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

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    Google's driverless car prototype. Photo courtesy of Google.

    Google’s driverless car prototype. Photo courtesy of Google

    In a future when cars no longer need humans to drive, choices about who might live or die in a crash are already being made — by the so-called “moral codes” that are preprogrammed into a car’s neurology.

    Like humans, autonomous cars make countless tiny decisions while navigating the complexities of street traffic. But instead of a brain, driverless cars rely on a preprogrammed set of parameters to decide whether to brake, turn or accelerate.

    “Suppose we have some [trouble-making] teenagers, and they see an autonomous vehicle, they drive right at it. They know the autonomous vehicle will swerve off the road and go off a cliff,” said Keith Abney, an associate professor of philosophy at California Polytechnic State University. “But should it?”

    While fully driverless cars are still in the research stage, several automakers such as Bosche, Tesla, Nissan Mercedes-Benz, Uber and Audi are already testing partially or completely self-driving cars on the roads.

    The cars of the future will face dilemmas that require split-second responses. Since they will only be able to react according to preset codes, some say experts from cognitive and behavioral sciences should be helping programmers who are outsourcing potentially murky decisions to rigid algorithms.

    To minimize the potential for harm, “what you want to do is think through these situations beforehand,”Abney said. “You shouldn’t be overoptimistic.”

    But some coders say that while these hypothetical situations are interesting, they are misleading because autonomous cars do not make judgments based on value, they make them based on protocol. While moral decisions will come into play when programmers decide how to use which algorithms, an assistant professor in computer science at Carnegie Melon University said the car itself does not have a moral agency.

    “The actual split-second decisions, those are not about morality. They’re following prescribed behavior,” Kolter said.

    That prescribed behavior is expected to significantly decrease the number of car accidents across the nation. Last year, about 38,000 people were killed in such incidents, according to the National Safety Council. Automakers use these statistics as a talking point in favor of the automated technology. Instead of figuring out reactions to potentially lethal situations, they focus on programming cars to recognize when they should stop, swerve or slow down.

    The green path is the path that our vehicle intends to follow. Red boxes are cyclists. Yellow boxes are pedestrians. Pink boxes are vehicles. Green fences correspond to an object that potentially affects speed. Red fences correspond to the location where the car will stop until it’s safe to proceed. Photo courtesy of Google.

    This is a snapshot of what Google’s driverless car sees. The green path is the path that our vehicle intends to follow. Red boxes are cyclists. Yellow boxes are pedestrians. Pink boxes are vehicles. Green fences correspond to an object that potentially affects speed. Red fences correspond to the location where the car will stop until it’s safe to proceed. Photo courtesy of Google

    Like neurotransmitters, algorithms enable cars to make calculations. The cars envision a 360-degree digital map of the environment through lasers, cameras or radars, to figure out their placement within the setting and also categorize which objects might move. Through algorithms, driverless cars use these inputs, in addition to the rate of motion and proximity to other objects, to figure out the easiest, safest trajectory.

    So instead of preprogramming reactions to specific, dire situations, Google’s driverless car prototype, for example, is preset to recognize unfamiliar objects or situations, and most often reacts by stopping or slowing down.

    The life-or-death hypotheticals “are not accurate portrayals of what system needs to think about,” Kolter said.

    Regardless, crashes will happen and someone will have to be held accountable. Google’s autonomous car in February, while it was on a test drive in Mountain View, California, sideswiped a public bus as it tried to merge into the bus’s lane. No one was injured in the incident.

    “This is a classic example of the negotiation that’s a normal part of driving — we’re all trying to predict each other’s movements,” Google wrote in its monthly statement.

    Google also said it refined the software to understand that bigger vehicles are less likely to yield. By that time, their cars had driven more than one million miles, half of which had been on open streets, without causing a crash.

    Google took the blame, but Stephen Wu, a lawyer in Silicon Valley who represents companies in the field of semi-driverless technology, said that because crashes are inevitable, liability will be an issue in the future.

    Wu said he has heard discussions about special legislation for moral algorithms to help clarify liability. If a car decides to steer away from a large group of people, for example, and instead hit a smaller group in an attempt minimize damage, then the smaller group could still blame the manufacturer because that code would have been preprogrammed, he said.

    To better understand unspoken rules of the road, such as the likelihood of a bus yielding, Nissan last year hired an anthropologist to study what humans expect cars to do, and how this changes from one neighborhood to the next.

    Melissa Cefkin watches for body language and analyzes patterns of interactions between cars and people in different types of intersections, such as a college campus or an intimate downtown setting. She said each one has a unique personality that she dissects with her colleague, a sociologist.

    “So if we go into a field setting, we might take video from three different angles,” she said. “If we take a 10 minute video we can spend hours and hours reviewing it.”

    Cefkin said some of her favorite interactions are when people wave or make eye contact to imply what they are going to do next.

    “People send signals through their body motion about what their intentions are, for example, turning the wheel is seen as a sign that ‘I’m going to move in another direction,’” she said.

    Once they identify quantifiable patterns, they sit down with the programmers who decide what to integrate into the algorithms.

    Right now, she said, people are much better at instantly interpreting the world. But her job is to help ensure driverless cars have manners, an area where human drivers can sometimes fall short and cause crashes.

    Beyond algorithms, she wonders about how autonomous cars will affect future generations in a country where teenagers look forward to turning 16 for one very specific reason.

    “You have to ask yourself,” she said.”What if there’s no such thing as becoming that authorized driver? It does reconfigure so many things about our social lives.”

    The post How will driverless cars make life-or-death decisions? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    If your doctor texts you a reminder, are you less likely to forget to take your medicine? Studies point to yes. Illustration by Getty Images

    A new study has renewed the conversation on whether using cell phones carries a risk of radiation exposure. Illustration by Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — The new study of cancer risk from cellphones marks a big change in what researchers think they know about the dangers — which is why it’s sure to get an extra close look from scientists, industry, and government regulators.

    It’s already giving new ammunition to scientists who never thought the government took the risk seriously enough. But it’s not the final word by any means, especially since other scientists are already finding weaknesses in the design of the study.

    Here are the main things to know:

    What did the study find?

    The study, conducted by the US National Toxicology Program, found a relatively small increase in two types of cancer in rats that were exposed to the kind of radiofrequency radiation that comes from cellphones.

    The higher rates of gliomas, a kind of brain cancer, and schwannomas, which affect the heart, were only seen in male rats. The concern, though, is that even a small increased risk could suggest that cellphones are less safe than everyone thought.

    Why does it matter?

    This $25 million, government-sponsored study does not have the funding biases that some critics say have colored studies sponsored by industry. “These data will probably raise [the] level of suspicion that there might be a problem. I didn’t see them as strong enough to say that there’s really a problem.” — Bioengineering professor Kenneth Foster

    Several years ago, University of Washington professor Henry Lai analyzed 326 cellphone radiation studies. He found that 72 percent of industry-funded studies found no biological effect from cellphone radiation exposure — but that of the studies not funded by industry, only 33 percent found no biological effect.

    A study published by Environmental Health Perspectives, the journal of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, also found that research funded by the cellular telephone industry tended to show less harmful effects than independent or government research.

    Is this the first study that has suggested a cancer risk?

    No. In 2011, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer — considered the global authority on cancer risk — made news by classifying radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, including those emitted from cellphones, as possible human carcinogens.

    The agency said that the radiofrequency electromagnetic fields posed an increased risk for gliomas, which it said were associated with wireless phone use.

    Dr. Jonathan Samet, a University of Southern California professor who was chairman of the IARC Working Group, said at the time that “the conclusion means that there could be some risk, and, therefore, we need to keep a close watch for a link between cellphones and cancer risk.”

    What does it mean for people?

    The study “doesn’t necessarily have any relationship to the risk you have when you use a cellphone,” said Kenneth Foster, a bioengineering professor at the University of Pennsylvania who has studied radiation and health. There are a few reasons for this. First, he said, the rats received much more radiation than humans do when they use cellphones. “This is not an exposure that’s at all relevant to the real world,” Foster said.

    The National Toxicology Program’s associate director said on a conference call Friday the application of these findings to humans is still up in the air, so to speak. “This may have relevance, it may have no relevance,” John Bucher said.

    And second, physicists don’t know any plausible biological reason why radiofrequency radiation might damage human cells. It’s not like radiation from X-rays or radioactive material, which can damage cells’ DNA. The primary known effect of radiofrequencies on tissue is to heat them up.

    What are the cellphone standards now?

    The Federal Communications Commission currently sets standards for what’s considered a safe level of exposure to radiofrequency radiation from cellphones. But critics have said the agency allows too much, and are using the new study to back up their point.

    In her book “Disconnect,” epidemiologist Devra Davis writes that the current FCC standards are unrealistic because they’re based on a model — a creature called Standard Anthropomorphic Man, or SAM — that’s larger than the average person, and, therefore, able to withstand more radiation exposure than most people.

    “SAM is not an ordinary guy,” Davis wrote. “He ranked in size and mass at the top 10 percent of all military recruits in 1989, weighing more than 200 pounds, with an 11-pound head, and standing about 6 feet 2 inches tall. SAM was not especially talkative, as he was assumed to use a cellphone for no more than six minutes.”

    On Friday, Davis reiterated her call for revised FCC standards that would be based on the average person. She also believes the FDA must develop standards to protect the public, especially children, who are more vulnerable because their brains are still developing. Currently, the FDA does not regulate cellphones, and there are no guidelines at either agency for exposure in kids.

    “Every parent who thinks it’s so cute to give their kids a little cellphone should ask themselves if they would give them a glass of whiskey or a gun,” she said.

    Will this settle the debate?

    Not likely. Scientists are already finding weaknesses in the methodology of the new study. Some have noted, for example, that the rats that were exposed to radiation lived longer than those in the control group — which goes against the idea that their health was harmed overall.

    In addition, Rodney Croft, director of the Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research, noted that “the lack of clear dose-response relationships raises the possibility that the results may merely be ‘false positives,’” or results that at first blush incorrectly indicate cellphone use causes cancer.

    “These data will probably raise [the] level of suspicion that there might be a problem. I didn’t see them as strong enough to say that there’s really a problem,” said Foster.

    What’s next?

    Currently, the FDA does not review the safety of radiation-emitting consumer products, such as cellphones and other wireless devices, as it does with new drugs or medical devices.

    But the agency does have the authority to do so, if cellphones are proven to be a hazard. The key word here is proof. Don’t expect the agency to act on the basis of this one study, or recommend that the FCC change its guidelines on radiofrequency exposure.

    At the same time, the cellular services industry will call on its friends in Congress to protect it from new safety regulations.

    The cellular services industry is a powerful player in Washington, known for generous campaign contributions and a hefty lobbying budget. Federal records show that last year, the cellular services and related companies spent nearly $50 million lobbying Congress and the federal agencies. For the first quarter of this year, they spent more than $12 million.

    The industry political action committees have donated more than $2.5 million, so far, to presidential and congressional candidates during the 2015-16 election cycle, giving the majority to Republicans.

    Dylan Scott and Ike Swetlitz contributed to this report. This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on May 27, 2016. Find the original story here.

    The post What you need to know about the new study on cellphones and cancer appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A Christie's employee walks past 'Two Men Working in a Field' (R) by Francis Bacon and 'The Wedding Feast' by Pieter Brueghel during a media preview for "Past Perfect / Future Present," a curated public exhibition at Christie's auction house in London, Britain June 12, 2015. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth - RTX1G7VQ

    An employee walks past ‘Two Men Working in a Field’ (R) by Francis Bacon and ‘The Wedding Feast’ by Pieter Brueghel during a media preview for  a curated public exhibition in London, Britain on June 12, 2015. Photo by Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

    Spanish police said Saturday they have arrested seven people in connection to the theft of five paintings by renowned artist Francis Bacon worth more than $27.8 million from a home in Spain almost one year ago.

    Without naming the suspects or specifying when they made the arrests, Spanish police wrote in a statement that they were tipped off by private British investigators who specialize in stolen art in February. The investigators had received an email from one of the suspects, who sent photos of the paintings and asked whether the work had been stolen.

    They noticed what looked like forged signatures on the backs of the paintings in the photos, which provoked them to email Spanish police.

    A woman looks at a Francis Bacon painting during an exhibition at the Galleria Borghese in Rome November 11, 2009. Portraits by Italian master Caravaggio and Irish-born 20th-century painter Francis Bacon stand side-by-side in new exhibition connecting their tormented views of humanity despite contrasting approaches to realism. The show at Rome's Galleria Borghese marks 400 years since Caravaggio's death and 100 years since Bacon's birth and at its heart lies their shared fascination with the human form and their predilection for the expressive portrait. Picture taken November 11, 2009. To match Reuters Life! ITALY-CARAVAGGIO/BACON            REUTERS/Max Rossi   (ITALY SOCIETY) - RTXQMYI

    A woman looks at a Francis Bacon painting during an exhibition at the Galleria Borghese in Rome November 11, 2009. Photo by Max Rossi/Reuters

    Spanish authorities analyzed the metadata from the images and saw that the camera had come from a rental company. Customer records from the company led them to a person in the coastal town of Sitga.

    The person who sent the photos “kept in touch with an art dealer in Madrid,” the statement said in Spanish. The person who rented the camera, the art-dealer, the art-dealer’s son and four other people who received the photos were arrested.

    Police searched four homes, seized six phones and two computers, but did not recover any of the paintings.

    Bacon, who was an Irish-born painter known for his emotionally charged, surrealist work, died in Madrid in 1992 at age 82.

    His paintings were stolen from someone who was a close friend of Bacon’s during a professional heist in a heavily policed area while the homeowner was visiting London last July, according to Spanish newspaper El Pais.

    The thieves also stole jewelry and other valuables, according to the police statement.

    The post Spanish police arrest 7 suspects in Francis Bacon painting heist appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Men walk near a damaged building in Aleppo's rebel held al-Fardous district, Syria May 26, 2016. The graffiti reads in Arabic reads:" Smile to (anger) your enemy". Photo By Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters

    Men walk near a damaged building in Aleppo’s rebel held al-Fardous district, Syria May 26, 2016. The graffiti reads in Arabic reads, “Smile to (anger) your enemy.” Photo By Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters

    Islamic State fighters seized rebel-controlled territory on Friday near Syria’s border with Turkey in an advance that one monitoring group called the caliphate’s most significant in the region in more than two years.

    The Syrian Observatory on Human Rights, a monitoring group based in Britain, said the group pushed it’s way further into the province of Aleppo and is threatening to overrun the rebel strongholds of Azaz and Merea, which are located in northern Syria just miles from Turkey’s border.

    The Islamic State has also gained ground near the city of Aleppo, where forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and anti-government rebels are entrenched in fighting.

    Islamic State fighters have advanced to within 3 miles of the town of Azaz, capturing villages and prompting thousands of residents there to flee, according to the Syrian Observatory.

    But tens of thousands of people are reportedly trapped between Azaz and Syria’s border, and the Islamic State offensive has cut off a supply route to Marea, a city further south held by rebel fighters.

    The jihadist group launched the offensive Thursday in response to a potential assault by rebels, some of whom are supported by the United States, Reuters reports.

    Doctors Without Borders said it has pulled most of its staff from the Al Salamah hospital near the municipalities because of the offensive. The hospital is the largest of six medical facilities operated by the organization in Syria.

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

    “We are terribly concerned about the fate of our hospital and our patients, and about the estimated 100,000 people trapped between the Turkish border and active front lines,” Pablo Marco, the organization’s operations manager for the Middle East, said in a statement. “There is nowhere for people to flee to as the fighting gets closer.”

    The post Islamic State gains territory near Turkish border appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    RuralAttorney

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    By Connie Kargbo and Christopher Booker

    When married couple Brittany Kjerstad and Ryan McKnight moved to rural Philip, South Dakota in the fall of last year, they became the newest and only practicing attorneys in the town of almost 800 people. For a community so small, they quickly became busy.

    “You never would expect there’d be this much work to do out in rural South Dakota,” said McKnight.

    The couple’s decision to move to rural Philip, countering the trend of young Americans moving to more urban areas, was made in part because of a first-of its-kind program that McKnight was accepted into.

    Across the country rural communities are experiencing a shortage in the number of legal professionals so in 2013, South Dakota responded. The Midwestern state, where 65 percent of its attorneys are located in just four cities, launched a recruitment program. The goal — to attract attorneys to live and work in a rural county in South Dakota for five years with a cash incentive of $12,500 a year.

    The program was championed by the Chief Justice of the South Dakota Supreme Court, David Gilbertson. In a State of the Judiciary message, he cautioned against “the very real possibility of whole sections of this state being without access to legal services,” creating an area with “islands of justice in a rural sea of justice denied.”

    For rural communities without a lawyer nearby, everyday issues such as taxes or real estate transactions become hardships. With few options, more and more of these small towns are having to pay lawyers to drive in to their towns to provide legal advice, stretching their budgets.

    For their part, Kjerstad and McKnight feel they are filling that legal void. “There was definitely a need out here,” said Kjerstad.

    And the couple has no regrets. “If you were to ask me five years ago if I’d be out living in western South Dakota, no, are you crazy. But now looking back, it’s probably one of the best decisions ever, to come out here,” said McKnight.

    The post How South Dakota is luring attorneys to remote areas appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Eugene, Oregon, U.S. on May 6, 2016.   REUTERS/Jim Urquhart/File Photo - RTX2DUNV

    Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Eugene, Oregon, on May 6, 2016. Photo by Jim Urquhart/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — When Donald Trump acquired a pair of Atlantic City casinos in the mid-1980s, he pitted his managers against each other in a ferocious competition over everything from booking entertainers to attracting high-rolling gamblers.

    That one of those managers was his wife, Ivana Trump, didn’t earn her any slack.

    “His tactic there, as our success surpassed the Castle’s in 1987, was to shove the Plaza’s performance in Ivana’s face, like a mirror, holding it up for her to see the reflection of a less than successful manager,” John O’Donnell, Ivana Trump’s rival in the casino wars, wrote in a 1991 book.

    Trump’s penchant for encouraging rivalries is now roiling his presidential campaign just as he’s captured the GOP nomination, creating deep uncertainty among Republicans about his preparedness for a complex and costly general election campaign. The tensions boiled over last week with the abrupt ouster of political director Rick Wiley, who left the campaign after just six weeks.

    Wiley found himself caught between Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, one of the businessman’s original campaign staffers, and Paul Manafort, a veteran Republican hand who was brought in to bolster the operation in March. While Wiley was originally hired by Lewandowski, he aligned himself with Manafort’s vision of a more robust and expensive campaign operation — a vision Trump does not appear to have fully bought into. He also was seen as being unwilling to fill top jobs in battleground states with people close to Lewandowski, according to people familiar with the decision.

    Wiley did not respond to requests to discuss his tenure with the Trump campaign. Trump aides would not make the candidate available for an interview, but they did not dispute the notion that the real estate mogul encourages internal competition.

    “Of course there’s competition because you want the best,” Lewandowski said. “That’s the type of mindset you have to have in the federal government.”

    [Watch Video]

    Sam Nunberg, a former Trump aide who was fired last year, put the dynamic more bluntly: “He loves playing people against each other.” Still, Nunberg said he appreciated the competitive environment, crediting it with keeping staffers creative and committed to the organization.

    But for other Trump aides, the businessman’s cutthroat style led to mistrust and paranoia.

    “You can’t trust the other guy’s people,” said Stuart Jolly, who resigned as Trump’s campaign field director after Manafort and Wiley were given more power. Jolly confirmed Friday that he is joining the pro-Trump group Great America PAC as its political director.

    Some current and former Trump advisers blamed the businessman for withholding information about staff changes from his team, sometimes leaving them to learn about internal developments in the media. Some have taken to shopping negative stories about their rivals to the press in a bid to undercut each other in the eyes of the boss — even if the stories reflect poorly on Trump.

    Even more concerning for Trump as he eyes a likely faceoff with Democrat Hillary Clinton is the uncertainty the internal friction has created about the direction of the campaign. People close to the campaign say there are major questions about battleground state hiring, voter targeting efforts and super PAC fundraising.

    Those close to the campaign insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the campaign publicly.

    Trump turned his fondness for competition into ratings gold with his television show “The Apprentice,” where rival teams battled against each other to impress the boss. Those who failed were unceremoniously fired — a made-for-television version of events that sometimes played out in Trump’s real businesses.

    In 1985 and 1986, Trump acquired full control of two Atlantic City casinos in quick succession. Ivana Trump was put in charge of one, named Trump Castle, while the other — Trump Plaza — was overseen by casino managers hired away from gambling titan Steve Wynn.

    Castle and Plaza managers were expected to compete over everything from casino entertainers to which property bought more copies of Trump’s autobiography, “The Art of the Deal.”

    The most heated competition of all: which casino could draw the high-rolling gamblers who would wager thousands of dollars per hand. By 1987, the larger and more luxurious Plaza was successfully wooing this small but elite set, aided by top-tier prize fights in the Atlantic City Convention Center next door.

    Instead of allowing the Plaza to establish itself as the unrivaled venue for high-rollers in Atlantic City, however, Trump underwrote Ivana’s campaign to compete for them.

    “If we presented a $100,000 player with a gold Rolex watch, the Castle gave him two,” O’Donnell wrote in his book book “Trumped! The Inside Story of the Real Donald Trump — His Cunning Rise and Spectacular Fall.” In a 1997 interview, Trump said “the stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true,” using an expletive to describe his former executive as a loser.

    When Plaza managers pleaded to Trump that the competition between his two casinos was ill advised, Trump mocked them.

    “What are you worried about Ivana for,” he told one executive, according to O’Donnell’s book. “She’s just a woman. She can’t take the business.”

    The competition described by O’Donnell led to an ill-advised, $70 million addition to Trump Castle, dubbed “The Crystal Tower,” and continued even after Trump sent Ivana back to New York and three of the Plaza’s top executives died in a helicopter crash.

    Within weeks of the accident, Trump’s Castle team launched a surprise raid on Trump’s other casino: It’s top executive leased office space directly above the Plaza’s marketing department, offering the Plaza team raises of up to 30 percent to defect.

    The post In business and politics, Trump stokes internal rivalries appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Shi'ite fighters and Iraqi security forces advance towards Falluja, Iraq, May 25, 2016.  REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani - RTSFX33

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    LISA DESJARDINS, PBS ANCHOR: For more on the situation on the ground in Iraq, I’m joined via Skype by Washington Post reporter Missy Ryan, who is in Baghdad.

    Missy, thank you so much for joining us. Let me start first by asking you, who exactly is involved in this charge to retake Fallujah?

    MISSY RYAN, “WASHINGTON POST” REPORTER: Well, it’s a wide array of government forces and government-aligned forces trying to reclaim the city of Fallujah. So it’s the Iraqi police, federal police. It’s the Iraqi army, and then it’s Sunni tribal fighters and importantly, a wide array of Shiite militia groups. And we’ve counted at least 7 militia groups that are taking part in the operation, including some groups the United States particularly doesn’t want to have anything to do with, such as Katab (ph), Hezbollah, which is considered a terrorist group by the Unites States government.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi, who has sort of helped put this coalition together, said on national TV this week that Iraqi national forces were approaching a moment of great victory. How important is this fight in Fallujah for his seemingly fragile Iraqi government?

    MISSY RYAN: Yeah, it’s a really important moment for Abadi right now. He is in the midst of a political crisis. He’s facing urgent demands for reform. He’s got a sort of shaky basis on his Shiite coalition. And he really needs a win. So it’s an important moment for him.

    It’s also an important moment for the Iraqi security forces. Remember, two years ago, the Iraqi army suffered a humiliating defeat when they largely collapsed in Northern Iraq ahead of the Islamic state’s advance there. And so this is an opportunity for them to show that they can actually go into a rebel-held city and defeat the Islamic state.

    LISA DESJARDINS: You spoke to the mayor of Fallujah. How desperate are things there?

    MISSY RYAN: Seems like it’s a very desperate picture there. The Islamic state has been in control of Fallujah since January 2014. But in recent months, because of a siege by government security forces designed to isolate the city, conditions – humanitarian conditions, living conditions have gotten very bad. So you’ve got a shortage of food, you’ve got a shortage of medication. There have been reports of people dying of hunger, obviously not having access to vital medical care. And the Islamic state is monopolizing and sort of dictating the distribution of what basic goods do remain.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The U.S. military has spent about $500 million training rebel groups just in Syria. In part, that’s to take on the Islamic state. Has that investment brought any results?

    MISSY RYAN: Well, if you talk to U.S. military leaders, and that’s something I’ve been doing this week here in Baghdad, they will say yes, it has. So the new program really seeks to stand up an advisory force that can identify and support rather than, you know, train in a sort of basic-training way, pulling people out of Syria.

    And so they say that now with about 300 American special forces in northeastern Syria, they’ve been able to make some progress in identifying not just Kurdish, but also Arab fighters. And I think that, you know, we’ve got to be pretty cautious about what we conclude about this program so far. I think it’s probably too early to make an assessment. But they say that they’re at least sort of getting a better picture of the battlefield, and understanding who are our potential partners there.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Missy Ryan from Baghdad and “The Washingon Post.” Thank you for your reporting on this very important topic.

    MISSY RYAN: Thank you.

    END

    The post Iraqi forces fight to reclaim ISIS-held cities appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Migrants rest after disembarking in the Sicilian harbour of Catania, Italy, May 28, 2016. REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello - RTX2ELFO

    Migrants rest after disembarking in the Sicilian harbour of Catania, Italy, May 28, 2016. Photo by Antonio Parrinello/Reuters

    More than 600 people were rescued from the waters of the Mediterranean Sea on Saturday as a steady flow of migrants fleeing war continues.

    In separate operations, members of the Italian coast guard, German ships and the Irish navy rescued the migrants off the coast of Libya, adding to the 14,000 people who were pulled from the sea during the last week during a multinational rescue mission.

    Warmer temperatures and calmer waters have raised the number of migrants willing to risk the journey from north Africa and the Middle East, officials said.

    Italian authorities said since Friday, 16 rescue operations have saved thousands of people stranded at sea, often on overpacked rafts arranged by smugglers. The bodies of at least 45 people who drowned during the journey also were recovered, and the official death toll is expected to climb.

    More than 14,000 people have been rescued attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea during this last week. Shown here migrants leaving a rescue ship. Italy, May 28, 2016. Antonio Parrinello/Reuters

    More than 14,000 people have been rescued while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea during this last week. Shown here are people leaving ship in Italy, May 28, 2016. Photo by Antonio Parrinello/Reuters

    The United Nations Human Rights Council said nearly 200,000 migrants have attempted the crossing from north Africa and Asia to Italy and Greece so far in 2016. More than 1,500 people drowned or are missing. Approximately 40,000 people traveled through Libya before crossing over to Italy.

    Fatou Bensouda, prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, told the U.N. Security Council this week that migrants and refugees in Libya “were particularly vulnerable to violence, sexual violence and ill treatment,” which caused more people to attempt the dangerous sea route to Europe.

    “We, as the international community, must take a closer look at who profits from criminal activity in Libya, and take coordinated steps to prevent further violations,” Bensouda said. “This must be a priority for all who are affected by the criminal trafficking of human beings.”

    The post Hundreds of migrants rescued in Mediterranean Sea as death toll surges appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump takes questions during  a news conference in Bismarck, North Dakota, U.S., May 26, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst  - RTX2EDWL

    Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump takes questions during a news conference in Bismarck, North Dakota, on May 26, 2016. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — A federal judge is ordering the release of Trump University internal documents in a class-action lawsuit against the now-defunct real estate school owned by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

    The order by U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel in San Diego, which came Friday in response to a request by The Washington Post, calls for the documents to be released by Thursday. The Post reported the order in a story on its website Saturday.

    Trump University has been cited in anti-Trump political ads during the primary campaign as evidence that Trump doesn’t fulfill his promises. Trump’s lawyers deny any wrongdoing in the case before Curiel as well as another class-action suit in San Diego and a $40 million lawsuit filed in 2013 by the state of New York alleging that more than 5,000 people had been defrauded.

    The New York real estate mogul, for his part, has claimed that Curiel is a “hater of Donald Trump” and should be ashamed of how he has handled the case. Trump also has questioned whether Curiel, who is Hispanic, is biased against him because of his call for deporting immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

    The lawsuit overseen by Curiel states that Trump University’s nationwide seminars and classes were like infomercials and pressured students to buy more but didn’t deliver as promised in spite of students paying as much as $35,000 for seminars. Curiel already has set a Nov. 28 trial date.

    The Post reported that Curiel’s order to release an estimated 1,000 pages of documents cites heightened public interest in Trump and that he had “placed the integrity of these court proceedings at issue.” The judge appeared to reject the argument by Trump attorneys that the information had commercial value, saying that there was no support for the assertion that Trump University may resume operations.

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    Bo (L) and Sunny, the Obama family's canines, are pictured on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington in this photo released on August 19, 2013 by the White House. The White House announced a new resident on Monday. Photo By Pete Souza/The White House/Handout via Reuters

    Bo, left, and Sunny, the Obama family’s canines, are pictured on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington in this photo released on August 19, 2013 by the White House. The White House announced a new resident on Monday. Photo By Pete Souza/The White House/Handout via Reuters

    WASHINGTON  — It’s hardly a dog’s life of just eating and sleeping for President Barack Obama’s pets, Bo and Sunny.

    The pair of Portuguese water dogs — Bo with his distinctive white chest and front paws, and the all-black Sunny — are canine ambassadors for the White House, very popular and so in demand that they have schedules, like the president.

    “Everybody wants to see them and take pictures,” Michelle Obama said. “I get a memo at the beginning of the month with a request for their schedules, and I have to approve their appearances.”

    U.S. President Barack Obama bends down to wait for his dog, Bo, to come towards him outside the Oval Office of the White House in Washington March 15, 2012. Photo By Larry Downing via Reuters

    U.S. President Barack Obama bends down to wait for his dog, Bo, to come towards him outside the Oval Office of the White House in Washington March 15, 2012. Photo By Larry Downing via Reuters

    The dogs have entertained crowds at the annual Easter Egg Roll and Bo has been at Mrs. Obama’s side when she welcomes tourists on the anniversary of the president’s inauguration. The dogs also have cheered wounded service members, as well as the hospitalized children the first lady visits each year just before Christmas. In a sign of just how recognized Bo and Sunny are, authorities in January arrested a North Dakota man who they say came to Washington to kidnap one of the pets.

    Bo, now 7, joined the Obama family in April 2009. He was a gift from the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., a key supporter of Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign who became close to the family. Bo helped Obama keep a promise to daughters Malia and Sasha that they could get a dog after the election.

    Sunny, nearly 4, came along in August 2013.

    U.S. President Barack Obama (R) presents the first family's new Portuguese Water Dog puppy, Bo, on the South Lawn with his family at the White House in Washington April 14, 2009. With Obama are first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia (C) and Sasha. Bo, now seven years old, has since been joined by Sunny. Photo By Larry Downing/Reuters

    U.S. President Barack Obama presents the first family’s new Portuguese Water Dog puppy, Bo, on the South Lawn with his family at the White House in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 2009. With Obama are First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia, center, and Sasha. Photo By Larry Downing/Reuters

    Bo already had a job as a “helper” to Dale Haney, the head groundskeeper at the White House, which happens to be a national park.

    “He leaves every morning and he goes down with Dale … and he’s with all the National Park Service guys. And you’ll see him, and he’s like walking around with them, and looking at the plants,” Mrs. Obama said. “I think he thinks he has a job because he takes it very seriously. So if I go out and see him, he kind of ignores me when he’s with his worker crew people.”

    The dogs have a pretty nice life. “They can sit on my lap, they sit on my chair, they cuddle with me,” Mrs. Obama said. “I like to lay on the floor with them and blow in their face. I like to make them run and chase each other. But they’re so cute, I just love to just cuddle them and massage them.”

    First Lady Michelle Obama (C) chats with children of military families as they gather to see the pets Bo and Sunny and enjoy holiday decorations and treats at the White House, in Washington, December 2, 2015. Photo By Mike Theiler/Reuters

    First Lady Michelle Obama, center, chats with children of military families as they gather to see the pets Bo and Sunny and enjoy holiday decorations and treats at the White House, in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 2, 2015. Photo By Mike Theiler/Reuters

    Presidential pets are always popular and many presidents kept dogs as companions. President Harry S. Truman famously advised: “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”

    President George H.W. Bush’s English Springer Spaniel, Millie, “wrote” the best-seller “Millie’s Book.”

    President Bill Clinton’s chocolate Labrador Retriever, Buddy, helped Clinton weather the scandal over his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

    President George W. Bush’s Scottish Terrier, Barney, had an official web page and starred in “Barneycam” videos that were filmed from a camera hung around his neck. Like Mrs. Obama, first lady Laura Bush was involved with the video scripts and the taping schedule.

    U.S. President Barack Obama's dogs Bo (L) and Sunny (R) get a walk on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington May 17, 2014. Photo By Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    U.S. President Barack Obama’s dogs Bo, left, and Sunny, right, get a walk on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., on May 17, 2014. Photo By Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    President Lyndon B. Johnson angered animal lovers by lifting his pet beagle, Him, by the ears in front of news photographers.

    Obama promised last year to “clean things up a little bit” before leaving the White House in January because the dogs “have been tearing things up occasionally.”

    Mrs. Obama said her four-legged family members had been nice overall, but she exposed Sunny’s naughtier side.

    “You know what she does sometimes? She leaves the kitchen and she’ll sneak and she’ll go poop on the other end of the White House,” the first lady said.

    The post Presidential pups Bo and Sunny have official White House schedules appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by PBS NewsHour Weekend

    Amsterdam native Mahmoud Tighadouini shared his path toward radicalization. Photo by PBS NewsHour Weekend

    AMSTERDAM — After the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and the start of the war in Iraq in 2003, 30-year-old Amsterdam native Mahmoud Tighadouini fell into an online community that exposed him to radical Islamic ideology for the first time.

    In online messages sent to Tighadouini, the U.S. — and, more generally, the West — were cast as enemies of all Muslims.

    As his beliefs became more extreme, he harbored ambitions to travel abroad to fight for the cause.

    Growing up in a Muslim family that originally emigrated from Morocco, Tighadouini says his path toward radicalization began years earlier as he grappled with his own identity. “I live in the Netherlands, but [people here] were always looking to me like a Moroccan,” he said.

    But in embracing his identity as a radical, he started to feel that void being filled, he said. “It felt like really safe, it’s like I found what I was looking for,” he said. “I needed the structure — I needed the people who say to me how to go, how to live.”

    Tighadouini stopped going to school, spending more and more time alone in his room and on the computer. He began to dress in traditional Islamic clothing and get into fights with his family. He became increasingly isolated — speaking only to like-minded people on the internet.

    As the years passed, he became convinced that he should travel abroad to “help his Muslim brothers and sisters.”

    “You become very angry,” Tighadouini said, recalling his ambition to fight. “I cannot only watch and sit in my room.”

    Tighadouini packed a bag, planning to travel to either Afghanistan or Iraq. It was then that his mother, Fatima Ben Ayad, intervened. She took his passport and called the police.

    “I was scared,” she said. “My son shouldn’t be going to somewhere that’s not good.”

    But the police didn’t arrest Tighadouini. Instead, a community officer came to his house to speak with him about his behavior. He told Tighadouini that it was time to end his isolation and that his actions were causing pain for his family. “I was very upset, but I was also listening to him, because he was very clear,” Tighadouini said. “So I was thinking, okay, maybe it’s right.”

    It was in that moment he says he began the process of de-radicalization.

    READ NEXT: What can the U.S. do to stop radicalization at home?

    But the years of hatred had taken a toll on his psyche. As he tried to turn his life around — going back to school and trying to securing a job — it was difficult to completely change his outlook.

    “It stays in your head,” Tighadouini said. “When something happened in wars or like with Syria, the hate comes back — or wanted to come back.”

    He was still struggling with those feelings when he was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2011. As he lay in a hospital bed being treated by a team of Dutch doctors, Tighadouini had a sudden realization. “They don’t see a Muslim on the bed, they see me, a human,” he said. “So why can I not do the same thing?”

    Then, when two gunmen attacked the Paris office of satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo” in January of last year, Tighadouini felt compelled to speak out against the assault. While there was almost universal outcry about the terrorist attack that killed 12 people, he felt he was in a unique position to make a difference.

    “I know what happened in the minds of the youth so I want to tell my story,” Tighadouini said. “Maybe I can prevent something, maybe a guy will hear my story, will think, ‘Yeah, maybe he’s right.’”

    After the attacks in Paris last November, he wrote an op-ed  piece in the Dutch newspaper “De Volkskrant” about his experience. He hopes he may reach people who are in the same position he was in. It’s this potential to help, he says, that makes any stigma or negative responses that he may receive for going public with his story worth the risk.

    “I have a responsibility to speak out — as a Muslim, as a human,” he said.

    The post Why this formerly radicalized Muslim is speaking out against extremism appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson looks on during National Convention held at the Rosen Center in Orlando, Florida, May 29, 2016.  REUTERS/Kevin Kolczynski - RTX2EQ7N

    Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson looks on during the National Convention held at the Rosen Center in Orlando, Florida, on May 29, 2016. Photo by Kevin Kolczynski/Reuters

    ORLANDO, Fla. — The Libertarian Party has nominated former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson as its presidential candidate just as it did in 2012.

    Delegates to the party’s convention in Orlando on Sunday picked Johnson on the second ballot over Austin Petersen, the founder of The Libertarian Republic magazine, and anti-computer virus company founder John McAfee.

    Johnson got about 1 percent of the popular vote in 2012.

    But the party is hoping for a strong showing in November because of the deep unpopularity polls show for presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

    The 63-year-old Johnson was governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003 as a Republican.

    The post Libertarian Party picks ex-New Mexico Gov. Johnson for president appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Painting by Angela Gilmour

    This painting appears in Angela Gilmour’s “Boolean Logic” series, which went on display in Cork, Ireland, last fall. Painting by Angela Gilmour

    Long before the smartwatch or Google search, there was George Boole.

    Born in 1815 in the U.K., the mathematician invented a system of logic distilling complicated actions into simpler values — “true” or “false,” “on” or “off” — thereby inventing the foundations of the digital age.

    This system, dubbed “Boolean logic” after the mathematician, was used in the development of the first electrical circuits, the parent technology to computers.

    Artist Angela Gilmour, who is based in Ireland, saw these principles up close while working as a process and product development engineer in the computer manufacturing industry. After graduating with a degree in physics, she worked at NEC Semiconductors in Scotland and Analog Devices in Ireland.

    It was there that she began looking at the process of fabricating computer chips, which usually go unseen in the manufacturing industry, as an artistic endeavor. She portrayed that process in “Boolean Logic,” a series of paintings that bring computer circuitry up close in vivid color. The paintings appeared on display last September at the University College Cork’s Tyndall National Institute in Cork, Ireland.

    Painting by Angela Gilmour

    Painting by Angela Gilmour

    The paintings’ backgrounds represent the part of the fabrication process that uses plasma gas, charged particles that are the basis of spectacular natural light shows such as lightning and the Northern Lights, to write detailed patterns finer than a strand of hair onto silicone.

    The paintings also drew on photolithography, a standard method of using light refraction to create the distinctive, maze-like conductive paths on circuit boards.

    She said she wants to use a combination of science and art to better understand the complexities of human life. “I believe the two cross over, especially as a tool for observing and analyzing,” she wrote in an email. “The sciences and the arts are asking the same questions: who, and what, are we?”

    With the project, Gilmour wants “to make the viewer aware of the hidden imagery and architecture that exists all around them,” she said.

    For Gilmour’s next project, she will create installations made from deconstructed scientific instruments, including calculators, thermographs and microscopes, which will tour County Cork in Ireland. The project is funded by the Science Foundation Ireland, she said.

    You can see more of Gilmour’s work on the series below.

    Painting by Angela Gilmour

    Painting by Angela Gilmour

    Painting by Angela Gilmour

    Painting by Angela Gilmour

    Painting by Angela Gilmour

    Painting by Angela Gilmour

    Painting by Angela Gilmour

    Painting by Angela Gilmour

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    "Songlines" at the Sydney Opera House appears on May 27, 2016. Photo by James Horan/Destination NSW via Vivid Sydney

    “Songlines” at the Sydney Opera House appears on May 27, 2016. Photo by James Horan/Destination NSW via Vivid Sydney

    Along the edge of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, Australia, an otherworldly archway is covering visitors in cascades of light.

    “Cathedral of Light” is only one piece of Vivid Sydney, a festival combining light displays, music and speakers that began Friday and will run through June 18. The festival transformed the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and other local landmarks with more than 90 installations, including projections, interactive exhibits, sculptures and performances.

    Many of the installations are concentrated around the Circular Quay in Sydney Harbour, with additional pieces on display throughout the city. Last year, more than 1.7 million people attended the festival.

    A visitor to the Sydney Botanical Garden's inaugural contribution to the Vivid Sydney light festival takes a picture of the 'Cathedral of Light' during a preview of the annual interactive light installation and projection event around Sydney, Australia May 25, 2016. Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters

    A visitor to the Sydney Botanical Garden’s inaugural contribution to the Vivid Sydney light festival takes a picture of the ‘Cathedral of Light’ during a preview of the annual interactive light installation and projection event around Sydney, Australia May 25, 2016. Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters

    The festival began with the debut of a 15-minute projection on the Sydney Opera House that was created by a group of Indigenous artists. The piece, “Songlines,” was devised by Rhoda Roberts, head of Indigenous programming at the Sydney Opera House.

    The process of creating the project, which draws on the interconnected history and relationships between Australia’s Indigenous tribes, was more than just projecting pretty pictures onto the iconic structure, Roberts told The Sydney Morning Herald. “You don’t have the luxury of just slapping up artworks,” she said. “There’s so much protocol and cultural responsibilities for each artist.”

    An image of an indigenous Australian man is projected onto the sails of the Sydney Opera House during the opening night of the annual Vivid Sydney light festival in Sydney, Australia, May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Reed TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX2EG7V

    An image of an indigenous Australian man is projected onto the sails of the Sydney Opera House during the opening night of the annual Vivid Sydney light festival in Sydney, Australia, May 27, 2016. Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters

    British musician Brian Eno curated the festival’s first year in 2009. It was met with some skepticism that first year, but later won over large crowds as it expanded its focus on interactive art.

    READ NEXT: This guy covered the Australian desert with 50,000 lights, and it’s breathtaking

    The festival inspired the creation of Light City Baltimore, which brought together performers, lighting designers, sound designers and speakers in Baltimore from March 28 to April 3.

    See more images of the festival below.

    "Synthesis" appears at the Vivid Sydney Festival. Image courtesy of Vivid Sydney

    “Synthesis,” an installation covering a tree in strips of LED lights, appears at the Vivid Sydney Festival. Image courtesy of Vivid Sydney

    An indigenous Australian design is projected onto the sails of the Sydney Opera House during the opening night of the annual Vivid Sydney light festival in Sydney, Australia May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Reed - RTX2EGEG

    An indigenous Australian design is projected onto the sails of the Sydney Opera House during the opening night of the annual Vivid Sydney light festival in Sydney, Australia May 27, 2016. Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters

    People take pictures of a design projected onto the Museum of Contemporary Art during the opening night of the annual Vivid Sydney light festival in Sydney, Australia May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Reed - RTX2EGAT

    People take pictures of a design projected onto the Museum of Contemporary Art during the opening night of the annual Vivid Sydney light festival in Sydney, Australia May 27, 2016. Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters

    A boy pushes himself into an illuminated sculpture on the opening night of the annual Vivid Sydney light festival in Sydney, Australia May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Reed - RTX2EHO6

    A boy pushes himself into an illuminated sculpture on the opening night of the annual Vivid Sydney light festival in Sydney, Australia May 27, 2016. Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters

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    A dead body is disembarked from the Italian Navy vessel Vega at the Reggio Calabria harbour, southern Italy, May 29, 2016. As many as 900 people died crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Africa during the last five days. Photo By Antonio Parrinello/Reuters

    A dead body is disembarked from the Italian Navy vessel Vega at the Reggio Calabria harbour, southern Italy, May 29, 2016. As many as 900 people died crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Africa during the last five days. Photo By Antonio Parrinello/Reuters

    At least 700 migrants attempting to cross from Libya to Europe may have drowned last week after three boats capsized in the Mediterranean Sea, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Doctors Without Borders said Sunday.

    The drownings came as a multinational coalition of ships combed open waters in search of survivors, while humanitarian groups and the UNHCR say the exact death toll may never be confirmed.

    Nearly 100 people are missing from one boat that capsized on Wednesday, while a witness who spoke to the Associated Press described a second fishing boat overfilling with water before it sank on Thursday, killing up to an estimated 670 people. A third boat on Friday killed at least 45 people after it went down.

    A child holds a doll as he sits in a coach after disembarking from the Italian Navy vessel Vega at the Reggio Calabria harbour, southern Italy, May 29, 2016. Photo By Antonio Parrinello/Reuters

    A child holds a doll as he sits in a coach after disembarking from the Italian Navy vessel Vega at the Reggio Calabria harbour, southern Italy, May 29, 2016. Photo By Antonio Parrinello/Reuters

    Many of the migrants who reportedly died last week at sea were from Eritrea, while a Sudanese man who commanded one of the boats could face charges. At least three infants were among the dead.

    “Some were more shaken than others because they had lost their loved ones,” Raffaele Martino, commander of an Italian navy ship that rescued 135 people, told Reuters on Sunday.

    Giovanna Di Benedetto, a spokesperson for the humanitarian group Save the Children, told the Associated Press that this week marks an escalation in the years-long migratory crisis.

    “It really looks like that in the last period the situation is really worsening in the last week, if the news is confirmed,” Di Benedetto said.

    A woman is helped by medical staff abroad the Italian Navy vessel Vega at the Reggio Calabria harbour, southern Italy, May 29, 2016. Photo By Antonio Parrinello/Reuters

    A woman is helped by medical staff abroad the Italian Navy vessel Vega at the Reggio Calabria harbour, southern Italy, May 29, 2016. Photo By Antonio Parrinello/Reuters

    At least 14,000 people have been rescued in the last week as the number of people attempting to migrate to Europe from north Africa has swelled. According to the U.N., nearly 40,000 people have made the crossing this year, mainly to Italy and Greece.

    Another 160,000 people, mostly Syrian refugees, have taken to the Mediterranean this year in an attempt to reach Europe as the country’s civil war continues. Some European nations have shut down their borders to staunch the flow of migrants fleeing war, oppression and poverty. In 2015, more than 1 million people migrated to Europe, mostly via the sea.

    Tommaso Fabri, of Doctors Without Borders, said European nations need to do more to stem the rash of deaths among migrants and refugees.

    “It’s time that Europe had the courage to offer safe alternatives that allow these people to come without putting their own lives or those of their children in danger,” Fabri said.

    The post Hundreds dead as migrant crisis escalates in the Mediterranean Sea appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally to highlight POW-MIA issues on Memorial Day weekend in Washington, U.S. May 29, 2016.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX2EQSU

    Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally to highlight POW-MIA issues on Memorial Day weekend in Washington, U.S. May 29, 2016. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Donald Trump told a Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally on Sunday that people in the U.S. illegally often are cared for better than the nation’s military veterans.

    “We’re not going to allow that to happen any longer,” Trump told supporters gathered at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.

    Dedicated to remembering prisoners of war and those missing in action, the crowd cheered — a sign, perhaps, that some veterans groups are stepping past their anger over Trump’s comments last year in which he said he likes “people who weren’t captured” in wars. That had been a dig at Arizona Sen. John McCain, who had been captured and held for more than five years during the Vietnam War. Trump claimed that McCain was a “war hero because he was captured.” Trump has refused to apologize to McCain.

    Many veterans groups were furious, but since then Trump has worked to try to repair the damage. He frequently honors veterans at his rallies and he has come out with a plan to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs. He also held a fundraiser for veterans’ causes in place of an Iowa debate that he skipped. Still, Trump, who avoided the draft through a series of deferments, drew scrutiny for not immediately distributing the $6 million he’d claimed to raise, including $1 million he’d pledged himself.

    He is expected to hold a news conference Tuesday to announce the name of the charities selected to receive the money.

    [Watch Video]

    On Sunday, Trump also vowed to “knock the hell out of” the Islamic State group by building a bigger and better military and by cutting wait times for veterans needing medical care.

    “If there’s a wait, we’re going to give the right for those people to go to a private doctor or even a public doctor and get themselves taken care of and we’re going to pay the bill,” he said.

    Trump has a loyal following with bikers, who frequently attend his rallies, where they sometimes clash with Trump protesters. Among those eager to hear Trump speak was Louis Naymik, 52, of Clarksburg, Maryland, who said he served in the Ohio Army National Guard for four years.

    “There’s history in the air here,” he said. “We’re living in historic times in our country today with the election and the choosing of a new president. And I just wanted to give honor to those who have fallen and sacrificed their lives for our country.”

    Naymik, who works in radiology, was wearing a Trump shirt and said he had been a supporter since the day Trump announced his candidacy

    “What I like about Trump is that he is one of us. He’s not a politician,” he said, adding that Trump would bring the country back to its old values, put American citizens first and honor its veterans.

    The post Trump says undocumented immigrants are treated better than veterans appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by PBS NewsHour Weekend

    This video is not currently available. | Listen to the Audio

    By Sam Weber and Laura Fong

    Mohamed Nidalha hasn’t seen his son Reda in more than two years.

    Born and raised in Leiden in the Netherlands, Nidalha said his son fell under the influence of extremists while staying with an uncle in Brussels and fled to Syria to join the Islamic State.

    Nidalha says he contacted Dutch security officials once he learned about his son’s plans but was told there was nothing that could be done, because Reda was over 18.

    “Even when I told them my son is planning on joining a terrorist organization they said, ‘Sorry, we can’t help you,’” Nidalha said.

    Reda is one of an estimated 220 Dutch residents who have traveled to Iraq or Syria to join terrorist groups like the Islamic State according to The Soufan Group. Together, an estimated 5,000 people have traveled to Iraq and Syria from the European Union to become foreign fighters.

    Terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels have brought renewed attention to the threat of radicalized foreign fighters returning home. The violence has also prompted many countries, including the Netherlands, to focus on efforts to prevent the radicalization of youths in the first place.

    In Rotterdam, the second-largest city in the Netherlands, religious leaders, community groups and the police have all been working to combat the threat of homegrown radicalism.

    But predicting who may become radicalized, and stopping a committed person from leaving for Syria or Iraq, is difficult.

    “If they really want to go and if they’re in a circle with like-minded people, there’s not a lot you can do about it,” said Marion van San, a researcher at Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

    See the whole transcript below:

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Mohamed Nidalha hasn’t seen his son Reda in more than two years. He scrolls through old pictures on his iPad, from when he was 19 years old to when he was five years old.

    MOHAMED NIDALHA: (translated from Dutch) Reda grew up like any other child. He had lots of friends, just a regular kid like any other.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The family emigrated from Morocco, but Reda was born and raised in Leiden, near Rotterdam in southern Holland.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Nidalha says his son Reda went to Syria to join the Muslim militant group ISIS.

    MOHAMED NIDALHA: (translated from Dutch) In the weeks leading up to his departure for Syria, he fooled and misled us all.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The family is Muslim, but Nidhala says, they are not very religious. He believes when Reda visited an uncle in Belgium for a few months in 2014, Reda fell under the sway of ISIS recruiters. After that, he traveled to Turkey, the gateway into Syria.

    MOHAMED NIDALHA: (translated from Dutch) Reda called his sister and told her “I love you, I love dad, I love mom, but I’m going to Syria to help children and help the women being raped.”

    HARI SREENIVASAN: As soon as he learned of his son’s plan to go to Syria, Nidalha says he contacted Dutch security officials.

    MOHAMED NIDALHA: (translated from Dutch) Everyone told me, “We can’t help you, because your son is already 18 years old. He can travel to wherever he wants.” Even when I told them my son is planning to join a terrorist organization and is going to fight in Syria. Still they said, “Sorry, we can’t help you.”

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Reda is one of an estimated 220 Dutch residents who have traveled to Syria or Iraq to join ISIS, according to The Soufan Group, which estimates that 5,000 foreign fighters from western Europe have made the trip.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Marion van San is a researcher at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. She has interviewed dozens of Dutch families whose children have traveled to Syria and Iraq, including Mohamed Nidalha and even his son, Reda via Facebook. She says radicalization is hard to predict or stop.

    MARION VAN SAN: If they really want to go, and if they’re in a circle with like-minded people, there’s not a lot you can do about it.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Van San says the youth most vulnerable to radical recruitment are from troubled families or broken homes looking for guidance on how to live.

    MARION VAN SAN: They’re all youngsters with very, very strong ideals. They’re worried about the world. And they want to have like a guideline — how shall I live? And they find that in Islam.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  Imam Azzedine Karrat leads Rotterdam’s Essalam mosque, the biggest in the Netherlands. He says parents worried about their children becoming radicalized often come to him first. The imam says the key is to engage with these youths, not push them away.

    AZZEDINE KARRAT: (translated from Dutch) I believe that young people that radicalize at one point did start their search with good intentions. Things can of course go awry, but it’s up to us to listen to them, not give them the idea that we’re judging them and present them with alternatives and other information.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: If he fails to talk someone out of going to Syria, Karrat may call the police. He says he’s competing against the Internet for hearts and minds.

    AZZEDINE KARRAT: (translated from Dutch) Radicalization doesn’t happen in mosques. On the contrary, one of the steps in the radicalization process is distancing themselves from mosques.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: To reach as many people as possible, Karrat posts his sermons on YouTube and is active on Twitter and Facebook. But he’s also aware of his limitations.

    AZZEDINE KARRAT: (translated from Dutch) Imams and mosques are part of the solution, but it’s also dependent on the collaboration between different actors in society, organizations and people in the community, the municipality, the parents, the youngsters themselves, the police, together they are part of the solution.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Marianne Vorthoven runs SPIOR, an Islamic organization that works with imams, teachers, social workers, and community leaders to talk to parents and youth about radicalism.

    MARIANNE VORTHOVEN:  There is no easy answer to this.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: SPIOR has organized more than 40 meetings in Rotterdam during past year and Vorthoven says the very act of acknowledging radicalization within Muslim communities is novel.

    MARIANNE VORTHOVEN: There’s a lot of silence, a lot of taboo around these issues. And especially in some groups it’s also, “No, but it’s not about us. It has nothing to do with Islam, so we don’t need to talk about it.” Whether you like it or not, these atrocities are being done in the name of Islam, so also in society how people perceive Islam and Muslims is affected by it.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In SPIOR’s meetings, organizers try to boost resistance to radicalism – what they call “resilience” — by exposing the myths in recruiting messages and addressing factors that may push some to become jihadists.

    MARIANNE VORTHOVEN: Some people, and especially Muslim youth, do not feel a sense of belonging. They do not feel accepted in society, many of them. Very often implicitly or explicitly, the message is that you cannot be a good Dutch citizen and a Muslim at the same time.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: This struggle with identity is familiar to 30-year-old Mahmoud Tighadouini. His family is originally from Morocco and he was brought up a Muslim, born and raised in Amsterdam.

    MAHMOUD TIGHADOUNI: I was like searching for my own identity. I was thinking, in the Netherlands, they call me ‘the Moroccan,’ and in Morocco they call me ‘the Dutchman.’ So I didn’t know what I was.”

    HARI SREENIVASAN: After 9/11 and the start of the war in Iraq in 2003, Tighadouni met a group of young men online who introduced him to a radical Muslim ideology.

    MAHMOUD TIGHADOUNI: I was thinking, “The West are the enemies.” And they say, “They are wrong, we are good.” They are black or we are white. I needed the clearness, I needed the structure, I needed the people who say to me how to go, how to live.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: After several years of chatting online, the idea of fighting American troops abroad came up.

    MAHMOUD TIGHADOUNI: We were talking about jihad, about do you want to fight in Afghanistan? Do you want to fight in Iraq? And I said, “Yes, of course, I want to help my Muslim brothers and sisters. They kill them for no reason.” I was almost going, because I had my suitcase already done. My mom, she prevented it, gladly.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: His mother, Fatima, had noticed a change in Mahmoud.

    FATIMA BEN AYAD: (Translated from Arabic) I have to know what he does. So I found his passport in the drawer in his room and I took it and I hid it. I was scared, my son shouldn’t be going to somewhere that’s not good.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: She also called her local community police officer to intervene. And the officer confronted Tighadouni in his house.

    MAHMOUD TIGHADOUNI: He said, “Listen, Mahmoud, this is the time you need to stop with this.” And I was very upset on the same time, but I was also listening to him, because he was very clear. That’s the moment when I started not to be normal, but when I started to think, to de-radicalize.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: There are more than 3,400 community police officers, known in Dutch as a “wijkagents,” across the Netherlands. Each is assigned to one neighborhood to get to know it very well.

    JAN POTS: Hallo!

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Mickael Scharloo and Jan Pots are two of these community police officers in south Rotterdam, one of the poorest areas of the city and one of the most diverse, with 120 nationalities and a large Muslim population.

    JAN POTS: All is goot? Yea..

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Pots and Scharloo tackle small issues like traffic and parking violations, but they are also on the front lines of preventing violent radicalization. Pots describes fielding similar calls to the one Tighadouni’s mother made.

    JAN POTS: (Translated from Dutch) We had a conversation with the parents and with the boy, who wanted to travel to Syria. And we set up all the help we could to prevent that — we took his passport, and made contact with other partners that we work with.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Scharloo says officers like them are effective only by having strong personal relationships with the communities they serve.

    MICKAEL SCHARLOO: If people want to tell me something, they have to know me. Because they have to trust me with certain material and certain information.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Although efforts to prevent radicalization have been underway in Rotterdam for years, some don’t believe they go far enough.

    Rotterdam City Council member Tanya Hoogwerf is skeptical that intervention by police, religious leaders, and community groups is sufficient to combat the growing threat of homegrown radicalism.

    She advocates a harder law enforcement approach.

    TANYA HOOGWERF: It’s a real threat, and it is a security problem, and it’s not something you’re going to solve with a teacher at school. It’s not something you’re going to solve with a community police service. It’s something that you’re only going to solve and tackle with a hard security impregnated approach.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Hoogwerf would like to see Dutch citizens who join ISIS or other militant groups in Syria or Iraq banned from re-entering the country, or at a minimum detained.

    TANYA HOOGWERF: If we are going to spend money, don’t spend money on some small organizations that pretend they can de-radicalize. No, spend it on serious intelligence solutions. Put more emphasis on taking people that are potentially a threat away from the streets of Rotterdam and put them in detention.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Marianne Vorthoven of SPIOR admits it’s difficult to quantify success in the work it is doing to prevent radicalization.

    MARIANNE VORTHOVEN: We cannot say for a fact that otherwise this young man or young woman would have gone to Syria, but because we’ve had this meeting with him or her, now she is not going. But what we see is that people open up about a very sensitive and complicated subject.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Mohamed Nidalha has been vocal about sharing his story in the Netherlands in the hope that it will raise awareness among other parents. He believes that anyone could be susceptible to radicalization.

    MOHAMED NIDHALA: (Translated from Dutch) I gave my son the freedom to choose, I didn’t raise him religiously, and still I couldn’t prevent this.

    The post How the Dutch are working to stop radicalization of Muslim youth appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Voting machine operator Robin Coffee-Ruff hands a sticker to a voter who cast his ballot at West Philadelphia High School on U.S. midterm election day morning in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 4, 2014.  REUTERS/Mark Makela (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTR4CT7R

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