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

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    U.S. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz speaks on stage during a campaign event in Rochester, New York April 15, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri - RTX2A6I3

    U.S. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz speaks on stage during a campaign event in Rochester, New York April 15, 2016. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    CASPER, Wyo. — Painstaking organization and in-person campaigning paid off again for Ted Cruz on Saturday as he nailed down all 14 delegates up for grabs at the Republican Party convention in Wyoming. The result leaves Donald Trump facing yet another loss in a string of defeats in Western states.

    Saturday’s sweep for Cruz follows his victory last month in Wyoming, when he scored 9 of 12 available delegates at county conventions. Trump and Marco Rubio each won one delegate last month in Wyoming while one remained undecided.

    Trump still leads the overall delegate race. The AP delegate count: Trump, 744; Cruz, 559; and Kasich, 144. Needed to win: 1,237.

    Cruz was the only candidate to address the convention in Casper on Saturday, promising to end what he called President Barack Obama’s “war on coal” if he’s elected. Wyoming is the nation’s leading coal-producing state.

    Trump largely bypassed the state. In a telephone interview Saturday on “Fox and Friends,” he said: “I don’t want to waste millions of dollars going out to Wyoming many months before to wine and dine and to essentially pay off these people, because a lot of it’s a payoff, you understand that?”

    Trump’s defeat in Wyoming follows his shutout earlier this month in Colorado, where he failed to pick up a single delegate of the 34 in play. He has urged his supporters to protest the results to state officials in that state.

    Campaigning in New York on Saturday, Trump said, “I guess I’m complaining ’cause it’s not fair to the people.” In Wyoming and Colorado, he said, “the people never got a chance to vote.”

    Cruz, in an interview with The Associated Press after his speech in Casper, said Trump’s decision not to campaign in Wyoming is telling. “The reason he decided not to show up is he recognized he couldn’t win, he couldn’t earn the support of conservatives in Wyoming,” Cruz said.

    Cruz has benefited from a deep, grassroots campaign effort in Wyoming, where the state GOP machine has detailed rules for the delegate selection process. Ed Buchanan, a former Wyoming House speaker, has served as chairman of the Cruz campaign.

    “It’s just great to have the support of the Wyoming voters,” Buchanan said after the delegate selection was announced. “They share Ted Cruz’s conservation principles, and that’s why we’re successful today.”

    Clara Powers of Wheatland spoke for Trump on Saturday. She told the crowd she has three grandchildren. “I do not want any of them working with next-generation science,” Powers said. “I do not want my grandchildren to believe in evolution. I do not want my grandchildren thinking that global warming is more important than our national security.”

    On the issue of coal, Wyoming has seen hundreds of coal industry layoffs in recent months as several of the nation’s largest coal companies have filed for federal bankruptcy protections.

    Calling America, “the Saudi Arabia of coal,” Cruz promised in his speech to roll back federal regulations he says hamper coal production. The Obama administration recently imposed a moratorium on new coal leases.

    Wyoming and other states, meanwhile, have mounted legal challenges in recent years to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations tightening emission limits on coal-fired power plants.

    “Hillary Clinton promises that if she’s elected, she’s going to finish the task and bankrupt anyone associated with coal,” Cruz said. “I give you my word right now, we are going to lift the federal regulators back, we are going to end the war on coal.”

    Obama, in announcing the restrictions in 2014, said carbon emission cause health problems and contribute to global warming. “For the sake of all our kids, we’ve got to do more to reduce it,” he said of emissions.

    Cruz, however, told the AP that he’s “not remotely” concerned that rolling back federal restrictions on coal could contribute to an increase in global warming.

    “The war on coal is driven by an ideological extremism on the part of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and today’s modern Democratic Party,” he said.

    On other issues, Cruz drew applause for promising to protect gun rights and turn federal lands in the West to the states.

    Cruz told the crowd he was “pretty sure, here in Wyoming, y’all define gun control the same way we do in Texas – and that is hitting what you’re aiming at.”

    The post Cruz wins all 14 delegates at Wyoming GOP convention appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    People stand on the debris of a building after an earthquake struck off the Pacific coast in Manta, Ecuador, April 16, 2016. Paul Ochoa/Reuters

    People stand on the debris of a building after an earthquake struck off the Pacific coast in Manta, Ecuador, April 16, 2016. Paul Ochoa/Reuters

    The strongest earthquake to hit Ecuador in nearly 40 years killed at least 235 people on Saturday.

    The 7.8-magnitude quake ripped through the country’s northern coastal communities along the Pacific Ocean, also sending shock waves to the inland capital of Quito and knocking out power, and leaving behind scenes of chaos around the nation of 16 million residents. At least 1,500 people were injured.

    With the death poll expected to climb, rescuers began the arduous task of digging through the rubble of collapsed buildings to find survivors. Government officials reported that an unknown number of people remain missing while states of emergency were initiated in six provinces.

    “There are people trapped in various places and we are starting rescue operations,” Vice President Jorge Glas told Reuters.

    Ecuador’s largest city of  Guayaquil was also struck by the quake, whose epicenter was located farther north off the country’s west coast near the town of Pedernales. Officials said there were 135 aftershocks there and many of the town’s residents flocked out of their homes to the streets, according the Associated Press.

    There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.

    Many of the deaths were reported in Manta, Portoviejo and Guayaquil. Witnesses described collapsed bridges and highways and seeing remnants of toppled buildings reduced to piles of twisted metal, brick and detritus.

    “It was terrifying, we were all scared and we’re still out in the streets because we’re worried about aftershocks,” Guayaquil security guard Fernando Garcia told the Reuters.

    Much of the population living in the affected area lives in structures made of “brick masonry and mud wall construction” that are “vulnerable to earthquake shaking,” according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

    President Rafael Correa, who was returning from Italy, said on Twitter said that government is focusing on rescue efforts. He also encouraged residents to remain calm.

    Officials said Sunday’s earthquake was the worst in Equador since 1979, when 600 people died and 20,000 were injured.

    The post Hundreds killed in Ecuador’s strongest earthquake in decades appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reads the lyrics of Al Wilson's song "The Snake" during campaign event at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016. Trump is taking steps to reshape his campaign following his loss in the Wisconsin GOP primary, which highlighted weaknesses in his operation. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reads the lyrics of Al Wilson’s song “The Snake” during campaign event at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The Republican Party’s rules chairman is accusing other GOP officials of “a breach of our trust” by trying to preserve the party leadership’s power to allow the nomination of a fresh candidate for president.

    Bruce Ash, RNC committeeman from Arizona, wrote the harshly worded email to the other 55 members of the GOP rules committee that he chairs. The confidential email, obtained by The Associated Press on Saturday, was written days before party officials gather in Hollywood, Florida, for preliminary discussions about what rules the GOP will use at its presidential nominating convention this July.

    Ash wrote the note at a time when some top Republicans consider the party’s two leading presidential contenders, billionaire Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, to be likely November election losers and have discussed how to replace them with alternatives at the summer convention in Cleveland, Ohio. It is possible that no contenders will have the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination at that gathering, which would produce the first GOP convention without a presumptive nominee since 1976.

    Trump has bitterly clashed with party leaders over rules that he claims have been rigged against him, a charge party leaders deny.

    He said the convention’s presiding officer could use existing rules to “unilaterally reopen nominations to allow a candidate to be nominated that is viewed as more acceptable, which is exactly what so many rank-and-file Republicans across America fear.”

    His email did not mention that House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is expected to be presiding officer for much of the convention. Some opponents of Trump and Cruz have suggested that Ryan, his party’s 2012 vice presidential candidate, would be a preferable presidential nominee this year, but Ryan has said he doesn’t want to be tabbed.

    In an email sent hours later, RNC chief counsel John Ryder said the controversial amendment would in fact be included among the items given priority consideration when party officials discuss convention rules this week in Florida.

    But echoing the view of Priebus and some other Republicans on the party’s rules committee, Ryder added, “Major changes now are dangerous and not a good idea, in my humble opinion.”

    Many Republican leaders have said party officials should not change current convention rules for fear of being accused by the competing presidential candidates of tilting the bylaws to influence the outcome. They have noted that the final decisions on the rules will be made anyway by the convention’s 2,472 delegates, probably on July 18, the gathering’s first day.

    When Republicans meet in Florida next week to discuss their rules, Oregon RNC committeeman Solomon Yue wants to propose not running full convention meetings under the rules of the House of Representatives. Instead, Yue wants to use Roberts Rules of Order.

    Yue and others say under the Roberts rules, it would be easier for the convention’s delegates to vote to block an effort by the convention’s presiding officer to consider new nominees for president. Under House rules, the presiding officer has more power to make decisions about the proceedings.

    Ash said RNC officials have repeatedly asked him and Yue to withdraw Yue’s proposal or even to cancel this week’s GOP rules committee meeting. Ash said he refused.

    He said that last Thursday, Ryder “convened a rules committee whip call to strategize against and led the opposition to the Yue amendment at the chairman’s request.”

    He said during that call, RNC officials acknowledged that Yue’s amendment had been “pre-submitted” by a deadline that would give it priority treatment his week. But the next afternoon, Ash said, the RNC sent an email “incorrectly stating” that Yue’s proposed amendment had not been submitted in time to be included in the agenda for next week’s meeting. That would deprive it of priority consideration.

    “In view of the above, I consider this to be a breach of our trust,” Ash wrote.

    He added, “In light of this breach and an apparent unwillingness to conduct a proper debate on the amendment, is it prudent for the RNC to continue to give the extraordinary power of the House rules to the presiding officer of the convention, as opposed to the more transparent, democratic and majoritarian rules in Roberts?”

    Ryder wrote that party officials thought they were following Yue’s desire to circulate his amendment to delegates early next week, even though Yue submitted his proposal in time for the earlier “pre-submission deadline.”

    “Of course we wouldn’t have left out Mr. Yue’s amendment from the notice if we thought he wanted it included,” Ryder wrote.

    The post GOP official rails over effort aimed at nomination rules appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The U.S. Capitol dome is pictured in the pre-dawn darkness in Washington in this file general view photo taken October 18, 2013.    REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Files - RTSCJU7

    The U.S. Capitol dome is pictured in the pre-dawn darkness in Washington in this file general view photo taken October 18, 2013. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Files/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — This is the season of lies.

    We watch with fascination as candidates for the world’s most powerful job trade falsehoods and allegations of dishonesty.

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump routinely calls rival Ted Cruz “Lyin’ Ted.” Cruz retorts: “Falsely accusing someone of lying is itself a lie and something Donald does daily.”

    News organizations such as The Associated Press and PolitiFact dedicate enormous resources to separating candidates’ truthful wheat from their dishonest chaff.

    But if we’ve come to expect and even joke about office-seekers who seem truth averse (“How do you know a politician is lying? His lips are moving”), many of us have given little thought to our own fibs and to how they compare with politicians’ deceits. What if PolitiFact looked at what we say to our spouses, friends and bosses?

    For more than two decades, researchers of different stripes have examined humanity’s less-than-truthful underbelly. This is what they have found: We all stretch the truth. We learned to deceive as toddlers. We rationalize our fabrications that benefit us. We tell little white lies daily that make others feel good.

    Now magnify that. Politicians distort the truth more often, use more self-justifications and deceive in larger ways, and with more consequences, experts in psychology and political science say.

    Especially this year.

    “I feel more worried about lying in public life (specifically by politicians, and in particular, Trump) than I ever have before,” psychology researcher Bella DePaulo at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said in an email. When lies succeed, they make it “more tempting to lie. Lies can stick. They can have a lingering effect, even if they are debunked. ”

    Deception starts early.

    Children learn to lie at an average of about 3 years old, often when they realize that other people don’t know what they are thinking, said Kang Lee, a professor at the University of Toronto.

    He has done extensive research on children and lying. Lee set up an experiment in a video-monitored room and would tell children there’s a toy they can have that’s behind them, but they can only get it if they don’t peek. Then the adult is called out of the room, returns a minute later and asks if they peeked.

    At age 2, only 30 percent lie, Lee said. At age 3, half do. By 5 or 6, 90 percent of the kids lie and Lee said he worries about the 10 percent who don’t. This is universal, Lee said.

    A little later, “we explicitly teach our kids to tell white lies,” with parental coaching about things like saying how much they love gifts from grandma, and it’s a lesson most of them only get around age 6 or older, Lee said.

    In 1996, DePaulo, author of “The Hows and Whys of Lies,” put recorders on students for a week and found they lied, on average, in every third conversation of 10 minutes or more. For adults, it was once every five conversations.

    A few years later, Robert Feldman at the University of Massachusetts taped students in conversations with total strangers and got similar results with the participants not realizing they were lying until they watched themselves.

    “I would say we’re lying constantly. Constantly,” said Maurice Schweitzer, who studies deception and decision-making at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Trump’s alma mater.

    The problem is there are many shades of truth-bending. Experts split on whether to count white lies – what psychologist and political scientist Stanley Renshon calls “social lubrication” that makes civilized operate. When your spouse tells you that you don’t look fat in that outfit when you do, does it really do any harm?

    “There’s a difference between white lies and real lies,” Renshon said.

    Some lies, said Schweitzer, “fall under politeness norms and are not very harmful. There are other lies that are self-interested and those are the ones that are really harmful. Those are the ones that harm relationships, harm trust.”

    But others, like DePaolo, see no distinction: “It doesn’t matter if the attempt was motivated by good intentions and it doesn’t matter if the lie is about something little.”

    Regardless, society rewards people for white lies, Feldman said.

    “We’re really trained to be deceptive,” Feldman said. “If we’re not, if we’re totally truthful all the time that’s not a good thing, there’s a price to be paid for that. We don’t like people who tell us the truth all the time.”

    From there it’s only a small leap to what politicians do.

    “The lies that we accept from politicians right now are lies that are seen as acceptable because it’s what we want to hear,” like a spouse saying that an outfit flatters you, Feldman said.

    Or perhaps we feel that lying is necessary.

    “People want their politicians to lie to them. The reason that people want their politicians to lie them is that people care about politics,” said Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University. “You understand that Washington is a dirty place and that lying is actually very helpful to get your policies implemented.”

    When people deceive beyond white lies, they spend a lot of effort justifying and rationalizing what they are doing.

    “They engage in something we call justified dishonesty,” said Shaul Shalvi, who runs the Behavioral Ethics Lab at the University of Amsterdam. It happens when people’s desire to be ethical clash with the desire to profit or get something. In that case people are willing to lie just a bit “as long as it seems legit,” Shalvi said

    “As long as they have a good rationale they can stretch the truth as long as they really want,” Shalvi said.

    Cyclist Lance Armstrong, Shalvi said, justified his denials of doping because he felt his story raised hope in cancer victims – though it also benefited Armstrong.

    “He was convincing himself that what he was doing was not that wrong at the time. I think politicians do the same,” Shalvi said, who adds politicians do this frequently.

    Similarly, Jennifer Mercieca, a Texas A&M professor of communications who studies political rhetoric and teaches fact-checking, said politicians such as the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wis., “convince themselves that the ends justify the means” and “the reasons they are doing it are more important.”

    The experts who study lying are alarmed by what they are seeing in 2016, and by its ramifications.

    “Dishonesty is contagious,” said the University of Nottingham’s Simon Gaechter.

    His March 2016 study examined honesty in a dice game in 23 different countries (but not the United States) and then compared them to a corruption index for those countries. The more corrupt a society was, the more likely the people there were willing to deceive in the simple dice game.

    Most people want to be honest, but if they live in a country where rule violations are rampant “people say, ‘Well everybody cheats. If I cheat here, then that’s OK,'” Gaechter said.

    Add to that confirmation bias, Mercieca said. The public tends to believe things – even if they are false – “that confirm what we be already believe” and come from news sources and partisans that they already trust and agree with.

    Political scientist and psychologist Renshon said politicians should be held up to a higher standard but over the decades, they and the government have been more deceitful and unwilling to tell the public something that could hurt them politically. When President Dwight Eisenhower misled the public about a spy plane captured by the Soviet Union, lying was the exception. By the time President Bill Clinton strained the meaning of the word “is” testifying before a grand jury, it was more common.

    “We’ve become kind of numb to it,” said Pamela Meyer, the Washington based author of the book “Liespotting” and chief executive officer of the private firm Calibrate, which that trains people and companies about how to spot deception. “In Washington, deception is the gift that keeps on giving.”

    But there’s a high cost in everyday society – a loss of trust that is difficult to regain – when someone is discovered to be lying, Lee said. There are also costs to the liar, he said, noting studies that measure the effect of deception on the body and brain and how much energy it takes to create and maintain a lie.

    “When you tell lies it costs your brain a heckuva lot more resources than when you tell the truth,” Lee said.

    Lee is working on a video camera that would study people’s heart rate, stress level, blood flow and mood, a kind of video lie detector called transdermal optical imaging.

    He envisions a future televised political debate, with a camera trained on the candidates showing their heart rates and breathing levels – “an index of lying.”

    The post Getting at the truth behind lying in politics appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A Southwest Airlines jet comes in to land at Lindbergh Field in San Diego, California February 25, 2015. An airline employee recently removed a California university student from one of its flights after the individual spoke Arabic on his mobile phone before takeoff. Mike Blake/Reuters

    A Southwest Airlines jet comes in to land at Lindbergh Field in San Diego, California February 25, 2015. An airline employee recently removed a California university student from one of its flights after the individual spoke Arabic on his mobile phone before takeoff. Mike Blake/Reuters

    A university student was recently removed from Southwest Airlines flight in California when another passenger became unnerved and reported him to the authorities after he conducting a telephone conversation in Arabic.

    Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, 26, a senior at University of California Berkley, said that on April 6 he was taken off a plane that was about to depart from Los Angeles to Oakland after speaking to his uncle on a mobile phone during boarding. He was later taken into custody and interviewed by the FBI.

    Makhzoomi’s removal and detainment was spurred by another passenger, who reported “potentially threatening comments made aboard our aircraft” according to a statement released by Southwest and obtained by the Guardian.

    “We wouldn’t remove passengers from flights without a collaborative decision rooted in established procedures,” the company said. “We regret any less than positive experience onboard our aircraft.”

    “I told them, ‘This is what Islamophobia looks like,’” Makhzoomi said in an interview with San Francisco Chronicle. “And that’s when they said I could not get on the plane, and they called the FBI.”

    Zahra Billo, executive director of the San Francisco chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the Chronicle that Makhzoomi’s incident was just one among many targeting the Muslim community based on racial profiling.

    “We’re concerned that this is part of a trend of Muslims being profiled and their right to travel being impacted,” Billo said.

    Makhzoomi said he did not plan to file legal action against Southwest Airlines.

    The post Student removed from Southwest flight after making phone call in Arabic appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    In this handout photo from the United Nation Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, Yarmouk refugees in Syria gathered to wait for food aid in January 2014. Photo by UNRWA

    In this handout photo from the United Nation Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, Yarmouk refugees in Syria gathered to wait for food aid in January 2014. Photo by UNRWA

    As many as 10,000 civilians at a Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Syria’s capital are facing a dire situation, including extreme food shortages, as extremists continue to fight for territory there, the United Nations warned this weekend.

    The Islamic State launched an attack on the Nusra Front in the Yarmouk camp in south Damascus 11 days ago and the continued violence has made it unsafe for U.N. officials to send food and water.

    Supplies from the Palestinian arm of the U.N. were already scarce, and now people are trapped inside their homes, hiding from armed extremists and violence.

    A spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said in a statement Saturday that the agency was “greatly alarmed and concerned by the desperate humanitarian consequences being inflicted on civilians.”

    “The fighting has been intense, and is taking place in the most densely populated areas of Yarmouk, with the use of heavy weapons, explosive devices and weapons of indiscriminate effect,” UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness said.

    At less than a square mile, the Yarmouk camp was established in 1957 for Palestinian’s fleeing the Arab-Israeli War. It soon became the biggest Palestinian camp in the Middle East, with at least 150,000 refugees living in it.

    But thousands have died or fled since it was ravaged by the Islamic State and other extremist groups. Many of the estimated 18,000 who remain are trapped in the latest crossfire and have gone without U.N. supplies for more than a week.

    Starvation was already the leading cause of death at the camp in 2014, when Amnesty International reported that the Islamic State was using the tactic as a weapon of war. People there have been foraging for leaves, cats and dogs for years, often surviving without electricity and other essentials.

    “Whatever supplies of food and water they had have long been exhausted,” Gunness said. “Civilians are enduring yet another extraordinary episode of deep trauma and abject suffering.”

    Calling for a ceasefire so the UNRWA can continue deliveries, the agency stated that it is “anxiously monitoring the situation and will maintain in the strongest terms its demands for the safety and protection of civilians in Yarmouk.”

    The post UN: Thousands face starvation risk at Palestinian refugee camp in Syria appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Iraqi soldiers train with members of the U.S. Army 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, at Camp Taji, Iraq, in this U.S. Army photo released June 2, 2015. The United States is expected to announce on Wednesday plans for a new military base in Iraq's Anbar province and the deployment of around 400 additional U.S. trainers to help Iraqi forces in the fight against Islamic State, a U.S. official said. Photo by U.S. Army/Sgt. Cody via Reuters

    Iraqi soldiers train with members of the U.S. Army 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, at Camp Taji, Iraq, in this U.S. Army photo released last year. The U.S. has agreed to deploy more than 200 additional troops to Iraq to aid in the fight against the Islamic State group. Photo by U.S. Army/Sgt. Cody via Reuters

    BAGHDAD — The U.S. has agreed to deploy more than 200 additional troops to Iraq and to send eight Apache helicopters for the first time into the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq, the first major increase in U.S. forces in nearly a year, U.S. defense officials said Monday.

    The uptick in American fighting forces — and the decision to put them closer to the front lines — is designed to help Iraqi forces as they move to retake the key northern city of Mosul.

    Speaking to reporters Monday in Baghdad, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the decision to move U.S. advisers to the Iraqi brigade and battalion level will put them “closer to the action,” but he said they will have security forces with them and the U.S. will do what’s needed to reduce the risks.

    A senior U.S. official said that there will be eight Apache helicopters authorized to help the Iraqi forces when Iraq leaders determine they need them. The official was not authorized to discuss the numbers publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Last June the Obama administration announced that hundreds of troops would be deployed to help the Iraqis retake Ramadi — a goal they accomplished at the end of the year.

    Of the additional troops announced Monday, most would be Army special forces, who have been used throughout the anti-Islamic State campaign to advise and assist the Iraqis. The remainder would include some trainers, security forces for the advisers, and maintenance teams for the Apaches.

    The decisions reflect weeks of discussions with commanders and Iraqi leaders, and a decision by President Barack Obama to increase the authorized troop level in Iraq by 217 forces — or from 3,870 to 4,087. The advise-and-assist teams — made up of about a dozen troops each — would embed with Iraqi brigades and battalions, likely putting them closer to the front lines and at greater risk from mortars and rocket fire.

    The U.S., said Carter, is “on the same page with the Iraqi government” in how to intensify the fight against the Islamic State.

    Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said the deployment of troops was welcome but called it “yet another example of the kind of grudging incrementalism that rarely wins wars, but could certainly lose one.”

    The proximity to the battlefront will allow the U.S. teams to provide more tactical combat advice as the Iraqi units move toward Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, still under Islamic State control. Until now, U.S. advisers have worked with the Iraqis at the headquarters level, well back from the front lines.

    Carter called the addition of the Apache helicopters significant, because they can “respond so quickly and so dynamically to an evolving tactical situation.”

    He said he discussed the Apaches with Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Monday and, “he understood that it would be necessary for just these cases and agreed with me that we would provide it.”

    Last December, U.S. officials were trying to carefully negotiate new American assistance with Iraqi leaders who often have a different idea of how to wage war. At that time, the Iraqis refused Apache helicopters for the battle to retake Ramadi, saying they didn’t think they were needed.

    Speaking to U.S. troops at the airport in Baghdad, Carter also said that the U.S. will send an additional long-range, rocket-assisted artillery system to Iraq.

    U.S. officials have also said that the number of special operations forces in Syria would be increased at some point, but Carter did not mention that in his comments. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

    Carter’s announcement Monday came after several meetings with his commanders and Iraqi leaders about how the U.S. can best prepare Iraqi forces to retake Mosul.

    In addition to his session with al-Abadi, Carter also met with Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, the top U.S. military commander for the Islamic State fight, and minister of defense Khalid al-Obeidi.

    He also spoke by phone with the president of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, Massoud Barzani. Later, Carter announced to the troops that the U.S. aid will extend to the Kurdish Peshmerga forces fighting in northern Iraq. Carter said the U.S. has authorized sending up to $415 million to the Kurds over time.

    MacFarland told reporters that the money will be used in part to help feed the Peshmerga troops, who have been dealing with food shortages.

    Carter on Tuesday will travel to Saudit Arabia to meet with defense ministers from Gulf nationsl. And Obama will also be in Riyadh to talk with Gulf leaders about the fight against the Islamic State and ask for their help in rebuilding Ramadi, which took heavy damage in the battle.

    U.S. military and defense officials have made it clear that winning back Mosul is critical, but will be challenging, because the insurgents are dug in and have likely peppered the landscape with roadside bombs and other traps for any advancing military.

    A senior defense official told reporters traveling with Carter that while Iraqi leaders have been reluctant to have a large number of U.S. troops in Iraq, they also need certain capabilities that only more American or coalition forces can provide. The official was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Associated Press National Security/Pentagon reporter Lolita C. Baldor wrote this report.

    The post U.S. to send 200 more troops, Apache helicopters, to Iraq appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Between Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, which candidate is the most authentic New Yawker?

    Between Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, which candidate is the most authentic New Yawker … king of the hill, top of the heap? Sanders photo by Getty Images, Trump and Clinton by Reuters

    NEW YORK — In a rare, competitive New York presidential primary, three candidates are promoting their ties to the Big Apple. But who among them is the most authentic New Yawker?

    It’s a tough test, measured in time and roots but also in investment and affection. Locals say you know it when you see it.

    Pitching to the local crowd before the April 19 primary, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are heavily stressing their New York ties. Clinton is talking up her time as a senator for the state, Sanders has stumped outside his childhood home and Trump is waxing poetic about growing up in Queens.

    Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are not players in this particular competition. Cruz is still dealing with his criticism of “New York values” in a Republican debate and Kasich was roundly mocked recently for eating a slice of pizza with a knife and fork (a New York no-no, though Mayor Bill de Blasio has been known to wield cutlery, as well).

    But how do Clinton, Sanders and Trump stack up when it comes to New Yorkiness?


    HOMETOWN BRAGGING RIGHTS

    Clinton: Originally from the Chicago suburbs, Clinton adopted New York as her home state when she ran for Senate in 2000. The Clintons own a home in Chappaqua about an hour north of the city, but she put her campaign headquarters in Brooklyn.

    Sanders: Born and raised in Brooklyn, Sanders grew up in in the Flatbush neighborhood and ran track at James Madison High School. But after a year at Brooklyn College, Sanders transferred to the University of Chicago in the early 1960s. By the late ’60s, he had made his way up to Vermont.

    Trump: Queens is where Trump’s story begins. He was raised there and after attending the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1960s, he built his New York real estate career in the 1970s. His residences include an opulent penthouse in Trump tower, though he likes to spend time at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach.

    Points: Three points to Trump, two to Sanders, one to Clinton.


    STREET SMARTS

    Clinton: Got flak for struggling to use a MetroCard to ride the subway.

    Sanders: Teased for telling New York’s Daily News that you still need a token to ride the subway.

    Trump: Does he ever ride the subway?

    Points: Bubkes, zip, nada.


    LOCAL MEMORIES

    Clinton: Has been waxing poetic about her time as a senator and talking about her love of the city. During a recent interview on the “Today Show,” Clinton spoke about strolling down a Brooklyn street, saying she loves “to just get out and walk in New York.”

    Sanders: On a visit to his childhood home, Sanders recalled playing marbles in the street and attending the local school. “I spent thousands of hours playing punch ball. Do they still play punch ball?” he said.

    Trump: Held a rally in Long Island recently where he told the cheering crowd: “I love Queens, do we have a lot of Queens? I grew up in Queens.”

    Points: Two each to Sanders and Trump, one to Clinton.


    FAMOUS BIG APPLE FRIENDS:

    Clinton: New York pals include “Girls” creator Lena Dunham, who has campaigned for Clinton around the country.

    Sanders: Has backing of filmmaker Spike Lee, who cut an ad for his campaign.

    Trump: New York Jets center Nick Mangold has introduced Trump at a rally.

    Points: One each.


    CAMPAIGN STOPS

    Trump has stopped in at the 9/11 memorial. Sanders visited his childhood home in Brooklyn. Clinton took a subway ride.

    Points: Three to Sanders, two to Trump, one to Clinton.


    VOCAL STYLINGS

    Sanders and Trump both have a distinctly local lilt, as evidenced by their similar pronunciation of the word huge as “yuge.” Clinton’s accent betrays her Midwestern upbringing and years in Arkansas.

    Points: One each to Sanders and Trump. Clinton? Fuhgeddaboudit.


    FAVORITE TEAM

    Clinton: Has stated for many years that she has always supported the New York Yankees, though she pledged allegiance to the Chicago Cubs in the National League.

    Sanders: Mourned the Brooklyn Dodgers when they decamped for Los Angeles during his teen years, but has more recently offered support for the hated Boston Red Sox.

    Trump: Once owned the Generals, a football team in New Jersey, and is blamed by some for the league’s demise.

    Points: One to Clinton.


    ASK A NATIVE:

    Chris Gomez, 31, of Flushing, called it for Trump, saying “he has buildings across New York.” So did Alan Thomas, 55, a custodian at Brooklyn Bridge Park, who lives in Manhattan. He said: “I would say Trump, but I don’t like him.”

    Both Sanders and Trump would make the cut, according to Tina Bell, 68, of Brooklyn, who said, “Hillary bought her way in.”

    And Sandie Antar, 65, a lifelong New Yorker who now resides in Long Island, is voting for Clinton, but she said none of them pass the New Yorker test. Still, she added: “New Yorkers are much too sophisticated. We don’t care about any of that.”

    Points: Two for Trump, one for Sanders.


    FINAL TALLY: Trump inches out Sanders to be king of the hill, top of the heap.

    Associated Press writer Catherine Lucey wrote this report.

    The post Scorecard: Which candidate is the most authentic New Yorker? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Immigration activists rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court as justices hear arguments in a challenge by 26 states over the constitutionality of President Barack Obama's executive action to defer deportation of certain immigrant children and parents who are in the country illegally in Washington April 18, 2016. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    Immigration activists rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court as justices hear arguments in a challenge by 26 states over the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s executive action to defer deportation of certain immigrant children and parents who are in the country illegally. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Conservative Supreme Court justices expressed sharp skepticism about President Barack Obama’s immigration efforts Monday, leaving his actions to help millions of people who are in the country illegally in the hands of a seemingly divided court.

    As hundreds of pro-immigration demonstrators and a smaller number of opponents filled the sidewalk outside the court, the justices appeared to split along ideological and partisan lines over a case that pits Republican governors and members of Congress against the Democratic administration.

    President Barack Obama’s administration is asking the justices to allow it to put in place two programs that could shield roughly 4 million people from deportation and make them eligible to work in the United States.

    Texas is leading 26 states led by Republicans in challenging the programs that Obama announced in 2014 and that have been put on hold by lower courts. Those states say the administration usurped power that belongs to Congress, and Justice Anthony Kennedy indicated some support for that view.

    “It’s as if … the president is setting the policy and the Congress is executing it. That’s just upside down,” Kennedy said.

    Chief Justice John Roberts also aggressively questioned Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr., suggesting there are few limits to the president’s power under the administration’s view of immigration law.

    “Under your argument, could the president grant deferred removal to every … unlawfully present alien in the United States right now?” Roberts asked.

    “Definitely not,” Verrilli said. But it was not clear Roberts was satisfied with the answer and subsequent explanation.

    The programs would apply to parents of children who are citizens or are living in the country legally. Eligibility also would be expanded for the president’s 2012 effort that applies to people who were brought here illegally as children. More than 700,000 people have taken advantage of that earlier program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The new program for parents, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, and the expanded program for children could reach as many as 4 million people, according to the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute.

    If the court is split ideologically, the case could end in a 4-4 tie following Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February. That would leave the programs in limbo, almost certainly through the end of Obama’s presidency.

    Both sides acknowledge that the outcome of the presidential election ultimately could determine the programs’ fates, even if the Supreme Court rules for the administration. Republican candidates have pledged to roll back Obama’s actions, and Republican candidate Donald Trump has proposed deporting the roughly 11 million people who are living in the U.S. illegally.

    Several justices remarked how Congress provides enough money to deport only about 400,000 people annually.

    The bulk of immigrants who live in the U.S. illegally “are here whether we want them or not,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said.

    The high court is expected to decide by late June whether the efforts can move forward in the waning months of Obama’s presidency.

    Roberts and his colleagues might have an incentive to avoid a tie vote that would not set a nationwide precedent and also point to the short-handed court’s difficulty in getting its work done. If that’s the case, the fate of the programs could hang on a two-word phrase the administration used to describe the status of immigrants under the programs— lawful presence. Texas and congressional Republicans who back the state say the phrase is important because it gives the immigrants more rights than federal law allows.

    Verrilli told the justices that they could get rid of the phrase and essentially leave the programs unchanged. “If the court thinks it’s a problem and wants to put a red pencil through it, it’s totally fine,” he said.

    Roberts sounded interested in that idea, asking lawyer Erin Murphy if the court could, in fact, just “cross out the phrase.”

    Murphy, representing House Republicans, said it wasn’t that simple.

    In fact, it was not clear from the arguments whether such an outcome would affect immigrants’ ability to work or receive other benefits, including Social Security.

    One way for the court to avoid dipping into the complex details of immigration law would be to adopt the administration’s argument that Texas has no right to challenge the programs in federal court.

    But Roberts did not seem interested in that idea, noting that a ruling on the technical issue of standing would put Texas in a “Catch-22.”

    Republican governors and members of Congress have argued that Obama doesn’t have the power to effectively change immigration law. When he announced the measures 17 months ago, Obama said he was acting under his own authority because Congress had failed to overhaul the immigration system. The Senate had passed legislation on a bipartisan vote, but House Republicans refused to put the matter to a vote.

    The administration and immigration advocates say Obama’s orders are neither unprecedented nor even unusual. Rather, they say, the programs build on past efforts by Democratic and Republican administrations to use discretion in deciding whom to deport.

    The protection from deportation is “discretionary, temporary and revocable relief from the daily fear that they will be separated from their families,” Thomas Saenz, arguing on behalf of three mothers of U.S. citizen children, told the court.

    The post Split high court now holds fate of Obama immigration actions appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Heather Fink outside of the Gold Sounds music club in Brooklyn on Saturday night. Photo by Daniel Bush

    Heather Fink outside of the Gold Sounds music club in Brooklyn on Saturday night. Photo by Daniel Bush

    BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The event was billed as “Totally Free” and “Totally Chill(ary),” an unofficial Hillary Clinton campaign party that would feature stand-up comedy, live rap and a pantsuit competition.

    The pantsuit contest never happened, and the local rap act failed to show up to the club, a small, out-of-the-way venue in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn.

    But for nearly two hours on Saturday night, three days before the New York primaries, a cast of comedians put together by the film maker Heather Fink held up their end of the deal, delivering a free, feminism-themed show for a crowd of mostly female Clinton supporters who were there to celebrate her presidential campaign.

    “Anytime I post something positive about Hillary on Facebook, people tell me I’m a bad person, they tell me I’m stupid and don’t know anything.”

    For both the comedians and their audience, the event represented a rare opportunity to express support for Clinton in public without fear of being criticized by friends and family members — or reprimanded by male supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders, known as “Bernie bros,” who have become infamous for lashing out against female Clinton voters on Facebook and Twitter.

    “Anytime I post something positive about Hillary on Facebook, people tell me I’m a bad person, they tell me I’m stupid and don’t know anything,” Rachel Coleman, one of the night’s performers, said in an interview before the comedy show got underway.

    “They mansplain to me a lot about why Hillary is terrible,” Coleman added. “They say, ‘You don’t know about [Clinton’s paid speeches to] Goldman Sachs.’ No, I know, but I’ve made an informed decision.”

    Susan Kruglinsky, a writer and editor from the Upper West Side, said she frequently came under attack from liberal friends — both in person and online — for supporting Clinton for president.

    “I have to be careful about what I say,” Kruglinsky, 48, said as she waited for the show to begin. “I feel like a lot of my friends have been turned off by me because of my support for Hillary. It’s disappointing.”

    More than 100 people attended the "Chillary 2016" comedy show at Gold Sounds. Photo by Daniel Bush

    More than 100 people attended the “Chillary 2016″ comedy show at Gold Sounds. Photo by Daniel Bush

    Kruglinsky recalled facing similar criticisms in 2008, when she chose to support Clinton instead of Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries. She said she had hoped that the dynamic would be different this time around with Sanders supporters.

    “It’s not that they’re looking for a male figure,” she said. “The sexism that comes into this is not appreciating a woman who is so accomplished. And dismissing her. It’s a complete insult.”

    On stage, a parade of pro-Clinton comedians highlighted the gender issues at play in the race, skewering Sanders’ ambitious campaign promises and celebrity-studded rallies.

    “Everybody keeps telling me I’m wrong” for backing Clinton, said Hilary Schwartz. “But most editorial boards keep telling me I’m right. Do I listen to the New York Times, or Danny Devito?”

    Schwartz also trained her ire on young voters who have propelled Sanders to victory in several primaries. Sanders trails Clinton in pledged delegates and is unlikely to secure the Democratic nomination, but his support from millennial voters has helped make the primaries far closer than many had expected.

    She saved some of her sharpest language for Bernie bros in particular.

    “They will crash into your comments section [on Facebook]” with crude insults and foul language, she said, and added, joking, “What are people in their twenties called again?Assholes.”

    Benari Poulten joked that finding the venue, Gold Sounds — which is located several blocks from the nearest subway station — symbolized the obstacles that Clinton and her supporters still face, in a year where Sanders has attracted a massive following with relative ease.

    “You can just roll out of bed and walk into a Bernie event. [To find Clinton backers], you have to take two trains and a bus and an uber and a lyft and, like, talk to somebody at the door, who’s like, ‘Do you really want to be here?’”

    “You can just roll out of bed and just walk into a Bernie event,” said Poulten, a comic who works for Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. To find fellow Clinton backers, “you have to take two trains and a bus and an uber and a lyft and, like, talk to somebody at the door, who’s like, ‘Do you really want to be here?’”

    Roughly 100 people really wanted to be there, despite the fact that the party didn’t start until midnight, and lasted until 4 a.m. Heather Fink, the show’s organizer, said she wanted to hold the event on a weekend when people who work during the week would have time to attend.

    Fink, a 34-year-old former standup comic who recently finished her first feature film, said she was inspired to throw the party after hearing from numerous friends who said they didn’t feel comfortable sharing their support for Clinton in public or online.

    “It’s very common,” Fink said, in an interview before the event. She hastened to say that not all Sanders fans were part of the problem. “There are good, sweet-hearted Bernie supporters.”

    During a break between acts, Fink, who was emceeing the show, noticed a young man in the audience who was wearing a Sanders campaign hat.

    Fink paused, unsure what to do. Then she leaned into the microphone and asked him if he had “chill vibes.” He assured Fink that he did, so she invited him onto the stage to speak.

    “I appreciate you for who you are. I’m in no way, shape or form here to tell you that you’re doing anything wrong,” the man, who said his name was Rooster Riley, told the crowd. He added that he was a “true believer” who had logged about 6,500 miles on the campaign trail for Sanders.

    By 2:30 a.m., after the last comedy act was over and the house music was cranked up, Fink was visibly relieved that the night had gone well, despite the lack of pantsuits and the rap performance getting scrapped.

    “It’s Ok. Like Hillary, you have a crisis, and you adapt,” Fink said. “You deal with it.”

    The post In Brooklyn, Clinton supporters carve out safe space in ‘Bernie bro’ country appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Scientists have isolated regions of the genome that appear to play a role in influencing when people first have intercourse. Photo by Tom And Steve/via Getty Images

    Scientists have isolated regions of the genome that appear to play a role in influencing when people first have intercourse. Photo by Tom And Steve/via Getty Images

    As many a pining high schooler could attest, the age at which people lose their virginity is determined by a host of factors, not least of all finding a sexual partner. But researchers say genes matter, too.

    Now, scientists have homed in on regions of the genome that appear to play a role in influencing when people first have intercourse, as well as when they go through puberty and have their first child.

    Societal and family factors still outweigh genetic factors, researchers say, so teenagers who are genetically predisposed to have sex earlier won’t if their parents don’t let them out of the house or if they are committed to abstinence. In contrast, adolescents who are biologically inclined to wait could have sex earlier in the face of peer pressure. Sure, choice has a massive role in this, but there are biological and genetic factors, too.

    But John Perry, a University of Cambridge geneticist and a senior author on apaper published Monday in Nature Genetics, said DNA plays more of a role than people assume. If some people have sex at 15 years old and others wait until 20, genetics account for 25 percent of that difference, Perry said.

    “It’s one of those things that people think is completely choice,” Perry said. “Sure, choice has a massive role in this, but there are biological and genetic factors, too.”

    For the study, researchers scoured genomic and survey data from more than 125,000 participants in what’s called the UK Biobank, identifying 38 genetic variants that could play a role in determining when people lose their virginity. They saw the same results when they analyzed the genetic data of people in Iceland and the United States.

    The results of the study, known as a genome-wide association study, are correlational, meaning these particular genetic differences might not necessarily be causing someone to have sex earlier or later than others. The analysis also might not have picked up on every genetic variant involved in reproductive timing.

    Still, the variants identified were often part of or near genes that influence both physical and personality characteristics. (Thirty-three variants were found in men and women, one in women only, and four in men only.)

    Some of genetic differences appeared in parts of the genome that affect reproductive pathways related to hormone signaling and fertility. Photo by Christian Adams/via Getty Images

    Some of genetic differences appeared in parts of the genome that affect reproductive pathways related to hormone signaling and fertility. Photo by Christian Adams/via Getty Images

    Some of the differences appeared in parts of the genome that affect reproductive pathways related to hormone signaling and fertility, Perry said.

    That stands to reason. People whose genes thrust them through puberty faster likely will have sex earlier: Their hormones are firing, their more mature appearance is more attractive to potential partners, and their development gives them a head start over people who go through puberty later.

    The subject of the paper may cause some titters, but it is of interest to a wide range of experts, including geneticists, psychologists, educators, and disease specialists interested in how the timing of puberty affects future health.

    If they hold up, the study’s results could help experts better understand why some kids growing up in the same circumstances have sex for the first time years apart, and how to better craft public health policies.

    Apparently nice guys don’t always finish last. “You could send a whole junior high class to the same sexual education class but you’re going to get different outcomes,” said Nancy Segal, a developmental psychologist at California State University, Fullerton, who was not involved with the study.

    A better understanding of the genetic underpinnings of reproductive timing could inform other kinds of research, said Paige Harden, a psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin, who was also not involved with the study.

    Researchers, for instance, have reported that people who lose their virginity earlier in life are more likely to have future psychological problems such as depression, and “many studies have been very quick to conclude that what’s happening is the sexual relationship is damaging or risky for teenagers in some way,” Harden said. But other studies, she said, have found that depression and a predisposition to having sex earlier could have common genetic roots.

    Past studies from Perry’s group and others have found that people who go through puberty earlier face higher risks of some cancers, heart disease, and diabetes. The new study, Perry said, also found a tie between early puberty and the age at which people first have sex and have a child, as well as lower levels of education.

    The study also found a correlation between genetic factors that govern behavioral traits and the age at which people lose their virginity. Genetic variants that correspond to a propensity to take risks, for instance, were found in people who had sex for the first time earlier in their lives.

    The variants that were tied to irritability, on the other hand, were found in people who lost their virginities later than average. Apparently nice guys don’t always finish last.

    This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on April 18, 2016. Find the original story here.

    The post Your genes may schedule when you lose your virginity appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    It's been a looong day!

    In the last decade, independent contracting accounted for almost all net U.S. job growth. Yet, the research community knows very little about the financial lives of these independent contractors. Photo by pixdeluxe via Getty Images

    Imagine that you made $20,000 last year. In addition, you experienced high income variability in which one week you earned $60 and, another week, you received $800. To add to this complexity, imagine that your taxes were not automatically withdrawn from each paycheck. Instead, you were responsible for calculating the amount you owe in taxes and paying those taxes on a quarterly basis.

    Would you be able to actively manage all of your expenses? Would you be able to properly save? For most of us, the answer is no.

    This is the challenging reality for most independent contractors. In the last decade, independent contracting accounted for almost all net U.S. job growth. Yet, the research community knows very little about the financial lives of these independent contractors.

    To learn more about this population, Payable partnered with Common Cents, a financial decision-making lab supported by MetLife Foundation, to analyze Payable’s financial data and survey contractors in the Payable network. In this research, we analyzed payment data for over 200,000 Payable users and surveyed over 3,800 independent contractors.

    Here are the top four most surprising results:

    1) Close to two-thirds of contractors are contracting as a side gig. Only 36 percent are full-time independent contractors.

    The vast majority of independent contractors are contracting on a part-time basis. Over 64 percent were either full-time or part-time employees, students or retired employees. This finding runs counter to the common assumption that most contractors rely solely on their contracting income.

    Courtesy Payable and Common Cents Lab

    2) Most contractors are just starting out.

    With the gig economy growing so fast, it’s no wonder the majority of contractors are first-time 1099s. In our study, over 72 percent of workers were contracting for one year or less. Not only are these new contractors forced to learn how to master a new skill, they are also thrusted into a complex tax environment with relatively little experience.

    Courtesy common cents lab and Payable.

    3) Being an independent contractor often means variable pay.

    The median income for full-time contractors in 2015 was $20,000 — below the median personal income of $28,851. For those contracting part time, the median contracting income was just $7,000. Our survey participants experienced a 10 times differential between their largest paycheck and their smallest paycheck in 2015, suggesting large income variability throughout the year.

    4) Only 16 percent are paying quarterly taxes, and 18 percent were not aware of quarterly taxes.

    According to most tax experts, anyone who expects to owe more than $1,000 in 1099 taxes throughout the year should pay quarterly estimated taxes or face a fine. Yet, in our survey, only 16 percent of contractors paid quarterly taxes, and an additional 18 percent did not know that they had to pay quarterly taxes.

    Did contractors pay quarterly taxes

    The post The realities of living as an independent contractor appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    he 1906 earthquake in San Francisco destroyed sewer pipes, buckled streets, mangled telephone lines and crippled railroads in the Bay Area. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

    he 1906 earthquake in San Francisco destroyed sewer pipes, buckled streets, mangled telephone lines and crippled railroads in the Bay Area. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

    At 5:12 a.m. on April 18, 1906, a magnitude 7.7 to 7.9 earthquake shook San Francisco awake. Buildings crumbled, water mains ruptured and fires broke out across the city. Those fires would fuel a massive inferno that would rage through San Francisco for three days.

    The 1906 earthquake and the firestorm that followed left at least 3,000 people dead and more than 200,000 homeless.

    It also led to tremendous advances in earthquake science. The Report of the State Earthquake Investigation Commission, more commonly known as the Lawson Report, was published in 1908. The discoveries in this report laid the groundwork for modern seismic analysis.

    For the 110th anniversary of the quake, @NewsHour dug through photos, reports and old records of the earthquake and recounted in a real-time Twitter narrative what happened during the catastrophe and the knowledge gained in the aftermath.

    Special thanks to seismologist and Stanford University Consulting Professor Mary Lou Zoback; USGS seismologist David Wald; and USGS seismologist and author Susan Hough for their guidance on historical and scientific facts.

    See below for a recap of the #1906Earthquake narrative:

    The post Reliving the earthquake that changed earthquake science appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power's trip to Cameroon's front lines in the war against Boko Haram started horrifically Monday as an armored jeep in her motorcade struck and killed a young boy who darted into the road. Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

    A motorcade carrying U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, aides and journalists struck and killed a young boy Cameroon. Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

    MAROUA, Cameroon — U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power’s trip to Cameroon’s front lines in the war against Boko Haram started horrifically Monday as an armored jeep in her motorcade struck and killed a young boy who darted into the road.

    The incident occurred near the small city of Mokolo, in northern Cameroon, where Power, her aides and accompanying journalists were headed to meet refugees and others displaced by the years of brutal attacks across West Africa.

    All those meetings included small children.

    Power said she learned of the death with “great sorrow.”

    She said she met with the boy’s family to “offer our profound condolences and our grief and heartbreak.”

    Power returned to the scene of the bloody accident several hours later to meet the 7-year-old boy’s mother and father, while residents of his village stood solemnly on a sandy expanse.

    The motorcade was moving at a fast clip, at times exceeding 60 mph, while villagers lined up along the sides of the road. But when the boy darted onto the two-lane highway, there was no time for the sixth car in Power’s convoy to react. The driver was Cameroonian.

    At the moment of impact, a man could be seen running up the embankment, with his arms held high, to the street to try to stop the child. A Cameroonian helicopter traveling overhead as part of a large security contingent saw the collision.

    The vehicle that hit the boy initially stopped, but was ordered by American security forces to continue traveling through the unsecured area. An ambulance in the U.S. caravan immediately attended to him.

    The boy was rushed to a local hospital, though his condition was already hopeless, according to people familiar with the incident, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Several U.S. officials were visibly affected, with one Power aide turning away to cry as his boss met with refugee children shortly afterward.

    The motorcade moved at a significantly slower pace for the rest of the day.

    Officials did not immediately identify the boy. U.S officials wouldn’t comment immediately on any plans for compensation to the boy’s family.

    The post UN ambassador’s motorcade hits, kills boy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Poet Anaïs Duplan. Photo by Mohammad Mirghorbani

    Poet Anaïs Duplan. Photo by Mohammad Mirghorbani

    There’s so much we don’t know about Mary Bowser.

    We only have a scant portrait of her early life, but we know that she was baptized in 1846 and was a slave in the home of John Van Lew in Richmond, Virginia. After his death, Van Lew’s wife and daughter Elizabeth freed Mary and the family’s other slaves.

    That’s where the story that we know begins. As the Civil War began in 1861, Bowser — then married and living outside Richmond — was still corresponding with Elizabeth, whose quirky personality and pro-Union politics had earned her the local nickname “Crazy Bet.” Bowser began carrying information to Elizabeth from the Confederate White House in Richmond, providing a vital link in the spy network that Elizabeth would build over the course of the war.

    Now, Bowser reappears in “My Heart Like a Needle Ever True Turns to the Maid of Ebon Hue,” a new poem by Anaïs Duplan.

    Duplan was born in Haiti, where she said Creole dominates everyday life and French is a marker of the upper class. This impact of French colonialism on language left her with specific ideas about what constituted a “good” poem, she said.

    “I realized that I had all these ideas about what a poem should be or what it should sound like, and in many ways I was trying to cater to that and use poetic language,” she said. “I think it was a question of diction, almost, that I felt that in order for a language to earn its keep in a poem, it had to be elevated.”

    But in writing Bowser’s story, she realized she didn’t need to couch the meaning of her words. “Whatever I have to say, I mean to say in the way that I feel it, even if I’m afraid of not being heard because of how I’ve said it,” she said.

    The poem is named for a line from Lewis Latimer’s poem “Ebon Venus,” in which he writes “My heart like needles ever true / Turns to the maid of ebon hue.”

    Duplan juxtaposes this celebration of black womanhood with the image of Bowser as a male, Christ-like figure, presiding over a religious crowd. One line follows the scene as “Mary Bowser / surrounded by wimmen ‘n’ chillun ‘n’ chickens ‘n’ cows / held up his arms and prayed a massive prayer for us all.”

    Duplan said she wanted to examine what it means to conflate this historical moment with the archetype of a male religious figure. “What does it mean to make Mary Bowser into a holy man?” she said.

    You can read the poem, or hear Duplan read it, below.

    My Heart Like a Needle Ever True Turns to the Maid of Ebon Hue

    Ex-humans walk the earth in pleasurable garb,
    lllllllllllin leather church shoes, in wrinkled-up sun hats.
    I was the Buddha by the base of the tree last night,
    lllllllllllwhite bellied Buddha in luxurious blackface.
    I dressed myself up for the Halloween massacre
    llllllllllland came back in the morning as a TV reporter.
    There were no casualties, formally speaking,
    lllllllllllbut mishaps there were plenty. Amid the gunfire,
    a man named Mary Bowser stopped to reflect
    lllllllllllon two honeybees mating. Release is everyone’s
    dream, he said. The drones want released as badly as I
    lllllllllllwant to get out of this bear costume. Mary Bowser
    surrounded by wimmen ‘n’ chillun ‘n’ chickens ‘n’ cows
    lllllllllllheld up his arms and prayed a massive prayer for us all.
    One chil’ lifted up its head out from underneath Mary
    lllllllllllBowser’s armpit and let out a most deflated cry.
    A wummun took the chil’ head in her hands
    llllllllllland snapped its neck quick. Mary Bowser bawled
    like a holy man. The gun it danced it danced it danced
    lllllllllllbut no one saw the gunmen. I could feel the brawny
    hair on Margaret’s head as we huddled together
    lllllllllllby the palm fronds in the corner of the Enterprise office.
    Above us, a man and a woman were pictured renting
    llllllllllla car, forever. Ex-humans like photographs of other
    ex-humans. I danced and danced and danced, the gun,
    llllllllllllike a fieldhand in ecstasy. Me and Margaret know
    the reign of bullets will come down upon our
    lllllllllllgod-fearing bodies. We pray a fierce prayer
    like two strange fruits in winter.

    Anaïs Duplan is the author of Take This Stallion (Brooklyn Arts Press). Her poems and essays have appeared in Hyperallergic, Boston Review, The Journal, [PANK], and other publications. She is the director of the Center for Afrofuturist Studies, an artist residency program for new media artists of color. She lives in Iowa City, where she is an MFA candidate at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. This poem was originally published in the Summer 2016 issue of The Journal.

    The post Poet delves into a Civil War spy’s hidden history appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Lin-Manuel Miranda during the Broadway opening night performance of 'Hamilton' at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on August 6, 2015 in New York City. Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage

    Lin-Manuel Miranda appears during the Broadway opening night performance of ‘Hamilton’ at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on August 6, 2015, in New York City. Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage

    “Hamilton” already has an impressive resume: last year, it became the highest-debuting musical on the Billboard 200 in five decades. It unseated “The Lion King” as the top-grossing Broadway musical for a week. It has drawn thousands of people to the Broadway sidewalk to catch a glimpse of its creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, or a few moments of song.

    Today, it added another credit: the musical, which tells the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton through a blend of rap, hip-hop and other musical styles, won a Pulitzer. The musical joins eight others that have received Pulitzer Prizes, including “A Chorus Line” and “Rent.”

    [Watch Video]

    Cartoonist Jack Ohman of the Sacremento Bee won in the editorial cartooning category for his style that combines “bold line work with subtle colors and textures,” according to the prize committee. Ohman’s series “The Care Package,” which he wrote for PBS NewsHour, looked at the challenges his family faced during the final years of his father’s life.

    READ NEXT: “The Care Package,” a series by Jack Ohman

    The Associated Press won the Pulitzer Prize for public service for its reporting on the brutal labor conditions and abuse faced by fishermen in Southeast Asia. The staff at the Los Angeles Times won in the breaking news category for the team’s reporting in the wake of the San Bernardino shootings.

    Author Joby Warrick took home the general nonfiction award for “Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS,” her book exploring the Islamic State’s rise to becoming an international organization. Chief arts and culture correspondent Jeffrey Brown interviewed Warrick about the book at the Miami Book Fair last November.

    [Watch Video]

    Kathryn Schulz won for feature writing for her piece “The Really Big One,” a piece that examined the potential consequences of a major earthquake in the Pacific Northwest, while Emily Nussbaum won the award for criticism for her extensive work in television reviews.

    T. Christian Miller of ProPublica and Ken Armstrong of The Marshall Project won in the explanatory reporting category for “An Unbelievable Story of Rape,” an investigation of how two different police departments handled cases of sexual assault. PBS NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan interviewed Armstrong about the project in December.

    The awards, now in their hundredth year, are administered by Columbia University.

    Read the full list of winners below.

    Public Service

    Associated Press: For an investigation of severe labor abuses tied to the supply of seafood to American supermarkets and restaurants, reporting that freed 2,000 slaves, brought perpetrators to justice and inspired reforms.

    Breaking News Reporting

    Los Angeles Times Staff: For exceptional reporting, including both local and global perspectives, on the shooting in San Bernardino and the terror investigation that followed.

    Investigative Reporting

    Leonora LaPeter Anton and Anthony Cormier of the Tampa Bay Times and Michael Braga of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune: For a stellar example of collaborative reporting by two news organizations that revealed escalating violence and neglect in Florida mental hospitals and laid the blame at the door of state officials.

    Explanatory Reporting

    T. Christian Miller of ProPublica and Ken Armstrong of The Marshall Project: For a startling examination and exposé of law enforcement’s enduring failures to investigate reports of rape properly and and to comprehend the traumatic effects on its victims.

    Local Reporting

    Michael LaForgia, Cara Fitzpatrick and Lisa Gartner of Tampa Bay Times: For exposing a local school board’s culpability in turning some county schools into failure factories, with tragic consequences for the community. (Moved by the Board from the Public Service category, where it was also entered.)

    National Reporting

    The Washington Post Staff: For its revelatory initiative in creating and using a national database to illustrate how often and why the police shoot to kill and who the victims are most likely to be.

    International Reporting

    Alissa J. Rubin of The New York Times: For thoroughly reported and movingly written accounts giving voice to Afghan women who were forced to endure unspeakable cruelties.

    Feature Writing

    Kathryn Schulz of The New Yorker: For an elegant scientific narrative of the rupturing of the Cascadia fault line, a masterwork of environmental reporting and writing.

    Commentary

    Farah Stockman of The Boston Globe: For extensively reported columns that probe the legacy of busing in Boston and its effect on education in the city with a clear eye on ongoing racial contradictions.

    Criticism

    Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker: For television reviews written with an affection that never blunts the shrewdness of her analysis or the easy authority of her writing.

    Editorial Writing

    John Hackworth of Sun Newspapers, Charlotte Harbor, FL: For fierce, indignant editorials that demanded truth and change after the deadly assault of an inmate by corrections officers.

    Editorial Cartooning

    Jack Ohman of The Sacramento Bee: For cartoons that convey wry, rueful perspectives through sophisticated style that combines bold line work with subtle colors and textures.

    Breaking News Photography

    Mauricio Lima, Sergey Ponomarev, Tyler Hicks and Daniel Etter of The New York Times: For photographs that captured the resolve of refugees, the perils of their journeys and the struggle of host countries to take them in.

    Photography Staff of Thomson Reuters: For gripping photographs, each with its own voice, that follow migrant refugees hundreds of miles across uncertain boundaries to unknown destinations.

    Feature Photography

    Jessica Rinaldi of The Boston Globe: For the raw and revealing photographic story of a boy who strives to find his footing after abuse by those he trusted.

    Fiction

    The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press): A layered immigrant tale told in the wry, confessional voice of a “man of two minds” — and two countries, Vietnam and the United States.

    Drama

    Hamilton, by Lin-Manuel Miranda: A landmark American musical about the gifted and self-destructive founding father whose story becomes both contemporary and irresistible.

    History

    Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America, by T.J. Stiles (Alfred A. Knopf): A rich and surprising new telling of the journey of the iconic American soldier whose death turns out not to have been the main point of his life. (Moved by the Board from the Biography category.)

    Biography or Autobiography

    Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, by William Finnegan (Penguin Press): A finely crafted memoir of a youthful obsession that has propelled the author through a distinguished writing career.

    Poetry

    Ozone Journal, by Peter Balakian (University of Chicago Press): Poems that bear witness to the old losses and tragedies that undergird a global age of danger and uncertainty.

    General Nonfiction

    Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS, by Joby Warrick (Doubleday): A deeply reported book of remarkable clarity showing how the flawed rationale for the Iraq War led to the explosive growth of the Islamic State.

    Music

    In for a Penny, In for a Pound, by Henry Threadgill (Pi Recordings): Recording released on May 26, 2015 by Zooid, a highly original work in which notated music and improvisation mesh in a sonic tapestry that seems the very expression of modern American life (Pi Recordings).

    The post ‘Hamilton’ becomes 9th musical to win Pulitzer Prize appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A view inside Courtroom 201, where jury selection in the trial of Aurora movie theater shootings defendant James Holmes is to begin on Jan. 20, 2015, at the Arapahoe County District Court in Centennial, Colorado,  January 15, 2015. Jury selection is expected to take several weeks to a few months.  REUTERS/Brennan Linsley/Pool  (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW) - RTR4LLZP

    A view inside Courtroom 201, where jury selection is to begin. Photo by Brennan Linsley/Pool/Reuters

    Editor’s Note: For 31 years now, Paul Solman’s reports on the NewsHour have aimed to make sense of economic news and research for a general audience. Since 2007, our Making Sen$e page has vowed to do the same, turning to leading academics and thinkers in the fields of business and economics to help explain what’s interesting and relevant about their work. That includes reports and interviews with economists affiliated with the National Bureau of Economic Research.

    Making Sense/NBER logo

    Each month, the NBER Digest summarizes several recent NBER working papers. These papers have not been peer-reviewed, but are circulated by their authors for comment and discussion. With the NBER’s blessing, Making Sen$e is pleased to feature these summaries regularly on our page.

    The following summary was written by the NBER and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of Making Sen$e.


    The role of women in civic, political and economic life has expanded slowly but steadily over the past century, as women have secured voting rights and assumed increasingly diverse and powerful positions in the public and private sectors. Yet measuring the impact of this inclusion has been challenging, in part because it has been difficult to find examples of women taking on new roles in which they do not reflect the views of those who elected or appointed them.

    In “A Jury of Her Peers: The Impact of the First Female Jurors on Criminal Convictions,” Shamena AnwarPatrick Bayer and Randi Hjalmarsson analyze verdicts in England before and after women began sitting on juries in criminal cases.

    England’s Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act of 1919 provided a unique opportunity for the researchers to study the effect of female jurors on real-world decisions well before women being on juries in equal numbers to men became the norm and made it more difficult to measure how gender influences results. They found the inclusion of women was followed by large, significant changes in some conviction rates, specifically for sex offenses and violent crimes against women.

    Courtesy the NBER

    Courtesy the NBER

    The researchers reviewed hand written records of more than 3,000 cases in the Central Criminal Court of London and surrounding communities from 1918 to 1926. The Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act was implemented in 1921, and court records immediately before and after implementation provide a wealth of information about the types of cases, verdicts, gender of defendants, victims, jurors and other valuable data.

    The study shows that the inclusion of women on juries had little effect on overall conviction rates within all the criminal cases examined. However, there were distinct shifts in conviction rates within subcategories of criminal cases. Significantly, when women were on juries — even when they were outnumbered by men, as was the case in the early years after implementation of the act — conviction rates for sex offense cases increased by 16 percent.

    Meanwhile, there was a decrease of 10 percent in the conviction rate for property crimes and 13 percent for violent crimes overall. There also was an important shift in conviction rates within the violent-crime subcategory. Prior to implementation of the act, the conviction rate differential between crimes involving male and female victims was essentially zero. After the reforms, that conviction rate differential changed dramatically, with cases in which the victim was a woman now 20 percent more likely to lead to convictions compared to cases in which men were the victims. The inclusion of women also increased the likelihood of juries being discharged without reaching a verdict on all charges and increased the average time taken to reach a verdict.

    “Taken as a whole, the results of our analysis imply that female representation on juries substantially affects the likelihood of conviction for a subset of cases — sexual and violent crimes — in which female jurors might have viewed the alleged behavior or its impact on the victim from a different perspective than their male counterparts,” the researchers conclude.

    — Jay Fitzgerald, National Bureau of Economic Research

    The post How the first female jurors swayed verdicts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    On a bitterly cold March morning in Denver, snow was forecast to start falling any minute. Time for Kevin Hinrichs and his crew to head out on the job.

    “When the snow’s blowing and your power’s out, that’s when we go to work,” Hinrichs said.

    Inside Energy has reported on the new technologies that are changing our electric grid, from smart meters to adding solar and wind power generation. But our electricity still travels from the power plant to our homes via miles of power lines. And someone has to keep those lines functioning. That someone is Hinrichs, a lineman for Xcel Energy.

    “It doesn’t matter if it’s wind generated or coal generated, we’re going to get it to the customer,” he said. “That’s what we do as linemen.”

    On a blustery March morning, an Xcel lineman crew in Denver, Colorado replaces an old transformer. Photo by Brian Malone/Inside Energy

    On a blustery March morning, an Xcel lineman crew in Denver, Colorado replaces an old transformer. Photo by Brian Malone/Inside Energy

    Hinrichs has worked as a lineman for 25 years, and storms are the worst time for the job, he said. When branches bring down power lines or motorists slip on wet roads and take out a utility pole, the “trouble men” – the emergency repair crews – get called out to restore the power.

    Those trouble men are on call whether the storm is in town or in another state. Hinrichs recalled a day that he was out riding his motorcycle with his wife when he got a call about bad weather in Minnesota. A few hours later he was on a plane to repair lines in Minnesota.

    But most of Hinrichs’ work now is maintaining and updating the aging power lines in Denver. When Inside Energy met up with Hinrichs, his team was replacing an old transformer in a customer’s backyard. Hinrichs’ crew scaled a utility pole bearing a date: 1953. And that’s probably about the age of the neighborhood, Hinrichs said. Since 1953, the houses in this neighborhood have added electrical appliances – air conditioners, dishwashers, electric heating, big screen TVs – which strain the old transformers that deliver power to individual houses. Hinrichs said often the utility doesn’t know what needs to be replaced or upgraded until customers call to complain that their power has gone out.

    Some smart grid technology may keep the utilities and the crew abreast of changes, but ultimately the linemen will still need to go out and fix the problems, Hinrichs said.

    Kevin Hinrichs shows off his lineman tattoo. Hinrichs has worked as a lineman for Xcel Energy for 25 years. Photo by Brian Malone/Inside Energy

    Kevin Hinrichs shows off his lineman tattoo. Hinrichs has worked as a lineman for Xcel Energy for 25 years. Photo by Brian Malone/Inside Energy

    And that can get dangerous. Hinrichs described days when their crews needed police escorts after gunfire broke out below their trucks. Even routine maintenance, like replacing transformers, has its dangers. The transformers contain oil, which can sometimes be boiling when crews take them down to replace them.

    As a foreman, Hinrichs worries more about his crew getting hurt than falling off a power pole himself. The risks of the job mean that crew need to watch out for each other, and that forms a strong bond between linemen.

    “We don’t need shrinks,” Hinrichs said. “We go to work and it comes out.”

    Hinrichs rolled up his sleeve to reveal a tattoo of a lineman working on a pole. When he joined the company more than 20 years ago, he planned to be an engineer, not a lineman. But he fell in love with the work and decided to stay on as a lineman.

    “At the end of the day,” he said, “I can look back and see what I did.”

    The post The life of the linemen who keep your lights on appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A woman looks on next to a banner as soldiers and municipal health workers take part in cleaning of the streets, gardens and homes as part of the city's efforts to prevent the spread of the Zika virus vector, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Photo by Jorge Cabrera/Reuters

    A woman looks on next to a banner as soldiers and municipal health workers take part in cleaning of the streets, gardens and homes as part of the city’s efforts to prevent the spread of the Zika virus vector, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Photo by Jorge Cabrera/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Zika may stand convicted of causing devastating birth defects but there still are lots of questions about how much of a threat the virus poses to pregnant women, and what to do about it.

    Part of the answer has to do with geography: So far, mosquitoes aren’t spreading Zika in the mainland U.S. That means for now, the main advice for pregnant women here is to avoid travel to Zika-affected parts of Latin America or the Caribbean. But that could change as mosquito season gets into full swing at home.

    “It would not be surprising at all, if not likely, that we’re going to see of a bit” of local Zika transmission, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health told Fox News Sunday.

    Here are some questions and answers about what experts know, and need to learn, as the first mosquito-borne virus known to cause birth defects inches closer to the U.S.

    Just what birth defects can Zika cause?

    Zika had been considered a nuisance virus until a massive outbreak began last year in Brazil and doctors there reported babies being born with unusually small heads, called microcephaly. Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Zika was indeed the culprit — and that it caused a particularly severe form of microcephaly, with serious underlying brain damage, as well as other brain-related abnormalities.

    Studies increasingly show Zika gets into a fetus’ developing brain and kills cells, or stops them from growing further, and even can kill the fetus. But even if the brain seemed to be developing normally, still other studies have found stillbirths, poor fetal growth and other problems.

    If a mother-to-be becomes infected, how likely is her baby to be harmed?

    No one knows yet. One modeling study of an outbreak in French Polynesia suggested 1 percent of babies born to women infected during the first trimester alone would have microcephaly. In another study, ultrasound exams spotted some sort of abnormality, not just microcephaly, in nearly 30 percent of women who had Zika during pregnancy. Studies better designed to answer that question are under way now.

    Does it matter when during pregnancy the mother is infected?

    Specialists think the first trimester is especially vulnerable, because that’s when organs develop. But the brain continues to grow throughout pregnancy and some studies have found signs of trouble even if infection occurred much later.

    Can the fetus be harmed even if the mother didn’t know she was infected?

    Again, that’s not clear. Most adults report either mild or no symptoms from Zika, but it could just be that they didn’t notice.

    Then how would pregnant women know if they’d been infected?

    Any who did travel to Zika-affected areas should tell their doctors, who can order the appropriate testing to help determine their risk. There is no treatment for Zika, but those who were infected may need ultrasound exams to check how the fetus is developing.

    Are mosquitoes the only risk?

    They’re the main way Zika spreads, and the reason for CDC’s advice for women who are pregnant or attempting conception not to travel to Zika-affected areas. But the virus can be spread through sexual intercourse, too, as it lasts longer in semen than in blood. So if a man is exposed while his partner is pregnant, the CDC advises abstaining or using condoms until the baby is born.

    Is there any risk to future pregnancies if a non-pregnant woman is infected?

    The CDC says women who traveled to a Zika-affected area or who became infected should wait eight weeks before attempting conception. She may be advised to wait longer if the father-to-be also was exposed or infected.

    How could Zika begin spreading in the mainland U.S.?

    All it takes is the right kind of mosquito biting a returning traveler who’s infected, and then biting someone else nearby. That’s why CDC wants all returning travelers to take steps to avoid mosquito bites for three weeks after they return home — by using insect repellent, covering up, or staying indoors.

    Do officials expect widespread outbreaks in the U.S.?

    No, but they do expect local clusters of cases — just like has happened in previous years with a Zika relative named dengue fever that’s spread by the same mosquito, a species named Aedes aegypti. It’s not just a threat in the South but reaching into parts of the Midwest and Northeast.

    When will we see a vaccine?

    Not for a while. NIH’s Fauci hopes to begin small safety steps of a candidate by September but that wouldn’t make any dent in the Latin American outbreak.

    Are there risks beyond to a developing fetus?

    Zika also has been linked to a nerve disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome that can be triggered by various infections, and there have been occasional reports of other neurological problems. Researchers need to explore those further.

    The post Here’s what we know about Zika’s threat to pregnant women appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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