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

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    The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, pictured before its opening ceremony in 2008, is the Noah's Ark of the plant kingdom. Photo by Bob Strong/Reuters

    The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, pictured before its opening ceremony in 2008, is the Noah’s Ark of the plant kingdom. Carved into an Arctic mountainside, the vault holds more than 860,000 samples, originating from almost every country in the world. Photo by Bob Strong/Reuters

    Walking through dark, grey tunnels carved 400 feet into the base of a mountain in the Arctic Circle, researchers did something that hadn’t been done since the “doomsday vault” was built in 2008. Instead of putting containers into the vault, they began taking them out.

    The 138 black boxes stacked on trolley carts and transported out of the vault contained a precious resource — seeds, that researches hope will restore some of the genetic diversity lost during the Syrian conflict.

    The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which holds more than 860,000 seed samples, including varieties of food staples such as wheat and rice from around the world, could prove a well-planned safeguard for farmers across the world, who are tasked with feeding rapidly growing populations while adapting to a changing climate. In this instance, however, the threat is war.

    Crop Trust - In the Global Seed Vault, Arni Bragason from NordGen hands a seed box to Athanasios Tsivelikas, ICARDA 2

    Arni Bragason from NordGen hands a seed box to Athanasios Tsivelikas from the nternational Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas inside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Photo courtesy of the Global Crop Diversity Trust

    The International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, a nonprofit that promotes agricultural development in developing countries, ran a major seed bank near Aleppo, Syria, until 2012. Rebels took over the area one year into the bloody civil war, and while the nonprofit says the fighters allowed them to continue working, the daily threats from the fighting proved too dangerous, forcing them to shut down.

    But before that happened, researchers there were able to safely transfer thousands of seed samples out of the country, some of which were stored in the arctic vault.

    Now, researchers have taken 38,000 seeds back out of the vault and on Monday delivered them 3,000 miles to Lebanon and Morocco, where they can continue the research they started in Syria. It is the first of what will be several shipments over the next few years.

    The Global Crop Diversity Trust, the organization that runs the Svalbard Vault with the Government of Norway and the regional organization NordGen, says the shipment contained varieties of cereals, wheat, barley, faba beans, lentils and chickpeas that will be planted next year and tested in hopes of developing new strains that can better withstand disease and climate change, and, eventually, be used to help feed a growing global population.

    “In one sense, it would be preferable if we never had to retrieve seeds from the Seed Vault, as a withdrawal signifies that there is a significant problem elsewhere in the world,” Marie Haga, Executive Director of the Crop Trust said in a statement. “However, we can now see that the vault, as the ultimate failsafe, works the way it was intended to do.”

    The post Global seed bank opens ‘doomsday vault’ to deliver Syrian varieties to safety appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Tom Grill/The Image Bank via Getty Images.

    The news last month that Turing Pharmaceuticals had raised the price of a drug by 5,000 percent renewed a public conversation about how drug prices are set in the U.S. Photo by Tom Grill/The Image Bank via Getty Images.

    When Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of an older generic drug by more than 5,000 percent last month, the move sparked a public outcry. How, critics wondered, could a firm charge $13.50 a pill for a treatment for a parasitic infection one day and $750 the next?

    The criticism led Turing’s unapologetic CEO to say he’d pare back the increase – although no new price has yet been named – and the New York attorney general has launched an antitrust investigation. The outcry has again focused attention on how drug prices are set in the United States. Aside from some limited government control in the veterans health care system and Medicaid, prices are generally shaped by what the market will bear.

    A jump in the number of new expensive drugs hitting the market — along with moves by drugmakers like Turing to raise the price on older and generic drugs — have helped make prescription drugs the fastest-growing segment of the nation’s health care tab. Prescription drugs account for about 10 percent of all health care spending. Two ideas for curbing that spending surface every time a price spike renews interest in drug costs: Letting consumers buy products from other countries with lower prices set by government controls, and allowing Medicare administrators to negotiate drug prices, from which they are currently barred.

    Both proposals are getting an airing in Washington and on the campaign trail, pushed by Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Opposition is heavy, particularly to Medicare negotiations, and neither is likely to gain much traction.

    Drugmakers and some economists argue that price controls or other efforts aimed at slowing spending by targeting profits mean cutting money that could go toward developing the next new cure. Because many pharmaceutical companies spend more on marketing than research, some lawmakers counter that the industry could spend less on promoting its products. Health insurers, in turn, blame drugmakers for high prices, even as they shift more cost to consumers, who then fear they won’t be able to afford their medications.

    Aside from the perennial ideas, what else is being tried to combat rising prices or at least bring some relief to consumers?

    1) Disclose drug development costs

    Lawmakers in several states, including New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, have introduced “transparency” measures that would force drug companies to provide details on how much they spend researching, making and advertising their products. Proponents say public disclosure would force companies to justify their pricing. Skeptics say disclosure alone may not be enough, so some proposals go further. Massachusetts, for example, would gather price information on a set of drugs deemed critical to the state — and create a commission that could set prices for drugs deemed too costly. None of the measures have passed. On the national front, Clinton proposes to require companies that benefit from federal investment in basic science research to invest a certain amount of their own revenue in research and development.

    Some economists say the state and national effort is misguided. Research costs aren’t a good way to justify a drug’s ultimate price, they say. Looking at a single drug produced by a company ignores the huge amounts spent on other products that failed but still provided clues for the product that did succeed. And, some economists say, such rules might simply foster more money spent on research that isn’t needed.

    2) Cap consumer copayments

    The growing number of insurers placing certain high-cost drugs in categories in which consumers have to pay a percentage of the cost — often upward of  30 percent — has caught the attention of lawmakers in a handful of states, including Montana, California and Delaware. They’ve passed laws capping the amount insured consumers must pay at the pharmacy counter as their share of a drug’s cost. The pocketbook cost for patients is still high, ranging from $100 a month to $250, depending on the state. Still, that’s less than what consumers currently pay for some drugs in many health insurance plans. While such laws could help consumers with out-of-pocket costs, it doesn’t affect the underlying price of those drugs. Critics say in some cases, such rules may encourage greater use of costly drugs for which there are less expensive alternatives.

    3) Pay up if the product delivers

    A drug’s price should reflect its effectiveness, according to new efforts under way. Benefit manager Express Scripts, for example, next year will pay varying amounts for a small set of oncology drugs based on how well the products perform on different types of cancer. The plan will target drugs that work well on one type of cancer — based on clinical data submitted by drugmakers to the Food and Drug Administration — but are less effective against other types. For instance, the drug Tarceva, when given for non-small cell lung cancer, prolongs life an average of 5.2 months, a big advance for lung cancer treatments, said Steve Miller, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Express Scripts. But, when the $6,200-a-month drug is used to treat pancreatic cancer, it prolongs life an average of only 12 days. Under the new program, insurers would pay the drugmaker less when the treatment is given to pancreatic cancer patients. “We’re trying to slow the rising cost of treating cancer,” said Miller, who said if it works with a small set of cancer drugs, the firm may look to expand to other types of treatments. Variations on the theme are being explored by others, including Novartis, which has said it is in talks with insurers about varying payments based on how well its new heart drug prevents hospitalizations. Both pricing plans face obstacles, such as how to set the right price and how to determine if it was the drug — or something else — that led to fewer hospitalizations.

    Meanwhile, consumer groups are cautious, saying such “pay-for-value” ideas hold promise, but only if patients aren’t kept from needed medicines.

    These are just three of the proposals being weighed as solutions to combat rising drug prices, but none of them will provide a quick fix.

    Price spikes aren’t the only reason the drug industry is under scrutiny. Experts advocate for more education for both doctors and consumers; specifically, they say comparative information about drugs and costs should be more widely available.

    Doctors often don’t know how much a particular treatment costs, which is “one of the reasons why [increased] competition isn’t a big enough factor,” said Joseph Antos of the American Enterprise Institute. “I hope this concern about high drug prices would translate into a stronger push for getting beyond platitudes about creating informed consumers and actually doing it.”

    Unbiased, medical information about the use of new drugs needs to be easier to get as well, said Jerry Avorn, a professor of medicine at Harvard. That’s particularly true with expensive new products like injectable cholesterol control medications that hit the market this summer. Aside from some patients with a rare form of hereditary high cholesterol, the $14,000-a-year drugs were approved by the FDA only for those patients for whom a less expensive class of drugs, called statins, have been unable to control their “bad” cholesterol levels.

    “We’ve got to get word out to doctors, ‘Here’s this new class of drugs and here’s who needs it and here’s who doesn’t,’” Avorn said. He has long supported “academic detailing,” which sends representatives to doctor offices with such detailed information. “It’s important to get to doctors with the best evidence, so they’re not just relying on the [pharmaceutical] sales representative.”

    The post Why some prescription drugs are so expensive appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    caronbutler

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    GWEN IFILL: A lot of boys dream of growing up, and girls too, playing for the NBA.

    Caron Butler was one of the lucky ones. He had the dream and the skills to get him there. But he nearly threw it all away, turning to a life of violence, drug dealing and eventually prison.

    William Brangham has our latest addition to the NewsHour Bookshelf, Butler’s “Tuff Juice: My Journey from the Streets to the NBA.”

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: To see him now on the court, you would have little sense of how far Caron Butler has come. This 14-year veteran of the NBA has played with and for some of basketball’s greats. But this career almost never happened.

    Growing up in a poor part of Racine, Wisconsin, Butler starting dealing cocaine at age 11, bought a gun at 12, and soon was posing for pictures with stacks of his drug money. In prison at 15, Butler vowed that, when he got out, he would change. He got a job at Burger King, and rededicated himself to basketball.

    But 17 years ago, those plans nearly fell apart. If it wasn’t for the snap judgment of this man, Detective Rick Geller, Caron Butler might have gone right back to prison and his career would have never happened.

    I talked with them both recently in our studio.

    Rick Geller, Caron Butler, thanks for being here.

    CARON BUTLER, Author, “Tuff Juice “: Thanks for having us.

    SGT. RICK GELLER (RET.), Racine, Wisconsin, Police Department: Thanks for having us.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Take me back 17 years ago to the day you guys first met. Tell me that story.

    SGT. RICK GELLER: I had drafted a search warrant for the Bluff Avenue House that Caron was living at, at that time. Caron had a criminal history, a very lengthy criminal history.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, you thought you were going to break into this House, and you’re going to bust a drug dealer?

    SGT. RICK GELLER: That’s exactly what I thought.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And what did you find?

    SGT. RICK GELLER: We ended up finding 15.3 grams of crack cocaine in the garage area. There was a lot of incidentals that just didn’t make sense to me. Like, for instance, I had a chance to talk to him inside the house. He had burns on his hands.

    And I asked him, “Where did you get burns on your hands?”

    “From working at Burger King.”

    We pat him down and he’s got $11 in his pocket. Not consistent with what a dope dealer normally would be carrying. It just didn’t match up, I guess. I felt like he was one of those people in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, on this day that you make a decision that he is, in fact, innocent and that the drugs you found in the house were not his, that’s a pretty monumental decision, right?

    CARON BUTLER: Definitely.

    I mean, it changed my life. It changed everything. It was a decision that really altered my whole life.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Because let’s say it had gone the other way. Let’s say he said: I’m going to book you. I don’t believe you when you say that that’s not your — those are not your drugs in the garage.

    What would have happened to you?

    CARON BUTLER: Because of my past already, and my lengthy record, I could have been facing 10 to 15 years. I would be 26, 25 years old getting out.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Career is over.

    CARON BUTLER: You know, all those dreams of playing basketball or doing all these things would be gone.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Let’s go back a little bit in time. Obviously, as you mentioned, you did have a very lengthy record. You had spent a good deal of time in the drug trade. I’m curious, what is it that drew you to that trade?

    CARON BUTLER: I would have to say, you know, from a youngster, the second I jumped off the porch, you know, and that is the second that I started experiencing things in the neighborhood, I was exposed to materialistic things.

    I saw guys riding around in the nice cars with gold rims on it, the Cadillacs, the 98s and the Buicks and the gold chains and the jewelry, and had the money and the flash. You know, it was just something that I was intrigued by as a youngster.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And those were guys who were not working at the manufacturing plant.

    CARON BUTLER: No, they wasn’t working a 9:00 to 5:00. They was working around the clock.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, by the time you two have this meeting 17 years ago, you had spent some time in prison. You had decided to turn your life around. What was it that changed your mind?

    CARON BUTLER: It was a combination of things, one, some of my closest friends that I lost to the streets. And, two, I felt like a huge disappointment to my mother, who worked two jobs and did everything that she possibly can do.

    SGT. RICK GELLER: That, to me, I think, was the biggest factor, because his mom really was, for one, working two or three jobs, plus trying to keep a handle on him.

    And, I mean, she would go out to the park that we were talking about, the 18th Street Mall, or…

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This is where all the drug trade was going on.

    SGT. RICK GELLER: Yes, where all the drug trafficking — she would get out of her car and chase him down.

    CARON BUTLER: Chase me off the street.

    SGT. RICK GELLER: But she just couldn’t do it all the time.

    CARON BUTLER: Yes.

    SGT. RICK GELLER: And he got better and better and better. And I think when he finally got sent to Ethan Allen, and his mom…

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This is the correctional facility.

    SGT. RICK GELLER: Correct.

    When he finally was sent there, and his mom was trailing behind, hoping and praying that the car that she has will continue to work, the tears are rolling down her face, I mean, I think that was it for him. I really do. I think that was a — the shining moment.

    CARON BUTLER: I really did feel like a huge disappointment, just because I knew what she invested in me.

    And for me to, you know, throw that all away and be in corrections, and her having to live with that void of me not being there, that was frustrating. So it was just — it was all those things, and my mom moving out my old neighborhood, so when I got out, I was in a new environment. So I didn’t feel like I had to live up to that — the norm or the expectations of my former self.

    I felt like I had a fresh start. And people started showing me a lot of favor, putting me in some situations to be successful. And I took full advantage of it.

    SGT. RICK GELLER: In Caron’s case, too, there wasn’t a real father figure.

    CARON BUTLER: No.

    SGT. RICK GELLER: There was a great mother figure, but not really a father figure. So I think it finally came — he came to the conclusion, either I keep hurting my mom, or I end up dead, or I end up in prison for a long, long time. And I think he just decided it wasn’t worth it.

    And I’m so glad he did. And I will tell you something. As far as that father figure, he has, without hesitation, become the father that he always hoped for with his kids. So, I think that is…

    CARON BUTLER: Appreciate that.

    SGT. RICK GELLER: You bet.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The book is “Tuff Juice: My Journey from the Streets to the NBA.”

    Caron Butler, Rick Geller, thank you both very much for being here.

    CARON BUTLER: Thanks for having us.

    SGT. RICK GELLER: Thank you.

    The post How a police officer’s snap judgment saved NBA player Caron Butler appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A new diesel Volkswagen Golf TDI drives in Huntington Beach, California, United States, September 19, 2015. Volkswagen shares plunged more than 20 percent on Monday, their biggest one-day fall, after the German carmaker admitted it had rigged emissions tests in the United States, and U.S. authorities said they would widen their probe to other manufacturers. Germany, alarmed at the potential damage the scandal could inflict on its world-beating car industry, urged Volkswagen to fully clear up the matter and said it would investigate whether emissions data had also been falsified in Europe. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Friday Europe's biggest carmaker had used software for diesel VW and Audi branded cars that deceived regulators measuring toxic emissions and could face penalties of up to $18 billion. Picture taken September 19, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson - RTX1RQTO

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, hundreds of thousands of Volkswagen and Audi owners have been left in the dark about what to do after learning their diesel-fueled cars are emitting up to 40 times the amount of nitrogen oxide allowed by the federal government.

    Special correspondent Cat Wise takes a look at the reaction in Portland, Oregon. It is taking a lead role in a multistate investigation of Volkswagen, and has the most affected vehicles, per capita, of any state in the country.

    CAT WISE: Gourmet meats are sizzling, and business is brisk at the Lardo sandwich shop in one of Portland’s hip new neighborhoods. Owner Rick Gencarelli is a true Portlander, carefully sourcing the food in his restaurant and driving an ecologically friendly car.

    At least, he thought he was driving an ecologically friendly car until last month. That’s when he and 500,000 other U.S. owners of Volkswagen and Audi’s so-called clean diesel cars learned they had been duped.

    RICK GENCARELLI, Volkswagen Owner: You’re trying to make the right decision for the environment, and then it turns out that it’s 30 or 40 times the allowed amount of emissions, which is — that’s just completely heartbreaking.

    CAT WISE: Gencarelli says he was already starting to feel guilty driving his 2011 Jetta TDI after the news broke. Then he discovered a note left by an anonymous person on the windshield that read in part: “Your car is currently polluting at rates higher than nearly any modern gasoline car today, two to four times more than a Chevy Suburban, not to mention that V.W. lied to you and the public.

    RICK GENCARELLI: I feel horrible. Like, I want to just wear a mask because I feel like I’m being judged so harshly. The note kindly says that I should consider a new car, but then what do I do with this one? It’s still going to be on the road.

    CAT WISE: In fact, many V.W. owners in Portland and around the country are wondering what to do. Volkswagen has yet to reveal plans for fixing the emissions problems, and vehicle values are dropping amid the uncertainty. Nationally, more than 250 lawsuits have been filed against Volkswagen and more are likely as states, car dealers, and consumers grapple with the long-term implications of the company’s fraud.

    One of those filing suit is Jamie Saul, a Portland environmental law professor and a dad in a busy household. Saul and his wife, Alex, have been big fans of the newer Volkswagen diesel vehicles. They have owned two and convinced several family members to buy them as well. But now Jamie is part of a class-action lawsuit against the company filed in a California federal court.

    We caught up with Jamie as he was heading out for his morning commute in his family’s Jetta TDI SportWagen.

    So, tell me about that day that you heard the news. What was your reaction?

    JAMIE SAUL, Volkswagen Owner: I was shocked. I was shocked and disappointed at Volkswagen. It’s one of the few major corporations that I thought was really trying to do the right thing. There are a lot of late-model TDIs in our neighborhood and in Portland generally, because I think consumers in Portland like the idea of having a fuel-efficient, clean car that’s fun to drive and practical for their family needs.

    CAT WISE: Saul and his wife are now trying to drive less, and ride their bikes to work more often, but that’s a big hassle when they have to get the kids around town. They’d like to sell the car, but who would buy it and at what price?

    JAMIE SAUL: I think the people who own these cars need to be compensated for the lost value in the cars on the secondary market. And they need a real-world fix that solves the problem, while not undermining the fuel economy and the performance of these cars.

    CAT WISE: While owners have been struggling, Volkswagen dealerships are also feeling the pain. The company has told dealers to stop selling their inventory of diesel vehicles, which typically account for about 20 percent of sales.

    But Volkswagen is reportedly reimbursing U.S. dealers for expenses they incur during the scandal. We reached out to Portland area Volkswagen dealerships, but none would agree to speak with us on camera. Nationwide, sales of V.W.s are expected to take a significant hit. But the emissions scandal isn’t just impacting new car dealers. It’s also having a big impact in the used car market.

    MONTY KING, Oregon Vehicle Dealers Association: The values are just dropping like a rock.

    CAT WISE: Monty King is president of the Oregon Vehicle Dealers Association and represents used car and truck dealerships.

    MONTY KING: The dealers are very concerned, because they’re small business people. And if they had bought one of these V.W.s at the auction or even taken it as a trade-in, and now because of this, the value drops, say, $500 or 1,000, they’re going to take the loss. I think V.W. is responsible for that.

    CAT WISE: King says independent used car dealers aren’t expecting the same level of support as V.W. dealerships.

    MONTY KING: There’s 120,000 used car dealers in the United States. And if every one of them has one of these, what do you think the chances are of V.W. helping? I’m not real excited about that possibility.

    CAT WISE: One of the big questions on many V.W. owners’ minds here in Portland is, can they still legally drive their car?

    Oregon, like 29 other states, has a vehicle emissions testing program in several cities. The goal is to improve air quality by making sure vehicles are properly maintained and not emitting pollutants that exhaust systems are designed to catch.

    GERRY PRESTON, Oregon Dept. of Environmental Quality: I know it seems to be out there that vehicles, if you own these, you’re going to fail. And that’s just not the case.

    CAT WISE: Gerry Preston is in charge of the vehicle inspection program for Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality. He says that impacted V.W. diesel cars won’t automatically fail the required biannual test. The state is waiting for a recall to happen, and then owners will be expected to get those repairs made.

    GERRY PRESTON: We certainly care about the issue, and we know that nitrogen oxide, the component that we’re talking about, can cause problems with asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis, and things like that, so we’re very concerned about that. However, we’re letting EPA take the role, as are most states, to let the recall process take its form, and then after that, when they come back in, if they haven’t gotten the recall done, then we will be looking at that.

    CAT WISE: For now, Jamie Saul and many others are waiting for news about that recall expected in the next few months.

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

    The post Volkswagen owners left in limbo after emissions revelations appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney surrounded by balloons at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, in 2012. The Republican National Committee announced they would charge news media organizations a $150 access fee for seats on the press stand in 2016. Photo by Rick Wilking/Reuters

    Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney surrounded by balloons at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, in 2012. The Republican National Committee announced they would charge news media organizations a $150 access fee for seats on the press stand in 2016. Photo by Rick Wilking/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Representatives for news organizations who plan to cover next summer’s convention are protesting a move by the Republican National Committee to charge news media organizations a $150 access fee for seats on the press stand.

    Seats on risers constructed for newspapers, magazines, wire services and online print publications have been awarded without charge in the past. Representatives for daily and periodical press galleries in the Capitol protested Monday that the media “should not be charged to cover elected officials at an event of enormous interest to the public.”

    The four-day event will be held in Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena.

    “We are concerned that the proposed fee smacks of forcing the press to pay for news gathering,” said Heather Rothman, chairwoman of the Executive Committee of Periodical Correspondents, and Jonathan D. Salant, chairman of the Standing Committee of Correspondents. “We urge the (GOP convention committee) to follow the precedent of previous conventions of both parties and drop plans for an access fee so the press can continue to inform the public about a major news event.”

    The RNC says the $150 charge covers a fraction of the $750-per-seat construction cost. In addition to the precedent, the fee could prove burdensome to smaller news organizations. Television networks generally cover the cost of constructing their skyboxes.

    “There is no access fee,” said RNC spokeswoman Alison Moore. “For outlets who prefer a special work station, there will be a minimal charge for construction at a fraction of the actual cost.”

    The press organizations are responsible for credentialing media covering Capitol Hill, and staff aides in the congressional press galleries have run the press stand at both the Democratic and Republican conventions for decades, in part to prevent the political parties from playing favorites.

    The post Republicans to charge media to cover 2016 convention appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A combination photograph shows U.S. Vice President Joe Biden waving as he arrives with his family to vote in Greenville, Delaware, and Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan waving as he walk off campaign plane in Cleveland, Ohio respectively on election day, November 6, 2012.    REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (Biden), Brian Snyder (Ryan)  (UNITED STATES - - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS USA PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION) - RTR3A2TT

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    GWEN IFILL: It’s the week of the: Will he or won’t he? Will Vice President Joe Biden run? Will Republican Paul Ryan enter the fray to be speaker of the House?

    To discuss all that and more, we turn to Politics Monday, Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

    So, I’m going to put it all in front of you here. Start with Joe Biden. What do we know?

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: I don’t think that anybody knows anything, and that’s the reality.

    GWEN IFILL: OK.

    AMY WALTER: OK.

    I think, if I could just boil it down to the way I’m looking at both of these, is, one I think is much more consequential than the other. And that is Paul Ryan’s decision, a go or no-go. And what I am hearing more and more of is a pessimism among Republicans, that they don’t think he is going to do this job. It’s a thankless job. And they don’t think he is going to be able to get the entire Republican Conference around him to support him.

    What does this mean? This means that the Republican Conference is now officially ungovernable, that there is a risk now that it may not ever be able to be fixed, that we have two big deadlines coming up very soon, the debt ceiling, highway transportation bill, real stuff, real big, consequential stuff, with a Republican Conference in the House that nobody can lead.

    GWEN IFILL: Interestingly enough, in the Hillary camp, which you cover, Tamara, there has been more and more of those, Joe Biden has got to make up his mind, Joe Biden has got to — he should make up his mind. Are they nervous or are they just assuming that they know the answer and they just want him to get on with it?

    TAMARA KEITH, NPR: Last I checked, I don’t think they think they know the answer either.
    This is just one of those things where, this has been dragging on for months now. We have had heightened Joe Biden awareness back in August. And now we’re in this new flurry of leaks and non-leaks and people close to Joe Biden say yes and people close to Joe Biden say no. And off the record, people say it’s all wrong.

    This is just — I think a lot of people, including people in the Clinton campaign, would just like the wondering to be done.

    GWEN IFILL: One way or the other.

    AMY WALTER: One way or the other.

    GWEN IFILL: I agree with that. It would be nice not to talk about this one more week.

    AMY WALTER: The hardest thing, I think, for her is that it is probably having an impact on fund-raising.

    There are a bunch of people sitting on their checkbooks saying, listen, I’m not going to write a check until I know what Biden is actually doing.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, let’s talk about other things having an impact on the campaign.

    We’re expecting on Thursday for Hillary Clinton to finally testify in front of the Benghazi committee. There has been quite a dust-up in the days leading up to that between the committee chairman, the ranking Democrat, basically disagreeing about what the purpose of this is. And Hillary Clinton is happy to jump on board.

    AMY WALTER: Yes.

    For the first time in a long time, Hillary Clinton is now on the offense. When this first came up, we thought, OK, this is going to be a very tough day for Hillary Clinton. We’re going to talk a lot about e-mail. She is going to be put on the defensive. Republicans now are going to be able to get at her in a way that they haven’t before.

    And now it’s been turned completely around, that it’s Republicans now on the defensive.

    GWEN IFILL: One of the things I noticed, they put out like a five-minute video today in which she touted her time as secretary of state, what an effective secretary of state she was. We’re watching a little bit of it here.

    Is that part of the offense, Tamara?

    TAMARA KEITH: I think she goes in there and she acts like secretary of state. She is the stateswoman. She has to be very careful in that hearing not to come off as dismissive, even though she thinks that it is a partisan witch-hunt.

    She has to come in there and take it very seriously. And the challenge for her is, this could be six or eight hours’ long. You think that Republican debate at three hours was a long time?

    GWEN IFILL: Wow.

    TAMARA KEITH: Try a daylong hearing, multiple rounds of questioning, on a whole range of areas, not just the Benghazi attack. It is going — it’s going to be a marathon. And, by the end of the day, she, like any other human being, is likely to be tired. And the pressure is still going to be on her to be statesmanlike.

    GWEN IFILL: Two more things I want to get to.

    One is the latest dust-up between Donald Trump and Jeb Bush about who was responsible for 9/11, whether he was blaming Jeb Bush’s brother George W.

    What is that about? What is driving that dispute?

    AMY WALTER: What is driving that is Donald Trump. Donald Trump’s campaign is all about his ability to get media attention.

    And the way he gets media attention is, he says something dramatic or he attacks somebody. The media covers it. Then the media asks his opponent to respond to it. And that person responds. And then we go back and around.

    GWEN IFILL: Ah.

    AMY WALTER: And guess who wins on that? Donald Trump, every single time.

    And that’s why I think Jeb Bush jumping into this, both over Twitter and then in the media, is a mistake. If you are on Donald Trump’s territory, you are going to lose. If you are fighting your campaign on your territory, you are more likely to win that fight.

    GWEN IFILL: One more thing.

    So, Saturday nation, we saw — we wait for “Saturday Night Live” during a campaign season just to see what they are going to do with the people we cover every day. And this was what they did with Bernie Sanders.

    LARRY DAVID, Actor: We’re doomed.

    (LAUGHTER)

    LARRY DAVID: We need a revolution, millions of people on the streets. And we got to do something!

    (LAUGHTER)

    LARRY DAVID: And we got to do it now.

    (LAUGHTER)

    LARRY DAVID: Ehh.

    GWEN IFILL: Ehh.

    (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL: That’s Larry David from “Curb Your Enthusiasm” doing a spot-on Bernie Sanders.

    AMY WALTER: I think we need him to be on the trail now 24/7. In fact, if we could get Larry David and Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, put them on the road, I think that would be a big hit.

    TAMARA KEITH: It would sell a lot of tickets. It would be huge.

    GWEN IFILL: It would be huge.

    Bernie Sanders himself, who did reasonably well at this debate. Even though Hillary Clinton did well, he also didn’t do poorly for himself. He benefits from getting the opportunity to show off his sense of humor, because he seems like a really cranky guy sometimes.

    AMY WALTER: Well, and what he highlighted, Larry David did, in this ‘Saturday Night Live” skit, was his ability, Bernie Sanders’ ability to win over younger voters. Right?

    Here is this guy who is in his 70s. And he has the Larry David mannerisms and all of this. And yet it’s young people who are attracted to him.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    AMY WALTER: He’s like, get off my lawn, but don’t you love me?

    (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL: Well, a lot of people do.

    AMY WALTER: Exactly.

    GWEN IFILL: And that is what Hillary Clinton is also worried about.

    Tamara Keith.

    Amy Walter, happy birthday to you.

    AMY WALTER: Thank you very much.

    GWEN IFILL: Thank you all.

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    A Palestinian man stands next to, according to Israel, a newly erected temporary concrete wall that measures around 10 meters, in Jerusalem October 18, 2015. Israel erected what it said as a temporary concrete wall along a short stretch of a street that on one side is a Jewish neighbourhood and the other is the outskirts of Jabel Mukabar, a Palestinian neighbourhood which has been one of the flashpoints of the recent flare-up of violence in Jerusalem. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the short section of barrier was intended to prevent petrol bombs being thrown at the apartments in the Jewish neighbourhood on Meir Nakar street. REUTERS/Amir Cohen - RTS4ZJO

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We return now to the recent wave of attacks in the Middle East.

    Earlier today, the Islamic State group posted a video calling on Palestinians to attack Israeli soldiers and civilians. Meanwhile, on the ground, tensions remain high after a weekend of more deaths.

    Special correspondent Martin Seemungal from Jerusalem.

    And a warning: This story contains graphic images.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Israelis woke up this morning to another barrage of violence in the news, a terror attack the night before, this time at a bus station in the southern town of Beersheba. An Israeli Arab Bedouin armed with a pistol shot and killed an Israeli soldier, then grabbed his assault rifle and opened fire, injuring several people in the station, before being shot and killed himself.

    MICKY ROSENFELD, Spokesman, Israeli Police: We have six people that were injured, four of them being police officers injured inside the Central Bus Station.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: A security guard at the station also shot this man, thinking he was a terrorist. An angry mob attacked him while he was on the ground. He turned out to be innocent, an Eritrean asylum seeker, 29-year-old Haftom Zarhum.

    That fury is driven by a deep and growing fear among Israelis. In East Jerusalem, the epicenter of the recent wave of terror, police and army continued to escalate their security presence, setting up roadblocks at the exit points of several Arab areas.

    Jabel Mukaber is the most extreme example of Israel’s determination to fight this recent wave of terror. There are army checkpoints all around and they are in the process of building a wall to separate the Arab village from the Jewish neighborhoods on the other side.

    The Palestinians view the operation as a form of collective punishment.

    Thaer Oraga says it only makes people here angry.

    THAER ORAGA, Jabal Mukabir resident: All the people make attack from Jabel Mukaber? I am guilty? I am guilty of the attacks? No.

    MAN: I don’t think so, not at all. This doesn’t prevent attacks. This just leads to extremism, I think. It doesn’t lead to peace.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: The Jewish town is called Armon HaNetziv. David Dahan says the wall and the extra security is necessary.

    DAVID DAHAN, Armon Hanatziv resident: Whatever they need to do, they should do. You know, if it’s to check them every morning, it’s something that should be done. It’s not optimal to live when you are checked every day, but if it’s good for the security, they should do so.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: The fiery attack recently on Joseph’s Tomb near Nablus also inflamed tensions. Some of the young Palestinians who carried out the attack were arrested by Palestinian security forces.
    But Nabil Shaath, a senior member of the ruling Fatah Party in the West Bank, says it is becoming increasingly difficult to control young Palestinians there.

    NABIL SHAATH, Senior Advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: What can you do? If the occupier doesn’t take the first step, there is no way you can stop it. I am telling you this with alarm, with grief.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Palestinian anger is fueled by a belief that Israel intends to change the status quo involving the Al-Aqsa Mosque located in the area Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary. Jews call it the Temple Mount. Jews can visit the Temple Mount, but by agreement cannot pray there.

    Reported attempts by right-wing Jews to pray have triggered clashes. Israel’s prime minister has asked Jewish leaders not to visit while tensions are high.

    Dore Gold is the director general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry with close ties to Netanyahu.

    DORE GOLD, Director-General, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs: We are not taking measures against the Al-Aqsa Mosque. That is a total lie that is extremely dangerous.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: The gulf between the Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, and Netanyahu’s government grows wider every day.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is now stepping in.

    JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: You have to sit down and talk to each other in order to explore those kinds of possibilities. So, I don’t enter this discussion with a specific expectation, except to try to understand better for all of us.

    MARTIN SEEMUNGAL: Kerry is expected to meet Netanyahu in Germany on Thursday, and Abbas in Jordan over the weekend.

    Reporting from Jerusalem, I’m Martin Seemungal for the PBS NewsHour.

    Editor’s note: The transcript accidentally identified the attacker as an Israeli Arab veteran. He was an Israeli Arab Bedouin. We regret the error.

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    GERMANY - MARCH 05:  Smokestacks and cooling towers emit smoke and water vapor at the E.ON-owned Scholven coal-powered electricity plant near Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on Wednesday, March 5, 2008. E.ON AG, Germany's largest utility, reported a drop in fourth-quarter profit because of tax gains the previous year.  (Photo by Wolfgang Von Brauchitsch/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news, a week of United Nations’ talks on climate change opened in Germany, leading up to a December summit in Paris, and the draft accord immediately faced criticism.

    The talks convened in Bonn, with African states complaining their demands were ignored. South Africa called it apartheid against developing nations.

    But the U.N.’s climate chief played down the disagreement.

    CHRISTIANA FIGUERES, Executive Secretary, U. N. Climate Conference: They realize the urgency of this. They realize that we have been working on this for a long time, necessarily so, because this is the most profound transformation of the global economy that we have seen in recent times. So, it’s understandable that this is complex.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, in Washington, President Obama met with corporate leaders who have committed to the U.S. pledge on reducing carbon emissions. In all, 81 companies have agreed to support it.

    GWEN IFILL: There’s word that China’s agreement not to hack U.S. corporate computers has already been violated repeatedly. President Obama and Chinese President Xi reached that agreement last month in Washington. Now the security firm CrowdStrike says fresh attacks started the very next day. It says the hackers are linked to the Chinese government.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: U.S. government officials moved today to begin cracking down on unsafe flying by drone aircraft. A task force will come up with rules to mandate that heavier, higher-flying drones be registered. Officials said the decision follows a growing number of close calls, involving near-accidents with passenger planes and interference with firefighting operations.

    ANTHONY FOXX, Secretary of Transportation: We can take enforcement action as necessary to protect the airspace for everyone. If unmanned aircraft operators break the rules, clearly, there should be consequences, but in fact there can be no accountability if a person breaking the rules can’t be identified.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There’s no official count of how many drones are already in private hands in the U.S., but the industry projects 700,000 will be sold this holiday season.

    GWEN IFILL: In Syria, United Nations officials now say a government ground offensive has 35,000 people on the run. They have fled areas near Aleppo. The Syrian army and its allies are attacking there, supported by Russian airstrikes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The toll from the hajj Islamic holy day stampede in Saudi Arabia last month has grown to more than 2,100. That Associated Press tally is based on news media reports and official comments from dozens of countries. The official Saudi government figure remains at 769.

    GWEN IFILL: The story of a hospital bombed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan took a new turn today. The October 3 attack in Kunduz killed 22 people and wounded many more. Now the acting defense minister says Taliban wounded and other fighters were there, along with a Taliban flag on one wall.

    MASOOM STANEKZAI, Acting Defense Minister, Afghanistan: That was a place where they wanted to use it as a kind of a safe base, because everybody knows that we — the security forces, the international security forces were very careful not to do anything with the hospital.

    GWEN IFILL: Doctors Without Borders has insisted there were no insurgents in the hospital.

    In another development, the U.S. military acknowledged today that an armored vehicle crashed into the hospital compound last week. The troops went in to examine the bombing damage, and believed, mistakenly, no one was there.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Canadians headed to the polls today in a parliamentary election that could result in their first new leader in a decade. Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper trailed Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau in recent opinion polls. Harper has clashed with President Obama over the Iran nuclear deal and the Keystone pipeline.

    Back in this country, the state of Ohio announced this evening that it will delay all executions until 2017. Officials cited problems obtaining drugs for lethal injections. The delay affects more than two dozen planned executions.

    GWEN IFILL: First lady Michelle Obama has opened a new front in her campaign to educate more teens beyond high school. A new Web site, bettermakeroom.org, will let students swap information about exams, financial aid and college applications. Mrs. Obama announced the effort at the White House, as part of her Reach Higher initiative.

    MICHELLE OBAMA: It’s about valuing success in the classroom, instead of just on the big screen or on the basketball court. And it’s about turning the culture of celebrity upside down, so that we don’t just have kids worshipping celebrities, but we also have celebrities honoring kids who are working hard and achieving their goals.

    GWEN IFILL: The first lady takes her campaign to the University of Akron this week, where she will be joined by NBA star LeBron James.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And Wall Street had a muted Monday after China reported its third-quarter growth was the lowest since early 2009. The Dow Jones industrial average gained just 14 points to close at 17230. The Nasdaq rose 18 points, and the S&P 500 added half-a-point.

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    Migrants rush to enter Slovenia from Trnovec, Croatia October 19, 2015. Some 5,000 migrants reached Slovenia on Monday from Croatia, with another 1,200 on their way by train, the Slovenian interior ministry said, accusing Croatia of ignoring efforts to contain the flow. REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic - RTS53SV

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    GWEN IFILL: A new tide of migrants surged across the Balkans today as the weather worsened. They resumed their desperate journey after a two-day stoppage.

    Malcolm Brabant has been tracking the story. He’s in Denmark tonight, where he filed this report on the day’s developments.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: It was the desperate plea of some 2,000 migrants trapped for most of the day at a rain-soaked border crossing between Croatia and Slovenia.

    MAN: Just one thing, one thing. Please open the door, because we are dying here.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Their journey ground to a halt after Hungary closed its border with Croatia, sending a human wave west toward Slovenia. The Slovenians, in turn, declared that they would accept only 2,500 people a day from Croatia. And they condemned their neighbors to the east for not slowing the flow.

    BOSTJAN SEFIC, State Secretary, Slovenian Interior Ministry (through interpreter): Croatia asked us to process 5,000 migrants per day. And of course, on the other hand, we have a request from Austria, which says they possibly accept more than 1,500. We cannot accept a number of migrants larger than the number of those who will continue their journey.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Croatia’s prime minister shot back today that his country had no choice but to let the migrants pass through.

    ZORAN MILANOVIC, Prime Minister, Croatia (through interpreter): Obviously, yesterday, we kept 5,000 to 6,000 from coming in on the other side in Serbia. But it’s apparent that this is no solution.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: It was all too much for the thousands waiting at that official border crossing.

    MAN: The government there, and the government there, no humanity, no humanity.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: For a time, the ripple effect also extended further east, keeping more than 10,000 migrants stranded in Serbia. In turn, the Serbs said they would consider restrictions on their border with Macedonia.

    Then, late today, Slovenia reopened its official crossing, and the flow resumed. By then several thousand people had already found their own paths across the frontier.

    The majority of those migrants began their journey in Turkey, hoping to get to Germany. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in Turkey over the weekend with hopes of addressing the issue at its source. She arrived with prospects of a European Union aid package of more than $3 billion, if Turkey will do more to stop the human exodus.

    But, today, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that wasn’t enough.

    AHMET DAVUTOGLU, Prime Minister, Turkey (through interpreter): We would never accept a deal that assumes we gave this money to Turkey so the refugees should stay there. And I told this to Merkel. Nobody should expect Turkey to become a country housing all migrants, like a concentration camp.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: In Northern Europe, the two countries which have been most hospitable towards refugees are struggling to cope with the influx, amid growing opposition from those opposed to mass immigration.

    In Sweden, which expects to take in about 150,000 refugees this year, there have been three separate arson attacks in the past week on centers that were supposed to house newcomers. In the northern city of Umea, which is close to the Arctic Circle, the authorities are so concerned about the potential for trouble, that they are refusing to say whereabouts they are going to accommodate 150 new refugees.

    In Germany, the police union is warning about trouble between rival factions in refugee camps. And it’s urging the government to erect a fence along the border with Austria.

    In the meantime, Merkel’s poll numbers are falling, and the flow of migrants continues unabated. The Greek coast guard rescued nearly 2, 600 people from the Aegean Sea this weekend alone.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Malcolm Brabant in Copenhagen.

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    Ahmed Mohamed (R), a 14-year-old high school student who was arrested after he brought a homemade clock to his Irving, Texas high school to show his teachers and was later accused of having a "hoax bomb", speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 20, 2015. Ahmeds detention played into national debates about Islam, immigration and ethnicity. Ahmed visited the White House Monday evening following a personal invitation from President Barack Obama. Ahmed, 14, attended the White House's Astronomy Night, along with other students, teachers, scientists and astronauts.  AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON        (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

    Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old high school student who was arrested after he brought a homemade clock to his Irving, Texas high school to show his teachers, speaks during a press conference in Washington, D.C., Oct. 20, 2015. Ahmed visited the White House Monday evening following a personal invitation from President Barack Obama. Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

    WASHINGTON — Ahmed Mohamed, the Texas teenager arrested after a homemade clock he brought to school was mistaken for a bomb, capped a whirlwind month with a visit to the White House on Monday.

    Ahmed got a personal invitation from President Barack Obama for “Astronomy Night.” The two met and chatted briefly during Monday night’s event.

    Earlier Monday, Ahmed said he was grateful for the president’s support and said he’s OK with the nickname that so many have given him over the past few weeks — “clock kid.”

    He said the lesson of his experience is: “Don’t judge a person by the way they look. Always judge them by their heart.”

    Last month, Ahmed brought the clock to his school to show a teacher, but another teacher thought it could be a bomb. The school contacted police, who ultimately chose not to charge Ahmed with having a hoax bomb, though he was suspended from school.

    Obama subsequently Tweeted an invitation to Ahmed and said the U.S. should inspire more kids like him to enjoy science.

    Ahmed’s family is looking at several options for a new school. He hopes to eventually go to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and become an engineer.

    The White House invitation brought some backlash. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz complained that Obama didn’t give law enforcement officials the same respect he’s giving Ahmed. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday the president has made clear in many settings the respect he has for law enforcement officers.

    Ahmed Mohamed spoke to the media days after his arrest in September. The 14-year-old addressed his future in the Irving, Texas school, his social media support and invitations from Mark Zuckerberg and President Barack Obama to meet. Video by PBS NewsHour

    Ahmed said he has visited Google and Facebook, along with other companies and institutions in recent weeks. He also visited with the president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, which has prompted some criticism because al-Bashir is wanted by International Criminal Court on charges of genocide and war crimes for atrocities linked to the Darfur fighting. Advisers deflected a question on that topic and instructed Ahmed to not answer.

    Ahmed posed for pictures with NASA astronaut Alvin Drew shortly before Obama addressed the students on the South Lawn, and he got to introduce himself to the president when Obama waded out toward the audience to shake hands with visitors after his speech.

    Obama told the crowd that NASA was developing the capabilities to send humans to Mars in the 2030s.

    Students visited the South Lawn of the White House on Monday night and got the chance to explore samples of rocks from the moon, Mars and various meteorites at President Barack Obama’s “Astronomy Night.” Video by Associated Press

    “That means some of the young people who are here tonight might be working on that project,” Obama said. “Some of you might be on your way to Mars. America can do anything.”

    The students visiting the South Lawn of the White House on Monday night got the chance to explore samples of rocks from the moon, Mars and various meteorites. They met with astronauts and peered at the planets and stars through telescopes.

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    General view of the Volkswagen power plant in Wolfsburg, Germany September 22, 2015. Forty-five states have joined the Volkswagen probe, looking into how the automaker rigged its software to game emissions tests. State attorney generals are likely to seek an enormous settlement for VW's wrongdoing, which affects nearly half million cars in the United States, experts said. Photo by Axel Schmidt/Reuters

    General view of the Volkswagen power plant in Wolfsburg, Germany September 22, 2015. Forty-five states have joined the Volkswagen probe, looking into how the automaker rigged its software to game emissions tests. State attorney generals are likely to seek an enormous settlement for VW’s wrongdoing, which affects nearly half million cars in the United States, experts said. Photo by Axel Schmidt/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — An expanding investigation into Volkswagen’s emissions-cheating scandal launched by state attorneys general could last years and will likely end in a negotiated settlement.

    Forty-five states and D.C. have joined the review, investigating how VW was able to game emissions tests to hide that its “Clean Diesel” cars emitted smog-causing exhaust up to 40 times dirtier than the law allows. The attorneys general are likely to seek compensation for consumers and redress for environmental harm, building their own investigations under state laws that protect consumers from deceptive trade practices and set clean air standards.

    “This is a really important case and it has big economic and health consequences. It’s nowhere near the scale of tobacco but you are kind of in that realm,” said former Wisconsin governor and attorney general Jim Doyle, who participated in the multistate investigation that ended with a landmark settlement against tobacco companies in 1998. “This is the kind of case that you elect an AG for, to stand up for the safety and health of the people of the state.”

    Volkswagen is “looking at an enormous settlement, just enormous, when you think about how many cars are out there,” he said.

    The case, in some respects, presents a slam dunk: Volkswagen has already admitted wrongdoing, affecting roughly a half million cars in the United States.

    “This case makes me miss my AG days because there’s such an opportunity to send a message, and the states can be at the forefront of sending a message,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., former attorney general of his state.

    Blumenthal said he was stunned by news that the world’s largest carmaker had rigged its software to dupe emissions tests. “Astonishment bordering on disbelief that a company could be so absurdly arrogant and lawless that it would knowingly engage in this type of conduct,” he said.

    Though the violations appear clear, the multi-state investigation is not likely to conclude quickly. For comparison, a multi-state attorneys general investigation of ignition switch defects involving GM cars — a review that started shortly after GM announced a recall 20 months ago — remains active today.

    Likewise, the VW case in the states promises to unfold at a measured pace. Volkswagen may want to deal first with any criminal charges, as the Justice Department investigates potential illegality by the company and its executives. The Environmental Protection Agency and Federal Trade Commission are also investigating.

    “Until the criminal case clears, nobody is going to talk about civil. Volkswagen will not settle until the criminal investigations are resolved,” said James E. Tierney, program director of the national state attorneys general program at Columbia Law School, and a former Maine attorney general.


    Several states have assumed leadership roles. They are New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington and Tennessee, where VW operates a U.S. manufacturing plant. California and Texas are leading their own inquiries for now.

    Texas became the first state to go to court this month, filing lawsuits alleging Volkswagen violated consumer protection laws and clean air standards. The petitions seek restitution for owners of 32,000 VW and Audi diesel models registered in the state and civil penalties, including $20,000 for each violation of the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

    By the time the various inquiries are finished, Volkswagen is likely to enter a uniform settlement with all the states, Tierney said.

    “Volkswagen will want to settle with everyone,” he said. “Eventually all 50 states will be together on this. … One hundred percent guaranteed everybody will be involved.”

    In a statement, Volkswagen said it could not discuss specific litigation. But, spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan added, “We are cooperating with all investigations into the matter.”

    Blumenthal said it’s common for a few large, aggressive states to take a leading role — paving the way for settlements that benefit all. That occurred in the settlement in which tobacco companies agreed to pay $200 billion to states over 25 years. In the second largest attorneys general settlement, the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers agreed to pay $25 billion in penalties and relief to homeowners in 2012.

    Though the violations appear clear, the multi-state investigation is not likely to conclude quickly. In coming months, state attorneys general will issue subpoenas for VW documents, scrutinizing how the company’s actions conflicted with state laws. Illinois and New York have already sent subpoenas.

    “This will be a complicated case, no doubt,” said Peter Lavallee, spokesman for Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “It’s consumers from many states. You do have a foreign corporation or an international corporation. Multiple years are involved, multiple models of vehicles and all the facts are yet to be determined about who did what, when and for how long.”

    The goal, he said, is to seek restitution for consumers and deter corporate wrongdoing.

    Former Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager cautioned that, despite Volkswagen’s early admission of wrongdoing, the case could prove challenging to resolve in a way that satisfies everyone.

    At this stage, no one knows what any final settlement would entail. In pushing for redress, states will confront an economic reality: They want to compensate consumers and punish VW — but not help lead the company into insolvency.

    “The potential (settlement) is real high but in the real world, nobody wants to put this company out of business,” Tierney said. “The marketplace has to decide that.”

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     Video produced by Abhi Singh.

    The Renegade Rockers are legendary in the Bay area, having perfected the art of hip hop dance since 1983. Now, they have two new members: Alex Flores and Marthy Galimba, also known by their dance names Prince Ali and Marthy McFlyy.

    Galimba’s style focuses on break-dancing and turf dancing, a style that originated in Oakland as an alternative pastime to keep young people from joining gangs. Flores said his dancing features popping, a funk style in which dancers quickly flex their muscles in time to music.

    The Renegades love to test themselves in what they call “battles,” where two dancers face off against each other and judges from the community decide who comes out on top. Galimba said the battles are a good test of a dancer’s speed and strength. “If I’m in a battle, I’m always thinking quick … you’ve got to make your next move the best move,” he said.

    Both Flores and Galimba draw inspiration from Renegade Rocker legend Omar Delgado, whose dance name is Roxrite. Delgado is a local icon who has won more than 82 dance competitions and is also currently a member of Red Bull BC One All Stars, a crew of 10 internationally renowned hip hop dancers.

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    President John F. Kennedy leaves the St. Stephen Martyr Catholic Church after attending Mass on Oct. 28, 1962 in Washington, D.C., a few hours before Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev offers to retire the Soviet missiles from Cuba. Photo by STF/AFP/Getty Images

    President John F. Kennedy leaves the St. Stephen Martyr Catholic Church after attending Mass on Oct. 28, 1962 in Washington, D.C., a few hours before Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev offers to retire the Soviet missiles from Cuba. Photo by STF/AFP/Getty Images

    Just about anyone with the slightest connection to the Cuban Missile Crisis 53 years ago has penned their recollections, including me. But few of those who were around then, and certainly subsequent generations, have much recall of a simultaneous conflict a world away. That one could have drawn the United States into war with the country then commonly called Communist China just as the U.S. was on the edge of nuclear war with the Soviet Union.

    All these years later, the Cuban Missile Crisis is still studied for lessons in statecraft and history, but none of its underlying causes or triggers remain. The Cold War is over, the Soviet Union no longer exists, and the United States and Cuba have recently established diplomatic relations. While Russia’s recent military forays in Ukraine and Syria have marked an end to a 25-year post-Cold War period of relative calm and peace, no one is predicting a return to the kind of hostilities that led to near Armageddon between Moscow and Washington.

    The same cannot be said of the countries involved in the 1962 war in South Asia. The two major protagonists, China and India, increasingly are rivals in a geo-strategic contest over a region that more analysts in Asia and the West are referring to as the Indo-Pacific, a vast swath of ocean and land mass from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific. India and Pakistan are still bitter enemies in South Asia, especially over the contested territory of Kashmir. Even remote Tibet, a sideshow in the 1962 conflict, remains a source of tension.

    Most ominously, and in contrast to 1962, the three major countries involved directly or indirectly in that conventional war on the India-China border, are now armed with nuclear weapons and not necessarily given to bromides and platitudes about the consequences of using them.

    This second 1962 crisis, and its enduring and current consequences, are spelled out in a riveting book by Bruce Riedel, a Central Intelligence Agency veteran and more recently an adviser to four U.S. presidents on South Asia and the Middle East. He is also a recurring guest on the PBS NewsHour and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, publisher of “JFK’s Forgotten Crisis: Tibet, the CIA and the Sino-Indian War”.

    For a small and seeming bit player, Tibet assumes a more outsized role in Riedel’s narrative. China has claimed a protectorate over the territory since 1720 and seized military control of it in the 1950s, It reacted with growing anger over the efforts of the CIA to stoke rebellion there, including air drops from planes flown from Pakistan and what it imagined as India’s designs to keep it as some kind of buffer state. It was also from Pakistan that the U.S. flew U2 spy planes over the Soviet Union.

    For all their post-colonial and Third World solidarity, India and China should have been more allies against Western powers than rivals since Indian independence and the communist takeover of China in the late 1940s. But they never resolved, and still have not, their border disputes and lingering suspicions.

    And since it was created as a separate Muslim state from the departing British empire, Pakistan has been enmeshed in bitter rivalry and four wars with India. As Riedel says, It has long played the great powers off each other, especially the United States and China.

    As set out by Riedel, by the fall of 1962, China grew increasingly suspicious of India’s military buildup along its 1,000 kilometer contested frontier; Pakistan kept demanding that its U.S. ally not come to India’s aid should a war break out. And by mid-October, the top ranks of the Kennedy administration became totally absorbed in the drama that unfolded with the revelation that the Soviets had placed offensive missiles in Cuba.

    Catching the Indians unawares, China sent tens of thousands of troops across two parts of the India border in mid-October. Officially neutral India pleaded for U.S. aid and a preoccupied President Kennedy pretty much delegated India policy to his colorful and witty ambassador to New Delhi, the Harvard economics professor John Kenneth Galbraith.

    Within weeks, India was in panic at the possibility Chinese forces could capture some of its major cities. The U.S., along with Britain and some Commonwealth nations, organized a major airlift and were ready to deploy combat aircraft. After failing to persuade Pakistan to join its campaign, China stopped the offensive, seizing some chunks of territory but avoiding a direct clash with western forces.

    The immediate crisis was averted, but the consequences continue. As Riedel writes:

    “The events of the autumn of 1962 created the balance of power, the alliance structure and the arms race that still prevail today in Asia.”

    India was then famously non-aligned but tilting to the Soviet Union. It is still officially neutral but has evolved ever closer to the United States. It competes with China for influence and control in its own ocean and beyond, becoming more aligned to such such U.S. allies as Australia and Japan.

    And then there is Pakistan. As Riedel asserts, Pakistan officials contrast their fair-weather friend Washington with the all-weather friend Chins Beijing is increasingly investing in infrastructure projects there, including a port that will give it direct access to the Indian Ocean.

    Perhaps nothing so well describes the downward slide of the U.S.-Pakistani relationship as the interaction between its leaders. The Pakistani president in the early 1960s was Ayub Khan, a dashing military man who once presented Jacqueline Kennedy with a beautiful black horse and who was feted with one of the most elegant and glamorous state dinners on record, at Mount Vernon.

    Yet none of this mutual charm offensive meant much after the U.S. sent military supplies to India, without consulting Pakistan. Ayub rightly assumed the weapons would be turned on his country in a future conflict. But Pakistan’s real feelings toward the United States were perhaps best revealed when Foreign Minister Zulfikar Bhutto (also president and prime minister as was his daughter Benazir) visited President Kennedy in the White House in October 1963.

    The president said that had Bhutto been born an American, he would have been a member of his Cabinet. To which Bhutto responded, if he had been born American, he would be president and Kennedy would be in his Cabinet. Things have been going pretty much downhill since.

    The post Lessons learned from Cuban Missile Crisis, not so much in South Asia appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D) announced Tuesday that he would no longer pursue the Democratic presidential nomination, the Associated Press reported. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

    Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D) announced Tuesday that he would no longer pursue the Democratic presidential nomination, the Associated Press reported. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb said Tuesday he is dropping out of the Democratic race for president and is considering his options about how he might “remain as a voice” in the campaign.

    Webb said at a news conference that he is “withdrawing from any consideration” of becoming the Democratic party’s nominee and would spend the coming weeks exploring his options about a possible independent bid.

    “The very nature of our democracy is under siege due to the power structure and the money that finances both political parties,” Webb said, joined by his wife, Hong Le Webb. “Our political candidates are being pulled to the extremes. They’re increasingly out of step with the people they’re supposed to serve.”

    Webb said many of the issues that he cares about are not in line with the hierarchy of the Democratic party, saying he did not have a “clear, exact fit” in either party. Asked if he still considers himself a Democrat, Webb said, “We’ll think about that.”

    A Vietnam veteran and former member of President Ronald Reagan’s administration, Webb complained that he did not get the chance to make his views fully known at the first Democratic debate.

    He has trailed badly in the field that includes Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Webb has been polling in the back of the pack with former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee.

    Webb has raised only about $700,000 and ended the month of September with more than $300,000 in the bank. Rivals like former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have raised millions for the campaign.

    Webb surprised many fellow Democrats when he became the first major figure in the party to form a presidential exploratory committee in November.

    In a sign of Webb’s impending decision, the Iowa Democratic Party said he would not appear at Saturday’s major Jefferson-Jackson fundraiser in Des Moines.

    Webb, 69, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, has promoted criminal justice reform and an overhaul of the campaign finance system and has been critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. He has urged Democrats to appeal to working-class Americans and white voters in the South who have left the Democratic party in recent elections.

    Webb was a Navy secretary under Reagan and an author who became a Democrat in response to the Iraq war, which he opposed.

    Webb’s opposition to the war, in which his son Jimmy served, was critical to his surprise Senate election in 2006 against Republican Sen. George Allen.

    Webb’s campaign was helped by an anti-Iraq war fervor and missteps by Allen, whose campaign imploded after he called a Democratic tracker “macaca,” an ethnic insult.

    In the Senate, Webb focused on foreign affairs and veterans issues and was the driving force behind a GI Bill for post-9/11 veterans seeking to attend college after returning from Iraq or Afghanistan. He announced he would not seek re-election in 2012 and returned to writing.

    The post Jim Webb withdraws Democratic presidential bid appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau gives his victory speech after Canada's federal election in Montreal, Quebec, on Oct. 19. Photo by Christinne Muschi/Reuters

    Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau gives his victory speech after Canada’s federal election in Montreal, Quebec, on Oct. 19. Photo by Christinne Muschi/Reuters

    Justin Trudeau, head of Canada’s Liberal Party, swept into power on Monday in a stunning defeat to the decade-long conservative leadership of Stephen Harper.

    Born in Ottowa, the 43-year-old married father of three follows in his father’s footsteps. His father Pierre Trudeau, also of the Liberal Party of Canada, was prime minister from 1968 to 1979 and again from 1980 to 1984.

    The younger Trudeau also was a schoolteacher of French and math before becoming involved in politics, according to a profile on his party’s website.

    He was elected a member of parliament in 2008 and re-elected twice. In 2013, he was elected leader of the Liberal Party and led his party to a majority win in government on Monday.

    He’s also not hard on the eyes, some say, and has taken part in celebrity boxing matches.

    As for his politics, the Liberals promise to cut taxes for middle-income Canadians, invest more in infrastructure projects including bridges, set prices for carbon emissions linked to climate change, and possibly place less emphasis on winning U.S. support for TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline than Harper did.

    As for outgoing Conservative leader Harper, he will continue as a member of parliament. His party will start the process of electing a new leader “immediately,” according to a statement issued by the Tories on Tuesday.

    The post Meet Canada’s new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Thirty-six states saw high school graduation rates rise for the Class of 2014. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

    Thirty-six states saw high school graduation rates rise for the Class of 2014. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

    Thirty-six states saw high school graduation rates rise for the Class of 2014. The gains came on the heels of the country’s record-high graduation rate of 81 percent in 2013.

    An updated national graduation rate hasn’t been released yet, but the Department of Education touted this week’s provisional state-level data for showing not only overall graduation gains in a majority of states, but progress in closing the graduation gap between white students and their black or Hispanic classmates in more than half of states.

    States have used a uniform method for calculating graduation rates since 2010, and the percent of students earning their diploma in four years has grown each. Some have questioned whether the focus on raising graduation rates has benefited all students.

    Earlier this year, NPR and 14 of its member stations investigated how states have achieved those gains. The methods ranged from intensive support for struggling students to easier-to-earn diplomas. This month, Chicago announced it would lower its graduation rate after the local NPR station reported the city had misclassified thousands of dropouts as transfer students.

    The easier-to-earn diplomas highlighted in NPR’s reporting are widespread. A report from Achieve, an education advocacy group that helped develop the Common Core Standards, concluded 39 states offer at least one type of high school diploma that doesn’t require four years of grade-level English and three years of grade-level math. That’s the baseline the group sets for students to be college- and career-ready.

    PBS NewsHour education coverage is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

    The post More students earning diplomas, but is graduation bar high enough? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Bounce house fun

    Photo by Getty Images

    Lily Creech never imagined that an inflatable bounce house could lead to so much suffering for her 11-year-old daughter.

    It was her company picnic in Miami. Barbecue smoke hung in the air. Kids were rough-housing on a bouncer with a giant, two-story slide. Creech’s daughter, Nathalia Martin, climbed the steps and began to slide down. But near the top, her ankle got caught in some bunched-up material. Her left distal tibia and fibula snapped.

    “When her ankle broke, she started screaming, and there were still kids coming down,” Creech said. “She turned white, and she was sweating.”

    Hospital staff later identified the break as a trimalleolar fracture that would require three surgeries. It was her daughter’s first trip to the hospital.

    “When I saw the X-ray and saw how shattered her ankle was, I had to hold myself together,” Creech said. “ because if she saw me crying, she would know it was something really bad.”

    Creech’s daughter, who is still recovering from the accident, is not alone. Government data shows that injuries involving inflatable amusements have increased in recent years.

    According to emergency room data, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported more than 18,800 injuries in 2012 as a result of moon bounces, bounce houses and inflatable amusements. That’s a threefold increase from six years earlier, according to the commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. In 2013, that number dipped slightly. It’s unclear, according to the report, whether the increase is due to increased exposure or a rise in the injury rate.

    moon-bounce-final

    More than 90 percent of inflatable amusement injuries were linked to moon bounces, the report found. Of those injuries, two-thirds involved people’s arms and legs. Another 15 percent of injuries affected the head or face. Nearly nine out of 10 people injured were 14 years old or younger.

    Bounce houses pose a variety of risks. This summer in New Zealand, a boy vanished beneath a bounce house and became ensnared by its matting. The boy’s father, who saved him, said he couldn’t hear his son scream from inside, Yahoo! News reported. He posted this video to Facebook, with the words: “If I wasnt [sic] there watching him know one [sic] would have known he was in there. We hate to think what could have happened.”

    At a fall festival in 2013, when a generator that pumped air into a bounce house stopped working, and the house rapidly deflated, leaving two small boys and a 26-pound 2-year-old trapped under the heavy weight of rubber and vinyl, according to this ABC News report. In May 2014, in South Glens Falls, New York, wind lifted a bounce house 100 feet into the air and injured two boys after they fell nearly 20 feet onto a parked car and asphalt. A year later, a tornado lifted another bounce house with three children inside more than 50 feet over a beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. And in June, a girl in China died after she fell from a bouncy castle that was blown into the air. Manufacturer guidelines say that people should anchor inflatables and stop playing in them if inclement weather arises.

    Despite these accidents, most injuries occur inside the bounce house — often from falling inside the bouncer and fracturing an arm or leg or crashing into another child, according to a study in the journal Pediatrics in 2012.

    While the estimated number of inflatable amusement-related injuries has steadily risen in recent years, it still pales in comparison to playground equipment or skateboards. In 2012, more than 270,000 estimated injuries were linked to playground activity. That same year, skateboards were connected to more than 114,000 estimated injuries, according to the commission’s data.

    Commercial moon bounces and bounce houses have been popular at fairs and fall festivals for decades, but it wasn’t until 2004 that ASTM International, an organization that establishes standards for a wide range of products, developed safety standards for them, says Len Morrissey, one of the group’s directors for standards development. A few years later, at-home inflatables got their own set of standards, he said.

    The federal government does not regulate inflatables, like the moon bounce, and states and local jurisdictions drive what rules do exist. Even guidelines from Morrissey’s group are voluntary, he said.

    Anyone can request new or revised standards, and the 850-member group votes twice a year on how to update guidelines for amusements, such as inflatables, ziplines and rollercoasters. Voting members include engineers, pediatric doctors and representatives from Disney and Universal Studios.

    Frank Scurlock is a member of that group, and he thinks that inflatables have gotten a “bum rap.” Scurlock’s father, John T. Scurlock, invented the moon bounce in the 1960s, but it was his mother who had the business instinct to rent out the inflatable tent for parties. Scurlock said that when he was growing up, he and his friends played on the inflatables, helping his father, an employee with NASA, finetune the toy.

    Now, he manages the family business of renting out moon bounce and bounce house inflatables in Kenner, Louisiana, and gives safety tips about how to better use these toys.

    “It’s not necessarily that they’re dangerous,” Scurlock said. “Anybody can misuse anything.”

    He suspects that non-commercial use could be partly responsible for rising injuries. Bouncers are now cheaply made and sold at prices competitive even with rental rates, Scurlock said. (According to the federal report, nearly half of all injuries occur with commercial inflatables.)

    “The main thing is supervision,” said Florida injury attorney Eric Falk. “These rides are fun, and if they are supervised properly, they’re safe. Human error is the biggest issue.”

    Of course, risks aren’t all bad. In fact, it’s important for children to take some risks in play so they know how to manage risks in life, says Roger Hart, who studies child development and playground design at the Children’s Environments Research Group at the City University of New York.

    But after watching his own 3-year-old son play on a moon bounce at a birthday party, Hart said he thinks manufacturers need to do more to make these inflatables safer. For example, he said, a requirement that huge safety labels be placed outside the bounce house entrance .

    “It’s not comfortable for parents to be hovering over children,” he said. “The parent’s job is to assess whether there’s an excessive risk, and that’s where they need the help of the manufacturer. They need to know that there have been injuries on this thing.”

    Creech said she’s not worried about her daughter running into any more problems with moon bounces.

    “I can tell you she won’t ever go on a bounce house ever again,” she said.

    The post How safe are bounce houses for kids, really? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A mounted policeman leads a group of migrants near Dobova, Slovenia October 20, 2015. Slovenia's parliament is expected to approve changes to its laws later on Tuesday to enable the army to help police guard the border, as thousands of migrants flooded into the country from Croatia after Hungary sealed off its border. REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY   - RTS584D

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    GWEN IFILL: There was little relief today from the wave of migrants pouring into Eastern Europe. As officials on the ground struggled to cope, governments ratcheted up their war of words.

    NewsHour special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: All day, they kept coming in the thousands, as Slovenian police on horseback tried to herd them to packed reception centers.

    Slovenia says nearly 20,000 migrants have entered the country from Croatia since Friday. And, today, Parliament considered sending additional troops to help prevent illegal crossings. Officials talked of more drastic action as well.

    BOSTJAN SEFIC, State Secretary, Slovenian Interior Ministry (through interpreter): I don’t know what the future will bring. And you know that Slovenia had a restrained attitude so far. But we cannot rule out the possibility of using physical barriers to secure border crossings.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: In addition, Slovenia’s president traveled to Brussels, asking the European Union to help police the frontier. The new influx began when Hungary closed the last of its southern border posts in recent days.

    That forced refugees reaching Croatia, to take the new route toward Slovenia. The Slovenians complained again today that Croatia is dumping throngs of people on its border without control. But Croatia said, in turn, that thousands are stranded in mud-caked fields along its southern border with Serbia.

    The Croatian interior minister said Slovenia must take at least half of those arriving in order to keep the line moving.

    MAN: What we are expecting here now is that they’re able to handle the 5,000 people. If we are receiving 10,000, then 5,000 people have to be transited to Slovenia.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: All of this as arrivals at the southern end of the refugee route have reached new records. Some 8,000 crossed from the Eastern Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece yesterday alone. The voyage to islands like Lesbos is far shorter and relatively safer during the summer an the crossing from North Africa to Italy, but it is still a perilous undertaking.

    It’s estimated that more than 3,000 people have drowned so far this year. And the U.N. refugee office in Greece fears more will die.

    RON REDMOND, Spokesman, UN High Commissioner for Refugees: Well, as winter approaches, people are desperate and they’re still going to keep trying. They might wait for a calm day. But if it’s not, the smugglers give them a discount. And they will — as much as, say, 40 or 50 percent, if they will take a boat in stormy weather. And some people do it.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: It’s been one of those days that has really emphasized the fickle nature of the Aegean Sea. A boat full of refugees landed in Lesbos today and the people on board told volunteers that the boat directly behind them had disappeared. Their story has been confirmed by Greek coast guard tonight, who said there have been drownings inside Turkish waters.

    But, tonight, the Coast Guard off the island of Lesbos have been in action. They have rescued 60 people. The sea was flat calm, yet all of these people were in danger of drowning. The weather is about to change, which creates a real dilemma for those people in Turkey who want to rush to Europe before more borders close.

    Those who do make it across the Aegean may face an increasingly hostile reception. Last night, 15,000 to 20,000 anti-immigration protesters gathered in Dresden, Germany, which, up to now, has been one of the most receptive countries to migrants.

    And in Sweden, where more than 150,000 refugees are expected to arrive this year, a fourth building housing asylum seekers was torched overnight in a suspected arson attack.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Malcolm Brabant in Athens.

    The post Slovenia asks EU for help policing migrant crossings appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau gives his victory speech after Canada's federal election in Montreal, Quebec, October 19, 2015.  REUTERS/Chris Wattie  TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTS56TA

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And now to that stunning victory for the Liberal Party in Canada, and an incoming prime minister with politics in his blood, Justin Trudeau.

    The Liberals won a resounding majority with 184 seats out of 338, increasing their vote share in every province since the last election in 2011. Conservative seats dropped below 100, losing ground in every province except Quebec, and the New Democrats won 44 seats.

    Forty-three-year-old Justin Trudeau, a teacher and the son of the late Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau, watched the election results with his young family.

    Later, he addressed his supporters in Montreal.

    JUSTIN TRUDEAU, Leader, Liberal Party: Canadians have spoken. You want a government with a vision and an agenda for this country that is positive and ambitious and hopeful. Well, my friends I promise you tonight that I will lead that government.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    JUSTIN TRUDEAU: I will make that vision a reality. I will be that prime minister.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Outgoing Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper conceded his loss in Calgary last night. He also quit as leader of the Conservative Party.

    For more on the Canadian vote, I’m joined by John Northcott of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

    John Northcott, welcome.

    So, this was a surprise.

    JOHN NORTHCOTT, CBC: Yes, very much so.

    The polls had it neck and neck for a while, and then in the few days before the election, there was a suggestion there might be a minority one way or the other, either for the Conservatives or for the Liberals. Very few, though, even in the hours up to Election Day, and the results coming in last night, really thought that Justin Trudeau could get, if not a majority, then the majority that he got, the resounding majority, effectively quintupling his results from before.

    No party has ever gone from what is effectively third-party place to a resounding majority like that in Canadian electoral history.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What happened last night? What changed?

    JOHN NORTHCOTT: Well, a number of things changed.

    It was the longest campaign in modern Canadian electoral history. It allowed the electorate to get to know the candidates, in the case of the incumbent prime minister, Stephen Harper, perhaps got to know him a little too well, to the point where dislike became a sharpened point of hate in some cases.

    As for Justin Trudeau, the public didn’t know him that well. He had been the subject of long, withering attack campaign from the Conservatives even long before the election was called. Effectively, what they did, arguably, was lower expectations to the point where he had to only exceed them. The joke is made that he only had to show up for the debates wearing pants and he’d make a positive impression.

    He did show up. He did wear pants. And he had very few missteps. Many are saying that he ran a very smart campaign. He’s young. He’s energetic. And over time, over those 11 weeks — and I know that’s short by American standards, but it’s very long by Canadian standards — the public decide that he deserved a chance.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Why was Harper so unpopular?

    JOHN NORTHCOTT: Well, it was a variety of things. He’d been in power a long time and the sense of a familiarity breeding contempt there.

    But at the same time, he had a number of policies that, group by group, the opposition added up against him. At various times, he has not fared well with veterans. He has not fared well with farmers. He has not fared well with the elderly. This, as you can imagine, is a core constituency for a party on the far right.

    And over time, people grew sick of him, and in the last days of the campaign, what appeared to be a number of desperation members — movements, rather, including showing up at an event with Rob Ford, you will remember, the disgraced former mayor of Toronto, admitted crack user and heavy drinker, many saw that as a final desperation move by Harper to garner last votes. And there was blood in the water, and people at that point really decided that they had had enough right across the country.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I read that it was also his positions on climate change, on foreign military intervention. And what is it about this dispute about Muslim women wearing the face veil, the niqab? What was that all about?

    JOHN NORTHCOTT: Yes. That, too, sparked a lot of concern in the final days of the campaign.

    Effectively, his party has argued that women shouldn’t be allowed to show up for the citizenship swearing-in ceremony wearing the niqab. Now, you have to present yourself. You have to reveal yourself to a female officer, and identify yourself with proper documentation.

    But for the public swearing-in ceremony, there was a raging debate that ended up in the courts, with the government of Stephen Harper saying, no, these women had to show their faces, the women saying, no, they didn’t feel comfortable showing their faces in a public way in the ceremony. They won in court and where actually one in particular was sworn in and managed to vote on Election Day.

    That had a lot of people, some of the hard right, they were attracted by that position, but Harper went on to say he might even consider bringing in this sort of thing in the federal civil service with public displays of religion. And a lot of people had thought of, say, for example, the Jewish skullcap, the Sikh turban, and they started thinking, you know what? This is going too far.

    And it became a battle in the last few days over values, Canadian values, what do we hold dear, the ability to come to this country, to immigrate to this country and to be free to be yourself.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me just quickly ask you in the end, what do people expect Trudeau to do differently? What is he saying he’s going to change?

    JOHN NORTHCOTT: Well, the Liberals have a long tradition of running from the left and governing from the right.

    So, you are not going to see a niqab debate. That’s for sure. You’re going to see some spending on infrastructure. Many parts of Canada, major cities, need things like increased transit and better roads, so you’re going to see some spending and some job creation there as well.

    But as far as the business community, as far as dealing with our largest trading partner across the border in the United States, you are going to see someone who is pro-trade, someone who is pro-pipeline in terms of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline moving through the United States and going into the Gulf of Mexico. And you are going to see someone who wants to do business with the world, despite being called — quote, unquote — as “a liberal.”

    JUDY WOODRUFF: John Northcott of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, getting used to a new prime minister, we thank you.

    The post What drove Canada’s Liberal Party election upset appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) walks to the U.S. Capitol building in Washington October 20, 2015. Paul Ryan, under pressure from many fellow Republicans to become the next U.S. House speaker, has agreed to meet on Tuesday evening with members of House Freedom Caucus, the far-right faction of the party that played a key role in driving the last speaker out of office. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas - RTS5D3E

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Canada’s 35 million people woke today to a new political era, ushering out almost a decade of Conservative leadership. The Liberal Party won an outright majority in Parliament in Monday’s election.

    The results mean that 43-year-old Justin Trudeau will be the country’s new prime minister. President Obama called Trudeau today to congratulate him. We will look at how the Liberals did it after the news summary.

    GWEN IFILL: Here at home, the presidential field shrank by one today. Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb dropped out of the Democratic contest. Webb failed to gain traction in the polls, and now says he’s not sure he will stay a Democrat.

    JIM WEBB (D), Former U.S. Senator: I fully accept that my views on many issues are not compatible with the power structure or the nominating base of the Democratic Party. That party is filled with millions of dedicated, hardworking Americans, but its hierarchy is not comfortable with many of the policies that I have laid forth, and, frankly, I’m not that comfortable with many of theirs.

    GWEN IFILL: Webb left the door open for a possible run as an independent.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Republicans in the House of Representatives convened this evening to mull their choice for speaker. It came amid reports that Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is edging closer to running. He was the party’s vice presidential nominee in 2012. A conservative faction pressured Speaker John Boehner to resign, and then drove Kevin McCarthy from the race to succeed him. The party caucus plans to meet again tomorrow night.

    GWEN IFILL: The United States and Russia signed an agreement today to limit the risk of incidents in the skies over Syria. Warplanes from both countries are carrying out airstrikes, and there’ve been reports of several close encounters.

    At the Pentagon, spokesman Peter Cook said the agreement doesn’t include sharing target information, but it does lay out safety procedures.

    PETER COOK, Pentagon Press Secretary: These protocols include maintaining professional airmanship at all times, the use of specific communication frequencies, and the establishment of a communication line on the ground. The U.S. and Russia will form a working group to discuss any implementation issues that follow.

    GWEN IFILL: In Syria, Russian airstrikes overnight killed at least 45 people, including a rebel commander. A monitoring group in London says the strikes hit coastal Latakia province, the stronghold of President Bashar al-Assad. The monitors also reported three Russians were killed fighting alongside Syrian army troops. The Kremlin denied it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The top U.S. military officer is playing down chances that Iraq will ask for Russian airstrikes against Islamic State fighters. General Joseph Dunford offered that opinion today on his first trip to Iraq since becoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dunford met first with the head of the Kurdish regional government in Irbil. Later, he conferred with the Iraqi defense minister in Baghdad.

    GWEN IFILL: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon made a surprise visit to Jerusalem today, hoping to halt a wave of violence. He arrived as Palestinians clashed with Israeli soldiers in Ramallah in the West Bank. Elsewhere, two Palestinians were killed following separate attacks on Israelis.

    That brought this appeal from Ban:

    BAN KI-MOON, United Nations Secretary-General: No society should have to live in fear. No society can afford to see its youth suffer in hopelessness. If we do not act fast, the dynamics on the ground may only get worse, with serious repercussions in and beyond Israel and Palestine.

    GWEN IFILL: Ban is slated to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his trip.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: For the first time, officials in Japan have confirmed a case of cancer that may be linked to the Fukushima plant nuclear disaster. The plant was heavily damaged by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. The patient announced today had installed covers on damaged reactors there. The man also worked at other nuclear sites, but most of his radiation exposure came at Fukushima.

    GWEN IFILL: And on Wall Street, weak earnings reports from IBM and others kept stocks down. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 13 points to close at 17217. The Nasdaq fell 24 points, and the S&P 500 slipped about three.

    The post News Wrap: House GOP mull choice for speaker appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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