the Treasury Department.

    As a result, the richest among us will have to wire their tax payments electronically. Or write multiple checks for less than $100 million apiece.

    Conservatives have been complaining for years that President Barack Obama is trying to stick it to the rich, regularly proposing to raise their taxes. Now, they say, the Obama administration is making it harder for the super-rich to pay those taxes.

    “If Obama really gets mean, he’s going to make them bring in pennies or nickels,” said anti-tax guru Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, in a bit of tongue-in-cheek hyperbole.

    Pete Sepp, president of the National Taxpayers Union, said: “When our indebted federal government turns down large checks for fear of fraud or mishandling, it’s time to revise processing procedures and security rather than inconveniencing or deterring taxpayers.”

    Apparently, people sending huge checks to the federal government is a growing problem.

    The Treasury Department says it has noticed an increase in federal agencies trying to deposit checks of $100 million or more. This year, the IRS accepted 14 checks for more than $99,999,999.

    The Federal Reserve says most commercial banks can’t process checks with amounts that stretch for more than 10 digits, including cents. The Fed says federal agencies have been prohibited from depositing checks of $100 million or more for years.

    Apparently, the IRS didn’t get the memo.

    The IRS declined to comment even though the tax agency’s memo urged officials to spread the word about the check limit “in as many media forms as possible between now and Dec. 31, 2015.”

    The IRS didn’t reveal who actually writes a check for $100 million, whether they were individuals or businesses. Confidentiality laws prevent those kinds of disclosures. Very few individuals pay that much in federal income taxes.

    Each year, the IRS tracks the 400 taxpayers with the highest incomes. These high rollers had an average income of nearly $336 million in 2012, the latest year for data. Their average tax bill was $56 million.

    A corporation would have to make nearly $300 million in taxable profits to have a tax bill of $100 million. Investors who get the bulk of their income from capital gains would have to make about $500 million in taxable income to have a tax bill that big.

    On Capitol Hill, there was little sympathy for people who will no longer be able to write enormous checks to the government.

    “I have a lot of envy,” said Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y. “I don’t know if I have sympathy for someone who’s required to pay that kind of taxes.”

    Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said he wishes he made enough money to pay $100 million in taxes.

    “It sounds to me like these people could afford to pay electronically,” Van Hollen said.

    Nearly 90 percent of individuals already file their federal taxes electronically, according to the IRS.

    Norquist saw irony in a government facing a deficit rejecting large sums of money.

    “You’re trying to write a $100 million check to the government and they’re treating you like dirt?” he said. “These are your customers. If this was Las Vegas, they’d give you the suite and a bottle of champagne for free.”

    The post Pay your taxes, but don’t send IRS that $100 million check appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Migrants wait in front of a makeshift camp to be interview at the foreign office in Brussels, Belgium, September 14, 2015. Europe's migration crisis has spilled over into a muddy park in Brussels where hundreds of migrants are camping in tents not far from the European Union's headquarters in one of the most visible signs of the urgency facing the bloc's officials. REUTERS/Yves Herman - RTS10GT

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    GWEN IFILL: So, how much will today’s decisions in Brussels help ease the migrant crisis and the rest of Europe?

    Jeffrey Brown has that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And with us is Hungary’s ambassador to the United States, Reka Szemerkenyi, and from the Greek island of Lesbos, former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, now president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee.

    And, Ambassador, let me start with you.

    At the meeting today in Brussels, an U.N. official spoke of a heated debate, of the majority of countries wanting to move forward, but some countries, including Hungary, I gather, still against a quota system. Why?

    REKA SZEMERKENYI, Ambassador, Hungary: The quota system is one that really doesn’t help in solving the situation.

    What we can see in Hungary is an unprecedented wave of migration and that is really a dramatic shock to the world country, and I think it’s a dramatic shock to the whole continent.

    What we could see is also a major need of basic humanitarian needs, and what we could see from the Hungarian society — I just got back from Hungary a few days ago — is a massive wave of response for the immediate humanitarian needs of these people coming into the country.

    We have been providing food, shelter, medication, even schooling for the children of the migrant families entering Hungarian soil, but, unfortunately, sympathy is not enough. We have to move beyond.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But the E.U. as a whole has not moved beyond.

    Let me ask David Miliband.

    What was your reaction to the seeming stalemate still today?

    DAVID MILIBAND, Former Foreign Secretary, United Kingdom: I think that Europe has been very late to get a grip with this crisis, and it’s vital that big and bold decisions are taken by the European Union.

    After all, there are 2,000 to 3,000 people arriving every day in Lesbos, the island off of Greece that has borne about half of the refugees entering Europe. I think it’s vital that we both tackle the symptoms of this problem, which are the unprecedented surge that the ambassador speaks out, with proper humanitarian help, coordinated across the European Union with competence, as well as compassion, and that we also tackle the problem at source, because organizations like mine are not just working here in Europe.

    We’re also working in Syria, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, whose societies are creaking under the strain of a civil war that seems to be without end.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But, Ambassador, you speak of the need for more humanitarian help. At the same time, your government has gone even further, though, in announcing a zero tolerance policy for further allowing refugee — at the border for refugees or migrants.

    Why go even further? What happens to those people that come to your border now?

    REKA SZEMERKENYI: The Hungarian border is one that has been receiving the most impressive and biggest shock of migration coming into continental Europe on vital land.

    And what we could see is that the response to this massive pressure has been, on one hand, the expression of empathy and sympathy towards the migrants, trying to provide them whatever is needed, down to baby strollers for the families and immediate help for the women and children coming into the country.

    At the same time, what we also focused on is the establishment of the security for the rest of the continent. We live up to our promises and we live up to the commitments that we made to the rest of the European Union countries in defending the territory and in providing security for all of us.

    What we try to do is to make as clear that we follow all the Schengen requirements to provide for the registration of these refugees and migrants. At the same time, what we’re trying to do is to go through the exact procedure that is what we have undertaken.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You’re referring to the agreements over the borders.

    But, at the same time, your country has been hit by a lot of criticism for an insensitivity to the refugee situation. Your prime minister of course got criticized after he spoke of working to keep Europe Christian.

    What is your response to that criticism that has hit Hungary?

    REKA SZEMERKENYI: What I have seen is a massive outflow of sympathy and support for the migrants.

    What many Hungarian volunteers have shown was giving their free time day and night to work for the migrants, providing them the necessary help, both in food and medication, as well as includes blankets and sleeping bags for the stay — their stay in Hungary.

    What we have seen is a very clear experience of sympathy towards these people.

    JEFFREY BROWN: David Miliband, you spoke of Europe needing to take faster and bigger action. And yet right now, what we’re seeing is more countries taking action to close their borders. So what is the way forward? What do you see?

    DAVID MILIBAND: I think that we have seen extraordinary leadership from Germany, backed up in a way by France, Italy and Belgium.

    I think there is progress with Poland. I don’t think anyone doubts that the Hungarian people are full of generosity. No one is saying that the Hungarian people are as misguided and shortsighted as the decision of a government which seems to believe that building a wall is an answer to a refugee crisis.

    This is of course especially ironic, given that, in 1956, when Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest, 200,000 Hungarians went into Austria and were welcomed as refugees. I think it’s absolutely vital that Europe is able to show that it can handle what, after all, is a small percentage of the European population.

    If there are 500,000 refugees in a continent of 500 million people, your viewers can immediately do the math and see that this is a question of management, not of a continent being overwhelmed. Equally, it’s absolutely vital that we don’t simply bottle up the problem, either in individual European countries like Greece or Italy, which have been buckling under the strain, or in Serbia, which is the next-door neighbor of Hungary.

    And the decision simply to build a fence and hope for the best, I’m afraid, is going to create a tinderbox in Serbia.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Madam Ambassador, your response to that, the charge that building a wall is not the — not the answer here?

    REKA SZEMERKENYI: Our common European space and open internal borders are really predicated on the premise that common external borders are secure. This is the commitment that we undertook and this is the commitment that we’re living up to.

    Obviously, it’s all in our — everybody’s interest in the European Union itself to secure our borders. The border control and the border — registration at the border stations is a requirement that helps us to ensure everybody, all our friends within the European Union in the neighboring countries, that they can count on us, that we provide for their security and we take our responsibility very seriously.

    We have made that commitment and we live up to that commitment.

    JEFFREY BROWN: David Miliband, finally, you’re there in Lesbos. What are you seeing in terms of the continuing flow of refugees and migrants? You expect the numbers to continue?

    DAVID MILIBAND: You can probably see behind me shadows. These are people who are sleeping in the port, waiting for ferries tomorrow.

    My organization, the International Rescue Committee, has been trying to provide basic water and sanitation and humanitarian help, including some transport for people who, when they land in the north of the island, are expected to make a 40-kilometer walk.

    This is women, children, families, as well as able-bodied young men. And I think that the message to Europeans, but also frankly to the United States, is a very simple one. The Syrian crisis is now a global refugee crisis with global responsibilities that need to attend to all nations.

    That means that, in Europe, there needs to be some significant shift in policy, but also, frankly, the U.S., which so far has only taken about 1,500 refugees from Syria over the course of four years, need to live up to its historic standard-setting role as a leader of refugee resettlement.

    We have got to tackle this at both ends of the problem, the immediate symptoms of crisis, the humanitarian crisis, but also the deeper political causes in the Middle East. That’s the only way to build the kind of security that the ambassador has rightly spoken of.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, David Miliband and Ambassador Reka Szemerkenyi, thank you both very much.

    REKA SZEMERKENYI: Thank you.

    The post How should EU manage its borders amid the migrant crisis? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Syrian migrants walk to the shore to board a dinghy bound for the Greek island of Lesbos, in the Turkish coastal town of Behramkale, in Canakkale province, Turkey, August 27, 2015. REUTERS/Murad Sezer - RTX1PX40

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    GWEN IFILL: Tens of thousands of refugees and migrants continued their long journeys today in Europe, as the continent’s leaders met to chart a path forward and the two-decade-old free travel policy among European Union nations was put on hold.

    From Izmir, Turkey, special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Interior ministers from across Europe arrived in Brussels with a quota plan on the table to spread 160,000 asylum-seekers across the continent.

    The E.U. did agree on relocating 40,000 migrants, but felt short of consensus on a more comprehensive plan.

    DIMITRIS AVRAMOPOULOS, European Commissioner for Migration and House Affairs: But for our proposal on 120,000, we didn’t hear the agreement we wanted. A majority of the member states are ready to move forward, but not all. The commission is determined to take action. We will need another council meeting in the coming days.

    This has always been how Europe works. When we do not succeed the first time, yes, we try again. The world is watching us. It is time for each and every one to take their responsibilities.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: But others, especially those in the poorer states of Eastern Europe, balked at any talk of quotas.

    MAN: We think that quotas is not the solution. And we have to help the countries which are most affected by these huge flows of migrants.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: But, amid the debate in Brussels, Europe’s system of no borders began to crumble. On Sunday, Germany imposed stricter border controls and sent in more police to step up screening. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said his government remains committed to the effort, but needs help.

    FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER, Foreign Minister, Germany (through interpreter): We stand by our responsibility, and will continue to do so, but we must also make sure that we keep our own shop in order. Germany clearly cannot manage this burden alone. We must introduce a real responsibility-sharing. If everybody takes on their fair share, then the burden will be manageable for everybody.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The German move caused traffic backups at the border with Austria, and set off a chain reaction along the route the migrants take to get to Germany. In Austria, the government added its own controls along the border with Hungary.

    Some 14,000 refugees entered Austria on Sunday alone, and at least 7,000 more came today, before officials moved to stem the flow. And Hungary’s conservative government stepped up its own aggressive efforts. Crews raced to complete a fence along the border with Serbia, and troops deployed to seal off unfinished portions. Tomorrow, new laws in Hungary will allow police to jail anyone trying to enter the country illegally.

    Meanwhile, in Turkey, refugees waiting in Izmir watched the developments across Europe with foreboding. The port city is one of the staging posts feeding into the human smuggling racket. It’s an expensive and often perilous journey to the Greek islands, not far away for the many here in the district of Basmane. They are mainly Syrians, sleeping where they can, in squalid, unsanitary conditions.

    These sleeping represent just a fraction of the tens of thousands of refugees who have gathered on Turkey’s Mediterranean coastline hoping to get to Europe. Some children were up early on a day when the winds and seas were said to be favorable for the voyage. In the mosque in the main square, where many refugees shelter, the most desperate desire is for the European Union to open the land borders between Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria to put an end to the drownings that have claimed thousands.

    MAN (through interpreter): One important thing regarding our Turkish brothers who deal with Arab countries, migrants and those who seek asylum to these European countries, finish your good deed. See all these families with your own eyes. For Turkey, America, and the E.U., all the countries that demand human rights, open the crossing. Why would children suffer? Families are incurring debts to come here and cross, and some drown.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: As she sat with her grandchildren in the shade in the mosque, Rahme Habul, from Aleppo in Syria, was unaware that European countries were hastily fortifying their frontiers. She says three of her sons were kidnapped and murdered by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    RAHME HABUL, Syrian migrant (through interpreter): I intend to go from my country, Syria, to Germany or any destination you take us. I don’t know. I think God would oversee this. God chose to take my kids. They killed them. They told me they grinded them in a cement factory and left them there. Why? For what?

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Some European politicians have said there’s no need for the Syrians to leave Turkey, where they are now safe from war. But living conditions in the makeshift camps there are grim. And some of the refugees are concerned that if they make it across the sea to Greece, they will get stuck on the wrong side of the fence being erected by Hungary.

    MAN (through interpreter): We have heard that Hungary is closing the borders in the face of Syrians. Is this news true or not? We demand that the barbed wires be removed and facilitate their transportation.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The European Union may be talking about how to accommodate 160,000 refugees and migrants in an orderly fashion, but all the indications are that that is a completely unrealistic figure.

    And later this week in Turkey, there is going to be an attempt to test the resolve of Europe to protect its outer limits; 3,000 people are planning to march from Istanbul to Edirne, which is where the Greek and Bulgarian borders meet. What they want to do is to open the gates of Europe and put an end to the sea crossings.

    The refugees here are desperately hoping that they succeed. And if they do, it could divide a very fractious Europe still further.

    For the PBS NewsHour, this is Malcolm Brabant in Izmir, Turkey.

    The post As EU steps up controls, refugees wish for open land borders from Turkey appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Firefighters survey a destroyed home at the so-called Valley Fire near Middleton, California September 14, 2015. A Northern California wildfire ranked as the most destructive to hit the drought-stricken U.S. West this year has claimed one life and burned at least 400 homes to the ground, fire officials reported on Monday, saying they expected the property toll to climb.  REUTERS/David Ryder - RTS138H

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    GWEN IFILL: A firestorm roared across Northern California today, leaving at least 400 homes in ruins and one person dead. The Valley Fire has swept across 95 square miles north of the Napa Valley region. And southeast of Sacramento, the Butte Fire has burned another 135 homes. Between them, the two fires have forced 23,000 people out of their homes, and left crews struggling to hold the line.

    Middletown, California was an ashy, gray ghost town today. The Valley Fire that exploded over the weekend didn’t discriminate. Cars, homes, parking structures all burned to a crisp.

    WOMAN: It was a wall of fire behind us when we left, scariest thing ever. I — I am still in shock.

    GWEN IFILL: That wall of fire moved down from the mountains on Saturday afternoon and burned out of control in all directions. More than 1,400 firefighters faced the worst possible conditions: a brutal drought that’s has turned trees and brush into tinderboxes, combined with blistering heat and high winds.

    GOV. JERRY BROWN (D), California: This is damn serious stuff. Firefighters have to be careful, but so do people who live out in their cabins or their homes. They have to leave when they get the word. This is not just this year. This is the future from now on. It’s going to get worse.

    GWEN IFILL: The area is full of horse farms. And many of the animals were left behind, as owners fled with little warning.

    MARK GHILARDUCCI, Director, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services: In the case of the Valley Fire, we have roughly 13,000 individuals that have been displaced. Up on the Butte Fire, we have at least 10,000 that have been displaced. These communities still are in an active firefight.

    GWEN IFILL: Not quite 200 miles away, the Butte Fire flared up last Wednesday and has burned across 110 square miles, and scores more homes. It’s 30 percent contained. Firefighters hope for help from the weather as a low-pressure system moves in and possibly brings showers in the next few days.

    In Afghanistan, Taliban fighters stormed a prison, allowing 355 prisoners to escape. A suicide car bomber breached the main gate of the facility in Ghazni, and Taliban fighters attacked troops who tried to rush in to help. At least four guards and four militants were killed.

    Security forces in Egypt attacked a convoy of Mexican tourists today, killing a dozen people and wounding 10. It happened near an oasis in Egypt’s Western Desert. The convoy was hit by air and ground fire. Officials said a military and police force had been chasing Islamist militants, and mistook the target — the tourists, that is, for their target. Mexico condemned the attack and called for a full investigation.

    There’s been another political change down under. Conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott was ousted today by members of his own party amid falling support and worries about the economy. Instead, they chose Malcolm Turnbull as the new prime minister, the country’s fourth leader in just over two years.

    MALCOLM TURNBULL, Prime Minister-Elect, Australia: The Australia of the future has to be a nation that is agile, that is innovative, that is creative. We cannot be defensive. We cannot future-proof ourselves. We have to recognize that the disruption that we see driven by technology, the volatility and change is our friend, if we are agile and smart enough to take advantage of it.

    GWEN IFILL: Abbott drew international attention last year with a drive to repeal Australia’s carbon tax and instead pay industry to operate more cleanly. Turnbull gave no indication that he will seek to change that policy.

    Back in this country, a judge in South Carolina refused bond for Michael Slager, a former policeman accused of murdering an unarmed suspect. Slager faces a murder charge in the death of Walter Scott. Video showed him firing eight times after Scott ran from a traffic stop. Slager wanted to be released from jail pending his trial.

    Kim Davis returned to work as Rowan County clerk in Kentucky. She spent five days in jail for refusing marriage licenses for same-sex couples, citing her religious beliefs. Today, deputies in her office went ahead and issued licenses, and Davis didn’t interfere. She said an impossible choice had been forced on her.

    KIM DAVIS, Rowan County Clerk: I don’t want to have this conflict, I don’t want to be in the spotlight, and I certainly don’t want to be a whipping post. I am no hero. I am just a person who has been transformed by the grace of God and who wants to work and be with my family. I just want to serve my neighbors quietly without violating my conscience.

    GWEN IFILL: Davis and her lawyers argue the licenses will not be valid without her signature. But Kentucky’s governor, attorney general and the county attorney say they are.

    And on Wall Street today, stocks weren’t able to hold on to early gains, in the face of more signs of slowing growth in China. Instead, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 62 points to close at 16370. The Nasdaq fell 16 points. And the S&P 500 dropped eight.

    The post News Wrap: Wildfires scorch hundreds of homes in Northern California appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Alabama officials unanimously voted to update textbooks to include curriculum on climate change and evolution, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. Photo by Timuiuc/Flickr.

    Alabama officials unanimously voted to update textbooks to include curriculum on climate change and evolution, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. Photo by Timuiuc/Flickr

    For the first time, Alabama students will be required to learn about evolution and climate change after the State Board of Education unanimously voted to update the science standard for 2016. The last time the science standards was updated was a decade ago.

    The 40-member committee included people with self-described strong religious beliefs. Michael Robinson, a science specialist with the state educational agency, told the Associated Press that the members took into account Alabama’s faith-based traditions when developing the new guidelines.

    “We still have to teach what the science is,” Robinson said, according to the AP. “If students want to go into a science field in college or beyond, they have to have a foundation.”

    The new guidelines, which have been under construction for the past three years, support the teaching of evolution and the idea that climate change is happening. Instructors will use scientific evidence to support the evolutionary hypothesis and will analyze human’s impact on the environment.

    Another big change in the guidelines is how the information will be taught in the classroom. Students will learn more through observation, experimentation and data analysis, rather than with lectures and textbooks.

    Since 1995, Alabama textbooks had a disclaimer around evolutionary teachings, saying the ideas were controversial.

    The new standards do not require these warnings to be removed; however, a committee will review the use of the disclaimer with a public hearing on Nov. 9.

    Although set for next year, Steve Ricks, the director of the Alabama Department of Education’s math and science initiative, told The Huffington Post the state is being “extremely proactive” and rolling out the guidelines immediately.

    The post For first time, Alabama schools required to teach climate change, evolution appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Think you can make Pope Francis laugh? The new campaign "Joke with the Pope" encourages people to donate their favorite (clean) joke while supporting a cause. Photo by Ansa/Luca Zennaro/Pool via Reuters

    Think you can make Pope Francis laugh? The new campaign “Joke with the Pope” encourages people to donate their favorite (clean) joke while supporting a cause. Photo by Ansa/Luca Zennaro/Pool via Reuters

    Tickets to next week’s Masses with Pope Francis in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., went rapidly, but that doesn’t mean you can’t engage with the pope during his 2015 tour of the United States. You just need to have a sense of humor.

    Last week, the Pontifical Mission Societies launched the campaign Joke with the Pope, which will run until Oct. 5. The campaign encourages people to donate their favorite joke (keep it clean people!) to make the pope laugh. Contestants are to submit their jokes via JokeWithThePope.org.

    Father Andrew Small, a director at the Pontifical Mission Societies and the creator of the campaign, told Vatican Radio that the idea behind the campaign is about spreading joy. “When it comes to the differences between us, one thing unites us and that’s humor,” he said.

    The deadline for submitting jokes is Oct. 2. Comedian Bill Murray will host a panel to choose the winner, who will be announced Oct. 5 and will be named “honorary comedic adviser to the pope.” More importantly, they will choose a charity which will receive a $10,000 donation.

    The post Got a joke for the pope? You can win a spot as his ‘comedic adviser’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Five air traffic controllers have stepped forward to expose a problem that they say puts planes at risk of colliding, a federal whistleblower protection office said Tuesday. Photo by Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

    Five air traffic controllers have stepped forward to expose a problem that they say puts planes at risk of colliding, a federal whistleblower protection office said Tuesday. Photo by Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Five air traffic controllers have exposed a problem that is putting planes at risk of colliding or accidents due to wake turbulence, a federal whistleblower protection office said Tuesday.

    The problem occurs when pilots, air traffic control centers or airline dispatchers try to make changes to a flight plan by creating a second plan for the same flight, according to letters sent to the White House and Congress by the Office of Special Counsel, an independent agency.

    The “pre-departure clearance” computer software designed to automate the filing and amending of flight plans and the delivery of departure clearances isn’t capable of flagging or identifying multiple plans that have been filed for the same flight, the letters said. This can result in a controller clearing a flight for departure based on an outdated plan, and the pilots flying a route not anticipated or planned for by the controller.

    To try to catch the problem, controllers have to go through the time-consuming process of reviewing flights plans, calling pilots and searching through paper strips that are passed among controllers and marked to track a plane’s progress from taxing to takeoff. Then they compare the information on the paper strips to data displayed on computers.

    The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed the problem in December 2014 and revived a working group to address the matter, the counsel’s office said in a statement.

    But audits in April and July confirm that problem still remains, the counsel’s office said.

    The controllers who blew the whistle on the problem work at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, Mich. But the problem affects air traffic nationwide.

    “The investigation found that air traffic control facilities across the national airspace system are encountering this problem on a regular basis, and that it is significantly more common during inclement weather periods,” said Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner.

    Airlines are more likely to make multiple revisions in flight plans during bad weather. Those also tend to be periods when controllers have a heavier than normal workload.

    “The whistleblowers in Detroit deserve our deep gratitude,” said Lerner. “While more work needs to be done, their actions reignited efforts to address the problems.”

    In 2012, the FAA created a working group to address the problem of multiple flight plans. However, the counsel’s office said FAA officials have acknowledged the group “had little impact.” The agency also told the counsel’s office that senior officials either were not aware of, or did not perceive, the significance of the problem.

    Vincent Sugent, one of the controllers who reported the problem to the counsel’s office, said controllers have been complaining to FAA officials about the problem for about seven or eight years. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association also raised the problem with the agency, he said.

    “They (FAA officials) admitted the problem multiple times,” he said in an interview. “But they were just really slow. They weren’t acting quickly enough.”

    Just recently, controllers in Detroit cleared a small airliner for takeoff using a flight plan that said the plane was to head west, Sugent said. It wasn’t until after takeoff that controllers discovered a second flight plan had been filed by the airline’s dispatchers calling for the plane to head east, which is the direction pilots took, he said.

    Incidents like that typically happen once or twice a week in Detroit, he said.

    Controllers also disclosed other problems with the pre-departure clearance system, including erroneous alerts and notifications, Lerner said in her letters. Sometimes the system displays revision alerts when no changes have been made, a flight doesn’t exist, or it’s already departed, she said.

    An FAA spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

    The post Federal whistleblowers say this problem could cause planes to collide appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's co-founder and chief executive announced Tuesday that Facebook would develop a 'dislike' button.  REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

    Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s co-founder and chief executive announced Tuesday that Facebook would develop a ‘dislike’ button. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

    Recognizing that the “like” button isn’t appropriate for deaths to life’s tragedies, Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced Tuesday that the company is building a “dislike” button for the site.

    “I think people have asked about the dislike button for many years,” Zuckerberg said, according to Business Insider, during a town hall meeting at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. “Today is a special day because today is the day I can say we’re working on it and shipping it.”

    Zuckerberg said the company routinely resisted making the companion button because it wanted to avoided the upvoting and downvoting structure of Reddit. Zuckerberg then pinpointed the refugee crisis as an example of when a “like” button didn’t quite apply.

    “What [users] really want is the ability to express empathy,” he said. “Not every moment is a good moment.”

    Zuckerberg did not give an exact launch date for the new option, but he said it would be available soon.

    The post Like this post: Facebook’s working on a ‘dislike’ button appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Literature, Personalities, pic: January 1946, English crime writer Agatha Christie at her home Greenway House, Devon, Agatha Christie,(1890-1976), the world's best known mystery writer, famous for her Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple stories, and for her plays including "The Mousetrap"  (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

    English crime writer Agatha Christie at her home Greenway House in Devon, England. Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images

    Today marks the 125th birthday of famed British novelist Agatha Christie, a pioneer of detective fiction best-known for creating enigmatic characters Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple along with suspenseful whodunits like “Murder on the Orient Express” and “The Mousetrap.” But even Christie’s less-publicized accomplishments are impressive. Below, a few highlights that may surprise you.

    1. She wrote her first novel on a bet.

    Agatha Christie wrote her first novel, “The Mysterious Affair at Styles,” because her sister Madge bet her that she couldn’t. The book was published in 1916 and featured Hercule Poirot, a Belgian detective who would appear in many of her works.

    2. She knew how to catch a wave. 

    Christie is the first British woman documented to have stood up while riding a surfboard, according to Pete Robinson, founder of the Museum of British Surfing. In 1922, Christie’s first husband, Archie, was helping to organize a world tour promoting the British Empire Exhibition, an event celebrating British imperialism that ran during the summers of 1924 and 1925 in Wembley Stadium in north London. While in Cape Town, the two took up surfing. They later traveled to Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii, where Christie stood up on her board for the first time. She wrote about the experience in her autobiography:

    “I learned to become expert – or at any rate expert from the European point of view – the moment of complete triumph on the day that I kept my balance and came right into shore standing upright on my board!”

    3. She was a part-time archaeologist.

    In 1928, Christie became interested in archaeology and toured a dig led by archaeologist Sir Charles Leonard Woolley at Ur, an ancient Mesopotamian city, in Iraq. She was invited back the following year, when she met her second husband, archaeologist Max Mallowan. Christie learned to help out and assisted on several of Mallowan’s digs while also reserving time for writing.

    Actors Sean Connery and Vanessa Redgrave appear on the poster for the film 'Murder On The Orient Express', based on the novel by Agatha Christie, 1974. (Photo by Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images)

    Actors Sean Connery and Vanessa Redgrave appear on the poster for the film “Murder On The Orient Express” (1974), based on the 1934 novel by Agatha Christie. Photo by Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images

    4. She was an expert on poisons. 

    Christie’s novels are known for their descriptions of poisons, with more than 80 people having fallen victim to poison in her stories. In “The Pale Horse,” she described the symptoms of thallium poisoning so well doctors were able to use it to identify and cure a real case.

    Christie learned about poison while working as a nurse and pharmacy dispenser during World War I. She addressed her preoccupation with poison while writing about her first book “The Mysterious Affair at Styles” in her autobiography. “Since I was surrounded by poisons, perhaps it was natural that death by poisoning should be the method I selected,” she wrote.

    5. She’s second only to Shakespeare in popularity.

    Christie is widely acknowledged to be the best-selling author in the world after Shakespeare. Her books have sold more than two billion copies and translated into more than 103 languages.

    6. Her characters received the star treatment.

    The New York Times ran a full-page obituary for Hercule Poirot on Aug. 6, 1975, shortly before “Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case” was published. The first paragraph read, “Hercule Poirot, a Belgian detective who became internationally famous, has died in England. His age was unknown.” It is the only time the paper has published an obituary for a fictional character.

    7. She wrote the world’s longest-running play.

    Christie is the author of “Mousetrap,” the world’s longest-running play. First performed in 1952, the play is still running on the at the St. Martins Theater in London. Its run exceeds that of the longest-running Broadway show, “Phantom of the Opera,” which opened in 1988 and continues today at the Majestic Theatre. She was also the first female playwright to have had three plays running on the West End simultaneously.

    The post Why Agatha Christie is even more awesome than you thought appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    newshourshare2

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    NewsHour shares web small logoIn our NewsHour Shares series, we show you things that caught our eye recently on the web. What about you? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or tweet to @NewsHour using #NewsHourShares. We might share it on air.

    GWEN IFILL: Today marks the halfway point in a year-long mission on the International Space Station. The goal? To figure out the long-term effects on the human body from being out of this world.

    They are comparing NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, up in the station, with his identical twin brother, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, back here on Earth.

    The post What NASA’s twin tests will teach us about life in space appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    GWEN IFILL: Infant mortality, life expectancy, heart disease, obesity, in almost every area of health outcomes, black people are more vulnerable.

    In the latest addition to the NewsHour Bookshelf, one African-American doctor talks about what that looks like from the inside.

    Jeff is back with that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Being black can be bad for your health.

    It’s a lesson Damon Tweedy writes in his new book, “Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine,” that he learned time and again in his own life and in his many years as a doctor. Tweedy is a psychiatrist at Duke University, where he also attended medical school.

    And welcome to you.

    DR. DAMON TWEEDY, Author, Black Man in a White Coat: Thank you.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, you start with this big subject. Is that what started it for you, that you wanted to write about?

    DR. DAMON TWEEDY: Yes.

    So, race is this really highly charged political subject that we have in our society, obviously, but, for me, this is a very personal story. This is really kind of about my experience and my journey.

    All too often in medical school, you learn about health problems in the black community, you learn — you hear this disease is more common than this. It’s always more common in black people, but you didn’t really hear why. And so it wasn’t — and the question of why is a huge issue for me.

    And there was also a big question about how my experience as a young black man was different than the experiences of other people in my class.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, that comes through, because you’re also saying that, as a young doctor in training, you’re saying constantly hearing about the medical frailties of black people picked at the scab of your insecurity. You didn’t set out thinking about medicine and race.

    DR. DAMON TWEEDY: No, I was actually attracted to medicine.

    It was sort of like this — it was almost like a post-racial kind of mind-set I had. Medicine to me held it appeal to being objective, formulas, equations. And it was really — and that was appealing. So much of society is messy, and life is messy as a black person. So this — it was this appeal that it could be objective.

    And then, when I got to medical school, I kind of got a rude awakening that it wasn’t.

    JEFFREY BROWN:
    When you refer to your insecurities, what do you mean?

    DR. DAMON TWEEDY: I come from Prince George’s County, Maryland. And it was an all-black neighborhood that I grew up in, just outside of Washington, D.C.

    And I went to a state college. Then I got to Duke. Duke is a fancy private school. A lot of my classmates had parents who were doctors. And so I was really insecure about that.

    And as a black person, there is always a sort of thing about, is affirmative action part of why you’re here, and do you really belong? And so I grappling with all those things when I first got to medical school.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You write about a number of incidents that you witnessed in which you saw white doctors unaware of the different ways that they were treating black patients.

    How much in the end did you conclude that race does a play factor in the doctor’s room, in the hospital room?

    DR. DAMON TWEEDY: I think it plays a big factor, and often in ways that the doctor and the patient may not even be aware of.

    And there are several examples I talk about in the book. And there is one example in particular, so it comes to mind off the top of my head. This was a time when I was going to the clinic myself as a patient. So, I’m coming from home. And I had injured my knee a few days earlier.

    And I’m dressed very casually in sweatpants and a sweatshirt. And I come into the exam room with the doctor. And he comes in. And he never looks at me. He just looks at my knee and sort of has me stand up and down and then says, you’re OK, and kind of was going to shuttle me away.

    And being a doctor, I knew that there was more that could be done or should have been done. And so I mentioned to him that I’m a doctor. And then, suddenly, he looks at me, and his eyes kind of light up. And he looks at my knee. He starts to talk to me. And so he really engages in the sort of doctor-patient exchange, the way that it should have been from the beginning.

    And it was a really vivid illustration of how differently I can — perceived. On one hand, I could just be a young black man who is off the street somewhere. And who knows what negative presumptions he may have had, because he didn’t engage with me at all. And then once he realizes I’m a doctor, it was like a totally different experience.

    And so I think that really illustrates how differently things can play out in the exam room.

    JEFFREY BROWN:
    You became a psychiatrist.

    DR. DAMON TWEEDY: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Why?

    DR. DAMON TWEEDY: Great question.

    I never thought, when I went to medical school, I would become — come to psychiatry.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    DR. DAMON TWEEDY: But as I got towards the end of medical school, I took this one rotation just on a flyer, and I really enjoyed it. And the patients told my supervisors that I had a way with — of relaxing people and getting them to talk to me and I had a way of connecting with people.

    And so that really made me think about psychiatry. There is also this huge issue as an African-American. And the mental health in the black community is really a big deal, because, often, black people will be resistant to mental health care or feel like it’s something that’s not for them. And there is this huge sort of stigma that we often deal with.

    And so, as a psychiatrist, I have often been one of the only few black psychiatrist. And so it’s a huge deal there as well.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, this is something important that you have written a lot about, the dearth of the black doctors generally.

    DR. DAMON TWEEDY: Yes. Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And you’re pointing to that as one of the important factors of why blacks fair so poorly in the medical system.

    Why? Why is it important to have more black doctors?

    DR. DAMON TWEEDY: Yes.

    So, African-Americans make up about 13 percent of the population, but about 4 percent of physicians. And it’s like — mental health and psychiatry, it is about the same, really low numbers.

    And what you often see is that there is this issue of the patients don’t trust the health care system because there has been a bad history of things that have happened in the past. And so often, as a black doctor, I’m there to help sort of be a translator in a way.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So that’s why we need more black doctors.

    At the same time, I saw recently the Association of American Medical Colleges, a new report that applications from African-American men have declined…

    DR. DAMON TWEEDY: Yes, exactly.

    JEFFREY BROWN: … from 1978 to recently.

    DR. DAMON TWEEDY: Right. Exactly.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Why?

    DR. DAMON TWEEDY: Yes.

    So, the numbers for black women have actually increased during that time.

    But I think there’s this bigger issue about the way society from the very top down kind of limits the horizons and the expectations of what African-American men can be. And I think that really filters down. It starts from the top and it filters down into the communities.

    I come from that kind of community, where the idea of being a doctor was sort of an alien concept. And it was only the — I had the good fortune of having an older brother who had gone to college and then being in a program — I tested into a program that really set — a magnet program that really set me on that path.

    But there all too many young black men who don’t have those opportunities. And there is talent being squandered. And so I think that is the big factor.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I know this is a sort of personal memoir for you.

    DR. DAMON TWEEDY: Sure.

    JEFFREY BROWN:
    Have you thought about larger questions of policy-type questions of what should be done, either in the medical profession or the wider society?

    DR. DAMON TWEEDY: Sure.

    And in the book, I talk about some of those. I talk about the Affordable Care Act and its — the way it’s helped and the way it’s been undercut by sort of the politics of all of it.

    I also talk about ways in which doctors and patients can be — can sort of be educated to have a better relationship, because I think that’s — a huge issue in my book is about the doctor and patient relationship. And when that’s frayed, that really makes a huge impact on patients. And, ultimately, the way our society is set up, often, black people are the ones who are facing the biggest consequence for that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right.

    The new book is “Black Man in a White Coat.”

    Dr. Damon Tweedy, thank you so much.

    DR. DAMON TWEEDY: Thank you, sir.

    The post A doctor’s memoir shows race matters in the hospital room appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    GWEN IFILL: Now: giving girls access to a more level playing field in an area formerly dominated by boys, making video games.

    Special correspondent Sandra Hughes has the story.

    SANDRA HUGHES: It’s no secret that video gaming is aimed at a male audience. From creation to design to playing the games, the mostly violent first-person shooter games target boys, not girls.

    No wonder. In 2013, women accounted for just 11 percent of computer game designers and only 3 percent of programmers. Ten-year old Scarlett Thompson isn’t too young to understand there’s a gender gap.

    SCARLETT THOMPSON, Alexa Cafe Participant: I love video games.

    SANDRA HUGHES: Do you really?

    SCARLETT THOMPSON: Yes. So, I mean, there’s really…

    SANDRA HUGHES: So, what’s it like — what’s it like for a girl who likes video games? Is it a tough world to be in?

    SCARLETT THOMPSON:
    Kind of, because then, like, you have to compete with people, and it’s just — sometimes it’s really hard, like, online. It’s not as fair and, like, I — like, oh, no I have a girl on my team. What am I going to do?

    SANDRA HUGHES: These girls want to be more than just on the team. They want to create the game. They spent their summer break, along with thousands of others, at girls-only computer coding camps like the Alexa Cafe and Code Like a Girl.

    These camps aim to balance the gender gap in the next generation of coders by supporting an early interest in technology from girls.

    CLAUDIA ORTIZ, Code Like a Girl Instructor: We’re trying to create that environment, say, hey, you could be the world’s best coder. It doesn’t have to be your brother or it doesn’t have to be, like, a male. It can be you.

    TE STEVENS, Code Like a Girl Participant: It’s called Code Like a Girl because we want to be treated equal, but that doesn’t mean that I totally say, oh, boys stink, because that would be kind of not really — that would kind of hypocritical, I guess.

    OLIVIA FISHMAN, Code Like a Girl Participant: It’s awesome because we all are here to learn more. We all have great intellectual minds. And we’re all very curious. And we all have great ideas. And we all — we feed off of each other with our great ideas.

    SANDRA HUGHES: These young coders say that learning in an all-girl environment has allowed them to focus more on cooperation and less on the competition they feel in school when working with boys.

    KENDALL MCDERMOTT, Participant, Code Like a Girl: At school, there’s always been a little bit of an issue when we do robotics unit. They think they are the only ones capable of coding and doing the work. So, often, it becomes a lot harder to do any of the work, or when you bounce an idea off someone, they’re more like, no, my idea is right.

    But, here, it’s a lot of, you to ask someone for an idea and they are very, oh, here, let me help you. And it’s a lot less of, no, you are wrong. And so it’s just really nice to be in a really collaborative environment.

    SANDRA HUGHES: Eleven-year old Kendall McDermott hasn’t found boys collaborative or even friendly when she plays online video games. To avoid harassment, she plays online as a he.

    KENDALL MCDERMOTT: So, usually, I avoid mentioning gender, which makes it a lot more enjoyable. But it’s kind of sad to think that if you, say — if you check the — because when they say, are you male or female, if you check female, sometimes, you get a lot of hackers and spammers and people saying rude things, even though they know nothing about you and don’t have a photo of you or anything.

    SANDRA HUGHES: The camp instructors see differences in how girls and boys create their games.

    TE STEVENS: She’s Supergirl, right, so she has to save somebody.

    SANDRA HUGHES: Girls games focus more on a narrative than competition.

    Is there a difference between sort of the boys and the girls do online and in camps?

    SCARLETT THOMPSON: I don’t think there’s a difference. But I think that girls will make it more friendly and more, like, visual and happy, instead of, like, just gun games and dark and gloomy and scary.

    SANDRA HUGHES: At Alexa Cafe, the girls design games aimed at having a positive social impact, like Scarlett’s plan to save sea turtles.

    SCARLETT THOMPSON:
    I made a game, and it was, you clean up all the trash before the turtles get them, and you have like three seconds to do it. It’s actually pretty hard.

    SANDRA HUGHES: Why do you think, Scarlett, it’s important for girls to get to understand technology and get involved with coding and gaming and all of this? Why do girls need to get involved more?

    SCARLETT THOMPSON: When girls start to run, like, these video games, then it will just help a lot, because then girls will allow girls to come on that video game.

    SANDRA HUGHES: And get more and more girls, right?

    SCARLETT THOMPSON: Yes.

    SANDRA HUGHES: And then it’ll be fair and it’ll be even.

    SCARLETT THOMPSON:
    Yes.

    SANDRA HUGHES:
    Right now, it’s not so fair and even?

    SCARLETT THOMPSON:
    Mm-mmm.

    KENDALL MCDERMOTT:
    If you only have one type of person thinking about something, and they can’t find a solution to a problem, that might be because the way they are coming — they are coming to it. I think, sometimes, girls might have a different interpretation of the problem, and that way, it means they might come up with a different solution.

    SANDRA HUGHES: A solution that includes both boys and girls coding together and creating games they both will enjoy.

    For the PBS NewsHour, this is Sandra Hughes in Los Angeles.

    The post Teaching girls to write the rules at video game coding camp appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Four-wheel drive cars cross the Egyptian western desert and the Bahariya Oasis, southwest of Cairo in this picture taken May 15, 2015. Egyptian security forces killed 12 Mexicans and Egyptians and injured 10 "by accident" on Monday, mistaking a tourist convoy for militants they were chasing in the country's western desert, the ministry of interior said. Picture taken May 15, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh - RTSYLJ

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    GWEN IFILL: The U.S. sends hundreds of billions of dollars worth of military aid to allies around the world. On Sunday, the army of one of those allies, Egypt, killed 12 tourists. Most of the dead were Mexican citizens.

    They were in Egypt’s Western Desert. It’s an area famous for its rock formations and oases. It’s also increasingly a base for insurgents launching attacks against the army.

    Jeffrey Brown has more.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The Egyptian government says that an Apache helicopter crew mistook the tourists for a group of Islamic militants. An investigation is ongoing.

    Egypt is one of the largest recipients of U.S. military aid in the world, receiving $1.3 billion annually. And even before Sunday’s incident, there’s been friction between Washington and Cairo over how the Egyptian military uses American hardware.

    I’m joined now by Michele Dunne, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

    Welcome back to you.

    MICHELE DUNNE, Director, Canegie Endowment for International Peace: Thank you.

    JEFFREY BROWN: First, what more do we know about this incident on Sunday?

    MICHELE DUNNE:
    Well, what we know is, there was a group of tourists — they had an Egyptian police escort and apparently had the proper permits — that were touring this — near an oasis in the Western Desert, and that the convoy was attacked, obviously by mistake, by an Egyptian military helicopter.

    Twelve people were killed. Seven of those seemed to have been Mexican tourists. There were others who were injured, including one person who is a dual Mexican-U.S. citizen.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Now, the helicopter and these other weapons are part of military aid from the U.S. to Egypt, right? This aid had been put on hold for a while during all the turmoil in Egypt. Is it back up to where it was?

    MICHELE DUNNE:
    Yes. The United States resumed all military aid to Egypt earlier this year, after having suspended after the military coup in 2013.

    Now, Egypt is fighting a serious insurgency. So, the United States didn’t want to abandon a longtime ally. The United States has a very deep investment in Egypt and particularly the military, to which it has given more than $35 billion of assistance.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The larger context here is this attempt by President Al-Sisi to crush this insurgency. How is — where does that stand?

    MICHELE DUNNE:
    Well, it’s not going well.

    There was a military coup in Egypt a couple of years ago that suspended an attempt at a democratic transition. And since then, terrorists, who already existed in Egypt, have really escalated an insurgency. It started out in the Sinai, and that’s still the main base of it, but it has been spreading to other parts of the country, notably the Western Desert, the areas near Libya, which is where this incident that just took place happened. And it happened in the context of an Egyptian army fight with some militants in that area.

    JEFFREY BROWN: This incident got a lot of attention, but it’s just one of many, I gather. There’s a lot going on in the Sinai, for example, right?

    MICHELE DUNNE: Absolutely.

    There have been very significant insurgent operations against the Egyptian military in the Sinai. And, frankly, the Egyptian military’s operations just — just aren’t working. They don’t have a holistic strategy against the insurgency. They just seem to have sort of ad hoc operations, and there are reports of very large human rights violations, collective punishment and so forth, going on.

    So, at the same time that the Egyptian military is fighting the insurgency, in a way, it’s also fueling it by carrying out these abuses that seem to be channeling more and more people toward the militant groups.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, and then to circle back where we started, the tension here is because, in this country, and part is because of the use of American hardware. Now, does the U.S. have it — sell these with strings attached? Or does it have any sway or influence in how these — how all this military hardware is used?

    MICHELE DUNNE: The U.S. administration is trying to exert a bit more influence, both about over what Egypt buys with its military aid from the U.S. government and also how it is used.

    But the Egyptian military in general has not wanted a lot of advice or training. In general, it wants a lot of hardware and very minimal training. But the United States recently — for example, Secretary of State Kerry was just in Egypt in early August for a strategic dialogue. And he was pressing the issue, including in his public remarks, about the possible connections between human rights abuses and radicalization in the country and the need for more effective counterterrorism methods, as well as a better political and economic atmosphere and rights atmosphere in the country.

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

    And one correction before we go. I think we said seven Mexican citizens — tourists were killed. I think the number is up to eight now.

    So, Michele Dunne, thank you so much.

    MICHELE DUNNE: Thank you, Jeff.

    The post Accidental killing of tourists highlights Egypt-U.S. tension over military aid appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Rosa Powers shouts chants on the megaphone while other teachers walk the picket line as they strike outside Garfield High School in Seattle, Washington September 9, 2015. Classes were cancelled for 53,000 students as Seattle teachers and support staff marched in picket lines on Wednesday on what was supposed to be the first day of school, waging their first such strike in three decades after contract talks between the school district and the teachers' union failed.  REUTERS/Matt Mills McKnight - RTSDZE

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    GWEN IFILL: But, first, a five-day teachers strike that delayed the start of the school year in Seattle is nearing an end. The strike itself was a surprise, and left nearly — and left parents of nearly 50,000 students figuring out just what to do for days.

    Special correspondent Cat Wise was in Seattle when the agreement was announced earlier today.

    CAT WISE: Seattle teachers Kristin and Joe Bailey Fogarty were getting ready for a fifth day on the picket line and another day out of school for them and their daughters when they got the news.

    JOE BAILEY FOGARTY, Seattle Teacher: SEA reached a tentative contract agreement with the Seattle School Board.

    KRISTIN BAILEY-FOGARTY,
    Seattle Teacher: No way.

    CAT WISE: The news of a deal was a surprise to Kristin and many of her colleagues in the union, but a welcome one that came after an all-night negotiating session.

    KRISTIN BAILEY-FOGARTY:
    We hated it. We hated being on strike. We hate it. It’s been 30 years since Seattle struck, because it is so awful.

    MAN: Thank you for your support. Thank you.

    CAT WISE: Teachers across the city began celebrating the likely end to Seattle’s first teachers strike in more than 30 years, even though details of the agreement were still under wraps this afternoon. District officials praised the outcome.

    GEOFF MILLER, Director of Labor Relations, Seattle Public Schools: In the end, we found common ground, wanting to make sure that our children get the best education that they can. We intend moving forward to work as closely as we can with the union to realize the goals that we have for making the Seattle schools the best place for kids to go to school.

    CAT WISE: The Seattle Education Association — that’s the union representing the district’s 5,000 teachers and school staff — had been in negotiations with the school district over a new contract since May. But just as the school year was set to begin last Tuesday, talks over pay raises and more broke down.

    Issues including testing, longer instructional time, discipline policies and even the length of recess were on the table. But in a city where the cost of living is soaring, for many teachers like Bailey-Fogarty, pay was a top concern.

    KRISTIN BAILEY-FOGARTY: The teacher in the newspaper who had the nanny and is married to somebody in the tech industry, that’s the exception. A lot of teachers are single parents. A lot of teachers are coming out of school with huge student loans, because you need a lot of education to be a teacher.

    CAT WISE: Before a deal was announced, teachers union president Jonathan Knapp told us that wages were a key sticking point, but he said teachers fought for bigger issues important to parents across Seattle and the country, like a program to reduce suspensions of minority students.

    JONATHAN KNAPP, President, Seattle Education Association: The disproportionate discipline of certain groups of students really matter to the parents. You know, the testing issue has become very important to parents these days. So, I think all of those resonate with parents, and I think they would resonate all over the country.

    CAT WISE: The weeklong strike sent parents scrambling to find child care when schools didn’t open. The school organized some temporary day camps at community centers across the city.

    This afternoon, representatives from each school were expected to vote to end the strike. And classes are likely to resume on Thursday. Over the weekend, the entire union will vote on whether to accept the deal.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Cat Wise in Seattle.

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    U.S. Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina poses for a photo with supporters before the start of the Milford Labor Day Parade in Milford, New Hampshire September 7, 2015.   REUTERS/Mary Schwalm - RTX1RJBI

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    GWEN IFILL: Tomorrow night, the Republican candidates for president will gather once again on a debate stage, this time in California at the Ronald Reagan Library.

    The prime-time gathering will feature at least one new face, Carly Fiorina, whose very presence will highlight one key challenge for Republicans: the need to appeal to women voters.

    Political director Lisa Desjardins has a preview tonight from Simi Valley.

    LISA DESJARDINS: This townhouse in Texas holds both the challenge and the hope for Republican women.

    Missy Shorey is setting up her new home office in Dallas. From this desk, she directs a national organization called Maggie’s List, named after Maine Republican Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman to serve in both the U.S. House and Senate. The prime goal of Maggie’s List? Find, recruit and elect more Republican women to office. A secondary goal is to ramp up Republican appeal to women in general.

    MISSY SHOREY, Maggie’s List: Women are not just a factor in elections. They are the factor in this election. And it’s time that people have finally done the math and seen that, indeed, we represent 53 percent of the vote. And the sad reality is, is that, as Republicans and conservatives, we haven’t always done the best job at reaching out.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The last time a majority of American women voted for a Republican presidential candidate was 1988. George H.W. Bush edged out Michael Dukakis with women in exit polls that year.

    But, since then, women have gone the other way, choosing Democrats. It is an advantage Hillary Clinton and her supporters are pressing.

    WOMAN: We are all here to kick off Women for Hillary.

    LISA DESJARDINS: But a new poll shows Hillary doesn’t have a lock on women’s votes. Just 42 percent of Democratic-leaning women say they support her, a sharp drop from 71 percent in July.

    CARLY FIORINA, Republican Presidential Candidate: Thank you so very much.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Enter Carly Fiorina.

    CARLY FIORINA: If you’re ready for a woman president, how about one who is honest and competent and can do the job?

    LISA DESJARDINS: Fiorina has pushed back at Clinton, and pushed out a conservative definition of feminism about jobs and security.

    And that brings us here, to tomorrow’s presidential debate, where, of course, Fiorina will be the only woman on the debate stage. That is a concern for some Republicans. But how do they get more women to run for president? Some say they need to encourage more women to run for other offices, local, state, and Congress. But that is also a problem for Republicans.

    You could see it in Congress last week. House Republicans leaving their weekly meeting were a line of men. Of 247 Republicans, just 23 are women.

    Members like Utah’s Jason Chaffetz openly acknowledge it.

    REP. JASON CHAFFETZ
    (R), Utah: Well, we need as many female candidates on the ballot as we possibly can.

    LISA DESJARDINS: We asked Tennessee Congresswoman Diane Black, who co-founded a women’s policy group.

    How do Republicans get more women in Congress?

    REP. DIANE BLACK (R), Tennessee: Well, we, of course, have been working on that for the last several years. The difficulty right now is the there aren’t a whole lot of opportunities out there for us, because we have got a lot of seats that are already — 247 seats, so it’s — it’s difficult.

    LISA DESJARDINS: And already filled by men, yes.

    REP. DIANE BLACK: Well, if men then decide to retire — we, of course, aren’t going to primary our own guys. But if men do decide to retire, we are recruiting women for those positions.

    JENNIFER LAWLESS, American University: Democrats are way ahead. About between 60 and 70 percent of the women who serve at the state legislative and congressional levels are Democrats.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Jennifer Lawless runs the Women & Politics Institute At American University. She also is a Democrat who advises women in her party on how to run for office.

    JENNIFER LAWLESS: Hi. This is Jennifer Lawless returning your call.

    LISA DESJARDINS: It may surprise some, but she says reproductive issues, Planned Parenthood and abortion, divide women almost evenly and do not advantage either party nationally. What does matter? She says economic fairness and diversity.

    JENNIFER LAWLESS: We’re talking about the economy and national security and a general sense of what’s the best direction to move the country forward. And women are generally more likely to believe the Democratic Party and the Democratic Party’s candidates are diverse and understand a diverse group of people’s preferences and backgrounds and circumstances.

    LISA DESJARDINS: In Dallas, Missy Shorey is pushing back against Democrats, arguing that jobs, the economy and taxes are where conservatives can win with women.

    MISSY SHOREY: These are women’s issues. They’re called pocketbook issues. The reality is that, right now, 40 percent of all households in the United States, the primary breadwinner is a woman. And no one is talking about this and no one is respecting the fact that government keeps on grabbing for our purses.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Groups like hers are starting to change the face of the Republican Party. Maggie’s List helped launch Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer and a few dozen others. The group has 7,000 members. But that’s a fraction of the Democratic equivalent, EMILY’S List, and its two million members. Shorey is undaunted.

    MISSY SHOREY: We are positive, because when we’re taking a stand and raising the issues, we’re getting tremendous support. There’s a de facto myth out there that, somehow, because you’re a woman, that you’re automatically a liberal.

    LISA DESJARDINS: As the candidates battle for the nomination tomorrow night, their party hopes the debate helps win the fight for female voters.

    For the PBS NewsHour, Lisa Desjardins, Simi Valley, California.

    The post To win with women, how can the GOP ramp up its appeal? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    LOS ANGELES — Republican presidential contender Donald Trump said Tuesday that veterans should get subsidized private health care if they face unacceptable waits in the current system, because “we have illegal immigrants that are treated better by far than our veterans.”

    Trump addressed veterans aboard a World War II battleship in Los Angeles harbor in a speech that sought to project a foreign policy stance as muscular as the old warship’s triple 16-inch guns behind him.

    He called for a military buildup so broad that no foe would challenge the U.S., as well as a new health care deal for veterans. In doing so, he again swiped at people who are in the country illegally, a refrain that has powered his campaign since the start. Trump gave no details on how he would pay for an expansion in the armed forces — or veterans’ health care — leaving his foreign policy agenda still mostly a blank slate.

    He spoke aboard the retired ship USS Iowa, which bears the name of the leadoff caucus state of the 2016 campaign.

    To date, the GOP front-runner has laid out few policy details beyond his rallying cry to make America “great again.”

    The speech came on the eve of the second GOP presidential debate.

    The post Trump pledges military buildup, better deal for vets appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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