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- 04/25/16--13:04: _Justice Department ...
- 04/25/16--14:47: _Voters given wrong ...
- 04/25/16--15:00: _360° video shows Ne...
- 04/26/16--07:58: _Ask the Headhunter:...
- 04/26/16--08:05: _Over the last 13 ye...
- 04/26/16--09:06: _Supreme Court sides...
- 04/26/16--10:47: _Senators reach new ...
- 04/26/16--10:50: _After police shooti...
- 04/26/16--12:00: _Michelle Obama host...
- 04/26/16--14:04: _Fierce delegate fig...
- 04/26/16--14:29: _Can students improv...
- 04/26/16--14:35: _Last call to pursue...
- 04/26/16--14:40: _Trump wins Connecti...
- 04/26/16--14:57: _Panel confirms firs...
- 04/26/16--15:27: _Man fleeing robbery...
- 04/26/16--15:31: _House votes to desi...
- 04/26/16--15:40: _Chernobyl’s hauntin...
- 04/26/16--15:45: _Will Northeast prim...
- 04/27/16--11:29: _Ted Cruz taps Carly...
- 04/27/16--12:25: _Obama to visit Flin...
- 04/25/16--14:47: Voters given wrong ballots in Arizona primary, poll worker says
- 04/25/16--15:00: 360° video shows Nepal one year after earthquake
- 04/26/16--07:58: Ask the Headhunter: Why do employers hide the benefits?
- 04/26/16--08:05: Over the last 13 years, has life improved in Indian Country?
- 04/26/16--09:06: Supreme Court sides with police officer in free speech case
- 04/26/16--10:47: Senators reach new deal to address Flint water crisis
- 04/26/16--10:50: After police shooting, San Francisco actors tackle racial profiling
- 04/26/16--12:00: Michelle Obama hosts National College Signing Day 2016
- 04/26/16--14:04: Fierce delegate fight drives Delaware voters to the polls
- 04/26/16--14:29: Can students improve financial management with help from peers?
- 04/26/16--14:35: Last call to pursue Social Security’s file and suspend strategy!
- 04/26/16--14:57: Panel confirms first female officer for warfighting command
- 04/26/16--15:27: Man fleeing robbery jumps fence near White House
- 04/26/16--15:31: House votes to designate bison as America’s national mammal
- 04/26/16--15:40: Chernobyl’s haunting impact, 30 years later
- 04/27/16--11:29: Ted Cruz taps Carly Fiorina to serve as running mate
- 04/27/16--12:25: Obama to visit Flint to discuss water crisis
WASHINGTON — States should make it easier for convicted felons to obtain state-issued identification after they get out of prison, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Monday in announcing a set of measures aimed at helping smooth the return to society for the hundreds of thousands of inmates released each year.
The announcement is part of a broader movement to undo criminal justice policies that have meted out exceptionally long sentences for drug offenders, caused prison populations to balloon and, advocates say, created unnecessary barriers for ex-convicts looking to rebuild their lives. It amplifies an ongoing Justice Department push to rethink harsh drug sentences and to ensure alternatives to prison for certain nonviolent defendants, an effort known as “Smart on Crime.”
“The long-term impact of a criminal record prevents many people from obtaining employment, housing, higher education and credit — and these barriers affect returning individuals even if they have turned their lives around and are unlikely to reoffend,” the department said in a seven-page policy statement titled “Roadmap to Re-entry.”
Lynch made the announcement in Philadelphia on Monday at the start of National Re-entry Week.
The issue of felons’ rights has attracted growing attention at the state and federal levels in recent years. Last week, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued an executive order that would allow more than 200,000 convicted felons to cast ballots in November, calling voting rights the “essence of our democracy.”
State laws vary on the the voting eligibility of people convicted of crimes. Nearly 6 million Americans are unable to vote because of their criminal backgrounds, though more than 20 states have acted in the last two decades to help those with criminal convictions vote, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
The Obama administration, meanwhile, has created a federal re-entry council that looks for ways to reduce hurdles for people leaving prison.
A letter released Monday by the Justice Department calls on governors of all states to allow federal inmates who are returning to their communities to exchange their prisoner identification cards for state-issued identification, or to simply accept their prison cards as supporting documentation to obtain a state ID. Without identity documents, Americans leaving prison face challenges in getting jobs, housing or opening bank accounts, Lynch wrote in a sample letter provided by the Justice Department.
The practical impact is to standardize varied state laws about identification.
“But even more important is the message that such a program would send to returning citizens: That they are welcome back into society; that their government is invested in their success; and that they can now — quite literally — exchange their old identity as a federal inmate for a fresh start,” Lynch said in Philadelphia, according to her prepared remarks.
Separately, Lynch announced a series of actions taken by the federal Bureau of Prisons, which houses nearly 200,000 prisoners, to help convicts better acclimate to society upon their release. Roughly 600,000 state and federal prisoners return to their communities each year, the Justice Department said.
The Justice Department initiative directs federal prisons to prepare an individualized re-entry plan for each inmate that will take into account substance abuse, criminal history and education level.
In addition, the agency will be reviewing its network of halfway houses, where some 80 percent of federal prisoners who return to U.S. communities live upon their release from prison, and assessing life skills, education and job training programs to ensure that they’re best serving inmates’ needs. A pilot program is also being launched at four bureau facilities for children of incarcerated parents as a way to keep families united.
The Justice Department is publishing a new manual to provide advice and guidance on re-entry to all U.S. citizens leaving federal correctional facilities.
The post Justice Department wants states to make it easier for ex-prisoners to obtain IDs appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
PHOENIX — A poll worker who was on duty during Arizona’s problematic presidential primary testified Monday that 36 Democratic voters were given incorrect ballots by an electronic machine and 20 other Democrats were listed in the wrong party.
The testimony by Dianne Post was heard during a hearing in a courtroom packed with voters and election officials, including Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell, the top election official in the county.
A voter testified that she was incorrectly identified on Pima County’s voter rolls as an independent when she’s a Democrat.
The hearing before Maricopa County Superior Court Judge David Gass was convened after he rejected requests to dismiss the lawsuit.
Tucson resident John Brakey sued Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan and all 15 counties after the election. He contends long lines in Maricopa County suppressed the vote and statewide voter registration problems led to illegal vote counts. He wants the results of the March 22 primary decertified.
The attorney general says the primary results can’t be challenged.
Post, an attorney, testified that a machine she was using to check in voters at a Maricopa County location failed to give 36 people the proper ballot.
“Every single time it happened to me it was a Democratic voter who wasn’t able to access a Democratic ballot,” she said.
Another 22 people at her location were listed in the wrong party, she said. Her polling place also ran out of ballots for at least two congressional districts.
Alisa Wolfe, a resident of Pima County, testified that her voter registration was improperly changed from Democrat to independent.
Wolfe said she was able to vote provisionally after speaking to the Pima County Recorder’s Office and being told the problem was a computer glitch.
Before testimony began, Assistant Attorney General James Driscoll-MacEachron attempted to have the legal action dismissed. Among other things, he claimed the primary doesn’t fall within the scope of what electors can challenge.
A separate lawsuit was filed last week in federal court by the state and national Democratic parties and presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. It seeks greater court oversight of voting location choices in Maricopa County and a ban on failing to count otherwise-valid ballots cast in an incorrect precinct.
The county has acknowledged it made mistakes in operating the primary by dramatically cutting the number of polling places and widely underestimating Election Day turnout.
The U.S. Department of Justice has launched an inquiry into whether the county violated voting-rights laws.
The post Voters given wrong ballots in Arizona primary, poll worker says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
On April 25, 2015, a massive earthquake shook Nepal, killing more than eight thousand people. This 360° video shows Nepal, exactly one year after the deadly earthquake.
Tonight on PBS NewsHour, special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports from Nepal to see the rebuilding that has been hampered by rugged conditions, poverty, and politics.
In this special Making Sen$e edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.
Question: I’ve received a good job offer from a very large company. The offer letter states that I am eligible for benefits, but it doesn’t say what the benefits are. I asked the headhunter who was working to place me, and he said the company’s policy is not to disclose the benefits until after I’ve accepted the position. This sounds really bizarre. The headhunter has assured me that the benefits package is very good and that I shouldn’t worry about it. He says I’ll be happy with the package. Should I take his word for it and accept the job, or should I run the other way?
Nick Corcodilos: You’ve run up against one of the most perturbing and ludicrous practices of many companies: They will not divulge the details of their benefits package and/or their employee policy manual until after you have started work.
What’s the reason for the secrecy? Honest, this is the usual answer: “Our benefits package is a competitive secret, and our employee manual is confidential.”
The message is you can play the game, but you can’t see the rules in advance. You can make an investment in the company, but you can’t see the financials. You can buy the house, but you can’t do an engineering inspection first.
Did you ever ask to see a menu at a restaurant only to be denied? “You’ll love what we serve you, and you won’t mind the prices, which we’ll disclose after you order.”
You are right to be skeptical. Please rest assured, the company you’re dealing with is being foolish. This secrecy has cost them other job applicants. You may be tempted to run away, but instead, call the office of the CEO and very politely explain that you are sitting on a job offer that you’re ready to accept, but you have a question no one — including the HR department — seems able to answer to your satisfaction. Decline to say what the question is until either the CEO or the CEO’s representative (someone who is not in the HR department) agrees to talk with you. Be polite, be respectful, but be firm.
I’ll bet you dinner (I’ll even show you the menu) that the CEO’s office has no idea that HR withholds such basic information from potential hires.
If you get to talk with a sensible company representative, say something like this, rephrased so you’re comfortable with it:
“I am very impressed with your company, and I am eager to come to work with John Jones, the manager of your finance department [or whomever]. However, I cannot accept this offer without knowing all the terms of employment, any more than your company could sign a contract without knowing what it was committing to. I’m sure you understand. Could you please send me your employee manual, benefits package and any other documents that would bind me once I start the job? Once I have these, I will promptly respond. I look forward to accepting your offer and to making a significant contribution to your business. Please don’t ask me to talk with your HR department — they have already refused to provide these basic documents. I hope I can count on your help, so we can all get to work.”
Although a company’s refusal to show you the benefits details is sufficient justification for declining an offer, I should warn you that the more serious risk lies in taking the job before you’ve seen the employee policy manual. This is where things like noncompete rules, prohibitions against moonlighting, surrender of invention rights and other funky terms are sometimes hidden. (For a discussion about one particularly dangerous rule, see “I lied about my salary to get a job. What if my employer finds out?”)
If you balk at these rules after you’ve started the job, your only option is to quit — without the luxury of being able to fall back on your old job. However, be aware that those rules may still apply after you quit. A job offer is a contract, and certain terms of that contract may survive your resignation or termination. A company’s employee manual is usually incorporated by reference into a job offer. When you accept one, you accept the other.
Be very careful. Question authority. Question such policies. They stink, and there’s good reason to say so. You risk getting the company upset, but as I asked earlier, would you order dinner at a restaurant without seeing a menu? (In some European restaurants, they go a step further and graciously invite you into the kitchen where you can see how the food is prepared and check out the bubbling pots for yourself.)
There are many things HR departments do that cost companies excellent job applicants simply because those job applicants aren’t stupid and aren’t willing to compromise themselves. Withholding benefits information is one of them. For more about this problem, see “How HR optimizes rejection of millions of job applicants” and “Why HR should get out of the hiring business.”
Not all companies have such policies. While I respect a company’s need to keep competitive secrets, I don’t see any justification for keeping benefits secret from job applicants. I discourage you from signing a contract (for example, a job offer) from a company that will not divulge everything you need to know.
Dear Readers: Have you ever accepted a job only to learn the benefits stink? What did you do? How would you advise the job applicant in this Q&A?
Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps,” “How Can I Change Careers?” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”
Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!
Copyright © 2016 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.
The post Ask the Headhunter: Why do employers hide the benefits? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights wants to know if living conditions for American Indian and Alaskan Native people has improved over the last decade.
To answer that question, the commission will update its seminal report, The Quiet Crisis, later this year so it may continue to guide federal and state policy in Indian Country since its 2003 release, explained Martin Castro, chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
“I think what we’re going to be finding is that a lot of the unmet needs that we saw in 2003 remain unmet,” Castro said.
For hundreds of years, the U.S. government made treaty agreements in exchange for hundreds of millions of acres of land that had belonged to Native American tribes.
But one problem is that, often, treaty obligations simply aren’t honored, despite laws passed by Congress to help Native American communities. For more than 50 years, the commission has documented these discrepancies.
“[L]aws and policies are meaningless without resources to enforce them,” the 2003 report noted.
And the legacy of these broken promises play out daily in the lives of Native Americans today, Castro said. Lack of adequate access to healthcare, education, job opportunities and housing — Native Americans experience these disparities that are largely unmatched elsewhere in the United States, he said.
For example, a person’s average life expectancy in Indian Country was nearly six years less than the rest of the United States. More than a decade later, that figure has improved slightly, but a gap remains — 4.8 years.
And about half of all Native American high school students graduate from Bureau of Indian Education schools, compared to their peers from the same communities who instead attended public schools.
In its 2016 budget recommendations, the Obama Administration has placed greater priority to funding programs and services in Indian Country, but Congress gets final approval.
Supporting the 567 federally recognized Native American tribes serves two purposes, Castro said: “It’s one thing to meet our obligations, but we want to make sure that they are and remain independent peoples.”
The post Over the last 13 years, has life improved in Indian Country? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a New Jersey police officer who was demoted after his boss mistakenly believed he was involved in a political campaign can still bring a lawsuit alleging a violation of free speech rights.
The 6-2 ruling said Jeffrey Heffernan could file a First Amendment claim against the city of Paterson, New Jersey, even if he wasn’t actually taking sides in the local mayoral race.
Heffernan claimed he was a victim of retaliation after other officers saw him picking up a campaign sign and talking to campaign workers. It turns out Heffernan was really picking up the sign for his mother and was not involved in the campaign.
Lower courts ruled against Heffernan, saying the government doesn’t violate First Amendment rights unless a person is actually exercising those rights.
But Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the majority, said that what counts is the employer’s motive, even if it was mistaken.
“When an employer demotes an employee out of a desire to prevent that employee from engaging in political activity that the First Amendment protects, the employee is entitled to challenge that unlawful action under the First Amendment,” Breyer said.
Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, saying the city’s demotion may have been misguided, but it didn’t infringe on Heffernan’s free speech rights since he wasn’t actually using them. He was joined by Justice Samuel Alito.
The case began in 2006 after another police officer saw Heffernan holding a campaign sign for Lawrence Spagnola, a former Paterson police chief seeking to oust incumbent mayor Jose Torres. The city’s police chief and other police officials were backing Torres.
A day after Heffernan was seen carrying the yard sign for Spagnola, his supervisors demoted him from detective to patrol officer walking the beat. A judge ultimately threw out his lawsuit against the city and a federal appeals court affirmed.
Lawyers for Heffernan said it didn’t matter that Heffernan wasn’t actually campaigning — his superiors punished him based on the assumption he was. The city argued that officials can’t violate First Amendment rights unless a person is actually exercising those rights.
The Supreme Court’s decision does not necessarily mean Heffernan will win his lawsuit. The justices sent the case back to lower courts to determine whether New Jersey officials might have been acting under a neutral policy that generally prohibits police officers from “overt involvement in any political campaign.”
The post Supreme Court sides with police officer in free speech case appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — For the second time in two months, the Senate has reached a bipartisan deal to address a water crisis in Flint, Michigan, where lead-contaminated pipes have resulted in an ongoing public health emergency.Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters of Michigan said an agreement reached Tuesday with Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., would authorize $100 million in grants and loans to replace lead-contaminated pipes in Flint and other cities with lead emergencies, as well as $70 million in credit subsidies for loans to improve water infrastructure across the country. The deal also authorizes $50 million nationwide to bolster lead-prevention programs and improve children’s health.
The measure would be part of a larger water resources bill in the Senate.
The agreement is virtually identical to a deal reached in late February among the same three senators. That measure was attached to a broader energy bill, then derailed after Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah objected.
Help for Flint is needed more than ever, Peters said Tuesday.
“The people of Flint — many of whom are still using bottled water to drink, cook and bathe — are in dire need of assistance, and I look forward to helping move this legislation forward in the Senate,” Peters said in a statement.
Stabenow said she and Peters are “not giving up until this gets done.”
A spokesman for Lee declined to comment, saying the senator was just learning of the new proposal. Lee objected to the initial Flint aid, saying that Michigan has a budget surplus and does not need federal money to fix the problem.
Lee also objected to the way the way the bill is paid for — it redirects up to $250 million in unspent money from an Energy Department loan program for high-tech cars. Lee, a freshman elected with the help of the tea party, wants to ensure that money committed to Flint does not add to the federal deficit, spokesman Conn Carroll said last month.
Stabenow and Peters want to protect the loan portfolio known as the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program. Michigan is the hub of U.S. auto manufacturing.
While Lee is unlikely to withdraw his objection, supporters say the new plan has a greater chance of success because it is slated to become part of the Water Resources Development Act, a popular bipartisan measure that authorizes a variety of water-related projects across the country for flood control and other purposes.
If approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee this week as expected, the Flint proposal would be embedded in the larger water bill. The earlier proposal was an add-on to the energy bill and faced a higher procedural hurdle to move forward.
Inhofe, who chairs the Senate’s environment panel, called the Flint measure “fiscally responsible” and said it not only would help Flint, but also would address a nationwide water infrastructure crisis. The plan would use federal credit subsidies to provide incentives for up to $700 million in loan guarantees and other financing for water infrastructure projects across the country.
Flint’s drinking water became tainted when the city switched from the Detroit water system and began drawing from the Flint River in 2014 to save money. The impoverished city was under state control at the time.
Regulators failed to ensure the water was treated properly, and lead from aging pipes leached into the water supply.
Associated Press writer Matthew Daly wrote this report.
The post Senators reach new deal to address Flint water crisis appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
“Don’t shoot! I’m not just another Latino kid who is about to cause some trouble.” Those are just of the few of the resounding lines in the youth theater production On the Hill, which aims to spark a conversation about racial profiling, police shootings and the rapid displacement of Latinos from San Francisco. Presented by the Mission District-based arts organization Loco Bloco and directed by playwright Paul S. Flores, the play features 25 youth actors from Bay Area high schools and universities.“As a Latino man in this community, you learn the problem is not only how people are looking at you, but how people are taught to look at you … your clothing, the color of your skin,” says 20-year-old David Calderon, who played the role of San Francisco native Alejandro “Alex” Nieto, who was shot and killed by San Francisco Police Department officers in 2014.
San Francisco’s District Attorney’s Office determined the four police officers who fired 59 shots at 28-year-old Nieto acted lawfully, and the jury in a federal civil rights trial also cleared the officers of any wrongdoing. But for some, the case is an enduring symbol of troubling police violence and rising tensions in gentrifying neighborhoods like the Mission, where the Latino population has decreased 27 percent between 2000 and 2013, according to the Census 2000 and American Community Survey 2013.
“How do you fight back? How do you claim your identity?” says playwright Flores, a respected youth educator. “That’s what these kids are doing in this play.”
After recognizing the fear and anger many neighborhood youth felt in response to Nieto’s death, Annie Jupiter-Jones, executive director of Loco Bloco, approached Flores to help create and direct On the Hill. “We wanted to help create a space for healing,” she says.
For the making of On the Hill, Flores and the student actors interviewed Nieto’s friend, Mission activist and writer Ben Bac Sierra, and other community leaders, including Juana Tello with Youth in Power and Causa Justa. Their words inspired many of the emotionally-charged monologues by youth in the play, staged at Brava Theater for the first time last month. The two sold-out performances ended with lively “talk back” sessions, in which audience members were invited to participate in a broader conversation about race, identity and perception.
Flores and Loco Bloco plan to continue to work with local youth to develop the play into a full-length production to premiere this fall, and have hopes of also touring it to other cities effected by police shootings.
The post After police shooting, San Francisco actors tackle racial profiling appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
High school students across the country will be making their final college selection choices over the next week. To celebrate, First Lady Michelle Obama is hosting the third annual National College Signing Day event at New York City’s Harlem Armory. Watch live as she is joined by more than 4,000 New York high school students who will be making their college selections along with thousands of seniors nationwide who will take part in more than 500 College Signing Day events.
NewsHour will host a series of Twitter chats in May centered on higher education, beginning with a discussion on college choices on Thursday May 5.
The post Michelle Obama hosts National College Signing Day 2016 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WILMINGTON, Del. — Hillary Clinton made zero campaign stops in Delaware when she ran for president in 2008. This year, she made a point to swing through Wilmington ahead of the state’s primary on Tuesday. And she wasn’t alone.
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke in downtown Wilmington over the weekend. Donald Trump, who is expected to win here easily, held a rally at the state fairgrounds last week.
Delaware has not held competitive presidential primaries in decades. But with tight races on both sides, candidates have been forced to spend time and resources on small, non-swing states like Delaware that rarely play a big role in presidential elections.
“Delaware has definitely gotten a lot more attention than we normally do,” said Theodore Davis, a political science professor at the University of Delaware.
The voters have noticed. Turnout among Republicans is expected to be higher than it was in the state’s 2012 GOP primary, mirroring a nationwide trend. Interest in the battle between Clinton and Sanders is also bringing some Democrats who stayed home in past elections to the polls.
“I don’t think I’ve ever voted in a primary before,” Bonnie Sherr, a real estate broker, said after voting for Clinton at an elementary school in Greenville, an affluent, right-leaning suburb roughly 15 minutes northwest of Wilmington. “I didn’t think it was necessary in Delaware.”
An election worker at the polling location where Vice President Biden, a former Delaware senator, is registered to vote said turnout was up through the early afternoon, compared to the primaries four years ago.
“It’s nice to have my vote count. I think it does this time,” said Arlene Stratton, a retired business manager who lives in Greenville, where Biden has his primary residence.
Republicans in the area had a mixed view of the primary and their state’s brief turn in the national spotlight. Anya Khomenko, a retired computer programmer, said she reluctantly cast a ballot for Sen. Ted Cruz.
“We didn’t have a good choice,” Khomenko said. “Cruz is too rigid to win in the general, but at least he represents conservative values.”
Still, Khomenko, who immigrated to the United States from Russia in the early 1980s, said she never considered skipping the primary. “It feels good that [the Delaware primary] matters more” this year, she added.
Much of the buzz surrounding Delaware this week has been driven by the state’s delegate math in the Republican primary. Delaware only has 16 GOP delegates, but they will be awarded on a winner-take-all basis.
Trump has held large leads over Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich in polls in Delaware. A win in Delaware and the four other northeastern states holding primaries on Tuesday would add to his delegate lead and bring him one step closer towards clinching the Republican nomination.
The fierce delegate fight this year has elevated states like Delaware in the primary process, but political experts warned that the dynamic could change four years from now.
“We’ve always had a low number of delegates,” said Samuel Hoff, who teaches at Delaware State University. The scenario this year won’t “necessarily [become part of] a regular cycle.”
Delaware’s relevance will fade even further this fall, when voters focus on the general election. The state only has three electoral college votes, and has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988.
But for one week, at least, voters enjoyed the state’s increased visibility on the national political stage.
In downtown Wilmington, residents were still talking about Clinton’s appearance the day after she spoke to a crowd of more than 700 supporters at a refurbished concert hall on Market Street.
“I was definitely surprised that she came here,” said Amanda Pearl, who works at the music venue, World Live Cafe, where Clinton held her rally. “For a Monday, it was definitely a lot of excitement.”
The post Fierce delegate fight drives Delaware voters to the polls appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Idaysy Briones sat next to Karina Concepción in a room full of 19- and 20-year-olds, somehow able to concentrate on the federal financial aid form on the computer screen in front of her as cell phones buzzed and talk turned to weekend plans, in English and Spanish.
For Briones, the first in her household to go to college, filling out the federal government’s form that determines student eligibility for grants and other financial help took about an hour with Concepción’s help, plus several calls home for additional information.
But it was easier here than if she had tried to do it herself or with her parents — who helped her fill out the form the year before, her first at Valencia — or a financial aid advisor, she said. “My parents would ask me, ‘You don’t know the answer to this?’” That was more stressful, she said.
Concepción is one of the financial learning ambassadors at Valencia College in central Florida — students who help fellow students understand the labyrinthine details of paying for college and balancing other life expenses, which many are alarmingly ill-equipped to do.
The idea is simple: “Students would rather listen to someone who’s in their own shoes or in a similar situation tell them about their finances,” said Elizabeth Coogan, senior advisor in the federal student aid office of the U.S. Department of Education.
They also need a lot of help. In a national “financial wellness” survey conducted by Ohio State University, nearly a third of nearly 19,000 college students could correctly answer only zero, one or two out of five financial questions, including ones on take-home pay and credit scores. A separate study by the loan company Sallie Mae found that nearly a quarter of students don’t pay bills on time, nearly half set aside no savings, 40 percent spend more than they have, more than a third don’t read their credit card reports and more than a third don’t pay off their full credit card balance every month.
Nearly 60 percent of students don’t know how long it will take to pay off their loans, more than a third don’t know the interest rates they’re paying, and nearly 60 percent regret taking out as many loans as they did, a survey of graduates by Citizens Bank found.
In yet another survey, by the education technology company Everfi, students reported being less knowledgeable about how to manage money than almost anything else they’re called upon to do in college.
All of this comes at a time when spiraling tuition has driven 41 million people to borrow money for their educations — and when one in four are behind on their repayments or in default, according to the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“Students are making life-altering financial decisions, with minimum understanding, at a time of maximum distraction,” said Jeff Webster, assistant vice president of research and analytical services at a Texas-based student-loan guarantor called TG.
Not surprisingly, 72 percent of students feel stressed about their finances, and nearly 60 percent worry about having enough money to pay for school, the Ohio State survey reported.
As college financial aid officers and other administrators seek ways to recruit and retain students amidst these obstacles, the idea of having students help each other solve financial problems has been catching on
“Interest is huge” in the concept, said Bryan Ashton, assistant director of student life at Ohio State, which has its own peer-to-peer program called Scarlet and Gray Financial Coaching.
The number of such initiatives has grown to about 50 campuses, he said, and his office fields about 100 inquiries a year about the approach.
The annual National Summit on Collegiate Financial Wellness will include a session on peer-to-peer counseling programs for the first time this year. And a handbook on financial literacy for community college students published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston also highlighted the model.
Many students seem to like it.
On a spring day late in the semester, the bright sky and slight breeze seemed to invite anything but talk of interest rates and loans at Valencia College’s Osceola campus here. But 45 students filed into an auditorium to listen to Cristian Rodríguez and Lance McNeill, two of the college’s 19 financial ambassadors, talk about how to manage their money.
In a presentation accompanied by slides and video, the two began by asking their audience to build a foundation for thinking about money by considering the difference between what they want and what they need.
Rodríguez talked about the “neurological effects of shopping.” To get the point across, he asked: “How many of you have tried cocaine?” Perhaps because the room was mostly filled with students, a few hands went up. The “ambassador” explained how dopamine works on the brain, comparing how cocaine and shopping both can trigger it.
He and McNeill also explained how interest rates work for loans and credit cards. Heads nodded.
After about 45 minutes, the students filed out and collected the free pizza that had helped to lure as many of them to the event as possible.
“Hearing savings talks from a younger voice is different” — and easier to listen to — said one, Angelica Bustios. She gets enough federal aid to cover the associate’s degree she’s seeking, she said, but wants to transfer after that to the University of Central Florida, which will cost more.
“I need to learn to save … and not go for my wants instead of my needs,” Bustios said.
Financial literacy experts said peer-to-peer counseling offers an alternative to the way many young people learn about complex financial matters: online.
“Having in-person advising is key,” said Rory O’Sullivan, deputy director of Young Invincibles, a Washington, D.C.-based policy and youth-advocacy organization. “You’re not going to find this kind of information in 140 characters.”
The programs help universities and colleges, too. For one, schools are looking to lower loan default rates that reflect poorly on them, and students’ increased financial knowledge may help with this issue. The peer counselors are also cheaper than hiring full-time professional advisors. Some programs, like the one at Ohio State, are run on a volunteer basis; at Valencia, the financial ambassadors are paid from federal work-study money. And the University of South Florida compensates its student counselors up to $11 an hour.
“It’s making the best of limited resources,” Coogan said.
Whether or not this works is still unclear. Since the idea is still new, several schools said they haven’t yet gathered information on outcomes and data is scarce.
A survey of students before and after their peer counseling sessions at Ohio State showed “an increase in awareness of their current financial situation, an awareness of debt, and that stress might also go up,” said Ashton.
At Valencia, the student loan default rate has dropped from 20.3 percent in 2011, when the financial ambassadors began their work, to 14.9 percent in 2013, the most recent year for which figures are available, said Ilia Cordero, assistant director of financial aid services. It’s not possible to say whether that improvement is entirely due to the program, Cordero said.
“We’re challenged by a lack of hard data on what is working” with financial literacy programs, Coogan said. But she said she still considers the idea among “best practices.”
Back at Valencia, Idaysy Briones offered her own take on the value of getting help from her fellow student.
“She was more calm, and you feel more comfortable because she knows what you’re going through,” Briones said. “Also, she’s Latino. If I didn’t know how to say something, I could say it in Spanish.”
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Editor’s Note: Boston University economist Larry Kotlikoff has spent every week, for over three years, answering questions about what is likely your largest financial asset — your Social Security benefits. His Social Security columns have prompted so many of you to write in that we feature “Ask Larry” every Monday. Find a complete list of his columns here. And keep sending us your Social Security questions.
Kotlikoff’s state-of-the-art retirement software is available here, for free, in its “basic” version. His book, “Get What’s Yours — the Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security Benefits,” (co-authored with Paul Solman and Making Sen$e Medicare columnist Phil Moeller) was published before the changes from the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 went into effect. The three authors are now doing an overhaul of the book. The new version of “Get What’s Yours” should be out this spring.
Kotlikoff has been keeping readers updated on how the budget act changes a number of Social Security rules with “This is not how you fix Social Security,” “Congress is pulling the rug out from people’s retirement decisions” and “12 secrets to maximizing your Social Security benefits under the new rules,” as well as his answers to viewer questions. We’ll continue publishing updates on what this new law means for you. Stay tuned.
I’m going to repeat this information one last time, as it is so critical to so many people.
If you a) are between 66 and 70 or will turn 66 on or before April 30, b) have a spouse who was 62 before Jan. 2, 2016 or have young or disabled children (who became disabled before 22 and remained disabled) and c) want to provide them benefits on your work record while your own benefit is suspended (thus, letting it grow through its age-70 maximum amount), you need to file for your retirement benefit and immediately suspend it by or on this Friday!
Filing and suspending (or if you already filed for your retirement benefit, simply suspending) by this deadline will also give you the option to change your mind and take all your suspended benefits.
If you are a) now between 66 and 70 or will turn 66 on or before April 30 and b) never married or were divorced before 10 years of marriage, you should also consider filing and suspending by or on this Friday. Doing so will still let you wait until 70 to collect your maximum retirement benefit. But it will give you the option of taking suspended benefits in a lump sum if, for example, you learn you have contracted a terminal disease. For those people, there is no obvious downside to filing and suspending, so getting this extra peace of mind is probably worth it.
Not everyone should file and suspend. Widows, disabled workers and divorcees can potentially cause great damage to their retirement benefits by filing and suspending.
If you aren’t sure what’s best, run expert software immediately, and if you decide that filing and suspending is your best move, you can file and suspend online as described in last week’s column.
Joi – Santa Clarita, Calif.: I’ve read your book and column, and every time I think I get it, I read something about the new law that has my head spinning again about what my husband and I should do before April 29 — if we even have that option. Below, I reference your column, “12 secrets on how to maximize your Social Security benefits under the new law.” I turn 62 this year on April 16, and my husband turns 66 on May 10. We stand to receive about the same amount in Social Security benefits at full retirement age. My excess spousal benefit would not be more than my own full retirement benefit. My husband will be taking his retirement benefits when he reaches 66 this year. According to the fourth secret, it seems that I cannot take spousal benefits when I reach 66 in four years and let my own retirement benefit continue to accrue, because I turned 62 after Jan 1, 2016. But the fifth secret talks about grandfathering in and that suggests that I will be OK to file and suspend, because I will be 62 “by the end of the year.” I assume you mean 62 by the end of 2016. This was a bit confusing, and now I am not sure what to do again. Please help.
Larry Kotlikoff: You and your husband are too young to pursue the file and suspend strategy.
Your husband is grandfathered in (he was 62 before Jan. 2, 2016), and thus, he is free to take just a spousal benefit between 66 and 70 while letting his own retirement benefit grow through age 70, but he can only do so starting in the month you file for your own retirement benefit. Now, if you file early, you will end up with a lower retirement benefit. On the other hand, given your four-year age gap, it may be best to have you file now, let your husband collect just a full spousal benefit for four years, have him take his retirement benefit at 70, have you suspend your retirement benefit when you reach full retirement age and then have you restart your retirement benefit at 70. Only expert software can tell if this option will beat the simple alternative of having you both wait until 70 to collect your retirement benefits.
Anonymous – Houston, Texas: As April closes the loopholes, I am referring friends and family to claim their benefits and file for auxiliary benefits before the deadline on April 29. I have recommended your CD and e-book and of course your Making Sen$e column before they make arrangements with Social Security. Are those grandfathered in able to take loopholes after May 1? What can those who are working and just 62 years old do while healthy and still working? They are being told that they cannot file at 62 and be grandfathered in, because their income would exceed the $15,000. Can they start and stop or what?
Larry Kotlikoff: Thanks for recommending our book, “Get What’s Yours — the Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security Benefits.” A new revised version will be out next week on May 3.
I do want to caution readers that not everyone who can file and suspend or suspend (if they have already filed) by or on this Friday should do so. For example, someone who is divorced (after 10 years of marriage) will destroy their ability to take just a divorced spousal benefit between 66 and 70 if they file and suspend. Instead, they will receive just their excess spousal benefit, which could be small or zero. The same pertains to a widow(er) or potential widow(er). The minute they file for their retirement benefit, whether or not they suspend it, they are in what I call excess benefit hell in which they can no longer collect a widow(er)s benefit by itself and let their own retirement benefit grow through age 70.
Bob – New Hope, Pa.: My wife is 66 and 10 months. I will be 66 on the Aug. 25, 2016. My wife just filed and suspended. This action has apparently triggered a letter to me from the Social Security Administration telling me that I may be eligible for benefits and therefore must apply now. It is my understanding that under the new law, as long as my wife has filed and suspended, I can file for spousal benefits when I turn 66, but that if I apply now it would be considered “deeming,” and I would lose the spousal benefit. Am I correct? Or do I also need to apply for spousal benefits prior to the end of April when I will still be 65? The second question relates to the date of application for spousal benefits. Is the earliest day I can apply my 66th birthday — that is, Aug. 25, 2016?
Larry Kotlikoff: Social Security can take an application four months in advance from what I understand. If you go in tomorrow, you should not be deemed, which would be a true nightmare. You need to specify in the Remarks section of your application that you are restricting your application to spousal benefits and will file for your retirement benefit effective as of the day you turn 70.
Beth – Wolcott, Conn.: The “new” rules for Social Security benefits have me a little confused. I will not reach full retirement age until September 2016. I would like to collect my spousal benefit at that time and not file for my own benefit until age 70. (My husband is 68 and filed and suspended at 66 and a half.) Is my original plan still doable?
Larry Kotlikoff: Your original plan is fine. When you are within a few months of September, you should go into your local office and do as I just advised Bob in my answer above.
Rick – Salt Lake City, Utah: Based on my reading of your Feb. 23, 2016 column, my wife should be able to receive spousal benefits. Here are the particulars: My date of birth is in April 1949; I have filed and suspended. My wife’s date of birth is in April 1953. Is this correct? And has the Social Security Administration posted the correct information online?
Larry Kotlikoff: Yes, this is correct. And Social Security seems finally to have posted correct information about the suspension deadline, although it is cryptic, and staff all over the country are still misinformed and telling people the wrong thing.
Randy – Little Rock, Ark.: My date of birth is Oct. 15, 1953. My wife’s is Feb. 3, 1954. We’ve been married over 40 years. We had planned to use file and suspend, because my benefits are substantially more than hers. What can we do now?
Larry Kotlikoff: Your wife is unable to collect a spousal benefit on her own starting at her full retirement age while waiting until 70 to collect her retirement benefit. Why? Because she became 62 after the deadline of Jan. 1, 2016. So if she files for her spousal benefit, she will be deemed to be also filing for her retirement benefit. In this case her spousal benefit will be transformed into her excess spousal benefit, which could be small or zero. Your best strategy may be to a) both wait until 70 to collect your retirement benefits or b) for your wife to take her retirement benefit when you reach 66 and have you take just your spousal benefit. Unlike your wife, you were over 62 on Jan. 2 and are free to collect just your spousal benefit between full retirement age and 70 while waiting until 70 to take your own retirement benefit. But your wife must be collecting her retirement benefit while you are collecting a spousal benefit off of her record. Under this latter strategy, if might be optimal for your wife to suspend her retirement benefit a year or two before age 70. Only truly detailed software, which does an exhaustive comparison of all options, can tell you what will maximize your combined lifetime benefits.
Anonymous – Texas: I read your book last year, but now know I can’t use that strategy. My situation is that I started collecting my Social Security at age 62 and a half in May 2015. My husband is 64 and was going to collect a spousal on my benefit at this time — I believe he has to do that by April 30. He will then collect his own benefit, sometime between his full retirement age and 70. When he begins collecting his own, I will then apply for a spousal benefit on his benefit. I think this should work since we were both over 62 by end of year. Will this still work for us? Is there any chance things could change, and he wouldn’t be allowed to get his own benefit at full retirement age, because he would already be receiving benefits through mine? It’s scary to think they could change this. What is your opinion?
Larry Kotlikoff: I hope your husband hasn’t done what you say he is going to do. If he does file for his spousal benefit right away, he is going to be deemed to be filing for his retirement benefit as well. In this case, he’ll just collect his reduced retirement benefit plus his excess spousal benefit, which could be small or zero. Your best strategy is surely to have your husband take just his spousal benefit, but only when he turns 66. When he is 70, you can suspend your retirement benefit. At that point you can apply for your excess spousal benefit, which may be small or zero. I can’t say for sure if this is optimal. It may be best for you to suspend your retirement benefit before he turns 70, which as a result will cut him off from spousal benefits, but will allow your benefit to grow. Software will tell you what’s best.
Bobbi and Doug – Marin, Calif.: This suspended spousal benefit question is really confusing to me. I need to file before April 29, 2016. Thanks in advance for helping me figure out if my husband should apply for it. I have been collecting Social Security since age 64. My husband, Doug, turned 62 on July 1, 2015. I get approximately $2,000 a month. I believe he is eligible for this spousal benefit. The question on the table is: Can Doug file for his spousal benefit without filing for his own benefits, which would continue to increase? He will probably continue to work part time. Or if he files for his own benefit, suspends it and then takes his spousal benefit from me, will his own benefit still accrue? And if it doesn’t, is his spousal benefit greater than his own benefit if he files for it now? We think he would get about $1,000 to $1,200 a month. I believe the one thing that is certain is that either way, my benefits will not affected in any way. This is extra money available, which is why Congress closed it down — except for those grandfathered in before April 29, 2016, who were age 62 before Jan. 1, 2016. This is true in our case. Thanks so much for letting us know ASAP, so we can file it correctly before April 29! Also, what should we file for first?
Larry Kotlikoff: Neither of you are affected by the April 29 deadline!
Doug has to wait until he is 66 to be able to file just for his spousal benefit — if he wants to collect just his spousal benefit — and let his own retirement benefit grow to its maximum value at age 70. Doug can do this because he was 62 before Jan. 2. If Doug takes his spousal benefit now, he will be forced to take his retirement benefit as well. In this case his total payment will equal his reduced retirement benefit plus his reduced excess spousal benefit, which could be small or zero. Depending on your absolute and relative earnings, it could be best for you to suspend your retirement benefit at 66 and wait until 70 to restart it and have Doug take just his spousal benefit when you turn 70. Software is needed to decide what’s best.
The post Last call to pursue Social Security’s file and suspend strategy! appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
PHILADELPHIA — Looking to stretch their leads, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton aimed for a sweep of all five Northeastern states holding primaries Tuesday. Their rivals vowed to fight on regardless, even with their paths to nomination increasingly narrow.For Clinton, wins in most of the states holding contests — Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island — would leave little doubt that she’ll be her party’s nominee. She’s already been looking past Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, barely mentioning him at campaign events except to push for party unity in a general election.
During a town hall Monday with MSNBC, Clinton said that when she lost the 2008 Democratic primary to Barack Obama, “I did not put down conditions” for supporting him.
“I hope that we will see the same this year,” she said.
According to exit polls, about a fifth of Democratic voters said they would not support Clinton if she gets the nomination. The exit polls were conducted in Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Sanders’ senior adviser Tad Devine said that campaign would “wait and see what the numbers are” in Tuesday’s contest before making any decisions about strategy going forward. Still he said, “Bernie is going to be in this race through the District of Columbia.” That’s the end of the primary season.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said Sanders should do as he thinks best. But when Reid was asked if he thought his Senate colleague still had a path to nomination, he said, “No, I do not.”
Democrats are competing for 384 delegates in Tuesday’s contests, while Republicans have 172 up for grabs.
While Trump holds a substantial lead in the Republican delegate count, the GOP contest continues to be chaotic. The businessman is the only one left in the GOP race who can reach the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination before the July national convention, but he could very well fall short, pushing the nominating fight to the party’s July gathering in Cleveland.
Of the five states voting Tuesday, Trump can afford to lose only one and still retain a chance to reach his goal.
Pennsylvania Republican voter Laura Seyler cast her vote for Trump, saying she believes he will “take the bat and straighten things out.”
“I don’t think he’s afraid, he doesn’t owe anybody anything, and I think he’s very much an American that loves his country, and he sees Americans suffering,” she said.[Watch Video]
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are now joining forces to try to stop him. Their loose alliance marks a stunning shift in particular for Cruz, who has called on Kasich to drop out of the race and has confidently touted the strength of his own convention strategy.
Kasich has won just a single primary — his home state — but hopes to convince convention delegates that he’s the only Republican capable of defeating Clinton.
Under their new arrangement, Kasich won’t compete for votes in Indiana, allowing Cruz to take Trump on head to head in the state’s May 3 primary. Cruz will do the same for Kasich in Oregon and New Mexico.
Trump panned his rivals’ strategy as “pathetic” and another example of what he’s called a rigged political system.
Cruz and Kasich’s public acknowledgement of their coordination underscores the limited options they now have. The effectiveness of the strategy was quickly called into question after Kasich said that while he won’t spend resources in Indiana, his supporters in the state should still vote for him.
Exit polls underscored the divisions in the Republican Party. In Pennsylvania, nearly 4 in 10 GOP voters said they would be excited by Trump becoming president, while the ideas scares a quarter of those who cast ballots in the state’s Republican primary.
The exit polls were conducted by Edison Research for The Associated Press and television networks.
Trump’s path to nomination before the national convention remains difficult, requiring him to win 58 percent of the remaining delegates to reach the magic number by the end of the primaries. He’s hoping for a solid victory in Pennsylvania, though the state’s unique ballot could make it hard for any candidate to win a big majority.
While the statewide Republican winner gets 17 delegates, the other 54 are directly elected by voters and can support any candidate at a convention. Their names are listed on the ballot with no information about which White House hopeful they support.
Clinton is on solid footing in the Democratic race and entered Tuesday’s contests having accumulated 82 percent of the delegates needed to win her party’s nomination. While she can’t win enough delegates to officially knock Sanders out of the race this week, she can erase any lingering doubts about her standing.
Including superdelegates, Clinton now leads Sanders 1,946 to 1,192, according to a count by the AP.
Associated Press political writers Julie Pace and Catherine Lucey wrote this report. Pace reported from Washington. AP writers Michael Rubinkam in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, and Ken Thomas, Chad Day, Stephen Ohlemacher and Hope Yen in Washington contributed to this report.
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WASHINGTON — The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved the nomination of the first female officer to lead one of the military’s warfighting commands.
Members of the panel on Tuesday confirmed Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson to be commander of U.S. Northern Command. The panel acted on a voice vote. The command is responsible for preventing attacks against the United States.
Robinson joined the Air Force in 1982 after graduating from the University of New Hampshire. She’s currently serving as commander of Pacific Air Forces in Hawaii.
The committee also confirmed Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti to be the top American commander in Europe and Army Gen. Vincent Brooks to lead U.S. forces in Korea.
Their nominations now go to the full Senate for approval.
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WASHINGTON — Here’s a surefire way to get busted for robbery: leave the scene of the crime and hop over the White House fence.
The White House was locked down briefly Tuesday after a man jumped the fence alongside the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, a White House facility where presidential staffers work. Secret Service spokesman Robert Hoback said an initial investigation suggested that the man was fleeing a robbery just across the street.
Secret Service officers quickly detained the man, who hasn’t been identified publicly, but not before he suffered a cut to his finger. Doug Buchanan, a spokesman for the fire department in Washington, said emergency workers responded to help transport the man to a local hospital under police supervision to treat injuries to his hand.
At the White House, canine teams and armed Secret Service agents gathered on the North Lawn of the White House as the area around the complex was cleared. Reporters working inside the White House were kept inside by automatically locking doors.
The lockdown was lifted after a brief period, and visitors and staffers could be seen walking about the complex. President Barack Obama was at the White House during the incident.
The Secret Service has worked to increase security along the White House fence amid a string of fence-jumping incidents. In 2014, a man who hopped the fence made it deep inside the White House before officers were able to apprehend him.
WASHINGTON — Make room, bald eagle. The House has voted to designate the bison the national mammal of the United States.
The move seeks to elevate the bison’s stature to that of the bald eagle, long the nation’s official bird. There has not been an official mammal of the United States.
Prior to approving the measure by voice vote Tuesday, House members spoke of the significance to the nation’s history of the bison, also known as buffalo. The animals were central to many Native American cultures and were on the verge of extinction before revival efforts established herds on national refuges and parks.
The measure passed by the House must go to the Senate for final passage, expected later this week, before it can go to the president’s desk.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Now, 30 years on from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the fallout from that fateful day still haunts Europe as a somber anniversary is marked.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Bells tolled 30 times in Kiev, once for each year since the world’s worst nuclear disaster.
The president of Ukraine spoke at Chernobyl itself.
PRESIDENT PETRO POROSHENKO, Ukraine (through interpreter): The Chernobyl accident will for a long time remain an event of a worldwide scale that is a challenge to the whole of humanity. Such catastrophes do not respect state borders.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The city of Pripyat, where the nuclear plant was located, is now a ghost town. It sits in the middle of an uninhabitable exclusion zone, where hundreds of towns and villages in Ukraine and Belarus were forced to evacuate.
Ukraine was still part of the old Soviet Union when Chernobyl’s number four reactor suffered a catastrophic power surge on April 26, 1986. That triggered a meltdown and explosion, spewing huge amounts of radioactive material into the atmosphere. Millions of people across Eastern Europe were exposed to dangerously high radiation.
But it took two days for Soviet authorities to acknowledge the incident publicly. Some 600,000 troops and volunteers were sent in to fight the fire and clean up contamination, and 30 died from radiation poisoning.
MAN (through interpreter): I went in there when everyone was fleeing. We were going right into the heat. And, today, everything is forgotten. It’s a disgrace.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The stricken reactor was encased in a concrete sarcophagus. Work is now under way on a steel-clad structure to enclose the site and prevent further radioactive leaks, at a cost of more than $2 billion.
The human toll is less clear, but the World Health Organization estimates long-term radiation effects will claim at least 9,000 lives.
Some further perspective on the impact of Chernobyl, first more on the science, consequences, fears and risks of nuclear power from our science correspondent, Miles O’Brien, who’s done extensive reporting in Chernobyl and at the more recent accident site in Fukushima, Japan.
Miles, you’re one of the few people that have gone to both of these places. You were reporting from Chernobyl just four or five years ago. Put this disaster in perspective.
MILES O’BRIEN: Well, Hari, Chernobyl, by any measure, had a greater impact.
I think the radiation released from Chernobyl was about six times greater than what we saw released from Fukushima. Both of them were so-called level seven accidents, which is the worst kind of accident on the scale that the international community puts upon them.
But Chernobyl, because it had an explosion and a fire, caused the spread of radioactive material over a much broader area. Much of Europe was affected by it. And so it had a tremendous impact, not only potentially health-wise, but also politically and emotionally, and had a great impact on how people viewed nuclear power.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Right. I mean, Americans remember sort of Three Mile Island, but Chernobyl was as important in the timeline of how the world perceives it.
MILES O’BRIEN: Yes.
Americans had sort of made up their mind about nuclear power already. We made up our mind here in the mid-’70s that we were scared of it, “China Syndrome” and then, of course, Three Mile Island.
Of course, Three Mile Island, there was a barely measurable amount of radiation that escaped from the containment vessel. In the case of Chernobyl, there was no containment vessel whatsoever. And so there was a big amount of radiation which came out.
And it really laid the groundwork for the reaction that many Europeans had toward Fukushima 25 years later. You saw the Germans, most notably, pulling the plug on their nuclear program. A lot of that has its roots in the fact they were under a cloud of cesium-137 30 years ago.
HARI SREENIVASAN: That sarcophagus that you mentioned, that was only supposed to be there 15 years. It’s still there now, and it’s still leaking.
MILES O’BRIEN: It is. And seeing it with my own two eyes five years ago, I was — it was pretty scary, frankly. It looked like something from “Mad Max.”
And it was hastily built, to say the least, by these liquidators, true heroes, 600,000 conscripts who went in there and shoveled for short periods of time, many of them with devastating consequences later in the form of cancer. And it is still there. It is not safe.
And this new structure which eventually will cover will be an improvement, for sure.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, where is nuclear now, five years after Fukushima, 30 years after Chernobyl?
MILES O’BRIEN: It’s interesting, Hari. Things have changed a little bit on people’s perceptive of nuclear.
It’s easy to take Chernobyl out of the mix, for one thing. That was a bad reactor design. We can all agree it was unsafe to have any reactor without a containment structure. There are still 11 of those types of reactors running in Russia now. But the West never adopted this type of graphite, moderated reactor.
So what has happened, interestingly, even five years after Fukushima, is a lot of people are coming around to the conclusion that in order to truly fight climate change, the type of base load power, power that stays on all the time, at night, that is zero carbon emission, is in fact nuclear.
So there’s interest in the business community in this. A D.C. think tank recently conducted a study. They found 50 start-ups in the U.S. in the nuclear space attracting $1.5 billion in investment. So, it’s kind of an odd outcome, actually.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, science correspondent Miles O’Brien joining us from Boston tonight, thanks so much.
MILES O’BRIEN: You’re welcome.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Now an on-the-ground look. We get that from Michal Huniewicz, a Polish photographer living in England. He visited Chernobyl last year and documented the effects of the radiation on surrounding villages, plants, and animals.
This was personal for and you your family. Tell me a little bit about how they were affected after the blast.
MICHAL HUNIEWICZ, Photographer: I was 2 years old when it happened, so I don’t remember a great deal.
But what I do know from my parents was that, when I was 2 years old, someone knocked on our door in the middle of the night and woke up my parents. And they had to wake me up and give me something to drink, which was called the Lugol’s solution, but we didn’t know at the time exactly what it was.
And they didn’t offer any explanation to my parents, other than, there was some sort of environmental problem, and your son, due to his very young age, has to drink it.
After that, they disappeared, because they had to distribute it to other children. It was only for people who were very young, because, when you’re done, your thyroid is unable to handle large doses of radiation. If you’re a grownup, it is — so it was distributed to children like myself.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Tell me a bit about some of the pictures that stand out for you. I’m looking at a photo of a piano that was left in the same place. It looks like a hospital infirmary and then what would be baby bassinets.
MICHAL HUNIEWICZ: That was in a place called the Piano Shop. It wasn’t actually a piano shop in reality. That is just the nickname that the place was given.
It’s one of those places which contains objects which were never taken away. There was quite a large number of pianos. And maybe you can still play them, although I suspect they are out of tune by now.
The hospital that you mentioned was probably the most eerie place, because we do know for a fact that there was where the firefighters were taken right after the accident when they felt sick. They were brought to the Moscow hospital. They were shaved, stripped. And later, they would be taken to the Moscow Hospital Number Six, which specializes in radiation poisoning, acute radiation poisoning.
But the gear that those firefighters were wearing was dumped into basement of the hospital. That basement is pretty much freely available. It’s probably one of the most contaminated places on the planet, and you can just walk in there.
And a piece of headgear was dragged up from the basement to the lobby of that building by someone. And it’s lying on a ledge, and it’s very highly radioactive. So, there is a picture of my hand with a dosing meter getting close to that piece of headgear. I was really stressed, because the dosing meter was very loud. It was telling us, don’t go any nearer.
It was very highly radioactive. So, that’s one of the most memorable moments for me, because it was my hand close to that object.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Finally, it looks like Mother Nature is winning. I mean, everything that’s unclaimed is being taken over by plants.
MICHAL HUNIEWICZ: That’s right.
You would imagine that the zone would be destroyed with nuclear fallout, but, actually, it’s become more of a sanctuary for wildlife. There is the Przewalski horses which were brought after the accident, and half of them died. They didn’t adjust. But the other half has lived and they remain in the zone.
They live wild. People do hunt them, but they’re more or less allowed to live undisturbed. And, indeed, the number of those animals has been growing, and they are doing perfectly well.
I spoke to a scientist who worked in the zone trying to establish what the impact was of radiation on those animal species. And he told me it was minuscule. There was nothing that he could detect. So, the animals and the plants live there without any problems. They are much better off without humans.
And, as you said, they are taking over the zone. There are trees growing inside of buildings. So, I suspect, within a few decades, there will be not much left of the zone, other than the nuclear plant itself.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right.
Photographer Michal Huniewicz, joining us from London tonight, thanks so much.
MICHAL HUNIEWICZ: Thank you for having me.
JUDY WOODRUFF: There was no last-minute stumping today by the Republican candidates for president, as voters in five Mid-Atlantic states cast their presidential primary ballots.
It was different, however, for the two Democratic contenders. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the underdog in that race, was courting voters today in Philadelphia. That was after he insisted, on ABC this morning, that he will keep on campaigning at least into June.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), Democratic Presidential Candidate: The election is not over yet. We are here today competing in five states. We have 10 more states to go after this. We are going to fight through California, and then we see what happens.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, paid a visit to a steel factory in Indiana, which votes next Tuesday. There, she backed away, once again, from attacking Sanders, and instead aimed criticism at two of her Republican rivals.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: I’m just bewildered when I hear the Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, actually say that wages are too high in America. That’s why he doesn’t support raising the minimum wage. Ted Cruz has called for a national right-to-work law. Well, right-to-work is wrong for workers and it’s wrong for America.
JUDY WOODRUFF: For more on tonight’s Northeast primary contests, we turn now to Amy Walter, national editor of The Cook Political Report, and, in Philadelphia, Dave Davies. He’s senior reporter for public radio station WHYY.
And we welcome both of you to the “NewsHour.”
So, Amy, start us off, and let’s talk about the Republicans. Remind us how many delegates are up tonight, and what are going to understand after tonight’s results?
AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Well, we have 172 delegates at stake. The biggest of those is Pennsylvania, although the majority of those delegates actually are not bound to the winner. We can get to that later on, but the bottom line is there are a lot of big states in the Northeast up today, and Donald Trump is the favorite in all of these states.
He can come out of this with a pretty big delegate haul. Now, this isn’t going to close the door on any attempt to oust him from the ability to be the nominee, but it’s going to get really close to that door coming close to being shut. And then we’re going to focus next on Indiana to see if the momentum that Trump — if he does as well as the polls say he’s doing right now, if that momentum carries him to another victory in Indiana.
And then I think we can pretty confidently say that Donald Trump is probably going to get to the 1,237 he needs before we hit Cleveland.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Dave Davies, a little bit — take us a little bit closer into what’s been going on in Pennsylvania. What kind of campaign have you seen there? And is the fact that most of these Republican delegates being chosen tonight are not bound to any candidate, has that affected the campaign?
DAVE DAVIES, WHYY: Oh, yes, it’s created a lot of confusion.
You know, Pennsylvania has a pretty peculiar system. There are really going to be two elections today. One will be the election for the popular vote. And the winner of that will get 17 of those of those delegates on a winner-take-all basis.
But the others, most of the delegation will go to Cleveland uncommitted. They will be elected directly by voters, three per congressional district, and they will go uncommitted to the convention, but, in fact, many are privately deeply committed to candidates. Many were recruited by the Trump or Cruz campaigns.
The tough thing for voters here is that nothing on the ballot tells them who is for whom. You may want to vote for Trump delegates, but you can’t tell from the ballot. So we have had this crazy period where the campaigns have been distributing lists through e-mail and robo-calls and even lawn signs.
And what’s likely to happen is we’re going to end up at the end of the day with a lot of confusion. We will have some Trump delegation elected out of those 54, some Cruz, and then a lot will be party regulars, some of whom say they will abide by the popular vote. Some of them say they’re going to make their decision later.
In any case, we will have 10 weeks in which any of them may be persuaded to change their minds.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Amy, how did the system get to be so crazy? This is supposed to be an election. You go, you vote. But, instead, as we just heard from Dave, I mean, some of these rules are really hard to understand.
AMY WALTER: Well, every state — I mean, this is what we’re learning again. Every four years, we get a reintroduction into how the process really works.
And what we’re learning in this stage is that the Republican primary process is really a crazy patchwork quilt. Every state has its own rules. Some states, like Pennsylvania, they are unbound, but you know who they’re running — or who they’re supporting. It’s in parentheses next to their name.
But I think that Dave brings up a very good point, which is that there is going to be a ton of confusion. These delegates are also going to get an incredible amount of pressure. And we forget that these are actual human beings that have to go back to these communities once the primary season, once the convention is over.
And so while they may be publicly saying or declaring who they’re supporting or telling reporters what they’re going to do, they’re going to be getting a great deal of pressure just from the people in their own lives to figure out what they’re going to do.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Dave, go ahead.
DAVE DAVIES: One issue, in Pennsylvania, they are not in — the presidential candidates are not in parentheses next to the delegate names.
AMY WALTER: That’s right. That’s right.
DAVE DAVIES: They’re only under their own names. So, it really is confusing.
And the way this happened in Pennsylvania was, years ago, the party leaders decided if — we come so late in the primary process in April, we usually don’t matter. If we have the public elect our delegates, but they’re really going to be our own people, because who pays attention to these invisible elections, we will go to the convention with 54 uncommitted delegates, so if there’s a fight about anything, the platform plank or whatever, we have got leverage.
Well, this year, they might have some leverage on something much more important, if, if Indiana goes differently. As Amy says, we could be at a point where this thing could be over soon.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And it does add credence to that argument we hear from the candidates, and specifically Donald Trump, Amy, that this process isn’t always on the level.
OK, so let’s switch over to the Democrats. Amy, what are we looking at in these five states between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders?
AMY WALTER: Yes.
We’re looking at 384 delegates, again, another big haul, with Pennsylvania, Maryland two of the biggest states, Hillary Clinton up in both of those states. But this is really — for Bernie Sanders, this really could be the end of the line. It’s going to be almost impossible for him to catch up if she does as well as predicted by the polling.
And the question I think we’re going to be talking about tomorrow is, where does Bernie Sanders go now? We have been hearing the questions about, what is his off-ramp? What is he going to do after it becomes clear that he can’t catch Hillary Clinton? Is his tone going to change? Is his focus going to change?
What is he going to be spending the rest of his time doing, and how is he going to get those people who have so fervently supported him to turn and support a candidate that he’s been attacking pretty strongly throughout this campaign?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Dave Davies, how you have seen that play out in Pennsylvania? What are voters — what have voters been looking to Sanders and to Hillary Clinton to tell them?
DAVE DAVIES: Hillary is enormously popular here, and her campaign has poured it on.
We have seen Hillary and Bill and Chelsea and the countless surrogates and field offices and commercials. And I think that she wants to get a huge win here. But Sanders just simply is not so well-known to people, particularly in the African-American community, and that’s going to make it hard for him to rack up a respectable total.
I do think that what he and his people are about goes beyond an election cycle. I think they really do believe that we need transformational change in the country, and they think that using the rest of this election campaign to raise that issue just as strongly as they have is what they want to do, whether or not he has a good showing at the convention.
So I kind of don’t think it’s going to change that much. And I think — eventually, I think he will support Hillary, and a lot of his supporters will follow her. But I wouldn’t expect the tone of things to change that much before the convention.
AMY WALTER: Well, that’s a really good point, because let’s remember Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat. He only just recently announced his allegiance to the party.
These primaries, as we’re learning now, they are all about the party trying to exert some control over the process. And at the end of the day, the thinking is, well, everybody is a member of the party, they want to help the party, and help the party’s nominee. Well, that only goes so far.
And, in this case, of course, you have a candidate who, I agree with Dave that he is much more about a movement than he is about protecting the party. Now, he’s obviously going to want to do anything he can to stop the Republicans from winning, but that’s very different from marshaling his forces and embracing the front-runner on the Democratic side.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
And in just a few seconds, we’re also going to be looking to see — you mentioned, we’re looking to see what Bernie Sanders does from here. And we’re also going to be looking to see what Hillary Clinton does from here on out. How does she — does she change her message? Does she hone it? What argument does make?
AMY WALTER: Right.
She has to make the argument that she speaks for the entire Democratic base, but also that she can win over the independent voters that right now are giving her very high negative marks across the board, and she’s losing those independent-leaning Democrats to Bernie Sanders.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Amy Walter, Dave Davies with WHYY, we thank you.
DAVE DAVIES: Thank you.
AMY WALTER: You’re welcome.
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INDIANAPOLIS — In need of momentum after a five-state shutout, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz on Wednesday tapped former technology executive Carly Fiorina — a woman who he said has repeatedly “shattered glass ceilings” — to serve as his running mate.
The Texas senator announced his pick for vice president at an Indianapolis rally, an unusual move for an underdog candidate that reflects the increasing urgency for the fiery conservative to reverse his downward trajectory.
Cruz praised Fiorina’s path from secretary to CEO and her past willingness to challenge GOP front-runner Donald Trump.
“Carly isn’t intimated by bullies,” he declared, adding, “Over and over again, Carly has shattered glass ceilings.”
The 61-year-old Fiorina, a former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, has been a prominent Cruz ally since shortly after abandoning her own presidential bid earlier in the year. She was the only woman in the Republican Party’s crowded 2016 field.
“Of all the people who didn’t make it far in the race, she was one of the best about laying out her plan, talking about who she is and her accomplishments,” said Doug De Groote, a fundraiser for Cruz based near Los Angeles.
Fiorina’s selection marked another extraordinary development in the 2016 Republican campaign, particularly for a candidate who is far from becoming his party’s presumptive nominee. Cruz was soundly defeated by GOP front-runner Donald Trump in all five primaries contests on Tuesday, and he’s been mathematically eliminated from winning the nomination before his party’s national convention in July.
Some Cruz allies praised Fiorina’s selection, but privately questioned if it would change the trajectory of the race. Trump has won 77 percent of the delegates he needs to claim the nomination, and a win next week in Indiana will keep him on a firm path to do so.
Cruz was to appear Wednesday afternoon with Fiorina in Indiana’s capital city, having staked his candidacy on a win in the state’s primary contest next Tuesday. Fiorina’s California ties could also prove valuable in that state’s high-stakes primary on June 7.
“Carly has incredible appeal to so many people, especially in California,” De Groote said. “She can really help him here.”
Her first major foray into politics was in 2010, when she ran for Senate in California and lost to incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer by 10 percentage points. She has never held elected office.
Trump criticized a Fiorina pick as “ridiculous” and “dumb” even before it was announced.
“First of all, he shouldn’t be naming anybody because he doesn’t even have a chance,” the New York billionaire said in a Wednesday interview on Fox News.
“Naming Carly’s dumb, because Carly didn’t do well. She had one good debate — not against me by the way, because I had an unblemished record of victories during debates — but she had one victory on the smaller stage and that was it,” Trump said.
He added, “She’s a nice woman. I think that it’s not going to help him at all.”
Throughout her presidential bid, Fiorina emphasized her meteoric rise in the business world. A Stanford University graduate, she started her career as a secretary, earned an MBA and worked her way up at AT&T to become a senior executive at the telecom leader.
She was also dogged by questions about her record at Hewlett-Packard, where she was hired as CEO in 1999. She was fired six years later, after leading a major merger with Compaq and laying off 30,000 workers.
Democrats quickly attacked the Cruz-Fiorina alliance.
“The best way to describe that ticket is mean and meaner,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who beat Fiorina for Senate in 2010. “He wants to throw people out of the country and she threw thousands of jobs out of the country. Perfect match.”
In an Associated Press-GfK poll conducted in December 2015, Republican voters were more likely to say they had a favorable than an unfavorable view of Fiorina by a 47 percent to 20 percent margin, with 32 percent unable to give a rating.
Among all Americans, 45 percent didn’t know enough about Fiorina to rate her, while 22 percent rated her favorably and 32 percent unfavorably.
By contrast, both Cruz and Trump have high negative ratings even within their own party, according to an April AP-GfK poll. Among Republican voters, 52 percent have a favorable and 41 percent have an unfavorable opinion of Cruz, while 53 percent have a favorable and 46 percent have an unfavorable opinion of Trump.
Among all Americans, 59 percent had an unfavorable opinion of Cruz and 69 percent said that of Trump.
Cruz supporter Jim McAdams, who was wearing a homemade “Ted Cruz 16″ shirt to the announcement event in Indianapolis, predicted the Fiorina pick would generate badly needed momentum. But the 74-year-old retired mechanical engineer conceded that Cruz is a longshot at this point.
“The only way he’s going to get in office is divine intervention,” McAdams said. “We pray for his campaign every day.”
Peoples reported from Washington. AP writer Erica Werner in Washington contributed to this report.
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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama next week will make his first trip to Flint, Michigan, since the city was found to have lead-tainted drinking water, a trip aimed at reassuring residents their plight hasn’t been forgotten and pressuring Congress to approve economic aid, the White House said Wednesday.Obama is due to receive a briefing on the federal effort to assist in the cleanup and to hear directly from Flint residents about the toll the contamination has had on their health and their lives. Obama said he plans to “use my voice to call for change” in Flint.
The city’s water system became tainted in 2014 when it removed itself from the Detroit water system and began drawing water from the Flint River to save money. Regulators failed to ensure the water was properly treated and lead from old pipes leached into the water supply.
Two state officials and a local official have been charged with evidence tampering and other crimes in a Michigan attorney general’s investigation. A federal investigation is also under way.
The White House announced Obama’s trip by posting online a letter the president wrote to Flint resident Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny. The 8-year-old activist known as “Little Miss Flint” wrote to Obama last month to tell him she was coming to Washington to push lawmakers to do more for the city.
In a letter dated April 25, Obama responded by telling Copeny that he wanted her to be first to know about his visit. He told her he hoped to meet her and promised to “use my voice to call for change and help lift up your community.”
“I want to make sure people like you and your family are receiving the help you need and deserve,” Obama wrote.
Obama’s visit comes as senators reached a bipartisan agreement on new federal aid for Flint. The package would authorize $100 million in grants and loans to replace lead-contaminated pipes in Flint and other cities, as well as $70 million in credit subsidies for loans to improve water infrastructure across the country. The deal also includes money for bolster lead-prevention programs nationwide.
The agreement is virtually identical to a one crafted earlier this year, but derailed by opposition from Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who said the state didn’t need to federal aid.
“We would certainly welcome a greater commitment, or frankly, any commitment from Republicans in Congress in responding to this situation,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday.
Earnest said the president hoped to “demonstrate that while the public discussion of this situation doesn’t retain the same spot in the limelight, the administration is committed to following through on helping that community recover.”
Associated Press writer Matthew Daly contributed to this report.