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

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    Belgian soldiers patrol in the Grand Place of Brussels following Tuesday's bombings in Brussels , Belgium, March 24, 2016.    REUTERS/Charles Platiau - RTSC2P9

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Belgian officials came under mounting pressure over Tuesday’s terror attacks in Brussels, Islamic State bombers that killed 31 people and wounded 200 on Tuesday — 270 on Tuesday. Now the list of suspects is growing, along with questions about how it could have happened.

    Malcolm Brabant reports on the day’s developments from Brussels.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Security at Brussels’ Malcolm Brabant metro station eased slightly today, but police and barriers remained in place.

    One of the suicide bombers, Khalid El Bakraoui, struck there on Tuesday. Reports today said investigators now believe a second, unidentified person was involved in the subway attack, and may still be at large.

    El Bakraoui’s brother, Ibrahim, and another man blew themselves up at the airport. A third man spotted there is also being sought. But concerns are growing about why the authorities didn’t foil the plot.

    Belgium’s justice and interior ministers offered their resignations today, but neither was accepted.

    JAN JAMBON, Interior Minister, Belgium (through interpreter): If you put everything in a row, then you can say that you can indeed ask big questions in a number of areas about the Justice Department and the developments afterwards and also about the police.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: This canal is an emblem of Belgium’s problems. On the left side is Brussels, on the right, Molenbeek, a poor, mostly Muslim district, many from North Africa. It’s a place regarded as a no-go zone by many ethnic Belgians.

    The army is now protecting the police station not far from the hideaway of Salah Abdeslam, the sole survivor of last November’s Paris attacks, who was captured last week. Molenbeek has been the launch pad for numerous jihadis, including fighters who’ve joined Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

    But the district’s deputy mayor, Ahmed El Khannouss, resents suggestions that it is Europe’s main jihadi breeding ground.

    AHMED EL KHANNOUSS, Deputy Mayor, Molenbeek (through interpreter): Molenbeek is not a bastion of terrorism. Molenbeek is not a fertile ground for terrorism. There is no lawless area in Molenbeek. That doesn’t mean there are not any problems. We have big problems, and this is just one of them. It’s true that Molenbeek has a link with certain terrorist activities because the perpetrators passed through here, but the local and national authorities were not aware of it.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: It increasingly appears that the same ISIS network was behind both the attacks in Brussels and in Paris last November. Salah Abdeslam was summoned to court in Brussels today. His lawyer said he no longer opposes extradition to France.

    SVEN MARY, Attorney for Salah Abdeslam: In the beginning, he wanted that his extradition to France took some more time. Yesterday, he changed his mind.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: This was also the first of three days of mourning in Belgium, and the prime minister spoke ahead of another moment of silence, saying his nation was hit at its heart.

    CHARLES MICHEL, Prime Minister, Belgium (through interpreter): At the airport, at the subway station, the liberty of daily life was slaughtered. That same liberty is at the foundation of our democracy, our desire to live together in harmony, that same liberty upon which the European project was built.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Nearby, the Place de la Bourse has become the focal point for grief, defiance and solidarity. This young Syrian held up a sign today saying she may be a Muslim, but she’s not a terrorist.

    And Belgian Xavier Hannon came here to chalk a simple message on the sidewalk. “For you who have departed,” he wrote.

    XAVIER HANNON, Friend of Bombing Victim (through interpreter): I came to write a couple of words for my friend who died in the metro. He was just on his way to a lesson. And now he will never come back. He had nothing to do with this. We have nothing to do with this. It’s not our war. We’re just young people.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Throughout Brussels, was evidence that this country is involved in a war with an enemy it can’t see. The army was on guard at the main Eurostar train station. Every suitcase, however harmless, represents a potential threat in this difficult climate. And the Brussels Airport has canceled flights until at least Monday.

    This afternoon, European Union justice and interior ministers held an emergency meeting to discuss enhancing security. With more than 5,000 jihadis said to be roaming Europe, the issue could not be more urgent.

    Nevertheless, the Belgian authorities have lowered the terror threat level, despite saying that another attack is — quote — “likely and possible” — Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. State Department said today that it’s still trying to account for all the Americans known to have been in Brussels on Tuesday.

    And this evening, French authorities said they have arrested a suspect in Paris who was planning an attack there.

    The post European officials hold emergency meeting over security response to Brussels attacks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Iraqi soldiers from the army's 72nd infantry brigade participate in a live ammunition training exercise with U.S.-led Coalition trainers at Besmaya military base in south of  Baghdad, Iraq, January 27, 2016. Picture taken Jan. 27, 2016. Photo by Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

    Iraqi soldiers from the army’s 72nd infantry brigade participate in a live ammunition training exercise with U.S.-led Coalition trainers at Besmaya military base in south of Baghdad, Iraq, January 27, 2016. Picture taken Jan. 27, 2016. Photo by Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The American combat role in Iraq appeared to expand on Thursday as U.S. Marines operating from a small outpost provided targeting assistance and artillery fire to support Iraqi troops inching forward to retake Mosul from Islamic State militants.

    A senior U.S. official said the Marines fired illumination rounds to help the Iraqi forces locate IS fighters, and also fired artillery rounds in support of the operation, as Iraqi troops took control of several villages on the outskirts of Makhmour, southeast of Mosul. The official was not authorized to discuss the operation publicly and requested anonymity.

    Earlier this week, U.S. military officials confirmed the creation of the Marine outpost, dubbed Fire Base Bell. It’s the first such base established by the U.S. since it returned forces to Iraq in 2014. But they insisted that the nearly 200 Marines were only there to provide security for Iraqi forces and U.S. advisers at the nearby Iraqi base in Makhmour.

    American fighter jets also participated in Thursday’s operation, launching multiple airstrikes on at least two locations, hitting enemy rocket and mortar positions, the official said. The U.S.-led coalition has routinely been launching airstrikes across Iraq against the Islamic State group.

    A second U.S. official on Thursday said the Marines provided the artillery fire in response to a request from the Iraqi government and that U.S. leaders don’t believe this to be an expanded combat mission. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the operation publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was considered expanded support for the Iraqis.

    Army Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for the U.S. military headquarters in Baghdad, told Pentagon reporters on Monday that Fire Base Bell should not be considered a combat outpost because it is located behind the front lines and is not initiating combat with the militants.

    On Thursday, however, the use of illumination rounds and artillery to support the forward advance of the Iraqi troops appeared to expand the Marines’ role from purely security to more direct combat action, although the Marines were not on the front lines with the Iraqis.

    The White House has ruled out a ground combat role for the U.S. in Iraq, and is intent on avoiding the appearance of any expansion in military operations there — more than four years after President Barack Obama pulled U.S. troops out of the country.

    So officials have been walking a fine line as they describe the operations of the Marine artillery unit, insisting everything is related to “force protection” of the Iraqi and U.S. forces at the Makhmour base.

    The key difference Thursday was that the Marines were not firing artillery to protect Iraqis and U.S. advisers at the base but were helping the Iraqis in an offensive operation against the Islamic State militants.

    Defense Secretary Ash Carter has said the U.S. is looking at a number of options to “accelerate” the fight against IS. Those options are still under discussion in the Pentagon and have not yet officially been submitted to the White House for approval. The range of options could include sending additional U.S. forces to Iraq, using Apache helicopters for combat missions, deploying more U.S. special operations forces or using American military advisers in Iraqi units closer to the front lines.

    The White House has capped the number of U.S. forces in Iraq at about 3,870, but that total doesn’t include as many as 1,000 troops who are there but exempt because of the military’s personnel accounting system. For example, troops sent to Iraq for temporary, short-term assignments are exempt.

    The Marines at Fire Base Bell are part of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which has been based on the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship that has been deployed in the region.

    Their movement into Iraq comes as the Iraqi forces formally begin their push to retake Mosul.

    Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, spokesman for Iraq’s Joint Military Command, announced Thursday that the Iraqi forces had launched their campaign for Mosul. But U.S. officials have described it more as early operations that are aimed at clearing a path and eventually setting the stage for a Mosul offensive.

    It’s not clear how long it would take to recapture Mosul. U.S. military and defense leaders have declined to say when the actual move to retake the city will begin or if the IS militants could be ousted from the Mosul by the end of the year. The U.S. has said it will take many months to prepare Iraqi forces for such a long and complicated offensive.

    AP National Security Writer Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.

    The post U.S. official says Marines expanding combat role in Iraq appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Candles are seen near a message, "Brussels, We Stand With You", at a street memorial at the Place de la Bourse to victims of Tuesdays's bomb attack in Brussels, Belgium. Photo by Christian Hartmann/Reuters

    Candles are seen near a message, “Brussels, We Stand With You”, at a street memorial at the Place de la Bourse to victims of Tuesdays’s bomb attack in Brussels, Belgium. Photo by Christian Hartmann/Reuters

    BRUSSELS — At least two American citizens have been confirmed killed in this week’s attacks in Brussels, a U.S. official said Friday, as Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting the city to express his condolences to the Belgian people.

    Speaking after meeting with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, Kerry said the “United States is praying and grieving with you for the loved ones of those cruelly taken from us, including Americans, and for the many who were injured in these despicable attacks.”

    He did not give a specific number but a senior official said the families of two Americans had been informed of their deaths in Tuesday’s attacks. The official, who was not authorized to speak to the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, did not have further details.

    “The United States stands firmly with Belgium and with the nations of Europe in the face of this tragedy,:” Kerry said, adding that the world will not relent in its fight against the Islamic State group, which has claimed the attacks.

    “We – all of us representing countless nationalities – have a message for those who inspired or carried out the attacks here or in Paris, or Ankara, or Tunis, or San Bernardino, or elsewhere: We will not be intimidated,” he said. “We will not be deterred. We will come back with greater resolve – with greater strength – and we will not rest until we have eliminated your nihilistic beliefs and cowardice from the face of the Earth.”

    Talking to reporters, Kerry said the reason the Islamic State group “is resorting to actions outside the Middle East is that its fantasy of a caliphate is collapsing before their eyes; it’s territory is shrinking. Its leaders are decimated. Its revenue sources are dwindling, and its fighters are fleeing.

    Michel thanked Kerry for his visit, calling it a powerful message of solidarity. “It is very important for us today to receive your support,” he said. He offered condolences for the American victims and vowed to step up counter-terrorism cooperation with the U.S. and others.

    Kerry said he offered the prayers of the American people for “these people who have suffered inconceivable losses.”

    “Those whose lives were torn apart this week were not combatants in any conflict,” the secretary said.

    Kerry landed earlier Friday at the still-closed Brussels airport for a brief, hastily scheduled stop from Moscow, where he said the attacks underscored the urgency of unity in the fight against the Islamic State group. The group has claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s bombings at the airport departure terminal and a downtown Metro stop that killed 31 people and wounded 270.

    The Belgian Embassy, not long after Kerry’s arrival, sent a Twitter message calling his stop here an example of “the solidarity of the American people which goes right to our heart.”

    Associated Press diplomatic writer Matthew Lee wrote this report.

    The post At least 2 Americans perished in Brussels attacks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Volunteers distribute bottled water to help combat the effects of the crisis when the city's drinking water became contaminated with dangerously high levels of lead in Flint, Michigan. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

    Volunteers distribute bottled water to help combat the effects of the crisis when the city’s drinking water became contaminated with dangerously high levels of lead in Flint, Michigan. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Two years after problems began with the drinking water in Flint, Michigan, and nearly six months after officials declared a public health emergency, a bipartisan congressional effort to aid the predominantly African-American city is idling in the Senate — stalled by the objections of a single senator from Utah.

    Rep. Dan Kildee, a Michigan Democrat who represents Flint, says his hometown is struggling while Congress bickers.

    “This is not an abstraction. This is 100,000 kids and adults all suffering every single day and it’s pretty frustrating,” Kildee said in an interview. “We will not give up, that’s for sure,” he added, vowing that congressional Republicans “are not going to run out the clock on Flint, Michigan.”

    In fact, support for Flint is bipartisan. Michigan’s congressional delegation has unanimously pushed for Flint aid, and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder urged Congress to pass the bipartisan Senate bill “immediately” at an otherwise contentious congressional hearing last week.

    Michigan Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters reached agreement with key Republicans last month on a $220 million package to fix and replace lead-contaminated pipes in Flint and other cities.

    But the bill remains on hold after Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah objected in late February. Lee said Michigan has a budget surplus and does not need federal money to fix the problem.

    Stabenow’s frustration has been evident. In an impassioned speech on the Senate floor, she said that as a mother and grandmother, she “can’t imagine the fear and horror” Flint families feel as they are forced — month after month — to use bottled water to drink and bathe.

    Like other Americans, Flint residents “assumed that when you get up in the morning and turn on the faucet, when you take a shower or you feed your children, clean water is going to come out of the pipes,” Stabenow said in a March 17 speech. “We all assume that. That is pretty much a basic human right.”

    But not in Flint, where the water is tainted with lead.

    Flint’s drinking water became tainted when the city switched from the Detroit water system and began drawing from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money. The impoverished city was under state control at the time.

    Regulators failed to ensure the water was treated properly and lead from aging pipes leached into the water supply.

    Elevated lead levels have been found in at least 325 people, including 221 children. Lead contamination has been linked to learning disabilities and other problems.

    Stabenow, in her Senate speech, said she and other lawmakers have been pushing since January to pass a bill to help Flint, “yet the children of Flint are still waiting. The children of Flint need our help. We have a bipartisan bill, and we need a vote.”

    Lee said he, too, wants a vote — but only if the bill is paid for in what he considers an honest manner. Not only that, legislation labeled as helping Flint actually allows cities across the country to replace aging infrastructure where lead lurks as potential health hazard, he said.

    “What’s really happening here is that Washington politicians are using the crisis in Flint as an excuse to funnel taxpayer money to their own home states, and trying to sneak it through the Senate without proper debate and amendment. I respectfully object,” Lee said in a statement.

    The Senate bill would be paid for by redirecting up to $250 million in unspent money from an Energy Department loan program for high-tech cars. Lee, a freshman who was elected with the help of the tea party, does not object to redirecting money to Flint, but he wants to ensure that money committed to Flint does not add to the federal deficit, said spokesman Conn Carroll.

    Stabenow and Peters, whose state is the hub of U.S. auto manufacturing, want to protect that Energy Department program, which involves loans issued through the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program. It’s a remnant of the 2009 economic stimulus law.

    While lawmakers continue to negotiate — and point fingers over who’s to blame for the Flint crisis — Kildee said the time to act is now.

    “The people in Flint are American citizens and they are in crisis,” he said. “When there is a disaster and Americans face a crisis, we all pitch in, and the people of Flint deserve that.”

    The post As Congress bickers, Flint suffers, Michigan lawmakers say appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Early morning voters stand in line before sunrise to vote in Arizona's U.S. presidential primary election at a polling station in Cave Creek, Arizona. Photo by Nancy Wiechec/Reuters

    Early morning voters stand in line before sunrise to vote in Arizona’s U.S. presidential primary election at a polling station in Cave Creek, Arizona. Photo by Nancy Wiechec/Reuters

    PHOENIX — Hours-long waits for some Arizona residents for presidential primary voting have led to accusations of voter suppression from Democrats and civil rights proponents who cite a decision by elections officials to slash the number of polling places this year.

    Residents in metro Phoenix have been bristling for years over a perception that state leaders want to make it harder for them to vote, and the mess at the polls Tuesday only heightened their frustration.

    “Let’s be clear – voter suppression happened,” U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego said at a news conference Thursday, adding it might not have been intentional, but it happened nonetheless.

    The Phoenix Democrat said Arizona has a long history of voter suppression, including a new law that blocks voter-outreach groups from collecting and dropping off early ballots.

    Limiting the number of polling locations disproportionately affects minorities and the working poor, he said. They have a harder time finding transportation to polling locations and are less likely to have the time needed to wait in long lines.

    Republican lawmakers passed a series of measures in recent years aimed at cracking down on voter fraud, but opponents believe the changes were merely ploys to stifle Democratic turnout.

    Those battles are being waged again after people waited in line for five hours to vote in some places.

    Maricopa County’s top elections official, Recorder Helen Purcell, cut the number of polling places in the presidential primary from 200 in 2012 to just 60 on Tuesday, although those were larger voting centers where any registered voter could cast a ballot. During the last high-turnout presidential primary, in 2008, there were 400 polling places in the county of 4 million residents.

    Arizona’s Democratic Party is considering filing a lawsuit under the Voting Rights Act to determine if the county recorder’s actions disenfranchised voters, said Jim Barton, the party’s attorney.

    The Phoenix Democrat said Arizona has a long history of voter suppression, including a new law that blocks voter-outreach groups from collecting and dropping off early ballots. Barton said Tuesday’s fiasco largely stemmed from a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a key provision of that law.

    The provision required Arizona and all or part of 14 other states to get Justice Department approval, or “pre-clearance,” for changes in how they conduct elections.

    Barton’s conclusion about the high court decision in Shelby County v. Holder is right on the money, said constitutional scholar Paul Bender, a former law school dean and deputy solicitor general in the Clinton Administration.

    “That’s the first thing I thought when I saw these long lines. I said, ‘Oh, Shelby County,'” Bender said. “If they had not gotten rid of Section 5 — practically gotten rid of it, that is removed the pre-clearance requirements — that never would have been pre-cleared.”

    Purcell took responsibility for Tuesday’s foul-up and acknowledged she made a mistake. She said she relied on voter turnout expectations, the fact independents could not vote in the primary, and that most Arizonans are mailed early ballots. But she said the problems at the polls were in no way intended to suppress participation.

    “When you see people who are still willing to cast that vote and wait in line until well after the polls close, I don’t think that’s voter suppression,” Purcell said.

    Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s spokesman, Daniel Scarpinato, said talk of voter suppression is misplaced but the governor wants the problems fixed.

    “It is totally unacceptable for people to have to wait in lines of that length to vote,” he said. “This should be a basic function of government that we should be able to execute.”

    Ducey signed into law legislation making it a felony to collect an early ballot from a voter, a bill Democrats said was designed to limit their successful get-out-the vote efforts. Scarpinato said that’s not the case, noting 18 other states have similar laws.

    “The legislation that was signed earlier this month was designed specifically to ensure that there is integrity in the ballots cast,” he said.

    Teresa Jimenez was among those who waited in line for nearly two hours Tuesday in a heavily Latino neighborhood on the west side of Phoenix, only to have election officials close the site around 7 p.m. She went home without voting.

    She said she and other voters — many of them Latino — were excited to cast ballots, but their enthusiasm vanished when the site shut down.

    Jimenez believes the election represented an opportunity for Latinos who are fed up with years of discrimination in Arizona to make a statement. But she felt like the election problems put them back in their place.

    “They do it to us,” Jimenez said. “How are we supposed to hear our voices?”

    Associated Press writer Josh Hoffner contributed to this report.

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

    The post Arizona Democrats protest long poll wait for primary voting appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at a news conference on May 1, 2015. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

    Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at a news conference on May 1, 2015. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — U.S. forces killed a senior Islamic State leader, among several key members of the militant group eliminated this week, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Friday.

    Carter identified the senior IS leader as Haji Imam and described him as the group’s finance minister. He said he was a “well-known terrorist” who had a hand in terrorist plots outside of Iraq and Syria.

    “Leaders can be replaced. However, these leaders have been around for a long time. They are senior, they are experienced,” Carter told a Pentagon news conference.

    Carter did not say whether the IS finance leader was killed in Syria or Iraq.

    Appearing at the news conference with Carter, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said there has been no fundamental shift in the U.S. approach in Iraq, and he said efforts are under way to accelerate the campaign.

    The U.S. military has killed numerous Islamic State leaders in recent months. Earlier this month the Pentagon said it killed Omar al-Shishani, described as the Islamic State’s “minister of war,” in an airstrike in Syria. In November, the Pentagon said an airstrike in Libya killed Abu Nabil, another top IS leader.

    Associated Press national security/Pentagon reporter Lolita C. Baldor wrote this report.

    The post U.S. killed senior Islamic State leader, Carter says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) experiment. Photo by CERN

    Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) experiment. Photo by CERN

    Exotic particles can be incredibly ephemeral, sticking around for tiny fractions of a second before decaying. The recent discovery of a new type of particle called a tetraquark may turn out to be equally short-lived, according to a new study casting doubt on the finding, although the issue is not yet settled.

    The new tetraquark—an arrangement of four quarks, the fundamental particles that build up the protons and neutrons inside atoms—was first announced in late February by physicists at the DZero experiment at the Tevatron collider at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Illinois. The finding represented a surprising configuration of quarks of four different flavors that was not predicted and could help elucidate the maddeningly complex rules that govern quarks. But now scientists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)—the world’s largest particle accelerator, buried beneath Switzerland and France—say they have tried and failed to find confirming evidence for the particle in their own data. “We don’t see any of these tetraquarks at all,” says Sheldon Stone, a Syracuse University physicist who led the analysis for the LHCb experiment. “We contradict their result.”

    DZero team leaders, however, say they are standing by their discovery, which showed up in archived data, at least until they see more fleshed-out data from LHCb. “They don’t have any written documents yet, just slides,” says Dmitri Denisov, co-spokesperson for the DZero experiment. “So it might be correct, it might not. Let’s wait for more information.” The Tevatron was retired in 2011.

    The potential new "tetraquark" particle, made of four quarks, decays into two mesons, or pairings of two quarks, which then decay into other daughter particles. Photo by Fermilab

    The potential new “tetraquark” particle, made of four quarks, decays into two mesons, or pairings of two quarks, which then decay into other daughter particles.
    Photo by Fermilab

    If the new tetraquark exists, it should theoretically show up in droves at the LHC, and possibly in lesser numbers at other colliders as well. DZero’s discovery came not from seeing the new tetraquark, dubbed X(5568), directly, but rather by inferring its existence after seeing pairs of particles thought to be produced by its decay. Those particles, pions and Bs mesons (both consisting of pairs of quarks and antiquarks), are even more plentiful at the LHCb experiment than they were at DZero, and so the thinking goes, if the X(5568) tetraquark exists, it should be plainly evident there. But because each collider and experiment works differently and has unique sensitivities, it is possible that DZero was better suited to detect it. “It’s too early to say if LHCb is at all capable of seeing this object,” Denisov says.

    “I think the LHCb sensitivity is much better [than DZero’s] so I would tend to doubt that this [tetraquark] result is real,” says Tom Browder of the University of Hawaii, a member of the Belle collider experiment in Japan. “It’s likely to be a statistical fluctuation. You might be able to supply a conspiracy theory where it’s only produced at the Tevatron and not at the LHC, but I think that’s contrived.” Although Belle found the first known tetraquark in 2003, it likely does not have the ability to spot X(5568), Browder says.

    Scientists at the Tevatron’s other experiment, CDF (which stands for the Collider Detector at Fermilab), are dusting off their own data now to look for the particle, but have not yet confirmed that they have the sensitivity required to find it. “Could we see such a thing? In principle, yes,” says Fermilab scientist and CDF member Jonathan Lewis. “But it’s a detailed question. I can’t make a definitive statement as to whether we can rule it in or out.” He also found the LHCb results potentially telling. “That’s certainly a strong bit of contrary evidence that people need to consider,” Lewis says. “I would wait and see. We’re doing our work and I’ll leave it to other people to judge the sum total.”

    Either way, scientists do expect more tetraquark particles and other new arrangements of quarks to show up in coming years as accelerators become more and more powerful. The roughly half dozen tetraquarks that are now known may just be the tip of the iceberg. And the more we learn about all the different possible arrangements of quarks, the better scientists hope to understand the complex laws, called quantum chromodynamics, that govern them. These rules currently explain numerous facets of quark behavior, but the theory’s equations are too complex to solve many kinds of problems. Determining whether X(5568) exists is the first step toward progress.

    “Either way it will help science to know more,” Denisov says. “This case is especially difficult because theoretically, it’s very poorly understood how this object is created and decays. This is science in action.”

    This article is reproduced with permission from Scientific American. It was first published on March 23, 2016. Find the original story here.

    The post New tetraquark particle sparks doubts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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  • 03/25/16--08:30: How mean can we get?
  • As any of my somewhat exasperated friends, family and co-workers can tell you, I have developed an obsession this election season with the music from the monster Broadway hit “Hamilton.”

    I was one of the fortunate people who got to see the play last year, and I was blown away. More recently, I have been listening to the soundtrack — backwards, forwards and on shuffle.

    It should come as no surprise that a political junkie like me should connect so strongly with a play that is about war, politics and ambition. Every time I listen to the score, I hear something different.

    Even in 1776, politics was not beanbag. It’s not a spoiler to remind you that the story of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr resulted in the most famous duel in American history — and took Hamilton’s life in 1804.

    Then as now, running for president — they both aspired to it; neither achieved it — can be deadly serious.

    And yet, this election year has boggled the mind in many ways, confounding pollsters, pundits and politicians alike. The business of prediction-making has all but withered on the vine. (As one Hamilton lyric goes: “The World Turned Upside Down.”)

    In its place, however, we have seen a sharp spike in intolerance and plain old meanness that almost makes me long for the cruel efficiency and tradition of guns drawn at dawn.

    Candidates and their partisans have taken to attacking each other’s spouses. They use Twitter as a sharpened blade to trash each other from a distance. No wonder newsrooms are trying to figure out how to keep their reporters safe when they venture out to cover campaign rallies.

    Donald Trump, by apparent design, is the catalyst for much of this. Ben Carson, who also ran for the Republican presidential nomination before dropping out and endorsing Trump, acknowledged as much on the weekday chat show “The View.”

    Pressed about his endorsement, he acknowledged that he does not condone everything Trump has to say, but it works.

    “When you’re very nice, you’re very respectful, you talk about the real issues, and not get into all these issues, where does it get you?” he said to host Whoopi Goldberg. “It gets you where it got me. Nowhere, OK?”

    But it is far too easy to pin blame rather than examine our culture of meanness.

    Certainly the news media shoulders its share of the blame. The excellent Washington Post correspondent Juliet Eilperin chronicles how our jobs as journalists have changed in this Nieman Reports article.

    “Though the volume of coverage has grown significantly, no small portion of it has been either hastily assembled, trivial, or, like so much coverage of previous campaigns, focused exclusively on the horse race,” she writes. “The nanosecond news cycle incentivizes reporters to publish as soon as possible and often to elevate snark over substance. Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric guarantees traffic, so his statements garner more attention than crucial policy issues.”

    It’s a hamster wheel.

    I asked my Twitter followers about this, and their responses — dozens of them — were revealing. Some, of course, responded with even more snark. That’s the way of Twitter.

    But most of the responses were thoughtful.

    Carl Quintanilla, the CNBC news anchor, sent this:

    And here are a few others:

    This one, from Atlantic columnist Ron Fournier, made me smile:

    Call me the last living optimist. I think most people strive for kindness, even though we sometimes fall short. That means that old devil on our shoulder sometimes wins the day. (Who hasn’t laughed at a mean joke?)

    But it feels like we have crossed into the dangerous territory of late, and the distance from disagreement to violence and blame has been short-circuited.

    I am clearly not the only one struggling with this, and it is a bipartisan concern. Both President Obama and House Speaker Paul Ryan have shared their concerns from the campaign sidelines.

    Perhaps that concern will win the day, and our children, who — in the words of another famous musical “have to be carefully taught” — will not take the wrong lessons from what we are showing them.

    The post How mean can we get? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    House Bill 2, the law that was passed 12 hours after its introduction to the public, prevents cities from passing LGBT protections laws and requires transgender people to use bathrooms that correspond to the gender they were assigned at birth.

    These so-called “bathroom bills,” LGBT advocates say, completely miss the point by focusing public attention on transgender people’s bodies instead of other daily risks they face and legal protections they still lack. Model and activist Janet Mock, along with BuzzFeed reporter Meredith Talusan, pointed this out on Twitter.

    Several people tweeted pictures of themselves to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, asking him if they should use a bathroom that does not match their gender.

    Advocates have spoken out to say they fear the bill will only serve to dehumanize transgender people. To date, 18 states and the District of Columbia have laws that explicitly prohibit discrimination against people based on their gender identity, and those laws vary in terms of what they address between employment, housing and public accommodations.

    Others questioned whether the bill will stay in effect for long. The ACLU, Lambda Legal and Equality NC are considering legal challenges to the bill.

    For some, including agender, genderqueer and nonbinary people, this debate — which focuses on “male” vs. “female” restrooms — leaves out their own gender identity.

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    Defense Secretary Ash Carter (L) and Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford hold a joint news conference at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

    Defense Secretary Ash Carter (L) and Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford hold a joint news conference at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Friday it was moving to increase the number of American forces in Iraq and announced that U.S. forces have killed the Islamic State’s finance minister. “We are systematically eliminating ISIL’s cabinet,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said.

    WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Friday it was moving to increase the number of American troops in Iraq amid new strikes this week that killed the Islamic State’s finance minister and other senior leaders. Still, top U.S. defense officials say the deaths won’t “break the back” of the extremist group, which is in a fierce fight for an ancient city in Syria and claimed responsibility for bombing a soccer stadium in Iraq.

    Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the U.S. progress in eliminating members of the IS “cabinet” was hampering its ability to conduct and inspire attacks against the West. The announcement came as the battle to retake the Syrian city of Palmyra entered its third day and Iraqi forces continued their march to recapture Mosul. A suicide bombing in a soccer stadium south of Baghdad, killing nearly 30 people, underscored the difficult fight ahead.

    Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Pentagon reporters that recommendations on ways to increase U.S. support for Iraq’s ground fight against IS will be discussed with President Barack Obama soon.

    “The secretary and I both believe that there will be an increase in U.S. forces in Iraq in coming weeks, but that decision hasn’t been made,” Dunford said. He did not say how big that increase might be.

    He and Carter said accelerating the campaign against the Islamic State will include more assistance like the artillery fire and targeting help that U.S. Marines provided earlier this week to Iraqi forces advancing on Mosul. But they said American forces remain well behind the front lines.

    “I think there’s a lot of reasons for us to be optimistic about the next several months,” Dunford said. “But by no means would I say that we’re about to break the back of ISIL or that the fight is over.”

    Using an acronym for the militant group, Carter said the U.S. is “systematically eliminating ISIL’s cabinet,” killing several key members in strikes this week.

    Carter would not provide details about the strikes, but a senior U.S. official said the group’s financial minister was killed along with two associates in a U.S. raid in Syria. The official was not authorized to discuss the operations so spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Carter said the finance minister, who is known by several names, including Abdul-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli and Haji Imam, was a “well-known terrorist” who had a hand in terrorist plots outside of Iraq and Syria.

    He said al-Qaduli has been associated with IS dating back to its earliest iteration as al-Qaida in Iraq. He said he had worked under Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as a liaison for operations in Pakistan and was “responsible for some external affairs and plots.” Carter said he was not aware of any link between al-Qaduli and this week’s terrorist attacks in Brussels.

    In a separate operation, a U.S. airstrike in Mosul killed another top IS leader, the official said. Carter identified the man as Abu Sarah and said he was one of the leaders charged with paying militant fighters in northern Iraq.

    The successful attacks are part of a string of recent strikes targeting the leadership of the group, which has lost territory in both Iraq and Syria. Earlier this month the Pentagon said it killed Omar al-Shishani, described as the Islamic State’s “minister of war,” in an airstrike in Syria. In November, the Pentagon said an airstrike in Libya killed Abu Nabil, another top IS leader.

    Earlier this week, U.S. military officials confirmed the creation of a Marine outpost, dubbed Fire Base Bell, in Iraq. U.S. Marines operating from the small base provided targeting assistance and artillery fire to support Iraqi troops retaking several villages in the initial stages of their march to Mosul. It’s the first such base established by the U.S. since it returned forces to Iraq in 2014.

    Carter has also said the U.S. is looking at a number of options to “accelerate” the fight against IS. Those options have not yet officially been submitted to the White House for approval. They could include sending additional U.S. forces to Iraq, using Apache helicopters for combat missions, deploying more U.S. special operations forces or using American military advisers in Iraqi units closer to the front lines.

    Asked about the impact of the latest killings, Carter said it was important “but not sufficient.”

    “Leaders can be replaced,” said Carter. “However, these leaders have been around for a long time. They are senior, they are experienced, and so eliminating them is an important objective and it achieves an important result.”

    In Syria Friday, government forces recaptured a Mamluk-era citadel in Palmyra from the Islamic State, Syrian state media and monitoring groups said. Syrian and Russian warplanes struck at least 56 targets inside IS-held areas of the city and pro-government militias supported the army’s advance, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group.

    In Iraq, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility after a suicide bomber blew himself up during a match in the small soccer stadium in the city of Iskanderiyah, 30 miles from Baghdad. The attack killed at least 29 people and wounded 60, security officials said.

    Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor and Robert Burns wrote this report.

    AP writers Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Baghdad contributed to this report.

    READ MORE: U.S. killed senior Islamic State leader, Carter says

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    Woman standing in office. Getty Images

    It’s important for older women seeking employment to understand the particular challenges they face in the labor market, says economist Teresa Ghilarducci. Getty Images

    Editor’s Note: For a recent Making Sen$e segment, Paul Solman caught up with economist Teresa Ghilarducci to discuss why the job market is harder on aging women than aging men. We asked Ghilarducci to share some of her practical advice from her new book, “How To Retire With Enough Money and How To Know What Enough Is.” The book also discusses retirement, savings, Social Security and why you should get rid of your financial planner.

    Below, Ghilarducci explains what older women face in the job market and some tips on how to beat the odds. Watch the full segment on older women workers at the bottom of the post.

    — Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor

    It’s important for older women seeking employment to understand the particular challenges they face in the labor market.

    New research from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank suggests that when the 2008 crash caused a massive surge in unemployment, the hardest hit were older job seekers, especially women. After the crash, the chances of being long-term unemployed more than doubled for people over 65. Before the crash in 2007, 14 percent of women over 65 were unemployed for longer than 27 weeks; in 2013, over 50 percent were. In contrast, 23 percent of older men were long-term unemployed in 2007, and 48 percent were in 2013.

    New research from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank suggests that when the 2008 crash caused a massive surge in unemployment, the hardest hit were older job seekers, especially women.

    Adding to that, economic research confirms what many older workers already know: Difficult as it is to get a new job, getting a job that is just as good as your old one is almost impossible. Unemployed older workers who get rehired experience an average earnings loss of 25 percent compared to earnings of their previous job. This is mainly due to the new job offering fewer hours, which results in less pay.

    The job application process is especially difficult for older women. Economists Harry Farber and Til von Wachter found that college-educated women over 50 are much less likely to receive a callback after an interview for an administrative position than younger college-educated women.

    Sex discrimination is not news to anyone, but the combination of sexism and age discrimination is a unique disadvantage for older women in the workforce.

    Advice for Older Women Looking for Work

    My advice to all workers is to make prospective employers feel that they would be lucky to have you. Here are some tips for older job seekers looking to increase their appeal, taken from my new book, “How to Retire With Enough Money and How to Know What Enough Is.”

    1. Make it easy for employers to see your worth to THEM. Demonstrate that you will solve their problem by showing specifically why your life experience — even if it includes years off to care for a sick parent — makes you a savvy strategist.
    2. Make it hard for a potential employer to know your age. Leave off dates you graduated from various schools.
    3. Follow economist Peter Cappelli’s advice to write your resume so a computer picks you out among thousands of applicants.
    4. Research indicates that a white lie of omission might be necessary. If you are college educated and had to take a low-level job while you were looking for a professional one, you might want to leave it off your resume. Research suggests that older, college-educated women who took a low-level job while they were searching for a professional position received fewer callbacks than those who didn’t have low-level positions on their resumes.
    5. Stay technologically literate. “Hey, don’t look at me,” you might be saying. “It’s not like I’m still on MySpace.” But technological proficiency isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. An ongoing one. Don’t spike the ball at the 40-yard line. Keep moving forward. Tech literacy makes you look hirable to an employer and advances in technology tend to make jobs easier, not harder — if they didn’t, they wouldn’t replace old methods.
    6. Get mid-career education. You wouldn’t want an operation to be done by a surgeon who finished his residency in 1998 and then never updated his skills; you’d want somebody who’s kept on top of new procedures and techniques. What applies to medicine applies to many other fields. Software and technological devices are used in a great many fields, and they’re constantly changing. New machines, new markets, new techniques, new ideas, new priorities…You’ll face some or all of those over the course of a long career. Be interested, be engaged and embrace change.
    7. Make and keep friends in your line of work. Networking was a popular concept of the 1990s for a reason: It paid off. It still does. If you’ve been laid off, connections and goodwill are incredibly important to getting the next job. People will pick up the phone and talk to someone they know and like. They’re much less likely to answer a phone message with an unfamiliar name and number attached.
    8. Scale back your expectations. It’d be ideal to keep working in your chosen field, the one in which you’ve spent most of your career, but that may not be possible. Statistics tell us that employers in manufacturing, finance, insurance, wholesale trade, scientific and technical services, arts and entertainment and the recreation industry all have a strong bias toward hiring younger people. However, older workers may find jobs in home health care, retail trade, management, administrative support, waste management services, education, health care and the social assistance sector. Those professions may not sound as interesting as your old one, but new challenges are fun and exciting — go for it!
    [Watch Video]

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    Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    Taxpayers spend more than $30 billion a year on grants for college students. Now they can see what they’re getting for their money. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    For years, popular rankings of universities and colleges have been blamed for pushing universities and colleges to shift financial aid away from needy students to wealthier graduates of top private and suburban high schools who can help them raise their standings.

    Now the government has introduced another ranking meant to shame them into doing a better job enrolling low-income students and making sure they graduate.

    The schools are being scored for the first time based on the number of recipients of Pell Grants they enroll — grants that go to children of families earning around $40,000 or less, and used as a measure of low income — and the proportion who actually get degrees.

    The Obama administration hopes the public exposure will encourage colleges and universities to admit more such students, and help them finish.

    It also proposes a total of $5.7 billion in financial bonuses over 10 years to be shared among the schools that do the best job of this, though that is part of the president’s 2017 budget request, and requires congressional approval.

    The new list gives an early look at which schools those might be.

    For example, among public universities, 58 percent of the students at California State University at Stanislaus get Pell Grants, and 53 percent graduate within six years—an even higher percentage than the overall average graduation rate for that campus. At the City University of New York’s Bernard M. Baruch College, 45 percent of the students are on Pell Grants, and 69 percent graduate.

    The top performer among private, nonprofit institutions: Agnes Scott College in Georgia, 45 percent of whose students are eligible for Pell Grants. Of those, 71 percent graduate within six years.

    And while the most selective campuses have much smaller percentages of Pell students, the government ranks them, too. Amherst does best, with 22 percent of its enrollment Pell-eligible, and 94 percent of them finishing within six years.

    What the department did not report are the colleges and universities that do the worst. But government data provided on request show they include the University of Maine at Augusta, where 57 percent of the students get Pell Grants, but only 9 percent graduate; Franklin University in Ohio, where the comparable figures are 47 percent and 11 percent; and Bluefield State College in West Virginia, 59 percent and 12 percent.

    There are complications with preparing lists like this — complications on which higher-education lobbyists have seized to block them.

    The college-by-college graduation rates reported by the Department of Education for low-income students are largely wrong, for instance, according to independent reviews, including by The Hechinger Report.

    That’s because, while colleges and universities themselves are required to disclose the graduation rates of their students who get Pell Grants, if asked, they don’t have to report them to the government.

    The Education Department instead has calculated this statistic using an obscure database that was designed to keep track of student loans, which means the many students who get Pell Grants but don’t take out any loans to pay for college don’t show up.

    The Hechinger Report found the graduation rates for Pell recipients the government reports are off by an average of 10, and as much as 59, percentage points.

    So in its new list, the department took the surprising step of relying instead on graduation data collected by someone else — The Education Trust, which advocates for low-income students.

    The Education Trust did not calculate the six-year Pell graduation rates of every university and college, however, so hundreds are not included in the data.

    Meanwhile, the Department of Education plans eventually change the way colleges and universities report their graduation rates.

    In its report, the Obama administration pushed other measures it has already proposed to improve the college-going and graduation rates of low-income students, and took credit for others already in force, including the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which goes to certain families that pay college or university tuition.

    In fact, more than half of the $34 billion a year in tuition tax credits like these goes to households earning more than $100,000 a year, according to the Tax Policy Center. This despite research showing that 13 out of 14 students in those families would have gone to college even without the tax breaks.

    This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Read more about higher education.

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    U.S. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz hugs his wife Heidi Cruz after she introduced him at a campaign event at Lakeside Plastics in Oshkosh, Wisconsin March 25, 2016. Photo by Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters

    Sen. Ted Cruz hugs his wife Heidi Cruz after she introduced him at a campaign event at Lakeside Plastics in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Friday. Photo by Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters

    OSHKOSH, Wisconsin — Ted Cruz accused Republican presidential rival Donald Trump of stoking false rumors about his personal life on Friday, charging that the billionaire businessman and GOP front-runner was trafficking in “sleaze” and “slime.”

    Speaking to reporters in Wisconsin, Cruz said the campaign has taken a “darker turn.” He accused Trump and “his henchmen” of spreading untrue rumors on social media and in a supermarket tabloid that Cruz cheated on his wife, Heidi.

    “Trump demonstrated that when he’s scared, when he’s losing, his first and natural resort is to go to sleaze and to go to slime,” Cruz said.

    He added, “He’s willing to attack anyone and everyone. And truth has nothing to do with it.”

    Trump responded Friday in a statement saying he had nothing to do with the story published this week by the National Enquirer.

    “I have no idea whether or not the cover story about Ted Cruz in this week’s issue of the National Enquirer is true or not, but I had absolutely nothing to do with it, did not know about it and have not, as yet, read it,” he said.

    But Trump also noted that the tabloid has been right about several major stories, including allegations that former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards had had an affair and a child with a woman who wasn’t his wife.

    The Cruz story published this week in the tabloid described what it called rumors, providing no evidence that Cruz had engaged in an extramarital affair. The only source quoted by name was a former Trump campaign adviser, Roger Stone, who said such “stories have been swirling around Cruz for some time” without offering any evidence they are true.

    The accusations are an escalation of the back-and-forth between the two candidates that began this week, when Trump tweeted that he might “spill the beans” about Heidi Cruz. The tweet was in response to an advertisement from an outside group opposed to Trump’s candidacy that featured a risqué photo of Trump’s wife, Melania.

    Cruz, on his Facebook page on Friday, accused Trump, who hasn’t held a public event since Monday, of “hiding in Trump Tower” and campaigning by Twitter instead of holding events with voters.

    Asked if he plans to vote for Trump if he becomes the party’s nominee, Cruz said, “I don’t make a habit of supporting people who attack my wife and my family.”

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    Donald Trump claims he's inspiring "millions" of new voters. Whether or not he's the reason, the numbers are clear: Republican turnout is up 58 percent so far this year compared to this point in the 2012 primaries. Photo by Sam Mircovich/Reuters

    Donald Trump claims he’s inspiring “millions” of new voters. Whether or not he’s the reason, the numbers are clear: Republican turnout is up 58 percent so far this year compared to this point in the 2012 primaries. Photo by Sam Mircovich/Reuters

    Donald Trump boasted this week that his campaign has inspired “millions of additional people” to vote in the Republican primaries.

    Compared to the last presidential election, Republican turnout this year is up “72 percent, and it looks like even much more than that,” Trump said at a press conference in Washington, D.C. In case anyone was wondering, he added, “That’s because of me.”

    Trump’s claim was characteristically exaggerated, but numbers do point to a remarkable surge of enthusiasm among Republican voters. Through the latest round of voting on Tuesday, Republican turnout was 58 percent higher than at this point in the 2012 primaries, according to Public Opinion Strategies, a leading Republican research firm.

    READ MORE: Clinton and Trump clash in responses to Brussels attacks

    The trend has been seen throughout the country, from left-leaning states in New England to conservative states in the South. Maine’s Republican primary turnout shot up by an eye-opening 234 percent from 2012 to 2016; Texas drew 2.8 million GOP primary voters, doubling the total from four years ago.

    Maine’s Republican primary turnout shot up by an eye-opening 234 percent from 2012 to 2016; Texas drew 2.8 million GOP primary voters, doubling the total from four years ago.
    “It’s beyond anything we’ve seen before,” Tom Mechler, the chairman of the Texas Republican Party, said of the record turnout. Officials had prepared for an above-average turnout in the state, but the final “number was even higher than we expected.”

    The turnout is being driven in large part by Trump, who entered the race with solid national name recognition thanks to his years in the spotlight as a real estate developer and reality television star.

    “Obviously, there’s a huge amount of interest” in Trump, said William Kristol, the conservative strategist and editor of The Weekly Standard.

    But party insiders, strategists and political scientists identified several other factors contributing to the rise in primary GOP turnout that have little to do with Trump — and that could help determine the level of support he might receive in a general election match-up against Hillary Clinton.

    Consider North Carolina. In 2012, North Carolina held its Republican presidential primary in May. Mitt Romney had all-but secured the party’s nomination by then, which decreased the incentive for voting in a contest that had already been decided.

    This year, the Republican National Committee allowed North Carolina to move its primary up to March 15, the same day as the critical winner-take-all states of Florida and Ohio. It was a pivotal moment in the race, which gave voters a greater say in determining the outcome.

    Trump’s success that night — he won North Carolina, Illinois and Florida by comfortable margins — knocked Senator Marco Rubio of Florida out of the race, and cemented his position as the GOP front-runner.

    “Moving the primary date up made us more relevant to the national debate,” said a conservative leader in the state, who requested to speak on the condition of anonymity.

    The state’s recent population boom also might have played a role in driving up Republican turnout. North Carolina had the fifth largest population growth of any state in the nation between 2010 and 2015, and added roughly 300,000 residents between the 2012 presidential election and the end of last year, census records show. “We just have more people voting,” the source said.

    Democratic turnout in North Carolina increased 63 percent this year, compared to 2008, the last time the party held competitive primaries. But the state was a rare bright spot as turnout goes this cycle. Overall, Democratic primary turnout is down 19 percent, the Public Opinion Strategies analysis found.

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

    Voters in Arlington, Virginia, line up early to cast their ballots in Super Tuesday elections March 1, 2016. Photo by Gary Cameron/Reuters

    Mechler said that Texas’s decision to move its primary up to March 1 also increased voter turnout, as did the fact that a popular home state senator, Ted Cruz, was on the ballot and competing hard to win the state (Cruz beat Trump there by 17 points).

    Others argued that the record turnout has more to do with a strong initial primary field, compared to 2012, than it does with any changes in the primary calendar or state-by-state population shifts.

    Romney’s record as the governor of a liberal state and his reputation for flip-flopping on issues like healthcare reform, coupled with his seemingly inevitable march to the nomination, was a turn-off for many conservative primary voters, said Roy Fletcher, a Republican strategist.

    “It may well be that Romney was a blasé candidate,” said Fletcher, who served as John McCain’s deputy campaign manager in 2008. “This is different. Like him or hate him, Donald Trump lets you know where he stands.”

    Trump has certainly taken clear positions on immigration and national security. Earlier this week, in response to the terrorist attacks in Brussels, he said that as president he would support the use of waterboarding and other forms of torture to interrogate terrorist suspects.

    The comments drew heavy criticism from Clinton, who has sought to portray Trump as a divisive, unhinged candidate who is unprepared for a position as serious as the presidency.

    Polls show that moderate Republicans — not Democrats and independents, as Trump often claims — have also helped boost turnout numbers in 2016.
    But turnout is rarely driven by policy differences alone. In recent decades, the party vying to take back the White House has had an easier time rallying its base than the party seeking to hold onto the presidency.

    After eight years of a Democrat in the White House, most Republican voters are simply eager for a change, said Steve Schale, a Democratic consultant.

    “We benefited from this in 2008,” said Schale, who ran President Obama’s campaign in Florida. “There’s always more voter energy about taking [the White House] back than keeping someone in there.”

    Trump has capitalized on that energy more effectively than his Republican rivals, in part by making a direct appeal to white, working class voters on issues like immigration and trade. But Trump has also refused to portray himself as a traditional ideological conservative, which has left the door open for moderate Republicans to support his campaign.

    Chandler Hazen, a mechanic from Phenix, Alabama, said he was convinced that Trump would be able to grow the economy and protect the country from terrorist attacks.

    “Trump is the man,” said Hazen, 19, who described himself as a moderate conservative. “He’s the one that’s going to take care of this nation and bring us back.”

    Polls show that moderate Republicans — not Democrats and independents, as Trump often claims — have also helped boost turnout numbers in 2016.

    According to the analysis by Public Opinion Strategies, which included the most recent round of voting on Tuesday in Utah, Arizona, and Idaho, 42 percent of Republican primary voters so far this year identify themselves as “somewhat conservative,” up from 33 percent at this stage in the 2012 race.

    The share of the GOP primary electorate that identified as Democrat stayed steady at 5 percent, while the percentage of independents grew one point, from 26 to 27 percent.

    “He doesn’t fit neatly in the Republican party,” said Danielle Vinson, a political science professor at Furman University in South Carolina. Trump is seeking out voters “who may think of themselves as Republican, but aren’t ideologically conservative.”

    That approach has produced victories in key swing states like Florida, which Trump carried by 18 points earlier this month. Turnout in Florida’s Republican primary was 2.3 million — up 42 percent from 2012.

    Still, he only captured 45 percent of the vote, a stark reminder that in Florida and elsewhere much of the turnout on the Republican side has been driven by voters who don’t support Trump, or are actively trying to block him from winning the nomination.

    “It’s too soon to tell” if Republican enthusiasm in the primaries will carry over into the general election, said Geoff Garin, a leading Democratic pollster.

    “But I think the phenomenon that has operated in the nominating contest will operate in a similar way in the general election,” Garin said. “People will turn out both to vote for and against Donald Trump.”

    Sybil Ammons, a coroner from Lumpkin, Georgia, said she supported Cruz in the state’s primary because she did not want Trump to become the party’s standard bearer.

    “I’m concerned. I think a lot of people are,” Ammons said. “But if he’s the Republican candidate, then he has my vote.”

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    Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House after being nominated by President Barack Obama (not pictured) to the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington March 16, 2016. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House after being nominated by President Barack Obama to the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington March 16, 2016. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    LAS VEGAS — Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid predicts the Senate will confirm Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court after Hillary Clinton wins the presidential election in November.

    The Nevada Democrat says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to consider a high court nominee until a new president offers a nomination for the vacancy is “dumb advice” for Republican senators.

    Reid said at a news conference that it would be foolish for Republicans to wait until after the election. But he predicted Democrats would win the White House and Republicans would choose to confirm the moderate Garland over a Clinton nominee, who might be more liberal.

    Democrats have urged their Republican counterparts to do their job and replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia this year.

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    As President Barack Obama concluded his Latin America trip in Argentina this week, he sought to mend one of the U.S.’s most historically troubled relationships in the region involving the rise of a brutal military regime.

    On the 40th anniversary of Argentina’s 1976 military coup, Obama announced the declassification of documents involving the regime’s effort to silence their leftist opposition which resulted in the disappearance of as many as 30,000 people.

    Juan Mandelbaum, an Argentine filmmaker who directed and produced the 2008 documentary “Our Disappeared/Nuestros Desaparecidos,” said the declassified documents could potentially provide victims’ families with answers. But, he said, Argentina must not forget those they lost — many kidnapped, tortured, drugged and then thrown alive into Buenos Aires’ Rio de la Plata and left to drown. His film tells of his return to Argentina in the 1990s to find his former girlfriend, Patricia Dixon. He soon learned from her remaining family that she was one of the disappeared, murdered by the military for her leftist activism.

    “There’s great expectation that these documents may have reference to specific cases of disappeared because there are still thousands of cases of disappeared that are unsolved where we don’t know what happened to those people,” Mandelbaum told the NewsHour via Skype. “Where were they taken? When were they killed? We just don’t know and that’s a huge void for all of the relatives and friends of the people who disappeared.”

    A man holds up a portrait of Luis German Cirigliano, who disappeared during Argentina's 'Dirty war', during a demonstration to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1976 military coup in Buenos Aires, March 24, 2016. Photo by Marcos Brindicci/Reuters

    A man holds up a portrait of Luis German Cirigliano, who disappeared during Argentina’s “Dirty war,” during a demonstration to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1976 military coup in Buenos Aires Thursday. Photo by Marcos Brindicci/Reuters

    As President Obama met Argentina’s recently elected right-wing President Mauricio Macri in Buenos Aires Wednesday and then traveled to the southern city of Bariloche Thursday, thousands marched in the yearly remembrance for the more than 30,000 loved ones they lost during the nine years of terror. However, this year many also marched against Obama’s visit, protesting the presence of a U.S. leader in Argentina the week of the anniversary.

    Previously declassified files by the U.S. government in 2002 included a transcript of former U.S. Sec. of State Henry Kissinger in June 1976 telling the Argentine generals, “If there are things that have to be done, you should do them quickly.”

    While Argentina continues to be divided politically, much of it regarding how to deal with the human rights violations committed by the military junta, Mandelbaum said “there is a hope that is in the next generation” of Argentines that by remembering the disapeared, they will be better able to help heal the scarred nation for their children.

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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, we note the passing this week of two groundbreaking artists of the entertainment world.

    Jeffrey Brown has our remembrance.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In his first influential sitcom, Garry Shandling would break character and speak directly to the audience.

    GARRY SHANDLING, Comedian: I feel like I’m on Gilligan’s Island. I can’t get off this date.


    JOHNNY CARSON, The Tonight Show: Would you welcome Garry Shandling?

    JEFFREY BROWN: He’d started in stand-up, and been a fill-in host for Johnny Carson. And in 1992, he created his own mock late-night show, “The Larry Sanders Show,” that subverted the form.

    ALEC BALDWIN, Actor: Well, actually, Larry, you and I have something in common.

    GARRY SHANDLING: Yes? Yes, we do.


    GARRY SHANDLING: A lot of you probably don’t know that Alec and I — well, Alec used to actually date my ex-wife, Francine.

    ALEC BALDWIN: No, I was referring to our charity work with multiple sclerosis.



    JEFFREY BROWN: He pioneered a kind of meta-humor and both featured, and influenced, a generation of up-and-coming comedians.

    Earlier this year, Sanders joined his friend Jerry Seinfeld on his Web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” where they discussed the impact of “The Larry Sanders Show.”

    JERRY SEINFELD, Comedian: You ever watch TV, “The Office,” “Modern Family,” and go, oh, look, they’re still doing me? They’re still doing that thing I invented?

    GARRY SHANDLING: I knew when I explained to HBO what I wanted to do, I couldn’t say, it’s a little bit of this show and a little bit of that show. I couldn’t even do that. And I mean, they thought I was crazy.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Among many others, last night, Conan O’Brien recalled Shandling’s personal kindness.

    CONAN O’BRIEN, Host, Conan: He was also extremely sensitive. He was complicated, and he had a ton of empathy for other people. And I want to make that point. That is something in the business, in comedy, that is very rare. He really did care about other people.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Garry Shandling died of an apparent heart attack in Los Angeles yesterday. He was 66.

    Another innovator who helped reshape his artistic landscape was Malik Taylor, better known as Phife Dawg. He and childhood friend, Jonathan, AKA Q-Tip, helped found the seminal hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, known for its socially-conscious lyrics and innovative music.

    MICHAEL RAPAPORT, Director, “Beats, Rhymes and Life”: For a lot of people, A Tribe Called Quest was our Beatles, our Rolling Stones, our Led Zeppelin.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The group was the subject of a 2011 documentary called “Beats, Rhymes and Life” by actor and director Michael Rapaport, who spoke with us via Skype.

    MICHAEL RAPAPORT: When Q-Tip and Phife were in sync, it was as good as anything. It was as good as your favorite piece of pizza, the best glass of wine.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The group’s 1991 album “Low End Theory” fused hip-hop and jazz, and along with “Midnight Marauders,” influenced a generation of rappers and producers.

    PHARRELL WILLIAMS, Musician: We wouldn’t be here, man, if it wasn’t like for Tribe albums. You got it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Phife Dawg died of complications with diabetes. He was 45 years old.

    The post Remembering the lives of Garry Shandling and Phife Dawg appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A supporter for the Ku Klux Klan and the Confederate flag yells at opposing demonstrators during a rally at the statehouse in Columbia, South Carolina July 18, 2015. A Ku Klux Klan chapter and an African-American group planned overlapping demonstrations on Saturday outside the South Carolina State House, where state officials removed the Confederate battle flag last week. REUTERS/Chris Keane      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX1KURH

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups have gained more attention in the news recently, but as special correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault explains, the national undercurrent of racism may be even more pervasive.

    It’s part of our yearlong exploration of solutions to the problems of race in America.

    These are boots that are intended so that, when you stomp on someone, the swastika will be left.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Heidi Beirich is leader of The Intelligence Project here at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit anti-terror organization.

    She shows us memorabilia revealing some Ku Klux Klan history, boots with swastikas and boots with red laces, indicating Klan members who’ve physically harmed someone, and other racist paraphernalia. In 2014, there were some 784 active hate groups. Beirich brings us up to date.

    The Ku Klux Klan has declined over the years, in part due to lawsuits that you people here at the Southern Poverty Law Center have filed. Briefly tell us about how that came about.

    HEIDI BEIRICH, Southern Poverty Law Center: We started filing lawsuits against the Klan in 1981 over a lynching of a young black man in Mobile. That was our first anti-Klan law suit.

    And we came up with this idea that we should sue these folks in civil court to bankrupt them. That was the plan. We have now had a series of Klan groups that we have sued, put them basically out of business, leading all the way up to very recently with the Imperial Klans of America. Our hope is that by taking their money away, they can’t function anymore.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And that was successful?

    HEIDI BEIRICH: Yes. Every single one of them has been successful. Obviously, when these groups don’t have money, that means there’s less violence that they could perpetrate. The whole idea is to not allow them to function.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: But at the moment, there seems to be a resurgence and what appears to be a rise in hate groups. What explains that?

    HEIDI BEIRICH: We have seen a sustained rise in hate groups since basically 2000. And the main thing driving this has been changing demographics in the United States.

    2000 was an important year because it was the first time that the U.S. census said definitively, in our near future, 2042 at the time, whites will no longer be the majority. And obviously, if you are a member of a hate group, right, if you’re a white supremacist, the fact that whites will be less than 50 percent of the population is something to basically be a little freaked out about.

    And so we started to see them organizing by hate groups and huge growth, spiked over 1,000 hate groups in a short period of time. Obama added to that, right? Obviously, the first black president was another reason for a backlash like that to develop.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And you’re getting that from former Klans-people and former white supremacists who are telling you that?

    HEIDI BEIRICH: You always hear exactly the same thing, whether people are in the movement or out of the movement.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Is it mostly hatred of African-Americans or is there more to it?

    HEIDI BEIRICH: Hatred of black people is the driving force for America’s hate movement.

    But, over the years, as you have seen a change in sort of the population of people of color here, you can add to that mix dislike of Latinos and immigrants, dislike of gay people and, very recently, we have seen a huge outburst by every kind of hate group against the Muslim community.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: You have also described in some of your writings about a new phenomenon called the lone wolf, which is different from organized groups. How significant and worrisome is that?

    HEIDI BEIRICH: Well, you’re pointing out one of the biggest trends in terms of racist killings that we’re seeing lately.

    We have people like Dylann Roof, who killed nine people in Charleston. Our understanding of Dylann Roof, from his own manifesto, is he never met a person in another hate group in his life. He was completely radicalized online.

    That’s exactly the same phenomenon that we see, for example, for people who are inspired by ISIS. They go onto Web sites where there’s propaganda that’s widely available. It enrages them for some reason. That kind of lone wolf terrorism is a big problem, and there’s more of it today than it was 10 years ago, and we don’t expect that to change.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Can you use any of the tactics that you used to decimate the Klan in this new era?

    HEIDI BEIRICH: These people live on the Web, like many people do for all kinds of reasons. The only way for law enforcement to really find them and track them is to follow them onto the hate Web sites. And it’s not easy. How did Dylann Roof indicate that he was going to go on a mass shooting spree? He didn’t.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: So, are there any solutions, though, for people who — around the country who are concerned about these issues?

    HEIDI BEIRICH: The Department of Justice has reconstituted a domestic terrorism task force that had been defunct since 9/11 to start collecting intelligence aggressively against white supremacists and extreme anti-government types. That’s a very important thing to do.

    What we try to do here is publish information about these people, where they are, what groups they’re involved in, what they’re publishing, so that at least law enforcement, which is the big readership for our products, knows where they are, what they believe, what they think, so they have a chance to maybe catch someone before they escalate.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: How much does education add to a solution?

    HEIDI BEIRICH: It’s probably the biggest solution. And we know from talking to people who are racist today that it has a lot to do with what you learn in the home.

    If it’s not counteracted in some way, right, deep racial hatred, you just — you don’t learn any differently. We have a lot of people who come to us after stints, for example, in prison for crimes committed with white supremacy in some way who meet people of other races. That’s a place where you could intervene with younger people too and bring them out of movement.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And you have seen that happen?

    HEIDI BEIRICH: Many, many times.

    One of my favorite examples is a woman named Angela King. who went to prison in Florida for involvement with a white supremacist skinhead crew. They committed some robberies. She met a Jamaican woman who was involved — who was imprisoned with her, but was involved in some community activities in the prison there.

    They became friends. That’s how Angie got out of the movement, was through that relationship. For the first time in her life, she had an honest friendship, right, with a person of a different color. Now Angela King runs something called Life After Hate, which works with people who wants to get out of white supremacist movements.

    And what we try to do is bust up the groups. We try to sow discord among the organizations, show that the people who lead these organizations are hypocrites and so on, to give people a chance to look at what they have gotten involved in and maybe reconsider it.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And you have seen that work?

    HEIDI BEIRICH: It absolutely works.

    The number one thing, I would say, that drives people out of hate groups is seeing their leadership corrupt.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Looking to the future and the things that you do, are you at all optimistic that your organization and America in general can get its arms around hate and racism?

    HEIDI BEIRICH: I’m optimistic in the long run, and I’m extremely pessimistic in the short run.

    Some of the racial strife that we have been experiencing over the last year are all related to our inability to digest the fact that this country is changing and white people are not going to be the majority here. Right?

    I think, in the long term, everything in the United States may be amazing. Right? We might be the first truly multicultural, multiethnic democracy that embraces tolerance everywhere. We would be the first if we sustain this transition in the 2050s without having things descend into chaos.

    But we’re going to have to get through a rough patch. We really have to work on this issue. It’s fundamental to our democracy working.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Heidi Beirich, thank you so much for joining us.

    HEIDI BEIRICH: It was a pleasure.

    The post As racial hate groups rise, strategies to shut them down appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, poverty has had a persistent grip on Eastern Kentucky for generations. Its residents are poorer and less educated than any other region of Appalachia, and the impact on health is unmistakable. Life expectancy there is five years shorter than the rest of the nation.

    Special correspondent Jackie Judd reports on efforts to turn that around.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There are a few certainties in Sam Wilson’s hardscrabble life, bluegrass that sustains him, and cancer that he expects will kill him.

    SAM WILSON, Cancer Sufferer: I was laid up with cancer and didn’t know it, in my bladder, kidney, prostate, some in my bowels and colon.

    JACKIE JUDD: In Eastern Kentucky, Appalachia, cancer is epidemic, and has been for decades. The highest-in-the-nation rates are fueled by a toxic combination of poverty, medical illiteracy, limited access to care, lifestyle choices like smoking, and a fatalism that says knowing you have cancer won’t save you.

    SAM WILSON: My whole family, they just won’t go to the doctor anymore. My mother died of cancer and she wouldn’t go. Two of my sisters died with cancer. But they went to the doctor, but they still passed away.

    JACKIE JUDD: Irene, did you try to convince him to go to the doctor when he wasn’t feeling well?

    WOMAN: He finally told me after a few years, and he said, it’s so painful, something has to be done.

    JACKIE JUDD: After a few years? Years?

    WOMAN: Yes, he’s very lucky, yes.

    JACKIE JUDD: Not months or weeks, years?

    WOMAN: No. No. What, about four years maybe.

    JACKIE JUDD: Kentucky public health officials are trying to change that storyline, to get people screened, so disease is discovered before it is too late to treat.

    Tom Tucker is the director of the Kentucky Cancer Registry.

    TOM TUCKER, Kentucky Cancer Registry: The old models for doing this, where we tell people that they need to do it, and they’re going to go do it, well, that’s obviously not going to work. So using other strategies that are culturally and socially appropriate for the population, that connect more appropriately, we are much more effective at doing that now than we were 10, 20, 30 years ago.

    Has anybody ever talked to you about a colonoscopy?

    JACKIE JUDD: About a decade ago, health officials trained their sights on colon cancer. And within seven years, screenings doubled and deaths declined 24 percent statewide. Part of the strategy is to reach people where they live.

    TOM COLLINS, Rural Prevention Cancer Center: When’s the last time you seen a doctor?

    MAN: Long time.


    MAN: The only time I go is if a bone is sticking out or if I got to be sewed up.

    JACKIE JUDD: Tom Collins with the Rural Prevention Cancer Center sets up shop in the county unemployment office, sweetening the deal with his homemade pies. About half of the people he corrals either leave with a home test-kit or agree to get colonoscopies.

    TOM COLLINS: The challenge is educating them that they can do something about it, and that I can help them do something about it. You don’t have to get cancer.

    JACKIE JUDD: The state legislature passed a law last year requiring insurance companies to cover colonoscopies.

    But Debra Burchett had no insurance and no way to pay for a screening, even though she was having symptoms. Then, her doctor told her the county had begun offering free screenings for people in her situation. That probably saved her life.

    And what was diagnosed?

    WOMAN: Colon cancer, stage four.

    JACKIE JUDD: So if you had not found the free program, would you not have gotten the colonoscopy?

    WOMAN: Probably not. I probably wouldn’t be here today.

    JACKIE JUDD: Another piece of this success story is Polly Gilbert and other lay health workers, who are known in the community and trusted.

    Gilbert travels hundreds of miles a week, visiting people in their homes, educating them about preventive care and steering them to the proper services.

    POLLY GILBERT, Kentucky Homeplace: Hi. What’s going on today?

    JACKIE JUDD: So they will listen to you in ways that they may not listen to a doctor.

    POLLY GILBERT: Sometimes they do, and we have been able to sway them: “Well, Polly says I need to come,” and not just because I’m such an influence, but I make them — they’re part of my family.

    JACKIE JUDD: In the past couple of years, the increase in the number of people getting screened for colon cancer has plateaued. Even the trusted Gilbert runs into resistance, as she does with Sam Wilson’s wife, Irene.

    You have never had a colonoscopy?

    WOMAN: No, I haven’t.


    WOMAN: Well, I guess because I haven’t had any symptoms or anything.

    JACKIE JUDD: Public health officials are now tackling another disease that is devastating to the region. The incidence of lung cancer is Almost double here compared to the national average. Deaths are almost double. The challenge is to not only encourage certain lifelong smokers to get screened, but to get them to quit, and for others to never start.

    It will be even more difficult than changing the profile of colon cancer, because smoking involves addiction.

    JERRY BURCHETT: I have been smoking since I was probably 8 years old. Back in those days in this part of the country, it was nothing for kids to smoke. It was acceptable.

    JACKIE JUDD: Longtime public health worker Becky Simpson hopes schools will begin using this anti-smoking program, even for kids as young as 10 or 11. Years ago, conversations like this never would have happened.

    BECKY SIMPSON, Kentucky Cancer Program: I could not talk about it unless I had permission.


    BECKY SIMPSON: Because we didn’t want to anger the people that we were working with. Tobacco was the cash crop. It was the way people made a living. And so it just was not OK to try and tell people don’t smoke, because that was how people made their living.

    JACKIE JUDD: How many of the patients who you treat are typically from Eastern Kentucky?

    DR. SUSANNE ARNOLD, Markey Cancer Center: We have about 50 to 70 percent.

    JACKIE JUDD: Oncologist and researcher Susanne Arnold at the Markey Cancer Center in Lexington is investigating how to get screening numbers up in rural Kentucky, as well as looking at causes of lung cancer which may be unique to the region.

    DR. SUSANNE ARNOLD: There’s got to be more to it than just a little bit more smoking in that community, that causes this gigantic increase in lung cancer rates. And the reasons for that are probably, we don’t clear carcinogens as well as the next group, we don’t process tobacco as well, so we have a higher drive for more nicotine and we smoke more.

    We maybe don’t repair our DNA as well as other populations, and DNA damage is at the heart of cancer incidence.

    JACKIE JUDD: Dr. Arnold sees progress battling cancer, but progress slowed by poverty and fiercely held custom.

    Do you encounter what I would call that fatalism?

    DR. SUSANNE ARNOLD: Yes, I do. And I’m struck by it, because it means that these people have been devastated, and they have been devastated over and over and over again, by not having anybody to reach out to help them. Ultimately, we don’t want people to lose hope.

    JACKIE JUDD: The hope of public health officials is that the model used to bring down colon cancer deaths can be used to the same effect, not only for lung cancer, but for other diseases plaguing this depressed swathe of America.

    As for Sam Wilson, he so wishes he had not ignored his health. He says, he’s been sick so long now, he almost forgets what it means to feel better.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” this is Jackie Judd in Campton, Kentucky.

    SAM WILSON (singing): For letting me live just one more day.

    Thank you.

    The post Why cancer is so hard to fight in rural Kentucky appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    shields and brooks

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, for another look at the war against ISIS and the battles on the presidential campaign trail, the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Gentlemen, welcome to you both.

    So, let’s pick up from where we were in that conversation we just heard.

    Mark, they did — you did have this successful capture, killing of this top ISIS leader and another one recently on the battlefield, but in the wake of these Brussels attacks, growing chorus of criticism that the Obama administration is not doing enough to go after ISIS, that you’re still seeing horrible attacks like the ones in Belgium.

    Where do you — how do you assess the administration?

    MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Well, the administration has taken on ISIS, its caliphate, that is, in Syria and Iraq, and I think it’s fair to say that they’re in retreat.

    The problem is Europe. I mean, that’s a problem. It’s a soft target. It’s free and easy access. And these are homegrown terrorists here. And what the United States can do is to encourage and urge and push for the sharing of information.

    But there is a whole inequality of quality of intelligence in those countries. There is an unwillingness, understandably. There’s language difficulties, and also there is a tradition. I mean, this is a continent that has lived under both Nazism and communism, and the willingness to let authorities have access to the metadata that we have done in this country with only limited resistance is a lot stronger there.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Only so much the U.S. can do, David?

    DAVID BROOKS, New York Times Columnist: Well, I think there are two issues here.

    First, in Syria, I think we bear a large responsibility. I think we withdrew from Iraq too quickly and it created this tremendous vacancy there that ISIS filled. I think we were too slow to recognize what was going on in Syria in the civil war, refused to arm people, refused to take down Assad, ignored the red line and then created a vacuum which ISIS then filled there.

    And so that’s partly on us. The European thing — I think that has nothing to do with what happened in Brussels. The European thing, as Mark said, it’s a matter of ideas and alienated cultures. I lived in Brussels for five years. This was back in the ’90s.

    If you went to those neighborhoods which are a lot of Muslim people live there, they were isolated, they were different. It was like leaving Brussels and entering a different country, and there was just little integration, social, cultural, economic, between those areas and the rest of the country and the rest of the city.

    And that sort of thing just gestated, gestated, gestated. And then when the radical ideology found — they found a lot of alienated people, and they only have to tap a few young men to create something like this.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Some of the criticism, Mark, is that the administration has just not put enough emphasis on this. Yes, the president talks about it and, yes, there have been a number of limited troops, special operations troops, and there may be more going over, but it doesn’t seem to be a priority, enough of a priority for this president.

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think the president can be accused legitimately of not having recognized the threat at the outset. And I think history will not be kind to the drawing of the red line in Syria, and for the United States.

    But, A, the willingness of the United States for further action and deployment of military, even an all-volunteer military, is severely limited, Judy. And let’s be very frank. The organizing principle of this was the United States’ invasion of Iraq and the United States’ occupation of Iraq. That remains to this moment the — whether we left early, should still be there, the fact that we went in, invaded and occupied this country, and it was a tragedy and a disaster, and we have reaped that whirlwind and it remains with us.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: David, even criticism this week of the optics. The president was in Cuba for this historic visit and there were some voices, well, he shouldn’t have gone to the baseball game, he shouldn’t have gone on to Argentina, how much does that matter?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think those criticisms are unfounded.

    The president — we have a big government. We can do a lot of things at once. If the president had skipped the baseball game and gone home, what more could he have done? He has a telephone. He can make decisions. He can meetings.

    It’s my basic principle that’s just political point-scoring. It’s my most fundamental basic principle. There’s never a good reason to miss a baseball game. And so his decision to do that, I fully support that.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: And this was a big one.

    But, Mark…

    MARK SHIELDS: I disagree. I do think…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Really? OK.

    MARK SHIELDS: I think optics do matter.

    I think the president could — the baseball game was probably the most important event emotionally and nationally during his trip to Cuba. I don’t think he had to be there for the wave, when the crowd stands up for that. I don’t think it’s necessary for him to wear sunglasses and so — he could have gone to the game and the rest.

    Optics, a terrible word, do matter, and if you have any doubts about that, virtually every paper in the country, certainly The Wall Street Journal among them, featured the master as servant this week. On Holy Thursday, there was Pope Francis kissing and washing the feet of a refugee, a penniless refugee. That is a visual.

    I agree with David the president can do anything anywhere he is, but if you were sitting in Brussels and worried about your family or your relatives or your neighborhood, the picture of him kind of grinning at the game, I think, was probably not helpful.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And it was striking among some of the reaction among the Republican candidates for president.

    David, you had Ted Cruz saying, what we need to do is send more security into patrolling basically neighborhoods where Muslim Americans live.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I have spent the last week so repulsed by Donald Trump, I had forgotten how ugly Ted Cruz could be, but he reminded us this week.


    DAVID BROOKS: As I said and as everyone says, the reason we have terrorism is not because the Prophet Mohammed came down and not because there is a religion called Islam.

    MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

    DAVID BROOKS: The reason we have terror is that young men are alienated and feel they can wage war and a just war against societies that are racist and xenophobic and crushing toward them.

    And if you want to spread the message, a good way would be to have extra police operations directed at Muslim neighborhoods. And so Ted Cruz’s idea is probably the worst idea, well, only of the day, because we have a lot in this campaign, truly terrible idea, only saved by the fact it’s almost certain he doesn’t actually believe it. He just wants to sound like Donald Trump.

    MARK SHIELDS: I think David put his finger on it.

    I would say this. It’s ironic, Judy, that the Republican Party, to avoid Donald Trump, is rallying reluctantly, against their own will, around Ted Cruz. He reminded them and everybody else why they didn’t like him in the first place. This is an awful, awful position.

    In fact, when the Anti-Defamation League comes out and compares it to the imprisonment and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, when police Commissioner Bill Bratton in New York says he has no idea what he’s talking about, there are a thousand Muslim Americans, many of them combat veterans, on the New York police force. It’s just — it was — it’s beyond stupid.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, that occupied a lot of the week, but something else that occupied a fair amount of time, at least became a war of words between the two leading Republican candidates, had to do with women.

    And we’re going to take a sidebar look at that and then come back and talk to both of you.

    Ted Cruz blasted his main rival, Donald Trump, today in Wisconsin.

    SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Republican Presidential Candidate: Years from now, when my daughters Google this, they will read these lies.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Cruz accused Trump of being behind tabloid accusations of extramarital affairs. It was the latest in the escalating war of words over women this week between the two candidates.

    It all began with this ad, a photo of Melania Trump, a former model, posing for “British GQ” 16 years ago posted on Facebook by an anti-Trump super PAC ahead of the Utah primary caucuses Tuesday. Within hours, Donald Trump tweeted a response, wrongly attributing the ad directly to Cruz’s campaign, and warning him to — quote — “be careful.”

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: Ted Cruz knowingly, in my opinion, had this article sent all over Utah, had the picture saying, is this want you want? Essentially, is this what you want for a first lady? First of all, she would be a great first lady.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A fury in the Twitterverse ensued, as Cruz hit back, defending his wife, Heidi, and calling Trump a coward.

    A day later, Trump ratcheted up the war of the wives, when he retweeted an unflattering image of Mrs. Cruz. Polls show Trump’s standing with women voters has worsened in recent months. According to the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, 64 percent of women say they have a strongly unfavorable reaction to him. That’s 18 points higher than it was in August.

    So what do we say about this? Did we ever think this was going to be the lead story out of a campaign for president of the United States?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, that’s the first thing I was going to say. Are we really here? Is this really happening? Is this America? Are we a great country talking about trying to straddle the world and create opportunity in this country?

    It’s just mind-boggling. And we have sort of become acculturated, because this campaign has been so ugly. We have become acculturated to sleaze and unhappiness that you just want to shower from every 15 minutes.

    The Trump comparison of the looks of the wives, he does have, over the course of his life, a consistent misogynistic view of women as arm candy, as pieces of meat. It’s a consistent attitude toward women which is the stuff of a diseased adolescent.

    And so we have seen a bit of that show up again. But if you go back over his past, calling into radio shows bragging about his affairs, talking about his sex life in public, he is childish in his immaturity. And his — even his misogyny is a childish misogyny.

    And that’s why I do not think Republicans, standard Republicans, can say, yes, I’m going to vote for this guy because he’s our nominee. He’s of a different order than your normal candidate. And this whole week is just another reminder of that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Could this finally be something, Mark, that really does hurt Donald Trump?

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, we have predicted nine of his last eight stumbles, and they have yet to all materialize.

    Judy, whoever did that political action committee ad has to be thrilled, because it elicited from Donald Trump the worst of his personality, the bullying, the misogyny, as David has said, brought it out.

    But I think it’s more than childish and juvenile and adolescent. There is something creepy about this, his attitude toward women. Take Megyn Kelly of FOX News, who he just has an absolute obsession about, and he’s constantly writing about, you know, how awful she is and no talent and this and that. It’s an obsession.

    And I don’t know if he’s just never had women — strong, independent women in his life who have spoken to him. It doesn’t seem that way. His daughter…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: She has asked him tough questions in that debate.

    MARK SHIELDS: She just asked him tough questions and was totally fair, by everybody else’s standards.

    But there is something really creepy about this that’s beyond locker room. It’s almost like a stalker, and I just — I thought this was — it actually did the impossible. It made Ted Cruz look like an honorable, tough guy on the right side of an issue.

    And, you know, I just — I just marvel at it. And I don’t know at what point it becomes, you know — politically, he’s still leading. And I would have to say he’s the overwhelming favorite for the Republican nomination.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And what was striking is that this ad, David, which presumably had very limited circulation, might have gone almost unnoticed if it hadn’t have been for what he — how he reacted to it.

    DAVID BROOKS: The odd thing about his whole career and his whole language, his whole world view is there is no room for love in it.

    You get a sense of a man who received no love, can give no love, so his relationship with women, it has no love in it. It’s trophy. And his relationship toward the world is one of competition and beating, and as if he’s going to win by competition what other people get by love.

    And so you really are seeing someone who just has an odd psychology unleavened by kindness and charity, but where it’s all winners and losers, beating and being beat. And that’s part of the authoritarian personality, but it comes out in his attitude towards women.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And just 10 seconds.

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes, I would say, in his defense, which I didn’t think I would use that phrase, his relationship with his children seems quite good, with his daughter and with his sons. And they seem like — they don’t seem like malevolent people at all. They seem like they’re very benevolent people.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: Makes you wonder what their reaction is to all of this.

    MARK SHIELDS: Exactly.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, David Brooks, we thank you.

    MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

    DAVID BROOKS: Thank you.

    The post Shields and Brooks on Trump-Cruz wife feud, ISIS terror in Brussels appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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