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- 06/01/16--15:50: _News Wrap: Trump Un...
- 06/01/16--18:53: _Obama: America is n...
- 06/01/16--19:09: _Questions for Presi...
- 06/02/16--05:33: _Trump University mo...
- 06/02/16--06:04: _Army’s gay civilian...
- 06/02/16--07:09: _Clinton: Trump is ‘...
- 06/02/16--07:41: _How children’s hosp...
- 06/02/16--08:12: _The secret things y...
- 06/02/16--08:48: _Staffer who set up ...
- 06/02/16--09:24: _Prince died of an o...
- 06/02/16--09:30: _Column: Our zeal fo...
- 06/02/16--10:28: _Justice Dept. backs...
- 06/02/16--12:45: _Paul Ryan officiall...
- 06/02/16--13:02: _Teens on being teth...
- 06/02/16--15:20: _Judy Collins still ...
- 06/02/16--15:25: _Obama to gun owners...
- 06/02/16--15:30: _The San Francisco a...
- 06/02/16--15:35: _Prince’s fentanyl o...
- 06/02/16--15:40: _In the eye of legal...
- 06/02/16--15:45: _Can Bernie Sanders ...
- 06/01/16--19:09: Questions for President Obama: A Town Hall Special
- 06/02/16--05:33: Trump University model: Sell hard, demand to see a warrant
- 06/02/16--06:04: Army’s gay civilian leader calls his promotion ‘remarkable’
- 06/02/16--07:41: How children’s hospitals are helping kids sleep at night
- 06/02/16--08:12: The secret things you give away through your phone metadata
- 06/02/16--08:48: Staffer who set up Clinton’s email server to take 5th again
- 06/02/16--09:24: Prince died of an opioid overdose, autopsy reveals
- 06/02/16--10:28: Justice Dept. backs fired VA official in legal challenge
- 06/02/16--12:45: Paul Ryan officially endorses Trump
- 06/02/16--13:02: Teens on being tethered to their phones and social media
- 06/02/16--15:20: Judy Collins still turn, turn, turning with new album at 77
- 06/02/16--15:25: Obama to gun owners — I’m not looking to disarm you
- 06/02/16--15:30: The San Francisco activists who say please build in my backyard
- 06/02/16--15:35: Prince’s fentanyl overdose gives new urgency to opioid epidemic
- 06/02/16--15:40: In the eye of legal storm battering Trump — and Trump U.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Good evening. I’m Hari Sreenivasan.
Gwen Ifill is in Elkhart, Indiana.
On the “NewsHour” tonight: She sits down with President Obama to talk about the economic recovery and politics, among other things, followed by a town hall meeting. We will have a preview of the exclusive interview.
And getting humans to Mars. A new inflatable space pod could be a big step in any mission to the Red Planet.
And also ahead, could you afford $400 in an emergency? Judy Woodruff talks with writer Neal Gabler about Americans’ financial fragility.
Plus, when a major earthquake in Nepal took 8,000 lives, it also destroyed some of the country’s history — a look at the clashes over saving Nepal’s monuments and temples.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.”
HARI SREENIVASAN: President Obama launched an election-year effort today to undercut Republican claims that the country is in decline. He said it’s not borne out by the facts, but he acknowledged Americans are feeling stressed.
He spoke in an exclusive interview with Gwen Ifill, at a “PBS NewsHour” town hall in Elkhart, Indiana.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: When we have gone through a tough time — and we went through worst financial crisis in our lifetimes.
I’m looking around. And I think it’s safe to say that it’s been the worst in the lifetimes or memories of most people here. Then you feel nervous. A lot of times, it’s easy for somebody to come up and say, you know what, if we deport all the immigrants and build a wall, or if we cut off trade with China, or if we do X or Y or Z, that there’s some simple answer and, suddenly, everything’s going to feel secure.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The town hall will air this evening as a “PBS NewsHour” special. And we will have an extended excerpt of Gwen’s interview with the president after the news summary.
In the day’s other news: The presidential race was dominated by questions about Trump University, Donald Trump’s defunct real estate seminar business. Two lawsuits charge it defrauded customers, and newly released court documents include instructions to Trump employees to use high-pressure tactics.
In Newark, New Jersey, today, Democrat Hillary Clinton charged it’s more evidence that the Republican nominee-to-be is a fraud.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: He is trying to scam America, the way he scammed all those people at Trump U. It’s important that we recognize what he has done, because that’s usually a pretty good indicator of what he will do.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Trump didn’t immediately respond, but he has said that most people who took the seminars were satisfied. He’s also accused the San Diego judge who released the documents of being hostile to him. That judge now says some of the material was released by mistake, and must be resealed until sections can be blacked out.
Flooding fueled by heavy rain swept across more of the Texas countryside today. Several rivers surged over their banks, and evacuation orders went out to a series of towns. Houston’s southwestern suburbs braced for the worst as the Brazos River hit record highs and kept going.
KAREN MYERS, Evacuee: Very scary watching the water just rise so fast. I mean, it came up so fast. I couldn’t believe it.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Entire communities and their roadways are now submerged by the flooded river, and many homes have been turned into islands. Hundreds of people who live in them have been forced to flee, but others are cut off.
Officials have carried out more than 120 boat rescues across Fort Bend County, including this one in Rosenberg. Police in the nearby city of Richmond warned there’s more to come.
LT. LOWELL NEINAST, Richmond Police Department: This river is going to stay high throughout the rest of the week and into the weekend. So we’re going to have some — this is going to be awhile.
HARI SREENIVASAN: At the same time, major flooding has paralyzed parts of North Texas. The Trinity River is on the rise IN Dallas. Floodwaters have also engulfed Granbury, outside Fort Worth. Now, with up to 10 more inches of rain in the forecast, much of Texas is under a flash flood watch.
From flood to fire: The people of Fort McMurray, Canada, began returning home today, for the first time since a wildfire roared through one month ago. A trickle of traffic brought evacuees back into the town in Alberta today. They were told to bring up to two weeks of supplies, as basic services have yet to be restored. The fire destroyed 2,400 buildings, about 10 percent of the city and forced 80,000 people to flee.
A French company says its search vessel has picked up black box signals from an EgyptAir plane that crashed last month. They came from deep in the Mediterranean Sea, near the plane’s last known location, north of Alexandria, Egypt. The flight disappeared on May 19, with 66 people on board. Search teams have found debris, but the cause of the crash remains unclear.
The U.N. Children’s Fund warned today that 20,000 Iraqi children are caught in the fighting at Fallujah. They’re among some 50,000 civilians trapped there. The warning came as government forces ran into fierce resistance from Islamic State militants.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited the front line and said the military is trying to safeguard Fallujah’s people.
HAIDER AL-ABADI, Prime Minister, Iraq (through interpreter): The enemy has been denied most of the chances to flee. But many civilians are still there. The main target of the operation now is to reduce the number of victims among civilians and also to decrease losses among our armed forces. We may raise the Iraqi flag inside Fallujah in the coming few days.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Despite that prediction, it’s widely expected that the fight for Fallujah could go on for some time.
In Somalia, Islamist Al-Shabaab militants stormed a hotel in Mogadishu, killing at least six people and taking a number of hostages. The dead included two members of Parliament. The attack began when a suicide bomber blew up his vehicle in front of the hotel’s entrance, leaving burning wreckage. Several gunmen then stormed in. It’s the latest in a series of such attacks.
Back in this country, federal officials announced they won’t charge two Minneapolis policemen with civil rights violations for killing a black man last November; 24-year-old Jamar Clark was shot during a struggle with the white officers. It sparked weeks of protests, with demonstrators claiming Clark was handcuffed when he was shot. But the U.S. attorney says the evidence suggests he wasn’t.
ANDREW LUGER, U.S. Attorney, Minnesota: Given the lack of bruising, the lack of Mr. Clark’s DNA on the handcuffs and the deeply conflicted testimony about whether he was handcuffed, we determined that we could not pursue this case based on a prosecution theory that Mr. Clark was handcuffed at the time that he was shot.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Earlier this year, a state prosecutor also declined to file charges in Clark’s death.
Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, a former volunteer sheriff’s deputy faces four years in prison for fatally shooting an unarmed suspect last year. Robert Bates is 74. He was sentenced Tuesday in Tulsa for second-degree manslaughter. Bates killed Eric Harris during a sting involving illegal gun sales. He has said he meant to use a stun gun, but grabbed his handgun by mistake.
Wall Street struggled today to eke out small gains. The Dow Jones industrial average was up just two points to close at 17789. The Nasdaq rose four points, and the S&P 500 added two.
And an excavation in London has unearthed the oldest handwritten document ever found in Britain. The Roman tablet dates from 57 A.D., just 14 years after the city was founded. It turned up during construction of a new headquarters for media giant Bloomberg. In all, more than 400 wooden tablets were found, including one with the earliest written reference to London. The records refer to everything from beer deliveries to legal rulings.
Still to come on the “NewsHour”: Gwen Ifill sits down with the president, and we get the analysis of Mark Shields and David Brooks; a NASA mission to create an inflatable space pod; why nearly half of Americans don’t have $400 for an emergency; and much more.
The post News Wrap: Trump University used high-pressure tactics, court documents say appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
ELKHART, Ind. — President Obama defended his economic record on Wednesday during a visit to an Indiana city that has come to symbolize the nation’s uneven recovery, saying that he created millions of new jobs and questioning Republican Donald Trump’s ability to steer the economy in the right direction.
In a far-ranging interview and town-hall event with PBS NewsHour in Elkhart, Obama touted the economic gains seen under his watch in hard-hit counties like Elkhart, where the unemployment rate soared to nearly 20 percent soon after he took office.
Unemployment in the county, which the Obama administration used as a touchstone early on to gauge its economic recovery plan, now stands at roughly four percent.
“We’re going to have to make sure that we make some good decisions going forward, but the notion that somehow America is in decline is just not born out by the facts,” Obama said in an interview with the NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill.
Nevertheless, in the interview and a town hall held immediately after in downtown Elkhart, the president acknowledged that many people around the country remain worried about making ends meet.
“Even though we’ve recovered, people feel like the ground under their feet isn’t quite as solid,” Obama said. “If they’re feeling insecure, and they’re offered a simple reason to be more secure, people are going to be tempted by it.”
The comment was clearly aimed at Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee. Trump’s populist economic message has energized millions of voters, but his critics — including Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee — have long argued that Trump does not have the experience or gravity to lead the country.
The president declined to invoke the real estate mogul’s full name, saying that he would let Trump “do his advertising for him.”
But Obama criticized Trump’s claims that he could use his business acumen to spur economic growth and tackle other complex issues.
“He just says, ‘I’m gonna negotiate a better deal.’ Well how? How exactly are you going to negotiate that?” Obama said during the town hall portion of the event. “What magic wand do you have? And usually the answer is, he doesn’t have an answer.”
The remarks were a preview of Obama’s likely line of attack later this summer, when he plans to head out on the road to campaign for the Democratic nominee. But while Obama touched on the 2016 presidential election, he spent the bulk of the town hall addressing Elkhart residents’ concerns about the pace of the economic recovery.
Obama first came to Elkhart County in May 2008, during his presidential campaign. At the time of his visit, the county’s unemployment rate stood at 5.1 percent. The president returned later that year, after securing the Democratic presidential nomination, and gave a speech vowing to spur economic growth in the region.
But the local economy took a nosedive soon after. By the time of Obama’s next visit, in February 2009, the county’s unemployment rate had shot up to 20 percent, making Elkhart a symbol of the many communities struggling to cope with the Great Recession.
Obama used that trip, his first as president outside of Washington, D.C., to make a last-minute push for the stimulus bill, a proposed package of federal spending and tax cuts aimed at reviving the economy.
In August 2009, after Congress passed the $787 billion recovery plan, Obama returned to Elkhart for the fourth time to announce stimulus funding for Indiana. The president also used the trip to push back against Republicans who argued that the stimulus plan wasn’t working.
Most economists now credit the stimulus bill with helping avert a deeper recession. The bill is often cited by Obama supporters as one of the president’s most important achievements. But Republican attacks on the recovery plan never stopped.
And the recovery in Elkhart has been uneven. After several years of slow but steady growth, the recreational vehicle manufacturing industry, which is based in Elkhart and anchors the regional economy, is back in full swing.
“Right now, things are going very well. We’ve gone from high unemployment to having jobs we can’t fill,” said Kyle Hannon, the president of the Elkhart Chamber of Commerce.
Victoria Bowen, a lifelong Elkhart resident who works at an RV factory, said she was struck by the number of help wanted signs around the town, just a few years after many businesses were shutting down or laying off workers.
“That means the economy is going again,” Bowen said, adding that she credits Obama for the city’s resurgence. “The economy was down, and he brought it back. I think Obama has done a good job.”
But others scoffed at the notion that Elkhart had recovered, and criticized Obama for not doing enough to create new jobs.
“He’s come to Elkhart a few times, and it seems like he’s done nothing to try and make things better,” said Steven Good, a homeless man who has struggled to find housing and work in the area. “He made lots of announcements but they were just words. Empty promises.”
Conversations with residents across the city revealed a racial divide, in particular among white conservatives who said they disliked the president and African-Americans, like Bowen, who are Democrats and support Obama.
The divide mirrored nationwide surveys that show more than 80 percent of blacks approve of the job Obama is doing. In contrast, his approval rating among whites has been stuck below 50 percent for the past several years.
More broadly, opinions of Obama in Elkhart broke down largely along partisan lines, with most Democrats in interviews expressing support for the president and most Republicans opposing his economic policies.
Obama focused on his record in the PBS NewsHour town hall, and has used other interviews this year to burnish his legacy in the final months before he leaves office. But as Hannon noted, arguments over Obama’s legacy will continue long after he departs the White House.
“It’s going to take several years for that legacy to settle in,” Hannon said.
In the short term, Obama’s popularity in places like Elkhart could help determine the presidential election.
Trump will need to perform well in states across the Midwest in order to beat Clinton in the fall. Obama carried Indiana in the 2008 general election, becoming the first Democratic candidate to win the state since 1964. But Obama lost Indiana to Mitt Romney by 10 points in 2012, and the state is leaning Republican this year as well.
Trump won the GOP primary in Indiana by nearly 20 points last month, forcing Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Gov. John Kasich out of the race.
At the NewsHour town hall, Obama said there would be “plenty of time” for him to campaign for Trump’s opponent once the last major primaries take place next Tuesday.
“There’s been a healthy debate in the Democratic primary, and it’s almost over,” Obama said. “I think we’ll probably have a pretty good sense next week of who the nominee is going to be.”
Clinton has a large delegate lead over Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, but Sanders won several states last month and could be competitive in California, which awards the bulk of the remaining pledged delegates, next week.
Obama appeared eager to take on Trump, though he lamented the culture of modern-day campaigning.
“Politicians get the most attention the more outrageous they sound. So if you’re civil and quiet and polite, nobody covers you. But if you say something crazy and rude you’re all over the news,” Obama said.
He added, “that has fed this kind of arms race of insults and controversy that doesn’t shed a lot of light even though it generates a lot of heat.”
Whatever happens statewide in November, Elkhart County will likely wind up in the Republican column. The county has voted for the Republican candidate in the past four presidential races.
“This is a very, very Republican county,” Hannon said. “And that might be part of the reason why Obama doesn’t get a lot of credit around here.”
The NewsHour published a series of stories on Elkhart this week. Among them:
The post Obama: America is not in decline, Trump lacks ‘magic wand’ to grow economy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
ANNOUNCER: This is a PBS NewsHour special — Questions for President Obama.
Now, from the Lerner Theatre in Elkhart, Indiana, PBS NewsHour co-anchor, Gwen Ifill.
GWEN IFILL: Good evening.
And welcome to Elkhart, Indiana, as we sit down with President Obama and the residents of this community to discuss their concerns, look back on his time in office and assess the feverish campaign to succeed him.
This marks the president’s fifth visit to the once and again RV capital of the world — a small city where the unemployment rate hit 19.6 percent his first year in office and now has dropped to about 4 percent.
But this White House isn’t getting any credit for that turnaround. Residents here voted for Ted Cruz in this year’s primaries and Mitt Romney by two to one in 2012. Even when President Obama won Indiana in 2008, just as the economy was crashing, Elkhart went with John McCain.
So what gives?
We’ve asked some of the people who live here to join us on the stage of the beautiful Lerner Theatre here downtown for an intimate conversation.
But first, the president of the United States, Barack Obama.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Hi, Gwen.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Thank you.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: How are you?
GWEN IFILL: Hi, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It’s good to see you.
GWEN IFILL: Thank you.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Hello.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Thank you.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Thank you, guys.
GWEN IFILL: Our residents have been waiting faithfully, patiently and eagerly to see you today.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, I’m eager to see them.
And this is a beautiful theatre.
GWEN IFILL: It is beautiful.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Which got converted. Congratulations on a wonderful venue.
GWEN IFILL: Some of them voted for you, some of them didn’t. We’ll be talking about that…
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, that’s what we’d expect.
GWEN IFILL: — in a moment.
But I first want to ask by talking to you a little bit about this campaign.
What do you think it means when you hear the words “let’s make America great again”?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I think America is pretty great. And, you know, it’s interesting, I do a lot of commencement speeches this time of year. In fact, tomorrow, I’m going to be going to the Air Force Academy to deliver a commencement for the second time there. And I always remind young people that despite all the challenges that we face right now, if you had the choice to be born in any one period of time in our history, and you didn’t know ahead of time whether you were going to be rich or poor, black or white, male or female, you know, you just had to guess on what moment do you have a best chance of succeeding, it actually would be now.
That America is the strongest country on Earth. Its economy is the most durable on Earth. You know, we are a — a country that has incredible diversity, people are striving, working hard, creating businesses. We’ve got the best universities in the world, the best scientists.
You know, so we’ve got — we’ve got some challenges and we’ve just come through a very rough stretch as a consequence of the financial crisis, but overall, not only are we recovered from the crisis that we had, but we’re well positioned to do extraordinarily well going forward as long as we make some good decisions.
GWEN IFILL: And yet, many people, including probably some folks in this room…
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Yes.
GWEN IFILL: — think the deficits have gone up and the jobless rate has gone up. And, in fact, that their lives have not improved.
How — in fact, we have your nominee for the — the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party saying, Donald Trump, saying this — America is a third world nation.
How do you persuade — or I suppose, how does your likely Democratic successor, possible, persuade anybody that’s not true?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, it’s important you said my successor, because Michelle would be very upset if she thought I was running again.
Look, you just look at the evidence here in Elkhart. As you mentioned in the introduction, when I took office, this was the first city I came to. And unemployment about a month after I took office, a month and a half after I took office, was almost 20 percent. One out of 10 people were behind on their mortgage or in foreclosure.
Today, the unemployment rate is around 4 percent. It’s only about one in 30 people who are behind on their mortgage. The RV industry, which is, uh, central to Elkhart, is on track to break records in terms of sales. And so that doesn’t mean that folks aren’t struggling in some circumstances. And one of the things that I’ve emphasized is that there are some long-term trends in the economy that we have to tackle in terms of wages not going up as fast as they used to, some big costs, like college costs or health care costs that are still a challenge, people still worrying about retirement.
And so we’re going to have to make sure that we make some good decisions going forward. But the notion that somehow America is in decline is just not borne out by the facts. That…
GWEN IFILL: But it resonates. It resonates among a lot of…
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well…
GWEN IFILL: — aggrieved people who are voting in big numbers for Donald Trump.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, look, — I think that what it is also — always been true in American politics is that when we’ve gone through a tough time — and we went through the worst financial crisis of our lifetimes. I’m looking around and I — I think it’s safe to say that it’s been the worst in — in the lifetimes or memories of most people here.
Then you feel nervous. People lost homes. People lost savings. People were worried about whether or not they could make ends meet.
And so we’re — even though we’ve recovered, people feel like the ground under their feet isn’t quite as solid. And in those circumstances, a lot of times it’s easy for somebody to come up and say you know what, if we deport all the immigrants and build a wall or if we cut off trade with China, or if we do X or Y or Z, that there’s some simple answer and suddenly everything is going to feel secure. And…
GWEN IFILL: Why don’t — why don’t you mention Donald Trump by name?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You know, he seems to do a good job mentioning his own name, so…
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: — I figure — you know…
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: — I’ll let him do his advertising for him.
GWEN IFILL: Do you consider at all that any of the support for him is backlash against you personally?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, here’s one thing I would say — and I just spoke about this at the local high school. I think Trump is a more colorful character than some of the other Republican elected officials, but a lot of the story that he’s telling is entirely consistent with what folks have been saying about me or the general story they’ve been telling about the economy for the last seven and a half, the last 10, the last 20, the last 30 years. And you can — you can actually describe the story fairly concisely, right? The — the basic story they tell is that the problems that the middle class working families are experiencing has to do with a big bloated government that taxes the heck out of people and then gives that money to undeserving folks, welfare cheats or, you know, the 47 percent who are takers or, you know, whatever phrase they use, that businesses are being strangled by over-regulation, that, you know, Obamacare has killed jobs.
And the fact of the matter is when you look at it, the government, as a proportion of our overall economy, is actually smaller now under my presidency than it was under Ronald Reagan…
GWEN IFILL: Let me read you something…
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: : — I have…
GWEN IFILL: — that Bill Clinton said, though.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: But let me finish, Gwen.
GWEN IFILL: OK.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We have fewer federal employees today.
GWEN IFILL: Um-hmm.
So the arguments they’re making just are not borne out by the facts. But what is true is that if people are feeling secure — feeling insecure and they’re offered a simple reason for how they can feel more secure, people are going to be tempted by it, particularly if they’re hearing that same story over and over again.
GWEN IFILL: Perception. So Bill Clinton said, “Millions and millions and millions of people look at that pretty picture of America you painted,” which you just described, “and they cannot find themselves in it to save their lives.”
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The pretty picture that…
GWEN IFILL: The pretty picture of all the things that have gone well. Why is there a disconnect between — that he’s describing here?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, look, here’s what has changed in the economy over the last 20 to 30 years. Right after World War II, America was ascendant. It was dominant around the world because Europe was blown up. Japan was digging itself out of the rubble. China was still a backwater. Eastern Europe was behind the Iron Curtain.
There wasn’t much competition. We were the only folks who were seriously making cars and trucks and appliances and you name it.
We had strong unionization, which meant that workers had leverage so that they could get a good share of a growing pie. And people saw each year and each generation their standards of living going up pretty rapidly.
And what started happening is you started seeing foreign competition. Unions started getting busted, so workers had less leverage, which meant their wages didn’t go up quite as fast. You started seeing the end of defined benefit pension plans. In terms of health care programs, if you had health care on your job, suddenly you were paying a lot of deductibles and premiums.
College costs started going up because the public university system, which used to be generously funded by state governments so that tuition was low, suddenly state governments were spending more money on prisons than they were on universities, which meant tuition went up.
You add all those things together, and people then start feeling more stressed.
Now, the answer to that is how do we get wages up; how do we make sure that you can save for retirement; how can you make sure that your kid can afford to get a higher education to compete for the jobs of the future. And the question then is what is actually going to get that done?
To me, if we raise the minimum wage; if we make it easier not harder for people to unionize; if we negotiate trade deals that raise labor standards and environmental standards in other countries, instead of letting them sell here and we can’t sell there; if we make sure that we’re rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our infrastructure to put a bunch of folks in hard-hats back to work; if we make Social Security stronger rather than cutting it.
If we do those things, then we are going to see wages go up, labor markets tighten, and we will relieve a lot of the stress that people feel. But if you look at the arguments that are being made by the Republicans and the actions that have been taken by those members of Congress, it’s hard to see how cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans, deregulating Wall Street again, is somehow going to benefit middle class families.
GWEN IFILL: But let’s turn to the audience and see what they think. We’re going to open this conversation up. I have a lot more questions, but they do, too. And we’re going to be right back in just a moment with that.
GWEN IFILL: So Mr. President, we are back with a few questions for you from our invited audience here. They are anxious to get started and so am I.
You’re a small businessman here in Elkhart.
BILL KERCHER, Farmer: Yes, I am.
GWEN IFILL: What’s your name?
BILL KERCHER: Bill Kercher.
GWEN IFILL: What’s your question for the president?
BILL KERCHER: Mr. President, I am a fifth-generation fruit and vegetable grower here in Elkhart County. And over the last six years, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of regulations that touch all aspects of our business, from the Food Safety Modernization Act to Obamacare and many others.
Now, large farms are able to comply with these regulations more easily, and small family farms we’ve seen actually exiting the industry. At what point are we overregulated, if not now? And how can we encourage younger growers to either stay or enter an industry when the barriers to entry are higher than ever?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, it’s a great question. And first of all, my administration’s policy has been to encourage family farming, rather than big agribusiness, because not only is that sort of a model of farming that built this country, but as Michelle will tell you, it actually produces food that’s better for you, as she reminds me constantly.
So, you know, we want you to succeed. Now, if you look at the trend lines in terms of small family farms, the problem generally has been actually farms getting bought up by larger agricultural operations. It’s been you guys not always getting good prices for the products that you put together.
I don’t doubt that some elements of the regulations I put in place have probably put a burden on you. So let’s take health care for example. It may be that previously you weren’t — you didn’t think you were able to provide health insurance for your employees. The problem is that if they’re not getting health insurance through you, then that means that they’re relying on the emergency room. And they’re relying on, you know, taxpayers like everybody else to cover those costs if they get in an accident or if they get sick.
And so it has always been our view that if we can put something together where people can buy health insurance through a pool, it’s subsidized if they’re not making enough money to pay for their own health insurance, that that overall is going to be a more efficient way to do it and in fact health care inflation, the rate at which healthcare costs have gone up, for small businesses as well as large businesses, has been significantly slower since I passed the law than it was beforehand.
Now, what I would say is that there are a bunch of regulations that have been put in place in the past that may have been well intentioned, but didn’t work, sometimes they’re outdated. And so what I’ve told my administration to do is to go back and look at all the regulations that are there. If there’s not a good reason for them or if they’re outdated or if we can redesign them to put less of a burden on businesses, we should do so.
I’m not interested in regulating just for the sake of regulating, but there are some things like making sure we’ve got clean air and clean water, making sure that folks have health insurance, making sure that worker safety is a priority. That, I do think, is part of our overall obligation as a — as not a third world country, but as a advanced nation to make sure that we’re doing the right thing.
And I would hope that as a consequence of the overall economy doing better, you’ve also been doing better as well. And you know, anybody who’s running a business would rather not have any regulations, just as a general rule, and certainly, you don’t want a situation where you feel like you’re being regulated and your competitor is not. But what we try to do is to be very fair in terms of looking at what regulations make a difference.
If you’re a really small business of like 25 people or less, typically you are exempted from those — a lot of the federal regulations. If you get to a certain size, then it’s part of the cost of doing business, but what it also does is it makes sure that we, as a society, are looking out for workers, we’re protecting our families and people are getting decent wages and they’ve got health care so they’re not going to the emergency room when they get sick.
GWEN IFILL: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Mr. Kercher.
As you may have been — may have noticed, while in this election, Donald Trump came to Indiana and talked a lot about what happened with the Carrier Corporation and shipping the jobs out of state. Here’s someone who worked for Carrier and he has a question for you.
ERIC COTTONHAM, Carrier Employee: How are you doing, Mr. President?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: How are you?
ERIC COTTONHAM: My name is Eric Cottonham and I’m representing the Steelworkers Union, Local 1999. And I’m trying to find out, what do we have left far us — all of our jobs are leaving Indianapolis. I see here you’re doing a lot of things, but in Indianapolis, there’s nothing there for us. I mean, what’s next? I mean, what can we look forward to in the future as far as jobs, employment, whatever? Because all of our jobs has left or in the process of leaving, sir.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, in fact, we’ve seen more manufacturing jobs created since I’ve been president than anytime since the 1990s. That’s a fact. And you know, if you look at just the auto industry as an example, they’ve had record sales and they’ve hired back more people over the last five years than they have for a very long, long time.
We actually make more stuff, have a bigger manufacturing base today than we’ve had in most of our history. The problems have been — part of the problems have had to do with jobs going overseas and this is one of the reasons why I’ve been trying to negotiate trade deals to raise wages and environmental standards in other countries, so that they’re not undercutting us.
But frankly, part of it has had to do with automation. You go into an auto factory today that used to have 10,000 people and now they’ve got 1,000 people making the same number of cars or more. And — so what that means is even though we’re making the same amount of stuff in our manufacturing sector, we’re employing fewer people.
Now, the good news is that there are entire new industries that are starting to pop up and you’re actually seeing some manufacturers coming back to the United States because they’re starting to realize, “You know what? Energy prices are lower here, workers are better here, this is our biggest market. And so even though we off-shored and went someplace else before, now it turns out we’re better off going ahead and manufacturing here.”
But for those folks who have lost their job right now because a plant went down the Mexico, that isn’t going to make you feel better. And so what we have to do is to make sure that folks are trained for the jobs that are coming in now because some of those jobs of the past are just not going to come back, and when somebody says, like the person you just mentioned who I’m not going to advertise for, that he’s going to bring all these jobs back, well how exactly are you going to do that? What are you going to do?
There’s — there’s no answer to it. He just says, “Well, I’m going to negotiate a better deal.” Well, how — what — how exactly are you going to negotiate that? What magic wand do you have? And usually, the answer is he doesn’t have an answer.
So what I’ve tried to do, what my administration’s tried to do is let’s grow those manufacturing sectors, like clean energy, like some of these new technologies that are coming up, let’s focus on those. We’ve set up, for example, manufacturing hubs where we work with universities, local businesses, local governments, to create research labs that can take something like 3-D printing or, you know, nanotechnology — all kinds of stuff that I can’t really explain because, you know, scientists and really smart people know all about it — and said let’s invest in this so that when the new jobs come, they’re coming here.
But I’ve got to tell you that the days when you just being able to — you just being willing to work hard and you can now walk into a plant and suddenly there’s going to be a job for you for 30 years or 40 years, that’s just not going to be there for our kids because more and more, that stuff’s going to be automated. And if you go into a factory, that kid’s going to need to know computers or is going to need to know some science and some math because they’re not even going to be picking anything up, they’re just going to be working on a keyboard.
And that’s why we put so much emphasis on job training, community colleges, that’s why I’ve proposed making the first two years of community college free so that we know that every young person, they’re going to be able to — if they’re not going for a full four-year degree, at least they’re going to be getting the technical training they need for those jobs in the future.
But you cannot look backwards, and that doesn’t make folks feel good sometimes, especially if it’s a town that was reliant on a couple of big manufacturers. But they’re going to have to retrain for the jobs of the future, not the jobs of the past.
GWEN IFILL: Now, you’ve mentioned education, you’ve touched on education and we have a question here about that. What’s your name?
VANESSA CORREDERA, English Professor: Vanessa Corredera.
GWEN IFILL: OK.
VANESSA CORREDERA: Hi, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: How are you, Vanessa?
VANESSA CORREDERA: Fine, thank you. You’ve addressed the crushing student debt, especially for higher education and you’ve cited initiatives with community colleges, the STEM disciplines and technology as potential responses. Many of my friends and especially my students are still struggling with this issue.
So my question for you is how do you continue to address this issue your final months in office? And how can you do so in a way that perhaps includes the humanities and liberal arts education as whole when frankly, those are often very much under attack?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: What do you teach?
VANESSA CORREDERA: I teach English at Andrews University over in Michigan.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I thought you were a student.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I’m getting old. I’m telling you. All the teachers look like students now.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, first of all, let me just say that I have been emphasizing STEM education — that’s science, technology, engineering and math — not because I think the humanities are unimportant, but because we generally have not been producing as many engineers and as many scientists and people with those kinds of technological skills as compared to China, for example.
And we send a lot of people into banking and folks like me, who become lawyers. But the truth of the matter is that we have to make sure that we continue to have a strong base in the sciences and engineering if we’re going to remain the most innovative economy in the world.
But as somebody who’s studied humanities himself, you know, I think it’s extremely important, as well.
The broader issue of financing education, as I mentioned, the reason that college is so much more expensive for this generation as it was for my generation and even better for the previous generation really had to do with government spending. It used to be that most state universities were heavily subsidized by the state, so they kept tuition really, really low.
What happened, around the ’80s and ’90s was state legislators started saying we’ve got to build more prisons. In fairness to them, they also started feeling more pressure because of Medicaid spending, because health care costs were going up. And so they started cutting higher education budgets. And they made up for it with higher tuition.
And that’s why at least at public colleges and universities, the costs have gone up a lot.
Now, here’s what we’ve done. The first thing I did when I came into office was we reformed the student loan program because what was happening was on federally subsidized student loans, it was all run through the banks. And the banks were getting billions of dollars of profits for managing these loans to students, even though the loans were guaranteed by the federal government so they weren’t taking any risk.
And we said let’s cut the middleman out, let’s loan directly to students. So that saved us tends of billions of dollars. That allowed us to expand the Pell grant program and to lower, or cap interest on student loans.
But just because we did more loans or more grants, that doesn’t always help with the rising costs. And that’s why I’ve proposed this two-year free college — community college, because what that does is that allows a young person who’s strapped for cash and whose parents, you know, are doing everything they can, but can only do so much, to say I’ll get my first two years for free, I’ll transfer those credits to a four year public college or university and I’ve now just potentially cut the amount of loans that I’ve got in half.
And for some people who decide they don’t need a four-year college education, they want to be a graphic designer, they want to go into a trade, now they can get the training they need without incurring any debt.
So, you know, these are all proposals that are — we know work. There’s some states and cities that already are doing this to — free community college proposal and it’s working and it’s really helping to reduce costs.
And the last thing, we’re also trying to work with the universities just to figure out ways that they can reduce costs, using, for example, online learning, you know, making, putting out reports so that parents and students are better consumers, so that they know well, let me not sign up for that four-year college where the graduation rates are low and it’s got great dorms and great gyms and nice food, but I’m going to be $50,000 worth of debt and I may not get a job.
GWEN IFILL: Thank you, Mr. President.
Sir, your name?
ARVIS DAWSON, Community Leader: Arvis Dawson.
GWEN IFILL: And your question?
ARVIS DAWSON: First of all, I want to thank you, President, for your service to our country.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Thank you, sir.
ARVIS DAWSON: And, uh, despite the polls, there’s a lot of love for you here in Elkhart.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Oh, I appreciate that.
You know, I — I actually…
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: — one thing is after seven and a half years, you don’t worry about the polls no more.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You really don’t.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: So, it’s alright.
ARVIS DAWSON: My question to you, Mr. President, I am a strong believer in equal rights for everyone…
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Yes.
ARVIS DAWSON: A very strong believer in that. I was wondering, though, with all the pressing issues that you have before you right now…
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Right.
ARVIS DAWSON: — why is the issue of which bathroom a person uses such an issue?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, I — you know what, it’s — it’s a great question. Uh, somehow people think I made it an issue. I didn’t make it an issue. There — there are a lot of things that are more pressing, you’re absolutely right.
What happened and what continues to happen is you have transgender kids in schools. And they get bullied. And they get ostracized. And it’s tough for them.
And, you know, we’re of the generation where that stuff was all out of sight and out of mind and so people — people suffered silently. But now they’re out in the open. And the question then is, schools are asking us, the Department of Education, for guidance, how should we deal with this?
And my answer is that we should deal with this issue the same way we’d want it dealt with if it was our child. And that is to try to create an environment of some dignity and kindness for these kids.
And that’s sort of the bottom line. I have to just say what’s in my heart but I also have to look at, you know, what’s the law?
And my best interpretation of what our laws and our obligations are is that we should try to accommodate these kids so that they are not in a vulnerable situation.
Now, I understand that people, you know, for religious beliefs or just general discomfort might disagree. And I’m not the one who’s making a big issue of it.
But if it — if the school districts around the country ask me what do you think we should do? Then what we’re going to do is tell them let’s find a way to accommodate them in a way that makes sure that these kids are not, you know, excluded and ostracized.
GWEN IFILL: Let me ask Mr. Dawson whether he’s satisfied with the answer to that question and what — what is it about this that bothers you?
ARVIS DAWSON: Mainly, it’s my religious belief. Yes, I’m satisfied with the answer to the question.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: All right.
ARVIS DAWSON: — coming from the church background that I come from, I believe in equal rights for all.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I know.
ARVIS DAWSON: But I think, too, wherever you were going to the bathroom before, continue to go to the bathroom there. I don’t — I don’t have a problem with that.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, but, right. And — and the problem is just for a lot of these kids, they might not even feel comfortable going to the bathroom, which is a tough situation if you’re a kid. And — and look, I — I have profound respect for everybody’s religious beliefs on this. But if you’re at a public school, the question is, how do we just make sure that, uh, children are treated with kindness. That’s all. And you know, my reading of scripture tells me that that golden rule is pretty high up there in terms of my Christian belief.
That doesn’t mean somebody else has to interpret it the same way. It does mean as president of the United States, those are the values that I think are important. Now, this is going to be settled by the courts, ultimately. There have been lawsuits everywhere. I just wanted to emphasize to you, though, this — it’s not like I woke up one day and I said, man, you know what we really need to do is let’s start working on high school bathrooms.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You know, that — I was thinking about ISIL. And I was…
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: — thinking about, you know, the economy and I’m thinking about jobs. But one of the things that, as president, you learn is that you don’t choose the issues all the time. The issues come to you. And then you have to make your best judgment about what you think is right. And…
GWEN IFILL: I…
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: — and I’ve expressed what I think is the best judgment that is consistent with our traditions and our laws.
GWEN IFILL: I have another issue to come to you here, Mr. President.
What’s your name?
NANCI WIRT, Interior Decorator: Nanci Wirt.
GWEN IFILL: And what do you have — your question for the president?
NANCI WIRT: Mr. President, I, like many Americans, politically, I’m in the center. I’m not too right, I’m not too left.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Right.
NANCI WIRT: So I spend a lot of time watching the debates.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Right.
NANCI WIRT: Both parties, trying to get a sense of who is my candidate.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Right.
NANCI WIRT: So I watched a lot this year. And what I came back with at the end was I found that there was a lot of lack of civility.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Yes.
NANCI WIRT: That people were speaking — candidates were speaking over one another, shouting, calling each other names. There was a lot of inappropriate comments. I was pretty saddened by the whole situation.
I’m curious what your thoughts are on the tone of the debates overall.
GWEN IFILL: Were you watching the debates, Mr. President?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You know, I confess, I didn’t.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Um, but — but I — but I’m really glad you did. I don’t watch them because I’m just steeped in this stuff, so I could probably make all the arguments for all the candidates, including, uh, the Republican side, just because I’ve heard them a lot in my day-to-day work.
But I think it’s really important that you took the time to do what every citizen should do, which is try to get informed.
You know, this whole issue of civility is — you’re right to be distressed by it. Now, I think it’s important not to romanticize what politics used to be like. You know, if you read accounts of what like Tom Jefferson said about John Adams or what folks said about Lincoln, I mean they called them monkeys, they said they were illegitimate children, they…
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: — they said, you know, I mean they’re — there’s some rough stuff. It wasn’t on TV, because they didn’t have TVs. But it was rough.
But I do think what has happened is that some of the boundaries that used to be there for how you debated ideas have broken down. And no offense against Gwen, because she works for PBS, which is all about civility.
GWEN IFILL: Absolutely.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: But…
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: — but I do think that the TV culture, the reality culture contributes to this, because what happens — and talk radio culture. What happens is that politicians get the most attention the more outrageous they sound.
And so if you’re civil and quiet and polite, nobody covers you. But if you say something crazy or rude, you’re all over the news. And that has fed, I think, this kind of — of arms race of insult and controversy that doesn’t shine a lot of light, even though it generates a lot of heat.
The other thing that contributes to this is, and a lot of times we blame politicians, but part of it is what’s happened in terms of our voting patterns. And there are a couple of reasons for this. One is political gerrymandering, which is that the way district lines are drawn are — now they use computers. They’re so precise that whoever is in power, whether it’s Democrats in a state or Republicans in a state, and both parties do this.
They will draw these lines so precisely that every district they know this is going to be a Republican district; this is going to be a Democratic district. And so out of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives, maybe 10 percent of them are actually competitive. And the rest of them, no matter what happens, are going to be either Republican or Democrat.
Well, what happens when that exists? It means you don’t — if you’re a Republican, you don’t have to worry about what the Democrats are saying. You don’t have to go to the center. You just have to make sure that the tea party Republican to your right doesn’t say something more outlandish than you do. Same thing on the left. The Democrat is only worried about what the person on the farthest left is going to say.
And that drives people into opposite directions. So, the one thing I would say is, first of all, don’t get discouraged. Get out there and vote. But what I would say is that every voter here, Democrat or Republican, if you want more civility, then you vote for folks who are civil and who are making arguments and using logic and presenting evidence.
And not just somebody who’s popping off. And that’s true whether it’s on the left or the right. And if you are voting for somebody who’s just being controversial for the sake of it or helping you vent, then you only have yourself to blame if it turns out that the political debate starts getting more and more crass.
GWEN IFILL: Since we’re talking politics, Mr. President, I do want to ask you this. The primary season is almost over. We’ve talked a lot about what Republicans are and are not doing in this campaign. I wonder when we can expect you to get involved with the Democratic race? Are we going to see an endorsement soon? Bernie Sanders, perhaps?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, I — the — I think that there’s been a healthy debate in the Democratic Party. And it’s almost over. Yeah, we’ve got on Tuesday you’ll have some big states — California and New Jersey, where the votes will take place. What I’ve tried to do is to make sure that voters, rather than me, big-footing the situation or deciding the outcome.
I think we’ll probably have a pretty good sense next week of who the nominee will end up being. I think both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are good people. I think that they broadly share the goals that I have. There are some tactical differences within the Democratic Party about how do you get stuff done.
But there’s going to be plenty of time for me to step in and campaign.
GWEN IFILL: I notice you don’t mind using their names.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, as I said, they’re not as good at marketing.
GWEN IFILL: We have another question for you here.
DEAN RINK, Farmer: Mr. Obama, in regards to Obamacare, I’ve been receiving my health insurance through the marketplace. And the first year, the subsidy was very high and my premium was very low and I was very happy.
Now, beginning in January of ’16, the subsidy was lower and my premium went up dramatically. And my income was nearly the same. In fact, for this year I’m paying 22 percent of my income for health care. So that’s my concern and my complaint.
The second part of my question is: What’s going to happen to Obamacare in 2017 and beyond?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Yeah. Well, I don’t know the particular circumstance. Your subsidy should not have gone down if your income is more or less the same, unless there was some significant difference in your tax status. So I’ll try to find out about that.
What is true is that some of the premiums went up because essentially in the first year of a startup program, a lot of insurance companies didn’t quite know how to price things. And so they priced substantially lower than people expected.
And now things are kind of evening out, which means that some folks who overpriced, they’ve dropped their prices. Some have gone up. But on average, what we’re seeing is that the average increase is about four bucks per month for somebody who is signed up.
Some markets are different. One of the big problems that we’ve had is making sure that there’s enough competition, enough insurers who are bidding for your business in rural communities, because some areas just don’t have as many providers and as many insurance companies. And so you only get one or two, and they start thinking, well, maybe we can jack up prices a little bit higher.
Now, technically, your state insurance commissioner is able to — has to approve any hikes and those that are not justified economically, those should be stopped.
But what I would say generally is that, and we’re monitoring this very carefully, I promise. Obviously everybody’s been predicting disaster and apocalypse on this thing for a long time — is generally speaking premiums have been lower than people expected originally. In some markets, they’ve gone up faster; some markets slower.
They’re still cheaper than you would be able to get outside of the marketplace. But there are some things that we’ve got to do to lower health care costs generally, particularly drug prices. And part of Obamacare that’s not talked about a lot is us trying to improve the health care delivery system so that there’s not as much waste.
So that you’re not taking multiple tests; so that you’re not readmitted into a hospital because they didn’t take care of business the first time. And that’s part of the reason why overall health care inflation has actually gone done — has gone up at about half the rate that it did before the law passed.
For the average person here, your premiums are about $2,600 lower than they would have been if health care inflation had kept on going up at the same pace as it did before Obamacare was passed. Now, the fact that they’re still going up makes you feel bad. You’d feel worse if they’d gone up faster.
So this is still an issue of challenge to policymakers and to families. I’m happy, after — after this town hall, to get some details about your situation because if you’re income didn’t go up much, at least the subsidies should not change that much.
GWEN IFILL: Another question for you over here, Mr. President.
GERALD SPARKS, Union Member: My name is Gerald Sparks. I’m a member of the Local Level 18 Painters and Allied Trade Union.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Good to see you.
GERALD SPARKS: Two-part question for you. First, with over 79,000 Syrian refugees already coming into the states and tens of thousands more coming in, how can you guarantee that there’s none that have been radicalized? And two, don’t you feel that that money would be better spent taking care of the tens of thousands of homeless veterans we have sleeping on the streets every night, some with children and the ones committing suicide daily? Thank you, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, first, let me say, sir, that we don’t have tens of thousands of Syrian refugees coming in. We’re trying to get — trying to admit several thousand. So far, I think, we’ve been able to admit about 2,500. In contrast, Canada’s taken in 25,000. We’re a much bigger country. Germany’s taken in half a million.
There’s a tragedy going on there. People are homeless and dying and we’re the biggest, wealthiest country on Earth and we have some obligation to help, just like we’d expect people to help if Americans were in trouble.
And so I think it’s really important to understand we’re not spending a lot of money on bringing in and housing refugees, and this is — this is what I mean about making sure when we’re deciding about elections and voting that we look at the facts. I’m trying to get more refugees admitted. It’s not close to the kinds of numbers you’re talking about.
We just can’t, and the reason is because refugees are actually admitted on a much stricter standard than the average tourist who’s coming in on a visa. They have to go through a full background check, FBI, our intelligence agencies, check through every single person who comes in. It’s like a month-long process. But if you are somebody from France, you don’t even need a visa, you just hop on a plane and you’re here in the United States. And if you’re a member of ISIL that happens to be a citizen of France or Germany, you come on in.
Much more risk is involved in terms of just ordinary tourists or, for that matter, American citizens who’ve gotten brainwashed by ISIL on the computer like they did in San Bernardino, and suddenly, they just go to the local gun store where, by the way, because the Republicans have blocked it, we can’t even put them on a list to prevent them from buying weapons. That’s a much bigger danger than the Syrian refugees.
Now, the second point you made about veterans homelessness, one of the things that I did when I came in office is I said if somebody’s put on a uniform of this country and fought for our freedom, they cannot be homeless, and our goal should be zero homelessness, zero tolerance for homelessness. And we have cut veterans homelessness since I’ve been in office by about a third. Tens of thousands of veterans who used to be homeless are now housed.
But one is too many, so we’ve got some cities where they’ve set a goal of zero homeless veterans and they’ve actually achieved it. We’re going to keep on working as long as we have to to get this done and we have budgeted the dollars to make sure that every veteran is — is put in place.
But I just want to say that the reason that we’ve got veterans’ homelessness is not because of Syrian refugees, it’s not because of undeserved folks on welfare, it’s because we’ve had a Congress that for too long talks tough about patriotism and looking out for our troops and orders folks — are fine with us sending 180,000 people into war, but then when it came down to the actual veterans’ budget, it wasn’t there.
And I increased the veterans’ budget more — the V.A. budget more than any president in history. I increased it 11 percent my first year. But we’ve still got work to do on it.
GWEN IFILL: Mr. President, I’m going to squeeze in another…
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Thank you for the question, though. Are you a veteran yourself?
GERALD SPARKS: No, but I support our troops.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: All right. I appreciate you, sir.
GWEN IFILL: Yes. Hi. What’s your name?
MARIANNE NEUFELDT, Homemaker: Hi. Marianne Neufeldt.
GWEN IFILL: OK. What’s your question for the president?
MARIANNE NEUFELDT: Mr. President, what is the one thing you would go back and change during your presidency? And how would you change it?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Other than dying my hair?
I have to tell you, every day, you know, I make some mistake. Fortunately, most of them aren’t that big. Sometimes, you just make — use your best judgment because you’re working with probabilities. You don’t know the perfect answer. If something’s easy, it does not reach my desk. By definition, somebody else has solved it. If something’s easy to solve, I don’t even see it. Somebody else has solved it a long time ago.
So most of the time, I’m dealing with probabilities. If I’m making a decision about are we going to take a strike against bin Laden, I don’t even know if bin Laden’s there and I’ve got young men and women — young men who are at risk when I send them there. I’m operating on probabilities.
When we decided to bail out the auto industry — you were talking about polls earlier. That polled at about 10 percent even in Michigan because people were, you know, so mad about the bank bailouts, they thought no more bail outs. And we weren’t positive the thing was going to work, but we knew that if we didn’t do it, you’d lose a million jobs all across the Midwest, including here in Indiana. So we made that bet and it worked.
If I were to talk about domestic policy, I think the thing I would’ve probably done differently is I would’ve tried to describe earlier to the American people how serious the recession was going to be, which is — which would’ve hopefully allowed us to have an even bigger response than we did.
Our — the Recovery Act, our response to the recession was actually bigger than the New Deal. We — that’s how a lot of teachers kept their jobs, that’s how a lot of construction workers stayed on the job and projects kept on going. That’s how a lot of states met their budget. That’s why we didn’t end up having 30 percent unemployment.
But in the balance of trying to reassure people, I maybe didn’t indicate to them that look, this is probably going to be a two-, three-, four-year process of us digging out of this hole, so that we could have staged some of that recovery money over a longer period of time and possibly accelerated the recovery.
In terms of foreign policy, I’ve said this before, we decided to go in as part of a broader coalition into Libya to make sure that this guy Gadhafi, who had been a state sponsor of terrorism, didn’t go in and start slaughtering his own people. We succeeded and probably saved tens of thousands of lives.
But I was — I did a little too much of counting on other countries to then stabilize and help support government formation. And now it’s kind of a mess. I could give you a long list.
But I — I tell you, I mean, the one thing I can say is every day when I wake up, I’m focused on how can I make your lives better; how can I protect the American people; how can I increase their prosperity. At the end of the day, I can always say honestly that I did my best. And hopefully, what I’m also usually trying to do is to admit that if something’s not working as well as it should be, let’s see if we can improve it.
That’s where we need, though, a Congress that is not about yelling and is more about solving problems.
GWEN IFILL: Mr. President, we will prevail on you to come back and give us the rest of that list at another time.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: OK.
GWEN IFILL: We’re out of time for now.
Thank you very much for joining us.
Thank you very much, the good people of Elkhart, Indiana, for joining us. We really appreciate it.
We hope you will keep tuning into the PBS NewsHour and at our website at PBS.org/newshour for more on all of the issues and more raised tonight.
From all of us here in the Hoosier State today, thank you to the president and to the people of Elkhart.
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WASHINGTON — The manual for the staff at Trump University events was precise: The room temperature should be 68 degrees. Seats should be arranged in a theater-style curve. And government prosecutors had no right to see any documents without a warrant.Instructing employees how to stall law enforcement investigations might seem like an unusual part of running a real estate seminar company. But at Trump University — which drew investigations by Democratic and Republican attorneys general alike — it was par for the course.
Trump University guides unsealed this week by a federal judge in southern California undercut Trump’s portrayal of his one-time real estate seminar course as an uncontroversial operation. Instead, the manuals reflect boiler-room sales tactics — the proceeds of which went largely to Trump.
One guide encouraged staff to learn prospective enrollees’ motivations in order to better sell them on products: “Are they a single parent of three children that may need money for food?” the guide asked. When people balked at paying for expensive courses, the suggested response for Trump University staff was harsh.
“I find it very difficult to believe you’ll invest in anything else if you don’t believe enough to invest in yourself and your education,” the guide offered as a recommended response.
Those who bought into Trump University ended up paying as much as $34,995 for what was purported to be private mentoring with supposed real estate experts — some of whom Trump himself later acknowledged were unqualified.
With past Trump-affiliated business failures, Trump has often distanced himself by noting that his only financial involvement was a branding agreement. In the case of Trump University, however, Trump’s ownership is not in dispute — Trump wanted the business for himself.
When future Trump University President Michael Sexton pitched Trump on the deal, he wanted to pay Trump a flat fee in a licensing deal. Trump rejected that, Sexton said in a deposition.
Trump “felt this was a very good business, and he wanted to put his own money into it,” said Sexton, who ended up receiving $250,000 a year from Trump to run a business in which Trump held more than a 90 percent stake. The design of the Trump University operating agreement “was entirely in the hands of the Trump legal team,” Sexton said.
Other court records and depositions showed that Trump and senior members of the Trump Organization were responsible for reviewing and signing all checks — and that Trump withdrew at least $2 million from the business.
Trump reviewed the advertising for Trump University’s courses, Sexton said. And he did not believe Trump ever looked at what the three-day seminars included.
“Mr. Trump is not going to go through a 300-page, you know, binder of content,” Sexton said.
The impression of Trump’s involvement given to potential customers was quite different, according to a script for Trump University telemarketers.
“You know who my boss is, right?” the script reads. “Mr. Trump is on a mission to create the next wave of independently wealthy entrepreneurs in America. Is that YOU?”
Trump has defended Trump University by citing surveys in which 98 percent of students reported being pleased with the program. But those surveys took place before students had experienced the full program and were not anonymous, plaintiffs lawyers have said. A higher percentage demanded refunds later.
As scores of students complained that Trump University was a ripoff, the Better Business Bureau in 2010 gave the school a D-minus, its second-lowest grade. State regulators also began to take notice.
The office of then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican, opened a civil investigation of “possibly deceptive trade practices.” Abbott’s probe was quietly dropped in 2010 when Trump University agreed to end its operations in Texas. Trump subsequently donated $35,000 to Abbott’s successful gubernatorial campaign, according to records.
A spokesman for Abbott, now Texas governor, declined to comment.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman also opened an inquiry into Trump U’s advertising and business practices as part of a broader review of the for-profit education industry. Schneiderman, a Democrat, eventually filed a civil lawsuit in 2013, citing what he called Trump’s “false promises” to persuade people “to spend tens of thousands of dollars they couldn’t afford for lessons they never got.”
Trump has fought to have the New York action thrown out on procedural grounds, but earlier this year a state appeals court cleared the case to go to trial.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi briefly considered joining with Schneiderman in a multi-state suit against Trump University. Three days after Bondi’s spokeswoman was quoted in local media reports as saying the office was reviewing the New York lawsuit, the Donald J. Trump Foundation made a $25,000 contribution to a political fundraising committee supporting Bondi’s re-election campaign. Bondi, a Republican, soon dropped her investigation, citing insufficient grounds to proceed.
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WASHINGTON — Army Secretary Eric Fanning calls his elevation to the job “remarkable.” Fanning is the first gay head of a military service branch.
Of his sexuality, Fanning tells NBC’s “Today” he initially preferred to have people talk about his qualifications. But he says, “Now, I embrace it.”
Asked if he’s had to any endure any harsh treatment at the Pentagon, Fanning says, “Careless comments, sure.”
But he says he hasn’t needed “to confront anyone.”
The 47-year-old Fanning tells NBC his sexuality “certainly has become more of a story as each rung in the career has taken place.”
He says he loves his job, but expects he’ll likely be leaving after the Obama administration ends. Fanning says that by next Jan. 21, “I imagine myself on a beach someplace.”
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Hillary Clinton delivered a speech on national security on Thursday in Balboa Park, San Diego, where she described Donald Trump as “unprepared” and “temperamentally unfit” to handle America’s foreign policy.
SAN DIEGO — Hillary Clinton tore into Donald Trump’s foreign policy experience and temperament in a blistering speech Thursday, arguing that “we cannot let him roll the dice with America.”During a speech in San Diego, the former secretary of state unloaded on her likely general election opponent, counting down reasons he is not qualified — from his aggressive Twitter attacks to his emotional outbursts. She predicted dire consequences if he is elected, saying a Trump presidency could lead the U.S. into war abroad and ignite economic catastrophe at home.
“There’s no risk of people losing their lives if you blow up a golf course deal, but it doesn’t work like that in world affairs,” Clinton said before about 300 people gathered in a ballroom. “The stakes in global statecraft are infinitely higher and more complex than in the world of luxury hotels
Clinton’s robust assault on Trump also was widely carried on television.
It came as she is ramping up her criticism of the presumptive Republican nominee and trying to quell concerns within her own party that she doesn’t have a plan of attack for the general election. She assailed Trump over his past statements, criticizing him for seeking to ban Muslims from entering the country, for talking about leaving NATO and for suggesting Japan could one day acquire nuclear weapons.
“He is not just unprepared, he is temperamentally unfit,” Clinton said. “This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes.”
Emphasizing her experience as first lady, senator and secretary of state, Clinton said she would provide the steady diplomacy the country needs. She said that unlike Trump, she knew how to negotiate complex deals, understood world affairs and recognized what it means to deploy American troops.
“I’m going to keep American security at the heart of my campaign,” Clinton said.
Clinton and Trump offer starkly different visions of U.S. foreign policy. Clinton’s detail-oriented proposals reflect the traditional approach of both major parties. Despite differences on some issues, such as the Iraq war and Iran, Democratic and Republican presidents have been generally consistent on policies affecting China, Russia, North Korea, nuclear proliferation, trade, alliances and many other issues.
Trump says U.S. foreign policy has failed. His strong-man “America first” approach is short on details but appeals to the emotions of angry voters who believe that successive leaders have weakened the country, made it vulnerable to terrorism and have been duped into bad trade deals that have cost American jobs.
Trump accused Clinton of lying about his foreign policy plans at a rally at an airport hangar in Sacramento, California, Wednesday night.
“She lies. She made a speech and she’s making another one tomorrow. And they sent me a copy of the speech and it was such lies about my foreign policy,” Trump said.
“They said I want Japan … to get nuclear weapons. Give me a break,” he objected. “I want Japan and Germany and Saudi Arabia and South Korea and many of the NATO nations — they owe us tremendous. We’re taking care of all these people. And what I want them to do is pay up.”
Trump has suggested in the past that he might be OK with Japan one day obtaining nuclear weapons.
Clinton’s campaign hopes her foreign policy experience will appeal to voters who may be wary of Trump’s bombastic style and lack of international experience. They hope those points, combined with Trump’s controversial statements about women and minorities, will give Clinton opportunities with independent and moderate Republican voters.
In recent days, Clinton has criticized Trump over his past business practices, his sometimes-slow-to-be-fulfilled promises to raise money for veterans and his now defunct education company, Trump University. On Wednesday she called Trump a “fraud” and said the real estate mogul had taken advantage of vulnerable Americans.
Trump has pushed back. On the education company, he has maintained that customers were overwhelmingly satisfied with the offerings.
While Clinton is stressing her concerns about Trump, she is still dealing with her primary race. She needs just 70 more delegates from states voting Tuesday to win the Democratic primary, but is dealing with a tough fight with rival Bernie Sanders in California, where the Vermont senator is gaining in polling. Clinton plans to be in California though Monday as she seeks to avoid a primary loss there.
Associated Press reporter Catherine Lucey wrote this report.
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BALTIMORE — At home, parents try to keep their children on a regular sleep schedule, with the evening bedtime transition marked by rituals like reading stories, flipping on night-lights and getting tucked in with favorite stuffed animals.But that difference between night and day blurs in hospitals — making it more difficult for young patients to rest when they need it the most.
Between the fluorescent lights, the chatter of on-duty doctors and nurses, and being roused for things like baths and vitals checks, getting eight hours of shut-eye is challenging. So now, with research increasingly highlighting the link between sleep and good health, children’s hospitals are rethinking just how they work at night.
“If we’re going to try to heal kids, we need to try to have them do the one thing that’s so important for their brain development. And that’s optimizing their sleep,” said Sapna Kudchadkar, an assistant professor of anesthesiology, critical care and pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore. She launched an initiative to improve sleep in the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit a year ago.
Children’s hospitals are now adopting some of the strategies used to foster better sleep at hospitals serving adults. For example, some are enforcing quiet hours after dark, clustering things like overnight blood draws and medication doses to minimize interruptions, and bringing in tools like white noise machines to promote a soothing environment.
Activities such as bathing children are shifted to daylight hours. Also, playtime is promoted in the afternoon to help maintain a sense of normalcy and contrast nighttime rest. The hope is that children will sleep better and heal faster.
Physicians and hospital administrators are starting to recognize that “we’re doing some stuff in our hospitals that doesn’t really reflect what we’re telling people to do at home,” said Jennifer Jewell, a pediatric hospitalist at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland, Maine, who chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Hospital Care.
Children’s hospitals aren’t yet held to the same patient satisfaction standards as other facilities. But there is growing interest in better catering to both children and their parents, doctors said. There’s the competitive element, noted Heather Walsh, a registered nurse who coordinates some of the quality improvement trainings undergone by clinical staff at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C. If families don’t like the care they get, they can go elsewhere.
And doctors are starting to realize that poor sleep isn’t just inconvenient. It can make children sicker.
In the intensive care unit, for instance, children who aren’t disturbed at night don’t need as much sedation or anesthesia, Kudchadkar said. That matters, she noted, since some of those drugs — benzodiazepines and prescription opioids — can be more dangerous for young patients to take. Kids who rest well at night are also more likely to get up and move around in the daytime.
In addition, because many children’s hospitals encourage parents to spend the night in their child’s room, late-night interruptions — whether a temperature check or the cleaning Zamboni in the hallway — wake them, too. As a result, parents aren’t rested when getting instructions for kids’ follow-up care. It’s easier to mishear or misremember a complicated medication instruction, said Lisa Meltzer, associate professor of pediatrics at National Jewish Health in Denver. Meltzer has also researched sleep quality in children’s hospitals.
“There’s more evidence really showing a direct link between insufficient and poor quality sleep and negative outcomes,” she said.
The changes can seem small. At Hopkins, blinds are typically lowered between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m., though nurses might adjust that based on a particular family’s needs and habits. Parents are asked their children’s favorite music to sleep to. The ICU’s child life staff will find those songs to play on portable radios. One teenager requested Tupac, while some patients might bring in the soundtracks from their favorite video games. In a number of rooms, many alerts no longer trigger loud beeps blasted from overhead speakers. Instead, they’re sent straight to the relevant nurse’s phone. He or she can see to the child’s need, but the noise doesn’t disturb the whole unit.
Finding a balance, though, is tough. With very sick children, doctors and nurses do need to wake them more often at night. Some tests and medications can’t wait, especially in the ICU, said Patricia Hickey, vice president of cardiovascular and critical care services at Boston Children’s Hospital. Plus it’s hard to accommodate what patients need at different ages. Think of the habits of a 2-year-old versus a teenager. One goes to sleep and wakes early. The other may be unable to sleep before 11 p.m. Hospitals need to accommodate both.
The jury’s still out on how effective these strategies are. It’s difficult to prove reduced chatter leads to shorter hospital stays for kids. But there’s anecdotal support. At Boston Children’s, which launched its sleep-promotion campaign last summer, hallways are markedly quieter, and families have said they appreciate the attention, Hickey said. The hospital’s conducting a survey this fall to better assess that, she added.
But challenges remain. Foremost is teaching doctors and nurses to be quiet and considerate.
“For some people, the night is no different than the day — that’s when they work,” said Myke Federman, a critical care pediatrician who started a sleep initiative at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA in Los Angeles.
Many nighttime interruptions — like bathing a child at 3 a.m. — happen because they suit the staff’s schedule, Kudchadkar said. Getting away from that required a major recalibration of the ICU’s workflow and culture. At Hopkins, it took about a year, Kudchadkar added. The ICU used to be as loud as an emergency department. Now, the staff speaks in hushed whispers, even by day.
Meanwhile, for Mattel Children’s Hospital, curbing the nighttime ruckus requires continued attention, Federman said. Mattel, which launched its program in 2015, is trying to bring its noise levels down. So far, they haven’t budged significantly from 50 decibels at night. That’s north of their goal: 30 to 40 decibels, the sound of a quiet library.
Changes have not been easy, Kudchadkar agreed, but they are taking root.
“The bottom line is, ‘How do you create a peaceful, healing environment?’” she said. “We’re getting there.”
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.
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The word “metadata” achieved buzzword status in 2013. That’s when whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked documents exposing a National Security Agency program that collected telephone metadata in bulk — along with other surveillance schemes deemed unsavory by electronic rights watchdogs. Since then, metadata collection has been invoked in court proceedings, innumerable opinion pieces and an Oscar-winning documentary as one of the most egregious violations of personal privacy. On Monday, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Snowden “performed a public service” — albeit an “inappropriate and illegal” one — by sharing the secrets.
Yet, most people couldn’t describe, step-by-step, how metadata are used to piece together personal secrets.
Don’t want your parents to know that you’re pregnant? Hope that they don’t hack your smartphone’s metadata.
The results clarify a longstanding debate. Metadata have historically received fewer legal protections than actual communications content, such as audio from a phone conversation or text message transcripts, to the disdain of privacy advocates. This study shows that sensitive information, like health services or lifestyle choices, are easily discernible from metadata with little digging.
“People have testified in Congress, saying that metadata definitely carries sensitive information, but there hadn’t been a lot of science done,” Patrick Mutchler, study co-author and member of Stanford’s Computer Security Laboratory, told NewsHour. “What our study does is confirm a lot of the suspicions that people held about metadata.”
Even though the NSA shuttered its bulk collection program six months ago, the researchers’ findings remain pertinent. The NSA and Federal Bureau of Investigation can still obtain telephone metadata on individual suspects via the U.S. foreign intelligence surveillance court, which didn’t deny any of the 1,457 requests made last year. (In fact, the FISA court hasn’t refused an application since 2009). Plus, the NSA is holding on to boatloads of metadata collected over the last five years due to ongoing legal cases with privacy advocates.
The controversy also crosses borders. After last November’s Paris attacks, France enhanced its surveillance powers to monitor phone calls without a warrant. Meanwhile, the U.K. government is debating similar legislation nicknamed the “snooper’s charter.” Regardless of what governments decide, companies continue to collect phone and internet metadata on customers, whether it’s to sell ads or build better apps — and they’ve done so for decades.
“With these data, people are able to make more informed decisions about whether or not they approve or disapprove of these policies,” Mutchler said. Tech innovators can also use the research to devise shields against the practice of metadata collection.
But let’s start at the beginning with MetaPhone.
“Wait, you’re pregnant!?”
MetaPhone is an Android app, designed by Mutchler and his labmates to collect telephone metadata. Over an eight-month window, the smartphones of 823 adult volunteers beamed call and text logs to the team’s secure server. This data comprised when a call or text was made, whether it was an incoming or outgoing transmission, the duration of the call or the text message’s length (in characters). The app also noted the phone numbers of the senders and recipients, but no identifiable information, audio recordings or textual content.
This small pool yielded 62,229 unique phone numbers, 251,788 calls and 1,234,231 texts. Basic machine-learning algorithms did the rest of the heavy lifting. The team relied on these quasi-intuitive programs to make inferences about people’s identities or lifestyles.
The team started with child’s play. They had the algorithms skim public information from Facebook, Yelp or Google Places in order to match 30,000 randomly selected phone numbers to individuals or businesses. Using these three sources, the researchers matched identities for 32 percent of the phone numbers. When the hunt expanded to include a public records service — a $19.95 investment — and 70 minutes of Google searches, the algorithms caught 82 percent of the identities.
The researchers could also pinpoint the identity of romantic partners — as verified by Facebook relationship statuses — with 80 percent accuracy using call volume and 76 percent accuracy using how often the couple texted each day.
The shocks came when the researchers looked for sensitive connections. In the report, they presented five typical examples.
“I would have guessed general inferences — like religious affiliation. But at least in one case we were able to identify a person with a cardiac arrhythmia,” Mutchler said.
This participant received a long phone call from a cardiology group at a regional medical center, according to the paper, talked briefly with a medical laboratory and answered several short calls from a local drugstore. But the key giveaway may have been brief calls to a self-reporting hotline for a cardiac arrhythmia monitoring device. The team followed up and confirmed the cardiac arrhythmia, as well as a case where the analysis accurately concluded a person had purchased an automatic rifle.
Communications with health services were the most common form of sensitive information caught by MetaPhone’s surveillance, accounting for 57 percent of calls among participants. Financial services accounted for 40 percent.
Another case involved a person who “placed calls to a hardware outlet, locksmiths, a hydroponics store, and a head shop in under three weeks,” the report stated.
“The call patterns are indicative of starting to grow marijuana,” Mutchler said.
Overall, the analysis found metadata from an NSA request involving a single suspect could uncover information on approximately 25,000 individuals. Extend the search by one degree of separation — you, your friend and their contacts — and an agent could recover personal information on 20 million people. Kevin Bacon, eat your heart out. This latter scenario, known as three-hop surveillance, was the NSA’s legal standard until recently.
“Maybe these [metadata] separately are innocuous, but there is a more meaningful picture that doesn’t appear until you look at the data.”
Metadata collection for the masses
Not long after Snowden outed the NSA, President Obama asked the National Academy of Sciences to convene a panel of 13 computer security experts. Over the course of five months in late 2014, they tackled whether there were currently technological alternatives to bulk collection of metadata that could still let intelligence agencies to do their work.
“In a sense, the short answer was not really,” said Michael Kearns, a computer scientist at the University of Pennsylvania who served on the committee.
The reason is a sensible one, he said. The whole premise of intelligence work is maybe some individuals don’t have the right to privacy. It’s difficult to know in advance who you should and shouldn’t be collecting data on, for the very reason that if you knew already, then you wouldn’t need any data in the first place.
Kearns believes future technology can strike a balance for surveillance agencies. In January, his team published a set of algorithms that can take a social network — like Facebook or a database of phone contacts — and filter perps from the innocent. Here’s how it works.
Suppose I tell you the average salary of the PBS NewsHour editorial staff immediately before and after a reporter resigns. If you know those two values, you can easily figure out how much the reporter was making. Kearns’ algorithm rely on differential privacy — a statistical masking that adds a bit of noise or randomness to the data. You can still make the salary calculation, but you can’t identify the reporter.
Smith said companies like Google and Apple employ similar techniques to gather stats on how people people use apps on their phones but maintain privacy.
“Certain types of info, they’d rather not collect,” Smith said. “They don’t want to be on the hook for subpoena.”
This info could be as simple as a person’s homepage on their browser. The companies monitor these browser settings because some types of viruses and malware create false default homepages that take a user to another webpage. By using differential privacy, the company can track webpage traffic that raises a red flag and see if a piece of malware is responsible.
“Differential privacy allows them to collect approximate statistics about how people are setting their homepage without knowing the precise details of how you and I set our homepage,” Smith said.
Yet, both Kearns and Smith said differential privacy works as a solution only if surveillance agencies or communications companies buy into it.
Individuals can end-to-end encrypt their phone calls, texts and WhatsApp messages with a service like OpenWhisperSystems. However, it requires an internet connection to create a secure channel. Mutchler couldn’t think of an app that automatically anonymizes or creates false metadata to throw off possible snoops.
“As an individual, you don’t have a lot of control over how your data is used or manipulated once it’s left you and gone to the telecommunication companies. As it stands now, we would need to make a bunch of changes,” Mutchler said. “From a public policy perspective, the next step is a continued discussion about metadata privacy and whether metadata should be considered separate or not” from content communications.
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WASHINGTON — The ex-staffer who set up former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s home email server intends to refuse to testify, again, in an upcoming deposition.Lawyers for Bryan Pagliano said in a court motion filed Wednesday that he will invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination at a deposition scheduled for next week.
A federal judge last month granted a request from the conservative legal advocacy group Judicial Watch to question six current and former State Department aides about the 2009 creation of the private email system used by Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Pagliano previously refused to testify before Congress. He has been granted immunity by federal prosecutors in a separate FBI probe into whether classified information that flowed through Clinton’s server was mishandled. Clinton is expected to be interviewed soon as part of that investigation.
A separate review by the State Department’s Inspector General concluded last month that Clinton and her team ignored clear internal guidance that her email setup broke federal standards and could have left sensitive material vulnerable to hackers. Clinton has called her decision to rely on the private server a mistake, but contends she violated no laws.
The State Department has thus far released more than 52,000 pages of Clinton’s work-related emails, including a small percentage that have been redacted because they contain information considered sensitive to national security. Thousands of additional emails have been withheld by Clinton, whose lawyers say they contain personal messages unrelated to her government service.
At issue in the Judicial Watch case is whether the State Department conducted an adequate search of public records in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed in 2013. The group is seeking records related to former Deputy Secretary of State Huma Abedin’s outside work as a paid consultant for a charitable foundation run by Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton.
The department’s initial search did not include the thousands of emails Hillary Clinton exchanged with her aides, including Abedin, using private email addresses. The department said it didn’t have access to those emails at the time.
There have been at least three dozen civil lawsuits filed, including one by The Associated Press, over public records requests related to Clinton’s tenure as the nation’s top diplomat from 2009 to 2013.
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An autopsy shows that singer and musician Prince died of an opioid overdose at his studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota, on April 21, the Associated Press reported.Minnesota health officials said the singer accidentally overdosed on fentanyl, a substance used in painkiller medications.
The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office, based in Anoka County, Minnesota, led an investigation into the death, and waited until toxicology tests were complete before releasing the autopsy results, according to Rolling Stone.
Prince, 57, was hospitalized the week before his death for a health issue that caused his plane to make an emergency landing in Illinois. At the time, representatives for the singer said he was battling the flu. But The New York Times reported in May that prior to his death, he had struggled with addiction to pain pills, and that close friends had recently reached out to Dr. Howard Kornfeld of California, a specialist in opioid addiction, to ask for help.
The night before Prince’s death, Kornfeld sent his son to Minnesota, hoping that the two could discuss treatment options.[Watch Video]
Public health interest in opioid abuse has surged in recent years as overdose deaths have sharply increased. 28,647 people died from overdoses involving opioids in 2014, a 14 percent increase from the previous year.
President Barack Obama recently addressed the issue at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta. “I think the public doesn’t fully appreciate yet the scope of the problem,” he said at the summit. In February, Obama proposed to allocate $1.1 billion in federal funding toward the treatment of opioid addiction.
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Department of Defense researchers announced a shocking finding last month: They had identified an ominous, antibiotic-resistant strain of E. coli in a Pennsylvania woman seeking medical treatment at a military clinic. This is the first time this bacteria has been positively identified in a human in America. The superbug is resistant to colistin, an antibiotic used only when alternatives have failed.
The announcement has prompted a host of statements highlighting the global significance of this finding. In a study published last week, scientists warned that this “heralds the emergence of a truly pan-drug resistant bacteria.” As the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put it, “It is the end of the road for antibiotics unless we act urgently.”
While the current superbug is thankfully treatable with other kinds of antibiotics, according to the Washington Post, “researchers worry that its colistin-resistance gene, known as mcr-1, could spread to other bacteria that can already evade other antibiotics.” In that case, we could be out of viable defenses.
Superbugs are already an enormous public health problem. According to Vox, “In the United States alone, antibiotic-resistant infections are now associated with 23,000 deaths and 2 million illnesses every year. By 2050, a report out of the U.K. suggested drug-resistant infections will kill more people than cancer.”
The current superbug, which researchers had previously seen in Asia and Europe, is a reminder of the unintended consequences of the modern quest for productivity. Aggressive use of antibiotics in the meat production industry to maximize yield has accelerated the development of superbugs. Eighty percent of antibiotics in the U.S. are used on livestock, and North Carolina farm animals receive more of these drugs than all Americans combined.
Researchers believe that the colistin-resistant E. coli originated in Chinese livestock farms where the antibiotic is used to help fatten pigs. It has also infected at least one American farm animal: the Department of Health and Human Services recently spotted the same strain in a pig intestine in the U.S.
In addition to our quest for productivity, the development of superbugs also reveals another, broader phenomenon: Our widespread zeal for safety may be making us less safe. Take the rise of allergies in rich countries, for example. Many researchers believe that in scrambling to keep our children clean — and thus safe from disease — we have prevented their immune systems from gaining early exposure to germs, causing them to malfunction later in life. Kids who grow up on farms have lower rates of allergies, while those more often exposed to antibacterial soap have higher rates.
Likewise, over-prescription of antibiotics to treat human conditions is also contributing to the development of superbugs. Roughly a third of all antibiotics prescribed in doctors’ offices and hospitals are unnecessary — often the result of demanding patients or parents.
Politicians and doctors agree that in order to counteract the increasing threat of superbugs, we must restrain abuse in both agriculture and medicine and also stimulate new drug development. Doing so will impact a number of sectors.
An obvious area of opportunity is in agriculture. Sales of antibiotic-free meats jumped 20 percent between 2014 and 2015. Heightened consumer awareness of the superbug threat will only accelerate this trend, affecting the entire food value chain from restaurants and grocery stores to farmers and ranchers.
In addition to consumer pressure, regulations will also drive a shift to antibiotic-free meats. Last October, California passed a strict law limiting the use of antibiotics in agriculture. Farms that can’t adapt to these shifting consumer preferences and restrictive regulations will suffer.
The superbug threat might also change the economics of drug development. Today, creating new antibiotics is not particularly lucrative for the pharmaceutical industry. As a result, there are only 37 antibiotics in clinical development, compared with over 800 cancer drugs or vaccines. Increased awareness of the need for new antibiotics could change this. In January, a coalition of major drug companies called for governments to offer incentives in this space.
The economic model for new antibiotics must not be based on volume, since that would incentivize drug companies to encourage the same over-prescription problem we face today. Instead, lump-sum prizes for successful drug development, valued in the billions of dollars, could spur investment in antibiotic research and development without the misaligned incentives. And indeed, governments have been considering such measures.
The development of superbugs will certainly ripple through disparate industries, from food service to medicine and agriculture. Barring a solution, a review chaired by economist Jim O’Neill estimates that the cumulative hit to the global economy from antibiotic-resistant bacteria could be as high as $100 trillion.
Some, including O’Neill, suggest the problem is as significant as climate change. The stakes are high enough that the problem could drive national and international mobilization on an unprecedented scale. If not, we could experience life as it was before antibiotics revolutionized the world in the 20th century — “Nasty, Brutish and Short(er),” as one Bloomberg reporter called it. Or, as British Prime Minister David Cameron recently said at a G7 meeting, “it is potentially the end of modern medicine as we know it.”
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WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is siding with a legal argument by a fired Department of Veterans Affairs official at the center of a nationwide scandal over long wait times for veterans seeking medical care and secret lists covering up the delays.Sharon Helman, the former director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System, is suing the VA to win back her old job. Helman argues in court papers that a key portion of a 2014 law passed in response to the wait-time scandal is unconstitutional and denies her an important step to appeal her firing.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a letter to Congress that the Justice Department has decided not to contest that element of Helman’s challenge, essentially agreeing with her legal position. Still, the Justice Department will continue fighting against Helman’s reinstatement, Lynch said.
“I note that the scope of this decision is narrow” and the Justice Department “will continue to defend the vast bulk of the statute,” Lynch wrote this week to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.[Watch Video]
Helman is serving two years’ probation for failing to disclose more than $19,000 in gifts she received while supervising the Phoenix hospital where whistleblowers revealed veterans on secret waiting lists faced scheduling delays of up to a year. As many as 40 veterans died while awaiting care at the hospital, according to an investigation by the VA’s office of inspector general.
McCarthy and other Republicans reacted with outrage, saying the attorney general’s failure to defend the 2014 law could make it easier for Helman — a convicted felon — to get back her job.
“When Congress passed the Veterans Choice Act, a key provision allowed for incompetent and indifferent executives whose inaction allowed veterans to die to be more easily fired,” McCarthy said in a statement. “Now, even after the president signed this provision into law, his administration is refusing to defend this measure of accountability. This decision by the Obama administration puts our veterans at further risk. ”
Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said Lynch’s decision was “reckless” and “remarkably hypocritical given the fact that President Obama enthusiastically supported this law.”
The effect of Lynch’s action is clear, said Miller, R-Fla.: “It undermines very modest reforms to our broken civil service system supported in 2014 by the president and an overwhelming majority of Congress.”
Helman was fired in November 2014, nearly seven months after the wait-time scandal came to light. The scandal led to the ouster of former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and a $16 billion law overhauling the labyrinthine veterans’ health care system and making it easier to fire VA employees accused of wrongdoing.
The inspector general found that workers at the Phoenix VA hospital falsified waiting lists while their supervisors looked the other way or even directed it, resulting in chronic delays for veterans seeking care.
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WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan endorsed Donald Trump on Thursday, ending an extraordinary public split between the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee and the nation’s highest-ranking Republican office holder.
Ryan outlined his support for the New York billionaire in a column published in his hometown newspaper, declaring his goal to “unite the party so we can win in the fall.”
“It’s no secret that he and I have our differences. I won’t pretend otherwise,” Ryan wrote. “And when I feel the need to, I’ll continue to speak my mind. But the reality is, on the issues that make up our agenda, we have more common ground than disagreement.”
Trump, Ryan said, “would help us turn the ideas in this agenda into laws to help improve people’s lives. That’s why I’ll be voting for him this fall.”
While Ryan did not explicitly say he was endorsing Trump, spokesman Brendan Buck wrote on Twitter that the column marked a formal endorsement.
Ryan shocked the political world last month by refusing to endorse Trump once he became the last major Republican presidential contender still in the race. The pair met privately in a series of Washington meetings last month and their campaigns have maintained contact.
Ryan’s announcement was released the same time that Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton was delivering a foreign policy speech excoriating Trump’s foreign policy.
This story will be updated.
Associated Press reporter Steve Peoples wrote this report.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Next: new songs from an American classic.
Jeffrey Brown visited Judy Collins to hear a preview of her 51st album being released tomorrow, along with a tour with more than 100 dates.
JEFFREY BROWN: Judy Collins has been making beautiful music since the early 1960s, and, since 1967, writing her own songs.
In her New York apartment recently, she played a new one for us.
JUDY COLLINS, “Silver Skies Blue”: I really thought of myself not as a singer in the beginning. I really thought of myself as a storyteller.
JEFFREY BROWN: Oh, really? Meaning that it was all about the story.
JUDY COLLINS: It was.
JEFFREY BROWN: Many years later, at age 77, the stories and songs continue, and for her latest album, titled “Silver Skies Blue,” Collins has taken a new step: co-writing an entire record with another artist, 36- year-old Ari Hest.
Collins grew up in a musical family. Her father, blind from age 4, was a singer and radio host who inspired her with Irish ballads, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and much more. She studied classical piano, and then discovered, and became part of, a growing folk music scene that was infused with social activism.
JUDY COLLINS: I learned to sing along the way. So, the songs provided me with a living, with entertainment, education, singing lessons, and adventure throughout my whole career, really.
JEFFREY BROWN: One of the things that you, of course, became so well-known for is bringing songs that other people wrote to the attention of a general audience.
JUDY COLLINS: I was desperate to sing great songs, the kind of classic songs that I had been raised with. This is the burgeoning of the great folk music revival. And I was in the village. So I learned Woody and I learned Pete. I learned all their great songs.
And when I came to New York, I was…
JEFFREY BROWN: Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and on and on and on.
JUDY COLLINS: That’s right.
I was sitting in the middle of this incredible burgeoning of beauty and art and fantasy, and also politically and socially important songs. I just would walk around the village, and Tom Paxton would come along and say, oh, hi, I just wrote this song, bottle of wine, fruit on the vine. Why don’t you sing it?
Dylan was just starting here in ’61 here in New York. And I went to hear him at Town Hall, and said I have to sing “Masters of War,” and I have to sing “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol,” one of the great songs to come out of that era.
JEFFREY BROWN: Over the years, she’d become renowned for her versions of classics such as “Amazing Grace,” sung here at Dromoland Castle in Ireland and, at the Metropolitan Museum, Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns.”
How do you think of what it is that you’re doing when it’s someone else’s song?
JUDY COLLINS: You have to apply the same criteria to the songs that you write, as well as the songs that you sing of other people. They all have to somehow become — they have to become Judy Collins songs.
JEFFREY BROWN: Your song.
JUDY COLLINS: Yes.
You have to make them into that somehow. And that’s magical, and also which songs you choose is magical, because you don’t know what — it’s falling in love. If you’re falling in love, you don’t know why. I mean, sure, he has blue eyes or, sure, he has green eyes, but you don’t know what it is that really is the chemistry. It’s the same thing with a song.
JEFFREY BROWN: Can you give me an example?
JUDY COLLINS: In the early things, so things like “Turn, Turn, Turn,” of course. I heard that and immediately wanted to sing it my whole — ever since I heard it as a 15-year-old.
JEFFREY BROWN: There’s been great success, including four gold and two platinum albums. But over the years, Collins has also faced well-documented challenges, depression, bulimia, the suicide of her son, a long fight with alcoholism.
JUDY COLLINS: I’m a recovering alcoholic. In fact, today is my anniversary, 38 years.
JEFFREY BROWN: Wow.
JUDY COLLINS: When I have troubles, I have been able to go into my music and my writing to be able to find my way through those things.
JEFFREY BROWN: But that, too, was threatened when she developed problems with her vocal cords that eventually required surgery.
JUDY COLLINS: It was terrifying. I spent a number of years just horrified with, what I was going to do if I couldn’t perform?
JEFFREY BROWN: I see you do a lot of speaking on the subject of healing, the healing power of art and music.
JUDY COLLINS: I do.
I would say that my own life has been very impacted by the fact that I’m a working musician. So, I’m involved with music, with writing it, playing it, practicing it, performing it. And it really does — that two hours when I’m on stage is a meditation, in a way. You can’t do a lot when you’re singing, except to be present.
JEFFREY BROWN: Still on stage, Judy Collins and her new musical partner Ari Hest are now in the midst of a national tour.
From New York, I’m Jeffrey Brown for the “PBS NewsHour.”
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Last night on the “NewsHour,” President Obama joined Gwen Ifill for a wide-ranging interview and town hall meeting in Elkhart, Indiana.
After the broadcast, the president continued to take questions from the audience.
Gun shop owner Doug Rhude challenged the president’s record on gun control.
DOUG RHUDE, Gun Shop Owner: Knowing that we apply common sense to other issues in our society, specifically like holding irresponsible people accountable for their actions when they drink and drive and kill somebody, and we do that without restricting control of cars and cells phones to the rest of us, the good guys, why then do you and Hillary want to control and restrict and limit gun manufacturers, gun owners and responsible use of guns and ammunition to the rest of us, the good guys, instead of holding the bad guys accountable for their actions?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: First of all, the notion that I or Hillary or Democrats or whoever you want to choose are hell-bent on taking away folks’ guns is just not true.
And I don’t care how many times the NRA says it. I’m about to leave office. There have been more guns sold since I have been president than just about any time in U.S. history. There are enough guns for every man, woman and child in this country.
And at no point have I ever, ever proposed confiscating guns from responsible gun owners. So it’s just not true.
What I have said is precisely what you suggested, which is, why don’t we treat this like every other thing that we use? I just came from a meeting today in the Situation Room in which I got people who we know have been on ISIL Web sites, living here in the United States, U.S. citizens, and we’re allowed to put them on the no-fly list when it comes to airlines, but because of the National Rifle Association, I cannot prohibit those people from buying a gun.
This is somebody who is a known ISIL sympathizer. And if he wants to walk in to a gun store or a gun show right now and buy as much — as many weapons and ammo as he can, nothing’s prohibiting him from doing that, even though the FBI knows who that person is.
So, sir, I just have to say, respectfully, that there is a way for us to have commonsense gun laws. There is a way for us to make sure that lawful, responsible gun owners like yourself are able to use them for sporting, hunting, protecting yourself, but the only way we’re going to do that is if we don’t have a situation in which anything that is proposed is viewed as some tyrannical destruction of the Second Amendment. And that’s how the issue too often gets framed.
HARI SREENIVASAN: You can watch the entire town hall with the president, plus more video excerpts, on our Web site at PBS.org/NewsHour.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The fight to build more housing in an area where prices are through the roof.
Special correspondent Duarte Geraldino reports from the San Francisco Bay Area.
It’s part of our weekly Making Sense series, which airs every Thursday on the “NewsHour.”
MAN: Whose house?
AUDIENCE: Our house!
DUARTE GERALDINO: In the San Francisco Bay Area, it seems any small group of voices can derail a proposed housing development.
PROTESTERS: Ed lee, can’t you see we don’t need no luxury?
DUARTE GERALDINO: Some urban liberals wage war on so-called luxury housing. Around here, the going price for a two-bedroom is over four grand a month.
PROTESTERS: No one Bay Area.
DUARTE GERALDINO: Meanwhile, some suburban conservatives fight against subsidized housing.
WOMAN: Stand up for your property rights before they get taken away. They want to take away your decision of where you’re going to live and how you’re going to live.
DUARTE GERALDINO: But there is a new and growing group protesting what it sees as the not in my backyard, or NIMBY, attitudes of both the left and the right. This group calls itself YIMBY, Yes In My Backyard.
WOMAN: Welcome, everybody, to the rally for housing.
DUARTE GERALDINO: Sonja Trauss, hobbled by a broken foot, is hopping mad about the lack of new construction, which she says is inflating housing prices throughout the Bay Area.
SONJA TRAUSS, Bay Area Renters’ Federation: It’s caused by zoning, but it’s also caused by super local control. That’s really what it is.
DUARTE GERALDINO: And you’re trying to disrupt that?
SONJA TRAUSS: Yes.
DUARTE GERALDINO: YIMBY groups are fighting to ease local development requirements originally meant to maximize community input, but that today effectively delay new projects for years, meaning newcomers have to outbid existing residents for a place to live.
SONJA TRAUSS: It’s one-for-one replacement. Everybody that comes in, basically, someone has to leave.
DUARTE GERALDINO: And yet more people are coming in.
SONJA TRAUSS: Exactly. There’s more people that want to live here than we have space for. And step one is, make more space.
DUARTE GERALDINO: A good rule of thumb is that, on average, two new jobs are enough to justify a new housing unit. But that hasn’t been the case in San Francisco. In fact, since 2011, more than a half-million jobs have been added to the Bay Area economy, but only 100,000 new housing units built, one for every five new jobs.
SONJA TRAUSS: Getting into the Bay Area is like getting into a country club. You either have to have a lot of money right off the bat or you have got to know someone.
DUARTE GERALDINO: Now even Governor Jerry Brown seems to be siding with the YIMBYs against the NIMBYs. He’s just introduced legislation to simplify the approval process for new projects that include at least some affordable housing.
GOV. JERRY BROWN (D), California: You’re going to have to reduce some of the regulatory burdens.
DUARTE GERALDINO: But the YIMBYs say the governor’s proposal doesn’t go far enough. They would fast-track new construction at all levels, even new luxury housing, betting more overall supply will reduce prices across the board.
SONJA TRAUSS: The goal ultimately is to have more housing.
DUARTE GERALDINO: Just more housing?
SONJA TRAUSS: Just more, yes, yes.
DUARTE GERALDINO: Anything more?
SONJA TRAUSS: Yes.
NOAH SMITH, Columnist, Bloomberg View: I’m a gentrifier.
DUARTE GERALDINO: Noah Smith knows some people consider him part of the problem.
NOAH SMITH: The city shouldn’t just be a theme park for young upper-middle-class people like me.
DUARTE GERALDINO: Smith is an economist who writes for the financial media firm Bloomberg. He is also part of the new creative class flocking to the Bay Area.
NOAH SMITH: And I am sure that there is someone who has it just a little bit harder to find housing because I occupy this place that I am overpaying for.
DUARTE GERALDINO: Folks like Smith have pushed median rent for a one-bedroom in San Francisco above $3,600 a month, making this city, with all its charm and grit, the most expensive rental market in the nation.
JEN PASSETTI, Co-Owner, Elmira Rosticceria: A studio in the Tenderloin, which is filled with drug addicts and homeless people, will go for about $2,200 to $2,800.
DUARTE GERALDINO: In 2013, Jen Passetti and her husband opened a mom-and-pop restaurant in the Tenderloin district, an area that’s since been transformed.
JEN PASSETTI: It’s insane. The way the rents are jumping, I will have to leave. I can’t afford to stay in San Francisco at the prices that are present.
DUARTE GERALDINO: So you’re going to run a local business, but live way out, outside?
JEN PASSETTI: I mean, what — what choice do you have?
DUARTE GERALDINO: A major inconvenience for Passetti, who could soon have a much longer commute, but a true hardship for her kitchen staff and other blue-collar workers.
NOAH SMITH: Lower-income people are involved in the service economy, and they prepare food, they clean houses, they work on construction and things like that. And these require you to be close to a lot of customers.
DUARTE GERALDINO: So they’re necessarily local.
NOAH SMITH: They’re necessarily local. That’s right.
DUARTE GERALDINO: Smith reasons, when lower-income workers are forced further away from employment, travel costs eat away at their income, adding to inequality.
GARY MCCOY, Candidate, SF Democratic Council Central Committee: I think it’s important to have housing at all levels.
DUARTE GERALDINO: YIMBY is supporting Gary McCoy’s run for a seat on the Democratic Council Central Committee. McCoy believes YIMBY’s pro- growth strategy could reduce homelessness.
GARY MCCOY: I was homeless for somewhere around three or four years. The hardest thing for me still is very rainy days, rainy, wet days, because it brings back, you know, trying to find where to go out of the elements and having wet socks.
WOMAN: More people are fighting over fewer units.
DUARTE GERALDINO: So YIMBY wants to change San Francisco’s political structure, but it’s not stopping at the city’s borders.
SONJA TRAUSS: The state spent a lot of money on highways, on the BART, and everywhere that’s on transit that has good access to jobs really needs to be built up.
DUARTE GERALDINO: Trauss is talking about affluent nearby suburbs like Lafayette, California, population 25,000, median home price, $1.5 million, and just 20 minutes away from downtown San Francisco on BART, the Bay Area rapid transit system.
In December, Trauss sued Lafayette, after it took a parcel that had been set aside for 315 affordable apartments and rezoned it for 44 single-family homes.
STEVEN FALK, City Manager, Lafayette, California: The parcel that Sonja is talking about is located a mile-and-a-half from the BART station. So for those people who are least able to afford a car, this would be the worst place for them to live. But still Sonja has filed that lawsuit.
DUARTE GERALDINO: Lafayette City Manager Steven Falk points out that more than 500 apartments and townhouses are being built, many of them within a half-mile, walking distance, from public transportation.
STEVEN FALK: I think it’s an unfair criticism to say that Lafayette is not doing its fair share.
DUARTE GERALDINO: Her belief is, by in any way restricting development so that more units are not thrown into the market, you are by default contributing to prices raising. You don’t believe that’s the case?
STEVEN FALK: Coming out of that so-called great recession, there were thousands of homes in my county, not hundreds, thousands of homes that could not find a renter or a buyer. Are we willing to despoil our natural and wild places for what we know is a temporary economic phenomenon? I think the answer should be no.
MICHAEL GRIFFITHS, Founding President, Save Lafayette: This will be a tract development right up to the road.
DUARTE GERALDINO: Michael Griffiths agrees with Steven Falk about not disturbing nature, but he is a little more extreme. That’s why he and a group of Lafayette homeowners are also suing the city to block the 44-home compromise development.
MICHAEL GRIFFITHS: Best use is open space for all, recreational use, enjoy the view of the magical Mount Diablo.
DUARTE GERALDINO: Are you opposed to development?
MICHAEL GRIFFITHS: No. But we feel it’s critical and fundamental that voters who pay taxes and live here have the right to vote on this important issue.
DUARTE GERALDINO: But Trauss doesn’t believe anyone should have the right to vote on and thereby stall development that could ease the housing shortage.
SONJA TRAUSS: We need housing everywhere, and we can’t allow cities to just turn down perfectly good apartment projects just because they want empty fields or single-family homes. So we might do lawsuits anywhere in the U.S.
DUARTE GERALDINO: Those lawsuits could put a new development a short walk away from your backyard.
In San Francisco, Duarte Geraldino for the “PBS NewsHour.”
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HARI SREENIVASAN: But first: the opioid epidemic and the problems of treatment.
Law enforcement officials told the Associated Press and The Minneapolis Star-Tribune today that music legend Prince died from an accidental opioid overdose in April. The superstar, according to reports, self-administered fentanyl, a synthetic opioid painkiller much stronger than morphine.
It’s also been reported that Prince had an earlier overdose, and was then revived with a dose of a drug called Narcan. That treatment, and Prince’s later attempt to get help from an addiction specialist, have cast a spotlight on the question of treatment for addiction.
Here to discuss this with us is Dr. Sharon Stancliff, medical director of the Harm Reduction Coalition, a national organization focusing on advocacy and the health care of those struggling with drug use.
Doctor, when you hear fentanyl, a fairly strong drug in all the classes of drugs, what does that make you think of what Prince was going through?
DR. SHARON STANCLIFF, Medical Director, Harm Reduction Coalition: Well, I understand Prince had a chronic pain problem, and fentanyl is often prescribed either as a patch or preparations that dissolve in the mouth for chronic pain.
We don’t know if he had a prescription for that, but that’s extremely likely. We also are hearing a lot about fentanyl in the news because there is illicitly manufactured fentanyl found in many parts of the country either mixed into heroin or sold as heroin.
So, we’re hearing about a lot of fentanyl overdoses. They could be from pain management or they could be from illicit preparations.
HARI SREENIVASAN: When you see these stories and hear about these stories across the country, we’re seeing, we’re hearing more about people who get addicted while they’re being treated for chronic pain.
DR. SHARON STANCLIFF: Right.
Well, anyone who takes an opioid on a repeated basis daily will become dependent upon the opioid. Many people will be able to, when the pain stops, taper off of the opioid and go on as though nothing had happened.
Others find that it’s really hard to taper off, and once tapered off, they continue to have craving for that — an opioid for weeks, months, even years, and so that’s why we have a variety of medications to treat opioid addiction or opioid use disorders.
HARI SREENIVASAN: One of the things that people also wonder about is now there are more first-responders that have Narcan in the ambulances and there are different facilities that have Narcan.
One of the concerns with the use of the drug is that sometimes this almost gives someone an insurance policy and it doesn’t necessarily hit home how close to death they came with an overdose when they were seemingly miraculously pulled out from it.
DR. SHARON STANCLIFF: Well, the other choice might be death in many cases, so we need that perspective.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Yes.
DR. SHARON STANCLIFF: But also getting Narcan, or naloxone, when you are actually opioid-dependent is an extremely unpleasant event.
I have heard one person described it as only slightly better than death. Someone goes from completely relaxed, unaware of their surroundings, to being in mild to moderate, even severe withdrawal. So there’s very, very few people out there, if any — there’s somebody in every bucket, I suppose — that would use naloxone as a safety net in the field.
And, yes, when people are brought back from an overdose, whether they are brought back by the hospital or the ambulance services which have long carried it or by fellow drug users or family members, they kind of miss the horrifying experience that — the person that thought they were going to die that really had the intense experience.
They just wake up feeling really awful. That being said, that moment or the next day is a good time to approach people and talk to them about what just happened and maybe see what kind of care or drug treatment that they can get.
HARI SREENIVASAN: We have in medicine established a set of protocols that say, if you have a heart attack, here’s what we’re going to do, here’s the regimen that we’re going to put you on, here’s how you change your diet, here’s how you add your exercise. What do we do when it comes to drug overdoses?
DR. SHARON STANCLIFF: If it is somebody that has actually an opioid use disorder, that they’re using elicit opioids or getting opioids prescriptions outside of prescriptions, then we need to treat them for opioid use disorder.
And the best treatments for that actually are giving them medicine on a regular basis. We have had methadone in methadone clinics for many years, and it has saved many lives, prevented many overdoses. And now we have a medication called buprenorphine, which has several trade names. It’s commonly known as Suboxone.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Even with the amount of attention that opioid abuse has gotten in the past couple of years, do you think that we have an understanding, a perspective of the scale of this problem in America right now?
DR. SHARON STANCLIFF: I think some parts of the country are very much aware of it.
In Erie County, they’re having so many deaths. In Massachusetts, they’re having so many deaths. But I don’t think that there is enough of an investment on the parts of the governments, both in funding and in educating the public about the importance of medication as part of the treatment.
We seem to still sort of function under this mythology that most people can do fine if they simply go into a detox or a 28-day rehab and they will come out and they will be fine. That’s true for some number of people, but many people, once you have had a few relapses, it really needs to become a medicalized treatment, maybe with some counseling or maybe not.
But I think we need both the funding and the impetus put into educating people about it.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Dr. Sharon Stancliff of the Harm Reduction Coalition, thanks for joining us.
DR. SHARON STANCLIFF: Thank you very much for having me.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: As he campaigns for votes, Donald Trump is also defending his business reputation.
Political director Lisa Desjardins reports on the allegations and Trump’s defense of his business venture Trump University.
LISA DESJARDINS: This is about the Trump brand and the now-defunct business called Trump University that relied on the billionaire’s Donald Trump’s real estate brand, pledging that students would gain his knowledge.
Three lawsuits on behalf of some students charge it was all a scam. Their voices are in this campaign ad from an anti-Trump conservative super PAC.
MAN: I spent about $30,000 in Trump University and basically all it did was ruin my credit and ruin my life. They didn’t really deliver on anything. Got to remember, there’s 5,000 victims in this. In the end, there’s no there there.
LISA DESJARDINS: Today, though, a defiant Donald Trump tweeted that he’s instructed his execs to reopen Trump University after the lawsuits end. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is behind one of those lawsuits, which could go to trial as early as this year.
ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN, Attorney General, New York: It’s not a university. We have all sorts of rules and regulations to govern what’s allowed to be called a university and what’s not.
Mr. Trump’s role was really as pitch man. The president of Trump University and Trump himself have both testified under oath that he didn’t meet the people who taught the seminar, so they weren’t his handpicked experts. In fact, they weren’t experts.
LISA DESJARDINS: Two other suits are pending in California.
Hundreds of pages of court documents were released this week in those actions, including the playbooks that Trump University staffers used. They refer not to students, but to buyers to whom the staff can sell more seminars costing up to $35,000 a pop. Maps, diagrams and detailed schedules direct salespeople on how to corral and convince people, including those who can’t afford it.
At one point, the document advises — quote — “Money is never a reason for not enrolling. They will find the money.”
The documents also contain searing depositions from former employees, one saying that he was reprimanded for not pushing a couple to mortgage their home. To all this, Trump has responded that most students were satisfied, releasing his own ad of success stories.
MAN: I wouldn’t have been able to do those deals without learning Donald Trump’s business techniques and real estate strategies, and I learned them all from Trump University.
LISA DESJARDINS: Trump insists he is the victim of bias by federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who oversees the class-action suits in California. He’s the one who ordered the document release this week.
But he said yesterday that some of those documents should have been withheld.
DONALD TRUMP (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: What happens is the judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great. I think that is fine.
LISA DESJARDINS: In fact, Curiel is of Mexican descent, but was American-born in Indiana.
In the middle of all this, Hillary Clinton, facing her own e-mail scandal, hopes to gain ground.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: He is trying to scam America, the way he scammed all those people at Trump U.
LISA DESJARDINS: Voters will likely decide on Trump, and his political brand, before the courts rule on his business one. At least one court trial has been delayed, at Trump’s request, until after the election.
For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Lisa Desjardins.
HARI SREENIVASAN: We get more on the controversy surrounding Trump University from Tom Hamburger of The Washington Post.
So, Tom, what are we to make of the involvement that Donald Trump had with this specific company? He’s got his name on lots of companies all over the world.
TOM HAMBURGER, The Washington Post: That’s true. He’s become the expert at branding.
In this particular case, Donald Trump eventually owned 93 percent of Trump University. And the documents that were released this week portray him as really the marketer in chief of this company. He’s very active in the marketing of the program, less active in doing one of the things he promised, choosing the instructors and going over the curriculum.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Right. So, how handpicked were the instructors? That’s part of the sell.
TOM HAMBURGER: Exactly.
One of the claims made in Trump marketing material and by Donald Trump himself in a marketing video is that he, Donald Trump, handpicked the instructors who were going to teach basically his secrets and how to succeed in real estate.
The realty is that Trump didn’t pick the instructors. The sort of star, even the marquee instructors’ names, he didn’t know, as revealed in depositions, and though he claimed he was handpicking them, he was really hands-off.
HARI SREENIVASAN: What do we know about these playbooks that Lisa referenced in her story? They reference everyone as buyers, not necessarily as students.
TOM HAMBURGER: Well, it’s quite clear from the documents that came through this weekend previously that Trump University was primarily focused on selling courses to potential buyers, to students.
It was all about marketing and profits. The — that is the clearly-stated priority. It comes through in these employee handbooks or guides known as playbooks that were released this week. It’s — sell, sell, sell is the — is what it’s all about.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what are the alumni of Trump U., Trump University, whatever they were called in different states, how do they feel about it? What are they saying?
TOM HAMBURGER: Well, we’re hearing, of course, from some of those who had paid money to Trump University to get trained in the Donald Trump real estate techniques were dissatisfied, and so dissatisfied that they filed a couple of class-action lawsuits, two in California, and the attorney general in New York was impressed by their complaints and filed a $40 million lawsuit in New York.
It’s important to add that in the documents we saw this week, there were student evaluations and individual students who praised the program. So it’s not entirely unanimous, but the stories of complaints of people who feel they were defrauded or misled are legion. And the complaints they make in the documents we have seen are quite strong.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Donald Trump, as part of his defense, says, listen, I have got a lot of satisfied customers. They filled out a survey saying they were satisfied. They got what they felt like they paid for.
TOM HAMBURGER: Exactly right.
And part of the document release this week included some of those surveys. Survey after survey showed students rating the courses that they took and their instructors at a five out of five, the highest possible rating. There are some who have criticized the sort of validity of those surveys, but they are there and it’s part of the evidence, part of the documentary evidence that was released by Judge Curiel this week.
HARI SREENIVASAN: What does the defense team, what does Trump’s team have to say about this? Or how do they plan to mount their defense in separate legal actions in different parts of the country?
TOM HAMBURGER: Well, there are a couple of things going on.
Donald Trump spoke out last Friday in San Diego against the judge who sits in the Southern District of California, Judge Curiel, and said — described him as a biased guy, said he’s a Donald Trump hater, also identified him at one point, as I think your segment noted, as a Mexican.
He, in fact, is born in Indiana and went to Indiana University Law School. So part of it is discrediting the judge. They suggest also — and Donald Trump has said this, as has his spokesperson, Hope Hicks — they’re confident they will win these cases. That’s one of the reasons they say they don’t want to settle. They want to go to trial, they have an abundance of satisfied graduates and the charges against them, if I can use the word, have been trumped up.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, well, no coincidence that he happens to be on a monitor right behind you in your newsroom.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Tom Hamburger joining us from The Washington Post right now, thanks so much.
TOM HAMBURGER: Thank you.
The post In the eye of legal storm battering Trump — and Trump U. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN: As the primary season reaches its final weeks of campaigning, all three candidates are stumping in California, the state with the largest delegate haul.
John Yang takes a closer look at the tightening race on the Democratic side.
JOHN YANG: Thanks, Hari.
For weeks, Bernie Sanders has campaigned all across California, gaining momentum ahead of next week’s big primary. That’s forced Hillary Clinton to spend more time and money in the Golden State.
For more on that, I’m joined by Scott Shafer. He’s senior editor for KQED’s California politics and government desk.
Scott, thanks for being with us.
I know you have been out on the campaign trail today. The polls in California have been all the over the place, but I think they seem to be showing agreement that the race really has tightened. What happened? What’s going on here?
SCOTT SHAFER, KQED: Yes, we have now four polls, John, in the last week that show this is basically a dead heat.
I think what is happening is this. California is a very diverse state. It has about a quarter of the electorate are Latino. It’s got a large — 10 percent or so Asian-American voters, African-American voters, and the conventional wisdom has been that those voters give Hillary Clinton the kind of firewall, that they were reliable Clinton voters.
What we’re seeing is, as these polls have tightened, Bernie Sanders has done a really good job doing outreach to those communities. He’s ahead with Asian-Americans in one poll. He’s roughly even with Latinos. And so that’s why we have seen this race tighten up so much. It’s really — they’re scrapping now for every single vote that’s out there.
JOHN YANG: What are the issues that are helping him along, helping Sanders make those inroads among those communities?
SCOTT SHAFER: Well, I think, you know, income inequality has been a big part of his message, and California is a very expensive state.
I know you’re going to be talking more about that later in the program, and so it resonates with folks. There’s a lot of students and former students here that have college debt, student loans that they haven’t paid off. That’s really working to his advantage.
But I think a lot of it, too, is — he’s the hot ticket in town, so to speak. He’s sort of like the Golden State Warriors or the San Jose Sharks. They’re now in the finals. And even if you weren’t following those teams during the regular season, now it’s come down to the finals and you want to get involved, you want to go to a game, you want to be part of it.
And so I think he is generating that kind of excitement. Hillary Clinton is very familiar to Californians. She’s been on the ballot here. She beat Barack Obama here in 2008. Her husband won twice in California. So, he’s a newer personality, and he’s generating a lot of enthusiasm, especially among younger voters.
JOHN YANG: And the polls are showing that there are some unusually wide differences among the core supporters for each candidate.
What are the polls showing?
SCOTT SHAFER: Well, there is a huge generational divide, John.
You have got voters who are 65 and older 2-1 for Clinton. You have got voters who are 35, 30 and younger 5-1 for Bernie Sanders. You have got Democrats who are skewing toward Hillary Clinton. Then you have got independent nonpartisan voters, we call them no-party-preference voters in California. They’re definitely leaning toward Bernie Sanders.
And so that’s really why turnout is so important, because it really depends exactly on what the electorate looks like now. Because we vote by mail and we have early voting, two million people, more than two million, have already their ballots.
JOHN YANG: And pollsters have also been asking people if they have already voted who they voted for. What are they finding?
SCOTT SHAFER: Well, according to the Field Poll, which came out today, there is definitely an advantage among people who have already voted for Clinton. They prefer her.
That’s not too surprising. Her voters tend to be older. They tend to be reliable, regular voters. So it’s not surprising that you would see an advantage to her. Now, it’s always great for a campaign to get those votes in the bank, so you can focus on the voters who haven’t yet cast their ballots.
But if you look at the larger electorate, it’s much closer. Independent, nonpartisan voters definitely support Bernie Sanders over Clinton. And so his challenge will be getting those people to the polls, and they have some challenges to cast ballots, and they have got to overcome those challenges.
JOHN YANG: Talk about those challenges. It’s a semi-closed primary. What does that mean, and how easy is it for those no-party-preference voters to get a Democratic ballot?
SCOTT SHAFER: So, Republicans only allowed registered Republicans to vote in the primary here, but Democrats have allowed these non-partisan, no-preference-party voters to come in and vote in their primary.
If you are one of those voters and you don’t ask for a Democratic ballot with Clinton and Sanders on it, you are going to get a ballot where it’s blank at the top. And so you have had to by May 31 request a mail-in ballot for the Democrats. Now, a lot of people haven’t done that. Some of these are younger voters, new voters.
They may open their ballot the day before the election and realize, where is Sanders and Clinton? They then have to go to the polling place and exchange their ballot. Maybe they have planned to do that. Maybe they haven’t.
So, in fact, there was a lawsuit over this very thing. Sanders supporters sued two counties and the state — secretary of state in California. The judge in that case threw it out. But they wanted to extend the voter registration deadline right up until the election on June 7. That’s not going to happen, but there is a fair amount of confusion.
JOHN YANG: We have got a little less than a minute left, Scott.
That’s a challenge for the Sanders voters, it sounds like, but there has also been a surge in new voter registration. Are there signs in there that could help Sanders?
SCOTT SHAFER: There are.
The new registrants or many of them are young. Now, you would expect that, because who registers to vote? People who are turning 18, people who have moved to a place and now they want to register to vote. So it’s not that surprising.
But, nonetheless, those are the voters he needs to turn out. They are also — they also skew Democrats. So that helps Hillary Clinton. So, again, that’s why not only getting your — getting a ballot into the hands of these folks, but getting them to turn it in on time, is so important. And it is — like I said, it is a challenge, but they’re very motivated.
The upside for the Sanders campaign is that when you look at the polls, his supporters are much more excited and enthused to be voting than Hillary Clinton’s. So you have to think that’s going to auger well for him on Election Day.
JOHN YANG: So, a game of voter turnout.
Scott Shafer from KQED, thanks for joining us.
SCOTT SHAFER: You bet.
The post Can Bernie Sanders pull off upset win over Hillary Clinton in California? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.