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

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    Riad Hijab, Syrian opposition coordinator for the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) attends a news conference after the Geneva peace talks were paused in Geneva, Switzerland, February 3 , 2016. U.N.-mediated talks to end the war in Syria are on pause until Feb. 25, U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura said on Wednesday, saying the talks had not failed but needed immediate help from international backers led by the United States and Russia. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy - RTX25BRP

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Good evening. I’m Gwen Ifill.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And I’m Judy Woodruff.

    GWEN IFILL: On the “NewsHour” tonight: Candidates try to win over New Hampshire, as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders prepare for a town hall forum tonight.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Also ahead this Wednesday: A rare case of the Zika virus, possibly being sexually transmitted in Texas, raises new questions and concerns.

    GWEN IFILL: And a violent response to refugees in Sweden, as the right wing rallies against an influx of thousands.

    FREDRIK HAGBERG, Nordic Youth: It’s chaos in Sweden. It’s getting worse by the minute. It’s like the gates of hell is open.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.”


    GWEN IFILL: In the day’s other news, oil prices reversed course again and jumped 8 percent, and stocks mostly followed suit. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 183 points to close at 16336. The Nasdaq lost 12 points and the S&P 500 added nine.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Syrian peace talks in Geneva came to a halt today, just two days after being convened. The opposition had demanded humanitarian moves take place first, while the Assad regime focused on the makeup of the opposition side. Given the impasse, the special U.N. envoy said it’s time to take a break and resume February 25.

    STAFFAN DE MISTURA, UN Special Envoy for Syria: I have therefore taken this decision to bring a temporary pause, temporary pause. This is not the end, and it is not the failure of the talks. Why? They came and they stayed, not only, but both sides insisted on the fact that they are interested in having the political process started.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The announcement came as Syrian government ground forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, broke a long-running siege by the opposition of two villages near Aleppo, Syria’s largest city.

    GWEN IFILL: The near-daily Palestinian attacks on Israelis escalated today. Police say three Palestinians armed with guns, knives and bombs killed one border security officer and wounded another in Jerusalem. Police then shot and killed the attackers. Authorities say the Palestinians were planning a larger-scale assault on civilians.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In Afghanistan, Taliban gunmen have killed a 10-year-old boy who had fought the militants. Wasil Ahmad became a local hero last year for joining a militia when his father was killed. Police say he was shot twice in the head Monday in Uruzgan province as he left home near the provincial capital.

    GWEN IFILL: North Korea’s neighbors warned the communist state today to abandon plans for launching a satellite this month. South Korea said the North will pay — quote — “a severe price” if it goes ahead.

    And Japan’s military deployed missile interceptors in Tokyo, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged North Korea to show restraint.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in this country, President Obama paid his first visit to an American mosque. He spoke at the Islamic Society of Baltimore and argued that the U.S. has no place for bigotry, and that Muslims are too often blamed — quote — “for the violent acts of the very few.”

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: When any religious group is targeted, we all have a responsibility to speak up, and we have to reject a politics that seeks to manipulate prejudice or bias and targets people because of religion.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The presidential visit followed Islamist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, and a growing number of criticisms of American Muslims.

    GWEN IFILL: And there’s word that two more NFL football stars, both quarterbacks, had the brain disease CTE. Ken Stabler and the Oakland Raiders won the Super Bowl in 1977. He died last year. And Boston University researchers now say he had widespread brain damage. And Earl Morrall’s family says he, too, had advanced CTE at his death in 2014. He won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Colts in 1971.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Still to come on the “NewsHour”: addressing the root cause of the Zika virus outbreak; the rise of Sweden’s radical right, a backlash against refugees; a struggling Yahoo slashes jobs; and much more.

    The post News Wrap: Syrian peace talks reach impasse after two days appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton leads a campaign rally at the Derry Boys and Girls Club in Derry, New Hampshire February 3, 2016.  REUTERS/Adrees Latif - RTX25BFN

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The presidential political wars are escalating, as the New Hampshire primary draws another day closer. Democrats traded charges today over who’s more progressive, and two Republicans quit the field, as their rivals wrangled over the outcome in Iowa.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: It’s, honestly, really, really dishonest.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Donald Trump was one of two Republicans who kept their fire trained on Ted Cruz for something that happened on caucus night. In a string of tweets today, Trump said: “Ted Cruz didn’t win Iowa. He stole it.”

    He charged Cruz supporters with spreading rumors as the caucuses got under way that another rival, Ben Carson, was dropping out. Trump called it fraud and insisted — quote — “Either a new election should take place, or the Cruz results nullified.”

    A Cruz spokesman denied the campaign officially sanctioned the rumors, but said the Texas senator has apologized to Carson.

    He spoke himself today in Washington.

    BEN CARSON (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: Senator Cruz told me that he wasn’t aware of that when I talked to him, and that he didn’t agree with that kind of thing. And we will wait and see what he does to demonstrate that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The results from Iowa also sealed the fate of two more Republicans.

    SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), Republican Presidential Candidate: Today, I will suspend my campaign for the presidency.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Rand Paul, who finished fifth, said he’s dropping out.

    SEN. RAND PAUL: I’m proud of our principled campaign, and the thousands of young people who have been energized by our message of limited constitutional government.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And Rick Santorum, who finished 11th, is following him out the door. Meanwhile, Marco Rubio, a surprisingly strong third in Iowa, focused on Democrats.

    SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), Republican Presidential Candidate: We cannot afford to wake up in November to the news that we have a president named Bernie Sanders or a president named Hillary Clinton.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But Rubio also faced criticism again from Chris Christie, who charged the Florida senator won’t give straight answers to New Hampshire voters.

    On the Democratic side, the talk was all about liberal credentials.

    It began with this yesterday from Bernie Sanders:

    QUESTION: Do you think Hillary Clinton is a progressive?

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), Democratic Presidential Candidate: Some days, yes, except when she announces that she is a proud moderate, and then I guess she’s not a progressive.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Clinton shot back today at a rally in Derry, New Hampshire.

    HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: I think it was a good day for progressives when I helped to get eight million kids health care under the Children’s Health Insurance Program.


    HILLARY CLINTON: And I think it was a good day for progressives when I joined with colleagues in the Senate to stop George W. Bush from privatizing Social Security.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Clinton and Sanders will appear separately tonight at a CNN town hall.

    The post Democrats debate liberal credentials on the trail in N.H. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Sherri (C) and Curtis Walker (R) go over retirement options with Calpers Benefit Program Specialist Lisa Bacon (L) at the Calpers regional office in Sacramento, California, October 21, 2009. Calpers, the largest U.S. public pension fund, manages retirement benefits for more than 1.6 million people, with assets comparable in value to the entire GDP of Israel. The Calpers investment portfolio had a historic drop in value, going from a peak of $250 billion in the fall of 2007 to $167 billion in March 2009, a loss of about a third during that period. It is now around $200 billion. REUTERS/Max Whittaker   (UNITED STATES BUSINESS) - RTXPWPQ Related words: seniors, retirement, Social Security, planner, older

    Social Security’s online retirement benefit application process is a safe way to file for your retirement benefit, because it asks you this one very important question. Photo by Max Whittaker/Reuters

    Editor’s Note: Boston University economist Larry Kotlikoff has spent every week, for over three years, answering questions about what is likely your largest financial asset — your Social Security benefits. His Social Security original 34 “secrets” and his Social Security gotchas have prompted so many of you to write in that we feature “Ask Larry” every Monday. Find a complete list of his columns here. And keep sending us your Social Security questions.


    Pose Your Questions to Larry Here

    Kotlikoff’s state-of-the-art retirement software is available here, for free, in its “basic” version. His new book, “Get What’s Yours — the Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security Benefits,” (co-authored with Paul Solman and Making Sen$e Medicare columnist Phil Moeller) was published before the changes from the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 went into effect. The three authors are now doing an overhaul of the book. The new version of “Get What’s Yours” should be out this spring.

    For more on the following topic of retroactivity and the best way to file for your benefits, check out Paul Solman’s article “The Social Security pitfall we just learned about.”

    Here’s my question for today. Should you file for your Social Security benefits a) online, b) over the phone or c) physically in the local office?

    ​My answer is to file online when possible. You can file online for retirement benefits, spousal benefits and divorced spousal benefits. You cannot, unfortunately, file online for widow(er)s or divorced widow(er) benefits, child or child-survivor benefits, parent benefits, child-in-care spousal benefits or mother or father benefits.

    Social Security’s online retirement benefit application process is a safe way to file for your retirement benefit, because it asks you this very important question: When do you want your retirement benefit to begin?

    ​You can also enter comments at the end specifying when you want your benefit to begin and why.

    The physical application used in the Social Security office, and I presume, by Social Security staff taking applications over the phone, does not ask this simple question. Consequently, the staff are free to give you retroactive benefits you don’t want and thereby, permanently reduce your retirement benefit.

    This happened to my dentist, Alex, who was trying to collect his retirement benefit starting at age 70.  Alex went into the local office three months before reaching 70 and told the staff he wanted to start his benefit at 70.  But instead of doing what he asked, they set his retirement benefit initial collection date back six months from the date he appeared in the office. This was nine months before Alex’s 70th birthday. As a result, Alex ended up with a retirement benefit that is 6 percent lower for the rest of his life.  Alex did receive six months of retroactive benefits, but he had no idea that this was coming at the cost of a permanently reduced monthly benefit.

    This just happened to a very prominent economist I know as well. He went to his local office, asked for his age-70 benefit and a check for retroactive benefits showed up. Once he realized he wasn’t getting what he asked for, he went back to the office and returned the check. Then he had to go in a third time to finish straightening everything out.

    If Alex and my friend the economist had filed online, they could have specified that they wanted to begin their benefit in the month they turned 70, and presumably, all would have gone well and their wishes would have been followed.

    So why doesn’t the physical application form, which can be viewed here, let anyone specify the date the retirement benefit is to begin — in the case of someone filing for retirement benefits after full retirement age?

    ​The issue with the physical application form (which is what you use when you file in person at your local Social Security office) is with the following sentence:

    I apply for all insurance benefits for which I am eligible under Title II (Federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance) and Part A of Title XVIII (Health Insurance for the Aged and Disabled) of the Social Security Act, as presently amended.

    ​The form should say no such thing. Widow(er)s can file for their widow(er) benefit before taking their retirement benefit, but a form that begins with the above italicized sentence tells both staff and those filing for their widow(er) benefit that waiting to collect much higher retirement benefits at 70 is not possible, when it is!

    Or what if you have reached full retirement age and want to and are legally able to file just for a spousal or divorced spousal benefit? Here again, the top of the relevant form is saying that by filing for that benefit, you are filing for all your benefits.

    So how can you actually specify on the application form that you want to file for one benefit and take another benefit later when you are legally permitted to do so?

    If you’re going in person, you need to have the Social Security person with whom you are working enter your request in the remarks section. Apparently, you aren’t permitted to enter anything into the remarks section yourself. Instead, the Social Security staffer has to do this. You’ll want to triple check this to make sure they have filled it out correctly.

    But all of this brings me to another question: If this form can be instantly changed by deleting that one line, why hasn’t it been?

    On the other hand, you could avoid this entire messy process if you file online and simply enter in the date you want your retirement benefit to begin and specify why.

    So again, let me repeat, file for your Social Security benefits online.

    The post Column: Should you file for your Social Security benefits online, over the phone or in person? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    President Barack Obama hit the road last summer to promote the signups through the Affordable Care Act. It seems to have worked as 12.7 million people have signed up for private insurance under the law, meeting projections by the White House. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    President Barack Obama hit the road last summer to promote the signups through the Affordable Care Act. It seems to have worked as 12.7 million people have signed up for private insurance under the law, meeting White House projections. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Still facing political jeopardy, President Barack Obama’s health care law beat expectations by earning solid sign-ups this year, according to figures released Thursday by the administration.

    About 12.7 million people signed up for individual private insurance policies or renewed their coverage for 2016, said Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. That means Republicans running in this year’s elections may find it harder to deliver on their promise of repeal, while Democrats may yet be able to tap the newly insured as a voting constituency.

    The health care law “is helping millions of people and has become an important part of health care in America,” Burwell said. The coverage “is a product people do want and need.”

    Expectations were low at the start of open enrollment on Nov. 1. Premiums have been going up, and many of the remaining uninsured are considered skeptics.

    The 12.7 million number falls right in the middle of the administration’s projection of 11 million to 14 million initial enrollments through HealthCare.gov and state-run counterparts. The administration says this year’s initial numbers are more accurate because early cancellations have been winnowed out.

    But enrollment tends to dwindle as the year goes on. Some people leave for employer coverage while other customers can’t keep up with the costs, even while receiving considerable financial help. Others run into problems with the law’s complicated paperwork and lose their subsidies.

    Burwell has set customer retention as the ultimate goal. Her target is 10 million consumers still signed up and paying premiums at the end of the year. With a cushion at the start, the administration seems on track to reach that goal in Obama’s final year in office.

    This year was the third sign-up season for the Affordable Care Act, and different challenges emerged. The problem wasn’t the HealthCare.gov website, which is faster, more reliable and easier to use. The issues had to do with the cost of coverage, the motivations of millions of people who remain uninsured, and the sometimes mind-boggling complexity of the system created by Obama’s signature law.

    Premiums went up for the private, taxpayer-subsidized coverage sold through HealthCare.gov and state insurance markets. Many of the more than 10 million eligible uninsured Americans tended to be younger people on tight budgets, with rent, education loans and car payments to juggle.

    The 2016 enrollment number surpassed last year’s mark of nearly 11.7 million sign-ups.

    Some insurers say customers appeared to be better informed and more engaged this year. Instead of a big spike on the Jan. 31 sign-up deadline, insurers say they saw steady traffic throughout last week.

    Some procrastinators may have been swayed by a sharp increase in fines on those who remain uninsured. For 2016, the penalty will rise to $695 or 2.5 percent of taxable income, whichever is higher. The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation estimates the average 2016 penalty at $969 per uninsured household.

    Exemptions from the penalty are available for low income and other extenuating circumstances, but the administration says there will be no second chance to enroll for people who learn about the penalty when they file their taxes.

    The health law has added coverage in two major ways: Online insurance markets like HealthCare.gov offer subsidized private plans to people who don’t have coverage on the job, and states have the option of a Medicaid expansion aimed at low-income adults. Thirty-one states, plus Washington, D.C., have expanded their Medicaid programs.

    More than 14 percent of Americans were uninsured in 2013 before the health care law’s big coverage expansion. That share dropped to 9 percent last year, according to the government. More than 16 million people gained coverage from the end of 2013 to the middle of last year. But a recently major independent survey suggests those historic gains could be slowing.

    Republicans remain committed to repealing “Obamacare,” and every GOP presidential candidate has vowed to deliver on that promise.

    Among the Democratic contenders, Hillary Clinton would make changes geared to improving the health care law, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would incorporate all current health programs into a new government-run system that would also absorb employer-provided and individually purchased insurance.

    Polls show the public remains divided over the health care law.

    The post 12.7 million signed up for Obama health care law, beating expectations appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump acknowledges supporters as he and his wife Melania and members of their family leave the stage at his caucus night rally in Des Moines, Iowa February 1, 2016.     REUTERS/Jim Bourg - RTX250HV

    Donald Trump acknowledges supporters as he and his wife Melania and members of their family leave the stage at his caucus night rally in Des Moines on Monday. Trump’s rhetoric on immigration spurred an increase in Hispanic voter participation in the caucuses this year. Photo by Jim Bourg/Reuters

    MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — Last Monday, a group dedicated to boosting Iowa’s Latino voter turnout scored a victory far more certain than Hillary Clinton’s win over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

    More than 10,000 Latinos caucused, up from roughly 1,000 eight years ago. And the group, The League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa, has Donald Trump’s rhetoric on immigration to thank.

    The overwhelming majority of Latinos caucused as Democrats, but it was that notorious Republican who motivated many of them to caucus at all.

    “I decided to caucus, because I don’t want Donald Trump to become the president,” said Tania Fonseca, 23, a Mexican American who caucused in Marshall County, a swing county in central Iowa that voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 and President Obama in 2008 and 2012. “I want to learn a lot more about what the presidential timeline looks like.”

    Fonseca, like many Mexican Americans, has voted in general elections, but caucusing always sounded a bit intimidating, especially for registered Democrats. The Democratic caucuses require everyone to publicly announce their choices, while the Republican votes are private.

    However, Fonseca could not resist the lobbying calls from Latino community leaders to caucus, thanks largely to a Trump rally at Marshalltown High School, located about 50 miles northeast of Des Moines.

    It was just one week before the caucus that school officials closed the school early to make room for Trump and his supporters. Fonseca helped organize and advise the student protests that greeted Trump when he arrived. Every Latino voter I spoke to in Marshalltown mentioned the rally and the fear it created among Latinos in this small town of 27,727.

    “It’s terrifying but not surprising, because I feel like the tension has always been there.” — Veronica Guevara

    “To me, it’s terrifying but not surprising, because I feel like the tension has always been there,” says Veronica Guevara, 24, who grew up in Marshalltown but moved to Des Moines months ago to serve as director of Latino Outreach for the Iowa Coalition on Domestic Violence. “I feel like now, the more front and center it becomes, the more chances we have of actually confronting these issues straight on.”

    When Tasnia and her husband, Erich, entered the cafeteria at Fisher Elementary School in Marshalltown, Iowa, on Monday night, they felt like they were confronting a new world. They saw two big crowds huddled together — one side sporting Sanders paraphernalia and the other with Clinton signs.

    Then there were the two other small pockets of people in corners of the room who were undecided voters or supporters of former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who finished third and dropped out of the race the next day.

    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders poses for a picture before he speaks at the Latino Heritage Festival in Des Moines, Iowa, September 26, 2015.  REUTERS/Brian C. Frank - RTX1SNGF

    Sen. Bernie Sanders posed for a picture before speaking at the Latino Heritage Festival in Des Moines, Iowa last September. Photo by Brian C. Frank/Reuters

    Erich and Tasnia joined the Sanders crowd. In fact, of the 207 caucus goers at the precinct, 26 were Mexican Americans. They all stood with Sanders, helping him win the precinct with 103 votes to Clinton’s 102 and carry Marshall County.

    “Bernie’s track record on immigration is great, and Hillary is not the best on that issue,” said Jacqueline Guevara, a first-time, Mexican American caucus goer who supported Sanders.

    Like many Mexican Americans with citizenship, Guevara has relatives who are undocumented and live in fear of being deported — a concern that has only gone up in response to Trump and the GOP primary field’s rhetoric on immigration. “We can no longer sit out on any part of the process,” Guevara said.

    The post Donald Trump’s Iowa legacy: more Latino caucus goers than ever appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Dominican Air Force personnel fumigate various locations in Santo Domingo against the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits the Zika virus. Photo by Erika Santelices/AFP/Getty Images

    Dominican Air Force personnel fumigate various locations in Santo Domingo against the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits the Zika virus. Photo by Erika Santelices/AFP/Getty Images

    The Caribbean is one of the most tourism-dependent regions in the world. Comprised of more than 700 islands spanning 30 territories, the West Indies sees more than 25 million visitors annually and the U.S. is its No. 1 source. About 15 million Americans visit the Caribbean for vacation every year, contributing nearly $50 billion toward the region’s overall GDP.

    So with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcing a level two travel warning — meaning the agency is issuing a caution, but stopping short of telling people to avoid travel there — due to a presence of the Zika virus in several Caribbean nations, an essential part of Caribbean economies could take a hit. The travel alert poses a significant threat to islands like Barbados, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, where foreigners often flock to escape winter.

    “We call them snow birds,” said Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). “Not only is this the most popular travel time of year, but the Caribbean is on a strong trajectory right now in terms of visitors to the region overall.”

    Riley said the Zika virus hasn’t had any significant impact on arrivals to the Caribbean so far but the data relies primarily on cancellations. What worries him most is what Riley calls “missed business.” That is the unknown number of people who may opt out of booking travel to the Caribbean altogether.

    Dr. James Hospedales, executive director of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), said some of the most vulnerable destinations could be at risk.

    “We’re very concerned about it. And it’s hard to avoid the media amplification,” he said. “Even a 2-to-3 percent decline in tourism is a huge blow, especially for countries that are already in debt or whose economies are struggling.”

    This week several Caribbean nations have stepped up efforts to combat the spread of the disease. France’s health ministry is sending additional medical equipment and personnel after reaching “epidemic” levels in two of its Caribbean territories: Martinique and French Guiana. Together, both countries have more 2,500 potential Zika cases, 100 of those have been confirmed.

    For now, the priority is minimizing the spread of the virus throughout the Caribbean, both for nationals and visitors. Many nations including Jamaica and Suriname have announced plans to step up Zika prevention. But countries where poverty and environmental degradation are more prevalent are especially at risk, including Haiti and Guyana. Dr. Hospedales said, similar to last year’s spread of the chikungunya virus, Zika will spread quickly.

    “It’s a new disease that it’s evolving in our region. But the majority of people who get Zika don’t get ill so it’s hard to count them,” he said. “Still, we’re enhancing our existing surveillance systems. We’re keeping track of which islands and which areas are experiencing it.”

    At the height of tourism season, Riley said the best way to prevent a dent in tourism revenue is to address the issue head on.

    “We need to make sure people aren’t cancelling their vacations and making life-changing decisions based on misinformation,” he said. “We’re not at all shy about pointing out there are very few [confirmed] cases that have popped up in the Caribbean and there is no link we can find between Zika and microcephaly (a severe birth defect). But we understand that is the main source of people’s concern.”

    The CTO and CARPHA together released travel facts and guidelines for would-be visitors worried about a potential Zika outbreak. To further calm fears, the Caribbean Tourism Organization gives 10 reasons why visitors shouldn’t cancel their trip.

    CARPHA’s Dr. James Hospedales said Caribbean governments and health officials are working tirelessly to reduce the risks, but that visitors shouldn’t avoid the region out of fear.

    “We want people to know you can come to the Caribbean and not let mosquitoes ruin your vacation. Just take the normal precautions,” he said.

    The post At height of tourism season, Zika virus puts Caribbean economies at risk appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Every year, rabid sports fans and casual fans alike eagerly anticipate the commercials that accompany the Super Bowl, almost as much as the snacks. What could be on tap this year? Will any of the presidential candidates appear in an ad spot or two? Will GoDaddy continue to repulse the female population? (Apparently not this year.)

    No need to wait for Sunday for all the ads, here are some of the early birds for Super Bowl 50:

    Comedians Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen list some things on which we can all agree.

    ”Hot dogs” race toward different flavors of Heinz Ketchup.

    No soft cheese footballs, demands actor Alec Baldwin.

    Welcome to Ryanville, population one — actor Ryan Reynolds.

    Pro football players give their daughters “dad do’s.” Warning: Video contains intensely sentimental images.

    We also got a preview of the half time show with James Corden’s “carpool karaoke” featuring Chris Martin of Coldplay:

    Tell us your favorite past Super Bowl ads in the comments section.

    The post 5 early Super Bowl ads, starring athletes, Amy Schumer and hot dogs appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    "Don't ever let yourself believe you have experienced the world, until you have traveled. Don't ever let anyone convince you that being a woman means staying sheltered in the home. Don't ever allow your youth pass by you without challenging yourself by going beyond your comfort zone.” Photo by Photograph by Jiniya Azad

    “Don’t ever let yourself believe you have experienced the world, until you have traveled. Don’t ever let anyone convince you that being a woman means staying sheltered in the home. Don’t ever allow your youth pass by you without challenging yourself by going beyond your comfort zone.” Photo by Jiniya Azad

    When Rana Abdelhamid was told by a peer at school that she was “very normal,” she was taken aback.

    Rana Abdelhamid is the founder of Hijabis of New York.

    Rana Abdelhamid is the founder of Hijabis of New York.

    “What does that mean?” Abdelhamid said. “I felt that people have this idea of a woman who wears a veil as someone very different.”

    Abdelhamid, a 22-year-old Queens, New York, native and Harvard Kennedy School graduate student, recognized that other Muslim women may have had similar experiences, and so in 2014 she started the social media project, Hijabis of New York.

    Through the project, she is attempting to humanize and diversify the public narratives of Muslim women who wear hijabs. Using photos and interviews in the same vein as the popular blog Humans of New York, the social media project’s Facebook page has gained more than 16,000 fans so far.

    “It is creating a space that didn’t exist before,” Abdelhamid said.

    Abdelhamid works with several different photographers to conduct interviews that range in subject from the benefits of travel — “Don’t ever let anyone convince you that being a woman means staying sheltered in the home” — to why some women wear the hijab. “We chose to wear hijab to try to reclaim our religion and culture that have been incessantly vilified during our lifetimes,” one woman told her.

    Left: "The most embarrassing moment of my life was probably when I was about 10 years old. I was sitting on a chair in the playground and I was too afraid to use the bathroom so I peed my pants and some little boy saw and made fun of me with some other kids. What I learned from it was to not care what others think even though peeing your pants is a little out of sorts, but just for the record I don't pee my pants anymore." Photo by Jiniya Azad Right: "“If you don't have your community in high ranking positions across all fields - how do [you] expect change? A room full of doctors will only aid in one way. We need politicians, we need archaeologists, we need chemists, we need computer scientists. We need all of these." Photo by Aniqa Hassan

    Left: “The most embarrassing moment of my life was probably when I was about 10 years old. I was sitting on a chair in the playground and I was too afraid to use the bathroom so I peed my pants and some little boy saw and made fun of me with some other kids. What I learned from it was to not care what others think even though peeing your pants is a little out of sorts, but just for the record I don’t pee my pants anymore.” Photo by Jiniya Azad
    Right: “If you don’t have your community in high ranking positions across all fields – how do [you] expect change? A room full of doctors will only aid in one way. We need politicians, we need archaeologists, we need chemists, we need computer scientists. We need all of these.” Photo by Aniqa Hassan

    “You’re going through the pictures and you see how many of these women are really successful, have all these ambitions or have their own stories,” Abdelhamid said. “It seems really simplistic because obviously everyone has their own story … but there is this constant image that is being fed to Western society as a whole as to what it means to be Muslim.”

    The process of interviewing subjects and setting the scene for photos fascinated Abdelhamid, who had no prior experience in photography.

    “I think it has been so powerful to be able to capture so much with a photo. It’s not just about the words,” Abdelhamid said. “You can tell so much about a young woman just by the way whether or not she wants me to take a picture of her face on the side, or whether she wants me to take a picture 30 times or just once.”

    The hijab — and, more broadly, Muslim fashion — is making its mark in Western fashion. In January, popular fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana released images from its first hijab and abaya collection. Last fall, global retailer H&M featured Mariah Idrissi, a hijab-wearing model, in an ad campaign. The Muslim fashion industry is expected to be worth $484 billion by 2019, according to a 2014-15 report by Thomson Reuters and Dinar Standard.

    Left: "What is most precious to you?" "My value as a human being." Photo by Aniqa Hassan Right: "I don't think I've ever been happier. Since college started, I've had lots of time to think about how blessed I am to be able to continue my education...it's something I've learned to value and love. I used to complain about school a lot, but I realized that there are so many people around the world who would do anything to be in my position. That's why I love learning so much – not a day goes by when I don't feel like one of the luckiest people in the world." Photo by Aniqa Hassan

    Left: “What is most precious to you?” “My value as a human being.” Photo by Aniqa Hassan
    Right: “I don’t think I’ve ever been happier. Since college started, I’ve had lots of time to think about how blessed I am to be able to continue my education…it’s something I’ve learned to value and love. I used to complain about school a lot, but I realized that there are so many people around the world who would do anything to be in my position. That’s why I love learning so much – not a day goes by when I don’t feel like one of the luckiest people in the world.” Photo by Aniqa Hassan

    In addition to producing Hijabis of New York, Abdelhamid is the founding president of the Women’s Initiative for Self Empowerment, a leadership and self-defense organization. Abdelhamid, who is a black belt in shotokan karate and teaches classes, founded the organization when she was 16 after surviving an attack by a man who tried to remove her headscarf.

    “I remember feeling a tug at the back of my hijab,” she said. “I turned around and there was a broad-shouldered man trying to reach again, trying to physically attack me and take off my hijab. I was able to get away from that, but I was left feeling very vulnerable … Because of that moment, I felt there was something that could be done to bring together Muslim women who are faced with these challenges.”

    Abdelhamid said that her projects alone will not change perceptions of Muslim women or decrease violence against them, but they are an important step in the right direction. She plans to expand the social media campaign beyond New York and has already featured photos from Madrid and London.

    “There are hijabis everywhere, and their stories are part of the fabric too,” she said.

    See more photos from the project below.

    Left: "I remember reading a post where a sister commented 'I own my piece of space and am unafraid and unaffected.' I was immediately drawn to this because it’s how I would usually describe myself – always being able to go out and travel far worry-free alone, talking to fellow train riders or giving them a smile, etc. But recently, I’ve been feeling quite uneasy." Photo by Aniqa Hassan Right: "What was your inspiration to become a spoken word artist and to do what you do now?" "My biggest inspiration is that when I was little, since I'm the youngest of five children, my dad always had this saying that children should be seen and not heard so I was kind of always silenced which was also because my dad knew that I was extremely, overly opinionated and in a good way. However, sometimes adults don't always gel well when a five year old is telling them why they're wrong so I was always silenced in that way. This pushed me towards writing down my thoughts and through that came poetry.” Photo by Aniqa Hassan

    Left: “I remember reading a post where a sister commented ‘I own my piece of space and am unafraid and unaffected.’ I was immediately drawn to this because it’s how I would usually describe myself – always being able to go out and travel far worry-free alone, talking to fellow train riders or giving them a smile, etc. But recently, I’ve been feeling quite uneasy.” Photo by Aniqa Hassan
    Right: “What was your inspiration to become a spoken word artist and to do what you do now?” “My biggest inspiration is that when I was little, since I’m the youngest of five children, my dad always had this saying that children should be seen and not heard so I was kind of always silenced which was also because my dad knew that I was extremely, overly opinionated and in a good way. However, sometimes adults don’t always gel well when a five year old is telling them why they’re wrong so I was always silenced in that way. This pushed me towards writing down my thoughts and through that came poetry.” Photo by Aniqa Hassan

    "My family is what I would say is the best part of me. My parents and brothers are a part of my identity. I can always change who my friends are, but I can never change how I am defined by my family. I think that this makes the bond that I share with them disparate and unique." Photo by Aniqa Hassan

    “My family is what I would say is the best part of me. My parents and brothers are a part of my identity. I can always change who my friends are, but I can never change how I am defined by my family. I think that this makes the bond that I share with them disparate and unique.” Photo by Aniqa Hassan

    The post Meet the women of ‘Hijabis of New York’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Deray McKesson, a highly-visible and well-known Black Lives Matter activist, announced late Wednesday evening that he will run for mayor of Baltimore. McKesson, 30, is a native of the city and surprised many with his last minute announcement. He turned his paperwork into the city’s Board of Elections office with only minutes to spare before the 9 p.m. Wednesday deadline.

    McKesson posted his announcement later that evening on the site Medium, where he expressed his gratitude, understanding and passion for the city.

    “I love Baltimore. This city has made me the man that I am,” he wrote.

    McKesson explained in an honest and heartfelt open letter why he made the decision to join the race for mayor. Like so many other Baltimore residents who cherish their historic city, McKesson has also witnessed the bittersweet highs and lows of Baltimore, highlighting the city’s prominent issues with violence and addiction.

    In his Medium post he said, “I also understand that transparency is a core pillar of government integrity. We deserve to know where our city services – from housing and sanitation, to schools and police – are doing well and falling short. To this end, we must invest in a broad range of systems and structures of accountability and transparency, including the release of the internal audits of the Baltimore City Public School System along with annual and timely audits of all city agencies.”

    READ MORE FROM McKESSON: August is the month of our discontent

    McKesson rose to prominence in 2014 during the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, that followed the killing of unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown. McKesson covered the events that took place in Ferguson, many times showing the perspectives of protesters where mainstream media fell short. From then, he continued his activism, travelling from city to city to cover high-profile police shootings of unarmed black people.

    McKesson, running as a Democrat, joins a stacked list of 28 other contenders, which include former mayor Sheila Dixon, who resigned in 2009, and Nick Mosby, husband of well-known Baltimore state attorney Marilyn Mosby.

    Baltimore voters will head to the polls on April 26 to determine who will be the Democratic candidate for the general mayoral race, giving McKesson 81 days to campaign and raise support, not to mention funds. The activist and former educator is already off to a good start with several endorsements and numerous donations. Given that Baltimore is a majorly Democratic city, the primary is expected to be telling of who the city’s next mayor will be.

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    Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah

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    GWEN IFILL: Finally, the latest installment of Brief But Spectacular, our series where we ask interesting people to describe their passions.

    Tonight, we hear from writer Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, a “New York Times” magazine contributor and author of the forthcoming book “The Explainers and the Explorers.” Her essays on uncompromising artists of color have earned critical acclaim.

    Here, she speaks about fearlessness and black art.

    RACHEL KAADZI GHANSAH, Author, “The Explainers and the Explorers”: I like writing about people who look like me and the people I know who don’t have good pieces written about them, because we deserve it.

    I have written about Jimi Hendrix, Electric Lady Studios, Toni Morrison, Kendrick Lamar, the Watts riots, Trayvon Martin, Rachel Jeantel, Dave Chappelle.

    We don’t always hear about the people who we know as legends the ways that they were very true to themselves. I’m more interested in the moments when they were uncompromising and they were fearless, because what I hope is that that fearlessness tells us a little bit about how we can be fearless.

    What was interesting to me about Dave Chappelle is, here is a moment where typically walking away from Comedy Central, walking away from your career would be a bad decision, and anyone would tell you, don’t do that. The common understanding of it is, is that he felt that the show had started to cross a line, and that it was actually becoming a source of embarrassment. And so walking away from $50 million was pretty heroic and pretty decent and full of integrity.

    Well, you know, I couldn’t read until I was 12. And maybe I wasn’t 12, but I was older. I think people start reading when they’re 5 or something. And so books were kind of this phantasmagorical space that I couldn’t enter because my mom could read. My dad was an academic. Everyone was so intelligent. And I couldn’t go there.

    And the moment I could, I just started to read ravenously. One of the books that I remember changing everyone’s lives was “Beloved.” That was the first time people who had been silenced, enslaved people, became human.

    And, at that moment, I said, this is what a writer can do. And, so, for me, Toni Morrison doesn’t exist on a human plane. She almost exists in this odd, spiritual, otherworld, in terms of her work. And when she won that Nobel Prize, what was interesting is that a lot of prominent newspapers asked, does this woman deserve it?

    So, when I had the moment to take the “New York Times” magazine cover, I decided I’m going to take that cover to lay flowers at the feet of this woman and say, not only did you deserve it, but thank you.

    My name is Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on fearlessness and black art.

    GWEN IFILL: You can see more videos in our Brief But Spectacular series on our Facebook page, Facebook.com/NewsHour.

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    NewsHour Bookshelf

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: What makes a life worth living? What gives it meaning? And how does that change when the time one has left collapses? These are some of the profound questions taken up in a new memoir by a doctor who suddenly faced his own mortality.

    Jeffrey Brown has our newest addition to the “NewsHour Bookshelf.

    JEFFREY BROWN: As a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was used to dealing with life-and-death issues. He was, by his own account, a driven man who studied literature and philosophy before turning to medicine, earning five degrees along the way.

    He was near completion of a rigorous residency at Stanford when, at age 36, he got a diagnosis of lung cancer.

    DR. PAUL KALANITHI, Author, “When Breath Becomes Air”: Five years down the line, I don’t know what I will be doing. I may be dead. I may not be.

    JEFFREY BROWN: He would live just 22 months more, and in that time have a child with his wife, Lucy, and write an indelible memoir, “When Breath Becomes Air.”

    DR. LUCY KALANITHI: He had thought maybe he would have a long career as a neurosurgeon or a scientist and then maybe a writer.

    JEFFREY BROWN: He had planned on all this, right?

    DR. LUCY KALANITHI: That’s right. He said: “I think I may be years into my retirement now, at age 36. And so what do I want to do?” And the answer was write.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Lucy Kalanithi is also a doctor. The two met at Yale Medical School and were married nine years before Paul’s death in 2015.

    DR. LUCY KALANITHI: He was sort of a perpetual learner and a seeker and somebody who was very interested in kind of understanding what it is to be human and what makes — what sort of makes life meaningful. And he approached that…

    JEFFREY BROWN: From the beginning, right?

    DR. LUCY KALANITHI: That’s right, yes.


    DR. LUCY KALANITHI: He went to grad school in English literature, and sort of made his way into neuroscience because he wanted a real understanding of kind of consciousness and what makes us human. So he kind of came at that from different angles.

    JEFFREY BROWN: One of the themes that comes through clearly in his life and his book is identity, right, is sort what makes us, us.


    You know, when you have a brain disorder or you’re having surgery on your brain, you are thinking about questions like, will this affect my language, will this affect my personality, not just, how does this illness affect my body in other ways?

    So it’s kind of a very intense place for decision-making about identity. And he was very interested in that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And then, of course, it happens to him. And he starts — as he’s dying, he’s thinking about, if you’re dying, rather than living, in a sense, then are you still you?

    DR. LUCY KALANITHI: In the moment of diagnoses, he sort of saw his life trajectory and his self kind of come tumbling down. He wasn’t going to be a neurosurgeon for years and years.

    And we thought initially that he actually had less time to live. We thought he might have months or less than a year. And then he started a therapy that allowed him a lot more kind of functionality than he expected and a longer prognosis potentially. And so then it was this big question of, I don’t know how much time I have left and how do I spend that time? Who am I?

    JEFFREY BROWN: Paul spoke of this in a video released by his publisher.

    PAUL KALANITHI: It’s a careful load to balance. If you don’t think about the bad case, that ending is going to be very rough on you and your family.

    But if you don’t think about the good case, you’re going to miss an opportunity to really make the most out of your life and time.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You know, one of the things that struck me also here is, he learns a lot about doctoring, right, that he had never seen as a doctor.

    DR. LUCY KALANITHI: Yes, yes, yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: He writes, for example, at one point, “Realizing how little doctors understand the hells through for which we put patients.”

    He was really getting to see things from a different side.

    DR. LUCY KALANITHI: He had been in medicine for a decade as a student and then a resident, but all these tiny little experiences — like, as an example, when you get an I.V. and they start infusing normal saline into your vein, you can taste the salt.

    And he said: “I have been a doctor for a decade, and I never knew you could taste the salt.”

    And it’s all these tiny details that sort of come to the fore. And that’s not even to mention the physical and emotional suffering that comes with being sick and the way it rocks you and rocks your family. So, yes, we really kind of felt that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: He could look at it intellectually, but he also then had to look at it very realistically.


    When we got the news of this terrible chest X-ray that looked really kind of dense with tumors, and kind of helped explain why he had been having weight loss and back pain and real kind of health troubles for a few months, both of us knew that the next day we were going to the hospital. He would have a C.T. scan and it would likely show metastatic cancer.

    Being doctors, we could see that path. And when we packed for the hospital, I was packing socks and pillows and phone chargers, and he just packed three books. He packed “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis, Heidegger’s “Being and Time,” and Solzhenitsyn’s “Cancer Ward.”

    And I think it was that transition right away where he said: “This is becoming so personal that I need my books. Like, I need to understand this through literature.”

    When he became ill, he kind of translated the experience back into writing and words to make sense of it. And this book is part of that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And what about for you? What did you feel when you read it?

    DR. LUCY KALANITHI: So, I read it in real time, as he was writing it.

    I would read it daily or weekly. And it was kind of a great communication tool for us, actually.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Oh, really?

    DR. LUCY KALANITHI: Because he would talk about — oh, yes.

    Seeing him write the book was really amazing, because even though his body was sort of in this state of physical collapse, his mind was so engaged, still, in this process.

    And kind of the reviews of the book that I like the best capture that somewhat. There’s an author named Gavin Francis who wrote a blurb for the book. And he wrote something like, “This is a tremendous book, crackling with life.”

    And that idea, like, it brings tears to my eyes to think of crackling with life, because, if you had seen Paul, you know, he’s wrapped up in a blanket, he’s sitting in this armchair. He looks frail and wan, you know? He looks ill.

    JEFFREY BROWN: As he’s writing?

    DR. LUCY KALANITHI: But he’s crackling with life. And that was just really true. And the book was a big part of that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The two of you made a very important, major decision in the midst of this, which was to have a child.

    DR. LUCY KALANITHI: That’s right.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Was that a tough decision?

    DR. LUCY KALANITHI: We had always wanted to have children together. We hadn’t done it by the end of his residency. That was around the time we had pictured we always would.

    And right at that time was when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, terminal lung cancer. And it was a series of really intense conversations to figure out if we wanted to do that and could we handle that, and both of us had the instinct to do it.

    But we needed to think very hard about what it would mean. You know, we talked really frankly about his prognosis and what was happening. And I said that, “Don’t you think that saying goodbye to a child would make your death even more painful?”

    And he said, “Well, wouldn’t it be great if it did?”

    PAUL KALANITHI: Since Cady’s birth, my time with her has had a very peculiar and free nature. In all probability, I won’t live long enough for her to remember me, and so the time is — just is what it is.

    DR. LUCY KALANITHI: That was kind of this amazing thing, where it’s like life isn’t just about avoiding suffering. It’s about finding meaning. And having a child was part of that for us.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The very powerful book is “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi.

    Lucy Kalanithi, thank you so much.

    DR. LUCY KALANITHI: My pleasure. I wish it were Paul here. Thank you.

    The post Amid death’s throes, young doctor examines life for meaning appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 5.55.35 PM

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    GWEN IFILL: There are few places left that haven’t been explored. But a team in Oregon has documented a natural wonder for the first time that’s just about 60 miles from Portland. It’s a spectacular half-mile gorge and narrow canyon in the Cascade Range.

    It was first spotted in 2010 by a Forest Service employee. This past summer, an expedition team spent three days navigating through it, including nine major waterfalls and a grotto that ended at a slot canyon.

    Oregon Public Broadcasting chronicled that effort in a new documentary.

    Here’s an excerpt about trying to reach the Valhalla Canyon.

    LEARN MORE: Discovering Valhalla, Oregon’s Hidden Gorge

    MAN: Oh, man.

    BEN CANALES, Photographer: Being in Valhalla, it feels like you have gone into the throat of something, through the stomach and you’re in it. You know, for myself, as I would say much more a normal person and not a hard-core adventurer, there’s kind of just a low level of panic at the back of the mind.

    It’s like, this is not normal. What’s going to happen here? What’s going to happen there?

    MAN: Yes! It’s awesome!

    BEN CANALES: And so there’s kind of always a little fight to keep that quelled down.

    And then there’s just this thrilling excitement at the rugged beauty of it. All the fears just disappeared, and it was like, this is awesome. You know, the worry was gone, and it was just pure adventure.

    MAN: As we’re moving down through, all of a sudden, it just opens up into this remarkable, beautiful amphitheater, just, like, huge, towering walls on either side of you. There’s just big, mossy, pour-overs, water spilling and trickling in all these places. And there’s ferns and moss and green. And it’s just a strikingly beautiful place. We named that Cathedral Garden.

    BEN CANALES: Oh, my God, walking into that space was jaw-dropping. I have not been in a place like that in Oregon before. And it just had that open-air mystical, like, giant feeling.

    And it kind of took on a spiritual moment in there. Like, no one wanted to talk loud in the beginning. You know, like, we were just so impressed by it.

    MAN: Valhalla!

    NARRATOR: All they had to do now was get through one more night.

    MAN: The walls are so steep over the top of us, and there is rockfall in this area. And, again, there’s no other place to camp.

    BEN CANALES: And it’s, like, we’re in this. This precarious situation is the safest alternative. And whatever happens, it’s going to happen. It makes me feel wonderfully small in this place. It’s like this comforting reprioritization of where we fit in nature and the food chain of things.

    The post A journey to Valhalla, Oregon’s hidden canyon appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Fantasy sports sites DraftKings FanDuel attract players to games that pay out millions of dollars in cash prizes in daily contests. Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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    Chances are if you were watching a sporting event on TV last summer and early fall, you saw one of their ads. Before the NFL’s opening kickoff in 2015, daily fantasy sports companies FanDuel and DraftKings blanketed the airwaves in an all-out ad blitz, airing a national commercial nearly every 90 seconds. The attention gained the companies new players but also new scrutiny from legislators and regulators across the country, questioning its legality.

    Writer Jay Caspian Kang played the game for 17 weeks last year and wrote about his experiences for The New York Times Magazine. He sat down with Economics correspondent Paul Solman at Brooklyn’s “200 Fifth” sports bar and said, “This is sort of like normal fantasy sports sped up on steroids.”

    FanDuel and DraftKings are the industry leaders, representing more than 90 percent of the market. Each has received huge infusions of venture capital funds and each is valued at more than $1 billion. Some of the comapanies’ investors include the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, NBC Comcast and Fox Sports. In 2006, Congress carved out a provision in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act to keep fantasy sports legal. It’s from that provision that daily fantasy sports companies grew.

    Some states, including Iowa, Illinois, Nevada and Washington, have banned them outright calling them illegal, unregulated gambling, and there are ongoing challenges in many other states. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman charges that “daily fantasy sports rely on a steady stream of minnows to feed the sharks.” The companies counter that daily fantasy sports are a game of skill and thus are not gambling.

    Kang says the two are not mutually exclusive, “It is clearly a game of skill, it is clearly gambling. The amount of skill that goes into putting together a daily fantasy lineup is quite considerable. It takes a lot of research, it takes a lot of study, it takes a lot of understanding breaking news.”

    Read the full transcript of this segment below:

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, pro football is getting ready to wrap up its season with the Super Bowl on Sunday. One fan story that was a big part of this NFL season was the furious growth of daily fantasy sports for many games like football.

    In its short lifespan, that industry has gained 57 million players. But now there’s rising scrutiny of fantasy sports’ legality from legislators and regulators across the country.

    Our economics correspondent, Paul Solman, has the story, part of his series Making Sense, which airs every Thursday on the “NewsHour.”

    PAUL SOLMAN: It was an ad blitz to attack even the most innocent bystander. Ahead of the 2015 NFL season, the two leading daily fantasy sports companies, FanDuel and DraftKings, aired a national ad every 90 seconds. Together, they outspent the entire beer industry in the month leading up to opening kickoff, $207 million.

    Comedian John Oliver made it a subject of his weekly HBO show, including this spoof commercial.

    MAN: I have been using FanDuel since I saw all those commercials on TV all the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) time.

    MAN: Daily fantasy is the best. I get to play every day.

    WOMAN: You mean you get to gamble.

    MAN: It’s not gambling.

    WOMAN: Oh, it’s definitely gambling. You have a massive gambling problem.

    MAN: It’s actually a skills-based game that is going to make us rich one day.

    WOMAN: You’re an idiot.


    PAUL SOLMAN: Journalist Jay Caspian Kang is no idiot. I met up with him at Brooklyn’s 200 Fifth Avenue Sports Bar, where the sports junkie, who played the sites for 17 weeks and wrote about it for “The New York Times” magazine, explained that, for him, too, the blitz worked.

    And the ads actually convinced you, you could make a million dollars?

    JAY CASPIAN KANG, Contributor, The New York Times Magazine: No, no, no, no, no. I’m not — I don’t think I was that much of a mark, but it also sort of showed me that this was like an actual thing. It wasn’t sort of a shady underground gambling sort of operation. And I think the ads made it seem very legitimate.

    NARRATOR: At DraftKings, we play for glory.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And the ads helped bring 15 million more players to the game in 2015. There are now 57 million players in North America who pay anywhere from a quarter to thousands of dollars to pick an imaginary team made up of real players and compete online against anonymous strangers.

    That’s what I did, with Kang’s help.

    I will add LeBron. I want LeBron James on my team. I can see already how I could lose money easily in this.

    JAY CASPIAN KANG: Yes. Yes. People really enjoy playing these games. I mean, I enjoyed playing them.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Because it gives you a reason to root in every single game.

    JAY CASPIAN KANG: Sure. But this is sort of like normal fantasy sports sped up on steroids.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Which is why FanDuel and DraftKings have each achieved billion-dollar valuations. The potential market is huge. The companies have been venture capital sponges:, $363 million for FanDuel and $426 million for DraftKings, including legal investments from the National Basketball Association, NBC/Comcast, Major League Baseball and FOX Sports.

    Now, when Congress proclaimed that fantasy sports were not gambling back in 2006, the field was dominated by office pools and friendly contests, like in the longtime sitcom “The League.”

    ACTOR: He’s a fantasy football genius, OK? No wife, no job, just pure football knowledge.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But a host of states are now challenging daily fantasy sports. Some have outright banned it, including Nevada, which has a gambling industry of its own to protect.

    DraftKings didn’t respond to our requests for an interview, and FanDuel wouldn’t speak to us on camera. But this isn’t gambling, FanDuel’s Matt King told PBS’ “Frontline.”

    QUESTION: So you don’t view what you do here at FanDuel as gambling?

    MATT KING, FanDuel: No.

    QUESTION: That’s a word that isn’t used very much around here, I take it.

    MATT KING: No.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Jason Robins, CEO of DraftKings, says it’s skill.

    JASON ROBINS, CEO, DraftKings: I just think, under the current law right now, it’s very obvious that this fits within skill gaming.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Hey, says Jay Caspian Kang, of course, it’s gambling, but the industry’s defense, the role of skill, is legit. Only problem is that, besides addictiveness, fantasy sports skill is why it’s a loser’s game.

    JAY CASPIAN KANG: It takes a lot of research, it takes a lot of study, it takes a lot of understanding breaking news things. So, if you hear it from a beat reporter, let’s say, for the New England Patriots that Julian Edelman, one of the wide receivers, is injured, you have to know instinctively what that means for the other wide receivers in terms of how many times Tom Brady, the quarterback, is going to throw to them.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And who does this kind of work? Math jocks, several dozen of whom Kang met with for his story.

    JAY CASPIAN KANG: Some of them are guys who worked on Wall Street and were investment analysts, and a lot of them, I think, are just guys who are of sort of good at sports statistics and that they found a way to turn this into a living.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Such researchers are essentially gambling pros, much like professional stock investors, using high-frequency trading software called scripting that analyzes vast amounts of data instantly, creates teams automatically, and can thus play multiple entries.

    JAY CASPIAN KANG: Those $2 competitions and $5 competitions, $10, $20 competitions are blanketed with thousands of entries from one person, or two people who are very, very — who have put in a lot of time and effort into building these lineups, who use software that you don’t even know exists to optimize those lineups.

    And their goal is to just take your $2. And if there’s 1,000 of you, then they have got $2,000.

    PAUL SOLMAN: When it came time to enter my $5 basketball lineup, I sifted through hundreds of players and their stats, defaulted mostly to my home team Boston Celtics.

    DraftKings says it’s banned scripting and limited entries, but pros already seemed to be there six hours before tipoff.

    JAY CASPIAN KANG: This guy is one of the most famous users, Youdacao.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Youdacao. He’s got 100 entries.


    JAY CASPIAN KANG: … entries in there, right.

    Schmeckl is another relatively famous player. He has 100 entries.

    PAUL SOLMAN: One hundred entries, yes, 100 entries at $5.

    JAY CASPIAN KANG: At five bucks. Again, this is for $5, right?

    PAUL SOLMAN: And who knows how many other names Youdacao or Schmeckl may be using?

    Small wonder a report from the consulting firm McKinsey found that, for Major League Baseball, 91 percent of profits were won by just 1.3 percent of players.

    But, hey, I just needed to finish in the top 7,000 to double my five bucks. The clock was ticking. I placed my bet, as a journalist.

    So, as things stand now, if I wanted to play, you would discourage me from doing it?

    JAY CASPIAN KANG: Not morally.

    PAUL SOLMAN: No, not morally.

    JAY CASPIAN KANG: No, but…

    PAUL SOLMAN: Prudently, in terms of prudence.

    JAY CASPIAN KANG: Yes. If you just want to spend $200 or $50 and have fun, you know, then I think it’s fine.

    But if you feel like you want to enter a fair betting economy, and you want to have as good a shot as they are telling you that you have, then I would say that this is a very bad bet.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Or, as New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman put it: “Daily fantasy sports rely on a steady stream of minnows to feed the sharks.”

    So, with states stacking up against them and the minnows increasingly aware of the bigger fish, Kang says online poker’s fate should give fair warning to fantasy sports.

    JAY CASPIAN KANG: All that was left were great players with a lot of money playing against one another and taking each other’s bankrolls and passing them back and forth.

    Daily fantasy sports, I think, is at a risk of having that happen within like a season or so.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And thus a recent pledge from FanDuel may be a bid for self-preservation — quote — “We do believe that new commonsense regulations to protect consumers are needed.”

    So, what else? Well, I’m sure you’re dying to know whether my NBA lineup made the top 7,000. Turns out I finished 15,550th.

    For the “PBS NewsHour” in Brooklyn, this is so-called economics correspondent Paul Solman, with once-high hopes and $25, now down to $20.

    The post Why online daily fantasy sports are mostly a loser’s game appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Residents inspect damage after airstrikes by pro-Syrian government forces in the rebel held Al-Shaar neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria February 4, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail - RTX25GU1

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    GWEN IFILL: Now, from a conflict that may soon end to one that rages still in Syria.

    William Brangham has this update on the five-year civil war there, and the international efforts to stop it.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Recriminations erupted in full force just one day after peace talks stalled in Geneva. Saudi Arabia and Turkey blamed heavy new attacks by Syrian government forces and Russian airstrikes for undermining the diplomatic effort.

    The Syrian army confirmed today it expects it will soon surround the city of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. It’s an advance that could have far-reaching consequences.

    Faysal Itani is a fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington.

    FAYSAL ITANI, Fellow, Atlantic Council: You’re seeing a general trend of regime victories. And Aleppo would be a sort of crowning achievement of this trend, thanks in large part to Russian air support. There has not yet been a complete encirclement of the city, but the main supply line that transfers ammunition, weapons, other supplies from Turkey, for example, to the rebels who are in Aleppo city has now been severed.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: A British-based monitoring group reported today that, over the past week, Syrian and Russian warplanes have mounted one of the most intense bombing campaigns in months. They hit more than 500 opposition targets throughout Syria, paving the way for the offensive north of Aleppo.

    That brought warnings today of a new mass exodus of refugees.

    Turkey’s prime minister spoke in London at a conference on aid for Syrian refugees.

    AHMET DAVUTOGLU, Prime Minister, Turkey: Sixty thousand to 70,000 people in the camps in North Aleppo are moving towards Turkey. My mind is not now in London, but in our border, how to relocate these new people coming from Syria.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Turkey is already sheltering more than 2.5 million Syrians, making it the biggest refugee host country in the world. The Turkish prime minister insisted today that the U.S. take a stronger stance against Russian actions in Syria.

    In turn, U.S. Secretary of State John Kasich said the Russian foreign minister has now agreed to at least consider a cease-fire.

    JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: We discussed and he agreed that we need to discuss how to implement cease-fire, and also how to get access by both parties. The opposition needs to allow access for humanitarian assistance, and the regime in Syria needs to allow access.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The depth of that need was made clear in this drone video of the devastation in the city of Homs after five years of civil war. It was shot by the film company RussiaWorks.

    Secretary Kerry said the 70 donor nations gathered in London cannot turn away from the horror.

    JOHN KERRY: If people are reduced to eating grass and leaves and killing stray animals in order to survive on a day-to-day basis, that is something that should tear at the conscience of all civilized people, and we all have a responsibility to respond to it.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The conference ultimately pledged some $10 billion over the next four years to assist Syria and countries like Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. That brought a glimmer of hope to some refugees housed at the sprawling Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

    AHMED NAFEL, Syrian Refugee (through interpreter): God willing, this conference will help us. We need help to feed our children.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Still, there is little sign that the conflict will end soon. Russia today accused Turkey of planning its own invasion into Syria.

    IGOR KONASHENKOV, Spokesman, Russian Ministry of Defense (through interpreter): We have serious grounds to suspect that Turkey is preparing for a military incursion. We have presented undeniable evidence to the international community proving Turkey opened artillery fire over a residential area to the north of Latakia.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And Saudi Arabia announced it’s poised to send ground troops into Syria to join the fight against the Islamic State.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m William Brangham.

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    U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a bilateral meeting with Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington February 4, 2016.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RTX25I64

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    Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on Thursday’s PBS NewsHour that after five decades of civil war, “my country deserves peace.”

    Santos defended an upcoming peace accord with FARC rebels against critics who said it would excuse past criminal acts.

    “We have reintegrated more than 50,000 combatants into society,” through a lengthy process, he said. Many former fighters will have to go back to school — “kids that have only learned how to shoot.”

    In addition to support of the peace plan, Santos said he is seeking help from the U.S. on combatting the Zika virus, which has exploded in Central and South America since last year.

    “We are monitoring the situation very closely,” said Santos, adding that cooperation with the U.S. to do more research on the virus, which can cause deformities in babies, will help both countries become better prepared.

    Read the full transcript of this segment below:

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Late this afternoon, the White House announced a proposed $450 million aid package for the nation of Colombia. The two countries also agreed to cooperate to combat the Zika virus, now present throughout most of South America.

    The bulk of the proposed funding would go to reinforce a long-running aid public called Plan Colombia with what President Obama dubbed Peace Colombia to cement a peace deal spearheaded by the Colombian president.

    Juan Manuel Santos came to the White House this afternoon at a critical moment in his nation’s history: the potential end to Latin America’s longest-running war. There have been more than 50 years of fighting between the Colombian government and the revolutionary armed forces of Colombia, the leftist group known by its Spanish acronym, FARC.

    It’s led to the deaths of more than 220,000 people, millions more displaced. But after three failed attempts at peace accords, and four years of talks, a deal may be within sight. So far, negotiations hosted in Cuba have yielded agreements on land reform, illegal drug trafficking, prisoner releases, and efforts to find missing persons.

    Ivan Marquez is lead negotiator for the FARC.

    IVAN MARQUEZ, Lead Negotiator, FARC (through interpreter): This peace process has progressed like no other in Colombia. It shouldn’t have the armed confrontation as a backdrop, nor the sad death of young uniformed soldiers, policemen and guerrillas. Only in an atmosphere of trust and harmony can we agree on what is needed to reach the final agreement.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: If that happens, the government will need to expand health and education services into rebel-controlled areas. It’s a job made more challenging by the emergence of the Zika virus and its link to birth defects. More than 20,000 cases have been confirmed in Colombia, among them some 2,100 pregnant women.

    As a result, Colombian President Santos sought major new assistance from President Obama today.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Just as the United States has been Colombia’s partner in a time of war, I indicated to President Santos, we will be your partner in waging peace.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Indeed, over the past 15 years, the U.S. has provided almost $10 billion in anti-narcotics and counterinsurgency aid through a program called Plan Colombia. And at the Cuban talks yesterday, a FARC leader urged that the United States contribute to a lasting peace.

    PASTOR ALAPE, Negotiator, FARC (through interpreter): A country that was engaged in the conflict in Colombia should also be engaged in building a new era, with resources for peace, for reconciliation and for the prosperity of all those who suffered, with an emphasis on the victims.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, for both sides in Colombia, the pieces seem to be falling into place. The U.N. Security Council has approved a mission to monitor an eventual agreement, a move that Santos hailed last week.

    PRESIDENT JUAN MANUEL SANTOS, Colombia (through interpreter): The decision taken by the Security Council means that we are no longer alone. We have the hand of the United Nations, of the whole world in ending this war. It’s the best guarantee this will happen.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: An overall peace accord could be finalized as early as next month.

    Earlier today, I sat down with President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia.

    Welcome, President Santos, to the United States.

    You come at what many see as a time of a turning point for your country. Is that how you see it?

    PRESIDENT JUAN MANUEL SANTOS: Yes. We have been at war for 50 years, the only and longest armed conflict in the whole of the Western Hemisphere.

    And we’re about to sign a peace agreement that will end this conflict, so it is a turning point for Colombia.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How — Americans have thought of Colombia for decades as a place that is run by drug cartels, racked with internal conflict. It’s hard for them to understand how now there may finally be peace with these leftist rebels. How do you explain that?

    PRESIDENT JUAN MANUEL SANTOS: Well, there’s been a substantial change in Colombia, thanks in many ways to the help we have received from the United States.

    The Plan Colombia, which was launched in the year 2000, was launched was Colombia was on the verge of being declared a failed state. And, as you say, we were a country that was always related to drug trafficking, violence, homicides, kidnappings.

    But, today, the country is fundamentally different. Today, we are leaders in economic growth, leaders in the reduction of poverty, leaders in the region in the creation of employment. Our democracy is working. Our security has improved tremendously.

    And we are about to sign a peace agreement that will open up opportunities that Colombia had never imagined, because most of Colombians have lived during all their lives in a country at war.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But the deal is not done yet. There are still obstacles that have to be overcome. And how do you reintegrate these fighters who have spent years and years thinking of themselves as opposing the government? How do you reintegrate them into normal society?

    PRESIDENT JUAN MANUEL SANTOS: We have experience, because we have reintegrated more than 50,000 combatants, the former paramilitaries and members of the guerrillas. We have demobilized them and reintegrated into society.

    There is a process, even a psychological process. Many times, they have to go back to school, kids that only know how to shoot. They were born in the guerrilla camps. And these have to be retrained and reeducated. And there’s a process. It’s cumbersome. It’s difficult, but it’s necessary.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re also asking that this group, FARC, this — these rebel fighters, be removed from the U.S. list of terror groups.

    How do you justify giving a pass to people who are responsible for countless deaths, what is it, several hundred thousands deaths in your country, not to mention their role in drug trafficking, cocaine production? How do they deserve forgiveness?

    PRESIDENT JUAN MANUEL SANTOS: First of all, we’re not going to forgive them. The most responsible will be subject to transitional justice. They will be investigated. They will be judged. They will be condemned, and they will be sanctioned.

    This process is a process with no impunity. And we have been taking a lot of care that this is the case. Now, we’re trying to end a war, a war that has cost more than 250,000 people dead, more than seven million people displaced. And we have to make the transition to peace.

    So you have to strike a balance. And that’s what I think we have found, a correct balance. A peace agreement is never perfect. Always, you have people from one side or the other criticizing it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But I know you know, Mr. President, that you have people in Colombia, people here in Washington who are saying they are troubled by the idea that not only will they not face serious retribution, but they — this actually will strengthen them, and that they could come back to commit terror again in the future.

    PRESIDENT JUAN MANUEL SANTOS: No, because, if they do that, they will be — they will lose all the benefits. They will go to prison through ordinary justice, 50, 60 years in prison. They know that.

    And that’s why I am sure they will take very good care of not continuing their criminal activities. But what we want is to finish the war. We are sitting down with them from a position of strength. Ten or 15 years ago, this would have been impossible. But I think my country deserves to have peace after 50 years of war.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The United States has already given Colombia, what, $10 billion over a number of years, so-called Plan Colombia, you mentioned. You’re asking for more money from the U.S.

    This is at a time when, yes, there may be the peace deal, but there’s still a serious problem in your country with cocaine production, drug trafficking, other issues. What is the rationale that the U.S. should continue to give money to Colombia?

    PRESIDENT JUAN MANUEL SANTOS: Well, Plan Colombia is probably the most successful bipartisan foreign policy initiative that the U.S. has launched in the recent past, in the past decades. It’s very successful.

    We were a country that was destroyed, the worst recession ever, on the verge of being declared a failed state. Today, we are a flourishing democracy. We have a strong economy. We have progressed tremendously. So, those are the results of Plan Colombia.

    Now, Plan Colombia allowed us to and is allowing us to finish the conflict. And I think this is the cherry on the cake of this policy. Now we have to — together — and Colombia is the most important, and I call it strategic partner, that the U.S. has south of Rio Grande.

    So, now the U.S. wants to help us in the construction of peace. You end the conflict, and you start constructing peace. And that’s why the cooperation of both countries, because don’t forget 95 percent of Plan Colombia was financed by our own resources.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is there anything hopeful, quickly, to be said, Mr. President, about drug, cocaine production, exportation, the drug, frankly, crisis that still exists in Colombia, and as it affects the Americas?

    PRESIDENT JUAN MANUEL SANTOS: Oh. Well, we have diminished the number of families that are dedicated to the cultivation of the coca crops by two-thirds. And we have caught — we have interdicted more cocaine, for example, last year than ever before.

    We have learned how to dismantle the big drug cartels. But if you continue to demand the cocaine here in the United States or in Europe, you will always have somebody to supply that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Fair point about the demand.

    Just finally, Mr. President, you have a new worry with the Zika virus. There’s something like 20,000 cases, as we reported, in your country, 2,100 women who are pregnant with this virus.

    How are you managing this? How concerned are you?

    PRESIDENT JUAN MANUEL SANTOS: I am very concerned, because this is, for us, something new. It’s new for the world. We know very little about the Zika consequences.

    We now have some evidence that a pregnant woman might give birth to babies with a very serious — a very serious illness, which is the microcephaly. We have some evidence that this might produce an illness called Guillain-Barre in normal persons.

    To what extent, how many people that are infected by the illness will have these consequences, we still don’t know. There was a meeting, an emergency meeting of all the health ministers in Uruguay two days ago. We are monitoring the situation very closely.

    And this is one of the subjects that we are also cooperating with the U.S. to see if we can do more research on this type of illness to be better prepared for the future.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We certainly wish you well with that, and as we do every other place that’s dealing with it.

    President Juan Manuel Santos, we thank you very much.

    PRESIDENT JUAN MANUEL SANTOS: Thank you for this opportunity.

    The post With peace on the horizon, Colombia’s president asks Obama for aid appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks to voters at a town hall campaign stop in Bow, New Hampshire, February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar - RTX25BWZ

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    GWEN IFILL: It’s been another day of hard campaigning, and hard words, in New Hampshire, where primary day is just five days off. As Democrats prepared to debate tonight, the top Republican contenders took new shots at each other.

    Political director Lisa Desjardins reports.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Cruz fired off a broadside.

    SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Republican Presidential Candidate: Donald Trump is very rattled right now. You know, he said, how stupid could the people of Iowa be? I assume the next question he’s going to ask is, how stupid can the people of New Hampshire be?

    LISA DESJARDINS: While, in Exeter, Trump suggested again that Cruz’s win in Iowa was tainted.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: We will find out what happens. That was a very strange thing that happened in Iowa.

    LISA DESJARDINS: In the meantime, the candidates that some call establishment kept their fire trained on one another. Marco Rubio made his own appearance in Portsmouth.

    SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), Republican Presidential Candidate: I am the conservative that can win. And if we win, we can turn this country around.

    LISA DESJARDINS: But Chris Christie dismissed that claim, telling ABC News that, in fact, the Florida senator is the most coddled candidate in the race.

    GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), Republican Presidential Candidate: The heat that he will get from Hillary Clinton, if he’s ever the nominee, will be much greater than anything any of us could throw at him.

    LISA DESJARDINS: For Democrats…

    ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: Are you really progressive?

    LISA DESJARDINS: … Hillary Clinton herself was feeling the heat last night at CNN’s town hall in Derry, New Hampshire. At issue, still, who’s the true progressive?

    Bernie Sanders, ahead in New Hampshire polls, appeared separately. He argued that Clinton’s ties to Wall Street are a disqualifier.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), Democratic Presidential Candidate: I do not know any progressive who has a super PAC and takes $15 million from Wall Street. That’s just not progressive.


    LISA DESJARDINS: Clinton was pressed, in particular, for speaking fees she’d previously collected from Goldman Sachs.

    ANDERSON COOPER: Did you have to be paid $675,000?

    HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: Well, I don’t know. That’s what they offered.


    LISA DESJARDINS: But she insisted the money wouldn’t sway her policy about banks.

    HILLARY CLINTON: Name anything they have influenced me on. Just name one thing. I’m out here every day saying I’m going to shut them down, I’m going after them, I’m going to jail them if they should be jailed, I’m going to break them up. I mean, they’re not giving me very much money now. I can tell you that much.


    LISA DESJARDINS: In between the barbs, there were also glimpses of how the candidates view the world at their core.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: And I worry very much about a society where some people spiritually say, it doesn’t matter to me, I got it, I don’t care about other people.

    So my spirituality is that we are all in this together and that when children go hungry, when veterans sleep out on the street, it impacts me.

    HILLARY CLINTON: Be grateful for being a human being, being part of the universe. Be grateful for your limitations. Know that you have to reach out to have more people be with you, to support you, to advise you. Listen to your critics. Answer the questions. But, at the end, be grateful.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Clinton and Sanders face each other directly tonight in a debate just added to the calendar hosted by MSNBC in Manchester.

    GWEN IFILL: And now we turn to our political director, Lisa Desjardins, in Manchester.

    Lisa, you have been on the ground there. You have been going to events, talking to voters. What are you hearing? What do they want to hear?

    LISA DESJARDINS: I think this is the moment where New Hampshire is fully turning its attention to this race.

    Gwen, I think that this is not a time to look at polls coming out of New Hampshire, because from my talks with voters today, even those who have told pollsters that they made up their mind told me today that they’re still squishy, that they’re still looking at all the candidates.

    I think what it feels like today in New Hampshire, Gwen, is a moment of great and kind of profound evaluation. Voters here feel like it is a very important contest on both sides, and there are some voters I talked to today who said they’re not even sure which party they’re going to vote with.

    GWEN IFILL: So at these events that you go to visit, whether ladies who lunch, meeting with surrogates, or whether it’s Donald Trump at a police station, or political tourists from all over the country, what is it that people are feeling, are looking for, are actually searching around for?

    LISA DESJARDINS: It’s a good question, because I’m not sure the campaigns coming out of Iowa have fully embraced what voters here in New Hampshire are looking for.

    In Iowa, it seemed clear there were a lot of supporters looking for their candidates. They wanted exposure, and they wanted those big, large speeches. Here in New Hampshire, the voters are telling me again and again they want that personal contact. They demand it. It’s nothing to them to see a candidate four or five times.

    I know our viewers have heard that before, but I think it’s especially worth putting a spike in right now. When Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and Marco Rubio all seem to be in a real horse race, they have a pool of voters that, just from talking to them on the ground, Gwen, aren’t sure which one to go with.

    Those Republican voters, Gwen, that I talked to today, they want a strong, tough leader, but they also want one who they think will represent this country with dignity. They see three candidates who all represent very different combinations of those things they want. And I have not heard many voters today who said they are 100 percent sure about which one of those three are on top.

    And on top of those three, there are other Republicans that are very much in the game here.

    GWEN IFILL: I want to get to them. I want to talk about the dignity piece.


    GWEN IFILL: We have seen a lot of squabbling going back at the top of both sides.


    GWEN IFILL: But does that allow someone like Marco Rubio, who seems seemed to have at least come out of Iowa looking better than expected, he said, to walk through the middle of all of that?

    LISA DESJARDINS: That certainly is the Rubio campaign’s hope, but to be honest, Gwen, as much as we hear so much about Marco Rubio, I’m not sure he’s surging quite yet in New Hampshire.

    What I felt from voters today is that those who had not really given him a hard look before now are looking at him closely. So I think over this weekend, maybe that surge will start to happen, the doors open for him. I think you’re right that there is a question of dignity.

    Donald Trump has used more colorful language than before today and in the past couple of days. And I heard more than one voter who said that they liked Trump, saying that they don’t like the way he’s questioning the results in Iowa. They say he needs to move on, and it’s making them look at him in a little bit of a different way.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, tonight, another Democratic debate. Last night, we had a forum, tonight, both of them are on stage. What are we expecting?

    LISA DESJARDINS: Right. This is a huge moment for both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Of course, Bernie Sanders way out in front in the polls, but when you talk to voters here, there are a lot of question marks about not just whether his agenda is feasible, but is it doable?

    Not just could anyone in some time in the future create this political revolution, but in the next eight years, when voters feel they need economic help, could Bernie Sanders actually bring some of that economic help? So, that’s the question he has to answer in this debate.

    For Hillary Clinton, it’s almost the opposite. Her strength is that voters feel that she can get things done. We have seen her talk about that, but there is a lot of mistrust of her. We have talked about that before.

    And what’s interesting, Gwen, is it’s from voters who feel they know her very well. She and Bill Clinton have campaigned here for many cycles. So she has to sort of present a new side to a face that is very well known here. That is not always easy to do.

    GWEN IFILL: From the ground in Manchester, New Hampshire, for us tonight, Lisa Desjardins, thank you.

    LISA DESJARDINS: My pleasure.

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    Gisele Felix, who is five months pregnant, applies repellent on her arm at her home in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, January 28, 2016. Photo by Pilar Olivares/REUTERS

    Gisele Felix, who is five months pregnant, applies repellent on her arm at her home in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, January 28, 2016. Photo by Pilar Olivares/REUTERS

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced today that men who travel to Zika-affected regions should practice abstinence or safe sex with condoms with pregnant partners for the entirety of a woman’s pregnancy.

    The announcement followed this outbreak’s first case of sexually transmitted Zika, which was reported in Dallas on Tuesday. Another report today from Brazil suggests the virus can also be found in saliva and urine. However, the CDC’s new guidelines on sexual transmission don’t include advice on whether partners should avoid kissing, given that more research is needed to determine whether the disease can be transmitted via saliva.

    “I understand that this is a stressful situation for women and families. I wish we knew more about Zika today. I wish we could do more about Zika today,” CDC director Tom Frieden said in a press conference. “We’re committed to finding out what we can, as fast as we can.”

    Frieden’s remarks ushered in two sets of guidelines on the Zika virus, which has been blamed for a swell of microcephaly cases — a fetal development disorder — in Brazil. The virus has also been speculatively tied to Guillain-Barre disease, which can cause paralysis in adults.

    “With each passing day, the linkage between Zika and microcephaly becomes stronger. In addition, the linkage between Zika and Guillain-Barre syndrome also appears stronger,” Frieden said.

    The first set of guidelines deal with sexual transmission and recommend that pregnant women practice abstinence or safe sex with condoms with male partners who reside in or have traveled from Zika-stricken areas. As of now, this advice applies for the entire duration of pregnancy.

    That’s because of a current gap in the understanding of when a developing fetus is most at-risk for Zika-related microcephaly. The Pan American Health Organization has stated the greatest risk of microcephaly and malformations appears to be associated with infection during the first trimester of pregnancy. Frieden echoed this point.

    Director of the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) Tom Frieden attends the World Health Organization Executive Board meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, January 25, 2016. The mosquito-borne Zika virus, which is suspected of causing brain damage to babies in Brazil, is expected to spread to all countries in the Americas except for Canada and Chile, the World Health Organization said. Photo by Denis Balibouse/REUTERS

    Director of the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) Tom Frieden attends the World Health Organization Executive Board meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, January 25, 2016. The mosquito-borne Zika virus, which is suspected of causing brain damage to babies in Brazil, is expected to spread to all countries in the Americas except for Canada and Chile, the World Health Organization said. Photo by Denis Balibouse/REUTERS

    “If Zika behaves as many other infectious and toxic causes of fetal malformations, then the first trimester and the early part of the second trimester would be the highest risk time,” Frieden said.

    However, he continued, if researchers ultimately learn that the virus is “neurotropic” — that it targets brain tissue — then the disease could be a threat to any stage of pregnancy. That’s why the CDC advises that women in any stage of pregnancy should not travel to areas where Zika is spreading, should use mosquito-fighting techniques to lower their risk of infection and should avoid unprotected sex with men exposed to the virus, he said.

    “We know that semen may have large quantities of viable virus for at least a short period of time after Zika virus infection. We will be doing studies of how long the virus can persist in semen, but we know it goes away from the blood within about a week,” Frieden said. Though the CDC is investigating oral, anal and vaginal sex as modes of Zika virus transmission, their risk assessment only applies to sex between pregnant women and sex with a potentially infected male.

    Despite the connection to sexual transmission, Frieden emphasized that mosquitoes are still the primary route for catching Zika virus and warned about the aggressiveness of the primary carrier in the tropics: the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

    “It bites four to five people with every meal, it has a relatively painless bite so you don’t swat and kill it, and it can breed in as much as a drop of water in a bottle cap,” Frieden said. He added that anytime there are lots of cases of a condition, you will see rare cases of a virus getting transmitted via sexual transmission of a virus without a prior history of doing so.

    The findings on saliva and urine, even with the report from Brazil, are less clear, Frieden said. When asked whether couples impacted by Zika virus should refrain from kissing, he said more evidence is required before the CDC can issue guidance.

    “The fact that the infectious particles are found in the saliva does not mean that a person can become infected by ingesting saliva,” University of Pittsburgh microbiologist Ernesto T.A. Marques said in an email to PBS NewsHour.

    For saliva to transmit Zika, the virus would need to cross the internal skin lining of the throat or the gut, in order to gain access to a person’s blood, and “so far we do not have any data that indicate that is possible,” Marques said.

    Blood transfusions, however, are a rare but possible route for spreading the disease. The AABB, formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks, said on Tuesday that it would deny prospective donors who have visited Zika-affected areas in the last 28 days.

    The CDC’s second set of guidelines update their advice for health care providers, given new improvements in serological tests for the Zika virus. These tests look for IgM antibodies that are produced by the human body to fight the microbe and, in theory, they could be administered several weeks after the virus has been cleared from the blood.

    So far, genetic testing has been the best method for spotting the virus, while ultrasounds serve as a means for catching the signs of microcephaly in a developing fetus.

    “We’ve heard from the provider community that serial ultrasounds were very challenging….and we’re rolling out the availability of serological testing,” Frieden said. The CDC is aiming to increase production of these tests and deliver them to health care providers who have complained of having limited means to diagnose Zika in pregnant women. “Not everyone who wants a test can get it, we’re working as fast as we can to increase the availability of testing.”

    The post No stage of pregnancy safe for unprotected sex with Zika-exposed male, CDC says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    "Rubicon" figures are installed on the ocean floor. Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor

    “Rubicon” figures are installed on the ocean floor. Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor

    Strap into your scuba gear — this museum is worth it.

    Installation began on Museo Atlantico — the latest project of underwater sculptor James deCaires Taylor — this week, 14 meters underwater in Lanzarote, one of the Spain’s Canary Islands off the coast of West Africa. Taylor, whose creations have spanned the waters from the Bahamas to London, calls it the first underwater contemporary art museum in Europe and the Atlantic Ocean.

    The “museum” will consist of several different installations. The first, “The Raft of Lampedusa,” shows a group of people huddled in a raft in an homage to French Romantic painter Théodore Géricault’s painting “The Raft of the Medusa.” The piece references Europe’s current refugee crisis, according to a statement on the project.

    “The work is not intended as a tribute or memorial to the many lives lost but as a stark reminder of the collective responsibility of our now global community,” Taylor wrote.

    The museum’s main installation, titled “Rubicon,” gathers a collection of 35 people in contemporary clothing who are walking toward a gate — “a point of no return or a portal to another world,” Taylor wrote. The figures appear vacant, unaware of the gate that lies ahead of them, a scene meant to raise awareness of environmental threats to the ocean. At least one pair is taking a selfie.

    Taylor uses marine-grade cement with pH-neutral concrete that is nontoxic to local wildlife, and over time the statues increase marine biomass by accumulating coral on their surfaces. Each piece has a foundation plate that can be drilled and anchored to the sea floor. “They’re designed to not move in strong currents or storms, so they have to be very solid,” he told NewsHour.

    Then, he works with a team of divers to install them. Taylor provided video of this week’s installation process off the coast of Lanzarote, whose government commissioned and financed the project.

    [Watch Video]Video courtesy of Jason deCaires Taylor and CACT Lanzarote.

    Taylor, who began exploring Malaysia’s coral reefs as a child, has a history of sinking his creations below water. His piece “Viccisitudes” (2006), a collection of sculpted figures clustered in a circle, sits 15 feet below the waves in Molinière Bay, Grenada, West Indies.

    In 2009, Taylor, along with Jaime Gonzalez Cano of Mexico’s National Marine Park and Roberto Diaz of the Cancún Nautical Association, launched a project to create what The Guardian called “the only underwater museum in the world.” The Museo Subacuático de Arte is located in the National Marine Park of Punta Cancún, Isla de Mujeres and Punta Nizuc.

    The installations, which consist of more than 500 figures in an area of 420 square meters and weigh more than 200 tons total, are meant to help preserve the surrounding barrier reef by helping draw visitor attention in another direction, according to a statement on Taylor’s website. Taylor cast some of the figures with help from locals in the nearby Mexican village of Puerto Morelos. Other artists contributed to the museum, including Roberto Díaz Abraham, Salvador Quiroz Ennis, Rodrigo Quiñones Reyes, Karen Salinas Martínez and Enrique Mireles.

    In 2014, when Taylor installed his 40-ton piece “Ocean Atlas” in the Bahamas, it became the world’s largest underwater sculpture to date. In tandem with the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation, Taylor said the sculpture’s purpose was to draw attention to the effects of climate change and overfishing on the oceans. And last summer, he placed “The Rising Tide,” a sculpture depiction of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, on the banks of London’s Vauxhall Bridge so that it would be visible twice a day during low tide.

    Taylor said that he hopes the museum will draw people to explore what’s hidden beneath the Atlantic surface.

    The Canary Islands are “surrounded by blue everywhere, but people don’t have a great understanding of what’s actually happening beneath the surface,” he said. “I hope most of the works can be an entrance point, or a portal, where people will get to know what an amazing place the underwater world is, and will hopefully inspire them to protect it.”

    “They’re all designed to change and evolve in the ecosystem where they’re placed,” Taylor told NPR. “And sometimes that provides spectacular results. You know, we get sort of pink and purple corals and sponges and fire coral and tunicate — all these amazing things growing on them, morphing them. That only adds to them. They really sort of then become alive.”

    The museum will open to scuba divers on Feb. 25, 2016, and Taylor plans to complete it by January 2017.

    You can see more images of the pieces and installation process below.

    Figures from "The Raft of Lampedusa," appear in the studio of artist Jason deCaires Taylor. Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor

    Figures from “The Raft of Lampedusa,” appear in the studio of artist Jason deCaires Taylor. Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor

    Figures from "Rubicon," part of Taylor's underwater sculpture exhibit, wait to be lowered underground off the coast of Lanzarote, Spain. Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor

    Figures from “Rubicon,” part of Taylor’s underwater sculpture exhibit, wait to be lowered underground off the coast of Lanzarote, Spain. Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor

    "The Raft of Lampedusa" is lowered to the ocean floor. Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor

    “The Raft of Lampedusa” is lowered to the ocean floor. Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor

    Figures from the "Rubicon" are lowered into the water. Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor

    Figures from the “Rubicon” are lowered into the water. Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor

    "Rubicon" figures are installed on the ocean floor. Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor

    “Rubicon” figures are installed on the ocean floor. Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor

    "The Raft of Lampedusa," a piece Taylor based on Géricault’s "The Raft of the Medusa."  Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor

    “The Raft of Lampedusa,” a piece Taylor based on Géricault’s “The Raft of the Medusa.” Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor

    Close-up on a figure from "The Raft of Lampedusa." Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor

    Close-up on a figure from “The Raft of Lampedusa.” Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor

    The sculpture of a cactus, a reference to the vegetation in Lanzarote, Spain, appears in the water. Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor

    The sculpture of a cactus, a reference to the vegetation in Lanzarote, Spain, appears in the water. Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor

    The post Europe’s first underwater museum offers a stark reminder of the refugee crisis appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Twitter Inc. signage is displayed outside of the company's headquarters in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015. Twitter Inc. is expected to release earnings figures on October 27. Photo by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    Twitter announced today that it has suspended more than 125,000 accounts for threatening or promoting terrorist acts. Photo by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — Twitter is now using spam-fighting technology to seek out accounts that might be promoting terrorist activity and is examining other accounts related to those flagged for possible removal, the company announced Friday.

    The effort signaled efforts by Twitter to automatically identify tweets supporting terrorism, reflecting increased pressure placed by the U.S. government for social media companies to respond to abuse more proactively. Child pornography has previously been the only abuse that was automatically flagged for human review on social media, using a different kind of technology that sources a database of known images.

    Twitter also said Friday it has suspended more than 125,000 accounts for threatening or promoting terrorist acts, mainly related to Islamic State militants, in the last eight months. Social media has increasingly become a tool for recruitment and radicalization that’s used by the Islamic State group and its supporters, who by some reports have sent tens of thousands of tweets per day.

    Tech companies are dedicating increasingly more resources to tracking reports of violent threats. Twitter said Friday that it has increased the size of its team reviewing reports to reduce their response time “significantly.” The San Francisco-based company also changed its policy in April, adding language to make clear that “threatening or promoting terrorism” specifically counted as abusive behavior and violated its terms of use.

    Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, called Twitter’s announcement “a very positive development.”

    In January, the White House made good on President Barack Obama’s promise to reach out to Silicon Valley to tackle the use of social media by violent extremist groups. Those particularly include the Islamic State group, which inspired attackers who killed 14 in San Bernardino, California, last December.

    A post on one of the killers’ Facebook pages that appeared around the time of the attack included a pledge of allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State group.

    Facebook found the post — which was under an alias — the day after the attack. The company removed the profile from public view and informed law enforcement. But such a proactive effort is fairly uncommon.

    The Obama administration sent several top officials to San Jose, California, including FBI Director James Comey, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers.

    Among issues discussed was how to use technology to help speed the identification of “terrorist content,” according to a copy of the White House briefing memo obtained by The Associated Press.

    “We recognize that identifying terrorist content that violates terms of service is far more difficult than identifying images of child pornography, but is there a way to use technology to quickly identify terrorist content? For example, are there technologies used for the prevention of spam that could be useful?” the memo stated.

    Since late 2015, Twitter began using “proprietary spam-fighting tools” to find accounts that might be violating their terms of service by promoting terrorism, sending them to be reviewed by a team at Twitter. That group also now looks into other accounts similar to those reported to them by other users.

    Twitter said it has already had seen results, “including an increase in account suspensions and this type of activity shifting off of Twitter.”

    But it also noted that there is no “magic algorithm” for identifying terrorist content, which is why even humans reviewing the material are ultimately making judgment calls “based on very limited information and guidance.” Free speech and local law in an area can also complicate matters.

    “Like most people around the world, we are horrified by the atrocities perpetrated by extremist groups. We condemn the use of Twitter to promote terrorism,” Twitter said in a statement released Friday. It said it would continue to “engage with authorities and other relevant organizations to find solutions to this critical issue and promote powerful counter-speech narratives.”

    The post Twitter suspends 125,000 accounts for promoting terrorist acts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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