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

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    NASA is scheduled to announce their latest findings on the Red Planet on Thursday at 2 p.m. EST. PBS NewsHour will live stream the news conference.

    NASA scientists will announce their latest discovery about Mars and its atmosphere Thursday, as part of the agency’s ongoing exploration of the Red Planet.

    Today, NASA has released new results from the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission, which has made new insights into why the Martian atmosphere and the evolution of the desolate world.

    Today’s news will follow NASA’s discovery, reported in September, of flowing, liquid water on present-day Mars.

    The following people are participating in the conference:

    • Michael Meyer, lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters
    • Bruce Jakosky, Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) principal investigator at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado, Boulder
    • Jasper Halekas, MAVEN Solar Wind Ion Analyzer instrument lead at the University of Iowa, Iowa City
    • Yaxue Dong, MAVEN science team member at LASP
    • Dave Brain, MAVEN co-investigator at LASP
    • NASA is using the #AskNASA hashtag on Twitter to field questions during the conference.

      Editor’s note: We will update this story throughout the day

      The post NASA to announce new findings on Mars’ atmosphere appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo by Jupiterimages

    The myRA is a no-fee, no-minimum-balance, non-deductible Roth IRA for individuals with taxable compensation and income below $131,000 and couples with incomes under $193,000. Photo by Jupiterimages

    President Obama first announced his administration’s planned myRA retirement accounts — for the roughly 55 million Americans without 401(k)s or other employer-sponsored savings plans — in his 2014 State of the Union address. Starting today, the myRA can finally be yours.

    The administration spent the past year “testing out the pipes” as a Treasury official described the government’s pilot program with 60 employers. “We wanted to make sure it was simple and as user-friendly as possible,” said the official. “We learned it does work.” A USA Today story said that when Norton’s Flowers & Gifts in Ypsilanti, Mich., offered myRAs to its 21 employees during the pilot, six signed up.

    How does myRA work?

    So here’s how the myRA works and how you can sign up for one now that the accounts have rolled out nationwide:

    The myRA is a no-fee, no-minimum-balance, non-deductible Roth IRA for individuals with taxable compensation and income below $131,000 and couples with incomes under $193,000. You can contribute up to $5,500 per year (up to $6,500 if you’re 50 or older). By comparison, according to the Treasury Department, other retirement accounts commonly require minimum balances of $1,000 or $2,000.

    The myRA money is invested in a super-safe, interest-bearing account backed by the U.S. Treasury — current rate: a meager 2.125 percent. Someone who invested $150 a month at that rate would have just over $9,500 in five years.

    MyRA’s current return: just over 2 percent

    I asked a Treasury official whether that low rate (which is what federal employees earn in the Government Securities Investment Fund in their Thrift Savings Plan) might dissuade people from signing up for myRAs. The response: “That interest rate [in the government employees savings plan] for the past five years has been a little over 2 percent, on average, and that’s dramatically higher than what you’ve been able to earn on the average savings account.”

    Another official added: “That interest rate is consistent with the low-risk nature of the myRA.”

    The myRA is portable; you can take it from your current employer to your next one. But if the account reaches $15,000, you must then transfer the balance to a Roth IRA at a financial institution, where you can continue investing it.

    Who will be helped most?

    The myRA won’t solve the nation’s retirement crisis (a $15,000 nest egg is skimpy), of course, and the Obama administration concedes that. But Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told reporters yesterday that he thinks the account will act as a “starter account” to get non-savers on the right track.

    “Unfortunately, millions of workers don’t have a way to save for retirement at work. But one thing we know: when they start, there’s a good chance they’ll continue. The challenge is getting started in the first place,” Lew said.

    One group who could find myRAs especially useful: the 15 million self-employed Americans who don’t have employers with 401(k) plans.

    An Ameritrade survey released today found that 55 percent of the self-employed say they’re behind in saving for retirement and that self-employed boomers with retirement savings targets are, on average, $335,000 short of their target.

    Is it too easy to withdraw cash?

    While I think myRAs are a good idea for many people who haven’t started saving for retirement, I do have one concern: The government’s making it awfully easy to pull the money out before retirement.

    You can withdraw any money you put in to a myRA tax-free anytime and without owing any tax penalties. (Interest withdrawn might be taxed, and possibly with penalties, depending on when and why you pull the money out.)

    Lew didn’t seem overly concerned about the ease of non-retirement withdrawals at his media briefing about the myRA today.

    “If people don’t start saving, the question of taking it out or leaving it in never arises,” he said. “The vast majority of people who think about what the myRA means for their longer-term future understand that it would be a mistake to take out savings for something that isn’t a real emergency.”

    One of the myRA’s best features

    I think that one of the best features with the myRA is one the administration just added after the pilot program: the ability for you to set up recurring or one-time contributions from checking or savings accounts.

    There are two other ways to fund a myRA: by making direct deposit contributions through your employer or by directing all or a portion of your federal tax refund to the account.

    How do I set up a myRA?

    To set up a myRA on your own, go to the myRA.gov enrollment site operated by Comerica Bank, the financial agent of the Treasury that’s responsible for administering myRA accounts. You’ll need to provide your Social Security number, ID (such as a driver’s license or U.S. passport) and the name and birth date of at least one beneficiary.

    Now if only the myRA came with an employer match.

    Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Next Avenue.

    The post Everything you need to know about the Obama administration’s new retirement plan appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) transits the South China Sea in this U.S. Navy picture taken October 29, 2015. U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter will visit the Roosevelt as it transits the South China Sea on Thursday, a move sure to raise the ire of China as tensions between Washington and Beijing simmer over the disputed waterway.  Picture taken October 29, 2015.  REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Anthony N. Hilkowski/Handout via Reuters - RTX1UT39

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Joining me now to help us understand the United States’ recent activity in the South China Sea and what it means is Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

    So, first, how big a deal is this, if Ash Carter gets on a very nice ship and decides to take a cruise in territorially disputed waters?

    BONNIE GLASER, Center for Strategic and International Studies: Well, Secretary Carter has done this previously, when he attended the Shangri-La dialogue in June of this year.

    He was on a P-8 surveillance aircraft flying over the Malacca Straits. So it’s not unusual for the United States secretary of defense to be on a military platform out in the South China Sea demonstrating to the region that the United States has an abiding interest in peace and stability in the region.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Is it a provocative act to be in this specific place at this time?

    BONNIE GLASER: Undoubtedly, the Chinese see it as a provocative act, but I think that the other nations in the regions do not.

    I think if you look at Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, the other claimants, they are very happy to see the United States’ flag shown in the region. They supported the United States exercising freedom of navigation around what is called Subi Reef, which is the elevation, the low-tide elevation that the USS Lassen, a destroyer, conducted a freedom of navigation operation in just a few days ago.

    So, this is something that the region supports generally.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The freedom of navigation idea, is it a right that sort of use it or lose it? If you don’t use it, is that kind of what we’re stressing here by having carrier groups go through?

    BONNIE GLASER: The United States has been doing this of course for centuries. And since 1979, it has had a freedom of navigation program.

    And, in fact, this is the seventh what we call FONOP that has been conducted since 2011 in the South China Sea. And, yes, I think if the Navy does not sail through, and not just the U.S. Navy, but Australia navy, Japan’s navy doesn’t sail through waters that are high seas, that they are not territorial seas of other countries, even in territorial seas, we can sail through making innocent passage.

    And, in fact, that is really what we did in this case. We sailed through a territorial sea of China’s Subi Reef. So, yes, you have to exercise it or other countries may claim it and may try to exclude other navies.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Speaking of other countries and their claims, what have the other countries in the region that have vested interests in these waters, what have they been doing, besides just China and the United States that get kind of pinned in this conversation?

    BONNIE GLASER: Well, the Philippines is trying to enhance its capability to conduct what we call better maritime domain awareness, to know what’s going on inside its 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

    And in fact Japan and the United States has been providing some capability. The same is true with Vietnam. And the thinking here is that if other claimants know what’s going on inside their waters, that the Chinese will be less apt to use coercion against them.

    Diplomatically, there’s also some steps being taken. The Philippines has taken a very important case to the court under the U.N. Convention of the Law of the Sea, and there was just an announcement today that the merits of that case will be heard at the end of November. The court has already found jurisdiction on a number of the counts.

    So, next year, there is going to be likely a ruling that will come down and that will also have implications for the behavior of China and other countries going forward.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Now, does China respect the decision of that court?

    BONNIE GLASER: China has already said that this court doesn’t have jurisdiction and it has said that its finding will be null and void, it will reject it.

    But I do think that China cares about its international reputation, and so there is a possibility that China will reconsider that as we go forward. I hope other countries will impose some more costs on China, particularly in terms of its coercive strategy in the region, so that we can convince the Chinese that they’re playing at an ineffective game.

    They should have good relations with their neighbors, rather than exert their sovereignty claims over these rocks and reefs in the South China Sea that I think are less important to Chinese interests over the long run.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: How different have China’s actions been compared to other people trying to stake a claim? We had video of newly developed airstrips on some of these islands and even military armaments that are really kind of ramping up.

    BONNIE GLASER: The Chinese do see themselves as playing catchup, because every other claimant in the South China Sea, with the exception of Brunei, has an airstrip.

    They have all conducted a small amount of land reclamation. That is taking a land feature and making it a little bit bigger. The Chinese went in there and dredged an enormous amount of sand and built these very large artificial islands.

    So now the Chinese occupy the largest land feature, which is three times larger than the largest natural-produced island in the area. The Chinese, the scope of what they have done, and now they will have four airstrips in the South China Sea. Their capability really outstrips every other claimant.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Bonnie Glaser of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, thanks so much for joining us.

    BONNIE GLASER: Thank you.

    The post Why the U.S. Navy is navigating the South China Sea appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. Navy sailors salute as U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (C) as he and Malaysian Minister of Defense Hishammuddin Hussein (Not Pictured) arrive aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier in the South China Sea, in this handout photograph taken and released on November 5, 2015. REUTERS/Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz/Department of Defense/Handout FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - RTX1UXES

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Naval activity by the United States prompted another negative reaction from Beijing today, as Pentagon Chief Ashton Carter went on an unusual voyage with a U.S. ally.

    The fighter pilots on the U.S. Theodore Roosevelt went about their business today. But this time, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and his Malaysian counterpart were on board watching as the aircraft carrier plied the South China Sea.

    The ship and its escort group were moving some 150 nautical miles south of the Spratly Islands. They fall in a vast area that’s claimed by Beijing. China also claims a 12-mile territorial zone around artificial islands in the Spratlys, including airstrips and other military facilities.

    A U.S. Navy destroyer challenged that 12-mile zone last week. Today, the Chinese Foreign Ministry again criticized the American actions.

    HUA CHUNYING, Spokeswoman, Chinese Foreign Ministry (through interpreter): China has consistently respected all countries’ freedom of navigation under international law. What we oppose is waving the banner of freedom of navigation to push forward the militarization of the South China Sea. We hope the relevant actions and intentions of the U.S. can be made more open and transparent.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Just yesterday, defense ministers from Southeast Asia ended a meeting in Malaysia without issuing a final statement. It was scrapped after China objected to mentioning the sea dispute. Secretary Carter was there.

    ASHTON CARTER, Secretary of Defense: I reminded everyone that the United States doesn’t take sides in these maritime disputes, but we do take the side of peaceful resolution under international law.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Today, Carter said his carrier visit is a response to regional fears about Chinese behavior.

    He called it — quote — “a sign of the critical role the United States’ military power plays in a very consequential region.”

    U.S. officials say the Navy means to continue challenging the Chinese territorial claims, on a regular basis.

    The post China criticizes U.S. naval actions as Secretary Carter visits South China Sea appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Rescue workers search for survivors after a factory collapsed near the eastern city of Lahore, Pakistan November 5, 2015. Survivors trapped in the rubble of a collapsed Pakistani factory pleaded for help on their mobile phones on Thursday even as rescuers said they feared the death toll of 18 could rise in the latest tragedy to spotlight poor safety standards in south Asia.  REUTERS/Mohsin Raza - RTX1UUKE

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The death toll from a factory collapse in Pakistan rose to at least 20 today. Some 200 workers were believed to be inside the four-story building when it gave way overnight in Lahore. Rescuers painstakingly searched the rubble for signs of survivors and used heavy machinery to clear debris. Some of those trapped used cell phones to call for help.

    So far, 102 people have been pulled out alive. Survivors say cracks had appeared in the walls after a powerful earthquake last week.

    The European Union made a striking forecast today, that another three million migrants could arrive next year. That came as an estimated 25,000 people waited on Lesbos and other Greek islands, hoping a ferry strike there will end.

    Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News filed this report from Lesbos.

    LINDSEY HILSUM: The Greek prime minister and the president of the European Parliament landed in Lesbos this morning and were immediately confronted with the reality of the situation.

    MARTIN SCHULZ, President, European Parliament (through interpreter): Just as we were arriving here with Mr. Tsipras, we saw boats coming across the sea. People were jumping into the water and swimming to the beach. We’re truly facing a dramatic situation here.

    LINDSEY HILSUM: They went to see a so-called hot spot, where new arrivals are supposed to be registered and sent on to other wealthier E.U. countries.

    ALEXIS TSIPRAS, Prime Minister, Greece: The key issue is to not encourage these people take the boat of death and to take the risk to lose their lives in the Aegean Sea. And the only way is to give the hope that someday they will have the chance to be in this mechanism for resettlement directly from the Turkish coast to Europe.

    LINDSEY HILSUM: Just a few yards from the airport, we met the Omira family from Damascus. Sitting on the rocks in the sunshine, they looked as if they might be on holiday; 77-year-old Omar is getting pretty good at skimming stones.

    Hard to imagine what they were going through night before last, as a people smuggler crammed them into a boat on the Turkish coast.

    AMER OMIRA, Migrant: He told us 30 people only, then maybe 50 people, 70 people, I don’t know.

    LINDSEY HILSUM: So you were really crowded?

    AMER OMIRA: Yes, yes, yes. We told us — no, it’s very, very dangerous. Then he brought the gun, and pow, pow. If you don’t believe me, we will — a gun.

    LINDSEY HILSUM: So he threatened to shoot you?

    AMER OMIRA: Yes, yes.

    LINDSEY HILSUM: Around the port, we found hundreds of people stranded because the ferry operators have been on strike since Monday, so there’s no way to get to Athens.

    They sleep in tents or on the streets. The people here are hoping to get on the ferry to Athens tomorrow, when the strike is over, but that’s not going to be an end to the problem; 5,000 or 6,000 refugees and migrants are turning up on the Greek islands every day still, 100,000 here in Lesbos just in the last three weeks.

    In the background, Lesbos’ own Statue of Liberty, the brain child of a local man who went to New York years ago. He can’t imagine that, 85 years on, the huddled masses would come to his home island.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The United Nations warned today that even rough winter seas are not likely to stop the waves of migrants trying to reach Greece.

    The U.S. House overwhelmingly approved a $325 billion highway bill today. It maintains current levels of spending over six years, amid concerns that aging roads and bridges will need more funding. It also includes a provision to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. The House version must be reconciled with the Senate’s highway bill.

    The U.S. and 11 other countries released the text of a sweeping Pacific Rim trade deal today, setting up a fight in Congress. The Trans-Pacific Partnership was negotiated for more than five years. The White House says its eliminates some 18,000 taxes that other countries impose on U.S. exports. It also contains provisions to discourage forced labor and provide rights to workers overseas.

    At the U.S. Capitol, the new House speaker, Paul Ryan, said lawmakers need time to digest the thousands of pages.

    REP. PAUL RYAN, Speaker of the House: I’m pleased with the process we have coming before us, open, transparent. People get to see it, members of Congress get to see it, and then we will decide independently after consulting with our constituents and our conscience what our position on anything like a trade agreement will be.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: On the Democratic side, presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton and others have already come out against the deal.

    The reform Jewish movement in the U.S. passed a far-reaching resolution today in support of transgender rights. Meeting in Orlando, members of the Union for Reform Judaism voted for gender-neutral language and bathrooms in their congregations. The group has 1.5 million members. Other religious bodies, including the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ, have approved transgender resolutions, but none has gone as far as this one.

    Wall Street had a quiet day, ahead of the October jobs report being released tomorrow. The Dow Jones industrial average lost four points to close at 17863. The Nasdaq fell 14 points, and the S&P 500 dropped two.

    And the National Toy Hall of Fame has announced its class of 2015. The new inductees include the classic party game Twister, which Sears initially deemed too racy to advertise in 1966, the high-powered Super Soaker water gun also made the hall, along with the puppet, a toy that goes back thousands of years. The board game Battleship came up short this year. So did Wiffle balls and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

    The post News Wrap: Death toll rises in Pakistan factory collapse appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Military investigators from Russia check debris from a Russian airliner 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 - RTX1U8GM

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The crash of a Russian jetliner in Egypt morphed into an international dispute today on whether a bomb was behind it. All 224 people on board were killed when the plane broke up Saturday, just 23 minutes after taking of from Sharm el-Sheikh.

    Now the leaders of Britain, Russia and Egypt are openly disagreeing about the cause.

    DAVID CAMERON, Prime Minister, United Kingdom: We cannot be certain that the Russian airliner was brought down by a terrorist bomb. But it looks increasingly likely that that was the case.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: British Prime Minister David Cameron spent the day defending his decision to stop all British flights to and from Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, pending the crash investigation.

    DAVID CAMERON: The reason we have acted before that is because of the intelligence and information we had that gave us the concern that it was more likely than not it was a terrorist bomb.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Russian officials insisted any talk that a bomb destroyed the Metrojet airliner is just speculation. And the Russian Foreign Ministry urged Britain to share any intelligence it has.

    MARIA ZAKHAROVA, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson (through interpreter): Honestly, what’s really shocking is the realization that the British government has some kind of information that could shed light on what happened in the skies above Egypt. That information, if it exists, and judging by the fact that the head of the Foreign Office pronounced it does exist, that information was never shared with the Russian side.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin raised those concerns in a phone call with Prime Minister Cameron. Meanwhile, Egypt’s government maintained the crash of the Russian jet — quote — “wasn’t a terror act.” And under a new law, news organizations there that report anything to contrary could face hefty fines.

    The Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, was in London today to meet with Cameron. El-Sisi has warned against expecting much from the investigation anytime soon. But he said British security teams checked Sharm el-Sheikh’s airport 10 months ago and would be welcome to do so again.

    PRESIDENT ABDEL FATTAH EL-SISI, Egypt (through interpreter): I understand that the prime minister wants to be assured of his citizens’ well-being. This is his right. We’re prepared to cooperate further with any procedures that reassure all our friends that the security measures in place at Sharm el-Sheikh airport are enough and that the airport is safe to a good standard.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Stepped-up security screenings were in evidence at the Red Sea resort’s airport today. Thousands of tourists remained stranded there, after Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands followed Britain’s lead and also suspended their flights. Later, British carriers Monarch and EasyJet announced they will begin evacuation flights to Sharm el-Sheikh tomorrow with official approval to bring the vacationers home. That process could take up to 10 days.

    In Washington, President Obama said U.S. officials are taking — quote — “very seriously” the possibility that a bomb destroyed the Russian plane.

    The death toll from a factory collapse in Pakistan rose to at least 20 today. Some 200 workers were believed to be inside the four-story building when it gave way overnight in Lahore. Rescuers painstakingly searched the rubble for signs of survivors and used heavy machinery to clear debris. Some of those trapped used cell phones to call for help.

    So far, 102 people have been pulled out alive. Survivors say cracks had appeared in the walls after a powerful earthquake last week.

    The European Union made a striking forecast today, that another three million migrants could arrive next year. That came as an estimated 25,000 people waited on Lesbos and other Greek islands, hoping a ferry strike there will end.

    Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News filed this report from Lesbos.

    LINDSEY HILSUM: The Greek prime minister and the president of the European Parliament landed in Lesbos this morning and were immediately confronted with the reality of the situation.

    The post Russia, Egypt dispute British talk of Metrojet bombing appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The podiums for Republican presidential candidates debate are seen on stage in Boulder, Colorado on Oct. 27, 2015. Photo by Rick Wilking/Reuters

    The podiums for Republican presidential candidates debate are seen on stage in Boulder, Colorado on Oct. 27, 2015. Photo by Rick Wilking/Reuters

    NEWARK, N.J. — Two candidates who have been part of each of the prime-time Republican debates so far, Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee, have been demoted to next week’s undercard event because of low national poll numbers, delivering a major blow to their campaigns.

    It could be worse — and for George Pataki and Lindsey Graham it was. They won’t appear in either debate Tuesday on Fox Business Network. The cable news channel limited participation in the main event in Milwaukee to just eight candidates and to just four in the earlier debate.

    The candidates shut out of the debates accused the news media of taking away the right of voters to decide who would be the nominee. They also revisited questions about using polls with statistically insignificant differences between candidates as a means of elevating some and devaluing others.

    “It is ironic that the only veteran in the race is going to be denied a voice the day before Veterans Day,” Graham campaign manager Christian Ferry said in a statement on behalf of the South Carolina senator. “In the end, the biggest loser tonight is the American people and the Republican presidential primary process that has been hijacked by news outlets.”

    “The voters — not networks driven by ratings or national polls that are statistically irrelevant — should decide our next president,” said Pataki, a former governor of New York.

    Those still on the air tried to take the high road in the face of the bad news. Christie, the governor of New Jersey, tweeted: “It doesn’t matter the stage, give me a podium and I’ll be there to talk about real issues.” Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, said he was “happy to debate anyone, anywhere, anytime. We are months away from actual votes being cast and neither the pundits nor the press will decide this election. The people will.”

    Both Christie and Huckabee had struggled to stand out in the crowded Republican field amid signs of momentum in states where the first primary contests will be held. After the Milwaukee debate, just two GOP debates remain before the Iowa caucuses.

    The decision came as a particular surprise for Christie, who had been in the midst of one of the best weeks of his campaign thanks to a viral video in which he discusses the pain of drug addiction that has been viewed more than 6 million times.

    The main debate Tuesday will feature businessman Donald Trump, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former technology executive Carly Fiorina, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. The undercard debate airing earlier will feature Christie, Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

    National opinion surveys have played a pivotal role in shaping the contest for the GOP nomination. Statistically, pollsters say, there is no significant difference between candidates lumped together near the bottom of the pack in national polls, which typically have a margin of error of 3 percentage points or more.

    According to debate criteria issued by Fox Business last week, candidates must score 2.5 percent or higher in an average of the four most recent major polls conducted through Nov. 4 to be featured in the prime-time debate. They must hit the 1 percent mark to qualify for the undercard event.

    Steve Duprey, chairman of the Republican National Committee’s debate subcommittee, has been frustrated that such debate criteria have ignored candidates’ standing in early-voting states where they spend most of their time.

    Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry provides a cautionary tale of the potential impact of being out of the prime-time spotlight. Fundraising dollars dried up after Perry was relegated to the undercard debate earlier in the year.


    Peoples reported from Manchester, New Hampshire.

    SUBSCRIBE: Get the analysis of Mark Shields and David Brooks delivered to your inbox every week.

    The post Low polling demotes Christie and Huckabee to undercard debate appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Conflicting preliminary reports came out about the crash of a Russian airliner, Turkey had snap elections, and a change on Twitter made some users unhappy. See how much you know about the week’s international news in our 5-minute quiz.

    The post World news quiz: Solving a plane crash and some Twitter backlash appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    File photo of President Barack Obama by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    File photo of President Barack Obama by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    President Barack Obama has rejected TransCanada’s application to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline across the United States. He said Friday that “shipping dirtier crude oil into our country” would not increase America’s energy security.

    The president said the pipeline would not make a meaningful, long-term contribution to the economy, and that Congress could create more jobs by passing a comprehensive infrastructure plan. He said the U.S. would do better by continuing to pursue renewable energy options.

    The Keystone pipeline “became a symbol too often used as a campaign cudgel by both parties,” he said, adding that it was neither “a silver bullet for the economy, as was promised by some, nor the express lane to climate disaster proclaimed by others.”


    Reaction on Capitol Hill was immediate. “A decision this poorly made is not symbolic, but deeply cynical,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “It does not rest on the facts — it continues to distort them.”

    But Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., applauded the move. “President Obama did the right thing by putting Keystone XL out of its misery. I’m thrilled this spigot for dirty tar sands is finally welded shut and no longer threatens the climate, endangered wildlife and drinking water.”

    The 1,179-mile pipeline would have run from Alberta, Canada, to Texas.

    The State Department earlier this week denied TransCanada’s bid to delay review of its proposal.

    “TransCanada and its shippers remain absolutely committed to building this important energy infrastructure project,” said Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer, in a statement on Friday. “We will review our options to potentially file a new application for border-crossing authority to ship our customer’s crude oil, and will now analyze the stated rationale for the denial.”

    The post President Obama rejects Keystone XL pipeline project appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Steve Robertson stands outside a polling place during the U.S. midterm elections at the Providence Fire Department's training building in Providence, Rhode Island, November 7, 2006. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    What will resonate with voters next year? If the 2016 candidates are smart, they will spend ample time trying to figure this out. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    The 2012 election was supposed to be a test of a weakened president and his ambitious and unpopular health care plan. Challengers saw a chance to take down a Democratic incumbent after the excitement of his history-making election had faded. It didn’t work out that way.

    The 2008 election was supposed to be a coronation for Hillary Clinton and a second chance for a war hero nominee. History, in the form of a genre-breaking black man with a savvy digital campaign, caught up with them both.

    Stay with me here. The 2004 election elevated another war hero nominee — this one a Democrat. But John Kerry walked right into a buzz saw of conservative discontent and liberal disinterest. The country was not willing to unseat a flagging incumbent who was also a wartime president.

    In each and every case and in each and every election, we scrutinized the candidates to within an inch of their lives. We analyzed their personalities, their wardrobes, their leisure hobbies. We swapped stories about who we would rather have a beer with.

    But, again and again, we all but forgot to look to the voters.

    If we make that mistake again this cycle, it will be our own fault because we actually have something to work with this time.

    Two research reports caught my eye this week that appeared to at least begin to explain the dyspeptic public mood this year.

    Why, we have been asking ourselves as we eye the polls, is a bombastic New York businessman outpacing the field? How, we wonder, can a retired neurosurgeon suddenly force his way to the front of a crowded stage? What forces, we ask ourselves, have propelled a cranky 74-year-old self-described socialist senator from a tiny state, to fill overflow arenas with people looking for a Democratic alternative?

    Part of the answer seems to lie with voters in a bad mood — many of them white, and many of them middle class.

    In past elections, these were not considered niche voters. They were the prime targets for candidates who figured they were more likely to show up at the polls. Black, Hispanic and women voters were more likely to be wooed with narrow, targeted appeals — the Obama campaign becoming the obvious exception.

    But this year, white, middle class voters — precisely the cohort drawn to the outsider element currently on view in the primaries — are increasingly disaffected.

    One new study out this week showed, perplexingly, that life expectancy for middle class whites appears to be shrinking; just as other groups appear to be likely to live longer.

    What is driving this? Increased rates of alcoholism and drug abuse and suicide drove death rates up. And what is driving that? “Despair,” Princeton economist Anne Case, one of the report’s co-authors, told my colleague Judy Woodruff.

    Economic distress was also driving factor, spurred by the nation’s slow and stuttering recovery from a painful recession that seemed to punish the working class the longest.

    A second report, which was first published in the journal “Research on Social Work Practice” in 2012, was enlightening in a different way. “Moderately educated whites” — which is to say, those without a post-secondary degree — are becoming less religious. The report, improbably titled “No Money, No Honey, No Church,” discovered that this religious disconnect is creating a new subset of marginalized, less socialized Americans. This disengagement — which extends to marriage rates — can and does extend to politics and to politicians.

    Taken together, it all begins to explain the appeal of outsiders who promise to toss the scoundrels out. It also provides a ripe proving ground for candidates who have never done this before, as well as a political conundrum for those who have conventionally used elected office as the stepping stone to the White House.

    What will these voters hear? What will resonate? Is it enough to promise hope and change? Is derision enough?

    This will be the test in coming months, as candidates try to come up with a new solution to a daunting problem: how to win votes from people who can’t stand the sight of you.

    The post The politics of resentment: winning 2016 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    "People were not used to to the idea of me being a Muslim singer," says singer and songwriter Yuna of her introduction to the  U.S. music scene. "They'd be like 'Oh, wow, you are a Muslim singer, can you do that?' like I’m a nun or something." Yuna spoke with NewsHour after performing at U Street Music Hall in Washington last month. Photo by Amanda Gomez

    “People were not used to to the idea of me being a Muslim singer,” says singer and songwriter Yuna of her introduction to the  U.S. music scene. “They’d be like ‘Oh, wow, you are a Muslim singer, can you do that?’ like I’m a nun or something.” Yuna spoke with NewsHour after performing at U Street Music Hall in Washington last month. Photo by Amanda Gomez

    When 28-year-old singer and songwriter Yuna debuted her self-titled album in 2012, she became one of the few Malaysian musicians to successfully cross over into the American music scene.

    But with her arrival came questions about her Muslim-Malaysian identity and her dress. Music reviewers fixated on her look — she wears a headscarf — calling her the “poster girl” for a new generation of Muslim-Malaysian women.

    But her music, and not her religion, should be the main focus, she said. “My personal belief is a private thing, and at the end of the day, I’m a woman who just loves making music,” she said. “It’s fine that people narrow in on [my hijab]. I’m OK with that. I just would like them all to know my music first.”

    Back home in Malaysia, Yuna is a household name. The singer-songwriter Yunalis Mat Zara’ai produced her own EP in 2008, and the following year won the first of several Anugerah Industri Muzik awards — the local equivalent to a Grammy. After thriving in the Malaysian music scene for three years, she broke through into the American market with the help of the Internet. Nowadays, you can find her in the studio working on her new album that’s set to release in February, which includes a duet with Usher.

    Photo by Amanda Gomez

    “I wasn’t brilliant at anything else. I was moderate in school … songwriting came naturally to me,” Yuna says. Photo by Amanda Gomez

    Yuna entered the music scene at 21 while she was finishing up law school. After class, she would sing her own songs, guitar in hand, around neighborhood cafes in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur. She approached a Malaysian recording label, but they thought it would be too “difficult” for her to wear a hijab and cross over to a larger market in the West, she said in an interview with WBUR. She said she spoke to other Malaysian labels who were looking for someone more “polished,” and ultimately she did not end up signing with anyone.

    Instead, Yuna taught herself guitar and how to produce her own music, and recorded her first EP from her bedroom with financial help from her father. Radio stations and Internet listeners picked up the EP, and the U.S. industry started paying attention; management firm Indie-Pop flew her to New York to get a sign deal with Fader Label, the same label that signed indie-pop sensation Matt and Kim. Her first album spent 67 weeks on Billboard’s Uncharted list for new and developing artists, where it peaked at No. 2.

    Photo by Amanda Gomez

    Yuna took a 22-hour flight from Malaysia before this performance at U Street Music Hall in D.C. last month. Photo by Amanda Gomez

    Yuna’s sound is typically categorized as pop. Her song “Lullabies” sounds like a soulful Sia, with its similar melodies, soft kick drum beat and even softer keyboard.

    The artist said her style of singing draws on classic black-and-white Malay films. “A lot of people think that because I’m from Malaysia, I’m driven by Malaysian sound but actually, it’s mostly just my melodies,” she said. Her song “Coffee” is also influenced by the Malay female belters she grew up hearing, including Malaysian pop star Ning Baizura, she said.

    People unfamiliar with Malay musical films would categorize “Coffee” as jazz, she said. “Those films were influenced by the West — they were obsessed with Frank Sinatra. I guess music is very global.”

    Yuna described her latest album as R&B-heavy, drawing on the American artists she grew up listening to, including Lauryn Hill, TLC and Aaliyah. After working with Pharrell, who produced her song “Live Your Life,” she felt more comfortable covering hip-hop artists like Frank Ocean and Drake, she said.

    Her transition from Malaysia to the Los Angeles came easy, with only one major difference between her and other Californians: her love of whale-watching. “People think it’s very strange because I love whale watching — you don’t see whales a lot where I’m from.” To Yuna, the pastime is “magical.”

    The post ‘Unpolished’ and unconventional: Meet the Malaysian pop star about to blow up the charts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Scientists in Switzerland have found that water behaves strangely when placed at low pressure and tossed against an ultrarepellent surface. Photo by Thomas M. Schutzius, Gustav Graeber and Dimos Poulikakos

    Scientists in Switzerland have found that water behaves strangely when placed at low pressure and tossed against an ultrarepellent surface. Photo by Thomas M. Schutzius, Gustav Graeber and Dimos Poulikakos

    Water is weird. It’s essential for life, but too much can wreck your cells. When frozen, it’s slippery, but physicists aren’t sure why. If you boil water in zero gravity, rather than make bubbles, it creates a mushroom cloud.

    And when put under certain pressures, water behaves in unpredictable ways. Such was the case in a paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature. When scientists from ETH Zurich placed water at low pressure — one-twentieth of what’s typically felt at the Earth’s surface — the droplets behaved spontaneously like springboards.

    High-speed video of a water droplet and a person trampolining. The droplet's bounces are facilitated by a low pressure environment and a rigid surface made from an ultrahydrophobic silicon surface. Photo by Thomas M. Schutzius, Gustav Graeber, L. J. Yi and Dimos Poulikakos

    High-speed video of a water droplet and a person trampolining. The droplet’s bounces are facilitated by a low pressure environment and a rigid surface made from an ultrahydrophobic silicon surface. Photo by Thomas M. Schutzius, Gustav Graeber, L. J. Yi and Dimos Poulikakos

    The scientists were hitting the droplets against a homemade hydrophobic — water-repelling — material, so one might expect some push back, but what they got was quite a bounce.

    High-speed video demonstrating how droplet trampolining can drive continuous motion of a cantilever. Photo by Thomas M. Schutzius and Dimos Poulikakos

    High-speed video demonstrating how droplet trampolining can drive continuous motion of a cantilever. Photo by Thomas M. Schutzius and Dimos Poulikakos

    The scientists said they want to adapt these hydrophobic surfaces, which are made from silicon, to coat airplanes. By doing so, the metal wings could spontaneously remove ice during flight. The researchers already have tested this idea of water removal with sheets of aluminum (see video below).

    A high-speed video shows what happens to water during recalescence freezing, a physical phenomena where supercooling a substance leads to the sudden release of heat. The researchers found that the process can drive a vaporization, when combined with low pressure and a room temperature environment. The result is “de-wetting” of the droplet from a aluminum-based superhydrophobic surface.

    For more, check out Futurity.

    The post Why these water droplets behave like trampolines appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Once a year, John Philip Sousa, the American composer responsible for the country's most recognizable patriotic marches, rises back from the dead to celebrate his birthday. Left photo by Joshua Barajas/PBS NewsHour, right photo courtesy of Library of Congress

    Once a year, John Philip Sousa, the American composer responsible for the country’s most recognizable patriotic marches, rises back from the dead to celebrate his birthday. Left photo by Joshua Barajas/PBS NewsHour; right photo, dated as Nov. 8, 1900, courtesy of Library of Congress

    When asked about his age, Ronald D. Anzalone told me he was 161 years old. He was speaking as John Philip Sousa, a composer long-faded from the public’s collective memory.

    Sousa’s music is everywhere — in the soundtrack to Fourth of July picnics, punctuating the end of a president’s speech and in the repertoire of countless high school and military bands.

    These days, Sousa’s music is often-heard but his name is less-remembered, Anzalone said.

    “[Sousa] was born in the pre-Civil War era and lived into the 1930s, but anybody like that from before World War II, we just don’t think about much anymore,” said Anzalone, director of the Office of Preservation Initiatives in Washington, D.C.

    Ronald D. Anzalone in full John Philip Sousa garb. Photo by Joshua Barajas/PBS NewsHour

    Ronald D. Anzalone in full John Philip Sousa garb on Nov. 6, 2015 in the National Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C. Photo by Joshua Barajas/PBS NewsHour

    For the past eight years, Anzalone has impersonated Sousa at an annual birthday celebration of the composer on Nov. 6 in Washington, D.C.’s Historic Congressional Cemetery. While the cemetery’s organizers hold an event honoring Sousa, Anzalone hovers as a living ghost of the mustachioed conductor.

    Anzalone wears a black uniform decorated with medals — some bought, some given. It’s topped off with an old vintage cap and other items found at thrift shops over the years, along with the composer’s pince-nez glasses.

    And to complete the impersonation, he has a pair of white kid gloves. Sousa was known to have “glove mania,” enough so that it warranted a brief in the Boston Post in 1921 when he bought 1,200 pairs of white gloves at $5 a pop. The Post said the peculiarity was born of a superstition: “[I]f he wears the same pair to more than one affair, hard luck would follow.”

    Anzalone said he does his best to carry on the tradition. “[Sousa] would regularly change his gloves, so he would always have a clean pair,” Anzalone said. “I can’t quite afford to do that.”

    Growing up, Sousa was surrounded by military band music. His father was a trombonist in the U.S. Marine Band, and Sousa lived right outside the military barracks in D.C. He came of age during the Civil War, when military marches were a source of national pride and often heard within the city as battles happened nearby. After a 13-year-old Sousa tried to join a circus band, his father enlisted him in the Marine Band as an apprentice in 1868. He would eventually become the bandleader.

    By the late 1880s, Sousa began attracting notice for his marches. His piece “The Washington Post” (1889) was commissioned by the newspaper of the same name to promote an essay contest. It proved popular with two-stepping couples worldwide. “The Liberty Bell” (1893) was used ironically throughout “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” a British sketch comedy. And 1896’s “Stars And Stripes Forever” was designated as the national march of the United States 91 years after it debuted.

    John Philip Sousa conducts his march “The Royal Welch Fusiliers” on May 2, 1930 at the White House. Video by United States Marine Band

    Sousa left the Marine Band to form his own civilian band in 1892. With 136 marches to his name, Sousa had achieved global fame, earning the nickname “March King.”

    “Sousa was a true rock star of his time, a true celebrity, even in the days before mass media,” Anzalone said in an email.

    Even with the advent of the phonograph and radio, Sousa preferred to perform in person for audiences, Anzalone said. Sousa shied from recordings or performances for the radio “because of a lack of personal contact with his audience,” according to a New York Times obituary of Sousa from March 1932.

    John Philip Sousa leading bands, American League Park in Washington, D.C., on June 7, 1923. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

    John Philip Sousa conducting at American League Park in Washington, D.C., on June 7, 1923. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

    It’s estimated that Sousa’s civilian band played upwards of 15,000 concerts in 40 years throughout the country and other parts of the world, Anzalone said. The Times remembrance added that Sousa’s far-reaching tours were “considered to have contributed toward the furtherance of musical education in the nation.”

    What’s lesser-known about Sousa is that the “March King” also produced operas and suites. Sousa once had three operettas on Broadway at the same time, Anzalone said. In fact, out of his 300 musical pieces, marches accounted for just over a third of Sousa’s work.

    And Sousa himself only marched six to eight times in his whole career. “Those kinds of things are sort of forgotten these days,” Anzalone said.

    Scenes from the Nov. 6, 2013 birthday celebration of John Philip Sousa in the Historic Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C. Video by Kate Patterson

    On Sousa’s last day in the Marine Corps, the White House held a farewell concert in his honor. Despite the rainy weather, a huge crowd appeared for the ceremony, including President Benjamin Harrison. The Washington Post described the scene in 1892: “It looked as if an army of black mushrooms had camped out on the green lawn while the heavens wept, presumably with sorrow.”

    Today, enthusiasts like Anzalone are charged with keeping Sousa’s memory alive — even if it’s not their own go-to music selection. Anzalone, a classical music and classic rock fan, said he didn’t listen to Sousa often.

    “It’s not my regular cup of tea,” he said.

    The post A day in the life of a 161-year old John Philip Sousa appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has a series of new security efforts aimed at international airports

    DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has announced a series of new security efforts aimed at international airports in the wake of a Russian jetliner crash over Egypt

    WASHINGTON — The Homeland Security Department announced Friday a series of new security efforts aimed at international airports in the wake of the crash of a Russian jetliner over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

    DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said the latest security protocols will focus on commercial flights bound for the United States from certain overseas airports in the region. He did not say which airports will be affected.

    The new security procedures will include expanded security screening of items put on commercial jets, airport assessments and offers of security assistance for certain airports.

    Russian carrier Metrojet’s Airbus A321-200 crashed shortly after takeoff from the Sharm el-Sheikh airport in Egypt on Saturday, killing all 224 people on board. There are no direct flights from that airport to the United States.

    Though the investigation is ongoing, President Barack Obama has said the U.S. is taking “very seriously” the possibility that a bomb caused the crash.

    British Prime Minister David Cameron said he has grounded all British flights to and from the Sinai Peninsula because of “intelligence and information” that points to a bomb as the probable cause of the crash.

    On Friday, Russia announced that it will suspend all flights to Egypt until security is improved at its airports.

    Michael Balboni, a security expert and former deputy secretary for public safety for New York state, said there are significant differences in the scrutiny of airport workers at overseas airports than in the United States. And in the wake of the downing of the Russian flight, those gaps are likely to gain renewed attention.

    “Everything needs a refresh,” Balboni said. “Security is never a destination, it’s a journey. You have to change it up, you have to refresh it.”

    The post U.S. adding air security ‘enhancements’ amid crash probe appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The Supreme Court issued two decisions on Thursday that  targeted different issues of free speech.

    The Supreme Court will hear a case later this year on whether certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act violate the rights of religious groups to not be complicit in providing contraception.

    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is wading into its fourth dispute over President Barack Obama’s 5-year-old health care overhaul.

    The latest “Obamacare” case involves objections by faith-based hospitals, colleges and charities to the process the administration devised to spare them from paying for contraceptives for women covered under their health plans, and yet ensure that those women can obtain birth control at no extra cost.

    The groups complain that they remain complicit in making available the contraceptives in violation of their religious beliefs.

    Seven out of eight federal appeals courts have agreed with the administration that requiring the faith-based groups to make their objection known and identify their insurer or insurance administrator does not violate a federal religious freedom law.

    Only the appeals court in St. Louis ruled for the groups, saying they probably have a right to refuse to comply with the administration rules.

    The justices on Friday said they would hear pending appeals from groups in Colorado, Maryland, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington, DC.

    The case will be argued in late March.

    Among the challengers are the Little Sisters of the Poor, nuns who run more than two dozen nursing homes for impoverished seniors.

    The administration has argued that the accommodation it came up with does not violate the nonprofits’ religious rights. Even if the Supreme Court rejects that argument, the administration has said in court papers, the justices should determine that the system for getting contraceptives to women covered by the groups’ insurance plans is the most effective and efficient way to do so.

    The high court has twice preserved the health overhaul, but has allowed some for-profit employers with religious objections to refuse to pay for contraceptives for women.

    Houses of worship and other religious institutions whose primary purpose is to spread the faith are exempt from the requirement to offer birth control.

    For other religious-affiliated nonprofit groups such as hospitals and schools, the administration argues that the accommodation creates a generous moral and financial buffer between religious objectors and funding birth control. The nonprofit groups just have to raise their hands and say that paying for any or all of the 20 devices and methods approved by government regulators would violate their religious beliefs.

    To do so, they must fill out a government document or otherwise notify the government so that their insurers or third-party administrators can take on the responsibility of paying for the birth control. The employer does not have to arrange the coverage or pay for it. Insurers get reimbursed by the government through credits against fees owed under other parts of the health law.

    But dozens of colleges, hospitals, charities and other organizations have said in lawsuits they still are being forced to participate in an effort to provide coverage for contraceptives, including some which they claim amount to abortion. The government may impose fines on groups that do not comply.

    The post SCOTUS to hear contraceptive mandate case appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Republican U.S. presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson speaks at the 2016 U.S. Republican presidential candidates debate held by CNBC in Boulder, Colorado, Wednesday. Photo by Rick Wilking/Reuters

    Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, seen here speaking at the 2016 Republican presidential debate held by CNBC, has admitted he was never formally offered a scholarship to West Point as claimed in his autobiography. Photo by Rick Wilking/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Republican White House hopeful Ben Carson was not offered a formal scholarship to the United States Military Academy at West Point as he wrote in his autobiography, his campaign said Friday.

    Carson, a newcomer to national politics, has developed a passionate following based in part on an inspirational personal story and devotion to Christian values. The only African-American in the Republican 2016 class, Carson grew up in inner-city Detroit and often speaks about his brushes with violence and poverty during his early years.

    His campaign on Friday sought to clarify a statement in his breakout book, “Gifted Hands,” in which he outlines his participation with the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, commonly known as ROTC, while in high school.

    “I was offered a full scholarship to West Point,” Carson wrote in the 1996 book. “I didn’t refuse the scholarship outright, but I let them know that a military career wasn’t where I saw myself going. As overjoyed as I felt to be offered such a scholarship, I wasn’t really tempted.”

    Campaign spokesman Doug Watts said Carson was “the top ROTC student in the city of Detroit” and “was introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC supervisors.”

    “They told him they could help him get an appointment based on his grades and performance in ROTC. He considered it but in the end did not seek admission,” Watts said.

    Students granted admission to West Point are said to earn appointments to the military academy, which comes with tuition, room and board and expenses fully paid, in exchange for five years of service in the Army after graduation.

    A West Point spokesman on Friday said the academy “cannot confirm whether anyone during that time period was nominated to West Point if they chose not to pursue completion of the application process.”

    The story was first reported on Friday by Politico.

    The post Ben Carson backs off West Point scholarship claim appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: Pablo Picasso was one of the world’s most famous painters. But a new exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York examines his contributions to another medium, sculpture.

    Jeffrey Brown has the story.

    JEFFREY BROWN: A court jester in bronze, an early experiment in three dimensions by Pablo Picasso. As Picasso Sculpture, the huge and much-lauded exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art shows, experiment is the right word.

    And it never stopped. Ann Temkin is one of the show’s curators.

    ANN TEMKIN, Co-Curator, “Picasso Sculpture”: It certainly had to do with a spark of inspiration, either technically or some kind of puzzle that came to his mind.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Picasso was the preeminent artist of the 20th century, but this side of him remains far less known than his painting. He formally trained as a painter, and kept at that throughout his life.

    Upstairs in the museum, one can see many famous examples, including the groundbreaking cubist masterwork from 1907 Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

    The Sculpture exhibition, over 140 works gathered from institutions around the world, shows Picasso breaking ground in this medium as well, but more playfully, in spurts, as he became curious about space and material.

    Co-curator Anne Umland:

    ANNE UMLAND, Co-Curator, “Picasso Sculpture”: Now, stepping over this threshold, we have just time-traveled three years. And in those three years, Picasso, when he comes back to making three-dimensional objects, does it in ways that nobody has ever done before.

    JEFFREY BROWN: A guitar made of paper, string, cardboard. A violin made of painted sheet metal and wire. Picasso changed the history of art through his choice of everyday subjects, his use of materials, his mixing of genres, as with the six small absinthe glasses brought together in this exhibition for the first time since they were in Picasso’s studio, colorfully painted bronze, a real spoon all twisted together into a new kind of sculpture.

    ANNE UMLAND: Up until now, pretty much, sculpture has to do with recognizable bodies of people, and they are modeled or cast. They’re very solid. And instead of that, Picasso decides he is going to make a sculpture of something small and domestic and that you hold in your hand. He sets out to overturn just about every sort of rule or given or way of thinking about material that you can come up with.

    JEFFREY BROWN: After every phase of experimentation, represented here by individual rooms, Picasso would leave aside sculpture for several years, before picking it up again, always with something new, these figures from the late 1920s, for example, and then a group of more monumental heads in the early 1930s.

    Unlike his paintings, Picasso rarely exhibited his sculptures. Instead, he lived with them.

    ANNE UMLAND: He’s not coming out of a sculpture tradition in Western art. He’s looking at African or oceanic objects that have a ritual function and that have a soul or an anima.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Do you think he thought of them that way?

    ANNE UMLAND: I think he thought of his sculptures as personages.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Personages, which means what?

    ANNE UMLAND: Which would mean, to me, things that have a life.

    JEFFREY BROWN: This giant head of a woman is from 1932.

    ANNE UMLAND: I think it’s amazing how she’s both monumental and goofy at the same time.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. You say goofy, which I’m not — I’m sure is a technical term in — art curators.

    ANNE UMLAND: Yes, very highly technical.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But it is sort of introducing the goofy to a tradition that is more about…

    ANNE UMLAND: Solemnity and admiration.


    ANNE UMLAND: No, I think the way that he manages to make things that, yes, I will stick with my word choice of goofy or cartoony or the way the features are exaggerated, that maybe that’s back to part of what he’s doing to animate something that otherwise is very solid and inanimate.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Picasso remained in German-occupied Paris through the war years, using materials at hand, including for this bull’s head, an old bicycle seat and handlebars cast in bronze.

    ANN TEMKIN: And what’s amazing is, with the casting, you still read the metal of the handlebars and the leather of the seat extremely clearly. And I think what Picasso loved about the joke was the fact that the bronze casting of these ordinary everyday objects sort of turns them into a work of art, but not completely. You’re still aware of that original bicycle identity.

    RACHEL HARRISON, Artist: Anything goes. And you can feel that in his work.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Rachel Harrison is a prominent contemporary artist whose work, like Picasso’s, crosses genres. She sees a sense of play, but also the horror of war.

    RACHEL HARRISON: I look at those bodies, and I see limbs that have come apart and come back together, and I see things that are more gruesome than beautiful.

    If the materials appear playful, it’s because it wasn’t his first medium and he had a comfort in oil and oil paint. And so when he comes to these other materials, like metal or plaster, there’s just a kind of freedom that he has to experiment, and there’s less at stake, because he wasn’t exhibiting them in the same way.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The playfulness continued into his later years. And the exhibition ends with a group of models Picasso worked on in the 1960s, when he was in his 80s. In some cases, they became monumental public sculptures, including his last and largest in Chicago’s Richard J. Daley Center.

    ANN TEMKIN: He had dreamed of making monumentally scaled work. And with these enlargements, there’s just an entirely different physical and psychological relationship to them.

    JEFFREY BROWN: One question this exhibition has raised for some art critics, was Picasso a better sculptor than painter?

    ANNE UMLAND: I don’t think we have to choose. I think we come down on the side of Picasso the artist.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Not, in the end, a bad side to choose.

    From the Museum of Modern Art in New York, I’m Jeffrey Brown for the PBS NewsHour.

    The post How Picasso overturned the rules of sculpture appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, a White House decision finally on the Keystone pipeline, a rough week for some Republican candidates, and wins for conservatives on Election Day.

    First, we turn to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Gentlemen, welcome.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s great to have you here.

    So, that Keystone pipeline decision, David, the president finally — seven years later, we now know he’s against it.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Well, first of all, it could be mythical. With oil prices so low, they might never build it anyway. So, it really doesn’t matter at some level.

    But pretending it matters, I do think it’s an anti-environmental, anti-science move. His State Department and many other experts decided, if the oil is going to come out of the sands, it’s a lot cleaner to have it go through the pipeline than to put on trains or trucks and send it over to China through ships that way.

    And, so, if the oil comes out of the sands, which it’s going to do if it makes economic sense, we might as well do it in the cleanest way possible. So, to me, this is just a political decision to placate some people who he’s offended with some of his other decisions.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Political decision, Mark?

    MARK SHIELDS: I don’t think anyone could accuse the president of being impulsive. It was seven years, five exhaustive studies.


    MARK SHIELDS: And I think it became a symbol for both sides, bigger than it was really.

    I don’t think it was going to be an environmental disaster. And I don’t think, with gasoline $2 a gallon cheaper than it was the day that Barack Obama was nominated, the urgency had abated.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s quickly turn, because there’s so much news to ask you both about.

    Jobs reports, David, some really good numbers today. More jobs than what had been forecast. Unemployment rate is down, I guess, as low as it’s been in seven years, and not only — but there is still this worry about the so-called participation rate. How do you read this?

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, so far, obviously, it’s great.

    And if this maintains, it’s great for Hillary Clinton or the Democratic nominee. The political effects are kind of simple and obvious. The labor force participation rate is the worrying one, because it didn’t change. And so all these people are out of the job market. Are they people who could get back in if there were jobs out there, or are they people who have been so far out, that they really can’t get back in?

    And there was this troubling study that came out earlier in the week that middle-aged white life expectancy is dropping, which is astounding. And it’s dropping because of liver diseases, suicide. It’s dropping because of social dysfunction. And those are presumably a lot of people who are out of the labor force.

    And so, if it keeps going, we will be able to see if some of these people can get back in and have productive lives, have busy lives, have fulfilling lives. But if they’re permanently out no matter what the unemployment rate is, then we have got a gigantic problem.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That was a disturbing report.

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, your discussion this week with Dante and the professor from Princeton really hit on the fact that so many of these people, it’s not just liver disease and smoking and drinking. It’s jobs and lives that have been changed.

    It’s the cost of the deindustrialization of America. These people, the high school graduates who had great lives, good jobs and could raise a family and live comfortably, and all of a sudden that’s gone. And behind it is a low-paying job, many times not even that.

    The numbers today, just think of this, Judy. When Barack — when Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney were nominated, the unemployment rate in the country was 8.2 percent. That’s just, what, three years ago. OK? And at that time, they pledged to get unemployment in their first term under 6 percent.

    Today, it’s 5 percent. There were more private sector jobs created in the past month than there were in eight years of George W. Bush. So, it’s good news. We’re still waiting for the wages to kick up, but it is good news.

    I share with David the concern about the participation in the labor force, but this is good news, and it’s good news for the country.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I ask because people are — just seem to have that never-ending debate, is the glass half-full or is the glass half-empty? And these numbers seem to raise that question again.


    And there were fears that if you look at the normal rhythm of a recovery, we’re so deep into this recovery time-wise that you could think, well, maybe it’s time for another recession. There was some fear of that. But we don’t seem close to being in another recession. That is excellent news. The Fed is now likely to raise rates.

    And so it’s good news. And it’s just plain old good news. We might as well lie back and enjoy it.

    MARK SHIELDS: Accept it.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, several things to ask you about with regard to the campaigns.

    Some interesting reporting this week, Mark, about the campaigns both of Marco Rubio and what he’s said or not said about his own personal financial past, and then today and in the last few days a lot of reporting about — around Ben Carson and what he said in a book, which I happen to have right here, that came out 25 years ago, where he made different claims about whether he was accepted at West Point, offered a scholarship, whether he applied and got a scholarship, and then another one about whether he knifed — tried to knife a friend or a family member.

    Does all this, at this point in the campaign, add up to something? What are we to make of all this?

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, the choice of president, Judy, is the most personal vote that any American casts.

    We get an information overload about these people. And it really is in the final analysis a choice on character and how comfortable we are with the person. So, the higher the office, the more important the candidate, and you fly at a higher visibility when you’re running for president. You get more exposure.

    Your credentials are scrutinized. Your record is scrutinized. And the failures of our presidents over the past half-century have not been failures of intellect or education. They have been failures of personality or character.

    Now, Ben Carson presents a rather remarkable exception. Most candidates get in trouble by embellishing their record, that is, by saying — they were a junior varsity, that they were actually all state in football, or that I was at the top of my class, when it took me five years to get through high school.

    Ben Carson wants to present himself as a thug, a hoodlum, a really bad…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: When he was 14.

    MARK SHIELDS: When he was 14. And — but nobody else will support him.

    They remember him — and he talks about putting a knife and running into the belt. He would have inflicted great bodily harm. I just find that rather bizarre.

    DAVID BROOKS: Has there ever been a Christian memoir where the Christian says, well, when I was a sinner, I was a really very serious sinner. And so they are all bragging about how bad they were and then they were redeemed.

    So, it’s not atypical. I’m wondering, will it hurt him? I play this little mental game with myself. Imagine a candidate I really admired. I heard he exaggerated his West Point possible admissions. Would I say, oh, I really admire that guy, but he told a fib about his early youth, I think I won’t support him anymore? I don’t think I would do that.

    If there were six fibs, maybe.



    DAVID BROOKS: But if it’s this one or this two, it’s hard for me to imagine an actual voter who really likes Ben Carson walking away because of this.

    Memoirists, every memoir has some exaggerations and some melodrama, and we’re all sinners, so I don’t think this rises to the level where it’s going to hurt him, at least so far.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, both Ben Carson and Marco Rubio are saying these are questions the press just is wasting their time asking, that they’re way off the point. Are these legitimate questions?

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, yes, they’re legitimate questions, because the president is an enormously important office that touches the lives of everybody in this country.

    And what kind of a person, the candor, the character, the constancy, the reliability — Ben Carson’s problem is, he wrote this about himself. This isn’t what somebody else alleged about him. So, I think — and we don’t have a lot about Ben Carson we know. He hasn’t been in office for 12, 14, 15 years, say, oh, well, this was just a little — I think Marco Rubio is different.

    Marco Rubio, this has been kicking around on Marco Rubio, the charge about using the charge card of the Florida state party when he was speaker of the House in Tallahassee, for five or six year years. He should be ready to take care of it. He should be ready to rebut it and he should do it forthrightly. It’s kind of, I’m going to come up with the information. I’m going to find it.

    It’s a little bit like the way Jeb Bush handled the question of his brother going into Iraq without there being any weapons of mass destruction. Would you do it? It took him a week to do it. He changed his answers four or five times.

    I just think this is one where Marco Rubio should be ready to step up because he knew it was coming.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes. It’s obviously unconsciously very difficult for him.

    I wonder if he could get away with just saying, I made a mistake, and I want to apologize. It was a mistake.


    DAVID BROOKS: It would be interesting to see if that would work.

    The Rubio allegations come in two categories. The one is about the student loans and the buying the boat. And those, I think, are fine, because they just show he’s a normal guy. He had some economic struggles. He had some young kids, so he cashed in their retirement account.

    The credit card is the tougher one. And some — partly, he’s blamed a travel agent and stuff like that. But he should just come out, I would say, and say, listen, we have made mistakes in life. This was one of mine.

    It would be a gutsy thing to do. But it would be candid. And we saw this Chris Christie video this week about addiction. We found it so moving. And I would encourage all the candidates, be more personal. Just be more personal. Don’t be a machine. Don’t let the consultants control everything.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Very quickly, you mentioned Jeb Bush this week.

    Yesterday, I was able to — we were able to air the interview I did with Jon Meacham, the author who’s written a book, really comprehensive biography of President Bush 41, George H.W. Bush.

    The news coming out of that, Mark, was the criticism that the first President Bush makes of his son’s secretary of — his vice president and his secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.

    And this week, you had the younger Bush commenting, saying, “I stand by what I did.”

    And it put — it was interesting how it put Jeb Bush a little bit on the spot again about the Iraq War. Is this the kind of thing that is a problem for Jeb Bush? Does this go anywhere? What do you make of this?

    MARK SHIELDS: It’s a problem for Jeb Bush.

    Jeb Bush is trying to get back on stride. He’s trying to get over a bad debate, trying to get the bad campaign back on, wants to show himself connecting with voters. And so what is the question? He sits down for the interviews and they ask, what do you think about your father criticizing your brother’s secretary of defense, saying that — very unflattering things about Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld?

    It has always mystified everybody who knew the first President Bush why W. ever chose Don Rumsfeld, who had actually knifed Bush 41, his father…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: His father, yes.

    MARK SHIELDS: … and really was — and then, of course, administered the coup in his rebuttal about the book by saying, well, he’s obviously getting up in years and he’s too old, something that Jon Meacham put to — I thought to rest in his interview with you, that he was very much alert and involved and engaged.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That’s exactly what he said.

    Is this the kind of thing the matters today, David?

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, it will hurt — it will be a distraction for Bush. But Bush is at 4 percent. He has got bigger — bigger problems.

    But the things the elder Bush said, the younger Bush, W. Bush, believed by 2005. This was a conventional view. I think these interviews were done in ’08 and ’10.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That’s right.

    DAVID BROOKS: And so George W. Bush had come to these views about Cheney and Rumsfeld at the same time.

    One of the — there are many things that interest me about what Meacham has come up with. One is that the elder Bush didn’t talk that much about the war to the younger — to the president, very reticent, very withdrawn, second, that their Iraq policies were not that different, where we had always imagined the big differences between the two.

    So, there is a lot of interesting stuff in there. I’m struck by Bush family reticence. And we see it hurting Jeb these days.

    MARK SHIELDS: I always thought that the piece signed in The Wall Street Journal by Jim Baker and…

    DAVID BROOKS: Scowcroft.

    MARK SHIELDS: … and Brent Scowcroft…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Brent Scowcroft.

    MARK SHIELDS: … his national security adviser and his closest political adviser, warning against the invasion by the United States of Iraq, was the memo to Bush 41 to Bush 43, which he chose to ignore.

    And when Bob Woodward asked him if he talked to his father, he said, “I speak to my divine father.”

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That’s right, the higher father. He said higher father.

    MARK SHIELDS: The higher father. Higher father.


    MARK SHIELDS: I mean, thus putting him in his place.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right.

    We didn’t get around to those elections this week. We will talk about it next Friday.

    MARK SHIELDS: Promise?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, I promise, I promise.

    Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you both.

    DAVID BROOKS: Thank you, Judy.

    The post Shields and Brooks on Keystone pipeline politics, Ben Carson claims 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 - RTX1U8F2

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And Margaret joins me now for more.

    Margaret, thank you for that report.

    So, what explains the shift in Russia’s thinking? First, Putin is saying, no, we don’t want to believe that this was an act of terror, but now they’re suspending flights.

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, Judy, Putin is one of the two leaders involved here who has the most to lose economically and — but mostly politically.

    One Russian said to me today, this isn’t just a human question, a security question, but a deeply political one.

    So, he’s in a dilemma, or he has felt in a dilemma, because here he is with this adventure into Syria, and in fact he was asked on Russian TV just within the last two weeks, does this put us at risk? He said absolutely not.

    So, if it does turn out it’s a greater risk, that’s a problem. Then, people close to the Kremlin told me also that, if that’s the conclusion, he wants to be ready with a plan, sort of like George W. Bush after 9/11. So, the Ministry of Defense is working on a lot of contingency plans.

    And I’m told that there’s a huge movement of Russian assault ships moving into the Eastern Mediterranean. That said, the Russians have investigators on the ground. The people they sent are from the FSB, which is essentially the KGB successor. They must have seen something that overnight made them to recommend to Putin that, you have got to protect Russian citizens.

    And, as somebody said to me, if he didn’t and he didn’t say anything and there were another attack, there would really be hell to pay.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Margaret, you have also got this discrepancy with the Egyptians not wanting to believe that there was a bomb, that there was terror involved, but you have got European countries saying something different, saying they have reason to think there may well have been.


    And, in fact, there were reports from France today — they’re unsourced — that the French investigators — the only investigators on the ground, Judy, are the Russians, the Egyptians and the French. Like, the U.S. is not there.

    So — but the French have come to that conclusion, but that’s sourced reports. So, for President El-Sisi, there is so much at stake. First of all, what a blow to their last remaining tourism industry. I mean, Sharm el-Sheikh was really it at this point.

    But, secondly, he won election after taking power in what many consider a coup saying, I am the general. I can protect us from terrorism.

    And, in fact, terrorism has increased. He keeps saying and asserting, we have control over Sinai. Well, they don’t. Jihadist groups are much more active there than they were. And one of them declared leadership to the Islamic State.

    So they’re really in a bind. They insist — and I talked to an Egyptian, someone close to the government today, who said it really isn’t definitive information, but, you know, also, he will pay a huge political price. Yet, I’m told there is a recognition on the part of that government that, if they wait too long, and the whole rest of the world has come to a conclusion, they will look like they’re hiding something.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, meantime, you also have daylight between what the Brits are saying — the British are saying and what the U.S. — the British are saying, well, we think there is likely reason to believe it was a bomb.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. is saying, no, we’re not ready to make that declaration.

    MARGARET WARNER: To me, Judy, that was in a way the most fascinating sort of conundrum, because I’m told the U.S. and the British are looking at the exact same set of intelligence.

    It clearly points to a bomb, but the British — Prime Minister Cameron, I’m told, felt under — you know, they had to move quickly to save or protect British citizens. They have got 20,000 there, as we have reported frequently. The U.S. has essentially none.

    They have direct flights to Sharm el-Sheikh. The U.S. has none — and that Cameron felt, if he’s going to suspend all flights both directions, he had to have — do it with some transparency, and that that was what led them to say what they said.

    That said, a U.S. official told me just minutes ago that it did come as a surprise to Washington yesterday when he did this, but that there wasn’t tension over this. And the U.S. just feels that it’s got no investigators on the ground. It and the Brits are looking more at overhead intelligence, signals intelligence, as we reported, and that they don’t — the U.S. feels it doesn’t need to jump the gun. It doesn’t need to assert that it’s got these investigators on the ground, and, frankly, undercut Egypt completely, that they’re just going to wait and let it ripen a little more.

    And, really, 15 minutes ago, I was told, somebody said to me, “From what I have seen, we still can’t be entirely sure.”

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Margaret Warner, following the story of the plane crash very closely, we thank you.

    MARGARET WARNER: A pleasure, Judy, as always.

    The post Adjusting its stance, Russia strategizes for possibility of Metrojet terrorism appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Passengers, whose flights to Egypt were suspended, gather at an information desk of Domodedovo airport outside Moscow, Russia, November 6, 2015. President Vladimir Putin ordered the suspension of all Russian passenger flights to Egypt on Friday until the cause of a deadly plane crash at the weekend was established. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin - RTX1V3HH

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Russia suspended all flights to Egypt today, and the U.S. stepped up security efforts, as the search continues for answers to what brought down that Russian plane. The passenger jet crashed over the Sinai Peninsula last Saturday, killing all 224 people on board.

    Margaret Warner has the story.

    MARGARET WARNER: It was chaos at the Sharm el-Sheikh Airport today. Britain’s ambassador to Egypt tried to reassure anxious travelers, to little avail.

    WOMAN: So, what’s the problem? You’re stuttering now. We want to go home.

    MARGARET WARNER: About 20,000 British tourists have been stuck, as flight schedules remain in flux. Today was the first time flights were available back to Britain. Now about 30,000 Russian tourists are joining the chaos, after Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a turnaround, stopped all flights to Egypt.

    Russia’s security chief made the recommendation this morning.

    ALEXANDER BORTNIKOV, Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) (through interpreter): I think it will be reasonable to suspend all Russian flights until we determine the real causes of what happened. We must reach completely objective and validated conclusions. That’s important for both the investigation and informing people.

    MARGARET WARNER: Some wreckage from the plane crash site has been taken to Moscow for explosives testing. Yesterday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said it was more likely than not that a bomb brought the plane down. And the Islamic State group claimed responsibility.

    There were also reports that chatter intercepted from suspected militants pointed to that conclusion as well.

    Still, in Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest wasn’t ready to make any declarations.

    JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: The United States still has not made our own determination about the cause of the incident. And while we can’t rule anything in or out, we have to consider the possibility of potential terrorist involvement here.

    MARGARET WARNER: Today, however, the Homeland Security Department announced new precautions for U.S.-bound flights from the region, including stepped-up baggage and cargo screening.

    The post Thousands of tourists stranded in Egypt as Russia probes Metrojet cause appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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