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

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    Texas announced plans to sue the Obama administration over its policy to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their identity. Photo by torbakhopper/Flickr

    Texas announced plans to sue the Obama administration over its policy to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their identity. Photo by torbakhopper/Flickr

    Texas and 10 other states plan to sue the Obama administration over a directive to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and other facilities that match their gender identity, state politicians said Wednesday.

    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is expected to announce the lawsuit in a news conference today, following through on the conservative state’s vow to defy the guidance issued by the Justice and Education Departments earlier this month.

    The lawsuit also includes Oklahoma, Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Maine, Louisiana, Utah, Arizona and Georgia.

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted hours before Paxton’s conference that “Texas will sue to stop Obama’s transgender directive to schools.” At a book signing today, Abbott said the legal challenge is a response to Obama “trampling” the Constitution, the Associated Press reported.

    Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Texas was willing to lose billions of dollars in federal education money over the civil rights issue, and repeatedly has said the federal government overreached with its guidelines.

    “We will not back down from blackmail by the president of the United States,” Patrick said in response to the federal directive in mid-May.

    Video by Dallas Morning News

    Patrick also decried recent revisions to Fort Worth’s anti-bullying policies, which added new rules to accommodate transgender students. Patrick called for the Fort Worth schools superintendent to be fired.

    The federal government’s guidelines were issued after Justice Department officials deemed North Carolina’s bathroom bill a violation of federal civil rights laws, including Title IX, which bars discrimination based on sex.

    A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed that while most Americans don’t know a transgender person, 40 percent of people surveyed said trans people should be allowed to use a public restroom that corresponded to their gender identity.

    The poll also showed that 30 percent said they should be legally barred from using the public restroom, while 29 percent had no opinion.

    When asked whether the government ought to interfere, a plurality of 49 percent opposed their involvement, while 28 percent supported it.

    The post Texas to sue over Obama administration’s transgender directive appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    An airline passenger is patted down by a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent after passing through a full-body scanner at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Reuters

    An airline passenger is patted down by a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent after passing through a full-body scanner at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The head of the Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday the beleaguered agency will add 768 new screeners by mid-June to deal with increasingly long airport security lines that have caused passengers to miss flights even before the busy summer travel season.

    Peter Neffenger told a House committee that a combination of factors contributed to the added waiting time to pass through security screening: more people are flying this year and fewer people than anticipated have applied for the government’s PreCheck program, which expedites screening for those who have submitted to a background check and pay an $85 fee.

    The agency expects to screen 740 million passengers this year, a 15 percent increase over 2013, Neffenger said. That increase came amid a 12 percent drop in the TSA’s workforce and “a renewed focus on security,” he said.

    “We have a challenge this summer, which we are aggressively meeting head-on,” Neffenger told the House Homeland Security Committee.

    TSA officers are being moved to staff checkpoints at the busiest airports at the busiest times, Neffenger said, and the agency is launching an incident command center that includes officials from major airlines and industry associations. The center will track daily screening operations and shift officers, canine units and other resources to shorten lines, Neffenger said.

    An incident in which 450 passengers were stranded in Chicago overnight because long security lines made them miss their flights was preventable and should not happen again, Neffenger said.

    The agency has installed a new management team in charge of screening operations at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, increased the use of overtime in Chicago and other major airports and converted some part-time workers to full-time status, Neffenger said. It also has increased the use of bomb-sniffing dogs to help with security lines.

    The effort appears to be working so far, Neffenger said. The longest wait time at O’Hare on Tuesday was about 15 minutes, he said.

    Rep. Michael McCaul, the committee chairman, said the TSA is in crisis.

    “The American people are angry and frustrated as we head into the busiest travel season of the year, starting this Memorial Day weekend,” said McCaul, R-Texas. “And they deserve answers.”

    The crisis “didn’t just come out of nowhere,” McCaul said. “Airports and airlines have been sounding the alarm for months. Wait times are not soaring simply because security is that much tighter. It’s because the TSA bureaucracy has gotten weaker.”


    McCaul and other lawmakers pressed Neffenger about the abrupt ouster of the agency’s top security official, Kelly Hoggan. Hoggan was removed Monday and replaced by a former federal security director in Los Angeles and New York, Darby LaJoye. Hoggan remains at the agency on paid administrative leave.

    Long lines have been plaguing airports since early spring, but the issue came to a head in recent weeks when thousands of passengers in Chicago missed flights because of lengthy checkpoint waits.

    Changes announced by Neffenger aren’t likely to have much effect in the short run. The TSA doesn’t have enough security screeners to quickly scrutinize growing crowds of travelers and their sometimes overstuffed carry-on luggage.

    Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who oversees TSA, has asked airlines to temporarily reduce or eliminate fees for checked bags to cut down on the amount of bags security screeners have to inspect at checkpoints. Airlines have balked at the suggestion that bag fees have caused the long lines and instead blamed federal budget cuts and a reduction in TSA staff for the problems.

    Beyond the lengthy security lines, lawmakers have been pressing the TSA to address allegations of mismanagement.

    The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said Hoggan received more than $90,000 in bonuses over a period from late 2013 to late 2014, despite growing concerns about the agency’s operations.

    About a year later, a report from Homeland Security’s Inspector General’s office revealed that agency employees failed to find explosives, weapons and other dangerous items in more than 95 percent of covert tests at multiple U.S. airports.

    The post TSA chief: Hundreds of new scanners will help ease long airport lines appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    People hold up rainbow flags during an lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) parade. Photo by Samuel Kubani/AFP/Getty Images

    People hold up rainbow flags during an lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) parade. Photo by Samuel Kubani/AFP/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — After party leaders let Republican lawmaker vote as they wished, the House reversed course and approved a measure aimed at upholding an executive order that bars discrimination against LGBT employees by federal contractors.

    More than 40 Republicans helped Democrats power the gay rights measure through late Wednesday, despite the opposition of GOP conservatives who dominate the House.

    Conservatives did prevail in a separate vote designed to make sure federal dollars are not taken away from North Carolina over its bathroom law for transgender people.

    The 223-195 vote reversed last week’s on the gay rights measure. At that time, GOP leaders twisted arms to defeat the legislation, causing several supporters to switch their vote. Democrats protested loudly.

    An openly gay lawmaker, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., make a second effort, adding the proposal to an Energy Department funding bill.

    This time, GOP leaders did not try to stop colleagues from voting as they wanted. About a dozen Republicans, including several from California, dropped their opposition. Maloney’s amendment made it through fairly easily.

    It would prohibit agencies funded by the bill to award taxpayer dollars to federal contractors that violate President Barack Obama’s executive order barring discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

    “It says you do not take taxpayer dollars and fire people just for being gay,” Maloney said.

    Maloney said last week’s vote “snatched discrimination from the jaws of equality.”

    Earlier, the House voted 227-192 to block several federal agencies from retaliating against North Carolina over its law requiring transgender people to use the bathroom of their original sex.

    That amendment, by Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., came in response to warnings from the Obama administration that it may take away federal money from North Carolina in response to the state law that blocks certain protections for gay people.

    “The president and his emissaries have stated … that funds should not be dispensed to North Carolina until North Carolina is coerced into complying with the legal beliefs of the President, and his political views,” Pittenger said. “This is an egregious abuse of executive power.”

    The North Carolina law was passed after the city of Charlotte passed an ordinance allowing transgender people to use restrooms of their chosen gender identity. The state law went further to take away federal protections for gays, putting the state at risk of losing a variety of federal funds.

    Maloney’s proposal had appeared on track to pass last week, peaking at 217-206 as an amendment to a veterans’ spending bill.

    But GOP leaders prevailed on seven Republicans to switch their votes, including California GOP Reps. Jeff Denham, Darrell Issa, Mimi Walters and David Valadao. Reps. David Young, R-Iowa, and Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, also switched positions. Each of them changed back on Wednesday night, joined by several other Republicans who opposed Maloney’s plan last week.

    The post House reverses course, supports LGBT rights measure appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump smiles as he speaks at the start of a campaign victory party after rival candidate Senator Ted Cruz dropped after the race for the Republican presidential nomination, at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., May 3, 2016.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

    Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump smiles as he speaks at the start of a campaign victory party after rival candidate Senator Ted Cruz dropped after the race for the Republican presidential nomination, at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., May 3, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

    WASHINGTON — Donald Trump reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president Thursday, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and set the stage for a bitter fall campaign.

    Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party’s unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the national convention in July. Among them is Oklahoma GOP chairwoman Pam Pollard.

    “I think he has touched a part of our electorate that doesn’t like where our country is,” Pollard said. “I have no problem supporting Mr. Trump.”

    It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination. Trump has reached 1,238. With 303 delegates at stake in five state primaries on June 7, Trump will easily pad his total, avoiding a contested convention in Cleveland.

    Trump, a political neophyte who for years delivered caustic commentary on the state of the nation from the sidelines but had never run for office, fought off 16 other Republican contenders in an often ugly primary race.

    Many on the right have been slow to warm to Trump, wary of his conservative bona fides. Others worry about his crass personality and the lewd comments he’s made about women.

    But millions of grass-roots activists, many of them outsiders to the political process, have embraced Trump as a plain-speaking populist who is not afraid to offend.

    Steve House, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party and an unbound delegate who confirmed his support of Trump to the AP, said he likes the billionaire’s background as a businessman.

    “Leadership is leadership,” House said. “If he can surround himself with the political talent, I think he will be fine.”

    Trump’s pivotal moment comes amid a new sign of internal problems.

    Hours before clinching the nomination, he announced the abrupt departure of political director Rick Wiley, who was in the midst of leading the campaign’s push to hire staff in key battleground states. In a statement, Trump’s campaign said Wiley had been hired only on a short-term basis until the candidate’s organization “was running full steam.”

    His hiring about six weeks ago was seen as a sign that party veterans were embracing Trump’s campaign. A person familiar with Wiley’s ouster said the operative clashed with others in Trump’s operation and didn’t want to put longtime Trump allies in key jobs. The person insisted on anonymity because the person was not authorized to publicly discuss the internal campaign dynamics.

    Some delegates who confirmed their decisions to back Trump were tepid at best, saying they are supporting him out of a sense of obligation because he won their state’s primary.

    Cameron Linton of Pittsburgh said he will back Trump on the first ballot since he won the presidential primary vote in Linton’s congressional district.

    “If there’s a second ballot I won’t vote for Donald Trump,” Linton said. “He’s ridiculous. There’s no other way to say it.”

    Trump’s path to the Republican presidential nomination began with an escalator ride.

    Trump and his wife, Melania, descended an escalator into the basement lobby of the Trump Tower on June 16, 2015, for an announcement many observers had said would never come: The celebrity real estate developer had flirted with running for office in the past.

    His speech then set the tone for the candidate’s ability to dominate the headlines with provocative statements, insults and hyperbole. He called Mexicans “rapists,” promised to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and proposed banning most Muslims from the U.S. for an indeterminate time.

    He criticized women for their looks. And he unleashed an uncanny marketing ability in which he deduced his critics’ weak points and distilled them to nicknames that stuck. “Little Marco” Rubio, “Weak” Jeb Bush and “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz, among others, all were forced into reacting to Trump. They fell one-by-one — leaving Trump the sole survivor of a riotous Republican primary.

    His rallies became magnets for free publicity. Onstage, he dispensed populism that drew thousands of supporters, many wearing his trademark “Make America Great Again” hats and chanting, “Build the wall!”

    The events drew protests too— with demonstrators sometimes forcibly ejected from the proceedings. One rally in Chicago was canceled after thousands of demonstrators surrounded the venue and the Secret Service could no longer vouch for the candidate’s safety.

    When voting started, Trump was not so fast out of the gate.

    He lost the Iowa caucuses in February, falling behind Cruz and barely edging Rubio for second. He recovered in New Hampshire. From there he and Cruz fiercely engaged, with Trump winning some and losing some but one way or another dominating the rest of the primary season — in votes or at least in attention — and ultimately in delegates.

    Republican leaders declared themselves appalled by Trump’s rise. Conservatives called the onetime Democrat a fraud. But many slowly, warily, began meeting with Trump and his staff. And he began winning endorsements from a few members of Congress.

    As with other aspects of his campaign, Trump upended the traditional role of money in the race.

    He incurred relatively low campaign costs — just $57 million through the end of April. He covered most of it with at least $43 million of his own money loaned to the campaign. He spent less than $21 million on paid television and radio commercials. That’s about one-quarter of what Jeb Bush and his allies spent on TV.

    Trump entered a new phase of his campaign Tuesday night by holding his first major campaign fundraiser: a $25,000-per-ticket dinner in Los Angeles.

    Trump, 69, the son of a New York City real estate magnate, had risen to fame in the 1980s and 1990s, overseeing major real estate deals, watching his financial fortunes rise, then fall, hosting “The Apprentice” TV show and authoring more than a dozen books.

    Associated Press reporters Stephen Ohlemacher and Jonathan Lemire produced this article.

    The post Donald Trump wins GOP presidential nomination appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo courtesy of the Allan Myerson lab at MIT

    Photo courtesy of the Allan Myerson lab at MIT

    In a lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, all the work that happens in a vast pharmaceutical manufacturing plant happens in a device the size of your kitchen refrigerator.

    And it’s fast. This prototype machine produces 1,000 pills in 24 hours, faster than it can take to produce some batches in a factory. Allan Myerson, a professor of chemical engineering at MIT and a leader of the effort, says it could become eventually an option for anyone who makes medications, which typically require a lengthy and complex process of crystallization.

    “We’re giving them an alternative to traditional plants and we’re reducing the time it takes to manufacturer a drug,” he said.

    The Defense Department is funding this project because the devices could go to field hospitals for troops, hard-to-reach areas to help combat a disease outbreak, or be dropped at strategic spots across the U.S.

    “If there was an emergency you could have these little plants located all over. You just turn them on and you start turning out different pharmaceuticals that are needed,” Myerson said.

    Sounds simple? It’s not. This mini drug plant represents a sea change in how medications have been made for a long time.

    “For roughly two centuries, to be honest,” says Tim Jamison, a professor of chemistry at MIT and one of Myerson’s partners, along with Klavs Jensen, a professor of chemical engineering at MIT. “The way that we tend to do chemistry is in flasks and beakers and that sort of thing, and we call that batch chemistry — one batch at a time,” he says.

    That’s the way virtually all pharmaceuticals are made. Big batches of chemicals are synthesized, then they have to cool down, then are synthesized again to create new compounds. Then those compounds have to crystallize, filter and dry. Powders are added to make a tablet or capsule. These steps that can take months. This new device, says Jamison, produces medicine in one fast continuous process.

    “We had to figure out new ways to make molecules, new ways to think about making molecules but from my perspective that has also provided us with a lot of opportunities that are very powerful,” said Jamison. His lab and Myerson’s also are collaborating with the Novartis-MIT Center for Continuous Manufacturing, which is funded by the pharmaceutical company Novartis.

    The prototype raises the possibility that hospitals and pharmacies could make their own pills as needed, says James McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester Research.

    “If it can done at lower cost, here’s one way at least that we could reduce the exorbitant cost of medications and that could a social good as well as an economic good,” McQuivey said.

    Most of the cost of an expensive drug is not the materials or manufacturing or transportation said McQuivey; it’s in the drug makers’ monopoly control. So, he said, “If we can distribute the manufacturing of anything, pharmaceuticals included, so that more people have the opportunity to manufacture it, now there will be competition among those manufacturers.”

    Drug makers have at least two big concerns about the widespread use of this device, says Dr. Paul Beninger, who oversees pharmaceutical safety at manufacturer Genzyme Sanofi. He said first and foremost, the drug industry worries about intellectual property rights.

    Drug manufacturers own exclusive rights to produce the drugs they develop for a period of time, typically three to five years depending on how much is new in the drug. His other worry is safety, including monitoring of machines to ensure quality and safety.

    “There are some really significant issues that this MIT project has to deal with if they’re going to try and make this a successful venture,” he said.

    MIT researchers say continuous monitoring would be built into the continuous production process. The Food and Drug Administration is working on how to oversee this type of process.

    On the patent concern, MIT developers say the device is being tested to make generic drugs for now, but that pharmacies or hospitals might someday license the right to produce drugs that have just been approved, not existing ones.

    For now, their focus is on making an even smaller more portable unit, producing more and more complex drugs and seeking FDA approval for the device.

    This story is part of a reporting partnership with NPR, WBUR and Kaiser Health News.

    Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. You can view the original report on its website.

    The post MIT’s tiny portable drug-making lab can replace an entire factory appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The supermassive black holes in active galaxies can produce narrow particle jets (orange) and wider streams of gas (blue-gray) known as ultra-fast outflows, which are powerful enough to regulate both star formation in the wider galaxy and the growth of the black hole. Inset: A close-up of the black hole and its accretion disk, the diffuse material orbiting around the black hole. Illustration by European Space Agency/AOES Medialab

    The supermassive black holes in active galaxies can produce narrow particle jets (orange) and wider streams of gas (blue-gray) known as ultra-fast outflows, which are powerful enough to regulate both star formation in the wider galaxy and the growth of the black hole. Inset: A close-up of the black hole and its accretion disk, the diffuse material orbiting around the black hole. Illustration by European Space Agency/AOES Medialab

    Supermassive black holes spew hot winds and turn galaxies into stellar wastelands. This malediction comes from astronomers at the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, who spotted a galaxy scorched by interstellar warming. The hot winds keep new stars from being born.

    The discovery, reported Wednesday in Nature, establishes a new class of galaxies — dubbed red geysers. These geysers may cast a bleak future for our Milky Way, which harbors its own supermassive black hole at its center.

    A galaxy grows by adding stars, which can happen in a few ways. Its gravity can attract another galaxy, causing a merger that tosses stars and whole solar systems into new arrangements. Or alternatively, a galaxy can mature by acquiring gas — either from the interstellar medium or by recycling it from dying, geriatric stars. These materials start hot, but then cool and condense into stellar embryos — the first stage of a star.

    “Galaxies start out as star-making machines with a simple recipe: gas plus gravity equals stars,” Kevin Bundy, an astronomer at the University of Tokyo, said in a statement. Bundy is a member of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, an international collaboration of scientists creating 3-D maps of the universe.

    While scanning the cosmos, Bundy and his SDSS colleagues stumbled upon a galaxy that violated this maturing principle. It had the gas supply, but lacked new stars.

    “Here we have a galaxy that has everything it needs to form new stars, but is dormant. Why is that?” Bundy said of the galaxy, which the team nicknamed Akira after a Japanese comic book character.

    Supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies blast radiation and ultra-fast winds outward. Illustration by NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies blast radiation and ultra-fast winds outward. Illustration by NASA/JPL-Caltech

    A supermassive black hole, that’s why.

    Astronomers believe supermassive black holes sit at the center of most galaxies. (The one sitting at the center of our Milky Way could hold 4.1 million suns.) The tremendous gravity of a supermassive black hole sucks materials into its core like a whirlpool, pulling entire star systems into oblivion. However, this motion can also eject gases, creating massive gusts of celestial wind.

    Bundy and his colleagues measured the velocity of these winds by using an SDSS observatory in New Mexico called MaNGA that captures detailed maps of whole galaxies.

    “If we looked just at the center of the galaxy like we used to, we could have learned about the central black hole, but we would have missed the story of how it affects the rest of the galaxy,” Edmond Cheung, an astronomer at the University of Tokyo and study leader, said of the MaNGA observatory. “Another reason is that the wind from supermassive black holes comes and goes quickly, so catching the wind red-handed is hard.”

    The researchers found the black hole winds move swiftly — at about 447,000 miles per hour. If one of these zephyrs left Earth on Monday morning, it would reach Mars by Friday afternoon. The researchers believe these fast-moving winds keep gases across the galaxy from cooling and creating new stars.

    “You can think of these winds as super-heating the atmospheres of galaxies,” Cheung said. “As soon as any gas starts to cool, it gets blasted by this wind, like water droplets turning to steam.”

    Artist’s rendition of the galaxies Tetsuo (left) and Akira (right). Akira’s gravity pulls Tetsuo’s gas into its central supermassive black hole, fueling winds that have the power to heat Akira’s gas. The action of the black hole winds prevents a new cycle of star formation in Akira. Illustration by Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe

    Artist’s rendition of the galaxies Tetsuo (left) and Akira (right). Akira’s gravity pulls Tetsuo’s gas into its central supermassive black hole, fueling winds that have the power to heat Akira’s gas. The action of the black hole winds prevents a new cycle of star formation in Akira. Illustration by Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe

    Akira’s giant black hole is active, meaning it is feeding on nearby stellar material. In this case, Akira sucks matter from a galaxy — nicknamed Tetsuo — located 104,000 light-years away. This intergalactic vampirism fuels Akira’s powerful windmill.

    The Milky Way’s supermassive black hole is dormant, but it could switch to being active in the distant future, according to astrophysicist Marc Sarzi of the University of Hertfordshire in England.

    “Central-black-hole activity can be triggered several times,” Sarzi wrote in in a commentary. “Many galaxies that do not presently show [wind] outflows could have been stirred, or their gas expelled, by a previous episode.”

    And this red geyser may not be alone. Akira is an elliptical galaxy, so unlike the spiral-shaped Milky Way, Akira’s star systems are amassed in a giant blob. Some astronomers believe these galaxies are the dominant form in the universe.

    Up to 75 percent of these galaxies contain the fuel for new stars, Sarzi wrote, but “stars are observed to form in only 10–20 percent of such galaxies.”

    “More troubling is the fact that 25 percent of early-type galaxies have little or no gas at all,” Sarzi wrote. “[This] work might bring us a step closer to explaining why some early-type galaxies seem to be devoid of gas.”

    The post Supermassive black holes spawn galactic deserts without new stars appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    First Lt. Demetrius Ball (center) and two members of the Iraqi National Guard in Baghdad in 2004. Photo courtesy of Demetrius Ball

    First Lt. Demetrius Ball (center) and two members of the Iraqi National Guard in Baghdad in 2004. Photo courtesy of Demetrius Ball

    Memorial Day is a federal holiday that honors the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. After graduating from West Point in 2002 and serving more than five years on active duty as a field artillery officer, Demetrius Ball decided to teach.

    Ball is now a high school social studies teacher in Maryland’s Howard County Public School System. He hopes that by sharing a little about what life was like in the military, his students might further understand the meaning of Memorial Day.


    From a pretty young age I knew that I wanted to become a teacher, but without any connection to the military, I never imagined that I’d also become a soldier.

    At the end of my junior year of high school, my football coach asked me if I had considered applying to the military academies. My response at the time was: “What’s a military academy?”teacherslounge

    Well, I found out what an academy was — as a football recruit. Once I received my appointment to West Point, I realized that it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.

    Before entering West Point, I had no idea what Memorial Day or Veterans Day was really all about. It was not until I experienced life on deployment did I truly understand what both represent. Now, as an educator, I feel it is my responsibility to make sure that my students do not leave high school without understanding the meaning of these two important days.

    I spent four years at West Point as a cadet and football player and upon graduation was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the field artillery. I entered the academy with the mindset that I could possibly retire from the Army, and all that experience would truly prepare me for school leadership. I served for five years on active duty before pursuing a career in education. I actually saw my role as an officer as a “real world” teacher of sorts.

    We have school on Veterans Day, so my first year teaching I decided to put together a presentation titled “A Soldier’s Experience.” I take an entire class period to share my military experience with my students. The last few years I have worn my Dress Blue or Green uniform. I discuss the difficult transition that I had adapting to life as a cadet, like struggling to qualify on the range with an M16 rifle, not feeling prepared for the academic rigor, and even failing my first class ever.

    I also share the fun that I had as an Army football player, and unfortunately being on the last team that beat Navy (2001). I barely made it onto the field as a running back. That 2001 game against Navy was my first time touching the football in a game and this may sound strange, but I learned to love my role as a scout team player in practice.

    Demetrius Ball, classroom

    Demetrius Ball teaching at Howard High School, Ellicott City, MD, 2016. Courtesy of Howard Country Public School System

    I describe my job as a field artillery officer, and the variety of missions I conducted on deployment in Iraq from January 2004 to February 2005. I take questions throughout the presentation, and without fail, the first question often asked is, “Mr. Ball, did you kill anyone?”

    The first time I heard this question I was hesitant to answer, but I knew it would come up again. I always say that our unit was responsible for firing a lot of artillery rounds at “something” and leave it at that.

    The second question is usually, “Did anyone you know die?” When that question is asked I am able to tell my students about the brave members of West Point’s Class of 2002 that served our country with distinction and have passed away.

    “I think of all the men and women who served with energy, bravery and commitment, and gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy. Including the freedom to teach and learn.” –Demetrius Ball
    My mind goes back to one specific day on my tour in Iraq in 2004, which I don’t usually share in as much detail as I will here. In our field artillery role, we provided direct support to troops on the ground making direct contact with the enemy, and indirect fire support in response to rocket attacks on our Forward Operating Base (FOB).

    We also patrolled a neighborhood in Baghdad, trained an Iraqi National Guard unit and provided security for a government compound in the city as well. On a couple occasions, we acted as our unit’s Quick Reaction Force, which meant that if there was an incident in our sector and additional support was needed, the force was sent out to help.

    On one occasion we got the call that one of our engineer units had been attacked by an improvised explosive device. There was word that there were casualties, but there were no details provided over the radio. When we got there, we found a very chaotic scene.

    The explosive had been detonated right next to the engineer’s three-vehicle convoy on a crowded highway overpass, killing two soldiers, injuring several others, destroying one armored vehicle and blowing a hole through the overpass. The injured soldiers had been evacuated, but we had to recover the remains of the soldiers who had passed away. The sights, sounds and smells of that day are etched in my mind to this day.

    When we acknowledge Veterans Day, and Memorial Day, especially, I think of all the men and women who served with energy, bravery and commitment, and gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy. Including the freedom to teach and learn.

    The post Column: How one military veteran teaches his students about Memorial Day appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump brings up a Latino member of the audience as he speaks during a campaign event in Tucson, Arizona March 19, 2016. REUTERS/Sam Mircovich

    Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump brings up a Latino member of the audience as he speaks during a campaign event in Tucson, Arizona March 19, 2016. REUTERS/Sam Mircovich

    ANAHEIM, Calif. — Hispanic voters in Florida, New Mexico and California have waved Mexican flags and bashed Donald Trump piñatas — clashing with police, at times — to protest the Republican presidential contender’s hard line approach to immigration.

    Yet far from the protests, an increasingly vocal Hispanic minority is speaking out in favor of the brash billionaire. They are backing Trump even in the face of resentment and suspicion from friends and family, who are among the overwhelming majority of non-white voters opposed to the New York businessman’s candidacy.

    “I’m not ashamed to vote for Trump. I’d just rather not have the conversation with my family,” said Natalie Lally, a 22-year-old college student from New York City whose large extended family has Colombian roots.

    She says silence fell over her grandmother’s living room when she admitted her support for Trump during a recent family gathering that included more than 30 relatives.

    “They just kind of seemed uneasy,” she recalled. “And my uncle just said, ‘Why?’ ”

    In the border towns of Texas, the working-class neighborhoods of New York, and even inside Trump’s overwhelmingly white rallies, the pro-Trump Hispanic minority is willing to risk public and private ridicule to defend the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee. So far, however, they’re not getting much help from Trump’s campaign, which has yet to launch an outreach effort to improve his standing with the growing voting bloc.

    Approximately 23 percent of Hispanics said they’d vote for Trump in a May poll conducted by Fox News Latino. Other recent polling places Trump far lower. The GOP’s last presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, has cited his poor standing with Hispanic voters as one of his biggest regrets from the last election, when he earned 27 percent of the Hispanic vote.

    Trump’s team acknowledges the importance of the voting bloc, but says there has been little organized outreach so far.

    “Any demographic that is growing at the rate of the Latino voters obviously will be of the utmost importance to a presidential campaign,” Trump aide Ed Brookover said when asked about Hispanic outreach. “I know it’s been talked about, but I think it’s a touch early. I don’t know of anything organized.”

    Trump’s team expects to work closely with the Republican National Committee, however, which has had paid Hispanic outreach staff on the ground in nine states.

    Trump supporters are eager to help.

    Carlos Guerra, a 24-year-old son of Mexican immigrants who lives along the border in Laredo, Texas, says he wants to do more than wear Trump’s “Make American Great Again” hat around town.

    “Our town is sick of the violence from Mexico,” he said, applauding Trump’s plan to build a massive wall on the border. “People are dying every day.”

    Some of his family members also support Trump, but “they’re not as loud about it,” he said.

    “I have talked to a lot of people and of course they criticize me,” Guerra added. “They ask, ‘Do you hate your race?’ I feel discriminated against, honestly.”

    Trump’s policies and tone on immigration have sparked passionate — and sometimes violent — reactions from minority voters.

    His vow to complete a massive wall along the Mexican border is a pillar of his agenda. He has also promised to impose a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S., embraced plans to deport more than 11 million immigrants in the country illegally and described Mexico sending rapists and criminals across the border in his announcement speech.

    He lashed out at protesters who clashed with police outside his Tuesday rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The protesters, including many Hispanics, waved Mexican flags while others hurled rocks at police.

    “The protesters in New Mexico were thugs who were flying the Mexican flag,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “The rally inside was big and beautiful, but outside, criminals!”

    During a Wednesday appearance in Anaheim, he claimed “a great relationship with the Hispanics.”

    “The Mexican people are great. They’re going to vote for me like crazy,” he said.

    Outside the Anaheim event, a small group of protesters pummeled and decapitated a Trump piñata as police arrested more protesters.

    Conversations with Trump Hispanic supporters across the country in recent months show many feel especially frustrated with immigrants in the country illegally. Many waited years for work authorization or citizenship or have relatives who did.

    And while some embrace Trump’s plans for the wall and deportations, others say they don’t believe Trump actually plans to follow through with his proclamations on the campaign trail.

    Yet there are often a handful of Hispanic supporters inside his rallies. Before Trump took the stage in Albuquerque, Mary Jo Andrade, 37, a licensed mental health counselor, said her 17-year-old daughter is often teased in school for backing him.

    “She hears, ‘Oh, you’re not real Mexican. You’re not true Mexican,’ ” Andrade said and added, “A lot of the time I tell her, ‘Keep your silence because of that.'”

    The post Increasingly vocal minority of Hispanic voters rally around Trump appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    St. Vincent — Anne Erin "Annie" Clark, better known as St. Vincent, plays at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. Photo by Kyle Gustafson

    WASHINGTON — In 1980, a night club opened in Washington, D.C. It was off the beaten path, among the bail bondsmen and porn shops.

    The 9:30 Club, really just a long hallway leading to a bulb of a room with a stage, was housed in the old Atlantic Building at 930 F St. The address became its moniker.

    The cramped, smelly, but much-beloved concert space brought in bands like the Psychedelic Furs and Hüsker Dü, as well as local garage bands The Slickee Boys and Urban Verbs.

    Jim Cassedy, who frequented the club regularly, remembers those bands and those days well. In the early 1980s, he worked just up the street at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and would often amble over for happy hours.

    Cassedy would nurse a $1.50 beer and watch MTV music videos — a new thing at the time — selected by bartender Mark Hall, who was a favorite among the diverse patrons.

    “It really was all sorts of people, from bike messengers to Department of Justice lawyers,” Cassedy said. Whether you wore leather and chains or khakis and button-downs, no one judged. “It represented D.C. to the nth degree,” he said.

    When happy hours rolled into evening hours, he enjoyed the music. “If you sat at the bar long enough, they’d let the regulars stay even without a ticket when a show wasn’t sold out.”

    “There was this sense of community, and music was at the base of it,” said Donna Westmoreland, who took over from Hall as bar manager in 1990 and is now the club’s chief operating officer.

    The crowd slam-dances to Discharge in 1983 at the old 9:30 Club. Photo by Jim Saah

    The crowd slam-dances to Discharge in 1983 at the old 9:30 Club. Photo by Jim Saah

    In the early pre-Internet days at the club, people discovered new bands by talking to each other, she said. “There was this excitement in finding — whether it was Brit pop, or hardcore, or ska and punk — whatever it was you really liked,” she said.

    The emergence of grunge music in the 1990s changed things, both for the music industry and the club. Grunge, with its flannel-shirted fans, was adopted by the more buttoned-up, corporate side of the music industry, Westmoreland said. Record labels, seeing the grunge sound and style as a moneymaker, began spending money on those products and bands, she said.

    But competition forced the 9:30 Club to step up its game. The Black Cat on U Street, which opened in 1993, was the new kid on the block and could accommodate 600 concert-goers, while the 9:30 Club had a 199-person capacity. The Black Cat was scooping up bands by paying them more money, Westmoreland said.

    Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello performs at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. Photo by John Shore

    Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello performs at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. Photo by John Shore

    So the 9:30 Club moved out of the decaying Atlantic Building and to the well-trampled U Street corridor of northwest D.C., to its current location at 815 V St. The club now holds up to 1,200 people. It serves hummus and panini at the bar.

    Jim Cassedy, his wife Karen Cassedy (right), and their friend ham it up in the hallway of the old 9:30 Club in the late-1980s. Photo courtesy of Jim Cassedy

    Jim Cassedy, his wife Karen Cassedy (right), and their friend ham it up in the hallway of the old 9:30 Club in the late-1980s. Photo courtesy of Jim Cassedy

    But it seeks to maintain its eclectic music vibe, most recently in an upcoming television variety show, called “Live at 9:30,” which features archival and current footage of its concerts. The 12-episode season will be ready to air on PBS stations in June.

    The first one-hour episode features musicians from the band, Garbage, the American-Scottish band that has been around for more than 20 years with hits including “Only Happy When It Rains,” and young French-Cuban duo Ibeyi known for their world beat songs such as “River.”

    The mixture of artists is meant to introduce viewers to bands they might not encounter elsewhere, in the spirit of the club’s original mission.

    For people like Cassedy, who is now 58 and works at the National Archives, the club will always be that special place where he took his wife on their first date and where they later got engaged. A Facebook page was set up for people like them to reminisce.

    “In 1990, the club made up a T-shirt that said, ‘10 years of bad attitude,’” he said. “I still wear it on occasion just to show my bona fides.”

    Check your local PBS listings for air times of “Live at 9:30” and tune into the PBS NewsHour on Thursday for a report on the music variety show. How well do you know the 9:30 Club? Take our 10-question quiz below.

    The post This DC rock house was born from punk and suits appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Mastodon — Mastodon at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. Try to get a variety of shots, including full band shots, in addition to close-ups of single musicians. Photo by Leon Armour Jr./Visual Stimuli Studios

    WASHINGTON — Leon Armour Jr. was photographing the hardcore punk band the Cro-Mags in Washington, D.C., when a stage-diver crashed into his camera.

    “This kid climbed up on the stage and landed on me and kicked me. Everyone was laughing. I turned around and hit him upside the head with the camera. It stunned him pretty good,” he recalled.

    The camera, an old titanium Nikon, was fine. And the concert-goer lived to see the encore.

    That’s the life of a concert photographer.

    “You can’t stop a mosh pit,” said Armour, of Visual Stimuli Studios, who has photographed hundreds of shows. He gave us five more tips on how to take great concert photos:

    1. Make nice with your neighbors

    Tell people around you that you’ll be taking photos of the first few songs to encourage them not to bump into you. “Try to get them on your side,” Armour said (although it might not have helped at the Cro-Mags).

    Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother. A single colored light can affect your image and draw in the viewer. Photo by Leon Armour Jr./Visual Stimuli Studios

    Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother. A single colored light can affect your image and draw in the viewer. Photo by Leon Armour Jr./Visual Stimuli Studios

    2. Don’t use a flash

    Bands don’t like it. Instead, use the stage lighting to illuminate the musicians. Scope out the stage lights before the concert begins, if you can.

    “I like to look at the setup of the stage, the lights and band equipment beforehand so I can know what kind of lighting to expect,” said Armour.

    During the show, the lighting goes from light to dark, and colors change. Use a camera with a lens that has a wide aperture — which collects more light — to help in dim settings, he said.

    This photo of Body Count is an example of getting to know the size of the room, where you can and cannot shoot from, the size of the stage and the kinds of stage lighting. Photo by Leon Armour Jr./Visual Stimuli Studios

    This photo of Body Count is an example of getting to know the size of the room, where you can and cannot shoot from, the size of the stage and the kinds of stage lighting. Photo by Leon Armour Jr./Visual Stimuli Studios

    3. Vary your shots

    It seems counter-intuitive, but don’t shoot directly in front of the lead singer, Armour said. “The mic is often blocking their face. You’re always shooting up. Rarely are you on their level. The best angles are from the side,” he said.

    Try to get the musician’s dominant side. If they’re holding a guitar, and it points to the left, they’ll lean to the right. That’s where you want to be. “You’ll get more of their face that way,” Armour said.

    Not every shot has to be a head shot. Get some full-body ones, some with the instrument, some just of the instrument, and some with the whole band.

    Get to know the size of the room and whether you can move around or not. If you can back up far enough, take a few pictures that include part of the audience for variety.

    4. Don’t erase your photos until you get home

    It’s tempting, especially if you’re using a camera phone with limited space, to delete photos that you think aren’t good. Resist the temptation.

    “Even a shot that’s not completely in focus can still really be a good shot. It could be the essence of the band. Look at them in a separate setting. Look at them all,” Armour said.

    Drummer Brann Dailor of Mastodon. This photo shows how even in low light, if the colors are soft (red) and bright (yellow), they can make an image pop and draw in your eyes. Photo by Leon Armour Jr./Visual Stimuli Studios

    Drummer Brann Dailor of Mastodon. This photo shows how even in low light, if the colors are soft (red) and bright (yellow), they can make an image pop and draw in your eyes. Photo by Leon Armour Jr./Visual Stimuli Studios

    5. Be flexible and patient

    Bands can decide, even up to the last minute, that they don’t want pictures or videos taken of their shows. Abide by their decisions.

    “Sometimes it has nothing to do with the photographers at all; maybe they didn’t have the right wine backstage,” said Armour. “Be prepared to change.”

    Or wait. Armour was photographing an after-hours party in New York City where Grace Jones was supposed to perform, but she was three hours late. He stuck it out while the other photographers left.

    During the delay, Armour met one of Jones’ friends and got to go backstage to meet the singer. “She was very nice,” he said. “She was shorter than I thought.”

    Roll with it, and embrace the unexpected. “When you’re shooting a landscape, you know exactly what you’re going to get,” Armour said. “One of the reasons why I love shooting live bands: each experience is a different one.”

    The post 5 ways to take great concert photos without being a jerk appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Donald Trump is scheduled to deliver his first policy speech on energy today in Bismarck, North Dakota at 1:30 p.m. ET. PBS NewsHour will live stream the event.

    BISMARCK, N.D. — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will deliver his first policy speech on energy on Thursday, hours after locking up enough delegates to secure the GOP nomination.

    Trump will be speaking at the annual Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck, North Dakota, and is expected to lay out an “all of the above” approach with a renewed focus on domestic energy production and a call to loosen federal environmental regulations.

    Speaking on Fox’s “Hannity” last week, Trump said his speech would focus on U.S. energy independence.

    “It’s going to be everything,” he said when asked whether his approach would include coal and hydraulic fracturing, a drilling process that involves injecting fluid at high pressure into shale rock.

    “Mr. Trump will draw a contrast between Hillary Clinton’s plan to eliminate millions of good-paying energy jobs — including countless union jobs — and Mr. Trump’s plan to add millions of new jobs for America’s workers,” Trump senior policy adviser Stephen Miller said in a statement, referring to Trump’s likely Democratic rival.

    Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., who has been advising Trump on energy, told reporters Wednesday that he hadn’t yet seen the speech, but expected Trump to speak generally about oil and gas as well as the links between energy and national security.

    “I think it’ll be pretty high-level. I don’t think he’ll drill down to specific policies,” said Cramer, who is one of the most ardent drilling advocates in Congress and a climate change skeptic.

    Trump is among many Republicans who reject mainstream climate science. He has called climate change a “con job” and a “hoax” and suggested that it is a Chinese plot “to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

    While Trump has supported some forms of renewable energy, he has sued to oppose wind turbine projects within view of his luxury resort properties and has cited East Coast winter snowstorms as evidence the world is actually cooling, despite the overwhelming consensus of scientists that the opposite is true. He has also threatened to renegotiate a global climate pact reached in Paris last year.

    Despite his public bombast on climate, however, there is evidence Trump the businessman is moving to hedge his bets. Earlier this month, one of Trump’s companies specifically cited sea level rise and increased storminess fueled by global warming in paperwork seeking permission to build a nearly two-mile-long stone wall to fortify the shoreline at one of his golf courses in Ireland. Environmental groups pounced on the application as evidence of Trump’s hypocrisy.

    And at an event in Iowa, one of the nation’s top wind-farm states, Trump also offered grudging support for a federal tax credit for wind energy. While calling wind turbines “very, very expensive” to build and maintain, Trump said he is “OK” with subsidies. “I don’t think they work without subsidy, which is a problem,” he said. Trump also supports the corn-ethanol mandate, which is hugely popular in Iowa and other Midwest states.

    Trump has also targeted the Environmental Protection Agency, calling its regulation overly aggressive. On the campaign trail, Trump has vowed to “get rid of” the EPA “in almost every form.”

    He and other Republicans warn that President Barack Obama’s plan to curb greenhouse gas emission from U.S power plants could cost thousands of jobs and raise electricity costs for businesses and families. He has vowed to revive the coal industry in West Virginia and other states and has targeted Clinton’s remark in March that, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” Clinton has said she made “a misstatement” and has a plan to help displaced coal workers.

    Trump said in West Virginia that if he’s elected, “We’re going to put the miners back to work.”

    Environmentalists were ready to pounce even before Trump delivered his remarks.

    League of Conservation Voters spokesman Seth Stein said in a statement that “severely cutting the EPA and recommending ending their ability to regulate harmful pollution” would essentially give polluters “a free pass.”

    “Trump’s already poor judgement is amplified by picking Cramer as his energy advisor, who is fully in line with the nominee’s goal of denying the American people the benefits of the Clean Power Plan, threatening our economy and the health of our families, by eliminating clean air and water safeguards at the federal level,” he said.

    Jason Bordoff, the founding director of the Columbia Center on Global Energy Policy and a former senior adviser to the Obama administration, said he hoped Trump’s remarks would reflect recognition of the complexity of the global energy system and the potential consequences of disruption.

    “Disconnecting the U.S. from the global energy market would be very damaging and harmful to both U.S. consumers and U.S. producers,” he said.

    North Dakota is at the heart of America’s oil boom and now is the second-largest oil producing state after Texas, thanks largely to huge reserves in the oil-rich Bakken region and advances in fracking and other drilling technology.

    More than 7,000 people are slated to hear Trump speak at the event.

    Associated Press writers Michael Biesecker, Erica Werner and Julie Pace in Washington contributed to this report.

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    Associated Press reporters Jill Colvin and Matthew Daly wrote this report.

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    Baylor University head coach Art Briles reacts against the University of Oklahoma in the first half of their NCAA Big 12 football game at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas November 19, 2011.   REUTERS/Mike Stone

    Baylor University head coach Art Briles reacts against the University of Oklahoma in the first half of their NCAA Big 12 football game at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas November 19, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Stone

    Following sexual assault complaints linked to the school’s football players, Baylor University’s board of regents announced Thursday that it will fire coach Art Briles and demote Kenneth Starr, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

    In a written statement released Thursday, the Baptist university’s board of regents said it “apologizes to the Baylor Nation” and announced that David Garland would serve as the university’s interim president, replacing Starr who would become chancellor.

    “We were horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus. This investigation revealed the University’s mishandling of reports in what should have been a supportive, responsive and caring environment for students,” said Richard Willis, chair of the Baylor Board of Regents, in the statement.

    “The depth to which these acts occurred shocked and outraged us. Our students and their families deserve more, and we have committed our full attention to improving our processes, establishing accountability and ensuring appropriate actions are taken to support former, current and future students.”

    The statement came after an independent investigation concluded that there was a “fundamental failure by Baylor to implement Title IX.”

    The board fired Briles, effective immediately, according to the statement, and on May 31, Starr would begin to serve as chancellor. And the board said it would review the last three academic years’ worth of cases involving violence “to offer remedies, identify any current need for investigation, or isolate any broad pattern or cultural implications,” the board statement said.

    Editor’s Note: The post has been updated to correct spelling.

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    Conservatives angered by the inclusion of LGBT protections in an otherwise routine spending bill scuttled the measure Thursday, a stark display of the potency of a civil rights issue suddenly prominent in the presidential race and responsible for a legal standoff between the Obama administration and several states, the Associated Press reported Thursday. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    Conservatives angered by the inclusion of LGBT protections in an otherwise routine spending bill scuttled the measure Thursday, a stark display of the potency of a civil rights issue suddenly prominent in the presidential race and responsible for a legal standoff between the Obama administration and several states, the Associated Press reported Thursday. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Conservatives angered by the inclusion of LGBT protections in an otherwise routine spending bill scuttled the measure Thursday in a stark display of the potency of a civil rights issue suddenly prominent in the presidential race and responsible for a legal standoff between the Obama administration and several states.

    The sweeping 305-112 vote to kill an energy spending measure imperils efforts by GOP leaders to pass any more of the 12 annual spending bills for the upcoming budget year.

    The implosion came after Democrats managed late Wednesday to add an amendment protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people against discrimination by federal contractors. The provision, which passed on a 223-195 vote, was aimed aimed at upholding an Obama administration executive order.

    That provision prompted more than half of House Republicans to vote against the bill’s passage on Thursday. The revolt followed a closed-door GOP meeting featuring complaints by GOP conservatives. Outside groups like Heritage Action intensified their opposition to the bill as well.

    Meanwhile, Democrats overwhelmingly opposed the bill over a GOP provision they said defends North Carolina’s transgender bathroom law, which also takes away a variety of federal protections for LGBT people.

    The Obama administration has filed suit against the law and has threatened to take away federal funding for the state, and Republicans muscled through a provision to ensure that federal dollars are not taken away.

    The hostility from both tea party lawmakers and Democrats could scuttle the entire appropriations process, just as a controversy over the Confederate flag sank the process last year.

    “House Republicans’ thirst to discriminate against the LGBT community is so strong that they are willing to vote down their own appropriations bill in order to prevent progress over bigotry,” said minority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “In turning against a far-reaching funding bill simply because it affirms protections for LGBT Americans, Republicans have once again lain bare the depths of their bigotry.”

    But it was Pelosi who led a charge by Democrats against a provision to protect North Carolina from retaliation by several federal agencies over the law requiring transgender people to use the bathroom of their original sex. That provision was approved late Wednesday on a 227-192 vote.

    Moments after the bill failed, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., blamed the outcome on Democrats, even though a majority of Republicans voted against the bill. He also said it was also a result of the more open procedures he’s instituted in the House.

    “Early on I stood up here … and said that some bills might fail because we’re not going to tightly control the process and predetermine the outcome of everything around here. We’ll, that’s what happened here today,” Ryan said.

    “What we learned today is that the Democrats were not looking to advance an issue but to sabotage the appropriations process,” he said.

    Democrats had a host of other reasons why they opposed the bill, including a series of policy “riders” to roll back environmental regulations and provisions to undercut the administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.

    Ryan vowed to revive the bill and the overall appropriations process. The same amendment about discrimination by federal contractors had failed when offered to another spending bill a week ago; GOP leaders warned at the time that its approval would have sunk that measure, which would fund veterans programs and military base construction.

    The amendment to protect North Carolina, authored Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., came in response to warnings from the Obama administration that it may take away federal money in response to the bathroom law.

    “The president and his emissaries have stated … that funds should not be dispensed to North Carolina until North Carolina is coerced into complying with the legal beliefs of the president and his political views,” Pittenger said. “This is an egregious abuse of executive power.”

    The North Carolina law was passed after the city of Charlotte passed an ordinance allowing transgender people to use restrooms of their chosen gender identity. The state law went further to take away federal protections for gays, putting the state at risk of losing a variety of federal funds.

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    Watch a report on a mapping project in Ecuador following its earthquake.

    A project called Mapping Ecuador is allowing people to pinpoint hospitals, shelters and other key places in the South American country’s earthquake recovery.

    Mapping Ecuador project coordinator Alexandra Escobar and her colleagues used OpenStreetMap, an Internet platform that pools open-source data, to gather site information following the April 16 quake.

    “In two weeks we went from being four people on a Sunday to almost 2,000 volunteers from various parts of the world mapping the disaster zone to facilitate humanitarian aid work, and now the reconstruction phase,” Escobar said through an interpreter.

    They upload photos to the online map showing which buildings are damaged, along with which ones are safe for shelter.

    “For a humanitarian organization, it’s key to know where the shelters are, how many people are there, to know where to deliver donations,” she said.

    The map that the group is maintaining is available to the government and aid organizations to assist in their work.

    On Thursday’s PBS NewsHour, watch a report on Ecuador’s earthquake recovery.

    The post This map is helping Ecuador’s earthquake relief efforts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton contends a new government audit critical of her use of a private email server as secretary of state won’t affect her Democratic presidential campaign.

    In an interview with Univision’s Los Angeles affiliate, Clinton said “nothing has changed” following Wednesday’s release of a report by the State Department’s inspector general. That analysis found Clinton ignored clear guidance that her email setup broke agency rules and could have left government secrets vulnerable to hackers.

    “There may be reports that come out, but nothing has changed,” Clinton said. “It’s the same story. Just like previous secretaries of state, I used a personal email. Many people did. It was not at all unprecedented. I have turned over all my emails. No one else can say that.”

    Clinton added that she had been “incredibly open” about her emails, which were routed through a server located in the basement of her New York home during her tenure as the nation’s top diplomate from 2009 to 2013.

    The inspector general found that of Clinton’s predecessors, only former Secretary Colin Powell exclusively used private email as she did, though he didn’t rely on a server in his home. But Clinton’s failings were singled out in the audit as being more serious because there was far more extensive guidance available by the time she took office.

    Clinton turned over more than 52,000 pages of work-related emails to the State Department, but only following media reports that revealed her private email setup after she had returned to the private sector. However, Clinton has withheld thousands of additional emails, claiming they are personal. She also waited seven days after The Associated Press first revealed in March 2015 her use of the private server to publicly acknowledge it.

    Clinton declined to talk to the inspector general, as did four of her closest aides, although she said as recently as this month that she was happy to “talk to anybody, anytime” about the matter and would encourage her staff to do the same.


    In addition to the IG’s investigation, the FBI is probing whether Clinton’s use of the private email server imperiled government secrets. Critics have questioned whether her server might have made a tempting target for hackers, especially those working with or for foreign intelligence services.

    Republicans have seized on the IG’s report as evidence that Clinton is not trustworthy or qualified to be commander in chief.

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Thursday said the report on Clinton was “a disaster.”

    “Such bad judgment and temperament cannot be allowed in the (White House),” Trump said in a tweet.

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    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton greets supporters at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton greets supporters at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says his campaign accepts primary results in Kentucky, handing front-runner Hillary Clinton another victory.

    A review of election results Thursday yielded no change in the outcome of Kentucky’s May 17 primary.

    Both candidates earned 27 delegates. But one delegate in the 6th Congressional District has not been awarded yet. Clinton leads Sanders by about 500 votes in that district.

    “We are very pleased that we split,” Sanders said in a statement Thursday.

    Sanders sent a letter requesting a recanvassing of the results on Tuesday. He could have asked a judge to order a recount, but he would have to pay for it himself.

    Clinton leads Sanders by a margin of 271 pledged delegates. But Sanders has vowed to stay in the race.

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    The post Clinton wins Kentucky; Sanders accepts review of state’s primary result appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A man observes a building, that had been severely damaged in a magnitude 7.8 earthquake last month, but suffered more damages after two tremors struck Ecuador's coast in Manta, Ecuador, May 18, 2016. REUTERS/Patricio Ramos EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. - RTSEXB2

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: It’s been just over a month since a major earthquake devastated swathes of countryside and towns on Ecuador’s Pacific coast; 663 people are officially confirmed dead.

    And, as thousands more face the loss of their homes or workplace, videographer Bruno Federico and special correspondent Nadja Drost bring us this report from Manabi province on Ecuador’s coast, where people are trying to rebuild their towns and lives.

    ALFREDO JAMA, Fisherman (through interpreter): That night was unforgettable. I was bringing up the net, when, suddenly, I felt the boat vibrating too much. It was like the floor burst open.

    NADJA DROST: It’s the first time that fisherman Alfredo Jama has dared to return out to sea since an earthquake caught him by surprise on April 16th when he was fishing.

    ALFREDO JAMA (through interpreter): When I looked around, I saw an explosion that left us without light. Everything was dark. The sea bellowed from beneath. It was like there was a beast coming up from under. When I returned to the house, everything was a disaster.

    NADJA DROST: Jama’s wife, Paola Farias, walked us through what used to be the two-story home of their extended family, which she also used for her nail salon.

    PAOLA FARIAS, Salon Owner (through interpreter): When I said, don’t worry, it’s over, was when the movement started more strongly. The walls started falling. We managed to leave the house. It was terrible, because imagine how one works so hard for one’s things, and from one moment to another, nothing.

    NADJA DROST: Farias is one of at least 250,000 Ecuadorians directly affected by an earthquake that knocked down thousands of buildings. It also set off an outpouring of support from fellow Ecuadorians, like Karla Morales, the director of local human rights group Kahre.

    She was at home in the city of Guayaquil, over 150 miles south of the epicenter, the night the quake hit.

    KARLA MORALES, Kahre.org: And in that moment, I just sent a tweet.

    NADJA DROST: “Bring supplies to my house tomorrow,” Karla wrote, and she’d drive them north to the earthquake-affected region the next afternoon.

    KARLA MORALES: And I didn’t expect that people were so interested in helping and with so much compassion and solidarity. There were like 600 or maybe 1,000 people in my house, bringing help and helping with all that donations that we were receiving in that moment.

    NADJA DROST: Karla ended up sending 23 large truckloads of materials that day. Since then, her team continues to distribute donations, from water filters to mattresses, to rural areas, where help has been slower to reach.

    Ecuador hadn’t expected an earthquake, but preparing for a different emergency, a volcanic eruption and flooding, helped it respond quickly, says Tim Callaghan of USAID.

    TIM CALLAGHAN, USAID: Many of the countries in this region, Peru, and Paraguay, and including Ecuador, obviously were planning for potential negative impacts from El Nino flooding. Thankfully, that hasn’t been as severe as was forecast, but it did force Ecuador and other countries to plan for emergencies.

    NADJA DROST: And that meant Ecuador’s government already had a certain level of resilience and emergency coordination to activate search-and-rescue and channel aid to people, he told us.

    After getting frozen out of Ecuador two years ago for political reasons, USAID is one of many international groups sending experts in. The U.S. has donated nearly $3 million of humanitarian aid towards relief efforts. The needs are still great. Callaghan points to water, sanitation and shelter as the most pressing.

    Over 28,000 people are living in shelters, most run by the military. Others are living in parks or makeshift refuges, where aid is harder to come by. Its scarcity led to this near brawl in Manta after people outside the neighborhood tried to claim rations.

    But as it looks towards renewal, Ecuador first has to ask some tough questions over why the destruction was so extensive. As municipal employees in the city of Portoviejo fly drones to evaluate the damages, they reveal a devastating picture of what went wrong.

    And that’s a lot, says Patricio Velez, the head of territorial development for the city of Portoviejo.

    PATRICIO VELEZ, Director General, Territorial Development (through interpreter): There was a lot of informality, constructions without permits. People would add on a third floor. It took us by surprise. There were new buildings that collapsed and old ones that stood up.

    NADJA DROST: Ecuador is used to plenty of small quakes, and its building code has developed over the years to include seismic considerations, says Jaime Argudo, a structural engineer. But he says that up to 85 percent of buildings are constructed without planning for an earthquake.

    JAIME ARGUDO, Structural Engineer: There is also a major issue in our country, and many countries around the world, that building codes are not properly enforced.

    NADJA DROST: Now the consequences of poor building materials and construction are devastatingly obvious.

    In Portoviejo, a city of 300,000 people, the area hit hardest by the earthquake was also the city’s economic center and downtown. Here, in what’s being called the city’s ground zero, everything is shut down. Two-thirds of buildings inspected so far are either collapsed, or severely damaged, and demolition is in full swing. Now, this battered city faces rebuilding its economy, and its future.

    As Velez points to how much of ground zero will be leveled, he also sees a clean slate, an opportunity for Portoviejo to reinvent itself and become more resilient.

    PATRICIO VELEZ (through interpreter): The city grew in a disorderly fashion, without planning. We should take advantage of this moment now.

    NADJA DROST: But to carry out new urban plans and reconstruction across the region will take big money, just as Ecuador’s economy struggles against plummeting oil prices.

    President Rafael Correa, an economist, estimated it could cost $3 billion. As he surveyed the damages of a neighborhood outside of Manta, we asked how he plans to make that happen.

    PRESIDENT RAFAEL CORREA, Ecuador (through interpreter): We have a contingency loan from the World Bank and the IDB for over $600 million. We will probably reach over a billion, and we have taken a line of credit that will give us another billion dollars. If all the lines of credit work out, we will have over $2 billion for reconstruction. However, I think we’re going to need more, but for the short term, it’s a significant amount.

    NADJA DROST: The government has taken several special measures, such as raising the national sales tax and getting higher-income earners to forego part of their salary, to build up earthquake recovery funds.

    Some communities have already had to rebuild following a natural disaster. Here in the town of San Vicente, Farias and Jama’s house was first destroyed by an earthquake in 1998. After they rebuilt it, floods from El Nino washed it away.

    PAOLA FARIAS (through interpreter): And now, it fell, including the roof. Three disasters have happened to us, and thank God we’re alive, and we have to keep going and start rebuilding.

    NADJA DROST: But recovery will take more than reconstruction. reviving local economies and people’s livelihoods is a pressing challenge, yet slow to realize. But in trying to figure out how, many residents are thinking bigger, says Morales.

    KARLA MORALES: I think this has been an earthquake that destroyed houses, but rebuilt minds. In the suffering, they are very hopeful. They are like, teach me. I want to learn something else.

    NADJA DROST: While many look for new ways to make a living, others want to restart their business. For Farias, that was her nail salon.

    PAOLA FARIAS (through interpreter): When the house fell, you had to survive, one way or another. When I saw there was something left of my business, I decided, OK, I will start from zero. And here we are.

    NADJA DROST: Farias and her family want to move to a new lot. It appears they already know how to rebuild.

    From Manabi province in Ecuador, reporting with Bruno Federico, I’m Nadja Drost for the “PBS NewsHour.”

    JUDY WOODRUFF: On our Web site, learn about a special mapping project that’s helping in Ecuador’s relief effort.

    The post Ecuador looks to pick up pieces and rebuild after devastating earthquake appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    (From L) Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, French President Francois Hollande, US President Barack Obama, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker , European Council President Donald Tusk, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Prime Minister David Cameron walk out to the family photo event during the first day of the Group of Seven (G7) summit meetings in Ise Shima, Japan, May 26, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Watson/Pool - RTX2E9NR

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We turn back to the race for the White House. But, tonight, we get some global insight into how Donald Trump’s rise to become the presumptive Republican Party nominee for president is seen around the world.

    For that, we’re joined by Geoff Dyer. He’s U.S. diplomatic correspondent for The Financial Times. He has reported from London and used to be his paper’s Beijing bureau chief. Joyce Karam is Washington bureau chief for the Pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat. And Alan Gomez focuses on Latin America and immigration issues, among other things, for USA Today.

    And we welcome all three of you to the “NewsHour.” Thank you for being here.

    ALAN GOMEZ, USA Today: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Geoff Dyer, let me start with you. As we said, you have reported from Europe. You are based in the U.S. now, but you have also reported from Asia.

    But let’s start with Europe. We heard the president’s comments today. He said world leaders are rattled by what they’re hearing from Donald Trump. Donald Trump said it’s good that people are rattled. What are you seeing, what are you hearing from the Europeans?

    GEOFF DYER, Financial Times: Well, we’re in quite an extraordinary position, where several European leaders have come out publicly criticizing one of the main candidates to be the president of the United States.

    That is a very, very rare thing. That doesn’t happen very often. David Cameron, the British prime minister, has called Donald Trump’s plan to ban Muslims divisive and stupid. Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, has said he would vote for Hillary Clinton.

    Even Angela Merkel, who has been a bit more diplomat, has gone out of her way to say how much she admires and likes working with Hillary Clinton. This is a very, very unusual situation. Politicians are not usually so critical of one of main candidates.

    I think, for the Europeans, there are three main things. There is the ban on Muslim that Donald Trump has proposed, where a lot of European politicians would say this is stimulating, encouraging, giving a propaganda victory to ISIS.

    There’s comments about NATO, where he said that potentially maybe perhaps the U.S. should pull out of NATO in some way. That has also obviously got the Europeans very worried, especially at a time when they’re looking anxiously at Vladimir Putin and Russia.

    And then his comments that he would tear up the Paris climate change accord from last year, this is something that most European governments are fairly strongly supportive of. And it has got them very worried.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But at the same time, this administration, the Obama administration, hasn’t been universally loved by many of these leaders, has it?

    GEOFF DYER: That’s fair to say as well, though Obama is still pretty popular in Europe, and he went to London recently and had quite a significant intervention into the British debate about whether to stay within the European Union.

    He wouldn’t have been invited if he wasn’t still quite popular there. But he’s also said some things that are quite critical about NATO as well. He and a lot other American politicians have said that European governments should spend more money on NATO, that they need to increase their defense spending.

    And that’s been part of Donald Trump’s message, but he’s gone one step further, and essentially raised the idea of maybe the U.S. should pull out of NATO in some way. And that’s really a much bigger step.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Joyce Karam, I know it’s hard to talk about the entire Middle East, because there are so many different countries and so many different sets of interests, but based on your reporting, how would you say leaders in that part of the world are looking at this election and looking at Donald Trump?

    JOYCE KARAM, Al-Hayat: I mean, Judy, look, when Donald Trump announced his candidacy, many of these leaders know Donald Trump. They have dealt with him. They have done business with him.

    A Trump Hotel is to waiting to open in Doha next year. So they know him on the personal level. But I think the rhetoric that was heard from the campaign of Donald Trump, the ban on Muslims, reinstituting torture, this all is fueling a level of anti-Trump mood in the Middle East.

    People went from being bewildered and perplexed by Donald Trump’s rise in American politics to being alarmed and terrified today. Is he really going to take the oil from Iraq? Is he really going to bomb ISIS families? Is he going to ban Muslims from entering the United States?

    These are all valid questions that you hear them in Dubai and Beirut, wherever you go around the Middle East. So there is a sense of high concern that America that many Arabs love and admire has changed. And what to expect next, it’s a big open question.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: He’s also talked, as we know, about undoing the Iran nuclear treaty. He has sounded, I think, for the most part pretty pro-Israel, wanting to support Israel’s defenses. How is that seen?

    JOYCE KARAM: That also is not sinking well with Middle Easterners, with the Arab street.

    For me, growing up in Lebanon, seeing how America is portrayed, Donald Trump is confirming the Arabs’ worst fears about the United States, about the U.S. policy. We hear conspiracies in the Middle East, that the U.S. is very pro-Israel, doesn’t care about the Palestinians, the U.S. is in the Middle East to take the oil, the U.S. is greedy and imperial.

    Unfortunately, this is — today, it matches the rhetoric we hear from Donald Trump. Will Donald Trump change as a president? Perhaps, but, for now, that’s what Arabs are hearing and reacting to.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Alan Gomez, let’s talk about Latin America.

    We have already heard reactions just now from Joyce and Geoff, from the other parts of the world, about his comments about Muslims. But what about that other border that he has talked so much about, about building the wall, about Mexicans and others from Central America coming across the border, being criminals, murderers, rapists, and so forth? How would you characterize the reactions to him south of the border?

    ALAN GOMEZ, USA Today: Yes. The reactions have been pretty well-established since he originally made those comments way back last summer, when he was announcing for president.

    That speech that he gave where he talked about drug dealers and rapists coming from Mexico into the U.S. pretty much shored up the opinion of Donald Trump throughout Latin America, because even though he was talking specifically about Mexico there, I think Latin Americans took it as a collective insult.

    And so you had the Nicaraguan president talking about that this — Donald Trump’s rhetoric being racist and warlike. You had Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto likening Trump’s rise to that of Mussolini and Hitler. And that’s really permeated throughout all levels of Latin America, from government down to the people.

    Now, I can tell you, it’s gotten to the point that it’s almost a running joke throughout the region. In Argentina recently, they have been airing TV ads where they’re showing clips of Donald Trump’s speeches talking about building that border wall, protecting the Americans from foreigners and interspersing that with images of Argentina’s soccer team and saying, hey, they’re on their way up here to play in Copa America, a soccer tournament in the U.S. next month, and saying, yes, they should be worried about us.

    So, it’s gotten to the point that it’s almost a joke at this point how he’s viewed by Latin Americans.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I know. And it’s very tough to cover every part of the world in just a few minutes.

    But, Geoff Dyer, let me come back to you and ask you about Asia. That’s where President Obama is right now. It’s where all this has risen. Of course, Donald Trump has spent a lot of time talking about the Chinese and how they’re taking the Americans for granted, getting the benefit of trade deals.

    What’s the view of him on the Asian continent?

    GEOFF DYER: I suspect the Chinese are a little bit ambivalent. Donald Trump has talked about starting a trade war and imposing tariffs on China.

    He’s also made some comments about maybe stealing or taking some of these manmade islands in the South China Sea that China has been militarizing, that we will have got their attention. But, at the same time, the Chinese are very suspicious of Hillary Clinton. They see her as the person within the Obama administration when she was secretary of state in his first term who effectively encouraged the administration to take a much more aggressive approach towards China.

    So they’re not big fans of Hillary Clinton either. I think, within Asia, the big reaction has been from the Japanese and the South Koreans, who are America’s key allies in the region. And Donald Trump has said that he might consider pulling troops out of both of those countries, Americans troops out of those countries, and also said that maybe it’s a good idea for them to have nuclear weapons.

    Both of those ideas would completely overturn the basic understandings in those countries, how they manage their security, how they think about their future in the next couple of decades. So, these are not sort of minor things. These are huge deals for those countries.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In just the very short time we have left, Joyce Karam, views of Hillary Clinton, Middle East?

    JOYCE KARAM: I think Hillary Clinton is a known quantity in the Middle East.

    They know the name. The name recognition is big in the GCC countries and across the region. They know some of her advisers, people that she would bring if she’s to be president. With Donald Trump, you have the opposite problem.

    We know from Secretary Clinton’s trips to the region that she held very long meetings. She would be well-received in Saudi and other places.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Alan Gomez, and Hillary Clinton, view of her in Latin America?

    ALAN GOMEZ: It’s interesting.

    Hispanics in the U.S. actually have a very good view of Hillary Clinton, because she has already said that she would continue President Obama’s programs and expand his programs to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation.

    Once you get into Latin America, things get a little bit trickier because of her tenure as secretary of state. In Honduras, a lot of people are still upset that she didn’t fight back hard enough against the 2009 coup there that has deposed its president.

    In Haiti, there’s a lot of people upset over the way that the Clinton Foundation has handled reconstruction money following the earthquake there. And there’s all sorts of problems around the region about the militarization that the U.S. has pushed in the region to fight against the drug war.

    So there is a lot of concern about her specifically. But, trust me, you ask anybody down there Hillary or Donald, and it’s a very clear choice.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it’s very unfair to ask all three of you to condense the views of the entire world in just a few minutes, but we do appreciate your giving us your insights.

    Joyce Karam, Geoff Dyer, Alan Gomez, we thank you, all three.

    GEOFF DYER: Thank you.

    ALAN GOMEZ: Thank you.

    JOYCE KARAM: Thank you.

    The post World leaders wary of a Donald Trump presidency appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A gay pride and an American flag

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

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And I’m Hari Sreenivasan.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: On the “NewsHour” tonight: President Obama says world leaders are rattled by the newly named Republican nominee — a look at the international response to Donald Trump’s success.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Also ahead this Thursday: rebuilding Ecuador — a month after a devastating earthquake flattened buildings and left thousands homeless, how the country is recovering.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we get a backstage pass to one of the nation’s top music venues, the 9:30 Club, the spot for a new music variety show.

    SETH HURWITZ, Co-Owner, 9:30 Club: We really are curating this for everyone. I have this fantasy vision of three generations sitting around at the couch because “Live at 9:30” is coming on.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.”

    (BREAK)

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In the day’s other news: A fight over LGBT rights sank a major energy spending bill in the U.S. House. Last night, Democrats attached an amendment that bars discrimination by federal contractors. Today, Republican conservatives overwhelmingly voted against the overall bill.

    Most Democrats did as well, over a separate provision that defends North Carolina’s law against transgender bathrooms.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Congress came under new pressure today to approve funding for fighting Zika. The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spoke in Washington, as lawmakers began a two-week Memorial Day recess.

    Dr. Tom Frieden urged action to protect pregnant women from infections that can cause birth defects.

    DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: We have a narrow window of opportunity to scale up effective Zika prevention measures, and that window of opportunity is closing. Congress did the right thing with Ebola. And I hope in the end they will do the right thing with Zika.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama is asking for $1.9 billion to fight Zika. The Senate has approved $1.1 billion. The House voted for $622 million.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: More than 4,000 migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean Sea today, as calmer weather brought more sailings and sinkings. They were trying to reach Italy from Libya just one day after hundreds died trying to make the journey.

    Matt Frei of Independent Television News narrates our report.

    MATT FREI: What actually happens when a migrant boat sinks in the Med? This is what happens, filmed yesterday in searing silence by the CCTV camera of an Italian navy ship.

    The naval ship has sent a small advance boat. It takes away a handful of those on board. Ten minutes later, with the prospect of a rescue for everyone, the passengers on deck have started to move, first to one side, then to the other.

    This is their fatal mistake. This is what happens far too often. Within seconds, the fishing boat carrying at least 570 people lists and now turns over. What should be a rescue is turning into mayhem and tragedy. At least seven people have drowned, but no one can be sure how many more are trapped in the hull or, indeed, how many of them can swim.

    That was yesterday. This was today, another sinking off the coast of Libya. Here, at least 20 drowned. Every week, sometimes every day, another boat without a name sinks in the Med. The people who survived this disaster looked as if they were many Arab, not African. They arrived in Sicily this afternoon, and if it turns out that they were from Syria, they will be classified as refugees and they will probably be allowed to stay in Europe, but a Europe that is less and less willing to take them in, despite their many ordeals.

    Since Monday, 6,000 lives have been saved, but we have no idea whether the number of coffins represents the true number of those who have died.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The waters between Libya and Italy have become the focus of migrant attempts, now that the route from Turkey to Greece is largely closed.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Violence escalated in France today as labor protests gripped the country. Clashes erupted in Paris between demonstrators and police, who fired tear gas to disperse the crowds. Thousands of union members also marched in the port city of Le Havre. The strikes have choked off much of France’s fuel supply. At issue is the government’s plan to make the workweek longer and layoffs easier.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: A dire warning today for the world’s top economies. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told his fellow leaders that conditions now resemble those before the 2008 financial meltdown. He spoke at a Group of Seven Summit in Japan, and said his counterparts agreed on the need for new stimulus efforts.

    SHINZO ABE, Prime Minister, Japan (through interpreter): We rigorously debated the global economy this time, and we agree it faces a great risk at this moment. It was a great achievement that we were able to put together and agree to an economic initiative to face those very risks.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: A top aide to Abe said later that G7 nations will decide on their own about the timing and size of any stimulus.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in this country, new federal guidelines issued today aim to give states more flexibility in identifying failing schools. The Department of Education is proposing the decision be based on a mix of test scores, academic growth and absenteeism.

    Last year, Congress revamped the No Child Left Behind Act to give states more control over education policy.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Baylor University confirms that Kenneth Starr is out as president for failing to do more about sexual abuse complaints against football players. The school also fired head football coach Art Briles today. Starr is being demoted to chancellor. He’s the former independent prosecutor who investigated President Clinton in the ’90s.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Wall Street put up mixed results today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 23 points to close at 17828. The Nasdaq rose nearly seven points, and the S&P 500 fell a fraction.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And the nation’s Memorial Day observances opened today, with an event known as Flags In. At Arlington National Cemetery, outside Washington, some 1,000 soldiers placed American flags on more than 230,000 grave sites of fallen service men and women. The flags will be removed after Monday.

    Still to come on the “NewsHour”: what the rest of the world thinks of Donald Trump; how preparing for a volcanic eruption helped Ecuador respond to another disaster; researchers find a superbug resistant to all antibiotics in a patient in Pennsylvania; and much more.

    The post News Wrap: LGBT rights fight sinks major energy bill in U.S. House appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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