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

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to a battle emerging in some states over schools and rights for transgender students.

    South Dakota’s governor, Dennis Daugaard, must decide by tomorrow whether he will sign or veto a bill that would make his state the first in the country to restrict transgender students’ access to school restrooms and locker rooms. If he doesn’t act by tomorrow, the bill will become law.

    The “NewsHour”‘s April Brown reports for our American Graduate team.

    APRIL BROWN: Transgender rights advocates in South Dakota gathered at the state capitol building last week to draw attention to a bill they consider discriminatory.

    Freshman Nathan Leonard was there.

    NATHAN LEONARD, Freshman, Watertown High School: It directly affects me, because I am a transgender student, and I already get made fun of enough.

    APRIL BROWN: The bill would require school restrooms and locker rooms are “used only by students of the same biological sex.” It would also allow students whose gender identity is different than their biological sex “to be provided with a reasonable accommodation.”

    One of the bill’s primary sponsors, state Representative Fred Deutsch, says the goal is to protect children.

    FRED DEUTSCH (R-S.D.), State Representative: The bill is not intended to hurt or harm. I’m protecting their hearts, their eyes and their minds. I don’t want our children to be exposed to the anatomy of other genders.

    APRIL BROWN: But many in the LGBT community and their supporters believe the bill would not protect children, especially transgender students.

    State Representative Paula Hawks opposes the bill and stood with protesters.

    PAULA HAWKS (D-S.D.), State Representative: It is an unfriendly message. It’s hostile. It’s unacceptable in a state where we’re trying to progress forward.

    APRIL BROWN: The battle comes as a number of cities have expanded nondiscrimination laws for transgender people. But there are many other bills many consider anti-transgender pending in 16 states, including Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, and Washington state. And some of them would restrict students’ access to restrooms and sports programs.

    The South Dakota legislation is also at odds with guidance from the U.S. Department of Education. Federal officials have previously threatened to cut off funding to districts in California and Illinois that didn’t allow transgender students to use their preferred bathrooms and changing areas.

    However, the Department of Education guidance is not legally binding. And if Governor Dennis Daugaard signs the bill, there could be another repercussion: lawsuits.

    FRED DEUTSCH: This is a values issue. And if we protect our children and we get sued, well, then that’s the decision we make.

    APRIL BROWN: The final decision-maker, Governor Daugaard, met with transgender students and their parents last week, which he says put a human face on the issue.

    GOV. DENNIS DAUGAARD (R), South Dakota: I heard their personal stories. And so I saw things through their eyes, in that sense. It’s certainly of great concern to many people. Certainly, to the opponents of the bill, it’s of great concern. And so I don’t treat it lightly, by any means.

    APRIL BROWN: LGBT advocates at the capitol were pleased the governor listened.

    WOMAN: Any time you’re talking, the door’s open for change. When there’s no discussion, you’re not going forward.

    APRIL BROWN: Governor Daugaard has also spoken to the bill’s sponsors and is reviewing testimony and court documents before he makes his final decision.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m April Brown.

    The post South Dakota considers legislating transgender access to restrooms appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    GWEN IFILL: Over the weekend, several hundred hostages of the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram were freed. It happened during a raid by Nigerian and Cameroonian forces along the border between the two African nations.

    The raid comes as the U.S. military has moved to increase cooperation with regional governments to fight the jihadist group. Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, or ISIS, last year. According to Amnesty International, the six-year uprising has killed more than 20,000 people. Another 2.8 million have been forced from their homes in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, and Chad.

    Boko Haram gained worldwide infamy in 2014 after kidnapping more than 200 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in Northeastern Nigeria. That sparked a global campaign to free the girls, with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls as a social media rallying cry. The girls’ plight was a contributing factor to then-President Goodluck Jonathan’s election loss last year.

    The U.S. has military personnel operating a new drone base in Cameroon to provide intelligence. And there is now discussion of sending American special forces near the front lines of Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram. They would advise the military in its operations.

    I’m joined now by special correspondent Nick Schifrin. He’s currently on assignment for us in Nairobi, Kenya, and he reported in-depth from Nigeria for the “NewsHour” last year.

    Nick, it’s good to talk to you again.

    So, tell us what you know about this new U.S. engagement in Nigeria.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Yes, Gwen, good evening.

    There’s a new recommendation by the U.S. military’s top Africa Command that one to three dozen special operations forces troops be deployed to Northeastern Nigeria. This is what the military calls an advise-and-assist mission.

    They are towards the front lines, but not really on the front lines, advising the Nigerian military in their fight, assisting that fight, things like intelligence and training those troops. Now, this is just a recommendation right now. This will have to go through the State Department and the Pentagon and the White House.

    But this is what the military in Africa wants. And it’s what one military official describes as a national progression to a real escalation in what the U.S. has been doing against Boko Haram and helping the Nigerians. The first step in that is intelligence. There’s a new drone base in nearby Northern Cameroon. Predator drones have been supplying the Nigerian and the countries all along the Lake Chad Basin with imagery, with intelligence, so they can go after Boko Haram.

    That’s new in the last few months. And just in the last few years, the U.S. has resumed a training mission in Northwestern Nigeria. That is for Nigerian special forces far from the front line. That’s a mission the U.S. has really been trying to resume after it ended about a year ago.

    And, Gwen this is in addition to real concerted effort diplomatically to try and help the Nigerians improve things like the police. So, this is a real escalation in the U.S. helping Nigeria and all the countries fighting Boko Haram.

    GWEN IFILL: It seems like one of the big differences between then and now is the presence of a new Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Yes, it’s an extraordinary difference, a real sea change of a difference when he was elected.

    Just to give you a sense, Gwen, of how bad the relationship between the U.S. and Nigeria was before his election, at one point, the top U.S. military official in Africa refused to shake the hand of the Nigerian chief of army staff. That’s how bad that relationship was.

    One of the U.S. deputies was actually locked out of a Nigerian base at one point, a kind of message by the Nigerians that they were upset. Since then, total sea change. Muhammadu Buhari has not only changed the heads of the military, so the actual officials doing this work, and that relationship has improved between the U.S.

    But he’s really said to all of his deputies, look, the U.S. is our ally. We need to work with them against Boko Haram.

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s talk about the strength of Boko Haram. How strong are they and how extensive is their influence?

    NICK SCHIFRIN: At one point, Boko Haram was the deadliest terrorist group in the world. That was by 2014, by the numbers of people killed.

    But it’s important, Gwen, to note that that was less about Boko Haram than about the Nigerian military. In some sense, Boko Haram didn’t really have a foe on the battlefield. Nigerian soldiers were going out without bullets, without shoes, without the actual material they needed to fight Boko Haram.

    And so Boko Haram was able to take over land, was able to kill so many people because it really wasn’t encountering the Nigerian military or any of the militaries in the region. Now that’s not changed not only in Nigeria. But Chad, Niger, Cameroon, they have all come together, with a little bit of U.S. help, to face Boko Haram.

    And it’s clear that, right now, Boko Haram is on the back foot. It cannot seize any land anymore, even as it still launches suicide attacks that are still deadly in Nigeria.

    GWEN IFILL: Finally, Nick, for many Americans, the last thing they heard about this question of Boko Haram’s strength in Nigeria has centered around hostage-taking, specifically about those Chibok girls.

    Where does this stand now? We keep hearing that thousands of hostages have been released, but not so much about the girls.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Yes, this is another example of how Boko Haram is still around, but weakened.

    Tens of thousand of people were taken hostage by Boko Haram at its peak. Thousands of them have been released by the Nigerian military, by the Chadian military, who are going into former Boko Haram strongholds.

    But the girls themselves are still missing. President Buhari says he is willing to negotiate with Boko Haram to release those girls. He’s willing to release Boko Haram prisoners, but he says that he hasn’t found the right Boko Haram negotiators to do that.

    So, right now, those girls are still missing. And, Gwen, as you know, such a tragic part of the story, some of those girls or girls in general being kidnapped are now being used as suicide bombers in some of these attacks.

    So, there is a still a very big effort by the U.S. and Nigeria to find those girls, but so long after those kidnappings, there’s still no sign of them.

    GWEN IFILL: Reporting for us tonight, Nick Schifrin. Thank you.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Thanks, Gwen.

    The post Cameroon, Nigeria join forces to free Boko Haram hostages appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Dubbed the “Cybersecurity National Action Plan,” President Barack Obama is asking Congress for a $19-billion boost in cybersecurity funding across all government agencies to help protect reams of  critical data from cyberattacks. Photo by Kacper Pempel/Files/Reuters

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    GWEN IFILL: But, first, a look at what’s become the latest threat to our cyber-security.

    The problem took on new urgency recently when a hospital in Los Angeles had its entire computer network, including all its digital medical records, locked up by hackers. They demanded a ransom before they’d release the computers. It was the second such attack this month. L.A.’s Health Department was hit last week.

    These types of computer attacks, which usually target individual computer users, are on the rise.

    The “NewsHour”‘s William Brangham reported on this threat last year, and now he brings us an update.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Inna Simone is retired. She’s a mother and grandmother from Russia who now lives outside of Boston. In the fall of 2014, her home computer started acting strangely.

    INNA SIMONE, Retiree: My computer was working terribly. It was not working. I mean, it was so slow.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: A few days later, while searching through her computer files, Inna saw dozens of these messages — they were all the same. They read: “Your files are encrypted. To get the key to decrypt them, you have to pay $500.”

    Her exact deadline, December 2 at 12:48 p.m., was just a few days away.

    All her files were locked , tax returns, financial papers, letters, even the precious photos of her granddaughter Zoe. Inna couldn’t open any of them.

    INNA SIMONE: It says, “If you won’t pay, your fine will double. If you won’t pay by then, all your files will be deleted and you will lose them forever and never will get back.”

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Inna Simone, like thousands of others, had been victimized by what’s known as a ransomware attack. Hackers — who law enforcement believe come mainly from Eastern Europe or Russia — manage to implant malicious software onto your computer, usually when you mistakenly open an infected e-mail attachment, or visit a compromised Web site.

    That software then allows the hackers to lock up your files, or your entire computer, until you pay them a ransom to give it back.

    Justin Cappos is a computer security expert at New York University.

    JUSTIN CAPPOS, New York University: It will actually lock you out of the files, the data on your computer.

    So, you’d be able to use the computer but those files have been encrypted by the attacker with a key that only they possess. It’s frustrating because you know the data is there. You know the files are there. You know your photos and everything is there and could be accessible to you. But you have no way of being able to get at it because of this encryption that the attackers are using.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This is exactly what happened at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital in Los Angeles. According to officials, about a month ago, their computerized medical records were locked up by one of these malicious programs, and a hacker demanded $17,000 in ransom to unlock them.

    During this time, medical staff were forced to use paper and pen for their record-keeping, but they say no patient files were compromised. The hospital decided to pay the ransom. Their computers were unlocked, and the FBI is now investigating.

    Inna Simone was facing the same dilemma, whether or not to pay the ransom or not. Computer technicians were no help. She didn’t want to call the police. Her husband at first said don’t pay the ransom, but she wanted those files back.

    In their ransom note, the hackers wanted to be paid in Bitcoin, the largely untraceable digital currency, and have it put into their anonymous account. Inna had never heard of Bitcoin, but the hackers, in one of their many touches of what you might call customer service, provided all sorts of helpful facts and links and how-to guides about Bitcoin.

    Alina Simone is Inna’s daughter.

    ALINA SIMONE, Journalist: If you see the ransom note, you can see, oh, they try to reassure you about Bitcoin. We have got screen shots or here is a link to some kind of a guide that talks you through the whole process, and here’s a list of providers with a little kind of Yelp-like reviews next to each one that kind of explains their strength and weaknesses.

    It’s incredibly sophisticated.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: After days of debate, Inna decided to pay. She sent a money order to a Bitcoin seller, but it was Thanksgiving, and a huge snowstorm hit Boston, which meant the check only arrived the afternoon before her deadline.

    In that delay, Bitcoin’s exchange rate had changed, and now her money order didn’t cover the full $500 ransom. It was about $13 short. Her last resort using a Bitcoin ATM machine. There are hundreds of them in the U.S., and one was in Brooklyn, New York, not far from her daughter Alina’s apartment.

    ALINA SIMONE: It’s very kind of spooky looking ATM. It has no buttons. It just has a slot that you feed your money into.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Tuesday afternoon, the full ransom was sent to the hackers’ account. But it was two hours late. Inna added one short message to the criminals with her payment.

    INNA SIMONE: I wrote: “I wish you all will drop dead.”

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The FBI doesn’t have complete data on how many of these ransomware attacks occur every year, but they’re clearly on the rise.

    The anti-virus software firm Symantec reports that hundreds of thousands of these attacks are launched every month. There’s also a real difference of opinion on whether victims should pay. Security researchers say paying ransom only encourages criminals, but the FBI says some of this ransomware is so tough to crack that paying a few hundred dollars is sometimes the only way to get your files back.

    MAN: Our information was held hostage.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And it’s not just individuals and hospitals who get hit. Hackers have hit several local police stations. We have heard of law firms and newsrooms being targeted. Even the city of Detroit last year had its data held for an $800,000 ransom by hackers. The city didn’t pay.

    NYU computer scientist Justin Cappos says, generally speaking, hackers go after smaller, individual targets because they’re pretty easy. Victims often inadvertently download the viruses themselves by clicking on those e-mail attachments.

    Besides, he says, the risks of getting caught are low, and if you cast a wide enough net, you will get something.

    JUSTIN CAPPOS: When you go fishing, you don’t try to catch every fish in the ocean. You only want to catch some. And if you catch enough of them, then it’s been a profitable trip for you.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: When her mom got hacked, Alina Simone, who’s a journalist by day, did some research into ransomware for a piece she wrote for The New York Times. She says it’s alarming how organized and easy it is to carry out these kinds of attacks.

    ALINA SIMONE: There are people making viruses, selling viruses. There are distributors whose specialty is distributing viruses. These perpetrators, they don’t have to know a line of code. They can just buy a virus and then hire a distributor and send it out.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Her mom’s story, however, wasn’t over. Inna had paid the hackers her $500, but rather than releasing her files, as promised, they sent her this message. It said: “You didn’t pay in time for decryption.”

    Remember, she’d paid two hours late. Now the hackers doubled the ransom to $1,000, gave her another deadline, and said if she missed this one, they would delete everything.

    INNA SIMONE: If you won’t pay by then, your files — all your files are gone forever.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Using a message board the hackers provided — another one of those customer-friendly touches — Inna pleaded with the people she’d previously told to drop dead: “We had a snowstorm. It was a holiday. I am only two hours’ late.”

    Did this feel strange that you’re trying to communicate to a group of criminals — who knows where they are in the world — saying, you don’t understand, the post office, the snow, Thanksgiving, the long weekend. I mean, you must’ve felt…

    INNA SIMONE: But what else? This is the only option. It’s either this or nothing.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You didn’t think it would work.

    INNA SIMONE: Absolutely not.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But, later that day, the hackers released her files in full.

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

    The post Ransomware attack takes down LA hospital for hours appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Graphic by Joey Chou

    Graphic by Joey Chou

    More than one quarter of voting-age Americans can go to the polls in the 2016 presidential race today. But what are Super Tuesday voters talking about?

    Nationwide, racism and discrimination today is the most popular topic among Facebook users talking about politics, according to data from the social media outlet, followed by Christianity, guns, immigration and Benghazi.

    If you take a deeper look at each state with binding votes for Republican or Democratic delegates and want to find the most popular topic among Facebook users, geography matters.

    Across much of the South, Christianity dominates political chatter among Facebook users in recent days. Meanwhile, across states to the North and West, Wall Street and financial regulation pose the most pressing issues.

    And in Alaska, border security is the top concern among Facebook users there.

    The post What matters most to Super Tuesday voters? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard has vetoed a bill that would have required transgender children and teenagers to use the school restrooms and facilities that correspond to their “chromosomes and anatomy” at birth. Photo by Getty Images

    South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard has vetoed a bill that would have required transgender children and teenagers to use the school restrooms and facilities that correspond to their “chromosomes and anatomy” at birth. Photo by Getty Images

    South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard has vetoed a bill that would have restricted transgender students’ access to restrooms in public schools. Without the veto, South Dakota would have become the first state in the nation to require that transgender students only use school restrooms that correspond to their sex at birth.

    The veto came late Thursday afternoon — if Daugaard, a Republican, had taken no action, the bill would have become law at midnight.

    In his veto statement, Daugaard contended that the bill “does not address any pressing issue” affecting South Dakota’s students and that access to school restrooms should be decided by the schools themselves. He also noted that the law “would place every school district in the difficult position of following state law while knowing it openly invites federal litigation.” The Obama administration has asserted that the Title IX anti-discrimination law includes protections for transgender youths.

    Proponents of the bill said it would protect the privacy and innocence of South Dakota’s youth, while critics — including transgender activists Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox — said it would discriminate against vulnerable adolescents and could lead to bullying and marginalization. The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota was particularly vocal in its criticism, saying that it would encourage affected students to file federal civil rights complaints.

    Though he initially expressed enthusiasm for the bill, Daugaard promised that he would carefully consider the legislation, which was passed by the state Senate on Feb. 17, before making a decision. He met with transgender students and LGBT activists last week to hear their concerns. He said after the meeting that “I have my own set of values and in the end I’ll make my own decisions.”

    The Republican-controlled state Legislature could override the governor’s veto with a two-thirds majority vote. The bill enjoyed broad support in the state House of Representatives, where it passed 58-10; it passed the state Senate 20-15. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Fred Deutsch, encouraged lawmakers to concur with the veto, saying, “Further focus on this issue will detract from other significant accomplishments of this Legislature this session.”

    The post South Dakota governor vetoes transgender restroom bill appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    MIAMI — Donald Trump claimed seven Republican victories on Super Tuesday as the New York businessman extended his dominance in the 2016 primary.

    READ MORE: Follow NewsHour’s delegate tracker

    At the same time, the GOP leaders’ search for any viable alternative to Trump suffered a fresh setback, with both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio vowing to fight on despite underwhelming performances on the biggest day of voting so far. Cruz avoided disaster by winning his home state of Texas and neighboring Oklahoma, while Rubio scored a lone victory in Minnesota.

    Shrugging off a racially charged feud from earlier in the week, a confident Trump looked ahead to the general election in a victory speech at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida: “We’re going to be more inclusive,” he declared. “We’re going to be more unified.”

    Voting continued in Alaska.

    Trump scored victories in Georgia, Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Massachusetts and Vermont, tightening his grasp on his party’s nomination on a Super Tuesday marked by panic from Republican leaders.

    Fearing Trump may build an insurmountable delegate lead, top Republican officials lashed out at the billionaire businessman’s command of the issues and “seeming ambivalence” over white supremacists as voting began.

    Trump’s aggressive plans for Muslims and immigrants have resonated with Tuesday’s Republican electorate, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Research for The Associated Press and television networks. Large majorities of Republican primary voters in six states, for example, said they support Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban all non-citizen Muslims from entering the United States.

    READ MORE: Clinton solidifies lead with wins in 7 states

    The results followed a wild prelude to Super Tuesday that featured extraordinary criticism from several Republican governors and senators who refused to say whether they would support their party’s front-runner should Trump win the nomination.

    Trump’s strong performance across much of the South was a blow to Cruz, who had long expected the South to be his firewall.

    Yet Cruz seized on Rubio’s struggles, calling on the GOP to unify behind his candidacy, “the only campaign that has beaten, that can beat and that will beat Donald Trump.”

    With a win in Minnesota, Rubio hoped to stay competitive in the delegate count while eyeing a win in his home state of Florida on March 15.

    A defiant Rubio told a hometown crowd in Miami that he had only begun to attack Trump: “You see, just five days ago we began to unmask the true nature of the front-runner so far in this race,” he said, calling the GOP front-runner “a con artist.”

    Ohio Gov. John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson remain in the race, but neither is expected to be a major factor on Super Tuesday.

    Trump won at least 192 delegates in Tuesday’s contests. Cruz collected at least 132 and Rubio picked up at least 66. John Kasich has won at least 19 delegates and Ben Carson has won at least three.

    Overall, Trump leads with 274 delegates. Cruz has 148, Rubio has 82, Kasich has 25 and Carson has eight.

    It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination for president.

    Envisioning a Trump White House, the front-runner said he would get along “great with Congress,” despite Tuesday criticism from House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who condemned his Sunday refusal to disavow the backing of a former Ku Klux Klan leader. Trump has since disavowed the nod.

    “Paul Ryan, I don’t know him well, but I’m sure I’m going to get along great with him,” Trump said. “And if I don’t, he’s going to have to pay a big price, OK?”

    Peoples reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Stephen Ohlemacher in Washington, Jill Colvin in Palm Beach, Florida, and Bob Salsberg and Phillip Marcelo in Boston contributed to this report.

    The post Trump extends dominance as GOP starts to panic appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    MIAMI — Hillary Clinton widened her lead over Democratic rival Bernie Sanders as minority voters helped her secure key victories in seven states in the Super Tuesday contests. Sanders won four states and pledged to stay in the race, but failed to broaden his appeal beyond whites.

    Clinton carried Georgia, Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas and Massachusetts while Sanders won his home state of Vermont as well as Oklahoma, Minnesota and Colorado.

    READ MORE: How Clinton won the black vote in South Carolina

    Clinton had aimed for a sweep of Southern states in the delegate-heavy series of primaries and caucuses Tuesday before losing Oklahoma.

    “We will need all of you to keep volunteering, doing everything you can, talking to your friends and neighbors, because this country belongs to all of us,” Clinton told supporters in Miami as the results arrived.

    Clinton and her allies have already shifted some attention to Donald Trump, casting the Republican front-runner as divisive and unprepared to lead the country. “It’s clear tonight that the stakes in this election have never been higher and the rhetoric we’re hearing on the other side has never been lower,” she said.

    READ MORE: Trump extends dominance as GOP starts to panic

    Hillary Clinton has won a majority of Super Tuesday delegates.

    Her wins in seven states earned her at least 457 of the 865 delegates at stake for the evening. Sanders is on track to win at least 286.

    The Democratic contests award delegates in proportion to the vote, meaning that even the loser wins some. Votes are still being tallied to determine the final margins of victory in several states.

    Including superdelegates, Clinton now has at least 1,005 delegates in the overall AP delegate count. Sanders has at least 373. It takes 2,382 delegates to win.

    Black voters gave Clinton a huge advantage throughout the South.

    Of the seven Southern states that voted Tuesday, Clinton got more than 8 in 10 black votes everywhere but Oklahoma, where three-quarters of blacks backed her. Blacks made up made up more than a quarter of the votes overall. But that ranged from nearly half in Alabama and Georgia to about 15 percent in Oklahoma and Texas.

    Greta Lewis voted with her mother at the Central Christian Church in Memphis. Both women are black and chose Clinton.

    “She has been the one who has stepped out to at least try to identify with most of the minorities, whether they’re women, black, Asian, Hispanic,” said Lewis, a 31-year-old receptionist at her mother’s dental office.

    Clinton also expanded her base. She made inroads on Super Tuesday with voters between 30 and 44 years old, a group that was about evenly split between the two candidates. Sanders had led among all voters under age 45 in the first three contests of the year, in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

    READ MORE: Why many voters in Sanders’ old Brooklyn neighborhood are backing Trump

    Exit polling showed voters pushing to continue President Barack Obama’s policies rather than the kind of leftward shift championed by Sanders.

    Sanders decamped to his home in Burlington, Vermont. He has vowed to stay in the race until the party’s convention — and he showed no signs of retreating as he addressed a raucous rally of supporters.

    “Thirty-five states remain and let me assure you that we are going to take our fight for economic justice, for social justice, for environmental sanity, for a world of peace, to every one of those states.” Sanders said.

    Despite his obstacles, the Vermont senator has little incentive to fold. He reported raising more than $42 million in February, a sign that he will have the money to go deep into the spring.

    Thomas reported from Essex Junction, Vermont. Associated Press writers Josh Boak and Hope Yen in Washington contributed to this report.

    The post Clinton solidifies lead with wins in 7 states appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Supporters of Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton cheer as they await her arrival at a Super Tuesday primary night party in Miami, Florida on March 1, 2016.  Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    Supporters of Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton cheer as they await her arrival at a Super Tuesday primary night party in Miami, Florida on March 1, 2016. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton swept through the South on Super Tuesday, claiming victory in their parties’ primaries in delegate-rich Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Virginia. The front-runners appeared ever more likely to end up in a general election showdown.

    On the Republican side, Ted Cruz won his home state of Texas, the night’s single biggest prize, as well as neighboring Oklahoma to keep his campaign alive. Democrat Bernie Sanders picked up his home state of Vermont, as well as Oklahoma, Colorado and Minnesota, but failed to broaden his appeal with minority voters who are crucial to the party in presidential elections.

    The night belonged to Trump and Clinton, who turned the busiest day of the 2016 primaries into a showcase of their strength with a wide swath of American voters. Each candidate won seven states — most in the South but also in New England — with only the results of Alaska’s Democratic caucus still to come.

    READ MORE: The secret to Trump’s stump speech success

    Signaling her confidence, Clinton set her sights on Trump as she addressed supporters during a victory rally.

    “It’s clear tonight that the stakes in this election have never been higher and the rhetoric we’re hearing on the other side has never been lower,” she said.

    Trump, too, had his eye on a general election match-up with the former secretary of state, casting her as part of a political establishment that has failed Americans.

    “She’s been there for so long,” Trump said at his swanky Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. “If she hasn’t straightened it out by now, she’s not going to straighten it out in the next four years.”

    Clinton also picked up wins in Texas, Arkansas and Massachusetts, nabbing her first victory in New England, while Trump carried GOP contests in Arkansas, Massachusetts and Vermont.

    Trump’s dominance has rattled Republican leaders, who fear he’s unelectable against Clinton in November. Even as Trump professed to have good relationships with his party’s elite, he issued a warning to House Speaker Paul Ryan, who declared earlier in the day that “this party does not prey on people’s prejudices.” Trump said that if the two don’t get along, “he’s going to have to pay a big price.”

    But all efforts to stop Trump have failed, including an aggressive campaign by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to discredit the billionaire businessman.

    For Rubio, Super Tuesday turned into a bitter disappointment. He emerged with his first victory in Minnesota but failed to live up to the wider hopes of the numerous Republican officeholders who have promoted him as the party’s best alternative to Trump.

    With an eye on Florida’s March 15 primary, Rubio vowed to keep up efforts to “unmask the true nature of the front-runner in this race.”

    Cruz desperately needed his win in Texas in order to stay in the race. He beat Trump in three contests this primary season, more than any other Republican, a fact he wielded as he called on Rubio and other candidates to step aside.

    “I ask you to prayerfully consider our coming together, united,” Cruz said.

    With results still coming in, Trump had won at least 192 Super Tuesday delegates, while Cruz picked up at least 132. Overall, Trump leads the Republican field with 274.

    Sanders’ wins did little to help him make up ground in his delegate race with Clinton. She was assured of winning at least 457 of the 865 at stake on Super Tuesday. That’s compared to Sanders, who had at least 286 delegates.

    READ MORE: Follow NewsHour’s delegate tracker

    Trump’s wins in the South were a major blow to Cruz, who once saw the region as his opportunity to stake a claim to the nomination. Instead, he’s watched Trump, a brash New York real estate mogul, display surprising strength with evangelical Christians and social conservatives.

    Republicans spent months largely letting Trump go unchallenged, wrongly assuming his populist appeal would fizzle. Instead, he’s appeared to grow stronger, drawing broad support for some of his most controversial proposals.

    In six of the states on Tuesday, large majorities of Republican voters said they supported a proposal to temporarily ban all non-citizen Muslims from entering the United States, an idea championed by Trump. Nine in 10 of Trump’s voters were looking for an outsider, and half were angry with the government, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Research for The Associated Press and television networks.

    In the Democratic race, Clinton has steadied herself after an unexpectedly strong early challenge from Sanders. The Vermont senator did carry his home state decisively, and told the crowd at a raucous victory party that he was “so proud to bring Vermont values all across this country.”

    Sanders, who has energized supporters with his calls for a “political revolution,” has struggled to expand his base beyond young people and liberals. His weakness with black voters, a core part of the Democratic constituency, was underscored anew.

    How Clinton won the black vote in South Carolina

    Clinton was supported by at least 80 percent of black voters in the Deep South and Texas. She was also bolstered by women and older voters.

    Associated Press reporters Julie Pace and Jill Colvin wrote this report. Colvin reported from Palm Beach, Florida. AP writer Julie Bykowicz in Washington and Ken Thomas in Burlington, Vermont, contributed to this report.

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    U.S. President Barack Obama (3rd R) meets with the bipartisan leaders of the Senate to discuss the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, at the White House in Washington March 1, 2016. From L-R: Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Vice President Joe Biden, Obama, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). REUTERS/Yuri Gripas      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTS8SEG

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff.

    GWEN IFILL: And I’m Gwen Ifill.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: On the “NewsHour” tonight: Super Tuesday is finally here. Voters head to polls and caucuses, as the candidates prepare for a critical turning point in their campaigns.

    GWEN IFILL: And we break down the numbers on how candidates can secure the delegates that will put them over the top.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Plus, Mark Shields and David Brooks are here to give up-to-date analysis as results pour in from across the U.S.

    GWEN IFILL: Also ahead, we continue our series on the integration of special education programs in Los Angeles schools — tonight, why some parents and teachers believe it could hurt more than help.

    LINDA HILTON, Parent: I would say that their job is to educate my child and my job is to socialize my child. A safe environment is important, and many of these other schools just aren’t safe.

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


    GWEN IFILL: In the day’s other news: President Obama and Senate leaders met face-to-face over the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, but they resolved nothing. The president laid out his thinking in the Oval Office session, but Republicans remained opposed to any nomination this year.

    That drew a new blast from Democrats.

    SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), Minority Leader: And we’re going to continue beating the drums. All we want them to do is fulfill their constitutional duty and do their job. And at this stage, they have decided not to do that. They think that they are going to wait and see what President Trump will do, I guess, as far as a nomination.

    GWEN IFILL: Back at the Capitol, Republicans say they — said they’re not budging, and they rejected the Democrats’ criticism as so much political point-scoring.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), Majority Leader: Do any of you think a Democrat majority in the Senate would be confirming a Republican president’s nomination in the last year of his term? Of course not. This is going to be decided by the American people and the next president, whoever that may be, will fill this vacancy.

    GWEN IFILL: The White House said the president is reading files on potential nominees, but doesn’t yet have a short list of candidates.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Another big swing on Wall Street. Stocks surged higher today, after construction spending in the U.S. jumped in January to the highest level in eight years. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 350 points to close at 16865. The Nasdaq rose 131 points, and the S&P 500 was up 46.

    The battle between tech giant Apple and the FBI over unlocking a terrorist’s iPhone played out before Congress today.

    The two sides argued their points before the House Judiciary Committee, as Hari Sreenivasan reports.

    JAMES COMEY, FBI Director: The tools you are counting on us to keep you safe are becoming less and less effective.

    BRUCE SEWELL, General Counsel, Apple: We’re doing this because we think that protecting the security and the privacy of hundreds of millions of iPhone users is the right thing to do.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: FBI Director James Comey and Apple lead counsel Bruce Sewell used the hearing to lay out the cases they’re making in federal court. The fight centers around an Apple iPhone used by Syed Farook last December in San Bernardino, California. He and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, shot dead 14 people.

    Federal agents have been unable to access the phone’s content due to Apple’s encryption, and Comey says it bespeaks a larger problem.

    JAMES COMEY: All of our lives are on these devices, which is why it’s so important that they be private. That also means all of the criminals, pedophiles, and terrorists’ lives are on these devices. And if they can’t, if they are warrant-proof, even a judge can’t order access to a device, that is a big problem.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: A federal magistrate in California has ordered Apple to create special software that will help unlock the San Bernardino phone. Comey acknowledged today that would set a precedent. He argued it would be limited in scope.

    But Apple CEO Tim Cook has warned it could be used to compromise hundreds of millions of other phones.

    Again, Bruce Sewell:

    BRUCE SEWELL: The tool that we’re being asked to create will work on any iPhone that is in use today. It is extensible. It is common. The principles are the same. So the notion that this is somehow only about opening one lock or that there is some category of locks that can’t be opened with the tool that they’re asking us to create is a misnomer.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Apple says it’s prepared to take the fight to the U.S. Supreme Court, if need be.

    In the meantime, the Justice Department is also seeking court orders for more than a dozen Apple devices in other cases. Yesterday, a federal magistrate in New York ruled in favor of Apple in a drug prosecution, saying the government is trying to gain impermissibly absurd results.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Separately, Attorney General Loretta Lynch warned against letting Apple alone decide the outcome of the encryption debate. She spoke in San Francisco and called for cooperation between Silicon Valley and Washington.

    GWEN IFILL: The International Criminal Court has brought its first-ever charges for destroying ancient cultural sites. A radical Islamist, Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, was formally accused today. The case stems from the July 2012 destruction of ancient mausoleums at Timbuktu in the African nation of Mali. Al-Mahdi’s defense lawyers suggested they will try to justify his actions on religious grounds.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In Pakistan, tens of thousands of conservative Muslims protested against the execution of a policeman. He was hanged in Rawalpindi for killing a governor who opposed a blasphemy law. It mandates death for insulting Islam. Mourners walked for miles through the streets of Rawalpindi today amid tight security. They chanted support for the police officer and for the law against blasphemy.

    GWEN IFILL: The migrant crisis in Greece grew ever more dire today, and the U.N. Refugee Agency warned of humanitarian disaster.

    James Mates of Independent Television News traveled to the Greek border with Macedonia, where growing numbers are stranded.

    JAMES MATES: Outside and looking in, almost 10,000 refugees and would-be migrants whose dreams of a new life in Northern Europe are now blocked by razor wire and armed police.

    Only a few weeks ago, they would have been waved through this border crossing, and bussed northwards towards Austria and Germany. When the Austrians started saying no, the domino effect rippled back towards Greece.

    “Open the borders,” they chant, as they sit across the main north-south railway line. But those days may be gone for good. Well, it’s past midday now. We have been here most of the morning, and so far not a single person has gone through this gate. No explanation as to why it’s shut. Yesterday, these people rioted. Today, they’re waiting patiently, but it’s not getting them any further.

    And judging by the military hardware being rolled into place, the Macedonians are serious about this. And we saw Czech, Slovakian and Austrian police here reinforcing their Macedonian colleagues. Every country on this Balkan route seems to want it shut down.

    We met the Behar family, six young daughters who’ve been here for 10 days already. Their tiny cousin Andy  has spent precisely half his life in this camp. And they want him out of here quickly. They don’t speak much English, but know what they want most.

    GIRL: Please, open the door, Macedonia.

    MAN: Please open Macedonia. Please open Macedonia.

    JAMES MATES: And still they come along the railway lines, and by foot on all roads leading northwards, a bottleneck becoming more congested every day. At some point, something is going to have to give.

    GWEN IFILL: Meanwhile, NATO’s top commander in Europe, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, warned the refugee flow is — quote — “masking the movement” of Islamic State militants and others, and setting the stage for an attack.

    An update to a story we reported last night. Late today, the governor of South Dakota vetoed a bill that required transgender students to use the bathroom of their birth sex. The legislative fight had gained national attention.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And astronaut Scott kelly returns to Earth tonight after setting an American record for the longest continuous stay in space. Kelly handed over command of the International Space Station yesterday. He’s been in orbit 340 days, and he sent back a gallery of out-of-this-world videos and photos. A Russian, Valeri Polyakov, holds the record for longest space flight by any human, and that’s at 437 days.

    GWEN IFILL: Welcome home, Commander Kelly.


    GWEN IFILL: Still on the “NewsHour”: full coverage of Super Tuesday from reporters on the ground and in-depth analysis from Mark Shields and David Brooks; plus, the challenge of educating students with special needs without holding other students back.

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    A voter fills out her ballot to vote in the Super Tuesday election at Sleepy Hollow Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: All signs point to a big Super Tuesday for the leaders of the Republican and Democratic presidential packs. They’re hoping to roll up so many wins tonight that party opponents will fall by the wayside.

    In turn, those opponents spent their day hoping just to hang on.

    SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Republican Presidential Candidate: Today is the big day. Today is the day we have been waiting for, for a year.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And the prize at the end of the day, more than 860 delegates for Democrats and almost 600 for Republicans.

    But GOP front-runner Donald Trump was sure enough of his Super Tuesday showing that he turned to states that vote in the coming days and weeks.

    In Columbus, Ohio, he again took jabs at Republican rivals, Marco Rubio.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: I call him little Marco, little Marco.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And Ted Cruz.

    DONALD TRUMP: Lying Ted. We will build a wall. Anything you do, you take a position, and then you see him on television when he’s not around you and he says exactly the opposite of what your position is.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The two senators hoping at least to slow Trump’s momentum answered in kind. Cruz voted with his family in Houston, and appealed to his fellow Texans.

    SEN. TED CRUZ: If you don’t want Donald Trump to be your nominee, if you’re among that 65 percent of Republicans who recognize that Donald Trump could be a disaster as the nominee, then I ask you to join us.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Rubio sounded the same theme in Andover, Minnesota, this afternoon.

    SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), Republican Presidential Candidate: Today, the front-runner, at least according to national polls in the Republican primary is someone who is preying on your anger, is someone who is preying on fear. And there has never been, in the history of mankind, a great movement that has been based on fear and on anger. Donald Trump will be an embarrassment to America, will be an embarrassment to anyone who supported him.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: On the Democratic side, with Hillary Clinton out in front, Senator Bernie Sanders went home to Vermont to vote, and assess his chances of holding back the Clinton tide.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: I am confident that if there is a large voter turnout today across this country, we are going to do well. And if there’s not, we’re probably going to be struggling. But I hope that there will be millions of people coming out, and participating in what I call the political revolution.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But the leaders in the two races are increasingly turning their gaze on each other as likely opponents in November. Trump laced into Clinton today and the continuing furor over her handling of e-mails as secretary of state.

    DONALD TRUMP: Hillary Clinton cannot do the job, number one. Number two, she shouldn’t be allowed to do the job because what she did was a criminal act. She shouldn’t be allowed to run.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A few minutes later, Clinton fired back in Minneapolis, and again condemned Trump’s initial refusal to reject endorsements by white supremacists.

    HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: I was very disappointed that he didn’t disavow what appears to be support from David Duke and from the Ku Klux Klan. That is exactly the kind of statement that should be repudiated.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in Washington, that same issue weighed on Republican leaders, eying their party’s prospects if Trump leads the ticket.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), Majority Leader: Senate Republicans condemn David Duke, the KKK, and his racism. It has nothing — that is not the view of Republicans that have been elected to the United States Senate, and I condemn his comments in the most forceful way.

    REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), Speaker of the House: If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party, there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry. This party doesn’t prey on people’s prejudices. We appeal to their highest ideals.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: House Speaker Paul Ryan said he still plans to support the eventual Republican nominee. But an Associated Press survey found more than half of GOP senators and governors are not yet saying if they will do the same.

    We will get reports from key states voting today and analysis after the news summary.

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    GWEN IFILL: And now a bit of a history lesson.

    William Brangham reports on how Super Tuesday has come to play a critical role in the presidential nomination process and why it can make or break candidates.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You know what day it is.

    HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: Hello, Virginia.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Candidate: I love you. I love Georgia.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: Minnesota can make history.

    SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Republican Presidential Candidate: God bless the great state of Texas.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Super Tuesday, the single biggest voting day in the 2016 presidential primary contest. But what makes it so super?

    Well, it’s been known to effectively seal the deal or signal the end for candidates vying for their party’s nomination.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The primary voting day political pundits have been talking about for months finally arrived today.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The first modern-day Super Tuesday happened in 1988, when a whopping 20 states, mostly in the South, held primaries on March 8 of that year. The idea was inspired by a group of moderate Southern Democratic governors who were frustrated by what they felt was their lack of influence in national elections.

    Larry Sabato directs the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

    LARRY SABATO, University of Virginia: They wanted to try to moderate the Democratic Party, to move it more to the center, so it could win a national election. And that was the origin of Super Tuesday, to put the Southern states in the early part of the calendar, so that, ideally, in their view, a more moderate candidate would receive a big boost from that particular day’s voting.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But the plan backfired. The Southern governors hung their hopes on then Tennessee Senator Al Gore, but he split votes with Jesse Jackson, which led then Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis to first-place finishes in Texas and Florida, and Dukakis went on to become the nominee.

    LARRY SABATO: The unintended consequences of reform. Their plan didn’t work, pure and simple. I think they were surprised that Gore didn’t do better than he did, and they weren’t too keen on Michael Dukakis either, who was boosted at least as much by Super Tuesday as any other candidate.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Since then, Super Tuesday and the momentum that comes with it has been a good predictor of eventual party nominees.

    BOB DOLE (R), Republican Presidential Nominee: I think the only Tuesday that’s going to be more super than this Tuesday will be Tuesday, November 5. That’s going to be super.


    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In 1996, then-Republican Senator Bob Dole swept the field and forced his then-rival, businessman Steve Forbes, to withdraw two days after their Super Tuesday matchup. And, in 2000, then-Vice President Gore did the same. With 81 percent of Democratic delegates up for grabs on Super Tuesday, he effectively locked up the nomination.

    GWEN IFILL: Gore’s victory was a sweet one. The former Tennessee senator swept all 11 primary states and five contested party caucuses.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And then 2008, the Super Duper Tuesday, when more than 20 states voted. But the results only predicted the nomination for one side.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are pretty much in the same position they were when Super Tuesday began.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Then-Senator Barack Obama narrowly edged out then-Senator Hillary Clinton on the all-important delegate count, but not enough to clinch the nomination.

    That same day, Senator John McCain emerged as the clear front-runner for the Republicans.

    JOHN MCCAIN, Republican Presidential Nominee: We’re going to win today, and we’re going to win the nomination, and we’re going to win the presidency.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: On this Super Tuesday, 10 states have both Republican and Democratic primaries or caucuses with delegates at stake. And, yes, they’re mostly in the South.

    Republicans also have a caucus in Alaska, while Democrats will also caucus in Colorado and American Samoa.

    LARRY SABATO: This is one of the most important days on the calendar. It has come at a moment when both parties are poised to move in a certain direction.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has widened her delegate lead over Senator Bernie Sanders with her dominating win in South Carolina last weekend. And Donald Trump boasts a double-digit margin over the rest of the GOP field.

    LARRY SABATO: It certainly will be a milestone along the way toward a Trump nomination or, alternately, toward having one of the other candidates, possibly Marco Rubio, begin to suggest that he can catch up to Trump or at least force a contested convention.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: A contested convention? Remember, Super Tuesday was designed to prevent just that. While that may be working for the Democrats, for the Republicans, this Super Tuesday may do just the opposite.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m William Brangham in Washington, D.C.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, we take a break from politics.

    Four decades after the federal government established special education services for students with disabilities, school districts around the country are still trying to live up to the law. Last week, we showed you some of the progress. But there are still big challenges ahead, and in some cases, questions about how well those efforts are working.

    Special correspondent John Tulenko of Education Week has the second of two stories he filed from California. It’s part of our weekly education series, Making the Grade, which airs Tuesdays on the “NewsHour.”

    JOHN TULENKO: In Los Angeles, the nation’s second largest school system, it took a class-action lawsuit filed in 1993 to bring attention to the failures in special education.

    Teachers weren’t trained, records weren’t kept, and thousands of students were not receiving services.

    Sharyn Howell, the district’s special education director, says progress has been made.

    SHARYN HOWELL, Special Education Director, LA Unified School District: I think we have come a long ways. Even at that point in time in LAUSD and in other school districts, special education was still thought of as this was a very separate group of students and most of them were in segregated classes someplace.

    JOHN TULENKO: But not anymore. Today, many of the problems have been resolved, especially when it comes to inclusion. In 2003, about half of all students with disabilities were taught alongside their non-disabled peers for the majority of the day. Now it’s 90 percent for students with learning or speech and language disabilities.

    For other special education students, there’s still a ways to go. Seventeen-year-old Leo Villegas, who has Down syndrome, spends most of his day in a separate classroom. But even that’s beginning to change.

    ROSIE VILLEGAS, Parent: I want Leo to be included in the community. I don’t want Leo to be segregated all the time. I mean, come on.

    JOHN TULENKO: Rosie Villegas is Leo’s mother.

    ROSIE VILLEGAS: I want other students or other people to see Leo and accept Leo the way he is, even if it doesn’t work, to try.

    JOHN TULENKO: At his mother’s insistence, Leo is in a few general education classes like economics, but not without support.

    Monet Gothard is with Leo all day, helping with his behavior and class work.

    MONET GOTHARD, Behavior Intervention Therapist: I was reading a story to him, and then he was answering reading comprehension questions.

    JOHN TULENKO: How often is Leo doing the same things as the other students in class?

    MONET GOTHARD: Well, for it to be meaningful for Leo at the level that he’s at, the work has to be modified.

    ROSS KRAMER, Special Education Teacher: It’s a good buzzword, gen ed. Put the kids in gen ed, gen ed, gen ed. I don’t know if it’s for everybody.

    JOHN TULENKO: Most of the time, Leo is in Ross Kramer’s class, together with other students with intellectual disabilities.

    ROSS KRAMER: I don’t, myself, usually send kids to general education unless it’s part of the meeting and the parents insist on that happening.


    ROSS KRAMER: Would I have sent — because I don’t think they could access the curriculum as well. A lot of the work is being spoon-fed and done to them. And what are they retaining? What are they getting from that?

    JOHN TULENKO: Others see it differently.

    SHARYN HOWELL: That young man, when he leaves school, he’s not going to a special education job. He’s not going to a special education movie theater. And so it’s important for our students to be in that community of individuals that they’re going to spend the rest of their life with when they leave us.

    JOHN TULENKO: With that in mind, Los Angeles has been phasing out schools that serve only students with disabilities, like McBride Special Education Center.

    There, we met Brandon Buschini.

    Would you like to go to a regular high school, yes or no?

    JOHN TULENKO: Brandon, a 20-year-old high school senior, has physical and cognitive delays that prevent him from walking and speaking. He’s been at McBride since he was 3 years old.

    BRANDON BUSCHINI, Student (through computer voice): No.

    JOHN TULENKO: Ah. So you would like to stay here for school?

    BRANDON BUSCHINI (through computer voice): Yes.

    JOHN TULENKO: His mother agrees.

    LINDA HILTON, Parent: I’m not against inclusion at all. I actually wanted him to be in a — quote, unquote — “regular school” when he was small. It’s just that, based on his needs, it’s the — it’s not the appropriate place for him.

    JOHN TULENKO: Brandon requires a full-time health care aide, in addition to other assistance.

    LINDA HILTON: He needs an occupational therapist. He needs a speech therapist. He needs a teacher that’s working with a speech therapist to be on the same page, an environment that he can access with his wheelchair. And you don’t find that anywhere else.

    SHARYN HOWELL: All those things are available. We can make all those things available in a general education campus. Why would we not give those students an opportunity to have exposure to their general education peers?

    LINDA HILTON: I would say that their job is to educate my child and my job is to socialize my child. A safe environment is important, and many of these other schools just aren’t safe.

    JOHN TULENKO: Many buildings aren’t even accessible, lacking basic accommodations like ramps. Fixing that could cost over a billion dollars, twice as much as what’s been budgeted.

    Brandon’s school is already equipped, but what about academics?

    What are your education goals for Brandon?

    LINDA HILTON: Working with the right teachers to actually access Brandon, because Brandon is fully capable of understanding in real time, but due to his developmental delays, it makes it difficult for all of us to communicate with him.

    JOHN TULENKO: So, Brandon is fully there. Shouldn’t he be taking regular classes?

    LINDA HILTON: It depends on the teacher and it depends on the services. So, that’s where it becomes a little bit tricky.

    JOHN TULENKO: Because getting services isn’t easy, even for parents who support inclusion.

    ROSIE VILLEGAS: Constantly, there is a fight with the school district because they’re saying, yes, we are providing service, when they’re not.

    For example, Leo has an hour of speech a week. So, first, I call and say, what is the day that my son is going to be getting service? I go there, and the speech therapist is not there.

    DAVID ROSTETTER, Independent Monitor, LA Unified School District: What you’re raising here is Outcome 13. Outcome 13 is the measure the school district has not been able to achieve.

    JOHN TULENKO: David Rostetter, who was brought in by the courts to monitor special education here, is referring to the final requirement of L.A.’s longstanding lawsuit: At least 85 percent of students must receive 100 percent of their services.

    DAVID ROSTETTER: The best the district has been able to do is to be, on average with service provision, 72 percent of the students receive 100 percent of it. That is absolutely, completely unacceptable.

    JOHN TULENKO: Speech therapist Ashley Hall has 55 students between two schools. That’s about 11 students per day, plus at least an hour for paperwork, parent meetings and not to mention lunch.

    ASHLEY HALL, Speech Therapist: So there are days that we have to accommodate the children in different ways. So maybe a child who you would see one on one, or one on two ends up being in a group of children with four or five, and they don’t necessarily get the time that they need.

    Lowering caseloads would be a significant help. I had about 36 students when I was at a private clinic, and we saw success much more rapidly because those numbers were lower.

    DAVID ROSTETTER: They lose speech therapists every year over this. You can’t perform in that environment.

    SHARYN HOWELL: We know that, no matter how much work we do, there are always going to be teachers or administrators or parents who are going to push us and say, what you’re doing is not right, and that’s OK, because it makes us think about what we’re doing and it makes us really make sure that the programs that we do have meet everybody’s needs.

    JOHN TULENKO: For Brandon Buschini’s family, it’s imperative he receives services. His mother and other parents have turned to the courts to keep schools like his open.

    LINDA HILTON: So, this kind of speaks to the level of the law-breaking.

    JOHN TULENKO: L.A. Unified declined to comment on the lawsuit, which is awaiting a court decision on whether the case will move forward.

    In Los Angeles, California, I’m John Tulenko of Education Week, reporting for the “PBS NewsHour.”

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And it would not be Super Tuesday without the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Gentlemen, welcome.

    No comments about hair or anything else we saw or heard in the last few minutes.


    MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Wow. Wow.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: David, we have heard about past Super Tuesdays. What are you looking for tonight?

    DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: Well, Trump is the story.

    I mean, Trump is one of the biggest political stories of our lifetime. And so the fact that — well, I’m supposed to be objective, but a bigoted buffoon may get the nomination of a major party is sort of a big deal. Everywhere I go all around the world, people are fixated on this fact.

    And so, if he does what the polls suggest, that’s just a major event in American political life, if he takes this gigantic step toward the nomination of a major party.

    GWEN IFILL: Mark, I wonder if — we just heard the history of this and how we came to this point.

    I wonder if that has something to do with where we are now. By creating a Super Tuesday that was supposed to come up with a…

    MARK SHIELDS: Moderate, yes.

    GWEN IFILL: … predetermined result, that it’s backfiring now.

    MARK SHIELDS: I think it has.

    I mean, unintended consequences, the law thereof. It was organized by Chuck Robb, the former governor of Virginia, son-in-law of President Johnson, to really stop the Democratic Party from drifting to the left. And as William described beautifully in that piece, Jesse Jackson nearly showed how it could be done and became the model.

    He upset the apple cart when Michael Dukakis in 1988 was supposed — was able to run what they called a four-corners strategy by winning Florida and Texas and the state of Washington and the Northeast as well.

    But it — no, it has become — the difference between Super Tuesday and the events that precede it is that all of Iowa, New Hampshire, even Nevada, they see the candidates up close. They can touch them. They can listen to them.

    Now it’s strictly wholesale politics. It’s what voters conclude from what they read, see, sense, communicate about them. And I think that’s — Donald Trump has shown depth and strength in three different states, in winning New Hampshire and Nevada and South Carolina.

    He’s showing a breadth now that is really rather remarkable. If he carries Alabama and Massachusetts in the same day, it’s been a long time.

    GWEN IFILL: Yes.

    MARK SHIELDS: Mitt Romney didn’t do as well on Super Tuesday, nor did John McCain, the last two nominees, as it appears that Donald Trump is poised to do.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, David, can we really blame the calendar and Super Tuesday, because — is the argument that if Donald Trump had more time, he wouldn’t be as appealing as he is?

    DAVID BROOKS: I have been saying that for eight months, so, you know, I — no, he’s…


    GWEN IFILL: And you have not been proved right yet.


    DAVID BROOKS: It’s coming, sometimes in eight years, when he’s out of office.

    No, it’s — I don’t — you know, he’s just dominant. He’s dominant with moderate voters. He’s dominant with downscale voters. But he’s pretty dominant with upscale voters. He’s beating people among Latino voters, at least those folks who vote in Republican primaries.

    He’s just amazingly dominant. And it’s fascinating. The whole world is — whole media world is hating on him, John Oliver and everybody else. It’s having no effect, no measurable effect.

    GWEN IFILL: I want to just piggyback back to that, because it seems interesting to me, David, that Republicans are becoming more conservative, Democrats, according to exit polls we have already seen tonight, are becoming more liberal, and the twain isn’t meeting here at all.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes. No, that’s true, though Trump shows that there was more ideological flexibility in the Republican Party than we would have thought.

    Here’s a guy who is praising Planned Parenthood, whose policies on health care are almost Sanders-esque sometimes. And so all the orthodox candidates, Bobby Jindal, gone.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    DAVID BROOKS: And Ted Cruz is now the closest thing.

    So, the couple races that I think are interesting to look at, obviously Texas. If Cruz loses, he’s gone. But if he wins, he hangs around. Georgia and Virginia, maybe there is some hope there we see somebody with a strong second-place finish, but, mostly, if the polls are anywhere close to correct, we’re just looking for strong second-place finishes in a couple…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Mark, the question people keep asking is, what else could Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio or any one of the other candidates who dropped out on the Republican side, what could they have done to have nicked or stopped or slowed down Donald Trump?

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, they could have engaged him.

    I mean, let’s be very blunt about it. Jeb Bush, now departed from the race, was the only candidate who showed really any courage, any directness in confronting Donald Trump and was aggressive.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But look where it got him.

    MARK SHIELDS: Now, Rubio did, in an act of desperation, very well. Don’t get me wrong. He did a Donald Trump on Donald Trump, is what he did.

    I mean, when we start to get into the size of hands as a question of presidents’ qualifications, I mean, then we have really descended. And we have followed — we can’t say that Donald Trump has not elevated the discourse in this.

    So, no, I just — I think they gave him a ride. The rest of them were sniping at each other. Cruz was on Rubio. And they were back and forth, and at Jeb and so forth. But, I mean, nobody other than Jeb Bush took him on, and now the questions have been raised, whether it’s Trump University. It’s all been out there, Judy. That is not new information.

    If somebody — the oppo research of every campaign had it, but no one wanted to bell the cat or beard the lion or whatever you want to — however you want to describe it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Our friend Amy Walter was here last night. And among other things, she said that if Donald Trump does as well as people expect him to tonight, it will be an implosion for the Republican Party, it will no longer be what it ever was.

    Do you agree with her on that, David?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Yes.

    I mean, we have never seen a candidate at all like him. He’s not a conservative by any principle. He’s not a policy wonk. He has no policies and proposals. He has — and he has, frankly, racial attitudes that remind you of the ugliness of an earlier era of a different country.

    And so that’s just a gigantic shift for a party. And people are upset with the establishment. I realize that. But that doesn’t mean the authoritarian solution is the solution. But there has been a rising sense of authoritarianism in the American people, which has been measurable in polls for a number of years, and now it’s finding its political efflorescence.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let’s talk about the Democrats for a minute, Mark.

    Hillary Clinton is looking like she’s in pretty solid shape. But Bernie Sanders says he’s not walking away. He says he’s staying in this race until the end. He’s been running around the country campaigning everywhere. What does he represent for her at this point?

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, he represents her hope and salvation.

    I mean, Hillary Clinton was a great candidate in 2008, when she was beaten, when she was an underdog, fighting back against Barack Obama, who was headed as a steamroller toward the nomination. That brought out the — the Clintons do not do well in political prosperity. They don’t do well when unchallenged.


    MARK SHIELDS: And she became a better candidate after she lost New Hampshire. Bernie Sanders raised $40 million last month.


    MARK SHIELDS: I mean, that is phenomenal. That is almost three times as much as Hillary Clinton made — raised in the month of January.

    I mean, so he represents, I think, a hope for her, in the sense that there’s a competition that continues. If he wins a couple of states tonight, which they’re holding out hope that they can, he’s certainly alive. He’s got an intense and passionate following. And I think it’s — she’s now referring to him again as her esteemed colleague, which is an indication she thinks…

    GWEN IFILL: Because she’s attacking Trump instead.

    MARK SHIELDS: But the reason she has got this big league is because of the Democratic Party’s equivalent of the House of Lords, which is what the superdelegates are.

    I mean, if you were once the Democratic leader of the city council in Minneapolis, you’re going to be a super delegate, I mean, for no other deserving reason. And so she’s got an enormous lead among them, so leading among the House of Lords. And the question is, can you win primaries? And she’s done pretty darn well recently.

    GWEN IFILL: Are Democrats hoping for and are Republicans fearing the potential for a third party, that Republicans say, we can’t have this? We have had some leaders say that already. “I will not vote for either of them.”

    And then finding someone to anoint and come to the rescue — and Democrats, of course, would love that.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I still don’t think it would happen. Obviously, Michael Bloomberg is the obvious case.

    But the states are basically partisan. The parties — people are basically locked into their party ideology, even if Donald Trump is the nominee. So the idea that Mike Bloomberg or some third-party candidate…

    GWEN IFILL: Mitt Romney?

    DAVID BROOKS: That would be a total implosion for the Republican Party.


    DAVID BROOKS: I doubt even he could carry any states, and then, even if they did, it would just get thrown to the House of Representatives. And a body made of entirely of Republicans and Democrats is not going to elect a non-Republican or Democrat. So, I think there will be no third party.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But isn’t it not really clear which part of the Republican Party Donald Trump doesn’t represent?

    Because they’re — you hear very conservative Republicans saying they don’t like him, and you hear more moderate Republicans saying they don’t like him. So, who do you run to satisfy the rest of the Republican Party?

    MARK SHIELDS: I — I think that’s a very legitimate question.

    He is — whatever else he is, he’s his own man. He walks where he chooses to walk. He doesn’t truckle before any particular constituency in the Republican Party. I don’t care who it is. So, in that sense, it’s a strength.

    The problem that Republicans, the sense of panic among Republicans in Washington is that he will be a disaster in November and take with him the Republican control of the Senate and a lot of — put in jeopardy a lot of moderate Republican House seats.

    And so that’s what they’re anxious about. They think that this is not a man who is going to win a majority of the country in a presidential election in November.

    GWEN IFILL: You know, winners or losers aside, how would you guys assess the tone of this campaign in the last couple of weeks?

    It’s certainly nothing like we have ever seen, and I wonder if you think that’s for good or ill.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we won’t let you repeat anything you have heard.

    GWEN IFILL: Nothing.



    It’s for ill. The Democratic side is fine. It’s a normal race. You have sort of moderate vs. a lefty. But the way the Republicans are going after each other and the screaming, to me, some — there was a pivot point, which is why I think this is such a big moment in American politics. It was the first debate.

    Donald Trump had already attacked Carly Fiorina for the way she looked. He then turned to Rand Paul and said, “I’m not going to attack him for the way he looks, but there’s a lot to work with there.”

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    DAVID BROOKS: And so, at that moment, a lot of taboos just crumbled and dissolved. And we entered a new world.

    As I have said on this program before, Donald Trump spent 25 years in the world of professional wrestling, and he just brought that style. And it happened to play. This is not about policy. This is about manners. He was against the manners that we have assumed to be the manners of the public discourse. And he’s dissolved them all. And it’s paid off for him so far.

    GWEN IFILL: And, in the end, it wasn’t just him doing it.

    DAVID BROOKS: Oh, absolutely. People had to go there.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Rubio followed him right down that path.


    MARK SHIELDS: Rubio got bigger crowds and more enthusiasm, a bigger reaction when he started doing it, too.

    I would compare it to the impeachment, the language. You almost had to get the children out of the room when the news came on in impeachment.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean the Bill Clinton…

    MARK SHIELDS: Bill Clinton’s impeachment and all the surrounding events and testimony there.

    But that was mercifully over. You know, it happened, and then it was resolved. And then we didn’t have — this is heroin in the bloodstream, I mean, because politics is the most imitative of all human activities, with the possible exception of political journalism.


    MARK SHIELDS: And, you know, people win elections. And if you used a blue bumper sticker to win, my goodness, I’m going to use a blue bumper sticker.

    And this is going to be it. Donald Trump is going to be — you know, you steal a hot stove and go back to the smoke, you’re a child molester, you’re whatever else, I mean, he’s just kind of taken all standards and removed them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And it’s working.

    MARK SHIELDS: And it’s working. I mean, that’s it. That’s why I say it’s like success is emulated.


    Well, Mark Shields, David Brooks, we will be talking to you and watching you, I don’t know, eat your words or whatever.


    GWEN IFILL: Thank you.

    Tune in tonight for more Shields and Brooks, as I just said, plus the latest results this Super Tuesday. We will have special PBS “NewsHour” coverage at 11:00 p.m. Eastern.

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    Graphic by Joey Chou

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And now we turn to Hari Sreenivasan to see what social media data may reveal about today’s Super Tuesday vote.


    Today, voters in 11 states and American Samoa will raise their political voice with delegates on the line in this year’s race. Will their demographics and what’s on their mind give us clues as to how they will vote? Our data team looked for clues in the numbers.

    According to the census, more than 60 million Americans are old enough to vote in Super Tuesday states. That’s more than a quarter of the country’s voting-age population. And in many ways, these voters offer the widest cross-section of America that we have seen so far this election cycle.

    For example, the states voting tonight include a wide range of incomes. Alaskans have a median household income of $71,000, while Arkansan households earn on average a little more than $41,000. That’s far less than the national median household income.

    But what information are these households searching for and talking about? According to data from Google News Lab, Donald Trump was the most searched-for Republican candidate across Super Tuesday states. When people in today’s contested states were searching for information on the Democratic candidates, more people were searching for Bernie Sanders than Hillary Clinton.

    Search results also showed a geographic split. Sanders’ information was sought in states that were North and West, such as Vermont, Minnesota and Colorado, even Texas and Oklahoma, while Clinton was being searched for more in places like Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, and even Virginia.

    As in contests past, what’s on the mind of the voter and the conversations they share across social media depends on where you look. Across the Deep South, Christianity was the biggest conversation driver on Facebook in relation to politics this election cycle.

    Among Facebook users in Super Tuesday states overall, the most talked-about topics were racism and discrimination, followed by Christianity and guns.

    If you look north and to the states west of the Mississippi, the biggest concerns were Wall Street and financial regulation. While Facebook users nationwide weren’t talking about this issue, they were concerned about the economy and jobs. And further north, the most significant topic to Alaska’s Facebook users was border security.

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    GWEN IFILL: We turn now to Virginia, a key swing state this fall, where a mother and daughter see the Democratic race through very different generational lenses.

    AIYHA ABDELBAGI, Sanders Supporter: My name is Aiyha Abdelbagi. I’m 19 years old. I live in Falls Church, Virginia, and I’m advocating for Bernie Sanders to be the next president of the United States.

    AHLAM ELSHAIB, Clinton Supporter: My name is Ahlam Elshaib. I’m the mother of four children. I’m voting for Mrs. Hillary Clinton. I feel like she has plenty of experience.

    Me and my daughter, Aiyha, we love to talk a lot about so many issues. We have, like, more than a mother and daughter relationship. We are friends.

    AIYHA ABDELBAGI: I go to George Mason University. I’m in my second semester of freshman year, and I’m a government and international relations major. It takes me about an hour-and-a-half to get to school.

    So, lots of time, I usually like the read my textbooks, which I try to do. But, if I get bored, I read the newspaper. I listen to music.

    I definitely would love to be like a senator or somewhere high up there. I get like this rush when I hear about politics and watching the news. It’s my passion.

    AHLAM ELSHAIB: I’m a stay-home mother. My day starts so early in the morning. I start to do my job at home, cleaning, cooking, prepare their beds. When I came to the United States, for 14 years, I did not have any health insurance.

    AIYHA ABDELBAGI: We’d go to the doctor, but I would never see you at the doctor or the dentist. It makes sense now.

    AHLAM ELSHAIB: Yes. And now I feel, like, happy to have Obamacare, very important issues that Mrs. Hillary is talking about.

    AIYHA ABDELBAGI: A lot of my friends are government majors. So, we sit and we discuss like what’s going on around the world. We’re advocating for what we think are solutions to the main problems around the country.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: I will do everything that I can to rid this country of the ugly stain of racism.

    AIYHA ABDELBAGI: Bernie Sanders came to George Mason University.

    There was a girl who went up there. And she asked him about the anti-Islamic rhetoric that is being said. And he embraced her in a way that made me feel like he was embracing me.

    It’s kind of scary, like, going to school wearing a scarf. There’s always like this paranoia that just follows you around. And when he was speaking, he was like, “That shouldn’t exist.”

    As a college student who sees her dad work over 70 hours a week as a taxicab driver and as someone who has to get a job just to cover a little bit of school and extra expenses, it’s hard to not know why we’re not living comfortably.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: I want every kid in America to know they will be able to go to college regardless of the income of their families.

    AIYHA ABDELBAGI: Bernie, when he says that he wants the make college free, it’s a very personal issue, because I think education is important for everyone.

    AHLAM ELSHAIB: With Hillary Clinton, she makes realistic ideas. She does not just say she will make college free. She says that she will make it affordable, which is easier to believe, right? Yes. Uh-huh.

    HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: I am a proud lifelong fighter for women’s issues, because I firmly believe what’s good for women is good for America.


    AIYHA ABDELBAGI: As a future politician, of course I try to change my mom’s mind. I want her to believe in what I believe in, but I think it’s great that she has her own opinions as well.

    It is really important to see a woman in the White House. But it doesn’t have to be Hillary. Like, I could be the Hillary of tomorrow.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Quite a mother and daughter story.

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    Virginia voters line up early to cast their ballots in Super Tuesday elections at the Wilson School in Arlington, Virginia March 1, 2016.  REUTERS/Gary Cameron - RTS8R64

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The focus today is obviously on the states that are voting, but both parties’ front-runners are already looking ahead to the March 15 contests, including in Florida, and will end this day in that critical battleground state.

    It also happens to be where we have sent our new “NewsHour” correspondent, John Yang.

    Welcome, John.

    We sent you to Florida on your second day on the job. And I guess it’s no coincidence that the two front-runners are heading there, too.

    JOHN YANG: That’s right, Judy.

    You know, on a night like this, you can really tell a lot about how a campaign is feeling by where they are. This was not a Super Tuesday state, as you say, but here in Miami is where Hillary Clinton will be, and just a little bit north of here in West Palm Beach is where Donald Trump will be, both very confident, a sign of confidence about how they expect to do tonight.

    If Donald Trump can sweep all the states outside Ted Cruz’s home state of Texas, he will be poised to put this contest away in two weeks, when there are big contests, including here in Florida.

    And, Judy, on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton hopes to pull away from Bernie Sanders in the delegate count in a very big way. Sanders didn’t even really compete in the delegate-rich states of the South, focusing on other states where the voters, the voting population had a lower percentage of African-Americans.

    Here in the South, the — that African-American population expected to give Clinton an edge. If Clinton does have a good night, expect when she comes out here tonight that she will sound a lot more like a nominee, rather than a candidate for the nomination — Judy, Gwen.

    GWEN IFILL: John, let me add my welcome to the “NewsHour.”

    JOHN YANG: Thank you.

    GWEN IFILL: Florida is so often the lock to the key — the key to the lock of who wins these elections, whether in the general or in the primary.

    So, that — so, why is it that it has already leapfrogged over so many other states that we’re watching tonight?

    JOHN YANG: Well, for — partly, one reason on the Republican side, it’s the home state of one of the candidates, Marco Rubio, who is also returning here to Miami tonight.

    He has only been on the ballot here once before, statewide ballot. That’s why a lot of the Republicans I talk to said, to their chagrin, it is likely that Rubio is not going to be able to win his home state in two weeks.

    On the Democratic side, it goes back to the mantra of Florida, Florida, Florida. This is a state that’s going to be crucial to both sides. I think that Hillary Clinton, as she makes the pivot toward a general election campaign, toward going after the Republicans, wants to really stake out the ground here in Florida.

    GWEN IFILL: John, we look forward the hearing from you a little bit more later on tonight when we begin to get results. Thanks.

    JOHN YANG: Thanks a lot.

    GWEN IFILL: Now we move north to Georgia, with the second largest number of delegates at stake for both parties in tonight’s contests.

    And joining us to explore the political landscape there is Celeste Headlee of Georgia Public Broadcasting in Atlanta.

    Celeste, give us a sense of what you’re going to be watching and what we should be watching in Georgia tonight.

    CELESTE HEADLEE, Georgia Public Broadcasting: I think the biggest thing to watch is turnout.

    Bernie Sanders has taken a risk in playing for the young vote here, and especially young African-Americans, young Hispanics. If they turn out for him, he could do better than expected. If they don’t, then, as the polls suggest, Clinton will take the race here for the Democrats.

    And Donald Trump has a sizable lead in the polls as well. If the polls are accurate, Donald Trump and Clinton will take tonight in Georgia.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Celeste, it’s Judy Woodruff.

    Tell us how Georgia differs from its next-door neighbor South Carolina, where Clinton and Trump both just absolutely wiped out the opposition.

    CELESTE HEADLEE: Well, you know, Georgia is a very diverse state.

    Georgia is really on the leading edge in the changing demographics in this state. In fact, Clarkston, Georgia, is known as the most diverse square mile in America.

    This, however, is also the place where the Tea Party really got a lot of its momentum as well, so there’s kind of a number of forces pulling and pushing. Also, in reference to the black vote, which really helped carry Clinton in South Carolina, this is Dr. Martin Luther King’s home town. This is a place where the question of whether Clinton can carry the black vote nationally will really be tested.

    If Clinton comes away with the vast majority of the black vote here in Georgia, that means she can probably carry it through the rest of the nation. And in Georgia, the bulk of the Democratic Party is made up by African-Americans. So, that’s really something to keep your eye on here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Celeste Headlee with Georgia Public Television, we thank you.

    And much farther north, Senator Bernie Sanders is hoping to score a home field advantage in New England with contests in Massachusetts and his own home state of Vermont.

    And we turn now to Emily Rooney of public TV station WGBH in Boston.

    Hi, Emily.

    So, tell us. We know Bernie Sanders does have a big advantage in Vermont, but Massachusetts is a little different, isn’t it?

    EMILY ROONEY, WGBH: Yes, I mean, I don’t think Massachusetts people have really paid that much attention to Bernie Sanders until recently, of course, the New Hampshire primary.

    But there has been a huge, huge media push here, radio and television, and it was locally oriented. It wasn’t national advertising. It was local. And it’s every other advertisement, all doing the Oscars, AM radio, every other commercial, so, personalized, local, and I think very effective.

    About 20,000 Democrats, who were enrolled as Democrats, have switched their party affiliation. Now, that could be because they want to kind of offset what’s going to happen on the Republican side, but interesting that it’s kind of leveling the playing field a little bit.

    GWEN IFILL: Emily, I want to ask you. It’s Gwen.

    I want to ask you about the Elizabeth Warren factor. There was a very odd moment yesterday in which someone fabricated a “New York Times” front page which suggested that Emily — that Elizabeth Warren had endorsed Bernie Sanders, which did not happen, I want to be clear.

    But everybody has been kind of watching the shadow of the progressive senator from Massachusetts, very popular progressive senator, and the fact that she seems to not have gotten into this at all.

    CELESTE HEADLEE: No. No matter how hard you push Elizabeth Warren, she stays silent. That’s been our experience right now.

    She’s not waded into this at all. Even our very popular governor, Charlie Baker, as you know, originally endorsed Chris Christie. He hasn’t endorsed anyone right now. And there has been a big push from the editorial pages for both of them to endorse someone, but neither one of them has.


    Well, thank you very much, Emily Rooney. As always, you step in for us up there in New England. We appreciate it so much.


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    PBS NewsHour will live stream astronaut Scott Kelly as he returns to Earth after 340 days in space. He is scheduled to land at 11:25 p.m. EST tonight. Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov will also be on the Soyuz spacecraft as it lands near Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

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    Photo by Nick Oxford/Reuters

    Photo by Nick Oxford/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Presidential candidates will wake up Wednesday morning to the cold, hard truth of delegate math. It might give the front-runners some breathing room, but for the rest of the field, the truth may hurt.

    What to watch for on the day after Super Tuesday doles out a quarter of all the delegates at stake in the GOP and Democratic nominating contests:

    THE TALLY: With 12 states awarding delegates, see how the delegate totals stack up when the dust settles.

    READ MORE: PBS NewsHour’s delegate counter

    With some delegates still to be allocated, Donald Trump had won at least 175 Super Tuesday delegates and Ted Cruz at least 89. Marco Rubio had won at least 51 delegates, John Kasich 17 and Ben Carson three. There were 595 GOP delegates at stake in 11 states.

    Overall, Trump led with 257 delegates, Cruz 106, Rubio 67. It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination for president.

    On the Democratic side, Clinton was assured of winning at least 441 of the 865 delegates at stake on Super Tuesday. Sanders was sure to get at least 262. Including superdelegates, Clinton had at least 989 delegates. Sanders had at least 349. It takes 2,383 Democratic delegates to win.

    READ MORE: Trump extends dominance as GOP starts to panic

    GENERALLY SPEAKING: Watch how front-runners Clinton and Trump position themselves going forward. Do they focus more on their primary election rivals or pivot toward an anticipated general election matchup? Trump said Tuesday night that if Clinton hadn’t straightened out Washington by now “she isn’t going to straighten it out in the next four years.” Clinton, in turn, criticized what she called the angry, divisive rhetoric from the Republican front-runner, though she did not name him.

    THE B-WORD: Trump’s strong showing could generate fresh talk about the possibility of a brokered convention from Republicans who just can’t get on board with the idea of Trump as the eventual GOP nominee.

    RUBIO’S ROAD: Rubio’s itinerary reflects his priorities. He campaigns Wednesday in Michigan, which votes March 8. And he’s already putting big effort into his home state of Florida, which votes with a number of winner-take-all-delegates states on March 15. Early voting already has started in Florida, and Rubio put his focus there on Tuesday night, saying, “two weeks from tonight, right here in Florida, we are going to send a message loud and clear.”

    CRUZ’S COURSE: Watch for a more assertive Cruz, rejuvenated by victories in his home state of Texas and neighboring Oklahoma. On Tuesday night he urged the other GOP candidates to “prayerfully consider coming together” and uniting against Trump. Translation: Get out of the race.

    GOP SOUL-SEARCHING: Keep an eye on how the GOP establishment does — or doesn’t — reconcile itself to Trump. In the run-up to Tuesday’s mega-round of voting, some establishment figures were vowing they’d never, ever support Trump; others were reluctantly pledging to fall in line behind the eventual nominee, whoever it is.

    AM NOT, DID TOO: The rhetoric in the GOP race took a turn for the worse before Super Tuesday, featuring a series of taunts between Trump and Rubio about potential pants-wetting, bad spray tans and overactive sweat glands. Do the candidates elevate the conversation once Tuesday’s big vote is past?

    SANDERS’ STAND: Sanders, looking for more places to shine after wins in Oklahoma, Colorado, Minnesota and his home state of Vermont, was ready to campaign Wednesday in Maine and Michigan, where he hopes his populist message will resonate with union and blue-collar voters. And his campaign strategists scheduled a “path forward” breakfast to lay out his intended route to the nomination.

    ENTHUSIASM GAP? Check out final turnout figures from Tuesday. The first two primary states to vote — New Hampshire and South Carolina — turned out record numbers of Republican, but not Democratic, voters. If that trend continues, it could have implications for the general election.

    AIR WARS: Expect to see lots of Trump thumping in the next two weeks. Ahead of Super Tuesday, anti-Trump ads outnumbered pro-Trump commercials nearly 3-to-1. That ratio is likely to grow. Three outside groups, Our Principles, American Future Fund and Club for Growth, have laid plans for millions of dollars in new Trump attack ads. Conservative Solutions, a super political action committee backing Rubio — and blasting Trump — has reserved $6 million of ad time for in the soon-to-vote states of Michigan, Illinois, Missouri and Florida. On the Democratic side, Clinton and Sanders both continue their campaign advertising. From the looks of the ad reservations, Sanders is betting big on Michigan, spending more than two-thirds of future ad money there,

    Associated Press writer Julie Bykowicz contributed to this report.

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    Josephine Karwah, who survived Ebola infection only to be afflicted by other symptoms, stands outside a store in her village of Smell No Taste, Liberia. Photo by Seema Yasmin

    Josephine Karwah, who survived Ebola infection only to be afflicted by other symptoms, stands outside a store in her village of Smell No Taste, Liberia. Photo by Seema Yasmin

    MONROVIA, Liberia—Josephine Karwah stepped out of the Ebola treatment unit and cradled her pregnant belly. She had hobbled into the white tent two weeks earlier, during August of 2014, her knees burning with pain and threatening to buckle every fourth step.

    Josephine’s mother had died in the Ebola treatment unit. Her body had been carried away in a white body bag that nurses had prepared with her name written neatly on the side. Her father, too, had died from Ebola, as did her aunt and uncle. But Josephine and her unborn child were survivors. She decided she would name the baby Miracle.

    Then the nightmares began. Back at home in her village, Smell No Taste, an hour’s drive east of the Liberian capital, Josephine dreamt of the family members she had lost to Ebola and the horrors of the treatment unit. Throbbing headaches interrupted her dreams and her hips and knees ached as she tried to fall back asleep. During the day she helped her older sister make soap to sell at the market. But her right eye burned and her left eye made the world appear cloudy, as if drops of dew had settled on a camera lens. At the money changer’s booth, she walked away with the wrong change, unable to recall how many Liberian dollars were in her purse when she left the house.

    Josephine is one of Liberia’s 1,500 Ebola survivors. Like Josephine, many today suffer memory loss, joint pains, muscle aches and eye problems. These are not isolated anecdotes and vague reports. Just last week, reporting the first findings from the largest-ever study of Ebola survivors at a conference in Boston, Mosoka Fallah, an epidemiologist from Liberia, said more than half of the patients who lived through an acute attack later reported muscle and joint problems. Two thirds had neurological difficulties and 60 percent reported eye problems approximately one year after Ebola infection.

    Doctors began referring to this constellation of symptoms as post-Ebola syndrome as early as fall 2014 when the World Health Organization sent a team of researchers to Sierra Leone. Half of the Ebola survivors they met reported eye problems, including blindness. And this has happened before. Following small Ebola outbreaks in east and central Africa in the last 20 years, survivors suffered joint pains, muscle aches and eye problems serious enough to prevent many from working.

    But these were limited episodes of the disease and small groups of survivors. The 2014–16 west African Ebola epidemic has left 17,000 survivors at risk of post-Ebola syndrome. Like Josephine, they stepped out of treatment units and stepped into an uncertain future. There is one thing that experts and patients do know: Ebola is not over.


    Fallah’s office sits at one end of a long corridor in the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Monrovia. A Harvard-trained epidemiologist, he grew up in one of Liberia’s largest slums and was deep in the trenches as part of the Ebola response. Now he is at the helm of the largest-ever study of Ebola survivors. When Fallah talks about Ebola he often refers to the epidemic as a pitched battle and then quickly returns to more medical language. “At the height of the war, er, outbreak…” he says, researchers set in motion a project that led to his survivor research.

    To test experimental vaccines and other treatments, a coalition was formed between the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. and the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare called the Partnership for Research on Ebola Vaccines in Liberia (PREVAIL).

    By the time the initial vaccine safety tests were completed, however, Liberia’s epidemic was slowing down. The number of people becoming infected with Ebola was far fewer than expected, so the first study, PREVAIL I, was scaled back to test only for vaccine safety and immune response and not the vaccine’s ability to prevent Ebola. Instead, PREVAIL scientists shifted resources to Ebola’s aftereffects. Reports were coming in from across west Africa of patients who survived the disease but suffered physical and psychological problems. That is when Fallah got involved. He was appointed principal investigator for the study in Liberia and switched his focus from the Ebola response to Ebola survivors.

    On a Wednesday afternoon, two days before Christmas, Fallah flicked through a patient file at the Kennedy Medical Center. He had overseen the refurbishment of the building’s second floor, which was now entirely dedicated to the Ebola survivor study. Outside his office and stretching up the corridor men and women sat in chairs that lined the walls waiting to be seen by medical staff.

    Since the Ebola survivor study was launched in Liberia last June, more than a thousand of the country’s 1,500 Ebola survivors have agreed to take part. Their health will be monitored at semiannual checkups for five years. Each survivor is asked to bring four friends or relatives to one of the study’s three sites. These are people with whom the patients have close contact but who were not infected with Ebola. Fallah says he hopes to enroll 6,000 close contacts who will serve as controls, helping researchers separate the health problems that are part of post-Ebola syndrome from the those experienced by the general population in Liberia.

    When Fallah presented the first findings from the study last week, he had grim numbers: 60 percent of the approximately 1,000 virus survivors in the study reported eye problems, 53 percent said they suffered muscle aches and joint pain and 68 percent reported neurological problems. When Fallah’s team looked more closely at those who said they had eye problems, they found 10 percent had uveitis, a swelling of the middle layer of tissue in the eye wall. The eye problems drew his attention early in the research. “We saw as the war went on—I mean, the epidemic went on—that there were different manifestations among survivors and that would drive us to do more in-depth sub-studies,” he says. Those secondary investigations are part of PREVAIL III.* “It was clear the first PREVAIL III sub-study had to focus on the eye.”

    Fallah looked to previous studies of Ebola survivors dating back to the 1990s and found that many described eye problems in the convalescent phase. Following an outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1995, 20 survivors were examined over three months. Four were found to have eye pain, sensitivity to light, loss of visual acuity and uveitis up to 10 weeks after infection. After an outbreak in Uganda in 2007, 49 survivors were followed for more than two years. As well as memory loss, joint pain, sleep disorders and hearing loss, survivors reported blurred vision and pain behind the eyes. More recently a study of eight patients who were treated for Ebola in U.S. hospitals found that all suffered various symptoms of post-Ebola syndrome up to four months after leaving the hospital. Six had psychological problems including depression, anxiety and memory loss, and five suffered eye problems including blurred vision and eye pain. There was no doubt the syndrome was real. But the existing data offered little explanation for how the virus can cause these problems.

    At the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Monrovia, Liberia, Josephine Karwah gets an exam as part of the largest Ebola survivor study ever done. Photo by Seema Yasmin

    At the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Monrovia, Liberia, Josephine Karwah gets an exam as part of the largest Ebola survivor study ever done. Photo by Seema Yasmin


    This kind of confusion has happened before, with another virus: HIV. Back in the 1980s when researchers were presented with this new health threat, they tried to understand this novel retrovirus by applying what they knew about other diseases. The same process is happening with Ebola, says Avindra Nath, a neurologist and scientist at the NIH who works closely with Fallah.

    Nath has spent the better part of three decades studying infections of the brain. Although Ebola is not a retrovirus like HIV, Nath believes that years of research invested in studying HIV and the body’s response to the infection have jump-started our understanding of how Ebola affects the nervous system. “Ebola has benefited from HIV research. A lot of us involved with Ebola made our careers with HIV so we are quickly adapting our knowledge and techniques to studying these patients,” he says.

    Nath wonders if the neurologic symptoms in Ebola survivors are a direct result of the virus or, instead, triggered by the immune system’s response to the infection. HIV, for instance, infects immune cells called macrophages in the brain, prompting the release of cytokines, small proteins that are toxic to nerve cells. Studies in monkeys have shown Ebola also infects macrophages. Ebola also can trigger a massive “cytokine storm”—cytokines are chemical messengers between cells, highly active during an immune attack—causing veins to leak and burst. That can cause hemorrhaging throughout the body, including the brain, which could explain the memory problems, headaches and movement disorders Nath has seen in Ebola survivors during his visits to Liberia.

    As the neurologist looks to HIV for clues to how Ebola affects the brain, others turn to different viruses to understand another symptom: the extreme fatigue in Ebola survivors. Studies have shown that up to a quarter of patients with the dengue fever virus and close to 40 percent of Epstein–Barr virus patients suffer fatigue after the acute illness. Inflammatory cytokines may be to blame. They can act on receptors in the brain causing post-infection fatigue and loss of appetite.

    Painful joints seem to be one of the more common symptoms of post-Ebola syndrome. In a study of survivors of the 1995 Congo outbreak almost two thirds experienced joint pain two years after infection and one third of a Ugandan outbreak’s survivors suffered from joint pain two years later.

    Lumps of immune system proteins that sit inside a joint like the hip or shoulder could cause irritation and swelling. Other components of the immune system, including antibodies, could explain or even act as a surrogate marker for joint pain. After the 1995 Congo outbreak survivors who complained of painful joints were found to have higher antibody levels compared with survivors who did not report joint pain. Another protein might be at work in pain, too. D-dimers, small chunks of protein that break off from blood clots, have been linked to joint pain in people recovering from other infections. Patients suffering joint pain after infection with the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis had high levels of D-dimers in their blood. Studies looking for D-dimer–level changes have not been done on Ebola survivors.


    As for the eye disease seen in many Ebola survivors, experts say it too could be a result of the immune response to Ebola. Or, more ominously, the virus could be replicating in the eye long after it has been cleared from the blood. The eyeball offers a safe place for the virus to hide out, away from detection and interference by the immune system. In one survivor the eyeball was found teeming with Ebola. In October 2014 an American physician, Ian Crozier, fell sick with Ebola while working in Sierra Leone. Less than two months after he was discharged from a U.S. hospital he felt pain in his left eye and noticed that its color had changed from blue to green. When doctors inserted a needle into Crozier’s eye, they found more copies of the virus than had been in his blood when he was close to death weeks earlier.

    The eyeball is not the only hiding place for Ebola. The testes, central nervous system and joint cartilage can act as sanctuary sites for a number of pathogens including HIV. These vital structures are at risk of collateral damage when the immune system wages war on foreign invaders. So to protect themselves from the inflammatory response, they have adapted clever mechanisms including immune-suppressing molecules and physical barriers. These protective measures make them great hiding spots for viruses. Hidden reservoirs could explain how Pauline Cafferkey, a Scottish nurse who recovered from Ebola, fell sick nine months after her blood tested negative for the virus and again a year after she was first infected.

    The testes could also account for why Ebola persists in the semen of some survivors months after they are free of symptoms. At the beginning of the west African outbreak, WHO cautioned people to practice safe sex for at least three months after their blood tested negative for Ebola. That advice was based on the 1995 Congo episode where the virus was found in the semen of survivors 82 days after symptom onset.

    But during the west African epidemic, Ebola virus lived in the semen of some survivors for a much longer time, more than a year after acute infection. At the conference in Boston last week, Fallah reinforced these finding, saying the virus was found in the semen of Liberian Ebola survivors 18 months after infection. In some men the virus disappeared from the semen and then reappeared over the course of the year. (The WHO now advises male Ebola patients to practice safe sex for a year, and get their semen tested repeatedly.)

    In his Monrovia office Fallah has a patient file that belongs to a woman whose son died of Ebola in November 2015. The family reported no contact with anyone sick with Ebola or any survivors, but Fallah believes otherwise. He thinks the mother may have had sex with a survivor, not realized that she was sick with Ebola and passed the infection to her son.

    It would not be the first time Fallah had investigated a case of Ebola that was likely transmitted via sex. In March 2015 a woman who died from Ebola was found to have had sex with a man who had been discharged from an Ebola treatment unit six months earlier. Blood samples from the man tested negative for Ebola but a semen sample tested positive.

    Fallah furrows his brow when talking about the woman who contracted Ebola from a survivor. That the virus can persist after many symptoms stop—even after a patient’s blood appears clear– makes him anxious for two reasons: If Ebola hides out in people who seem healthy, only to reappear from compartments deep within the body to make them sick and potentially contagious, it could spark more outbreaks.

    But finding the viral genome or bits of viral RNA in the bodily fluids of survivors does not prove they are contagious, he adds. What really worries Fallah is the stigma these new findings place on survivors. “It’s bad enough with post-Ebola syndrome that they have these symptoms we can’t explain—and for who knows how long,” he says. “Survivors are going through enough. Now imagine people are scared of them for fear of catching the virus.”


    A few days after Josephine left the Ebola treatment unit in Monrovia, while she was sleeping in her bed in Smell No Taste, she woke just after midnight. This time it was not nightmares or headaches, it was cramping in her abdomen. She rose to use the bathroom, and when she wiped herself she saw blood on the tissue. Then her water broke. “Ophelia!” she called for her older sister. They phoned for an ambulance but were told none were available. So they called a radio station in Monrovia for help. No one came.

    Josephine paced up and down her bedroom, stopping to press her palms against the wall when it felt like her stomach was tearing. At 5 A.M., she wrapped herself in a maroon lapa, a traditional Liberian saronglike fabric, and staggered out of the house. If help would not come to her, she would find help on the streets. The village was asleep, sunrise still an hour away. Josephine walked alongside her house, clutching the walls to steady herself. As she screamed, women came out of their houses. “Help me, please help me,” she cried. But no one would come near her, fearful of touching the woman who had left the Ebola treatment unit only a few days ago. When she reached the light green house at the corner of the dirt road, Josephine could no longer walk. She fell to the ground, her back against the wall and felt the baby between her legs.

    Five women approached, unwrapping their lapas as they walked. They formed a semicircle around her so the male onlookers could not watch her give birth. Josephine pushed and screamed and Miracle was born. What a chubby boy, she thought, lifting the silent child to her chest. But Miracle was not breathing.

    No one would touch Josephine. The women stared as she rocked her baby and sobbed into her chest. Only her brother came close to her. He took Miracle from her arms and wrapped the baby and placenta in a yellow towel, ready for burial.

    Josephine’s mother had been a midwife before she died of Ebola. “Why isn’t she here to help me now?” Josephine wondered. In the weeks that followed, there were more questions: Did Ebola kill Miracle or was it because nobody would help? Would the baby have lived if an ambulance had come? Was the virus still lurking in her body, and would it harm any future pregnancies?

    On visits to the Kennedy Medical Center for her survivor study appointments, Josephine asks Fallah these same questions. One afternoon she sits in Fallah’s office wearing an off-the-shoulder leopard print shirt and a matching head wrap waiting for his response.

    Fallah worries the uterus may be another sanctuary site for Ebola, offering the virus a safe place to hide. Then he wonders if the stress of being an Ebola survivor can cause a woman to give birth to a stillborn baby in the street with people watching but no one helping. He thinks, “When you can no longer sell soap in the market, when you have to wrap your money in tissue to buy vegetables, when your boyfriend stops loving you because you are an Ebola survivor—What impact does that have on a person’s body? What could that do to their unborn child?”

    This is what goes through his mind, but when Josephine asks, he says: “I don’t know, Josephine. We are trying to find out.”

    This story was reported with support from the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. This article was originally published on Scientific American on Feb. 29, 2016.

    The post Why Ebola survivors struggle with new symptoms appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Syrian refugee students in Reyhanli, Turkey conducting elections for their first student council as part of their Democracy 101 workshop. The event took place during a four-day education program sponsored by Karam Foundation. Photo courtesy of Karam Foundation

    Syrian refugee students in Reyhanli, Turkey, conducting elections for their first student council as part of their Democracy 101 workshop. The event took place during a four-day education program sponsored by Karam Foundation. Photo courtesy of Karam Foundation

    Editor’s Note: Some of the thousands of Syrian school-aged children forced to flee their homes end up attending private refugee schools along the Turkish border. But many of these schools have shut down and the waiting lists are long for the few that remain. The U.S.-based Karam Foundation brought 40 mentors from around the world to the Rawwad School located in the city of Reyhanli in eastern Turkey, for its sixth annual four-day “Innovative Education” mission.

    Professor Wendy Pearlman of Northwestern University describes her experiences teaching refugee children. Despite the trauma caused by a conflict that has claimed more than 200,000 lives and created 4.39 million Syrians refugees abroad, the students demonstrated resilience and a hunger to learn.

    Wendy Pearlman and Sarah Dadouch teaching a journalism class at a Syrian refugee school in Reyhanli, Turkey. Photo courtesy of Karam Foundation

    Wendy Pearlman and Sarah Dadouch teaching a journalism class at a Syrian refugee school in Reyhanli, Turkey. Photo courtesy of Karam Foundation

    Our minibus pulled up to a drab office building on a busy commercial street. I would not have guessed that it was home to a school serving 750 students had children not spilled out the doorway to greet us on our first day.


    Students lined both walls and cheered as we made our way through the dark corridor and stairwell. Some waved balloons, others sang, and all were proudly dressed in their best clothing — one boy, about eight, was decked out in a vest and bow tie.

    So began our four days teaching at the Rawaad School in Reyhanli, Turkey. I’d spent time in Syrian refugee communities in the past to do interviews for my own book. Yet this visit was different. I was instead there to give back to them. The care the school had put into its welcoming ceremony showed that it was thankful for simply having not been forgotten.

    “We treated them as all students deserve to be treated: as learners.” — Wendy Pearlman, journalism teacher
    Some members of our team offered vision and dental examinations to the students. Most of us taught workshops on a variety of topics ranging from martial arts to entrepreneurship. Journalist Sarah Dadouch and I co-taught three periods of a workshop on journalism.

    The fact that our class had no relationship to grades or credit seemed irrelevant to the students. The 12th graders debated with each other about bias in a news piece. When asked to prepare a pitch for a story, two 11th grade siblings used their phones to film themselves as broadcasters. The sister discussed the ramifications of society’s lack of interest in reading. The brother, an aspiring engineer with a passion for robotics, gave a mini-presentation on the digital platform Arduino.

    Their classmate, a shy girl who hardly spoke during the four-day program, submitted an interview with a Syrian who almost smuggled himself to Europe. I did not know what astonished me more, her admission that this powerful text was the first thing she had ever written or the fact that her family had likewise attempted to cross the Mediterranean before a last-minute decision to stop at the water’s edge. I tried not to wonder how many other budding writers have instead been lost undertaking that voyage.

    Syrian refugee students taking a self-defense class during a four-day education program in Reyhanli, Turkey. Photo courtesy of Karam Foundation

    Syrian refugee students taking a self-defense class during a four-day education program in Reyhanli, Turkey. Photo courtesy of Karam Foundation

    Awed by our high schoolers’ achievements, I worried that the eighth graders were too young to grasp lessons on journalism. Far from it, they jumped, literally, at the chance to describe the articles that they hoped to write. One girl proposed a story analyzing the problem of early marriage. A boy explained that high school graduates, facing no prospects for entering university, are sometimes hired as schoolteachers. “They are not qualified to teach,” he observed. “I want to write a story about how this ruins education for the next generation.”

    Our colleagues’ workshops inspired students in different ways. Elementary school students performed Antigone, wrote philosophical treatises on the meaning of happiness, and communicated their personalities and feelings in various mediums of art. Older boys and girls studied computer coding, baked sophisticated desserts, produced Charlie Chaplin-style movie shorts and campaigned for student council. A competitive election resulted in a resounding victory for a female school president.

    Many of these children had spent sleepless nights under bombardment or spent months fleeing from one town or country to another in search of safety. In Syria, childhood brought them too close to death. In Turkey, the outlook for finding work is bleak.

    During this special week, however, we did not look upon these young people primarily as victims of one of the worst humanitarian tragedy of our times. Rather, we treated them as all students deserve to be treated: as learners. They crave challenges and chances to create. All they need is the opportunity.

    The post Syrian children in Turkey heal through storytelling appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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