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

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    Video by PBS NewsHour

    Donald Trump’s tax record has remained a mystery throughout this election.

    The presumptive Republican nominee has refused to release any recent returns, meaning the public cannot see exactly how much money he makes. In a recent interview with ABC’s “This Week,” Trump said that his tax rate was “none of your business.”

    While his personal income tax returns remain unknown, his business dealings could give a glimpse into the candidate’s personal tax history. USA Today released a report earlier this week, detailing Trump’s companies and the numerous tax disputes they’ve engaged in over the years.

    Judy Woodruff spoke with one of the co-authors, investigative reporter Nick Penzenstadler about his findings.

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

    The post How Trump’s business tax filings contradict his claims about his net worth appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., U.S., May 1, 2016.  REUTERS/Carlos Barria - RTX2CCVP

    Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., on May 1, 2016. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Bernie Sanders’ campaign had less than $6 million at the start of May, a critical cash shortage as he makes an admittedly tough final play to wrest the Democratic presidential nomination from Hillary Clinton.

    Sanders’ rival had five times as much money, according to new Federal Election Commission filings, beginning the month with $30 million in the bank.

    The two were on roughly equal fundraising footing last month, with Clinton and Sanders each raising more than $25 million. But the Vermont senator spent almost $39 million to Clinton’s $24 million, the reports showed.

    This year, Sanders has averaged more than $40 million in spending per month, underlining how quickly he could blow through the cash he had on hand at the beginning of May.

    Since he started his presidential bid, Sanders has spent nearly $207 million, about $25 million more than Clinton’s $182 million in expenditures. For her part, Clinton has averaged $26 million in spending per month since January.

    Sanders’ heavy campaign spending wasn’t a problem when his online supporters were minting him money. But now that his fundraising has dropped, his high burn rate could hurt his chance to continue competing.

    Even as he racked up primary victories last month and sharpened his attacks against the former secretary of state, online donors started holding back. Sanders raised considerably less in April than his record-setting $46 million in March or $43.5 million in February.

    The Sanders campaign began taking steps late last month to downsize its operation. He reduced his payroll from about 1,000 to fewer than 400 employees. Sanders has pledged to continue in the race until the final primary, June 14 in Washington, D.C.

    The latest reports showed that Sanders spent about $21 million on media buys and digital consulting. The campaign paid $17.3 million to Old Towne Media Inc., based in Alexandria, Virginia, and more than $3.6 million to Revolution Messaging, a Washington advertising firm that concentrates on digital outreach.

    Sanders plans to spend a little more than $525,000 on television and radio advertising in California ahead of its June 7 primary, according to advertising tracker Kantar Media’s CMAG. Clinton has not reserved any airtime there.

    Clinton has tended to spend less on ads than Sanders. In April, her campaign spent about $9.3 million on media buys and $2.7 million more on online advertising, her report showed.

    Sanders reported raising $26.9 million in April through his campaign. Unlike Sanders, Clinton has been fundraising for months in partnership with the Democratic National Committee and state parties. Through that joint fundraising account and her campaign, she raised $26.4 million in April for her primary battle with Sanders, though fundraising expenses sliced off about $1.4 million.

    Meanwhile, the DNC and state parties that have benefited from Clinton’s fundraising help have begun investing in likely general election battleground states such as Ohio and Florida.

    The post Sanders campaign down to less than $6 million in cash appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    In the late 19th c., Arthur Conan Doyle, solved a medical mystery about a tuberculosis diagnosis tool before the doctor who invented it.

    In the late 19th c., Arthur Conan Doyle, solved a medical mystery about a tuberculosis diagnosis tool before the doctor who invented it.

    Sunday marks the birth of the man who created the world’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes. On such a grand occasion, I cannot resist reprising one of my favorite medical detective stories.

    It involves the great British author and physician, Arthur Conan Doyle (creator of Sherlock), and the Nobel Prize winner and bacteriologist extraordinaire Robert Koch. I first wrote about this episode several years ago in the New England Journal of Medicine and have repeated it to hundreds of medical students and physicians over the past decade. But the opportunity to share this story with the PBS NewsHour community, on the author’s 157th birthday, is simply too irresistible.

    READ MORE: Was Charles Dickens the first celebrity medical spokesman?

    On Aug. 4, 1890, Kaiser Wilhelm II invited 6,000 physicians from around the world to attend the 10th International Medical Congress in Berlin. A long list of medical superstars of this era headlined the lecture program.

    The lecture they all eagerly awaited was delivered on the afternoon of Aug. 6. The speaker was none other than Dr. Robert Koch, the distinguished professor of hygiene and bacteriology at the University of Berlin. Koch was world-renowned for discovering the microbial causes of anthrax (in 1876), tuberculosis (1882) and cholera (1883). His four “Koch’s Postulates,” which set up a scientific framework to prove that a particular microbe causes a specific infectious disease, revolutionized medicine.

    The physicians seated in the stifling hot auditorium were not disappointed. Dr. Koch announced that he had extracted lymph from his patients that he believed could work as “remedy for tuberculosis.” In a world connected by telegraphs and multiple editions of newspapers — as well as a world in which tuberculosis was a leading cause of death and illness — Dr. Koch’s discovery was widely reported in medical journals, magazines and newspapers around the world.

    Worldwide, between 2 and 3 billion people are infected with tuberculosis according to the WHO. About 9 million people fall ill with the disease every year.

    Worldwide, between 2 and 3 billion people are infected with tuberculosis according to the WHO. About 9 million people fall ill with the disease every year.

    Yet Dr. Koch was no charlatan. He was careful to state explicitly, both in his lecture and the published versions of it, that he had not discovered a “cure” for TB. Instead, he reported his “remedy” destroyed the tissue in which the tuberculosis germs had settled, so that, hopefully, the entire diseased area would simply be sloughed off and then expelled through coughing. Koch was also careful to state that the remedy worked best in cases that were “not too far advanced,” although he theorized it might be of some benefit in patients with large pulmonary cavities. Few of the newspaper reports spent much time reporting those caveats.

    One person who read about Dr. Koch’s discovery was Arthur Conan Doyle, a young general practitioner saddled with a fledgling practice in Southsea, England. During the long stretches of time between appointments with his patients, the doctor took up his fountain pen and wrote beautiful essays, stories and even novels. In 1887, he published his first novel, “A Study in Scarlet,” which appeared in “Beeton’s Christmas Annual.” “A Study in Scarlet” was a compelling tale that introduced the world to a detective who wore a deerstalker cap and cape, smoked a pipe and solved crimes using a method he called “deductive reasoning,” which was actually based on the diagnostic approach of a doctor.

    In his 1924 autobiography, Doyle described the Koch announcement and the events that followed as “life transforming.” Only a few hours after reading the translation of Koch’s paper Doyle dashed out of his house and boarded a train for London, hoping to get to Germany as soon as possible. He later recalled, “I could give no clear reason for doing this, but it was an irresistible impulse and I at once determined to go. Had I been a well-known doctor or a specialist in consumption it would have been more intelligible, but I had, as a matter of fact, no great interest in the more recent developments of my own profession.”

    Within a day after analyzing the clinical data, Doyle came to a startling conclusion.
    Once in London, Doyle met with W.T. Snead, the editor of the popular magazine Review of Reviews. After pitching an article about Koch’s discovery, Snead approved and gave the young physician-reporter a letter of introduction to some prominent Berliners who might help him.

    Doyle crossed the Channel to France by boat and then took the train to Berlin, arriving there on Nov. 16. Doyle quickly made his way to the university where Koch’s colleague, Dr. Ernst von Bergmann, was scheduled to demonstrate the tuberculosis remedy the following morning. Doyle hit a major roadblock when he learned that tickets to Bergmann’s clinical demonstration were “simply not to be had and neither money nor interest could procure them.”

    Doyle next appeared, unannounced, at Koch’s home. Dr. Koch’s butler told him that the professor was unavailable. As Doyle later recounted, “To the Englishman in Berlin, and indeed to the German also, it is at present very much easier to see the bacillus of Koch than to catch even the most fleeting glimpse of its discoverer.”

    On Nov. 17, Doyle returned to the University of Berlin, hoping to crash the lecture. Neither bribes nor his clumsy attempts at slipping by the ticket taker secured him entry. Nonetheless, a determined Doyle patiently waited for Dr. Bergmann to arrive. When he did, Doyle physically threw himself in the path of the physician, causing a pileup of the other doctors who made up the professor’s retinue.

    Even from the distance of 125 years, it is difficult not to be impressed by how Conan Doyle figured the matter out so quickly, while it took one of the most illustrious medical detectives in the world many more months.
    “I have come a thousand miles. May I not come in?” begged Arthur. The query prompted the senior physician to stop and haughtily reply: “Perhaps you would like to take my place? That is the only one vacant!” Humiliated by jeers of those who did possess the necessary tickets for entry, Conan Doyle made his way out of the hospital. Fortunately, a tuberculosis specialist from Detroit named Henry J. Hartz promised to meet with Conan Doyle later that afternoon and share his notes on the demonstration. Even better, the following morning, Hartz quietly escorted Doyle into Bergmann’s clinical wards to examine the patients who had received Koch’s lymph.

    Within a day after analyzing the clinical data, Doyle came to a startling conclusion: “The whole thing was experimental and premature,” he wrote first in a letter to the editor, published in the London Daily Telegraph on Nov. 20, 1890, and then, more definitively, in his long article for the Review of Reviews, which ran in December of that year. While the rest of the world rejoiced over the reported conquest of tuberculosis, Doyle argued that “Koch’s lymph” might remove traces of the diseased tissue, but it left deadly germs “deep in the invaded country.” Its real value, Doyle asserted, was as “an admirable aid to diagnosis,” in that a “single injection” would help doctors decide definitively whether a patient was “in any way tubercular.”

    Doyle was absolutely correct in his conclusions.

    Koch’s lymph, or what we now refer to as tuberculin, was essentially a glycerin extract of a pure culture of tuberculosis microbes. In the decades before the development of the much safer purified-protein-derivative (PPD) test for tuberculosis, this “lymph” became an essential diagnostic tool to detect whether or not a person was, in fact, infected with the tuberculosis germ.

    A few months later, in early 1891, after several highly publicized treatment failures and a few deaths associated with the administration of the so-called curative medication, Dr. Koch publicly retracted his earlier announcement. The lymph, he explained, was an excellent means of diagnosing tuberculosis but an actual cure for the “White Plague” was nowhere in sight.

    Even from the distance of 125 years, it is difficult not to be impressed by how Doyle figured the matter out so quickly, while it took Dr. Koch, one of the most illustrious medical detectives in the world, many more months to realize his error.

    This was no “elementary” case. But it does gives us one more reason, as if we needed any more, to celebrate the birthday — and acute mind — of Sherlock Holmes’s creator, Sir (and Doctor) Arthur Conan Doyle.

    The post How Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle cracked the case of the tuberculosis ‘remedy’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Barack Obama (2nd R) shakes hands with Vietnam's Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong after they spoke to reporters following their meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington July 7, 2015.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo - RTX2DKBA

    U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Vietnam’s Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong after they spoke to reporters following their meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C., on July 7, 2015. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is leaving on a weeklong, 16,000-mile trip to Asia as part of his effort to pay more attention to the region and boost economic and security cooperation.

    He’ll spend three days in Vietnam, with stops in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, for meetings with top leaders, a speech on US-Vietnam relations, visits to cultural treasures and sessions with civic leaders and entrepreneurs. From Vietnam, he heads to Japan for a summit of the Group of Seven industrialized nations and a historic visit to Hiroshima.

    Along the way, Obama will make a big push for the 12-nation trans-Pacific trade agreement, which includes the U.S., Vietnam and Japan. The deal is stalled in Congress, but Obama hopes it will one day increase trans-Pacific trade and make it easier for U.S. workers and companies to compete in Asia. The deal faces strong opposition from the leading 2016 presidential candidates and other critics, who say it doesn’t do enough to protect U.S. workers from unfair competition.

    [Watch Video]

    A key sticking point during Obama’s stay in Vietnam will be human rights. Five Republican senators sent the president a letter Friday labeling Vietnam “one of the most repressive regimes in the world” and urging Obama to press Vietnamese leaders to do more to respect freedom of religion and expression and other human rights. The letter was signed by Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, John Boozman of Arkansas, John Cornyn of Texas, James Lankford of Oklahoma and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.

    Obama’s final year in office is heavy with foreign travel as he conducts what amounts to a long, global farewell tour. He’s already made a historic trip to Cuba and visited Saudi Arabia, Germany and England. He’s due to make a daytrip to Canada next month, attend a NATO summit in Poland in July and expected to become the first president to visit Laos in the fall. He’s also expected to attend a fall summit of the Group of 20 industrial and emerging-market nations in China and an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Peru in November.

    Nancy Benac of the Associated Press wrote this report.

    The post Lawmakers urge Obama to address human rights on Vietnam trip appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Recaptured drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted by soldiers at the hangar belonging to the office of the Attorney General in Mexico City, Mexico January 8, 2016. The notorious drug kingpin was transferred to a new prison on Saturday near Mexico's border with Texas. Photos By Henry Romero/Reuters

    Recaptured drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is escorted by soldiers at the hangar belonging to the office of the Attorney General in Mexico City, Mexico January 8, 2016. Photos By Henry Romero/Reuters

    The Mexican Foreign Ministry has approved extradition to the U.S. for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán in a move that could bring the drug lord closer to facing charges in the U.S., a Department of Justice spokesperson confirmed.

    Guzmán, who heads Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, has been indicted for murder, drug and arms trafficking and money laundering on charges from federal prosecutors in six U.S. states.

    Guzmán’s legal team now has 30 days to file an appeal. The process of appeal could delay extradition by months or years, according to Miguel Marino, the head of Mexico’s extradition office. His lawyers have not ruled out taking the case to the Mexican Supreme Court.

    [Watch Video]

    He was recaptured in January after a high-profile escape in July 2015 from Mexico’s Altiplano prison. He escaped the prison through a hole in his cell that led to a nearly mile-long tunnel.

    Earlier this month, he was moved from a maximum-security prison near Mexico City to Cefereso No. 9 prison in Ciudad Juarez, which lies along the U.S.-Mexico border near El Paso, Texas.

    The post Mexico’s foreign ministry approves U.S. extradition for ‘El Chapo’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Sabrina Knight's second-grade students at a Brooklyn public school receive lessons in coding. Some school districts in the United States are attempting to expand computer science education while the Obama administration is pushing to bring the subject to every public school in the nation. Michael D. Regan/PBS NewsHour

    Sabrina Knight’s second-grade students at a Brooklyn public school receive lessons in coding. Some school districts in the United States are attempting to expand computer science education while the Obama administration is pushing to bring the subject to every public school in the nation. Michael D. Regan/PBS NewsHour

    On a recent Friday afternoon at a Brooklyn public school, the children of Sabrina Knight’s second-grade class listened intently as she used a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to talk about algorithms.

    Moments later, a student volunteer walked back and forth across the room to demonstrate looping, a technical term used in the field of computer programming.

    “Thumbs up if you got it,” Knight said, as a flurry of 7- and 8-year-old hands and thumbs shot up in the air. “Open up your computers and thumbs up when you see the blue screen.”

    Students grabbed their headphones and flipped open yellow laptops issued to Park Slope’s PS 282. The rest of the lesson would be devoted to coding, as the class of 15 used simple equations to command cartoon characters to move across their monitors.

    Knight’s young class is one in a growing number of public schools across the United States that are introducing computer science education into their curricula, in part to make up for the educational disparities among female and minority students that contribute to a professional void in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

    Such gaps have been recognized at the federal level. In January, President Barack Obama announced he would push to introduce a $4 billion initiative called Computer Science For All, which seeks to bring computer science education to many of the nation’s public schools over the next decade. Negotiations for the program’s budget are ongoing on Capitol Hill.

    Why coding matters for kids

    “The good thing about computers is they develop so many different levels of children’s thinking,” Knight said in an interview with the PBS NewsHour. “Just in the coding alone, you’re reading, you’re writing, you’re using spatial reasoning, you’re using problem-solving, you’re using creativity. So just in general it helps with metacognition.”

    PS 282 does not fit the mold of the typical school that might offer a computer science curriculum to its students.

    More than half of the school’s nearly 900 students are from low-income families, according to the school’s principal Rashan Hoke. The school’s population is also racially diverse: 60 percent of students are black, 25 percent of are Latino and 10 percent are white.

    Data cited by the federal government show only a quarter of America’s nearly 100,000 public schools are using a form of computer science in their classrooms. Few of those programs serve low-income students. Hardly any of the programs that exist require that students take computer science classes and those that do will most often focus on the high school level.

    Nationally, fewer than 15 percent of high schools offered Advanced Placement computer science courses in 2015. Of the 50,000 students who took the A.P. exam, less than a quarter were girls and roughly 13 percent were minorities, according to statistics released by the White House.

    Meanwhile, last year, the U.S. left more than 600,000 technology jobs unfilled, a number that White House officials link to a dearth of computer science programs for students in public schools. This particularly affects students of color and female students: in the professional world, less than one in three employees working in the tech sector are women and three percent of tech employees are black.

    But in recent years, a wave of districts across the country have begun to put an increased focus on changing those imbalances.

    The federal Computer Science for All program launched this year with $135 million from the National Science Foundation, funding that will initially target professional development courses for principals and teachers interested in bringing computer science to their schools.

    The program aims to fill job shortages, level out the playing field for minorities and girls and to train 10,000 teachers in the coming years while doling out funding through a competitive grant process.

    “That’s the public piece of it,” Kumar Garg, senior advisor to the deputy director at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, told the PBS NewsHour. “Those are investments that they can do starting even outside the budgetary process. It means that we can jump start the initiative even as we’re making a case to Congress.”

    U.S. President Barack Obama waves as he visits students from Newark, New Jersey taking part in an "Hour of Code"? event at the White House in Washington December 8, 2014. The event honors Computer Science Education Week. Photo By Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    U.S. President Barack Obama waves as he visits students from Newark, New Jersey taking part in an “Hour of Code” event at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 8, 2014. The event honors Computer Science Education Week. Photo By Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    The White House is also drawing in funding support from a profusion of interested parties, with technology leviathans like Facebook, Microsoft and Apple and nonprofits such as Code.org among dozens of groups committing a total of $60 million to the national program and teacher-training efforts in the realm of computer science.

    And while the plan begins, many of the larger school districts of the country already are beginning to take the initiative on their own, in places like New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles as well as less-populated areas in Hawaii, Idaho, Arkansas, Rhode Island and elsewhere.

    At least 30 school districts have committed to proliferating computer science education, mostly in high school classrooms, a figure that represents more than 1 million students, according to a spokesperson for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

    Three of the nation’s largest districts – New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago – have taken steps on their own during the last several years, in some cases self-funding campaigns to introduce computer science to students, and in others offering a combination of public-private partnerships and training initiatives funded by nonprofit organizations and publicly-held corporations.

    Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest public school district, was first to introduce the concept to some of its high school students, a years-long process that began as a pilot program through the work of researchers at University of California Los Angeles. In 2014, the district committed to expanding the initial effort as an elective to some of its 640,000 students.

    Following suit in September, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio’s administration released a plan to offer computer science education to New York City schools during the next 10 years, bringing the idea of robotics, coding, circuitry and algorithms to 1.1 million students, though the endeavor is optional for students.

    The Chicago Public Schools Board of Education took their plan a step further, when in February members voted to make computer science an official part of the district’s curriculum.

    For 400,000 Chicago students, computer science education will now be a graduation requirement, mandating that every high schools student take at least one class on the topic over four years.

    More than 28 states have passed laws allowing computer science to be made a part of respective curriculums, up from only 10 states just a few years earlier, Kumar said, a trend that many officials hope will bridge racial and gender disparities that now exist in the classrooms and professional fields.

    “For us, this really comes back to the equity story,” Kumar said.

    What schools have done so far

    Los Angeles, which some view as the model for the broader national roll-out, first initiated a computer science pilot program in 2008 among a small, select number of schools, with a curriculum based on studies conducted by researchers at UCLA.

    “We said, ‘There is no course at the high school level that is really introducing all kids to computational thinking, the problem-solving and the basic concepts and the applications of computer science,’” said Jane Margolis, a senior UCLA researcher whose team worked on the project. “On one extreme, there was keyboarding, and on the other extreme, A.P. computer science.”

    The Los Angeles district’s initial plan now will further introduce computer science modules as high school electives, relying heavily on professional development support from Code.org, an organization that has poured millions into similar efforts across the country since the nonprofit formed in 2013.

    Representatives at the NSF and members of the the Obama administration said the federal undertaking will use examples from programs already in place, a foundation that will allow the push to bring computer science to schools to begin with professional development programs.

    According to interviews with school teachers and administrators, organizational heads and members of the White House team in charge of rolling out the various programs, many of the districts considering the proposition of  introducing or expanding computer science education in schools are facing the same challenges.

    “I think there’s a huge question about how you get more teachers,” said Janice Cuny, NSF’s program director for computing education. “There’s a scramble to put it into schools in a very short period of time. There’s this new topic that we don’t have teachers in place to teach. How do you do that, what’s the best way to train a history teacher who wants to do computer science?”

    Third-grader Osiel Dominguez, right, attends an event for students to learn to write computer code at the Apple store in New York on Dec. 9, 2015. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    Third-grader Osiel Dominguez, right, attends an event for students to learn to write computer code at the Apple store in New York on Dec. 9, 2015. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    While those questions remain unanswered, the NSF will continue employing a model it has used since the concept of expanding computer science was first broached, a combination of competitive grants to expand professional training to several thousand teachers and a curriculum-based approach that is already being tested in Chicago, Cuny said. The NSF has also worked with the College Board to standardize and expand Advanced Placement classes in high schools.

    So far, Cuny said, the programs in place have trained about 2,000 teachers, but NSF is hoping to add another 1,000 to 2,000 to that list this summer.

    “I think there’s a lot of teachers who are interested,” she said.

    Before Sabrina Knight began teaching young students how to code at PS 282, she spent much of her eight-year career as a reading specialist and literacy teacher at charter schools in Brooklyn.

    After signing up for a one-day professional development seminar and conducting research and conversations with fellow teachers who had taught computer science classes, Knight said she decided to change direction after noticing the need among students in public schools. The last time she had taken a coding class was in one of her own undergraduate courses in college.

    “We just muddled through it and figured it out,” she said. “There isn’t a lot of teacher training that I found on how to use the stuff in the classroom.”

    Similar scenarios are playing out across the country, with some districts mandating professional development courses ranging from one day up to a week.

    Los Angeles is currently working its way through the details of a master plan that would require prospective computer science teachers to fulfill professional development classes for a compulsory period of time, according to Derrick Chau, the district’s director of secondary instruction. 

    New York City, the largest school district in the country, will initially take a less formal approach, putting an emphasis on professional development classes for 5,000 teachers without mandating specific training schedules. The plan will be funded by an $80 million public-private initiative that would introduce computer science. Hoke, the Brooklyn principal, said his school’s efforts have been more holistic while it waits for financial support from the district.

    Students from the Laboratory School of Finance and Technology in Bronx, N.Y. practice coding. Photo By Michael D. Regan/PBS NewsHour

    Students from the Laboratory School of Finance and Technology in Bronx, N.Y. practice coding. Photo By Michael D. Regan/PBS NewsHour

    Using a combination of outside grant money and an active group of parents and teachers who were attracted to the idea of bringing computer science education to the school, PS 282 was able to bring the concept into the school over the last 18 months with only a few teachers willing or able to conduct computer science lessons. Until recently, when New York committed to funding computer science, that may have been their only path.

    “I don’t know of any programming that was happening in the building that was coding-oriented,” Hoke recalled.

    Code.org to the rescue?

    Code.org says it has worked with 100 of the largest school districts in the country with tens of millions of students participating in its Hour of Code initiative, while it has trained 25,000 new teachers to give lessons on computer science across all grade levels.

    Along with Los Angeles, Brenda Wilkerson, program manager of Chicago’s local Computer Science for All program, also credits Code.org with helping to fund and expand programs and professional development classes for the city’s public school teachers since 2014.

    Wilkerson said the non-profit also assisted in launching a stipend system for free web training and other professional development classes, which has drawn from a wide swath of the district’s teachers with little to no background in computer science education.

    By maintaining a steady group of teachers willing to learn computer science school administrators were able to make their case to the Chicago Board of Education to install the subject into the district’s curriculum, requiring every high school student to take at least one computer science class during a four-year period.

    “Any teacher that comes, we’ll train them,” Wilkerson said, who noted that the next question the districts had to answer was how to sustain a program for all of its 650 schools.

    The contrasts in methodology may show the uncertainty over the potential success of President Obama’s stratagem. Cameron Wilson, chief operating officer for Code.org, has been attempting to introduce schools to some of those tactics during the last three years and to establish a framework at the local and state levels.

    “Our main role on all of this has been to try to bring attention to the issues around computer science education and to help change the landscape for people who want to reform computer science education,” Wilson said. “The grassroots side is really taking off. Thousands of teachers are really excited and want to bring this to their community.”

    The post The nation’s largest school districts are rushing to fill the coding gap appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at the Old National Events Plaza in Evansville, Indiana. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at the Old National Events Plaza in Evansville, Indiana. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

    WESTERVILLE, Ohio — For Donald Trump to win the White House in November, he’ll need the votes of women like lifelong Republican Wendy Emery.

    Yet the 52-year-old from the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio, is struggling with the idea of voting for her party’s presumptive presidential nominee.

    “I’m just disappointed, really disappointed,” she said while standing in her arts and crafts shop. She and her circle of friends are “still in shock” over Trump’s success and wonder who’s voting for him, “because we don’t know any of them.”

    Emery’s negative impression of Trump was shared by most of the dozens of white, suburban women from politically important states who were interviewed by The Associated Press this spring. Their views are reflected in opinion polls, such as a recent AP-GfK survey that found 70 percent of women have unfavorable opinions of Trump.

    Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign sees that staggering figure as a tantalizing general election opening.

    While white voters continue to abandon the Democratic Party, small gains with white women could help put likely nominee Clinton over the top if the November election is close. Democrats believe these women could open up opportunities for Clinton in North Carolina, where President Barack Obama struggled with white voters in his narrow loss in the state 2012, and even in Georgia, a Republican stronghold that Democrats hope to make competitive.

    Patty Funderburg of Charlotte, North Carolina, voted for Republican Mitt Romney in 2012, but says she’s already convinced that Trump won’t get her vote.

    “He’s not who I’d want to represent our country,” said Funderburg, a 54-year-old mother of three.

    Trump insists he’s “going to do great with women.” He’s accused Clinton of playing the “woman’s card” in her bid to become the first female commander in chief. He’s said he will link her aggressively to past indiscretions with women by her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

    The businessman also has previewed an argument focused on national security, with echoes of the pitch that President George W. Bush successfully made to white suburban women during his 2004 re-election.

    “Women want, above all else, they want security,” Trump told The Associated Press recently. “They want to have a strong military, they want to have strong borders. They don’t want crime.” He said “Hillary is viewed poorly on that.”

    Not so in the AP-GfK poll. About 40 percent of women surveyed said Clinton would be best at protecting the country and handling the threat posed by the Islamic State group, and about 30 percent said Trump.

    Throughout the primary, Clinton has talked about policies meant to appeal to women: equal pay, expanded child care, paid family and medical leave and more.

    And Trump has his own complicated past regarding women and has faced criticism for his actions both in his personal life and at his businesses toward them. He’s vigorously defended his treatment of women, as has his daughter Ivanka Trump, who said her father “has total respect for women.”

    [Watch Video]

    A super political action committee backing Clinton has released its first television advertisements featuring Trump’s contentious statements about women.

    “Does Donald Trump really speak for you?” the super PAC ad asks.

    For many of the women interviewed, the answer appears to be no.

    “He’s just a jerk,” said Elizabeth Andrus, a registered Republican in Delaware, Ohio, who says she voted twice for Obama. She praised Trump’s political skills and argued his business career indicates an intellect and ability that could benefit the nation.

    But his temperament, she said, is somewhere between “buffoonery” and “complete narcissism.”

    “It would be like having Putin for president,” she added, referring to Russia’s sometimes belligerent president, Vladimir Putin.

    Erin Freedman, a 38-year-old from Reston, Virginia, said Trump “scares the crap out of me.” While she’s an enthusiastic backer of Clinton’s primary rival, Bernie Sanders, she said she’d have no problem backing the former secretary of state against Trump in a general election.

    Even some reluctant Trump supporters say they want him to dial back the braggadocio and caustic insults, and engage people more seriously.

    “He’s the nominee, so I’ll vote for him,” said Renee Herman, a 45-year-old from Sunbury, Ohio, who preferred retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and her home-state governor, John Kasich, in the GOP primary field. “But it’s time we get past all this showmanship and hear from him what he actually wants to do and his plans for how to do it.”

    Trump’s best opening is that Clinton, who is on the cusp of clinching her party’s nomination, would enter the November race with a majority of Americans taking a dim view of her candidacy. Fifty-five percent have a negative view of Clinton, including 53 percent of women, in the AP-GfK poll.

    “Anybody but Hillary,” said Carolyn Owen, a 64-year-old educator from Clayton, North Carolina, near Raleigh. She said Trump wasn’t her first choice, “but it’s better than the alternative.”

    While Obama won the support of women overall in his two White House campaigns, white women have increasingly been shifting toward the Republican Party in recent elections. Obama only won 42 percent of white women in 2012. Romney won 56 percent of white women, more than Bush and the party’s 2008 nominee, Sen. John McCain.

    Clinton’s hopes will largely hinge on replicating Obama’s coalition of blacks, Hispanics and young people. In both of his elections, Obama earned near-unanimous support from black women, while drawing the votes of roughly 7 in 10 Hispanic women. But she would have more room for error with those groups if she can increase Democrats’ share of white women.

    Another potentially favorable scenario for Clinton involves Republican and independent women who can’t stomach a vote for Trump but also don’t want to vote for a Democrat. Maybe they simply stay home, keeping the GOP nominee’s vote totals down.

    For Angee Stephens of Indianola, Iowa, that seems to be the only option at this point. She’s wary of Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, which is the subject of an FBI investigation, and her past political decisions. But “Trump sort of scares me,” Stephens said.

    In Georgia, Trump supporter Sue Everhart said she talks regularly with suburban Republican women struggling with whether to vote for Trump, and said some cite his boorishness. The former state party chairwoman said she tries to bring the conversation back to Clinton and remind Republicans “who we are running against.”

    As for Trump’s penchant for controversial statements about women, Everhart said, “I learned a long time ago that most any man over 50 in this party, they like you as long as you’re making the cookies.”

    “I should probably be offended,” she added. “But I’m not.”

    Pace reported from Raleigh, North Carolina. Associated Press writer Catherine Lucey in Iowa and AP News Survey Specialist Emily Swanson in Washington contributed to this report.

    The post In swing state suburbs, white women are skeptical of Trump appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Recovered debris of the EgyptAir jet that crashed in the Mediterranean Sea is seen in this handout image released May 21, 2016 by Egypt's military. Egyptian Military/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE. THIS PICTURE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY. AN UNPROCESSED VERSION HAS BEEN PROVIDED SEPARATELY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTSFACP

    Recovered debris of the EgyptAir jet that crashed in the Mediterranean Sea is seen in this handout image released May 21, 2016 by Egypt’s military. Egyptian Military/Handout via Reuters

    Before an EgyptAir jet crashed into the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday with 66 people on board, a detection system had sent out a burst of error messages indicating there was smoke aboard, a French air investigation agency spokesman said Saturday.

    It’s still unclear what caused flight 804, which was on its way from Paris to Cairo, to go dark and plunge into the sea about 30 minutes before its scheduled landing. But a spokesman for Le Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses said the signals went off a few minutes before the plane disappeared from the radar.

    The signals “generally mean the start of a fire,” spokesman Sebastien Barthe told the Associated Press, while stressing investigators have not come to any conclusions.

    Seven messages over a 3-minute span included alarms about smoke in the lavatory as well as the aircraft’s avionics area under the cockpit, according to Aviation Herald, an Austria-based website specializing in air accidents.

    As investigators try to figure out whether the crash was an accident or an attack, an aviation expert told Reuters that the signals don’t indicate the cause one way or another.

    “The question now is whether the fire that caused the smoke was the result of an electrical fault – for example a short-circuit caused by damaged wiring – or whether some form of explosive or incendiary device was used – for example by a terrorist – to generate a fire or other damage,” aviation safety expert David Learmont told Reuters.

    Egypt officials have found human remains, wreckage and the personal belongings of passengers floating in the Mediterranean about 290 km (180 miles) north of Alexandria, according to Reuters. All 10 crew members and 56 passengers, mostly from Egypt and France, are presumed dead.

    There were also citizens of Britain, Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Chad, Portugal, Algeria, Kuwait and Canada on board, including two babies and one child.

    So far, at least nine of the victims have been identified.

    [Watch Video]

    Egyptian officials have not ruled out any causes, and are conducting a joint investigation with help from French officials.

    French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he and other officials from France and Egypt had met with about 100 family members to express “our profound compassion” over the crash, the AP reported.

    He said after the meeting that, “All the hypotheses are being examined – none are being favored.”

    Part of a plane chair among recovered debris of the EgyptAir jet that crashed in the Mediterranean Sea is seen in this handout image released May 21, 2016 by Egypt's military. Egyptian Military/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE. THIS PICTURE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY. AN UNPROCESSED VERSION HAS BEEN PROVIDED SEPARATELY. - RTSFACO

    Part of a plane chair among recovered debris of the EgyptAir jet that crashed in the Mediterranean Sea is seen in this handout image released May 21, 2016 by Egypt’s military. Egyptian Military/Handout via Reuters

    The plane was on the ground at four different airports, the Eritrean capital Asmara, Cairo, Tunis and Paris, in the 24 hours before the crash.

    The Egyptian military on Saturday also posted the first pictures of debris from the Airbus 320 on its spokesman’s Facebook page as officials continued to comb the sea, which can reach depths up to 10,000 feet, for more clues. The pictures show pieces of seats, life jackets and one blue and white cloth with the Egyptian Air logo.

    This is a new blow to Egypt’s travel industry following several other incidents that have occurred since October.

    A Russian airliner with 224 people on board was brought down by a suspected Islamic State bombing after it took off from Sharm el-Sheikh airport, a resort area, in late October. And man wearing a fake suicide belt hijacked another EgyptAir plane in March.

    The post Smoke detected aboard EgyptAir plane before crash that killed 66 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Mourners attend the funeral of anti-government protesters, who were killed by Iraqi security forces when they opened fire on protesters who stormed into Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, Iraq May 21, 2016. Photo By Wissm al-Okili/Reuters

    Mourners attend the funeral of anti-government protesters, who were killed by Iraqi security forces when they opened fire on protesters who stormed into Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, Iraq May 21, 2016. Photo By Wissm al-Okili/Reuters

    Funerals were held on Saturday for two Iraqi people killed a day earlier during riots within Baghdad’s Green Zone, a secured area meant to protect government officials and foreign diplomats.

    They were among two of four killed and nearly a hundred injured Friday after thousands of demonstrators, who are reportedly followers of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, breached the fortified section of Iraq’s capital city. The protest was over the country’s lack of security and the government’s failure to pass anti-corruption laws.

    Iraqi military officials said members of the military were stabbed during the melee as they pushed back against hundreds of people who entered the compound, some breaking into the offices of the prime minister and parliament, the Associated Press reported.

    On Friday, Iraqi security forces used tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd, in some cases opening fire with live ammunition, witnesses said.

    The Iraqi government has in recent months pushed back against the Islamic State, which has seized large swaths of territory from the embattled country. Iraq also been wrought with internal conflicts brought on by sectarian fighting.

    The violence Friday was the second time in recent weeks that protesters infiltrated the Green Zone, where much of the country’s government is headquartered under tight security along with foreign missions to Iraq.

    The funerals Saturday were in a procession that weaved through Bagdhad’s streets along with hundreds of supporters.

    The post Funerals held in Iraq after protesters breach fortified Green Zone appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Rebel fighters from the 'Alwiyat al-Furqan' group gather around a pick-up truck mounted with an anti-aircraft weapon near Kafr Nasej village, in Deraa Governorate, Syria May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir - RTSEZRL

    Rebel fighters from the ‘Alwiyat al-Furqan’ group gather around a pick-up truck mounted with an anti-aircraft weapon near Kafr Nasej village, in Deraa Governorate, Syria, on May 19, 2016. Photo by Alaa Al-Faqir/Reuters

    NORTHERN SYRIA — On a secret trip to Syria, the new commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East said Saturday he felt a moral obligation to enter a war zone to check on his troops and make his own assessment of progress in organizing local Arab and Kurd fighters for what has been a slow campaign to push the Islamic State group out of Syria.

    “I have responsibility for this mission, and I have responsibility for the people that we put here,” Army Gen. Joseph Votel said in an interview as dusk fell on the remote outpost where he had arrived 11 hours earlier. “So it’s imperative for me to come and see what they’re dealing with — to share the risk they are dealing with.”

    Votel, who has headed U.S. Central Command for just seven weeks, became the highest-ranking U.S. military officer known to have entered Syria since the U.S. began its campaign to counter the Islamic State group in 2014. The circumstance was exceptional because the U.S. has no combat units in Syria, no diplomatic relations with Syria and for much of the past two years has enveloped much of its Syria military mission in secrecy.

    Votel said he brought reporters with him because, “We don’t have anything to hide. I don’t want people guessing about what we’re doing here. The American people should have the right to see what we’re doing here.”

    Votel flew into northern Syria from Iraq, where he had conferred on Friday with U.S. and Iraqi military commanders. In Syria he met with U.S. military advisers working with Syrian Arab fighters and consulted with leaders of the Syrian Democratic Forces, an umbrella group of Kurdish and Arab fighters supported by the U.S.

    A small group of reporters accompanied Votel under ground rules that, for security reasons, prohibited disclosing his visit until after he had left Syria. After landing at a remote camp where American military advisers are training Syrian Arab troops in basic soldiering skills, Votel split off from the reporters who flew in with him; he then visited several other undisclosed locations in Syria before returning to the camp.

    Syria is a raging war zone, torn by multiple conflicts that have created severe human suffering across much of the country. But on Saturday the U.S. advisers camp that Votel visited was quiet. Situated about 50 miles from the nearest fighting, it was remarkably quiet. The sharpest sound was a month-old puppy’s yapping as he ran between visitors’ legs. A light breeze nudged several bright-yellow flags of the Syrian Democratic Forces attached to small bushes and atop a post buried in an earthen berm beside a shooting range.

    Aides said Votel’s flight into Syria was the first made in daylight by U.S. forces, who have about 200 advisers on the ground. Military ground rules for the trip prohibited reporting the kind of aircraft Votel used, the exact location of where he landed and the names and images of the U.S. military advisers, who said they have been operating from the camp since January.

    An Associated Press reporter and journalists from two other news organizations were the first Western media to visit the secretive operation.

    The last known high-level U.S. official to visit Syria was Brett McGurk, Obama’s envoy to the coalition fighting Islamic State militants. He spent two days in Syria in late January, including a tour of Kobani, the small town near the Turkish border where Kurdish fighters backed by U.S. airstrikes had expelled an entrenched group of Islamic State fighters a year earlier.

    In the interview, Votel said his visit had hardened his belief that the U.S. is taking the right approach to developing local forces to fight IS, an acronym for the Islamic State group.

    “I left with increased confidence in their capabilities and our ability to support them,” he said. “I think that model is working and working well.”

    The U.S. has struggled to find an effective ground force to take on IS in Syria, where President Barack Obama has ruled out a U.S. ground combat role. This presents a different problem than in Iraq, where the U.S. at least has a government to partner with.

    The problem in Syria is complicated by the fractured nature of the opposition to the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The U.S. is trying to develop credible Arab fighters to retake Raqqa, the Islamic State group’s self-declared capital, while Syrian Kurds have retaken territory from IS in other parts of northern Syria.

    The U.S. is supporting what it calls the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is predominantly comprised of Syrian Kurds, numbering at least 25,000 fighters, with a smaller element of Syrian Arabs, numbering perhaps 5,000 to 6,000. The U.S. is trying to increase the Arab numbers.

    Syrian Arab commanders who were made available for interviews at the U.S. camp Saturday said their forces are gaining battlefield momentum but also need a lot more help. They were quick to say the U.S.-led coalition should pitch in more.

    Qarhaman Hasan, the deputy commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces, said he has given the Americans a list of his most pressing needs. Atop his list: armored vehicles, heavy weapons like machine guns, as well as rocket launchers and mortars.

    “We’re creating an army,” he said through an interpreter, and have had to rely on smuggling to get weapons.

    “You can’t run an army on smuggling,” he said.

    Tribal leaders said in interviews that they also want to see the U.S. do more, both militarily and with humanitarian aid.

    “America has the capabilities,” said Sheik Abu Khalid as he puffed on a cigarette under the shade of pomegranate and pine trees.

    Talal Selo, spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces, was especially strong in his criticism of the U.S. for providing too little assistance and for giving the SDF “very useless” support. He said that if this continued, the Syrians opposing the Islamic State group will have to fight for another 50 years.

    The post Top U.S. commander makes secret visit to Syria appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    FILE PHOTO: San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr speaks to members of the media after being asked about the fatal stabbing of a Los Angeles Dodgers fan after attending a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants in San Francisco, California September 26, 2013. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo - RTSF2S4

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    ALISON STEWART, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR:  Thursday, a San Francisco police officer shot and killed a woman who was suspected of driving a stolen car.  The police later said that she was not armed and was not driving toward officers when she was shot.

    This followed other fatal police shootings in San Francisco, including that of Mario Woods back in December.  Video from the Woods shooting had increased the pressure on police chief, Greg Suhr, to step down.  And following Thursday’s shooting, at the request of Mayor Ed Lee, Suhr turned in his resignation.

    For more on what this means for San Francisco and other police departments trying to implement reform, I’m joined from San Francisco by Vivian Ho of “The San Francisco Chronicle”.

    Vivian, can you describe for me former Police Chief Suhr’s reputation in the community and on the political level?

    VIVIAN HO, THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE:  Well, really that depends on who you ask.  The chief has been around for a very long time.  He had 35 years in the department.  Before he rose to the ranks, he was a beat cop who spent a lot of time in a lot of these communities that are actually protesting him right now.

    A lot of the older members of these communities remember him and they love him and they still think of him as one of their own.  But there are groups within that community who see him as a symbol of an archaic way of policing, bias way of policing, and a bad way that policing got to punish communities of color.

    Meanwhile, politically, he’s had a series of scandals at him throughout his career, and each time he’s found a way to rise above it and eventually make his way to chief.

    ALISON STEWART:  It’s interesting that you mentioned those scandals.  There has been a couple of different things.  The shootings we discussed.  Also, these racist and sexist messages, text messages that were sent through the department.  So, was — his resignation, was it a result, a cumulative result, or was there one thing that really tipped the scales?

    VIVIAN HO: It’s really more of a cumulative result.  Since December 2nd, since that shooting of Mario Woods, the community members have really been asking for his resignation for the first time.  They would interrupt committee meetings.  They would chant.  They would call for it.  In April 5th, after this, actually went on a hunger strike, calling for him to step down or for Mayor Ed Lee to fire him.

    Each time, the chief really dug his heels in.  He said, you know, we have a series of reforms that we’re putting in place.  I want to oversee them and the man to do it.

    ALISON STEWART:About those reforms, what kind of reforms had he started to implement or said he was going to implement?

    VIVIAN HO: He and the police commission have reopened the department’s use of force policy, looking at how officers use force, how they use the weapons they have and are really working to create a new policy that emphasizes the sanctity of life, de-escalation, creating time and distance, and resorting to lethal force as a very, very last resort.

    ALISON STEWART: Obviously, there’s a new police chief in place.  Has he signaled any kind of plan going forward?

    VIVIAN HO: Acting Chief Toney Chaplin was head of the Principled Policing Bureau before he was asked to step in as acting chief.  He was looking into President Obama’s 21st century policing recommendations.  He was working with the Department of Justice, whose committee policing office is in San Francisco right now conducting collaborative review of the department.

    He made it clear on Friday at his first press conference that he very much wants to continue the reforms that were started under Greg Suhr and he is very committed to making sure that happens.

    ALISON STEWART: Vivian Ho from “The San Francisco Chronicle” — thanks so much.

    VIVIAN HO: Thank you.

     

    The post What’s next for San Francisco after its police chief’s resignation? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded nearly 50,000 drug overdose deaths, partially driven by a surge of people misusing prescription painkillers, including oxycodone. Photo by Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

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    ALISON STEWART, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR:  In the United States, nearly 30,000 deaths a year can be attributed to the abuse of heroin and prescription painkillers.  Opioids like OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet and Methadone.  This epidemic in part was due to the surge in prescriptions being written over the last two decades.

    However, a new analysis reveals that for each of the last three years, prescriptions are being written for opioids decline.

    To discuss the implications of this, I’m joined from Washington, D.C., by Sabrina Tavernise of “The New York Times”.

    Sabrina, you’ve been reporting about this and writing about this for “The Times”.  What has contributed to this decline?

    SABRINA TAVERNISE, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  First of all, I mean, it’s surprising that they’re even is a decline considering the fact that there had been so many, you know, it had been rising for so long for so many years.  There are a number of factors that you’re going into driving it.  For one, there’s been a big, big change in public consciousness about these drugs.  People believe that they are dangerous drugs now.  Doctors are sort of holding back from prescribing.

    My colleague talked to a number of doctors that said that they, you know, didn’t want to be the one who had — got a call from someone, a parent saying, you know, you were responsible for my child’s addiction.

    ALISON STEWART:  Are there any regional patterns here towards this decline or these databases that some states have helping out?

    SABRINA TAVERNISE:  Something called the prescription drug database sort of tracking systems.  Most states have those now.  And in a number of states, doctors are required to check them to make sure that patients aren’t also getting an opioid prescription from a different doctor.  So, that has helped prescriptions down.

    For many, many years actually, the pharmaceutical companies were arguing that the reason why that the epidemic was raging was because there were a few bad doctors going from state to state, kind of, you know, giving out prescriptions like they were candy.  But essentially, you know, the prescriptions had risen so much.

    I mean, it gotten up to sort of 250 million, 260 million prescriptions a year and that’s enough for every American adult to have a bottle of opioid pills.  There, basically, the experts came to the conclusion that this was a habit and culture that had formed in the medical society more broadly and not just one or two, you know, a couple of handful of people.

    ALISON STEWART Sabrina, has the decline in prescriptions translated to a decline in deaths due to opioids?

    SABRINA TAVERNISE: So far, no.  The deaths are still — have still been rising.  The latest year we have is 2014 and that’s about — a bit more than 28,000 opioid deaths, about 18,000 are prescription and 10,000 are heroin and other illegal drugs.  And overprescribing have been very closely associated with the rise in deaths and the rise in overdoses.

    And the hope is that the decline in prescribing is sort of a harbinger or a signal that the life cycle of this epidemic maybe on the down lope now.

    ALISON STEWART Sabrina Tavernise from “The New York Times” — thanks so much.

    SABRINA TAVERNISE: Thank you very much.

    END

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    U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the economy at the press briefing room at the White House in Washington, U.S. May 6, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria - RTX2D5EQ

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    Read the full transcript below:

    ALISON STEWART: Yesterday, visitors at the peace memorial museum in Hiroshima, examined somber reminders of the catastrophic event 71 years ago that still grips the nation today.

    On August 6, 1945, the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing 140,000 people. A second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later, killing another 70,000. Japan surrendered on September second.

    Since World War II, no sitting American president has visited Hiroshima, until now.

    JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: The president intends to visit to send a much more forward looking signal about his ambition for realizing the goal of a planet without nuclear weapons.

    ALISON STEWART: But some Japanese are already disappointed with Obama’s visit. He is not expected to meet with survivors and does not plan to offer an apology.

    TOSHIKI FUJIMORI, ATOMIC BOMB SURVIVOR: Many atomic bomb survivors don’t think it’s okay to not apologize.

    ALISON STEWART: On Thursday in Tokyo, members of a survivors group demanded an apology. In addition to injuries and radiation sickness, many of the estimated 180,000 survivors have faced discrimination in employment and marriage.

    TERUMI TANAKA, ATOMIC BOMB SURVIVOR: I think an apology is needed for the real victims who suffered. But not all survivors agree.

    CHISAKO TAKEOKA, ATOMIC BOMB SURVIVOR: If he comes here and sees what a horrible thing the atomic bomb is, I think that’s enough.

    ALISON STEWART: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said no apology is necessary and Obama’s historic visit will achieve another goal.

    SHINZO ABE, PRIME MINISTER, JAPAN: I believe that by visiting Hiroshima, understanding the reality of radiation exposure there, and voicing his opinions there, president Obama is going to provide a strong push for achieving a world devoid of nuclear weapons.

    ALISON STEWART: Abe is expected to accompany president Obama on during the Hiroshima visit on Friday.

    The post What to expect ahead of Obama’s visit to Japan appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    blood

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    By Hannah Yi and Mori Rothman

    It was more than 20 years ago, but Gilbert Cantrell remembers the day when he realized his vision was going bad. He was working in a factory that made frozen dough products. That day Cantrell was rolling margarine into the dough when he noticed something different. He called out to his boss, “When did we change suppliers? That’s the brightest yellow I’ve ever seen in my life.”

    “My boss told me it’s the same color it’s always been,” said Cantrell. “That’s when I realized something was wrong.”

    Cantrell’s vision got worse and had double vision. He was eventually diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Now 53 years old, Cantrell isn’t able to work. He takes a combination of pills and vitamins daily and keeps his mind off the pain by metal detecting or gold prospecting.

    “I will wake up at night having severe cramps. My wife will do whatever she can to try to help me release it, and it usually lasts for a half an hour,” said Cantrell. “It gets to the point where just about every step you take is excruciating.”

    Five years ago, Cantrell decided to try something different for his multiple sclerosis. He enrolled in the MURDOCK Study and gave his urine and blood samples. Researchers are gathering specimens like Cantrell’s from more than 12,000 residents in and around his hometown of Kannapolis, North Carolina.

    These samples are stored in a huge biobank, a refrigerated repository, then used by researchers to analyze their DNA along with environmental data – like pollution or food access – that is collected from around the area.

    However, there are ethical concerns about whether participants fully understand what they consent to when giving their specimens to a biobank. Jean Cadigan is an anthropologist and an associate professor at the University of North Carolina who studies research ethics.

    “By and large consent forms for biobanks will say that once you’ve given over your sample, the university or whatever entity you’ve given it to owns it now,” said Cadigan, which means participants are trusting that entity to protect their privacy. She also points out that donors have not only given their DNA information but also medical histories.

    Dr. Kristin Newby is the lead scientist of the MURDOCK Study and says the study has security protections in place and that personal information is “de-linked” from the specimens once they go into their database. She says that goal is to always protect the participants while using their specimens to one day hopefully diagnose and treat diseases including multiple sclerosis and prostate cancer.

    “Kannapolis and the surrounding areas have gotten behind this idea that we can learn from them, and from that, benefit perhaps themselves, but certainly downstream, their children and their children’s children,” said Newby.

    Cantrell says he’s not too concerned about privacy and understands that the cure may never come during his lifetime, but he’s thinking about his own daughter, who has diabetes.

    “I want to be able to help somebody else so they don’t have to go through what I’ve had to go through for the last 23 years.”

    Read the full transcript below:

    JOHN LARSON: When you first see The North Carolina Research Campus near Charlotte, you’re struck by its colossal, Georgian-style buildings. But to understand what’s going on inside, you should know more about what came before. Starting in the early 1900s, a textile mill occupied the same 350 acre property in the town of Kannapolis. Cannon Mills manufactured cotton sheets and towels. At its peak, it employed 20,000 workers. Gilbert Cantrell and his wife both worked there.

    GILBERT CANTRELL: The whistle went off to wake you up. The whistle went off to tell you it’s time to go in. You would see thousands of people passing each other, going in and out of the building at shift time.

    JOHN LARSON: By the 1990s, the mill was struggling: cheap imports were undermining profits. When the mill finally went bankrupt and closed in 2003, more than four thousand workers lost their jobs. It was the worst layoff in the state’s history.

    GILBERT CANTRELL: It devastated a lot of lives. They were people that that was all they knew. They didn’t know how they were going to do anything else.

    JOHN LARSON: Two years later, a billionaire California investor bought the property and tore the mill down. David Murdock, chairman of The Dole Food Company, was fond of the town and also had once owned the mill in the 1980s, but now he had different plans for the property. Murdock is an extreme health and nutrition enthusiast who even now at 93 plans on living to be 125.

    DAVID MURDOCK: I believe that some of those solutions will come right from this scientific center.

    JOHN LARSON: He has invested more than 800 million dollars to build the campus and launch research that he hopes will re-invent modern medicine. To get a sense of the original vision of the founder, all you have to do is come in through the front door of the main building here on the research campus. Inside you’ll find Italian marble lining the floors, and if you look up, you see Murdock’s fascination with radishes, blueberries, and healthy foods. And the eagle with an 18 foot wingspan – that represents him.

    In the past decade, the campus enlisted 20 partners from universities like Duke and the University of North Carolina to companies like General Mills and Monsanto, hoping like Murdock to better detect and fight diseases including Alzheimer’s, prostate cancer, and multiple sclerosis. Murdock declined to be interviewed. Doctor Kristin Newby is one of his lead scientists.

    JOHN LARSON: What’s the dream for this?

    DR KRISTIN NEWBY: So it’s this idea that we can get better at delivering the right drug to the right person at the right time.

    But before they can do that, scientists must first conduct an ambitious study, called the MURDOCK Study, which may play out over generations. Researchers are gathering blood and urine samples from more than 12,000 local residents and storing those in a huge biobank, a refrigerated repository. In this case, the biobank is nearly the size of a football field. Then the specimen’s DNA is analyzed as needed.

    DR KRISTIN NEWBY: Those samples, along with the information that people tell us about themselves, and then things like the air pollution levels, the temperature, the humidity, access to healthy foods. And once you can start putting that all together in the context of how someone says they feel, you start to get a broader picture.

    Cantrell donated his samples hoping they will help medical research, specifically in two areas. Diabetes, which his daughter has, and multiple sclerosis, which he suffers from.

    GILBERT CANTRELL: I want to be able to help somebody else, so they don’t have to go through what i’ve had to go through for the last 23 years.

    The researchers’ goals are not to advise any individual how to achieve better health, but to combine DNA analysis, individual medical histories, and environmental measurements over a long period of time. It’s like the town has become one giant petri dish.

    However, there are ethical concerns. Participants receive a t-shirt and a 10 dollar Walmart gift card for their samples and nothing more, even if their samples help discover a cure for cancer or any disease. Not only that, they also agree on their eight page consent forms they do not have to be notified or give permission each time their samples  are used in a new study. And participants surrender their samples indefinitely, trusting the researchers to do everything they can to protect their anonymity forever.

    JEAN CADIGAN: It’s sort of an odd concept, biobanking. It’s a fairly new sort of emerging industry.

    Jean Cadigan is an anthropologist who studies research ethics and has interviewed Kannapolis donors. She says the MURDOCK Study consent forms are not unusual for biomedical research.

    JEAN CADIGAN: By and large consent forms for biobanks will say that once you’ve given over your sample, the university or whatever entity you’ve given it to owns it now.

    JOHN LARSON: For any purpose?

    JEAN CADIGAN: Yes, for as long as they want. So we like to ask people, you know, “What do you think about that?” And by and large, they say, “What?”

    Because no one can know what a lab that uses a biobank may discover or one day create, Cadigan has concerns about consent forms and says if she were a researcher she would explain consent to new participants like this:

    JEAN CADIGAN: “I can’t possibly begin to describe to you what the risks may be. I could make some guesses that privacy would be up there. But beyond that, I don’t know what technology is going to be able to do for us five years from now, after you’re dead what this may mean for your children that we have your DNA.”

    JOHN LARSON: So in other words, I mean, 30 years in the future, your DNA may be trackable by the government, by police authorities, by corporations. So in other words, who knows?

    JEAN CADIGAN: Who knows.

    JOHN LARSON (TO GILBERT CANTRELL): Let me invent a worst case scenario.

    GILBERT CANTRELL: Okay.

    JOHN LARSON: They take your sample, it goes into another study and another study. And eventually somehow your sample helps lead them to a diabetes cure and it’s too expensive for your daughter to use?

    GILBERT CANTRELL: Yeah, that would upset me.

    On the other hand, even more upsetting, according Ronald Bailey, a science journalist with Reason Magazine, is the possibility that regulations about privacy or profit-sharing might stymie innovation.

    RONALD BAILEY: We’re very early days in a biomedical revolution that is about to skyrocket, and to try to limit now, because of privacy concerns would be to hold back science and to hold back the benefits, possible benefits, enormous benefits to millions of people. And that would be immoral.

    RONALD BAILEY: All this is here nothing bad has happened to me.

    To help convince people that there is nothing to be afraid of, Bailey submitted his own saliva sample to the company “23andme,” which analyzed his DNA.

    RONALD BAILEY: I have a high risk of atrial fibrillation.

    A report explained his genetic information, which Bailey posted online for anyone to see.

    RONALD BAILEY: And what I’m hoping will happen is that more and more people like me will in fact provide this information.

    RONALD BAILEY: I think the future is going to be amazing if we will just let it be amazing. If we will get out of its way.

    JOHN LARSON: As for security, MURDOCK Study researchers say they use the strictest levels of encryption, and under the study’s protocols, the government cannot come and take the samples.

    KRISTIN NEWBY: When you go into our electronic database, the server that stores all the information, you become a number. So you’re disconnected from all of your identifiable information.

    JOHN LARSON: Everything is hackable. But can you feel like you can give them a guarantee?

    KRISTIN NEWBY: I think you can never give somebody a 100 percent guarantee.

    The project developers, however, did promise the campus would revitalize the local economy.

    KRISTIN NEWBY: The campus, was envisioned as an opportunity, a chance to kind of move a kind of devastated community out of that mill background more into a technological future that would be, you know, an investment and a growth opportunity.

    JOHN LARSON: The campus now employs more than 1,000 people, nothing close to the 20,000 jobs on and off campus, Murdock’s real estate company predicted. And most employees, highly trained in their fields, come in from out of town. Take a quick walk around Kannapolis, and you see empty stores and hear disappointment.

    JIM BALL: I don’t see where it’s helped a lot.

    JOHN LARSON: The owner of the Breakfastime diner says the research campus hasn’t come close to replacing the mill.

    ALEXANDER KAZAKOS: The mill used to do catering orders every single day of 1,500, 2,500 orders. Then, it just disappeared. And we thought the whole bio campus was gonna benefit everybody, but it’s been a slow process.

    JOHN LARSON: The week we visited Kannapolis, researchers said they were closing in on a possible breakthrough in understanding multiple sclerosis. They said they were learning that the disease attacks men and women so differently, that it might be two diseases. Discoveries like that are, of course, the dream of the campus’s billionaire founder, David Murdock, and study participants like Gilbert Cantrell.

    GILBERT CANTRELL: I think nothing but good is gonna come out of this research.

    JOHN LARSON: You’re in?

    GILBERT CANTRELL: I’m all in.

    The post How a research campus in North Carolina deals with ethical questions on biobanking appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A Special Forces Operation Detachment-Alpha (SFODA) Soldier scans the area in the Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Dec. 27, 2013. The U.S. military command in Kabul announced three U.S. casualties -- one soldier killed, another two wounded -- on Tuesday. Photo by Staff Sgt. Bertha A. Flores/U.S. Army

    A Special Forces Operation Detachment-Alpha soldier scans the area in the Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Dec. 27, 2013. The Pentagon announced Saturday that the U.S. launched an airstrike against Taliban leader Mullah Mansour. Photo by Staff Sgt. Bertha A. Flores/U.S. Army

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. targeted Taliban leader Mullah Mansour in an airstrike Saturday near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, the Defense Department said, and a U.S. official said Mansour was believed to have been killed.

    Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said the U.S. was still studying the results of the attack, essentially leaving Mansour’s fate uncertain.

    But one U.S. official said Mansour and a second male combatant accompanying him in a vehicle were probably killed. President Barack Obama authorized the attack, which occurred on the Pakistani side of the border, and was briefed before and after it was carried out, a White House aide said. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity and were not authorized to discuss the operation publicly.

    Mansour was chosen to head the Afghan Taliban last summer after the death several years earlier of the organization’s founder, Mullah Mohammad Omar, became public. The Taliban is the most powerful insurgent group in the war-ravaged country, where an estimated 11,000 civilians were killed or wounded and 5,500 government troops and police officers died last year alone.

    Cook said Mansour has been “actively involved with planning attacks” across Afghanistan. He called Mansour “an obstacle to peace and reconciliation” between the Taliban and the Afghan government who has barred top Taliban officials from joining peace talks, which have produced few signs of progress.

    Members of Congress lauded the attack. One lawmaker said Mansour’s death, if confirmed, would be a significant blow to the Taliban, though not enough to allow the U.S. to disengage from a conflict that has involved thousands of U.S. troops for nearly 15 years.

    “We must remain vigilant and well-resourced in the field, and must continue to help create the conditions for a political solution,” said Rep. Adam Schiff of California, top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

    Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., said he was glad Mansour “has met his just end” but urged stepped up coalition attacks on the Taliban.

    “Our troops are in Afghanistan today for the same reason they deployed there in 2001 — to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for global terrorists,” McCain said.

    The U.S. official said Saturday’s attack was carried out by unmanned aircraft operated by American Special Operations Forces. The official said the operation was launched at about 6 a.m. EDT southwest of the town of Ahmad Wal and caused no other damage because it occurred in an isolated region.

    Mansour, Mullah Omar’s longtime deputy, had been the Taliban’s de facto leader for years, according to the Afghan government.

    His formal ascension was divisive in the Taliban, handing him the challenge of uniting a fractured — but still lethal — insurgency that has seen fighters desert for more extreme groups such as the Islamic State.

    The Taliban seized power in 1996 and ruled Afghanistan according to a harsh interpretation of Islamic law until the group was toppled by a U.S.-led invasion following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.

    Almost 15 years later, there are about 13,000 troops in the country from a U.S.-NATO coalition, including around 9,800 Americans. While they are mostly focused on training and helping Afghan government forces battle the insurgency, about 3,000 of them are conducting counterterrorism operations against the Taliban and the extremist groups al-Qaida and Islamic State.

    Mansour is considered close to Pakistani authorities who hosted peace talks last year between the Taliban and Afghan government. His succession widened the internal split between fighters who want to use battlefield gains to strengthen the Taliban’s hand in negotiations with Kabul and those who want to continue the insurgency and ultimately overthrow the Afghan government.

    Mullah Omar was the one-eyed, secretive head of the Taliban, whose group hosted Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaida in the years leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks and then waged an insurgency after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that ended Taliban rule.

    It is widely believed that Mullah Omar fled over the border to Pakistan, where he lived under Pakistani protection until his death.

    According to the Taliban, as Mullah Omar’s deputy, Mansour was effectively running the insurgency for the past three years and is said to have the loyalty of battlefield commanders who have intensified and spread their insurgency against Kabul in recent months.

    Alan Fram and Lolita C. Baldor of the Associated Press wrote this report. Associated Press writers Will Lester and Calvin Woodward in Washington, Charles J. Gans in New York and Nancy Benac at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska contributed to this report.

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    Ronald S. Lauder, President and co-founder of Neue Galerie New York, speaks to the press as Maria Altmann, heir to the Bloch-Bauer family, watches during a press preview announcing the acquisition of the Gustav Klimt painting 'Adele Bloch-Bauer I' and four other paintings from the collection of Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer in New York, July 12, 2006. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    Ronald S. Lauder, President and co-founder of Neue Galerie New York, speaks to the press as Maria Altmann, heir to the Bloch-Bauer family, watches during a press preview announcing the acquisition of the Gustav Klimt painting “Adele Bloch-Bauer I” and four other paintings from the collection of Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer in New York, July 12, 2006. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    Next Thursday, Sotheby’s will auction a 356-year-old painting that once hung in the Munich residence of Adolf Hitler.

    “An Officer Paying Court to a Young Woman” by Dutch painter Gabriel Metsu could sell for $6-8 million — and the price tag is high, in part, because of that history.

    During World War II, Hitler’s army systematically looted great art collections of Europe from national museums and private families. This government-sponsored theft is considered the biggest robbery in history.

    After the war, the U.S. and its allies tasked a special unit of 350 army personnel from 14 nations to find and return looted art to its rightful owners. These so-called “Monuments Men,” who were popularized in a 2014 Hollywood movie, recovered millions of items and returned treasures like a 15th-century Ghent altarpiece to Belgium and “Lady with an Ermine,” a Leonardo Da Vinci painting, to Poland.

    But the Monuments Men returned art to countries, not individuals, which sometimes put the heirs of Holocaust victims at odds with their home governments.

    The search begins

    Over the next five decades, families embarked on an international scavenger hunt. They began making breakthroughs in the late 1990s following the resolution of Holocaust survivor claims against Swiss banks that had failed to return deposits to the heirs of Holocaust victims after the war.

    Bernard Goodman, a Dutch Jew whose parents were killed in concentration camps, was forced to buy back 16 of his family’s paintings after they were returned to the Netherlands.

    “These new governments were overwhelmed with all the problems after the war,” Simon Goodman, Bernard’s son, said. “The last thing they wanted to deal with was some annoying man like my father who said, ‘What happened to my mother’s teacups?’ Or even an important painting, or a priceless Renaissance gold cup.”

    But a combination of political will and scholarship, starting with the book “The Rape of Europa,” sparked a global effort at art restitution. The Art Loss Register and the Holocaust Art Restitution Project compiled databases of missing works. Much of it was hidden in plain sight, sometimes hanging on the walls of museums or offered for auction.

    A photo reproduction of Camille Pissarro's painting, "Boulevard Montmartre, Spring 1897" hanging in the Israel Museum February 18 after the Israel Museum restored ownership of the painting to a Jewish family forced by the Nazis to sell it in 1935. After months of investigation, the museum has recognized that Gerta Silberberg of Britain holds the legal title to the painting. Silberberg has given permission to the museum to keep the painting in Jerusalem on a long-term loan. EH/GB - RTR1E52

    A photo reproduction of Camille Pissarro’s painting “Boulevard Montmartre, Spring 1897” hanging in the Israel Museum after the Israel Museum restored ownership of the painting to a Jewish family forced by the Nazis to sell it in 1935. Photo via Reuters

    Museums, from the Louvre in Paris to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, began checking the ownership history, or provenance, of works on display and in storage. Auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s followed suit, as their sales catalogs had become road maps for art sleuths searching for missing works.

    “We’ve improved, because the information available to us has improved,” said Lucian Simmons, a Sotheby’s vice president in charge of vetting art for any red flags in the provenance. “But I think our moral compass has always remained the same, and that is that we want to protect our buyers and our sellers and not sell looted art which hasn’t been given back.”

    In 1998, 44 nations agreed to the Washington Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art, which set forth 11 international legal guidelines for looted art restitution. The document included guidelines for collectors who are facing a claim by prewar owners and says the parties should aim for a “just and fair solution.”“This has nothing to do with money. It is about justice and a duty to remember.” — Leone Meyer, Holocaust survivor

    The principles aim to protect both sides, Marc Masurovsky, co-founder of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project, said. “The purpose is to protect the rights of the current possessor and to offer the victim’s heirs some form of symbolic justice through a negotiated financial settlement,” he said.

    As Simon Goodman picked up the trail of his family’s looted art, he discovered that “The Pear Tree” (1889) by Pierre Auguste Renoir, which the Nazis took from his grandfather, was sold by a Sotheby’s subsidiary in 1969 to a collector based in the British Virgin Islands. Goodman also learned Sotheby’s had sold a family-owned Renaissance painting, “The Young Man in a Red Cap” (1474) by Sandro Botticelli, to an Italian collector in 1985.

    In both instances, Goodman settled his claims by agreeing to split the proceeds of a resale. “It’s rare that you just get a painting back when you have other people, collectors, who can argue, quite reasonably, that they’re purchasers in good faith — they paid out good money for something that they were told by an art gallery or an auction house was a legitimate artwork,” Goodman said. “Mostly, we have to accept compromises, because that’s the way the world works.”

    “It’s a question of justice”

    In the last two decades, tens of millions of dollars of looted art has changed hands.

    In 1998, the heirs of Paul Rosenberg, once the exclusive Paris art dealer of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, sued the Seattle Art Museum to reclaim a Matisse painting the Nazis had removed.

    In 2000, a North Carolina museum returned a landscape by Renaissance painter Lucas Cranach to the heirs of an Austrian Jewish family and repurchased it.

    The next year, the American Alliance of Museums published guidelines for checking collections and handling looted art. And in 2006, after suing all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, Maria Altmann won restitution of her family’s paintings looted in Austria, including Gustav Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele” (1907), later purchased from them for $135 million by cosmetics billionaire and philanthropist Ronald Lauder and permanently exhibited at his Neue Gallery in Manhattan.

    1916 painting "Houses in Unterach on Lake Atter," part of a special exhibition of Gustav Klimt paintings looted by the Nazis during World War II, is seen at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, April 4, 2006. Los Angeles resident Maria Altmann won the return of the paintings from the Austrian government following a lengthy legal dispute over the rightful ownership of the paintings. REUTERS/Chris Pizzello - RTR1C6ZK

    The 1916 painting “Houses in Unterach on Lake Atter,” part of a special exhibition of Gustav Klimt paintings looted by the Nazis during World War II, is seen at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles on April 4, 2006. Los Angeles resident Maria Altmann won the return of the paintings from the Austrian government following a lengthy legal dispute over the rightful ownership of the paintings. Photo by Chris Pizzello/Reuters

    “A lot of museums, I think, were in a quandary,” said Eric Lee, director of the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.

    In 2006, the heirs of John and Anna Jaffe, British Jews whose collection was stolen by the Nazis in France, told the Kimbell that a 19th-century landscape by Joseph Turner, “Glaucus and Scylla” (1841), belonged to them.

    “When they came forward, and the research was done, and it was shown that the painting had been looted, the Kimbell did the right thing and returned the painting to the family,” Lee said. The family consigned the painting to Christie’s, and the Kimbell paid $6 million at auction to get it back.

    Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts in 2003 hired the nation’s first curator dedicated exclusively to the provenance research, Victoria Reed. “If it’s stolen, we don’t want it,” she said. MFA has returned works it learned were stolen, on occasion initiating contact with families to inform them.

    “It’s a question of justice,” Lee said. “And it’s becoming increasingly important as we get further and further away from World War II, because the original owners are dying, and even knowledge about collections is disappearing with each subsequent generation.”

    How can universities and museums help?

    Leone Meyer is an elderly Holocaust survivor who lost her entire family in Auschwitz. At seven, after the war, she was adopted by a French couple, Yvonne and Raoul Meyer, who had lost all their belongings during the war. Four years ago, Meyer contacted the University of Oklahoma to say a painting in its campus museum by French impressionist Camille Pissarro, “Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep” (1886), belonged to her family.

    Camille Pissaro's  "Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep" at University of Oklahoma Museum

    Camille Pissaro’s “Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep” at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma Museum. Photo by NewsHour Weekend

    After the war, the painting had migrated to Switzerland, the Netherlands and New York, where it was purchased in the 1950s by a family who later donated it to the University of Oklahoma. 50 years later, the painting was estimated to be worth between $600,000 and $700,000.

    “This has nothing to do with money. It is about justice and a duty to remember,” Meyer wrote in a 2014 public letter. “Restitution is a posthumous victory for the victims over barbaric behavior.”

    David Boren, president of the University Oklahoma, saw the letter. “I thought, ‘Why don’t you write me?’” he said.

    The two parties agreed last month that Meyer would hold title to the panting, and she and the university will share display rights. Half the time, the painting will be in France, and the other half, it will live in Oklahoma.

    “We did not want to be the repository of art which had been stolen from a family, give no credit to that family, not even recognize it,” Boren said.

    By 2013, the Rosenberg family had recovered all but 60 paintings looted by the Nazis from Paul Rosenberg’s collection. But its search dead-ended until Art Loss Register flagged a long-lost Matisse painting, “Woman in Blue in Front of a Fireplace” (1937), which was on loan to the Centre Pompidou in Paris from the Henie Onsted Arts Center in Oslo, Norway.

    The museum maintained it did not know the work had once been stolen, and under Norweigan law, a person who possesses an item in good faith for more than a decade becomes its owner. But a year later, the Oslo museum surrendered the work, the first such restitution for Norway.

    The Rosenberg family’s search returned to Germany with the discovery of 1,284 art works that had been hidden in the Munich apartment of the aging Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of a Nazi art dealer. Gurlitt possessed a long-missing Matisse painting, “Seated Woman” (1923), which Paul Rosenberg had originally acquired from the artist. For decades, the family possessed only a black and white photograph of it, until German authorities showed a color picture at a press conference.

    At first, Gurlitt said no legal grounds compelled him to return anything. The Washington Principles, Gurlitt said, are not laws that could be enforced in Germany. But after Gurlitt’s death in 2014, his legal team and the German bureaucracy relented.

    Christopher Marinello, of the London-based Art Recovery Group, negotiated for the Rosenbergs the return of both Matisse paintings, worth an estimated $60 million combined, according to published reports.

    [Watch Video]

    The cases keep coming. Last year, Marinello’s Art Recovery Group, along with the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, brokered the restitution of an El Greco’s oil painting “Portrait of a Gentleman” (1570) that the Nazis had stolen from a Vienna family.

    This year, Marinello helped the Jaffe family — the same family that reclaimed the Turner landscape from the Kimbell Museum in 2006 — track down a 200-year-old Venetian landscape looted by the Nazis that had been in the possession of an Italian collector for three decades. The painting sold at auction for $209,000 last month.

    This fall, a trial in Los Angeles federal court will decide the fate of “Adam” and “Eve” by Lucas Cranach the Elder, a pair of 500-year-old paintings that hang in the Norton Simon Museum. The plaintiff is a Connecticut heir of a Dutch Jewish collector, Jacques Goudstikker, who was robbed by the Nazis in 1940. Holocaust Art Restitution Project co-founder Marc Mazurovsky calls the Goudstikker heirs’ claim “ironclad.”

    Goodman, for his part, still starts every morning scouring auction sites online. Last month, he obtained restitution from a Zurich auction house of a Solomon von Ruysdael landscape the Nazis had stolen from his grandfather’s collection in the Netherlands.

    “It’s a point of honor to get back what I can,” Goodman said. “We’re by no means finished.”

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    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the Union of Carpenters and Millwrights Training Center in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., May 15, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein - RTSEF6B

    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the Union of Carpenters and Millwrights Training Center in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., May 15, 2016. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Donald Trump’s gun policies are “not just way out there” but “dangerous” and would make America less safe, Hillary Clinton said Saturday.

    “This is someone running to be president of the United States of America — a country facing a gun violence epidemic — and he’s talking about more guns in our schools, he’s talking about more hatred and division in our streets,” the likely Democratic presidential nominee said of her presumptive Republican rival. “That’s no way to keep us safe.”

    Clinton’s criticism of Trump came the day after he slammed her as “Heartless Hillary” for backing restrictions on gun ownership in a speech before the National Rifle Association convention in Louisville, Kentucky.

    Clinton spoke at a conference organized by the Trayvon Martin Foundation to help mothers whose children or other relatives have died from shootings. It was led by Sybrina Fulton, whose 17-year-old son, Trayvon Martin, was fatally shot by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in 2012. She has campaigned with Clinton during the Democratic presidential primaries.

    “The reason why I stand with her is because she first stood with me,” Fulton said before introducing Clinton to more than 200 people packed inside a hotel banquet room.

    Queen Thompson Brown, a Miami mother whose son was the victim of gun violence in 2006 and who has mentored Fulton, said she and others do not want to take away guns from Americans but hope to “promote common sense gun laws.”

    Clinton praised the courage of Fulton and others who had suffered the loss of loved ones to gun violence or while in police custody.

    “We have a moral obligation to protect our children no matter what zip code they live in,” she said.

    She then turned her attention to Trump and his gun policies.

    “If you want to imagine what Trump’s America will look like, picture more kids at risk of violence and bigotry, picture more anger and fear,” she said.

    Clinton repeated her pledge to fight the powerful National Rifle Association lobby, saying “we will not be silenced, we will not be intimidated.”

    The gun rights organization endorsed Trump, even though he had previously supported measures like an assault weapons ban that the NRA vigorously opposes. The group applauded Trump’s call for ending “gun-free zones” across the country.

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    A woman holds a sign in Spanish as she and supporters gather at a rally and await the arrival of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in National City, California, United States May 21, 2016.  REUTERS/Mike Blake  - RTSFCDE

    A woman holds a sign in Spanish as she and supporters gather at a rally and await the arrival of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in National City, California, on May 21, 2016. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    LOS ANGELES — Bernie Sanders’ image gazes out from a corner storefront in Boyle Heights, a Hispanic enclave known for its plump burritos and a plaza where mariachis strum guitars. It’s here that his campaign is going house to house to cut into Hillary Clinton’s advantage with Latino voters.

    The oversized painting of the silver-haired Sanders was created by local artists. Perched in a front window, it’s a centerpiece in an art gallery-turned-unofficial campaign office, where owner Mercedes Hart displays an array of T-shirts, lapel buttons — even pink underwear — bearing the Vermont senator’s name.

    Out front, Sanders campaign workers have set up a table to register voters and organize volunteers, who will go out to knock on doors and stuff mailboxes with campaign literature.

    “I don’t ever feel like I believe politicians, but I believe him,” says Hart, 35, who lived for years in Mexico. Like many Sanders’ devotees, she is a first-time voter, taken up by his concern for workaday Americans in an economy divided by haves and have-nots.

    Visitors to her gallery are greeted by a sign above the door featuring a clenched fist and the slogan “Viva Bernie.” It’s just one snapshot of the tough Democratic presidential campaign playing out in the nation’s largest state before the June 7 primary, even as Clinton appears to have a near-lock on the nomination.

    By some estimates, Hispanics could make up as many as 2 in 10 voters in California. The contest comes on the same day as those in New Jersey and several other states, in what amounts to the finale of the 2016 primary season.

    A come-from-behind win for Sanders in California — a Clinton stronghold and home to 1 in 8 people in the United States — would end the former first lady’s campaign with a thud, allowing Sanders to refresh his argument that he’s the party’s best chance to defeat Republican Donald Trump in November. It would still, though, almost certainly leave him short of the delegates needed to catch up to her. The New Jersey results alone may put her over the top June 7.

    The California contest has taken on new urgency after Clinton’s shaky performance this month. Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs contends that “millions of Americans have growing doubts about the Clinton campaign,” citing Sanders’ recent victories in Indiana, West Virginia and Oregon.

    You could say that age lines have defined the fight for the Latino vote.

    Clinton ran up a commanding 2-to-1 edge with Hispanics when she carried California over Barack Obama in the state’s 2008 presidential primary. But an independent Field Poll last month revealed a much closer contest and a familiar divide in the electorate: Clinton had a 7-point edge with Hispanics overall, while Sanders was the choice by a nearly 3-to-1 margin for Latinos under age 40.

    Meanwhile, voter registration among young Hispanics, those age 18 to 29, has been climbing, and they lean to Sanders.

    Sanders “has a real potential to win Latinos” in California, predicted Sanders campaign pollster Ben Tulchin. “He needs an influx of young Latinos and he’s getting it, it’s happening.”

    Who ultimately turns out on election day will be critical to the outcome, said Jaime Regalado, former executive director of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles.

    Also, younger voters are notoriously fickle, especially among Hispanics.

    “The most likely Latino voter is still an older voter in California,” Regalado said. “And those voters, almost to a person, will stay with Clinton.”

    Clinton can count endorsements from virtually all of the state’s prominent Hispanic politicians, including former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Secretary of State Alex Padilla and U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra, who heads the House Democratic Caucus. This past week, she added Dolores Huerta, a co-founder of United Farm Workers, to her list of Hispanic advisers.

    Longtime labor leader Eliseo Medina, another newly enlisted Clinton adviser, told reporters that the campaign was working to boost Hispanic turnout.

    “We need to do better, especially among our young people,” Medina said.

    Both campaigns have been drilling into voter data to find potential supporters in Hispanic neighborhoods, and lacing their speeches with touchstone issues for Hispanics, including education, immigration and wages.

    One example of the fierce competition: Clinton held a rally at a nearby college on Cinco de Mayo, the annual celebration of all things Mexican, where Sanders supporters organized a noisy protest.

    At a community college near downtown Los Angeles that enrolls a large number of Hispanics, Sanders volunteers last week were asking students, “Are you registered to vote?” and handing out postcards with a depiction of Sanders, dressed as Uncle Sam.

    Among Latino voters, the question is whether Sanders can keep closing the once-wide gap with Clinton, says Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo.

    “It’s the younger crowd and the new voters that have been really helping Sanders,” he said. “The question then becomes, has that momentum continued?”

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    Photo by Lauren Coleman

    A sculpture appears at The Future Perfect in New York, NY. Christopher Stuart’s collection “Constructs & Glitches” draws on forms produced by CAD software errors. Photo by Lauren Coleman

    For most of us, software errors are best forgotten.

    But those errors are front and center in “Constructs & Glitches,” a new sculpture series by Christopher Stuart, which draws several of its forms from technological mistakes.

    As Stuart began the series, which recently appeared on display at The Future Perfect during New York Design Week, he envisioned a set of sculptures made from modified geometric forms. He began drafting the objects in 3D CAD design software, a program that turns designs on paper into digital 3D models.

    But he ran into a glitch: certain sets of calculations would produce unexpected angles, shapes that bent the design in odd directions. “It would produce these weird surface anomalies,” he said.

    In the past, Stuart would work around those issues in the software. This time, he saw a different set of possibilities in the errors.

    “When the glitches occurred while I was in this state of mind, I saw them as the automatic version of what I was doing. So it’s almost like the software was one-upping me,” he said.

    Photo by Lauren Coleman

    A piece by Christopher Stuart appears at The Future Perfect in New York, NY. Photo by Lauren Coleman

    He started incorporating the errors into his designs, producing sculptures at furniture scale with jagged edges and uneven sides. “Constructs & Glitches” puts those two processes side by side, with a combination of sculptures from each: the geometric pieces he changed on his own, and those that the software altered.

    “In this particular instance, I felt that it was a really honest thing that was happening and it was relevant. So I thought, well, it really is part of the story and I should tell it,” Stuart said.

    Those software irregularities contribute to the design process as much as the shapes that more old-fashioned tools produce, he said.

    “A lot of people feel like we should stay with analog equipment or do things with our hands. To me, CAD is equally a tool, just like a woodturning lathe or a hammer,” he said. “If I were to use a hammer to try to flatten out a piece of metal, it’s going to leave a lot of dimples. Should I get another tool to flatten the dimples out, or should I embrace the dimples?”

    See more of Stuart’s work on the series below.

    Photo by Lauren Coleman

    Photo by Lauren Coleman

    Photo by Lauren Coleman

    Photo by Lauren Coleman

    Photo by Lauren Coleman

    Photo by Lauren Coleman

    The post This designer creates jagged sculptures from software errors appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A trekker stands in front of Mount Everest, which is 29,035 feet, at Kala Patthar in Solukhumbu District May 7, 2014. Two people died and two are missing after the 2016 climbing season began on May 11. Photo By Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters

    A trekker stands in front of Mount Everest, which is 29,035 feet, at Kala Patthar in Solukhumbu District May 7, 2014. Two people died and two are missing after the 2016 climbing season began on May 11. Photo By Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters

    Two people died from elevation sickness and two have gone missing as hundreds of climbers make their push toward the summit of Mount Everest, an often-treacherous climb in the Himalayas of Nepal.

    The first casualty was confirmed on Saturday after Dutch mountaineer Eric Arnold, 35, complained of weakness and died while attempting a descent to lower elevations Friday night. The mountaineer had reached the summit on his fifth attempt, his Nepal-based expedition reported.

    “Two-thirds of the accidents happen on the way down,” Arnold had told a local radio station in the Netherlands before the climb. “If you get euphoric and think ‘I have reached my goal,’ the most dangerous part is still ahead of you.”

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    Another member of his 40-person expedition also perished several hours later after succumbing to altitude sickness. Maria Strydom was an Australian climber who worked as a lecturer at Monash University, according to the Associated Press.

    In a season that saw at least 30 climbers suffer from frost bite and other injuries on their climb through the mountains of Nepal, two Indian climbers, Paresh Nath and Goutam Ghosh, who were last seen near the summit of Mount Everest on Saturday, were reported missing, according to the AP.

    Since the 2016 climbing season began on May 11, nearly 400 people have successfully reached the world’s highest mountain. But hard-to-predict weather and dangerous conditions can cause problems for climbers as they head to and from the peak, which is 29,035 feet high.

    The Nepalese routes to Mount Everest were closed last year following a devastating earthquake that killed thousands of people before the climbing season began. During the May 2014 climbing season, 18 people were killed when an avalanche struck the Everest Base Camp.

    The post Two dead and two missing near the summit of Mount Everest appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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