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

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    Republican U.S. presidential candidates (L-R) Governor John Kasich, former Governor Mike Huckabee, former Governor Jeb Bush, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, businessman Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Governor Chris Christie and U.S. Rep. Rand Paul participate in the 2016 U.S. Republican presidential candidates debate held by CNBC in Boulder, Colorado, October 28, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking  - RTX1TQ26

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: But, first, Republican campaigns are making debate demands. Jeb Bush goes for a reboot. And Bernie Sanders joins the ad wars. It’s Politics Monday.

    As always, I’m joined by Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

    Let’s start with the debate over debates. Why talk about the issues when you can talk about the debates?

    The latest thing that has happened is the candidates’ representatives met and they tried to come up with a common deal that they were going to present to the networks and say, this is the way these debates ought to go, no lightning rounds, no show of hands, that sort of thing, except that Donald Trump threw a little spanner in the works, Amy.

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Yes, what a surprise.

    GWEN IFILL: Yes.

    AMY WALTER: Donald Trump, I don’t know if you knew he wrote this book called “The Art of the Deal,” says, I’m going to negotiate my own deal. I’m not going to sign on a letter with 15 other candidates.

    And this gets to the heart of it, right, which is, debates, doesn’t matter, this year, last year, last cycle, 100 years ago, debates are very different for very different candidates. If you’re a front-running candidate, as Donald Trump is, as Ben Carson is, you don’t like debates, because it puts the target right on you, it puts the focus on you, there is a lot of pressure on you.

    If you are a candidate who is struggling to get name I.D., if you’re trying to break through, you love debates, because it may be the only opportunity you get in front of the public. This is why John Kasich’s campaign says, we’re not signing onto this. Carly Fiorina campaigns said, we’re not signing onto this. Chris Christie’s campaign said, we’re fine with the way debates are.

    So, there we go.

    GWEN IFILL: So, what we had in this week was a debate over not — the debates, but also over the moderators, which is not — also not a brand-new thing. This has been — putting aside for a moment whether CNBC did the job they could have done, the moderators are often the targets.

    TAMARA KEITH, NPR: There is a history of going after the liberal media elites or going after the moderator or complaining about the questions or how much time you’re getting right in the middle of the debate and after the debate.

    I think what we should talk about though is that this letter that that maybe is falling apart, this effort for campaigns to negotiate directly with the networks is actually trying to take it back to the way it was in 2012 and 2008, when the networks would go to the candidates and say, we would like to have a debate, let’s talk.

    What happened this time is, the Republican Party, the RNC was trying to protect the candidates from the mess that was the debates in 2012. They were trying to create a system that would protect the candidates. And now the candidates are saying, this protection you offered, we don’t know if we like it either.

    GWEN IFILL: It should be said that a lot of the things in this letter look a lot like the kind of guarantees that you get in the general election debates, whether there are reverse shots, whether — this is not all brand-new. This question is whether these guys can all agree.

    In the general election debates, there are just two camps that have to agree.

    AMY WALTER: That’s right.

    TAMARA KEITH: Right.

    GWEN IFILL: I want to ask a little bit about Jeb Bush. It’s generally agreed, even he says he didn’t do as well as he could have in this debate.

    Let’s listen to what he had to say today on his new reboot. He went to Tampa, Florida.

    JEB BUSH, Republican Presidential Candidate: Take off the suit coat, ditch the glasses, get rid of the purple striped tie.

    (LAUGHTER)

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    JEB BUSH: I like the tie. I like this tie. It only costs 20 bucks.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JEB BUSH: Some advice is more strategic. Nail that zinger, be angrier, hide your inner wonk.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JEB BUSH: I can’t be something I’m not.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    JEB BUSH: The campaign trail is littered with candidates disguised as television critics, politicians echoing poll-tested pabulum, but leadership is something far different.

    GWEN IFILL: I especially liked the lady with the Jeb sticker on her forehead.

    AMY WALTER: That would be hard to get off.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, there was a lot of — well, that was enthusiastic and there was a lot of enthusiasm in that room. And that is what he was going for, I take it.

    TAMARA KEITH: Well, and he had enthusiasm in the room.

    Enthusiasm on the Internet, not so much. You saw there this Jeb can fix it. It became a hashtag. They wanted it to be a hashtag. I don’t know that what the campaign wanted is what they got, which is people on the Internet sort of making fun of Jeb Bush all day. This is his relaunch and people are there on Twitter saying, #JebBushcanfixit with all kinds of goofy Photoshops.

    GWEN IFILL: Jeb Bush told our buddy Chuck Todd at NBC over the weekend that he’s a grinder, which is not quite the same thing as being a joyful candidate.

    AMY WALTER: Well, that is very true.

    And the problem for Jeb Bush is not his glasses or his tie or his suit jacket. It’s his last name, which he can’t do anything about, and it’s his message, which just isn’t with the time that we’re in.

    Look, this has been a problem from the very beginning. Voters have said we don’t like — Republican voters — we don’t like the idea of a Bush name. They don’t like the legacy thing. They think he’s part of this dynasty. So, he’s already working on that.

    Then his message — he says that his message is, I’m a fixer, I’m a doer, I have experience. If you look at the most recent poll that came out from Pew Research, they asked Republican primary voters, do you want somebody who’s been experienced or do you want somebody who is new and fresh and has new ideas?

    The experienced, proven candidate, only 29 percent of Republicans wanted that; 65 percent of Republicans said they wanted somebody new and different. So he’s selling something that right now voters aren’t saying that they want.

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s turn to the Democrats for a moment, because we have seen Bernie Sanders hired a pollster.

    TAMARA KEITH: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: This is their outsider. Hired a pollster and has also put out his first biographical ad in which he tells you a little about his background. And he uses the TIME magazine cover in which he says, socialists — call himself a socialist.

    And he’s trying to tell people what, Tamara?

    TAMARA KEITH: First, he is trying to tell people that he’s something of an unconventional candidate.

    That’s what I get from this ad. The tone is very different from sort of gauzy bio ads where you get to know the candidate. There is sort of at hyper-speed. This is all you need to know about 40 years of Bernie Sanders.

    You notice the long, lingering shot on Martin Luther King. He’s definitely sending a signal there. He was all in with the civil rights movement. He wants people to know that. And then at the end of the ad, there are these sweeping images of him surrounded by these massive crowds and there’s the energy that he’s been generating all over the country, and also a tag line that says something like an honest leader, which, although he isn’t explicitly making a contrast, certainly, Hillary Clinton has had some issues in the polls with honesty and trustworthy issues.

    GWEN IFILL: Is he making an appeal for Hillary Clinton’s voters, or is he trying to do what they always say they are going to do, which is energize a brand-new class of voter?

    AMY WALTER: No, he needs to introduce himself to people that don’t know him very well. This was definitely about going for those voters that are very unaware of who Bernie Sanders is, and specifically voters who are African-American, voters who are Latino.

    If you noticed, the introduction, he remarks on the fact that his parent, his father was an immigrant to this country, the fact that they’re trying to make him a three-dimensional character. He is a granddad, he’s a father, he’s more than just the caricature we saw on “Saturday Night Live” who likes to pound on the podium. There’s much more there.

    He knows he needs to broaden his appear beyond just a white liberal base. This was trying to get beyond that in the Democratic primary.

    GWEN IFILL: It’s almost like he takes Hillary Clinton’s one grandchild and multiplies it by…

    TAMARA KEITH: By seven.

    GWEN IFILL: By seven, and makes the point that if you like that about her, you will like all of this about me, too.

    Is she reacting in any way that we know or is she just staying low?

    TAMARA KEITH: She’s staying low, I think.

    However, there’s a new Web ad where — or not Web ad, but Web video on Facebook where she’s talking about her granddaughter, Charlotte, who learned how to say grandma.

    GWEN IFILL: I get the feeling we’re going to be hearing a lot about Charlotte as the campaign goes on.

    TAMARA KEITH: It won’t be the last time.

    GWEN IFILL: It won’t be the last time.

    Tamara Keith, Amy Walter, thank you both very much.

    TAMARA KEITH: Thanks.

    AMY WALTER: You’re welcome.

    The post Why different GOP candidates have different debate demands appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The phrase "equal justice under law" adorns the west entrance to the Supreme Court building in Washington, DC, December 3, 2014. The Court will hear arguments Monday related to the selection of an all-white jury in a decades-old Georgia murder case in which the defendant, Timothy Tyrone Foster, was black. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And now we turn to the Supreme Court, where justices heard arguments in a death penalty case out of Georgia that deals with race discrimination in the selection of jurors.

    We begin our coverage of that case with a version of a report that originally aired on the PBS program Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.

    Correspondent Tim O’Brien has the story.

    TIM O’BRIEN: It was in 1986 in Rome, Georgia. Seventy-nine-year-old Queen White had just returned home from choir practice to confront a burglar who would take her life.

    Prosecutors said it was this man — Timothy Foster — 18 years old at the time.

    Down at the Floyd County Courthouse, over the vehement objections of defense lawyers, prosecutors excused all African-Americans from the jury pool. Foster would be tried, convicted, and sentenced to die by an all-white jury.

    The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled only four months before this crime was committed that while lawyers have wide latitude in selecting juries and may even excuse some prospective jurors without having to explain why, race can never be a factor. Should it appear that race is the motive, the attorney must be able to provide race-neutral reasons.

    STEPHEN BRIGHT, Southern Center for Human Rights: The reasons given here — some were false. They just simply weren’t true. Some were contradictory. In fact, on their lists of people who they were definitely going to strike, the five African-Americans were the first five listed. And there was only one other person on the list, and it was a white woman.

    TIM O’BRIEN: Stephen Bright runs the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta and will argue Foster’s case before the Supreme Court. Proving jurors were removed because of their race can be difficult, but lawyers at the Center say they have come up with some persuasive new evidence.

    STEPHEN BRIGHT: In the prosecutor’s files, they had listed — they race-coded and color-coded all the black people in the lists of the jurors.

    They had compared the black jurors against each other in the notes, saying, “If we have to accept a black, maybe this one would be OK,” which suggests the goal was to get rid of all the blacks. And so it all points pretty much in one direction, which is race.

    TIM O’BRIEN: A 10-year study of 332 criminal cases in Louisiana found that when there were at least three blacks on the jury, 12 percent of the defendants were acquitted; the acquittal rate rose to 19 percent with five or more black jurors, and no one was acquitted in the study when there were two or fewer black jurors. In all three groups, the defendants were overwhelmingly black.

    Kent Scheidegger is legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, victims’ rights group that supports capital punishment, and Scheidegger says the fact that prosecutors kept notes on the race of the jurors doesn’t prove racial discrimination, but rather may help to refute it.

    KENT SCHEIDEGGER, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation: The fact that you keep track of the race of the jurors as you go through the process is not at all suspicious. In order to defend yourself against the charges of discrimination, you have to keep track. That’s why every time we apply for a loan, or a job, or school admission, we’re asked to specify our race, and that’s all they were doing in this case.

    STEPHEN BRIGHT: If all you wanted was to know information about the black jurors, you wouldn’t write things like, “If we have to accept a black, maybe this one will be OK.”

    TIM O’BRIEN: You want his conviction set aside.

    KENT SCHEIDEGGER: Right.

    TIM O’BRIEN: But what more than that? What do you want the court to say?

    STEPHEN BRIGHT: One of the things that I hope at the very least will come out of this case is that the court will require the reasons given be scrutinized much more carefully than they were in this case.

    TIM O’BRIEN: Significantly, last June, two justices formally urged the court to reconsider whether the United States is even capable of administering capital punishment in a constitutional manner.

    The justices, Stephen Breyer, joined by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, noted that the risk of executing an innocent person remains great, that factors such as race, gender, and geography make the death penalty arbitrary, that the decades-long delays between sentence and execution defeat the goals of deterrence and retribution, and that both death sentences and actual executions are becoming increasingly unusual — down almost 70 percent in the last 15 years.

    STEPHEN BREYER, Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court: I recognize that we are a court, not a legislature, but the matters that I have discussed are judicial matters. They concern the infliction of an unfair, cruel, and unusual punishment upon individuals at odds with a specific constraint that the Constitution imposes on the democratic process.”

    TIM O’BRIEN: The country appears to be slowly, but inexorably, moving away from capital punishment. If so, the U.S. Supreme Court may not be too far behind.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The justices also heard a case looking at the issue of online privacy.

    For more on both cases, we turn to Marcia Coyle of “The National Law Journal,” who was at the Supreme Court today.

    So, welcome back, Marcia.

    MARCIA COYLE, The National Law Journal: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let’s talk first about the all-white jury case. How important is it that the lawyers of this accused man, Timothy Foster, were able to get ahold of those original notes made by the prosecutor back in 1987?

    MARCIA COYLE: Well, Judy, I think how the justices view the notes is really crucial to Mr. Foster’s chance of getting a new trial.

    If the justices see race discrimination in those notes, that is a violation of the 14th Amendment, and he will get a new trial.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So tell us about the arguments before the court today.

    MARCIA COYLE: Sure.

    During the arguments, Mr. Foster’s attorney, Steve Bright, argued that the notes represented an arsenal of smoking guns that were designed clearly to separate the African-American prospective jurors and to treat them differently.

    Justice Kagan asked Georgia’s attorney why this wasn’t as clear violation of the court’s 1986 decision as the court was ever likely to see. And Georgia’s attorney said, well, really, the notes can be viewed in two ways. They could be viewed as the prosecutors’ preparation to defend against the claim of racial discrimination.

    Justice Breyer said that was hard to believe because that reason, he said, was never given by the prosecutor until the case actually came to the Supreme Court. So it appeared that there were a number of justices sympathetic to Mr. Foster’s claim.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, the justices would push back when the lawyers for the state of Georgia made that argument?

    MARCIA COYLE: That’s right.

    I should mention, Judy, that there is a possibility that the court will not reach the merits here. There is a procedural problem with the case that came up very late, and the case may have to go back to the Georgia Supreme Court for some clarification.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what we said earlier in the program about there being wider implications for this case, that really does on what the — how the justices choose to look at this.

    MARCIA COYLE:It does absolutely. It could be narrow, focused solely on Mr. Foster’s case.

    But even if he wins, and it is narrow, it sends a message, I think, to other courts to look at these kinds of claims very carefully. In 1986, Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote separately in the case to say that the Batson rule here that was announced by the court in ’86 wasn’t likely to end race discrimination in jury selection. The only way to end it was to eliminate discretionary jury strikes.

    There doesn’t seem to be much sympathy for that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s talk now about this other case the justices heard today. This had to do with incorrect information on a search engine about somebody on the Internet and whether this constituted real harm done to this person. Tell us about the core of this case.

    MARCIA COYLE: OK.

    Well, Spokeo is a — calls itself a people search engine. It collects information on individuals, and that information is used in credit reports and for other purposes. Tom Robins, he searched for his name on Spokeo, and, frankly, the information there was a mess. They got wrong his age, his marital status, his education, his employment, whether he had children.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Just about everything.

    MARCIA COYLE: Just about everything.

    So, the Fair Credit Reporting Act imposes a series of regulatory requirements on credit reporting agencies. Congress passed it to ensure maximum accuracy in the reporting of this information. And it provides limited damages if the act is violated, either negligently or willfully.

    Mr. Robins went to court. He wanted to prove violation. He wanted to form a class action of other people who had suffered similarly. He didn’t get very far because the trial court, at least, dismissed his case saying you have to show, under the Constitution’s Article 3, actual harm, actual injury, concrete injury, and you didn’t.

    The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, said that just the violation of the statute alone is enough for you to have standing, the right to go into federal court. That’s the issue before the court. Is it enough to just find a violation of the statute, or do you have to show something more?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, just quickly, what were the justices saying today? What could you tell from their conversation?

    MARCIA COYLE: It appears they are divided.

    You had justices like Justices Kagan and Sotomayor saying, look, if somebody disseminates false information about me, I would feel harmed, and if you took a survey of people, they would probably feel harmed as well. That should be enough, isn’t it?

    Well, Spokeo’s attorney counters, no, you do — Congress has to clearly state that it’s supplanting the Constitution’s rule of a concrete injury. Chief Justice Roberts seemed to agree with that, saying, we have legions of cases that require a concrete injury, not just a violation of the statute.

    So they appeared divided, Judy. It’s a very important case. It’s being closely watched by the business community, the tech companies, Internet service, right.

    MARCIA COYLE: And on the other side, it’s being closely watched by privacy organizations, civil rights groups, consumer groups.

    It may affect not only this statute, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, but similar laws that have an outright violation of a statute allowing an action for damages.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Marcia Coyle, spending much of this day with the Supreme Court.

    MARCIA COYLE: And more to come.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And much more to come. Thank you, Marcia.

    MARCIA COYLE: My pleasure, Judy.

    The post Supreme Court weighs racial discrimination in jury selection appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A debris from a Russian airliner is seen at its crash site at the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015. Russia has grounded Airbus A321 jets flown by the Kogalymavia airline, Interfax news agency reported on Sunday, after one of its fleet crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany - RTX1U8KN

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: So, what do we know so far?

    For more, I’m joined by Alan Diehl, a former investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, and the author of “Air Safety Investigators: Using Science to Save Lives.”

    Alan Diehl, I want to walk you through some of the theories we have heard so far today and which we heard just now in that tape. Let’s talk first about the complete midair collision or failure. What is the possibility of that?

    ALAN DIEHL, Former NTSB Investigator: Well, the wreckage — the wreckage location pattern suggests that there was some kind of inside breakup, but I don’t think this happened at 31,000 feet, even though it spread over several miles.

    That’s a fairly tight pattern, and there’s been report that the data was streaming as low as — down to as low as 5,000 feet. So the problem may have began at 31,000 feet, but I believe the aircraft was relatively intact down to lower altitudes, perhaps as low as 5,000 feet.

    Now, we do know the tail is three miles from the main wreckage and there is other debris and bodies scattered in the area, but I don’t think this aircraft came apart, like, for example, the Malaysia 17 flight did when it was hit by a large missile over Ukraine.

    GWEN IFILL: So it’s not consistent with a midair explosion, at least not at that height?

    ALAN DIEHL: I would say not, Gwen.

    But, of course, having done this 40 years, everything is very preliminary and I can only speculate. I think the Egyptians will do a very thorough job. We know that, oftentimes, people say this is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. Only, many times, you don’t have all the pieces.

    I think we have got all the pieces right now. The recorders were in good shape. The Egyptians had analyzed those. I think that was why they discounted the missile strike theory. And, of course, the wreckage is in a desert area. This is not like the Ukrainian crash, where it was scattered over a very wide area. People were pilfering things, we think, and maybe even the rebels were removing things.

    So I think we have got all the parts of this jigsaw puzzle, but it’s going to take a little time for all the players to come together. It’s not just the Russians that are doing the investigation. We’re using the Egyptians. We know there are five countries.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    ALAN DIEHL: And particularly with the French involved, I think we’re going to get to the bottom of this, and fairly expeditiously.

    GWEN IFILL: You mentioned the fact that the plane’s tail was some distance away from a lot of the other wreckage.

    There’s also — there were also reports today that there had been damage to the plane’s tail some years ago that had been repaired. What’s the potential for some sort of weakness or metal stress and failure which would have created something this catastrophic?

    ALAN DIEHL: Well, we have seen this before. In a 747 over Japan, the worst single aircraft accident in the history, killed 520 people, the tail came off, because a — they’re called tail strikes. The aircraft tail bumps the ground on takeoff or landing.

    So this is a real possibility. But, again, Gwen, they have the physical evidence, and the Egyptians seem to be doing a very good job of protecting that. I have noticed they have even put fences around the primary wreckage location.

    So, the metallurgists will haul that tail back into the lab and, with electron microscopes and other techniques, establish whether this repair was done correctly or whether there was some sort of metal fatigue involved or even a catastrophic failure for some other reason. I think we will get to the bottom of this when we have the evidence.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, the black box, is that essential for us to find out whether maybe pilot error could have been involved?

    ALAN DIEHL: Absolutely.

    And, of course, as many people have said, everything is still on the table. Another thing that was very curious about this, and, again, these are initial reports confirmed I guess by the Egyptians, that the radar data suggested that the plane didn’t just suddenly dive out of the sky from 31,000 feet, that it actually entered a series of undulations where it climbed and dived — dove a couple thousand feet before it made its final plunge toward the desert.

    So, that could — we have seen this in the past with these highly automated aircraft, where pilots have been confused and perhaps shut down the wrong system. The automation is fed by other sensors. And sometimes these sensors, like in the Air France accident in the South Atlantic, they — in essence, they’re feeding erroneous data to the computers and the computers do things that cause the pilots to be confused and contribute to this.

    Now, you can argue that’s pilot error or design error. Take your pick. The lawyers will sort all that out in future years, I guess.

    GWEN IFILL: Alan Diehl, aviation security consultant, thank you for helping us.

    ALAN DIEHL: Thank you, Gwen.

    The post What we know so far about the Metrojet mystery appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Journalists wait for the start of a news conference at the office of Kogalymavia airline in Moscow, Russia November 2, 2015. The Russian airline whose jet Airbus A321 crashed in Egypt killing everyone on board said on Monday the crash could not have been caused by technical faults or human error. The jet, which Kogalymavia flew under the brand name Metrojet, was carrying holidaymakers from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg when it crashed into a mountainous area of central Sinai shortly after losing radar contact near cruising altitude. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov - RTX1UDL8

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Officials from at least five countries are investigating why a Russian jetliner broke up in midair and crashed in Egypt this weekend.

    There are many questions tonight, but little agreement so far that may have explained what happened. Wreckage lay strewn across miles of desert after Saturday’s crash, leaving a giant mangled puzzle for Russian and Egyptian investigators. They’re looking for any clues to what downed the airliner and killed 224 people, everyone on board.

    But as a top Russian official at the scene said yesterday, that remains far from clear.

    VIKTOR SOROCHENKO, Russian Interstate Aviation Committee (through interpreter): Initial examination showed that, at the moment, we can’t exclude any version of the crash. We will be looking into all possibilities.

    GWEN IFILL: What is known is the flight took off from the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh bound for Saint Petersburg. It had reached 31,000 feet, cruising altitude, when it broke up over the Sinai Peninsula, just 23 minutes after takeoff. Little else has been confirmed, and conflicting reports have fed confusion.

    In Moscow today, a senior official with the Russian airline Metrojet pointed to some unnamed external factor.

    ALEXANDER SMIRNOV, Deputy General Director, Metrojet (through interpreter): There are no such faults, like engine failure, system failure. There is no such combination of systems failure that could lead to a plane breaking up in the air. The only possible explanation for a breakup of the aircraft in the air could be a certain impact, some mechanical or physical impact.

    GWEN IFILL: Asked if it was a terror attack, the official said only, “Anything is possible.”

    But the Russian government’s chief aviation regulator said all such talk is premature. The Russians also dismissed a claim that an Islamic State affiliate brought down the plane, saying the group doesn’t have that ability.

    Meanwhile, Reuters reported that initial data from the black box recorders shows no sign the plane was hit by a missile. They didn’t rule out sabotage or even a bomb on board.

    That left Russian President Vladimir Putin to promise Moscow will get to the bottom of the mystery.

    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia (through interpreter): Without any doubt, everything has to be done to make sure we have an objective description of what happened. We have to know what happened and to react in the appropriate way.

    GWEN IFILL: But getting an objective description from Russian or Egyptian officials has proved difficult in previous crashes. In 1999, an Egypt Air flight went down off Massachusetts. A U.S. investigation found the co-pilot deliberately flew the plane into the ocean. But Egypt’s government refused to accept that finding.

    And, last year, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed in Eastern Ukraine. An international committee has since determined that Russian-backed rebels shot down the plane, a finding that Moscow rejected.

    Meanwhile, bodies from this latest crash have begun arriving in Saint Petersburg. The city is officially in mourning through tomorrow.

    The post Conflicting claims fuel confusion over Metrojet disaster cause appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A group of migrants waits to cross the border from the village of Sentilj, Slovenia into Spielfeld in Austria, November 2, 2015.   REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger - RTX1UE7T

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: New numbers today put the enormity of Europe’s migrant surge in stark relief. The United Nations Refugee Agency said more than 218,000 people reached the continent by sea last month. That’s roughly equal to the total for all of 2014.

    Streams of adults and children kept trekking across Southern European borders today, and U.N. officials warned there’s no letup in sight.

    ADRIAN EDWARDS, UNHCR Spokesman: We have to expect this level of arrival to continue, and that’s because the factors that are causing people to move aren’t going away.

    We are in a period of record numbers of forced displacement globally, almost 60 million people fleeing conflict, fleeing areas of instability. It is the new reality that we all have to deal with, that this is a phenomenon that isn’t going away quickly.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.N. anticipates some 744,000 migrants will arrive in Europe for all of this year. More than half are from Syria. At least another 3,400 people have died or disappeared trying to make the journey.

    GWEN IFILL: Communities in Colorado and North Carolina are looking for answers, after weekend shootings that left five people dead. In Colorado Springs, on Saturday, a gunman killed three people in a neighborhood street, before police killed him. A local newspaper reports he’d complained online of mind control.

    And early yesterday at Winston-Salem State University, one student was shot dead and another was wounded. The suspect is a former student.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A two-year bipartisan federal budget deal has officially become law. President Obama signed it today in a brief ceremony in the Oval Office. That prevented the government from defaulting on its debts tomorrow. The package also includes $80 billion in new spending for defense and domestic programs.

    GWEN IFILL: The president also stepped up his push for criminal justice reforms today, highlighting efforts to help former inmates reenter society.

    In Newark, New Jersey, he announced he’s ordering federal agencies to ban the box on criminal history that appears on employment forms.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: On many job applications, there is a box that asks if you have criminal record. If you answer yes, then a lot of times you’re not getting a call back. We’re going to do our part in changing this. The federal government, I believe, shouldn’t use criminal history to screen out applicants, before we even look at their qualifications.

    GWEN IFILL: The president said roughly 70 million Americans have some kind of criminal record.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Two people who served on a papal reform commission have been arrested on suspicion they leaked confidential documents. Vatican authorities say a Spanish priest and Italian laywoman allegedly passed the information to journalists.

    Pope Francis formed the now-defunct commission in 2013 in an effort to address the Vatican’s secretive and complex financial holdings.

    GREG BURKE, Senior Media Adviser, Vatican: Once again, people are trying to profit from stolen documents, and people with the trust of Pope Francis have betrayed it, people that the pope trusted in. That’s hardly the way to help his mission.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict, faced a similar document leak in 2012 that led to the arrest of his butler and a Vatican computer technician.

    GWEN IFILL: For the first time, an African-American cleric will lead the U.S. Episcopal Church. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was installed Sunday. In the face of dwindling membership, he urged the nation’s two million Episcopalians to reach out to those of different racial and economic backgrounds. Curry succeeds Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman to serve in the position.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Wall Street got the week off to a strong start, thanks to a rally in health care and energy stocks. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 165 points to close near 17830, putting it back in positive territory for the year. The Nasdaq rose more than 70 points, and the S&P 500 added 24.

    GWEN IFILL: And Kansas City is celebrating today, after the Royals won their first World Series championship in 30 years. The Royals rallied last night to beat the New York Mets, 7-to-2, in 12 innings. And that gave them the title four games to one.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A lot of celebrating in Kansas City.

    GWEN IFILL: Yes.

    The post News Wrap: 218,000 migrants reached Europe by sea last month, says UN appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The remains of a Russian airliner are seen in central Sinai near the city of Arish, north Egypt. The Airbus A321, carrying 224 passengers and crew, crashed into a mountainous area of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, killing all aboard. Photo by Retuers

    The remains of a Russian airliner are seen in central Sinai near the city of Arish, north Egypt. The Airbus A321, carrying 224 passengers and crew, crashed into a mountainous area of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, killing all aboard. Photo by Retuers

    The investigation into what happened to Metrojet Flight 9268 and the 224 mostly Russian passengers aboard is in its third day. As the mystery deepens, representatives from at least five countries are now involved in finding out what happened to the doomed plane. How does this work and who decides which countries participate in the investigation?

    For more on the anatomy of this crash investigation, we’ve prepared a FAQ on the matter aggregating our reporting and the insights of aviation expert Alan Diehl.

    WHY IS EGYPT IN CHARGE? IS THERE A LAW THAT DICTATES WHO CAN BE INVOLVED IN INVESTIGATING PLANE CRASHES?

    The United Nations’ specialized agency for civil aviation called The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) dictates the rules on this, spelled out in its Annex 13. They set out that the country where the crash occurred leads the safety investigation. It also says that the countries where the plane is manufactured, owned and operated should be invited, as well as where the majority of the deceased are from. That can encompass many different countries, agencies and private companies. But if the cause is terrorism, then it turns into a criminal investigation and the rules change.

    WHICG COUNTRIES ARE CURRENTLY INVOLVED IN THE INVESTIGATION OF FLIGHT 9268?

    Egypt, Russia, France, Germany and Ireland.

    The downed plane crashed in Egypt, was designed in France, manufactured in Germany, operated in Russia and registered in Ireland.

    The United States has offered their assistance as the plane’s engines were manufactured in America but currently are not involved at this early stage of the investigation, per a NTSB official.

    COULD EGYPT OR RUSSIA INFLUENCE THE INVESTIGATION TO PROTECT THEIR OWN INTERESTS?

    According to aviation expert Alan Diehl, plane crash investigations make this difficult by design. He explains, “Investigations are typically split up into different groups simultaneously, like a ‘Human Factors Group’ or an ‘Aircraft Group.’ The Egyptians would lead each group but representatives from the each of the different parties involved would sit on every one of these groups. This ensures that there is not a single country completely in charge of one aspect of the investigation.

    HOW MUCH DOES IT HELP THAT THE WRECKAGE IS SCATTERED ACROSS A DESERT?

    This helps tremendously. The fact that it occurred in a dry desert area will allow investigators to get answers a lot faster. A relatively small piece of electrical equipment or wreckage can be the key to finding out what happened. For instance, the discovery of a small circuit board was a key piece of evidence in the Lockerbie investigation. In this case the sea is not tearing it away or it isn’t hidden in an agrarian field. A microchip is much more discoverable in the arid expanse of the Sinai than many other places.

    PUTIN HAS LAUNCHED AN INVESTIGATION COMMITTEE INTO THE CRASH. COULD THE RUSSIANS TAKE OVER THE INVESTIGATION FROM THE EGYPTIANS?

    No. Per Annex 13 it is pretty clear that Egypt is the one to lead. If Russians are unhappy with the way the Egyptian authorities are handling it that is one thing but taking it over completely would be pretty unprecedented.

    WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW?

    The black box recorders are normally the key so the info that they glean from those two records determines what is really going to be the focus of the investigation at that point. As the recorders and radar data is being analyzed different groups are working on different parts of the action. For instance, the Russians are getting important documents from MetroJet: crew records, maintenance records, speaking to the mechanics. The manufacturing group is really looking at the individual plane parts. Typically, a representative from each of these groups report their progress daily to the investigator in charge.

    The post When an international flight crashes, who is involved in the investigation and why? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Mississippi's voters decide Tuesday whether or not to amend the state's constitution to guarantee fully funded public education. Photo by Fuse/Getty Images

    Mississippi’s voters decide Tuesday whether or not to amend the state’s constitution to guarantee fully funded public education. Photo by Fuse/Getty Images

    Mississippi voters decide Tuesday whether or not their constitution should guarantee fully funded public schools in the nation’s poorest state.

    Initiative 42 is a proposed amendment to Mississippi’s constitution that supporters say would “provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools.” If the state doesn’t continue to fund public K-12 schools at these current levels, courts could enforce the amendment to get more money and resources, according to the original filing with Mississippi Secretary of State’s office.

    Advocates of Initiative 42 collected about 200,000 petition signatures, roughly twice the amount needed to bring the measure for a vote. Now, voters must answer: “Should the State be required to provide for the support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools?”

    This question has divided the state for months.

    People on both sides of the issue allege that outside money influenced the statewide debate. Newspaper editorials and opinion columns published views from educators, business leaders and politicians about which vote is the right one for Mississippi. And during recent townhall meetings, people vented frustration about factors that feed Mississippi’s educational outcomes and rankings and how much it’ll cost to improve the state’s public schools.

    Tweaking the constitution is not unheard of in Mississippi. In 2014, 88 percent of the state’s voters amended their constitution to preserve the right to hunt and fish, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But questions remain about how this change would pan out for the cash-strapped state.

    In 1997, the legislature passed the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, a law that produced a funding formula intended to “Ensure that every Mississippi Child” is “afforded an adequate educational opportunity.”

    Julia Weaver thinks a constitutional amendment for school funding is justified because the 1997 law hasn’t been honored, she says, and that the state’s students, teachers and schools have gone too long without enough resources to move forward. A mother of two daughters enrolled in a Mississippi public school, Weaver also spearheaded a Facebook group, Fed Up with 50th, that advocates for better schools and quality of life in Mississippi.

    Weaver says the school district where she lives cut staff, forcing classrooms to expand, and doesn’t have enough buses, meaning buses currently run multiple routes and children wait at bus stops before the sun rises.

    “My people have been here since 1850. We’re Mississippians,” said Weaver, who lives in Ocean Springs on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. “We’re here for the long haul, and we think we can do better.”

    Critics, however, say today’s legislature shouldn’t be held accountable for promises made by politicians nearly two decades ago and that the proposed amendment’s language is too vague.

    One opponent is James Andrew Whitaker, an anthropology instructor at the University of Mississippi in Oxford who has written a series of newspaper columns against Initiative 42. He says it could “open hunting season on schools and their budgets.”

    “Imprecise wording would give a state judge almost unlimited power to intervene in Mississippi,” Whitaker said. “Any school system could sue the state.”

    The money has to come from somewhere, he said.

    And Russ Latino, who directs KidsFirst Mississippi and the state’s chapter of Americans for Prosperity, says the amendment gives judges too much discretion and threatens local control of schools.

    “We’re essentially creating a new veto power for the courts,” Latino said. “There are a lot of concerns I’ve got over the unintended consequences in this thing.”

    Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant and his fellow Republican leadership have all campaigned against the measure, the Clarion-Ledger reported.

    And the state’s legislators has come out against the initiative. They produced a similarly worded and named counter amendment, Initiative 42A, that asks: “Should the Legislature provide for the establishment and support of effective free public schools without judicial enforcement?”

    This is a fight for education that former Mississippi Governor William Winter has seen before.

    After voters elected him governor in 1980, Winter fought to reform Mississippi public schools to pay for kindergarten for all children.

    In August, he endorsed the initiative and said he thinks this latest test of the public’s will is vital for the state to improve not only its classroom but also bolster its future.

    Winter explained that Mississippi today is “still cheating our young people by not providing them the kind of education that’s the birthright of every child born in the state of Mississippi.”

    “Today’s education is better than it’s ever been, but still not good enough,” he said. “We’re not falling behind. We’re just staying behind.”

    The post Mississippi voters to decide how schools should be funded appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Erin Zaikis (right) washes her hands with children in Shilonda, India, one of the countries where Sundara promotes the use of soap. Photo by Emily Rose Weinstein

    Erin Zaikis (right) washes her hands with children in Shilonda, India, one of the countries where Sundara promotes the use of soap. Photo by Emily Rose Weinstein

    Several years ago, Erin Zaikis was working in rural Thailand. She was surprised to see how many children in the village didn’t wash their hands with soap, much less know what soap was.

    “Just hearing that someone who’s 11, 12, 13 and has lived their whole life without something that I took for granted every single day of mine was the catalyst for thinking about a solution to this problem,” said Zaikis.

    Back in New York she did some research. “Everyone’s talking about clean water, but no one’s talking about soap,” she discovered. “I felt like if I didn’t do something, no one would.”

    In 2013 Zaikis founded Sundara, a nonprofit working to improve hygiene and prevent disease in poor communities in India, Uganda and Myanmar by recycling used bars of hotel soap. Hotels pay a fee to join the program and have used bars of soap and liquid soap taken off their hands, so to speak.

    Women in India package soap for Sundara, a nonprofit that teaches underserved communities about the importance of using soap to prevent disease. Photo courtesy of Sundara

    Women in India package soap for Sundara, a nonprofit that teaches underserved communities about the importance of using soap to prevent disease. Photo courtesy of Sundara

    Hotels were wary at first, Zaikis said, but after the first few got involved and could see how children and communities benefitted, more were willing to participate based on the testimonials. Diversey/Sealed Air based in Charlotte, N.C., donates the machines and chemicals for the sanitizing process.

    Community workers mold the clean scraps into new bars of soap and distribute them to schools, health clinics and community centers, where paid “hygiene ambassadors” teach others the importance of using soap to stay healthy.

    Sundara connects with local women’s groups to recruit the hygiene ambassadors. The women, many of whom are illiterate and don’t have other options for employment, participate in a two-week training course and receive a monthly stipend.

    Kanchan Kashyap, one of the "hygiene ambassadors" in Mumbai, India, who is teaching her community to use soap. Photo by Emily Rose Weinstein

    Kanchan Kashyap, one of the “hygiene ambassadors” in Mumbai, India, who is teaching her community to use soap. Photo by Emily Rose Weinstein

    Kanchan Kashyap, 32, works as one of the hygiene ambassadors in Mumbai, India. When she and her husband moved there four years ago, they quickly learned they would need to supplement her husband’s income as a painter because of their increased living expenses.

    Kashyap said when she joined Sundara’s team and they started going around the neighborhood touting soap’s benefits, people were skeptical about the recycled soap. “They would ask us, ‘What is this soap?’ and ‘How is it different?’ But we’ve explained it to them and proudly say that we use it for ourselves, so now they are interested.

    “We each keep a supply of soaps at our houses to hand out when our friends stop over for tea.”

    Kashyap said she and the other workers visit schools and teach the students to wash their hands before and after eating lunch and using the bathroom. Children who had never used a bar of soap before are not only washing their hands, but their arms, legs, face and feet.

    Since its origin in 2013, Sundara, which means “beautiful” in Sanskrit, has reached 4,000 children in India, Uganda and Myanmar, and has a community-wide reach of 6,000.

    “I try to bring in the idea of shared responsibility for this problem by involving community members wherever we can,” said Zaikis. She leaves decisions, such as whether to deliver more soap to a school or get new schools involved, up to the community members. In that case, the locals chose the former, and this fall they bumped up soap delivery to their existing network of schools from once to twice per month.

    “It’s more important to see that the children are properly educated, and we’re not just dropping off the soap. I want a meaningful and consistent impact within the communities and not just be a handout,” she said.

    The numbers of those reached might seem small now, but by educating a new generation of hand washers, it will have a multiplying effect, she added.

    “Soap recycling is so simple. We’re not waiting for some complicated vaccine. The solution to this problem already exists.”

    View more of our Social Entrepreneurship profiles and tweet us your suggestions for more groups to cover.

    The post Here’s what some hotels do with those barely used bars of soap appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    NEWARK, N.J. — President Barack Obama says the U.S. is not putting its troops on the front lines in Syria to fight the Islamic State, despite his decision to deploy special operations troops on the ground.

    In his first comments since the deployment was announced, Obama says it’s merely an extension of what the U.S. was already doing. He’s noting that the U.S. had run special operations missions in Syria previously.

    Obama says U.S. troops won’t be fighting in Syria the way they did in the Iraq War with “battalions and occupations.” He says that doesn’t solve the problem.

    Obama’s comments in an interview with NBC News come three days after the White House announced plans to send up to 50 special operations troops to assist Kurdish and Arab forces in northern Syria.

    The post Obama says special forces in Syria do not break ‘no boots on ground’ promise appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican Matt Bevin, a candidate for governor of Kentucky, hopes to win the office that Democrats have dominated for 40 out of the last 44 years. Polls suggest that the Kentucky gubernatorial race, which is a highlight in this off-year election Tuesday, is a close one between Bevin and Attorney General Jack Conway, a Democrat. Photo by John Sommers II/Reuters

    Republican Matt Bevin, a candidate for governor of Kentucky, hopes to win the office that Democrats have dominated for 40 out of the last 44 years. Polls suggest that the Kentucky gubernatorial race, which is a highlight in this off-year election Tuesday, is a close one between Bevin and Attorney General Jack Conway, a Democrat. Photo by John Sommers II/Reuters

    The governor’s race in Kentucky and a school-funding battle in Mississippi are among the top races Tuesday in what otherwise is a relatively low-key, off-year election cycle.

    Just two states are holding elections for governor while three have general state legislative elections. Yet decisions made by voters in several cities and states could be an important bellwether of sentiment ahead of next year’s presidential elections.

    In Virginia, a swing state, Democrats are pushing to reverse a narrow Republican majority in the state Senate and empower Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe in negotiations with Republicans who control the state House.

    Houston and Philadelphia are among cities selecting mayors, while Salt Lake City voters will choose between the incumbent and a challenger who seeks to become the first gay person elected mayor of Utah’s capital.

    Several city or state ballot initiatives will test voter preferences on school funding, marijuana, gay and lesbian rights, and the sharing economy.

    Closely watched is the battle for Kentucky’s open gubernatorial seat, which features a two-term Democratic attorney general who vows to maintain the state’s Medicaid expansion and a Republican businessman looking to upend the political dynamic in a Southern state where Democrats still control statewide offices.

    Republican Matt Bevin has been running as an outsider, wooing the state’s conservative voters with a message of “vote your values and not your party.” Democrat Jack Conway has been emphasizing his support for early education programs while saying that 400,000 people could lose taxpayer-funded health insurance if Bevin is elected. Also on the ballot is Drew Curtis, a businessman running as an independent.

    The governor’s race in Mississippi has been largely overshadowed by a fight over a constitutional amendment that would allow people to sue the state to increase funding for public schools. Critics say it would take budget decisions away from Mississippi lawmakers and give the courts too much power. The Legislature has put forward its own ballot measure that would prohibit “judicial enforcement” of school funding.

    Decisions made by voters in several cities and states could be an important bellwether of sentiment ahead of next year’s presidential elections. The outcome could prompt similar efforts in other states where education remains a key challenge for lawmakers as they look to balance their budgets with tax revenues that have yet to rebound to pre-recession levels.

    Meanwhile, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican, appears on track for re-election. He faces political newcomer Robert Gray, a long-haul trucker who was the surprise winner of the Democratic primary.

    In Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city, efforts to secure non-discrimination protections for gay and transgender people will face a key test. Now that same-sex marriage is legal, such laws have become a priority for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender groups. Opponents, including a coalition of conservative pastors, contend the measure infringes on their religious beliefs.

    Houston voters also will chose from among 13 candidates to replace outgoing Mayor Annise Parker. In Philadelphia, Democrat Jim Kenney, a former city councilman, is considered the favorite to succeed Mayor Michael Nutter.

    The Salt Lake City mayoral race features two-term incumbent Ralph Becker, one of Obama’s appointees on a climate change task force, and former state lawmaker Jackie Biskupski. If Biskupski wins, she will be the city’s first openly gay mayor.

    Elsewhere, voters in Ohio will consider whether to allow the use of marijuana for recreational and medicinal use. San Francisco voters will decide a citizen-backed initiative to restrict the operations of Airbnb, the room-rental site, and a $310 million bond package for affordable housing.

    In Washington state, a proposal backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen would add state penalties for anyone who imports certain animal products for commercial purposes, such as elephant ivory or rhino horns.

    And Colorado voters will decide what to do with $66 million in tax revenue generated from the sale of recreational marijuana. An existing state law requires excess tax revenue to be returned to taxpayers. A statewide initiative on Tuesday’s ballot asks voters to make an exception with the marijuana revenue and direct it instead toward public education and drug-prevention programs.

    The post Kentucky governor’s race highlights off-year election ballot appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Visitors can try over a dozen different scents at the Museum of Food and Drink Lab's central feature, an interactive smell machine. The museum opened last week in Brooklyn. Photo by Christopher Annas-Lee

    Visitors can try over a dozen different scents at the Museum of Food and Drink Lab’s central feature, an interactive smell machine. The museum opened last week in Brooklyn. Photo by Christopher Annas-Lee

    NEW YORK — I never knew I could like a smell called “cheesy vomit” until I visited the Museum of Food and Drink.

    The museum, which opened last week with an interactive “flavor lab” in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, explores the history of how flavor is produced and maps the beginnings of what we call “artificial flavor.” The story is as much about chemistry as it is about capitalism and colonization, which both brought flavors from the Americas to Europe and created a worldwide demand for their production.

    At the center of the lab, which is housed in a former storage warehouse, an interactive smell machine lets visitors smell the separate flavors that make up familiar foods. That’s where I saw it: a flavor labeled “cheesy vomit,” which museum founder Dave Arnold developed with research from flavorists and neuroscientists. It turns out “cheesy vomit,” otherwise known as the smell of butyric acid, forms an important component of cheese, along with a flavor dubbed “butter sweet cream,” which comes from the organic compound diacetyl. Separately, they both smelled terrible. Together, they took on a savory, cheesy scent.

    Below, check out what else surprised us from our visit.

    “Artificial” doesn’t mean what you think it does.

    The question of which flavors are “natural” and which are “artificial” have inspired a great deal of debate — but our brains usually can’t tell the difference, according to Emma Boast, the museum’s program director. “There isn’t, oftentimes, a very big difference between these flavors that are natural or artificial,” she said. This is because even artificial flavors, those that were produced in a lab, usually share the chemical makeup of their plant-based counterparts, making it nearly impossible to distinguish between the two, she said.

    I asked Boast and Peter Kim, the museum’s executive director, how they would define “artificial flavor,” a conversation that became philosophical very quickly. “What does natural mean in the first place?” Kim asked. “You might argue that food, inherently is artificial, because agriculture is artificial. Breeding is artificial. What we’re cooking is artificial.”

    And some flavors that carry the “natural” label were actually created in a lab, but received the “natural” designation because they come from a botanical source — like citrol, the molecule that gives lemon its flavor and can be derived from lemongrass, Kim said.

    These details speak to a larger point — that flavors created in a lab are chemically the same as many so-called “natural” flavors, making those labels irrelevant, Kim said. “No matter where a chemical flavor comes from, it is chemically identical at the end of the day,” he said.

    Photo by Christopher Annas-Lee

    “One of our underlying theses is that food connects to pretty much every aspect of human life,” says Peter Kim, the museum’s executive director. Photo by Christopher Annas-Lee

    A 12-year-old enslaved child made it possible to taste vanilla around the world.

    Vanilla is native to Mexico, and according to a number of accounts, it first reached Europe after Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés brought the vanilla orchid across the Atlantic Ocean. At the time, it was not widely known how to cultivate the plant. But in 1841, Edmond Albius, a 12-year-old enslaved child in the French colony of Réunion, found a way to easily pollinate vanilla orchids by hand using a blade of grass.

    His method made its way to vanilla production in Madagascar, which leads worldwide vanilla production, and is still used today. But Albius is seldom credited for this discovery, Boast said. “A lot of people don’t know about him,” she said.

    Most vanilla-flavored things we eat do not contain vanilla…

    …but they do contain vanillin, a compound found in vanilla beans that contribute to vanilla’s taste. For that we can thank Nicolas-Theodore Gobley, a French chemist who isolated vanillin from vanilla beans in 1858. German scientists Ferdinand Tiemann and Wilhelm Haarmann discovered the molecular structure of vanillin in 1874, opening the door for synthetic vanillin production from other materials. It is possible to synthesize vanillin from many different substances, including pine bark and lignin, a waste product from the paper industry.

    Photo by Christopher Annas-Lee

    The coffee smell machine isolated two scents that are present in coffee, allowing visitors to try them separately. Photo by Christopher Annas-Lee

    Coffee’s aroma comes from a “skunk” smell.

    More specifically, it comes from a combination of coffee grounds and furfuryl mercaptan, a chemical in brewed coffee that contains sulfur. Furfuryl mercaptan is also present in grilled fish, garlic and rotting eggs. Using the museum’s coffee smell machine, I smelled both scents separately and together — on its own, the compound smelled like a skunk, but in combination with coffee smell, it created the sense of fresh-brewed coffee.

    The U.S. doesn’t understand umami.

    Of the five tastes — sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami — the least-understood, especially in the U.S., is umami, a savory taste present in mushrooms, cheese and cured meats, Boast said.

    Some of the umami taste we encounter in savory foods comes from monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG. It became popular as a food additive among food manufacturing companies in the 1950s as a way of enhancing the “mouth-watering” flavor of umami, Boast said. After a widespread, now-debunked rumor took hold that it could cause physical reactions like heart palpitations in the 1960s, MSG gained a negative reputation. But it continues to be present in a variety of common foods, Boast said.

    “[MSG] never really took off with American consumers in the home, yet it found its way into everything we eat,” Boast said. “We just don’t really realize it.”

    You can visit the Museum of Food and Drink at 62 Bayard St., Brooklyn, New York.

    The post What a scent called ‘cheesy vomit’ taught me about artificial flavor appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    We have a year until Election Day 2016. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    We have a little more than a year until Election Day 2016. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters


    WASHINGTON — Election Day 2015 is Tuesday, which means we’re a year away from the big Election Day to come — the one with the next president on the ballot. Here’s a look at some of the milestones ahead before the end of the 2016 presidential campaign.
    A DEBATE OVER DEBATES

    Nov. 10: The next Republican debate, in Milwaukee, is expected to proceed as planned, with Fox News and The Wall Street Journal as sponsors.

    Nov. 14: The next Democratic debate, a Saturday night in Iowa.

    Dec. 15: Republicans are scheduled to debate in Nevada, though questions hang over the proceedings now that the campaigns are pressing for changes in how the primary series is conducted.


    Dec. 19: Another Saturday debate for the Democrats, in New Hampshire.

    Jan. 17: The Democratic debaters are up again, this time with the Congressional Black Caucus as one of the sponsors, in South Carolina. Two more Democratic matchups are expected in February and March.

    Jan. 31: A big day for money in politics. For the first time since July, super PACs report on how much money they’ve raised and the names of donors. These candidate-aligned groups can raise and spend unlimited money, outside the control of candidates and have become key to success in a presidential race. This date is also when the campaigns next report on their fundraising, showing who’s got the cash to put up a sustained fight on the eve of voting.

    ACTUAL VOTING!

    Feb. 1: The storied Iowa caucuses. Iowans meet to choose their favorite for the Republican and Democratic nominations, the first votes that count in the presidential contest after several years of positioning by the hopefuls and a months-long blizzard of opinion polls.

    Feb. 9: The storied New Hampshire primary. After this, the intimate flavor of politicking in small states will give way to big rallies and advertising blitzes.


    Feb. 20: The Republican South Carolina primary — first primary in the South as well as the first in a state with a large non-white population — and the Nevada Democratic caucuses.

    Feb. 23: Nevada Republican caucuses.

    Feb. 26: A planned Republican primary debate in Texas. This date is in jeopardy because the Republican Party suspended cooperation with NBC, a sponsor, after the flap over the October debate on CNBC. Questions hang, too, over sponsors, rules and schedule for five other GOP debates planned from January through March.

    Feb. 27: South Carolina Democratic primary.

    March 1: There’s no clump in U.S. politics like Super Tuesday, when contests are held in 13 states. Among the big ones for both parties: Colorado, Texas and Virginia. Until this point, the race is largely one of expectations and bounce. Super Tuesday, though, offers a huge cache of delegates needed for the nomination. It’s typically when the numbers really start to count.

    March 15: Another big night for winning delegates and scoring in battleground states, with primaries in Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina, Missouri and Florida. The Florida primary, a big deal in its own right, takes on added significance because Floridians Marco Rubio, the senator, and Jeb Bush, the ex-governor, are running.

    May 29: How many Republican rivals will be still be standing by the end of May? This is the date in 2012 when Mitt Romney clinched the Republican nomination — the Texas primary pushed him over the edge.

    June 3: Will the Democratic race drag out this long? Barack Obama secured the nomination over Hillary Rodham Clinton on this date in 2008, thanks to the final primaries, in Montana (which he won) and South Dakota (which he lost), as well as a heaping helping of support from party establishment figures known as superdelegates.

    July 18-21: Republican National Convention, Cleveland, crowns the winner, dazzles partisans.

    July 25-28: Ditto for the Democrats, in Philadelphia.

    THE FALL CAMPAIGN

    Sept. 5: Labor Day is the traditional (informal) kickoff of a presidential campaign that actually has been going on for months. Really it’s the start of the final stretch.

    Sept. 26: The first of three head to head debates of the Democratic and Republican nominees, in Ohio.

    Oct. 4: The running mates debate, in Virginia.

    Oct. 9: The second presidential debate, St. Louis.

    Oct. 19: The last presidential debate, Las Vegas.

    Nov. 8: Election Day.

    Soon after: Who pops up in Iowa to stake a claim for the 2020 race? Last time, it was Marco Rubio, sowing seeds for 2016 less than two weeks after the 2012 campaign was done.

    The post What’s ahead in the long, long road to the 2016 presidential election appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Video produced by Jackie Shafer.

    If you were a superhero, who would you be? And who, or what, would be your nemesis?

    In an exhibit at the Cultural Arts Center in Columbus, Ohio, artists transformed a gallery into a life-size board game called “Superland.” Each sculpture in the exhibit is made from recycled materials by the members of ARC Industries’ Sunapple Studios, a group for artists living with developmental disabilities.

    “These individuals have so much to offer,” Jan Montgomery, director of ARC Industries, said. “They wanted to create. And they are extremely creative.”

    During the creation process, the artists were encouraged to think about what their superhero identity would be and how to build the experience of a board game, Geoffrey Martin, arts administrator at the Cultural Arts Center, said. The result is a diverse, vibrant set of installations and sculptures made from plastic, lights and other repurposed materials. The Columbus Dispatch described the exhibit as similar to “visiting the world of the classic Beatles’ song ‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.'”

    The exhibit will be on view through Nov. 14.

    Local Beat is an ongoing series on Art Beat that features arts and culture stories from PBS member stations around the nation.

    The post Artists with developmental disabilities team up to create life-size board game appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    elviscostello

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, a most unusual autobiography about a life in rock ‘n’ roll and beyond.

    Elvis Costello talks about his new memoir, “Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink.”

    Jeffrey Brown has the story from New York.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Early in his new memoir, Elvis Costello writes about his father, Ross McManus, trying to make it in Liverpool as a bebop jazz musician.

    ELVIS COSTELLO, Musician: I have a clipping that I reproduce in the book where it says, the Ross McManus Quintet direct from their engagements in Paris and London. And at that time, I don’t think they had actually played across the…

    JEFFREY BROWN: Never happened, right?

    ELVIS COSTELLO: No, they had never been out of the neighborhood.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, he was sort of making it up.

    ELVIS COSTELLO: Well, that was good. That was the dream of it, to do that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The father would go on to a successful singing career with one of Britain’s leading dance bands, doing cover songs of popular music, even folk songs like “If I Had a Hammer.”

    The son, born Declan MacManus, would become one of the leading rockers of his time, emerging in the late 1970s as a kind of nerdy-looking, language-loving, angry young songwriter and singer.

    He was pegged back then as part of the folk scene. But when we talked recently at New York’s famous Village Vanguard, a nod to his jazz-loving dad, recently, Costello said he never saw himself that way.

    ELVIS COSTELLO: I think, early on, I had worked out that if I adopted a sort of less cooperative personality when speaking to people, they would leave me alone. And I would just be able to get…

    JEFFREY BROWN: Simple as that, huh?

    ELVIS COSTELLO: I just created this character accidentally. And then I realized, hey, that works.

    ELVIS COSTELLO: It gets kind of tedious to kind of keep it up, because then you can never drop it down. You can never drop it down and just laugh, you know?

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, that’s what I’m wondering. But you think of it as a character?

    ELVIS COSTELLO: Not in a calculated way. It just happened spontaneously. And then you see the effect and then you play into the effect. But…

    JEFFREY BROWN: The book sort of tells the story of you becoming more yourself or allowing yourself to be less of that character and more who you actually are?

    ELVIS COSTELLO: I think it’s a process of, you know, adventure, misadventure, you know, failure personally, and then realizing that you can’t keep doing — you know, it’s not like I’m denying the nature of the songs, but just carrying on like that was just tiring.

    It’s just like you run out of drinks to drink, you know, that kind of thing? And then there were just other songs to sing and other lives to live.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Over the years, other songs came, many of them, as Costello took on a wide range of other styles of music, an album with Burt Bacharach, one with a string quartet, and much more to this day.

    But it began, he writes, at home as a child, when his father was passing on records that he was listening to for his own work and both parents had eclectic tastes.

    ELVIS COSTELLO: I didn’t study any French, so I didn’t know the word genre. You know, so I didn’t have sort of a sense of there being different kinds of music.

    And my dad would get passions for Bach and we would listen all to the Bach passion, and then the Clancy Brothers and Irish music. And my mother loved singers like Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. So I heard all those songs, as well as all the 1960s pop music that came out, whether it would be from England like the Beatles or from America like Motown.

    And it was all just flowing through. And it didn’t seem like you had to choose.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What about when it came to performing and putting yourself forward? There’s the — and even taking a new name, right, and not only just a new name, but a very big name, Elvis.

    ELVIS COSTELLO: Yes.

    Well, I just felt, well, my family name, McManus, is hard to say on the telephone. It didn’t look very attractive written down. It sort of suggested a guy in a cable-knit sweater singing waling songs. And so I wanted something a little groovier.

    So I had adopted that part. And in addition, my father had made records in the ’60s under assumed names, because he had made money on the side from his contracted gig as a dance band singer.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    ELVIS COSTELLO: He had made records under the names Frank Bacon and the Baconeers and Hal Prince and the Layabouts.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, you’re used to taking on any names, but…

    ELVIS COSTELLO: Seemed like, in the noble showbiz, tradition, if you’re going to, you know — I mean, you know.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The memoir moves back and forth through time, connecting, as Costello told me, moments, experiences, revelations.

    But it’s all there, the way up working with many of today’s great musicians and the many downs, broken marriages, too much drinking, a loss of control over what he wanted to be doing.

    ELVIS COSTELLO: You can be addicted to misery the same way as you can be addicted to drugs.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And you felt yourself addicted to misery in a sense?

    ELVIS COSTELLO: I am a fairly decent, dark-dispositioned person, have been, but you can — it can start to like it, rather than sort of try to think, well, yes, I’m — I was fine being a skeptic, but then when you start to settle for that, then it’s not very good.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But he also sings of happier times, including his marriage to the jazz singer Diana Krall. The two have twin 8-year-old sons. And he brings the story full circle with the death of his father four years ago.

    ELVIS COSTELLO: His passing was poignant, in the way that I related it, because he had been a very vivid personality, and the nature of his demise was through Parkinson’s and the dementia that came with that, erasing his senses little by little, of which music was about the last companion, which was very, very moving for me.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. Was that part of the impetus, though, for you to write this book?

    ELVIS COSTELLO: Well, I think the impetus to get it finished in a form that you now see it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    ELVIS COSTELLO: Certainly, because I was able to talk with him with clarity in the — as I saw him shutting down.

    And then, at the end, I felt like I had the responsibility while it was still clear in my mind to get it on the page for anybody that — anybody that in — and anybody interested in how I came to do what I did. But for that — even if I had never published it, I would have written it for my sons, you know, because I am the last, best witness.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, “Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink.”

    Elvis Costello, thank you.

    ELVIS COSTELLO: Thank you.

    The post For Elvis Costello, eclectic taste and self-reinvention started at home appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Coast Project pipeline in Prague, Oklahoma, U.S. in March 2013. The Gulf Coast Project, a 485-mile crude oil pipeline being constructed by TransCanada Corp., is part of the Keystone XL Pipeline Project and will run from Cushing, Oklahoma to Nederland, Texas. Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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    GWEN IFILL: The long-running debate over the Keystone pipeline has taken another sharp turn, as the company behind its construction asked to suspend a review of its plans, triggering many questions about whether the Obama administration is planning to reject it anyway.

    JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: Given how long it’s taken, it seems unusual to me to suggest that somehow it should be paused yet again.

    GWEN IFILL: White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest expressed skepticism today over TransCanada’s abrupt request to suspend the Keystone application process. The company said it wants to wait for state-level reviews and litigation to play out. But Earnest said another motive may be at work.

    JOSH EARNEST: There’s no doubt that this debate has been heavily influenced by politics, and the president is doing his best to try to shield the actual process that will consider the merits of the project from those politics.

    GWEN IFILL: Earnest said the president still plans to decide the issue before he leaves office in early 2017. If approved, the pipeline would connect oil sands in Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the Gulf Coast, passing through six U.S. states. It would carry 800,000 barrels of oil a day.

    The application process began in 2008, but a final decision has been delayed time and time again. The president has remained publicly noncommittal about the project, but in South Carolina earlier this year, he offered some pointed criticism.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We’re not going to authorize a pipeline that benefits largely a foreign company, if it can’t be shown that it is safe and if it can’t be shown that, overall, it wouldn’t contribute to climate change.

    GWEN IFILL: In February, the president also vetoed a Republican bill to force construction of the pipeline. Environmental groups opposed to Keystone argued today that TransCanada is now hoping a president friendlier to the project will be elected next year.

    Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, a leading Republican and pipeline supporter, agreed.

    SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R), Wyoming: By putting the pause button now, that allows things to stay active, in my opinion, until after the 2016 election, when we may have a Republican president in office who can then approve it. I think the fear right now is that the president was getting ready to oppose it and put a final close-down on it, and this just keeps it alive.

    GWEN IFILL: For now, the State Department continues its review of the project, with no end date announced.

    The post Request to suspend Keystone pipeline review raises questions about politics appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Voting booths are set up for early voting at the Black Hawk County Courthouse on September 27, 2012 in Waterloo, Iowa. Obama says Voter ID laws can be a barrier to the ballot box. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The presidential election may still be a year away, but a handful of states voted today to elect state and local leaders and decide on a number of important ballot measures. Issues ranged from the legalization of marijuana to the expansion of LGBT protections.

    For a look at the big races and voter initiatives around the country, we are joined by Reid Wilson of the Web site and newsletter Morning Consult.

    So, welcome, Reid Wilson.

    Let’s start out talking about some of these major ballot measures around the country, Ohio looking at legalizing marijuana, but in a limited way. Tell us about that one.

    REID WILSON, Morning Consult: Ohio would become fifth state along with the District of Columbia to legalize marijuana for recreational use, but there is a little twist here.

    As states create new laws about marijuana, they have to come up with new regulatory structures. Nobody has ever regulated marijuana, because it’s always simply been illegal. So what Ohio is thinking of doing is allowing 10 groups, 10 businesses to control production for the first four years or so.

    It seems a way to sort of control what makes it to the market and to sort of demand some quality. However, there are a lot of people who are worried that they’re essentially handing over monopoly control of a major industry — and it is a major industry — there are millions at stake here — to just a small handful of people, including some very wealthy investors.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, if this passed, it would set a precedent. It would be different.

    REID WILSON: Well, every state that has legalized marijuana has done so in a slightly different way. Washington State regulates it like alcohol. Colorado regulates it in a sort of slightly different way that allows sellers to grow their own marijuana.

    Everybody is sort of trying to figure out what’s right, what is the right way to do these things. The big question is, what is going to come on the ballot in 2016? There are at least 17 states that are considering some kind of marijuana legislation or ballot initiatives, including 10 alone in the state of California.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you were telling us that’s a way the look at several of these ballot measures.

    Let’s look at — talk about two of the city measures. In Houston, you have voters looking at nondiscrimination protection for LGBT individuals. This has become very controversial, and a lot of focus on public restrooms.

    REID WILSON: Yes, it has.

    And last year, a nondiscrimination law passed the city of Houston. This measure, if it passes tonight, would repeal that previous nondiscrimination measure. And the focus on restrooms, I think, sort of hints at the next step in the fight over gay rights. The focus on restrooms has to do with those who are transgendered.

    Now, there’s public support for people — for nondiscrimination against those who are transgendered has lagged behind public support for nondiscrimination against gays and lesbians. So this is a way to sort of shift the focus from a question that opponents of this nondiscrimination law would lose to some other element that they might have a better pathway to toward a majority of public opinion.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, again, hotly controversial there in Houston.

    Meanwhile, San Francisco is looking at an initiative on Airbnb. This is the company that helps you rent out a room in your house, rent out your apartment. Tell us about that one.

    REID WILSON: Well, what this legislation would do is, it would limit the ability of homeowners to rent out their apartments on a short-term basis, their apartments, their homes, whatever room they have to rent. It would limit it to 75 days a year. Currently, most homeowners can rent out their place for 90 days a year.

    So it’s just a small little change. However, it does have to — it does sort of speak to this larger battle between the traditional economy and the rising sharing economy. We have seen big legislative fights in cities across the country over Uber, as Uber takes on the taxi industry. Now we have got Airbnb taking on the hotel industry, both of whom have millions of dollars at stake in this.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, as far as we know, first time Airbnb has been on a ballot.

    REID WILSON: As far as we know.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: OK. So, let’s look at now some of these races. You have a governor’s race, a contested race in Kentucky. You have got interesting state Senate races in Virginia. Let’s look at those.

    REID WILSON: So, in 2010 and 2014, one of the sort of overlooked consequences of the Republican wave that swept power in Congress back towards the Republicans was that it swept even more power back to Republicans in state legislatures.

    There are very few Democratic state legislators in the country these days, compared to before the 2010 elections. And in Kentucky, one of the very few Democrats who still governs a Southern state, a usually Republican state, is term-limited. So the two candidates who are running, Attorney General Jack Conway, the Democrat, is probably slightly favored, but only slightly, over the Republican businessman Matt Bevin.

    You might remember Matt Bevin’s name. He ran against Mitch McConnell two years ago — last year, rather, in a primary.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Challenged Mitch McConnell in the last — right.

    REID WILSON: Matt Bevin has run a very poor race at the moment, but it’s a very heavily Republican state. What really matters to the outcome of this race is what voters are thinking about when they head into the polls. Are they thinking about national issues and President Obama? His approval rating is at 34 percent in Kentucky.

    Or are they thinking about how the outgoing governor, Steve Beshear, the Democrat, has run the state? His approval rating is at 59 percent. Democrats want to focus on statewide issues. Republicans want to focus on the national.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And finally just a word, Reid Wilson, about those Senate races in Virginia, that, right now, both houses in Virginia are controlled by the Republicans.

    REID WILSON: And the Senate is only narrowly controlled by Republicans, just by one seat. There are about four races that we’re all closely watching, a couple down near Richmond, a couple up here in the Washington suburbs.

    This is one of those cases where Democrats lost so many legislative seats. They have a chance to win back a chamber tonight. It’s — maybe this is a preview of 2016 and how Democrats can do that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Governor Terry McAuliffe doing a lot of pacing tonight.

    REID WILSON: There you go.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, Reid Wilson giving us a preview of all those races.

    Thank you very much.

    REID WILSON: Thank you.

    The post From legal pot to Airbnb limits, 2015 election offers test cases to watch appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    An Egyptian military helicopter flies over debris from a Russian airliner which crashed at the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015. Russia has grounded Airbus A321 jets flown by the Kogalymavia airline, Interfax news agency reported on Sunday, after one of its fleet crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany - RTX1U8ZT

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    GWEN IFILL: The puzzle of what brought down a Russian airliner over Egypt remained far from solved today. U.S. officials said images shot from space may contain clues to why the plane broke up on Saturday, killing all 224 people on board.

    Paul Davies of Independent Television News reports on the day’s developments.

    PAUL DAVIES: Stretcher bearers formed a guard of honor as the bodies recovered from the wreckage in the Egyptian desert finally completed their journey home to Saint Petersburg.

    This is a city in mourning. And there are more painful days ahead. Relatives have been arriving at the morgue to give DNA samples to help in the grim process of identification. Russian officials have been giving a daily update on the recovery operation and the spread of wreckage on the ground, but still no hard information on whether this was an act of terrorism.

    Bereaved families are having to make due with rumors. The latest clues are all unconfirmed. Russian media is reporting that unusual sounds were recorded by the plane’s black boxes. American sources say their spy satellites detected a strong heat flash, which could have been an on-board explosion, and there are reports of mysterious debris at the crash site said not to be part of the plane. It’s hoped the examination of flight recorders due to start tonight could turn rumors into answers.

    All that’s known at this stage is that the Russian Airbus appeared to break up in midair after leaving the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, and that all 224 on board perished. Egyptian investigators say they will solve this mystery, but warn it could be a long process.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In other news, in Turkey today, a crackdown intensified on alleged supporters of a major opposition leader.

    Police arrested at least 44 people accused of ties to Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who’s in exile in the U.S. A former police chief and three state governors were among those detained. The Turkish government accuses Gulen of running — quote — “a terrorist group.”

    GWEN IFILL: China and Taiwan plan a historic summit on Saturday. They announced today that Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou will meet Saturday in Singapore. It’s the first such meeting since 1949, when communists won China’s civil war.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The head of U.S. Pacific forces played down tensions with China today over disputes in the South China Sea. Last week, the U.S. Navy sent a warship past Chinese-built islands, through waters that Beijing claims.

    At a meeting there today, Admiral Harry Harris said the move wasn’t meant as a threat. But a top Chinese general complained that it soured relations.

    GEN. FANG FENGHUI, Chief of Staff, People’s Liberation Army (through interpreter): I had planned to have a good talk with you on the South China Sea issue. However, regardless of the solemn representations of the Chinese side, the incident has created a disharmonious atmosphere. We are resolute in our determination and will to safeguard our sovereignty and maritime rights.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: At a separate meeting in Malaysia, China’s defense minister told U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter that there’s a — quote — “bottom line” on challenges to China’s territorial claims. He didn’t elaborate.

    GWEN IFILL: The Iraqi politician who played a key role in promoting the U.S. invasion in 2003 has died. State TV reports Ahmed Chalabi had a heart attack and passed away in Baghdad. After 9/11, the exiled leader helped persuade officials in the Bush administration that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. That turned out to be false. Chalabi later served as Iraq’s deputy prime minister. He was 71 years old.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Vatican faced new exposes today in book form about gross financial mismanagement. The Associated Press reported “Merchants in the Temple” tells of wasteful spending, outright greed and entrenched resistance to Pope Francis’ reforms. A second book, “Avarice,” claims that money from a hospital foundation went to renovate a Vatican official’s plush apartment.

    GWEN IFILL: Back in this country, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump dismissed his rivals’ complaints about debate formats and questions today, but he didn’t confirm reports that his campaign plans to negotiate its own debate terms with TV networks. The billionaire celebrity was asked about the issue at a news conference in New York.

    DONALD TRUMP, Republican Presidential Candidate: I will go anywhere they want. I don’t care too much about the debates. Look, I’m the one that gets all the nasty questions anyway. I like the debates. I think they’re good for me, but we have to be treated a little bit fairly.

    But, as far as I’m concerned, I really don’t care that much. I just want to debate. I think debating is a good thing. It’s healthy. It gets everything into the open.

    GWEN IFILL: Separately, Trump accused the U.S. Federal Reserve of keeping interest rates low at the request of President Obama. The White House flatly rejected that claim.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Japan’s Takata Corporation will pay $70 million in U.S. fines for mishandling a huge air bag recall. It could reach a record $200 million if the company fails to comply with terms announced today. Takata now admits that it delayed recalling more than 20 million air bag inflators that can explode with too much force.

    GWEN IFILL: The U.S. auto industry is now on track for a record year in sales. Most major automakers saw double-digit gains last month. GM led the way with sales up nearly 16 percent from a year ago.

    And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 89 points to close at 17918. The Nasdaq rose nearly 18 points, and the S&P 500 added more than five.

    The post News Wrap: More unconfirmed clues emerge in Metrojet investigation appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Using images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, a new video gives an unprecedented, ultra-high-definition look at the sun using wavelengths invisible to the human eye. Video courtesy of NASA

    It’s time to ignore your parents’ warnings to never stare directly at the sun.

    NASA is giving you the opportunity to spend as long as you want gazing at the brightest object in our solar system this week with the release of a new video that reveals the sun — rotation, solar flares and all — in unprecedented detail. NASA says the 30-minute video “presents the nuclear fire of our life-giving star in intimate detail, offering new perspective into our own relationships with grand forces of the solar system.”

    These new views of the sun were created using imagery from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. The SDO has its own eyes set on the sun constantly, capturing images of the star every 12 seconds in 10 different wavelengths of ultraviolet light. As is described in the beginning of the video, each solar image captured by the SDO is eight times the resolution of HD video. Each of the 10 wavelengths is assigned a unique color, with every variation helping to “highlight a different temperature of solar material.”

    Using sequences of images from each of the different wavelengths, a team of media specialists created varying, detailed footage of the star, with every minute of video taking the team ten hours to create. With an added score from Lars Leonhard, this video allows you to stare at the sun as long as you want without that nasty drawback of retinal burning.

    Sunglasses are optional.

    The post 4K NASA video lets you see the sun in a new light appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    airbnblogoSAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco voters have rejected a proposal to restrict Airbnb and a second ballot measure prompted by the city’s housing crisis.

    Tuesday’s vote went against restrictions on Airbnb and a ballot measure to freeze construction of luxury housing in the Mission District.

    Airbnb, by far the world’s largest home-share platform, spent more than $8 million to defeat the measure.

    Proposition F would have limited home-shares to 75 nights and required Airbnb and other hosting platforms to pull listings that exceed the limit.

    With more than 90,000 votes counted, 58 percent of the voters rejected the measure.

    A proposal to freeze development of luxury housing in the city’s trendy Mission District also lost with 60 percent of the votes against it.

    Mayor Ed Lee who swept through election victory had opposed both measures.

    The post San Francisco voters reject proposal to restrict Airbnb appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Ohio voters today decide whether or not to legalize marijuana for recreational and medical use.

    Ohio voters today rejected a ballot proposal to legalize marijuana for recreational and medical use.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio voters rejected a ballot proposal Tuesday that would have legalized both recreational and medical marijuana in a single vote — a vote-getting strategy that was being watched as a test case for the nation.

    Failure of the proposed state constitutional amendment followed an expensive campaign, a legal fight over its ballot wording, an investigation into petition signatures — and, predominantly, a counter campaign fueled by Ohio lawmakers. It was the only marijuana legalization question on the 2015 statewide ballots.

    With three-quarters of the votes counted, the issue was losing 65 percent to 35 percent.

    Issue 3 would have allowed adults 21 and older to use, purchase or grow certain amounts of marijuana. It also outlined a proposed regulatory and taxation scheme for cannabis and created a network of 10 growing facilities.

    That feature was the target of opponents and a separate ballot question to prevent monopolies from being inserted into Ohio’s constitution for the economic benefits of a few.

    Campaign director Ian James assured supporters at a downtown Columbus gathering that the fight was not over, calling Tuesday’s defeat “a bump in the road.”

    “We need to not only address compassionate care for the chronically ill, we need to also remain vigilant in protecting direct democracy,” he said. “Because when the Statehouse refuses to deal with the voters, the voters have to make them deal to make sure that their voices are heard.”

    After his remarks, the anti-monopoly measure passed.

    Two older voters in downtown Cincinnati who said they support legalization of marijuana both said they voted against Issue 3 because they didn’t like the “monopoly” element creating exclusive growing sites.

    “I can’t believe I voted ‘no’ when it was finally on the ballot,” said Marty Dvorchak, 62, of the northern Cincinnati suburb of Fairfield. “I think it’s ridiculous that marijuana is illegal. The war on drugs has been a failure. But I don’t think 10 people (growers) should have a monopoly.”

    At an elementary school in the northern Cincinnati suburb of West Chester, Beth Zielenski, said she voted no on the marijuana question. The mother of one from West Chester cited concerns about how marijuana and edible pot products would be regulated.

    Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, along with the District of Columbia, have legalized recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana is now legal in about half of states.

    Gov. John Kasich, a Republican presidential candidate, praised the state’s decision.

    “At a time when too many families are being torn apart by drug abuse, Ohioans said no to easy access to drugs and instead chose a path that helps strengthen our families and communities,” he said in a statement.

    The pro-legalization ResponsibleOhio campaign included several famous faces, including boy band star Nick Lachey and basketball great Oscar Robertson. The campaign had spent $12 million as of its most recent campaign filing and reported raising about the same amount.

    “Issue 3 was nothing more and nothing less than a business plan to seize control of the recreational marijuana market in Ohio,” Curt Steiner, director of Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies, said in election night remarks. “Issue 3 was designed and built primarily to garner massive and exclusive profits for a small group of self-selected wealthy investors.”

    AP writers Dan Sewell in Cincinnati and Ann Sanner in Columbus contributed to this report.

    The post Ohio votes down legalizing pot for medical, recreational use appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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