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

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    File photo of syringe by Eric Gaillard/Reuters

    File photo of syringe by Eric Gaillard/Reuters

    HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The high school students who lined up to graduate at the civic center here on a recent afternoon celebrated their bright futures. And for the college students in shorts and flip flops who filled the downtown cafes and shops, life seemed pretty good, too.

    But for the 30-something heroin addicts who packed the waiting room of the local health department just a few blocks away, the future doesn’t look as promising.

    By its own calculations, this city of 50,000 on the Ohio River has the highest drug overdose death rate in a state ranked No. 1 in the nation for overdose deaths. The city’s overdose death rate, at 119 per 100,000 last year, is nearly 10 times the national rate.

    It’s not a statistic that Huntington advertises in tourist brochures or welcome packages for students attending the local college, Marshall University. But Mayor Steve Williams said the worsening heroin problem was becoming so plain to everyone that “we had to define it, before it defined us.”

    And so, with some state and federal lawmakers backing him up, the city’s law enforcement and public health leaders, along with education, business and religious groups, joined forces in 2014 to attack the problem. By August 2015, Williams had created a detailed strategic plan for defeating the epidemic and an Office of Drug Control Policy to oversee it.

    The Police Department started trying to divert drug users to treatment rather than jail. The city launched an innovative program for babies born to women who used opioids during pregnancy, and opened a drug court for women charged with prostitution. There’s also a new school-based program for kids whose parents are arrested for drug crimes.

    But the most visible, and controversial, of Huntington’s responses to its surging opioid epidemic so far is a needle exchange program, the first in West Virginia and one of only a handful in the heart of Appalachia, the 13-state region hardest hit by the opioid epidemic.

    Every Wednesday, addicts gather in a brightly lit waiting room, seeking clean needles and other services that might reduce the health risks of their intravenous drug use. It won’t necessarily change their lives, but it could reduce the harm that comes with a life of drug addiction.

    sln_opioidbarjune6

    Surrounding the problem

    A once prosperous railroad center where Kentucky and Ohio meet West Virginia, Huntington is a microcosm of the nation’s decades-long struggle with prescription pain pills and heroin. The target of profiteering doctors who overprescribed addictive pain medicines for cash and drug dealers who rushed in with heroin when the pill supply dwindled, Huntington mainly fought back with law enforcement tactics.

    But, as in much of the rest of the country, Huntington’s leaders realized they couldn’t arrest their way out of the drug problem. “For every drug dealer we took off the street, three more showed up,” said Jim Johnson, Huntington’s former police chief who is now Williams’ director of drug control policy.

    The first needle exchange programs in the U.S. were developed in the mid-1980s to stem the spread of AIDS. They provide sterile supplies for injection to drug users in exchange for used needles to stanch the spread of infectious diseases and help prevent other health hazards, such as skin abscesses and infections of the veins, heart and other organs.

    The programs have been shown to save millions in health care costs for drug users and reduce the risk to the public of accidentally getting stuck by a discarded needle.

    But opponents have argued that providing free IV injection supplies only makes it easier for drug users to maintain their habit. And the programs have been difficult, if not impossible, to get started in politically conservative regions like Appalachia.

    The enormity of the nation’s ongoing opioid epidemic, which killed more than 28,000 in 2014, and high-profile support from the Obama administration over the past year, has muted some of those critics. In January, Congress ended a nearly 30-year ban on federal funding for the programs.

    Still, Johnson said he was shocked to find himself kicking down doors to get the money to pay for a needle exchange program.

    “It made so much sense,” he said. “It was relatively cheap to stand up and would save hundreds of millions in health care costs over the next decade. It was something we could grab ahold of.”

    Early results show the needle exchange program, and Huntington’s other recent efforts, may have made some headway: Overdose deaths were down by 40 percent in the first quarter of 2016, compared to the same period last year. But, Johnson cautioned, “We’ve been disappointed before.”

    sln_opioidlinejune6

    Harm reduction

    Like the roughly 200 other cities with needle exchanges, mostly on the East and West coasts, the Cabell-Huntington Harm Reduction and Needle Exchange Programprovides needles, syringes and sterile water, cotton filters, heroin cookers and alcohol swabs at no charge. The staff throws condoms into patients’ to-go bags, for good measure.

    Since it opened its doors in September, the weekly clinic has also offered free screening for HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as pregnancy tests, contraceptive services and first aid for wounds. Drug users also are encouraged to avail themselves of the Huntington-Cabell Health Department’s other services, including primary care and chronic disease management.

    What’s remarkable about Huntington’s program is how quickly it built up a large following, said Daniel Raymond, policy director for the Harm Reduction Coalition, a New York-based organization that advocates for syringe exchanges and other protections for drug users.

    In just nine months, the program has had nearly 4,000 visits; it averages 150 visitors a week.

    Late one recent Wednesday morning, armed police officers paced around the lobby as about 45 people, mostly suntanned and tattooed, waited for their names to be called. Dr. Michael Kilkenny, the health department’s medical director, said heroin users are prone to getting into small scraps, but they are rarely violent, and his patients say the guards make them feel secure.

    The needle exchange program aims to curtail the spread of new cases of hepatitis B and C, both of which shot up in Huntington over the last five years, in tandem with the surge in heroin use. But it’s also designed to lower the death toll by teaching drug users how to rescue fellow users by administering naloxone, which can reverse a potentially lethal overdose.

    Every Wednesday at the clinic, a pharmacist trains patients on how to administer naloxone, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. After that, they can take home a one-piece injector called EVZIO that includes audio instructions and can be administered through a person’s clothing. (The clinic’s inventory of 2,200 injectors, valued at $1.5 million, was donated by the manufacturer, Kaléo.)

    Distribution of naloxone, along with West Virginia’s 2015 “good Samaritan” law, which allows people to call 911 to report an overdose without risking arrest, has resulted in an increase in the number of 911 overdose calls and a decline in overdose deaths, Kilkenny said.

    sln_opioidmapjune6

    A portal to recovery

    Krista Spears, a bubbly 35-year-old, has been a regular at Huntington’s syringe exchange program since it opened. She has advanced hepatitis C and doesn’t want to spread it to any of her fellow drug users, she said. When she’s ready to quit heroin, she plans to use her Medicaid coverage to get treatment for her hepatitis. But she’s not ready yet.

    Like many longtime drug users, Spears has tried to quit before and doesn’t want to set herself up for failure. “Of course I want to quit,” she said. “No one wants to be addicted. But there’s no use trying until I’m ready.”

    For those who are ready, Huntington’s syringe exchange gives patients the opportunity to talk to a recovery coach — a peer who is in recovery from addiction and can walk them through the process and help them get started.

    “For Huntington to build the recovery coach role into its program is innovative and exciting,” Raymond said. It represents a new wave in needle exchange programs.

    Spears started using prescription pain pills when she was 14. She took her mother’s Percocet and OxyContin out of the medicine cabinet and got high all the time. “She had so many, she never missed them,” Spears said.

    That’s a typical story, Kilkenny said. The average age of people coming to the clinic is 36, he said, and most started using painkillers and other drugs when they were between 13 and 18, he said. That means the problem started 18 to 20 years ago, when West Virginia and other Appalachian states were flooded with liberally prescribed opioid pain medications.

    Once states started clamping down on prescription pain medicine, many people turned to heroin. Today, Huntington is one of the easiest places to buy it. Spears said the first day she arrived in the city a dealer approached her on the sidewalk and asked if she wanted to get high. Now, she said, her drug habit costs about $20 per day, not much more than a heavy smoking habit.

    “Our drug dealers come from Detroit,” Johnson said “The price of heroin there is half the price they can sell it for here.” With an estimated 7,000 Huntington residents addicted to opioids, about 14 percent of the population, the city represents a thriving market. “They call us Moneyton,” he said.

    Kilkenny knows that the only way to trim Huntington’s surging demand for heroin is to reduce the number of people who are addicted to it by getting more people into treatment.

    The mayor’s strategic plan called the needle exchange a “portal to recovery.” As the health department builds trust within the drug-using community, people like Spears will know where to turn when they decide to quit.

    But Kilkenny and others say there is a dire shortage of treatment in Huntington and surrounding Cabell County, particularly medication-assisted addiction treatmentusing one of the three federally approved medicines — methadone, buprenorphine or naltrexone.

    “People are begging for treatment and can’t get it,” Kilkenny said. As long as the shortage persists, “we’re going to be in the business of clean needles,” he said. “We’re really in a holding pattern.”

    This story first appeared on Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

    The post Early results of W.Va. town’s needle exchange program show progress appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Larval European perch that has ingested microplastic particles (light-colored spheres on bottom side). Photo by Oona Lönnstedt

    Larval European perch that has ingested microplastic particles (light-colored spheres on bottom side). Photo by Oona Lönnstedt

    When exposed to microplastics, baby fish stop eating natural food and prefer consuming the pollutant, according to a report from ecologists at Uppsala University in Sweden. The dietary switch derails the basic instincts of the fish, the researchers found, elevating the likelihood of being caught by predators. The findings may explain why populations of European perch (Perca fluviatilis) — the main species analyzed in the study — have declined in the Baltic Sea.

    “Perch are common and popular recreational fish in Sweden,” said Oona Lönnstedt, an Uppsala ecologist and the project’s leader. “But they have seen continuous and rapid declines in density and abundance since the mid-1990s in the Baltic Sea.”

    If this process takes place in the marine ecosystem, plastics can affect the health of food webs, which include humans as an apex predator.
    The trend is especially true for young perch, and the cause remains unknown. Some experts blame habitat destruction, while others cite too much salty runoff from land due to climate change. But two years ago, Lönnstedt and her colleagues set their sights on microplastics as a leading factor.

    Microplastics litter the Earth’s oceans. The particles typically measure less than five millimeters (one-fifth of an inch) in size, and recent estimates suggest up to 236,000 metric tons wash into the oceans each year. That’s equivalent to the weight of 1,300 blue whales, and it may represent just one percent of the total contained in oceans. The Baltic Sea carries about 25 to 40 plastic particles per gallon of water — or 229 quadrillion pieces across its entire volume.

    Lönnstedt’s study examined how microplastics influence every stage of European perch development. The team started with eggs collected from the Baltic Sea. They raised 60 of these embryos in three tanks carrying either no microplastics, an average amount observed in parts of the Baltic Sea (40 particles per gallon) or an extreme level (300 particles per gallon).

    Sans pollution, the eggs hatched about 96 percent of the time, but birth rates fell with both average (89 percent) and extreme (81 percent) quantities of microplastics.

    Larval perch exposed to high levels of microplastics. Ingested microplastic particles appear as spheres on bottom side. Photo by Oona Lönnstedt

    The consumption of microplastics may reduce energy levels in larval fish. Photo by Oona Lönnstedt

    Things got weirder when the animals grew older. The researchers raised European perch for 10 days in regular water with the perch’s favorite food, brine shrimp, and then added microplastics to the tanks.

    “The biggest surprise in this study was the fact that larvae preferentially ate microplastic particles,” said Lönnstedt, whose study was published June 2 in the journal Science. “They literally stuffed themselves with the microbeads and ignored their natural food source.”

    Larval fish exposed to microplastics also became lethargic, spent more time in a motionless state and swam shorter distances across their aquarium.

    One way baby perch survive their vulnerable youth is by smelling predators. Much like stinky gym socks, predators exude repulsive scents that the baby fish can sniff and avoid. When the team squirted drops of these chemical alarms into the tanks, they found fish with microplastics were less likely to flee. The microplastics impaired the perch’s olfactory reflexes.

    European perch weren't alone. This damselfish larva  feasted on microplastics until its stomach exploded. Photo by Oona Lönnstedt

    European perch weren’t alone. This damselfish larva feasted on microplastics until its stomach exploded. Photo by Oona Lönnstedt

    There could be two potential reasons for this. Either the plastic particles exude toxic chemicals that interfere with nerve development, effectively altering their behaviors and olfactory responses,” Lönnstedt said. “Alternatively, the fish are lacking so much energy, due to plastic-filled stomachs, that they simply have no energy…and consequently ignore the chemical threat cues of predators.”

    Pike larva with burst stomach due to microplastic consumption.  Photo by Oona Lönnstedt

    Pike larva with burst stomach due to microplastic consumption. Photo by Oona Lönnstedt

    This dampened fear response translated into real-world doom. In a separate experiment, the team added a perch predator — Northern pike (Esox lucius) and then monitored survival for 24 hours. Without microplastics, 46 percent of baby perch survived the night. Average microplastic levels cut 24-hour survival by another 20 percent. None survived against predators with high levels of microplastics.

    Perch may not be suffering alone. Since completing this study, Lönnstedt and her colleagues have recorded similar (unpublished) patterns in other species of larval fish, both tropical (coral reef damselfish) and temperate (pike and flounder).

    “In this way, the plastic contaminants are transferred from the small prey fish to the larger predatory pike and are likely to bioaccumulate in the food chain,” Lönnstedt said. “If this process takes place in the marine ecosystem, plastics can affect the health of food webs, which include humans as an apex predator.”

    If we can target the chemical that is most harmful at least this could hopefully be phased out of production.
    The next step in the project will be examining the process in nature. They’ve found European perch in the Baltic Sea with bellies filled with plastic, but this needs to be studied more in depth, according to Lönnstedt. The other open question is whether all types of plastic cause these problems. This study used polystyrene, a common and inexpensive polymer found in fishing floats, buoys, packaging and insulation, toys, kitchen appliances, lids, bottles and disposable cutlery.

    “Now we know that polystyrene is harmful, but we also need to compare it to the other common polymers such as polyethylene and PVC,” Lönnstedt said. “If we can target the chemical that is most harmful, at least this could hopefully be phased out of production.”

    The post Bellies full of microplastic rob baby fish of their basic instincts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters during a rally in Eugene, Oregon on May 6, 2016.  Photo  by AFP/Getty Images / Rob Kerr

    U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters during a rally in Eugene, Oregon on May 6, 2016. Photo by AFP/Getty Images / Rob Kerr

    When Nikki Fisher cast her first ballot in November 2004, she felt empowered. But she was surprised how many of her high school friends never made it to the polls.

    Since then, Fisher has worked to get fellow Oregonians registered to vote. As executive director of the Bus Project, a progressive-leaning nonprofit organization of volunteers, Fisher helped spearhead the Oregon Motor Voter initiative, the nation’s first automatic voter registration system in her home state that began this year.

    “Democracy works best when more eligible voters have access to the ballot,” Fisher said.

    Voter registration has dramatically increased this year, according to early data. Over the last eight years, Oregon registered about 2,000 new voters on average each month by traditional means. But since automatic voter registration took effect on Jan. 1, the state has registered more than 51,000 voters through Oregon Motor Voters alone, especially young Republican and Independent voters, according to Molly Woon, spokeswoman for the Oregon Secretary of State office, making up a big part of the more than 115,000 total new voters so far this year.

    That means 2 percent of 2.2 million eligible Oregon voters signed up through the new system. And of those automatically registered new voters, nearly one in five submitted their ballot for the first time during Oregon’s May 17 primary.

    Compare that the same period during the historic 2008 election of President Barack Obama, when Oregon enrolled more than 85,000 new voters overall, according to state records.

    omv-rate

    “These numbers are only the first glimpse of how Oregon Motor Voter might result in more participation,” said Oregon Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins in a released statement, adding that her office would further analyze voter turnout after the Nov. 8 general presidential election.

    Those numbers “are likely to compound over time, over multiple election cycles” and result in more civic engagement, says Jonathan Brater, who serves as counsel for the Democracy Program at New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice.

    And automatic voter registration is picking up in a rapidly growing number of states nationwide.

    Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed the state's motor voter registration bill into law on January 1. The new law automatically registers a person to vote based on information they submitted to receive a driver's license, such as their age and citizenship status. Photo courtesy of Nikki Fisher/Bus Project

    Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed the state’s motor voter registration bill into law on January 1. The new law automatically registers a person to vote based on information they submitted to receive a driver’s license, such as their age and citizenship status. Photo courtesy of Nikki Fisher/Bus Project

    Less than two years ago, no one could automatically register to vote, he said, but now, nearly one in five U.S. residents live in states where that’s an option or it awaits a governor’s signature, and 28 states and the District of Columbia have proposed measures that automate voter registration.

    A 2012 estimate from Pew Charitable Trust pegged the number of eligible but unregistered voters at 51 million Americans, or about a quarter of the population.

    Why don’t more people register to vote? A number of reasons, Brater said. People don’t know the deadline, or problems cropped up after they submitted their paperwork, such as a data-entry error, or their registration papers were lost in the mail.

    With automatic voter registration, the government uses the data a person submits when they apply for a driver’s license, such as age and citizenship status, and electronically transfers it to election officials, he says, cutting “down on the chance that people are going to be disenfranchised because of a government error.”

    The post Young GOP voter turnout boosted by automatic registration in Oregon appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A man walks past a mural in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles, home to many Mexican and Central American migrants, in California August 5, 2014. Los Angeles is a culturally thriving city and one of the most ethnically diverse in the United States, with a population that is 48.5 percent Latino and 11.3 percent Asian, according to a 2010 census. Immigration has become a hot button issue ahead of U.S. midterm elections on November 4, and despite arguments from the White House that legal migration benefits businesses, a recent opinion poll found most Americans believe migrants place a burden on the economy. Picture taken August 5, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY IMMIGRATION TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) ATTENTION EDITORS: PICTURE 01 OF 28 FOR WIDER IMAGE STORY 'LOS ANGELES, THE WORLD IN A CITY' SEARCH 'NICHOLSON CENSUS' FOR ALL IMAGES - RTR4C6LJ

    A man walks past a mural in the Echo Park section of Los Angeles, which is home to many Mexican and Central American migrants. A growing number of new Latino voters in California are registering as “Non-Party Participants,” in a rebuke of the Democratic Party. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    The Democratic Party is relying on Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric to drive up Latino turnout this fall. But while conventional wisdom holds that most new Latino voters will register as Democrats, an increasing number in California — a key state in the battle over immigration — are actually opting out of the two-party system altogether, a troubling sign for a Democratic Party that has long taken the Latino vote for granted.

    Since 2008, California — which holds its Democratic and Republican primaries on Tuesday — has seen a 35 percent spike in people registering as “No Party Preference” voters, instead of as Democrats or Republicans. California’s new nonpartisan or no-party voters are primarily young and Latino, according to Paul Mitchell of Political Data, a California voter information and political campaign management group.

    “As cities get more heavily Latino or Asian, [the] rate of nonpartisan registration rises significantly, while Democratic registration is flat-lined and Republicans are losing voters,” Mitchell said.

    Agustin is a No Party Preference voter from East Los Angeles. He owns his own company, ‘Agustin Y Su Marachi.’ He plays around the Mariachi Plaza Station in Los Angeles, where he meets most of his clients. Photo by Daniel E. Sanjur

    Agustin is a No Party Preference voter from East Los Angeles. He owns his own company, ‘Agustin Y Su Marachi.’ He plays around the Mariachi Plaza Station in Los Angeles, where he meets most of his clients. Photo by Daniel E. Sanjur

    The surge of Latino no-party voters in California isn’t surprising, given that many come from families whose parents do not have strong ties to either major political party. Often, their parents were born outside of the country or are less interested and involved in U.S. politics, said Mark DiCamillo, a senior vice president at Field Research, a California-based polling firm.

    Of course, the phenomenon isn’t limited to Latinos. “Most voters don’t understand political organizations,” said Adrian Pantoja, a senior analyst at Latino Decisions, a research firm headquartered in Seattle. “It’s a level of politics far too complicated. Some journalists who cover it don’t even fully understand.”

    The growth of nonpartisan registered voters might not impact the final outcome of Tuesday’s Democratic primary, or the general election this fall. California’s Democratic primary is open to no-party voters, and most are expected to vote for Hillary Clinton or Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

    The GOP primary is closed to nonpartisan voters. And in November, the vast majority of California’s Latino voters will likely vote for the Democratic nominee over Donald Trump, regardless of their party affiliation.

    Armando Telles from the Unity Project of California (L) and Caroline Theiss-Aird of the North County Immigration Task Force (R) set up a table during lunch hour to help seniors to sign-up and to vote during National Voter Registration day at a high school in Escondido, California September 22, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Blake - RTX1RYCZ

    Armando Telles from the Unity Project of California and Caroline Theiss-Aird of the North County Immigration Task Force helped seniors sign up to vote during National Voter Registration day at a high school in Escondido, California last September. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    Still, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Latino turnout this election is less of a pledge of allegiance to the Democratic Party, and more of a vote against Trump. And beyond the implications for 2016, the no-party voter surge reveals an important generational divide among Latinos like Betsy Avila, which could impact Democratic candidates for years to come.

    Avila, a 28-year-old artist in Los Angeles, says she updates her Mexican-born parents regularly on the state of the presidential election. There isn’t a dinner-table discussion that goes by without election talk, Avila said.

    But in these discussions, Avila said she often finds herself explaining the intricacies of U.S. politics to her parents. “It goes beyond English to Spanish. I provide nuance,” she said.

    Avila cited Sanders, who relies on numbers and catchphrases like “the 99 percent” and “the 1 percent” that can mean little for immigrants without being placed in historical context.

    Santa Cecilia is a family-style restaurant at the heart of Boyle Heights that serves hand-made tortillas and homemade salsas. Photo by Daniel E. Sanjur

    Santa Cecilia is a family-style restaurant at the heart of Boyle Heights that serves hand-made tortillas and homemade salsas. Photo by Daniel E. Sanjur

    That disconnect is readily apparent in Los Angeles County, which has the largest Latino voter bloc in the state. More than one-third of the residents in the county are immigrants. The number of new no-party voters in Los Angeles is growing daily, according to Diana Colin, the director of civic engagement at the Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles, a nonprofit that runs a voter registration program.

    So far, the organization has registered the same number of no-party voters as it has Democrats, Colin said.

    Democrats should not presume they can count on the Latino vote, Colin said. Because many Latinos don’t have a deep-seated allegiance to a political party, results matter. And while education and the economy are top concerns, most issues for Latinos in California ultimately link back to immigration.

    The growing number of no-party voters reflects this frustration — and serves as an explicit rebuke to the Democratic Party and President Obama for failing to pass immigration reform under his watch.

    Critics have sought to dismiss the no-party surge, arguing that most are young and undecided voters who don’t have a big impact on elections. But Latino activists say this misses the point. Most no-party voters are directly affected by immigration. In Los Angeles County alone, 59 percent of children have at least one immigrant parent.

    “The children of immigrants are the guardians of their parents,” Colin said.

    Nancy Rosales Hernandez, 23, protests outside the Luxe Hotel, where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was expected to speak in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California, United States July 10, 2015. At least 10 businesses have severed deals with billionaire presidential contender Donald Trump after his disparaging comments about Mexican immigrants, following vigorous lobbying by Latinos and others. Trump said that some of his criticism has been distorted. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson - RTX1JYH0

    Nancy Rosales Hernandez, 23, protested outside of a Donald Trump rally in Los Angeles last fall. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    At the same time, Latinos’ frustration with Democrats pales in comparison to the fear and anger that many voters feel toward Trump, who has focused his anti-immigrant rhetoric on Hispanics — and Mexicans in particular — from the start of his campaign. The issue hits home in California, which has a large population of Mexican immigrants.

    “While I have a degree of confidence that Latinos will vote Democrat or progressive, I have a higher degree of confidence they will vote against an anti-immigrant platform,” said Fernando Guerra, a professor of Chicana/o studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

    Guerra pointed to former Gov. Pete Wilson of California, a Republican who championed Proposition 187, a controversial anti-immigrant ballot measure, while running for re-election in 1994. Prop 187 attempted to establish a statewide citizenship screening system and prohibited most government services — including public education — for undocumented immigrants.

    The number of new no-party voters in Los Angeles is growing daily, according to a immigrant rights nonprofit that runs a voter registration program. Photo by Daniel E. Sanjur

    The number of new no-party voters in Los Angeles is growing daily, according to a immigrant rights nonprofit that runs a voter registration program. Photo by Daniel E. Sanjur

    “I’m working to deny state services to illegal immigrants. Enough is enough,” Wilson said in an ominous campaign ad, which showed images of immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

    Wilson won re-election, but since leaving office in 1996, the California electorate has changed drastically. Latinos made up just 10 percent of the state electorate at the time; now they’re the state’s largest voting bloc.

    “California has come a long way since Prop 187,” said Colin. “But Latinos in California have not forgotten.”

    Still, Democrats are going to have to work harder to convince Latinos to remain in the party. Until that happens, the number of no-party voters could keep growing.

    “The Democratic party should have California Latinos’ unwavering support,” said Jose Parra, the CEO of Prospero Latino, a left-leaning political consulting firm in Washington, D.C., “but it doesn’t because the party has not [done enough] to sustain it.”

    The post In California, more Latinos registering as ‘no-party voters’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Capt. Jesus Salas of the 1st Cavalry Division uses a roll of barbed wire for cover in Baghdad's Shiite suburb of Sadr City on Aug. 18, 2004. Photo by David P. Gilkey/Pool via Reuters

    U.S. Capt. Jesus Salas of the 1st Cavalry Division uses a roll of barbed wire for cover in Baghdad’s Shiite suburb of Sadr City on Aug. 18, 2004. Photo by David P. Gilkey/Pool via Reuters

    It was August 2004, and the Iraq war was about a year old. Fighting was intense in Sadr City, a suburb of Baghdad, where Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s militia was battling the U.S. military occupation.

    NPR photojournalist David Gilkey was embedded with the troops. Some of his photos, which can be viewed below, captured a firefight and the anguish of the Iraqi people caught in the crossfire.

    NPR reported on Sunday that Gilkey was killed, along with his Afghan translator Zabihullah Tamanna, as they were traveling with an Afghan Army unit and their convoy came under attack.

    Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement saying he was saddened by the deaths. “This attack is a grim reminder of the danger that continues to face the Afghan people, the dedication of Afghan national defense and security forces to securing their country, and of the courage of intrepid journalists — and their interpreters — who are trying to convey that important story to the rest of the world.”

    U.S. Army soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division run across a street during a firefight in Sadr City on Aug. 18, 2004. Fighting between U.S. forces and Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi militia broke out in a Shiite slum in Baghdad. Photo by David P. Gilkey/Pool via Reuters

    U.S. Army soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division run across a street during a firefight in Sadr City on Aug. 18, 2004. Fighting between U.S. forces and Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mehdi militia broke out in a Shiite slum in Baghdad. Photo by David P. Gilkey/Pool via Reuters

    A U.S. Army sniper takes aim at a suspected enemy observer at Camp Eagle in the Baghdad suburb of Sadr City on Aug. 16, 2004. Photo by David P. Gilkey/ Pool via Reuters

    A U.S. Army sniper takes aim at a suspected enemy observer at Camp Eagle in the Baghdad suburb of Sadr City on Aug. 16, 2004. Photo by David P. Gilkey/ Pool via Reuters

    U.S. Army troops stop a pick-up truck driven by family members trying to get a critically wounded man to hospital from a neighborhood outside the Baghdad suburb of Sadr City on Aug. 14, 2004. The man died at the scene despite the efforts of the soldiers to give medical aid. Photo by David P. Gilkey-Detroit Free Press/Knight Ridder-Pool via Reuters

    U.S. Army troops stop a pick-up truck driven by family members trying to get a critically wounded man to hospital from a neighborhood outside the Baghdad suburb of Sadr City on Aug. 14, 2004. The man died at the scene despite the efforts of the soldiers to give medical aid. Photo by David P. Gilkey-Detroit Free Press/Knight Ridder-Pool via Reuters

    A U.S. Army medic stands guard outside a building during a search operation on Aug. 15, 2004. Insurgents fired mortars at an interim national assembly meeting of Iraqi officials, killing at least two people. Photo by David P. Gilkey/Detroit Free Press/Knight Ridder - Pool via Reuters

    A U.S. Army medic stands guard outside a building during a search operation on Aug. 15, 2004. Insurgents fired mortars at an interim national assembly meeting of Iraqi officials, killing at least two people. Photo by David P. Gilkey/Detroit Free Press/Knight Ridder – Pool via Reuters

    A group of handcuffed Iraqi detainees are watched by the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division soldiers after being arrested for driving a stolen ambulance and testing positive for explosives on their hands on Aug. 18, 2004. Photo by David P. Gilkey/Pool via Reuters

    A group of handcuffed Iraqi detainees are watched by the U.S. Army’s 1st Cavalry Division soldiers after being arrested for driving a stolen ambulance and testing positive for explosives on their hands on Aug. 18, 2004. Photo by David P. Gilkey/Pool via Reuters

    The post NPR photojournalist brought viewers to the front lines of Iraq battles appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The National Science Foundation, which currently funds two thirds of the Arecibo Observatory’s total cost, is holding public meetings on June 7 to discuss the fate of the world's largest single dish radio telescope. Photo by Marius Strom/via Flickr

    The National Science Foundation, which currently funds two thirds of the Arecibo Observatory’s total cost, is holding public meetings on June 7 to discuss the fate of the world’s largest single dish radio telescope. Photo by Marius Strom/via Flickr

    One of the world’s most iconic astronomy sites, Puerto Rico’s giant Arecibo Observatory, may be facing the end of its era. The National Science Foundation (NSF), the primary funder of Arecibo—which is the largest existing radio telescope and was featured in the movies Contactand GoldenEye, among others—is holding public meetings on June 7 to “evaluate potential environmental effects of proposed changes to operations at Arecibo Observatory,” according to an NSF announcement.

    Because those proposed changes include the option of shutting down the 305-meter dish telescope altogether, officials will likely get an earful about more than air quality and groundwater. Defenders of the observatory will have a chance to speak their minds at two meetings—at the San Juan DoubleTree Inn and the Puerto Rico Professional College of Engineers and Land Surveyors—and can submit comments in writing through June 23.

    With the NSF’s budget essentially flat since 2010, the agency cannot afford to run all its telescopes indefinitely…
    Since its completion in 1963 the storied telescope found fame for discoveries such as the first-ever planets outside the solar system in 1992 and the first indirect evidence of gravitational waves in 1974, a finding that earned its makers a Nobel Prize, among other landmark accomplishments.

    But the beloved observatory now stands on a precarious threshold. The NSF has to balance the operations of new and expensive facilities such as the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile against older ones like Arecibo while weighing federal scientific priorities and setting aside enough money for grants to individual scientists.

    With the NSF’s budget essentially flat since 2010, the agency cannot afford to run all its telescopes indefinitely, continue building new ones and still pay the country’s scientists. But researchers who use Arecibo argue that it has a useful life of novel discoveries ahead of it, even if is not as shiny as the newcomers, especially in some areas where it makes a unique contribution.

    The observatory’s latest announcement follows recommendations made by two committees associated with the NSF, in 2012 and earlier 2016, reevaluating the agency’s role in running the telescope and “significantly decreasing funding.” This year the NSF also did a “feasibility study” to map out various futures for Arecibo and asked potential partners to propose ways they could take over some telescope operations. The NSF currently funds Arecibo at $8.2 million a year, two thirds of the telescope’s total cost, with NASA kicking in the last third to bankroll the observatory’s study of near-Earth asteroids. But two NSF divisions—Astronomical Sciences and Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences—which split their cost equally, are reconsidering their roles.

    Construction of the Arecibo Radio Telescope ran from 1960 to 1963. Here is the site on March 22, 1962. Photo courtesy of the NAIC - Arecibo Observatory, a facility of the NSF

    Construction of the Arecibo Radio Telescope ran from 1960 to 1963. Here is the site on March 22, 1962. Photo courtesy of the NAIC – Arecibo Observatory, a facility of the NSF

    The “environmental impact statement,” for which the upcoming meetings seek public comment, will attempt to define the earthly effects of five different hypothetical scenarios, each involving a different financial commitment from the NSF. In one, everything would stay much the same. But the agency could also team up with “interested parties” who could help fund the telescope or other interested parties who want to run it as an educational facility.

    More pessimistically, the NSF could mothball the site, shutting it down in such a way that it could restart (sometime in the future). Or it could dismantle the telescope altogether and restore the area to its natural state, as required by law if the agency fully divests itself of the observatory and closes it. Previous studies have said such a process could cost around $100 million—more than a decade’s worth of its current funding for telescope operations.

    Jim Ulvestad, director of the NSF Division of Astronomical Sciences, says the agency is still investigating, not concluding. “No alternative has been selected at this juncture,” he says. And much consideration will go into the final financial decision, whatever it may be. Some outside the agency see writing on the wall.

    “NSF is dead serious about offloading Arecibo funding to someone else—anyone else,” says Ellen Howell, a former staff scientist at Arecibo and now a faculty member at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) in Tucson, Arizona.

    This is hardly the first time Arecibo’s future has felt precarious. A quick Google search will net you various “Save Arecibo!” campaigns from the 2007 era—for instance, after an NSF-commissioned report recommended decreasing the agency’s funding for the telescope from 2007’s $10.5 million to $4 million in 2011. Its current $8.2 million-a-year allowance is a compromise.

    And the observatory has company in its current crisis.

    A 900-ton platform is suspended 450 feet above Arecibo's primary reflector dish. The dome, which carries receivers, can move along arched tracks, expanding the observatory's view of the sky.  Photo courtesy of the NAIC - Arecibo Observatory, a facility of the NSF

    A 900-ton platform is suspended 450 feet above Arecibo’s primary reflector dish. The dome, which carries receivers, can move along arched tracks, expanding the observatory’s view of the sky. Photo courtesy of the NAIC – Arecibo Observatory, a facility of the NSF

    The Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, the Very Long Baseline Array spread across the country, and several older telescopes on Kitt Peak in Arizona are wading through similar budgetary muck, trying to work out new private partnerships (with NSF assistance) after the agency decided to cut their cords. And according to documents and e-mails obtained byThe Sydney Morning Herald, the Parkes radio telescope in Australia is facing similar funding shortfalls. A “likely recommendation,” according toThe Herald, will be that Parkes and another Australian facility “raise external funds by charging for access to the telescope facilities.”

    Green Bank, Arecibo and Parkes are three of the world’s most powerful radio telescopes—historically open to scientists who successfully submit proposals to use them—and government-based financial problems may lead them all into eventual closure or into the arms of private interests, where whoever pays gets to choose what type of science is done.

    Arecibo currently is used for radio astronomy, space and atmospheric science as well as radar studies of comets, asteroids and planets. These areas are brimming with potential for the observatory to make many exciting discoveries in the future, advocates say.

    Xavier Siemens, an astronomer at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, is especially excited about the possibility for using Arecibo to detect gravitational waves—ripples in spacetime—coming from supermassive black holes. Because it is the largest and most sensitive single-dish radio telescope in the world, Arecibo is one of the best instruments available for detecting pulsars, the fast-spinning remnants of dead, once-huge stars. Scientists like Siemens currently use Arecibo and the also-threatened Green Bank Telescope to find and monitor a network of pulsars they hope will help detect gravitational waves.

    In addition to its scientific import, Arecibo also plays a concrete, down-to-earth role in the community.
    Without Arecibo, he says, that search would be crippled. Although the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), which announced the first detection of gravitational waves in February to much fanfare, will continue running, it catches different waves than pulsar studies such as Arecibo’s do.

    “What’s really amazing to me is that in the wake of the discovery of gravitational waves, NSF is going to shut down the world’s most sensitive radio telescope and hinder the detection—the opening of the only other gravitational-wave window that we can open in the next few years,” he says. “It’s surreal.”

    It may be surreal but Howell believes it is also realistic.

    “I am afraid that NSF has already made up its collective mind to reduce their support to much less than the current $8 million per year or so to perhaps nothing,” Howell says. “I think this is an embarrassment after so many years of scientific achievements when so little could continue the productivity.”

    Michael Nolan, now at the LPL, worked at Arecibo for 20 years and was director from 2008 to 2011. He claims the observatory used to have better friends in high places, specifically in the NSF’s Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences division. “The two main advocates are now retired, and it seems like that voice is, too,” he says. “The Astronomy division has seemed like managers rather than advocates for a long time, though, of course, I’m not privy to their internal discussions.”

    And whereas the NSF’s deliberations have not yet resulted in a decision to back away from the observatory completely or at all, the delay of what may be inevitable is not doing the telescope any favors, Nolan argues. Arecibo’s leaders cannot ask new potential donors to make up for a specific shortfall because they do not know if or by how much the NSF might curb its aid.

    Recalling his tenure at Arecibo, and the regular jeopardy it was in even back then, Nolan wishes the facility did not have to be so often rescued from the brink: “You know that line in The Incredibles?” he asks. “‘Sometimes I just want it to stay saved, you know? For a little bit.’”

    In addition to its scientific import, Arecibo also plays a concrete, down-to-earth role in the community. An economy exists around the rural facility, which provides jobs to local residents and infuses the area with cash-dispensing visitors—both touristic and scientific. The environmental statement will also evaluate those human impacts.

    If the NSF does decide to tighten the purse strings and no other organization steps up to fill the gap, the consequences will ripple across science and society, space and time. “If Arecibo has to close because NSF has other priorities, it will not be possible to bring it back anytime soon, when or if we come to our senses,” the LPL’s Howell says. She and many scientists would agree that an empty Arecibo site would be—as Jodie Foster says in Contact—an “awful waste of space.”

    This article is reproduced with permission from Scientific American. It was first published on June 6, 2016. Find the original story here.

    The post World’s largest radio telescope faces retirement due to stagnant funding appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A visitor looks at Apple patents displayed at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) headquarters in Geneva March 29, 2012. The exhibition, "The Patents and Trademarks of Steve Jobs: Art and Technology that Changed the World" features 317 patents, including those for devices such as iMac, iPhone, iPad and Mac Book, that Apple's co-founder Steve Jobs and his company registered in the United States. It will run until April 26, 2012. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse (SWITZERLAND - Tags: SOCIETY BUSINESS TELECOMS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) - RTR301PC

    A visitor looks at Apple patents displayed at the World Intellectual Property Organization headquarters in Geneva. When Norway changed its laws to give universities a major share of the profits from their professors’ patents and startups, the rate of innovation was halved, according to a new NBER working paper. Photo by Denis Balibouse/Reuters

    Editor’s Note: For 31 years now, Paul Solman’s reports on the NewsHour have aimed to make sense of economic news and research for a general audience. Since 2007, our Making Sen$e page has vowed to do the same, turning to leading academics and thinkers in the fields of business and economics to help explain what’s interesting and relevant about their work. That includes reports and interviews with economists affiliated with the National Bureau of Economic Research.

    Making Sense/NBER logo

    Each month, the NBER Digest summarizes several recent NBER working papers. These papers have not been peer-reviewed, but are circulated by their authors for comment and discussion. With the NBER’s blessing, Making Sen$e is pleased to feature these summaries regularly on our page.

    The following summary was written by the NBER and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of Making Sen$e.


    Prior to 2003, Norwegian researchers employed by universities retained blanket rights to the income from any new businesses they started and to the patents they received. In 2003, Norway adopted legislation that gave universities the rights to two-thirds of the returns from such activities.

    READ MORE: U.S. innovators dogged by money-grubbing ‘patent trolls’

    In “University Innovation and the Professor’s Privilege,” Hans K. Hvide and Benjamin F. Jones show that the rate at which Norwegian PhDs employed by Norwegian universities started new businesses declined by more than 50 percent in response to this change.

    Detailed workforce and employer data enable the identification of all university employees in Norway. The research combines these data with information on patent claims and business startups to investigate the consequences of the change in property rights.

    Patents and universities

    The researchers compare entrepreneurial activity when university workers retained all rights to entrepreneurial activity in the period after the law was changed. They find that the percentage of university researchers who started a new firm in any given year dropped from 0.68 percent to 0.22 percent — a 67 percent decline. In contrast, the startup rate for the Norwegian population as a whole increased by 6 percent from the first period to the second. Relative to non-university-based PhDs, the per capita startup rate for university-based researchers declined 49 percent.

    READ MORE: Inventor behind Priceline bemoans broken patent system

    Following the change in the law, the number of patents obtained by university-affiliated researchers also fell sharply. Between 1995 and 2010, 431 university researchers produced 750 Norwegian patents, and trends in the annual number of patent grants to university researchers roughly tracked the non-university rate prior to 2003. After 2003, however, the patent rate per university researcher fell 48 percent compared to other Norwegian inventors. Patent quality also declined. Compared to patents from non-university inventors, patents produced by university-affiliated researchers after the change received about 25 percent fewer citations than those produced before it.

    The empirical findings … suggest that university researchers, rather than the universities themselves, are especially important to innovative investments.

    To gain another perspective on the decline in innovation, the researchers examined the patenting activities of firms owned by university-affiliated PhDs. Prior to 2003, about 12 percent of firms founded by university-affiliated PhDs obtained a Norwegian patent within five years of their founding. Only 2 percent received patents within five years after the law was changed.

    Economic theory suggests deep challenges in effectively balancing property rights across investing parties. Intuitively, one may want to give a greater share of the property rights — and hence greater financial incentives — to the party whose investment matters more. From this perspective, the empirical findings following the property rights change in Norway suggest that university researchers, rather than the universities themselves, are especially important to innovative investments.

    — Linda Gorman, National Bureau of Economic Research

    The post Did a Norwegian law inadvertently cut innovation in universities? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Southern High School teacher Matthew Haynes helps a student craft a case for his smartphone. Photo by Emmanuel Felton/Hechinger Report

    Dasani Johnson, a sophomore at Southern High School in Louisville, Kentucky, is using a machine to create a baseball bat out of a piece of foam. Standing over her, as she prepares to start the machine, are her teacher and two classmates.

    “Some of these boys don’t expect a girl to be able to do this, but I feel like I’m getting better,” she said after starting the machine. “I don’t know if I want to do this after I graduate, but I’m starting to like it.”

    If Johnson stays in Southern’s machine tool program for the next two years, she could leave high school with an industry-recognized machinist operator credential, and a clear path to a job that starts at $15 an hour. While Southern has a long tradition of sending students straight into the workforce, many Kentucky schools have only recently entered the business of preparing students for “middle-skilled” jobs — positions that require more than a high school diploma, but less than a bachelor’s degree.

    Vocational tracks may be as old as public schools themselves, but what’s new in Kentucky is an accountability system that puts college and career on the same footing. Schools get a point for getting a student ready for college or a point for getting them career-ready. There’s an extra half bonus point for getting kids ready for both college and career.

    “College- and career-ready” is now one of those say-it-10-times-fast terms in education that lots of people throw around, but few pick apart. When the Obama administration made some federal funding contingent on the adoption of college- and career-ready standards, most states decided college and career readiness were one and the same. In Kentucky, however, education officials have decided they are in fact quite different and that being ready to start a career — as a machinist, for example — doesn’t necessarily require students to follow a path that takes them through college. Schools offering this direct-to-career path aren’t allowed to lower their standards: They must aim for the same sort of rigorous benchmarks created for the college track, even if the expectations are more focused on technical skills and the ability to find and parse informational texts and apply math in occupational situations.

    Kentucky is among a handful of states that have created a designation for career-ready that is separate and distinct from college-ready. And it was the first state to put college and career on equal footing. Louisiana comes close — it now gives schools credit when students get industry credentials — but students must still pass a college-ready test. 

    “There are all of these employability and occupational skills that students don’t learn and aren’t tested.” — Robert Lerman, Urban Institute

    “When most states say college- and career-ready, they just mean college-ready,” said Robert Lerman, an institute fellow at the Urban Institute’s Center on Labor, Human Services and Population. “If you look at what amount of jobs require Algebra II, for example, it’s maybe 8 to 10 percent, and on the flip side there are all of these employability and occupational skills that students don’t learn and aren’t tested.”

    To be deemed college-ready in Kentucky, students must pass one of three college admission or placement tests. Career readiness, on the other hand, is divided into two parts. Students must show they’re ready academically and are also able to tackle the specific technical demands of their prospective careers. Students can show they’re ready academically by passing either the military Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test or another ACT exam called WorkKeys — tests that emphasize deploying math and literacy skills to solve real world problems. Students must also either attain an industry-recognized credential or pass one of the state’s Kentucky Occupational Skill Standards Assessment exams — tests that were developed from standards drawn up by the state’s industry groups.

    Related: Opinion: Are high schools preparing students to be college- and career-ready?

    Across Southern High School’s sprawling 300,000 square foot building in a working class section of Louisville, students are preparing for an array of different jobs. In addition to the machine tool program, the school has a student-staffed credit union and a full auto garage complete with 11 lifts and two paint booths. Principal Bryce Hibbard is looking to link the two programs through an arrangement in which auto shop students will fix donated cars which will then be sold to Southern’s seniors on a $1,000, 1 percent interest loan by students at the credit union.

    Hibbard is banking on Southern’s career programs to get the school — long labeled one of Kentucky’s worst — off the list of the state’s 27 lowest performing schools this year.

    The numbers are moving in the right direction: The proportion of Southern students the state says are ready for life after high school has risen from 13 percent to 57 percent in the five years since Kentucky has moved to a system that considers college as well as career readiness. Of the 270 students who graduated last spring, 117 were college-ready, 45 were ready for careers and 68 left ready for both.

    Hibbard, a former state champion basketball coach, uses a large whiteboard hanging in his office to keep track of the progress of his seniors. By early February 2016, 75 seniors had passed either their college-ready or career-ready tests. He predicted the number of students who are career-ready would eclipse the number who are college-ready this year. But it’s more than just a numbers game to Hibbard.

    “For too long, we have focused just on the college part,” said Hibbard. “This school has been number one with career readiness. We are all about just trying to create opportunities to make school matter to all kids.”

    Struggling schools aren’t the only ones thrilled by the state’s elevation of career readiness. Educators in rural Breckenridge County, about an hour and a half southwest of Louisville, have long embraced getting students ready for middle skilled jobs right out of high school. Breckenridge’s Area Technology Center — one of 53 centers across the state where students from nearby high schools are sent for career training — has been training students for machine tool jobs since the 1970s, and in the process has transformed the county from a sleepy farming community to a manufacturing hub.

    “When this school opened in 1970 with just one machine tool instructor, this was an agricultural community,” said Tom Thompson, who oversees 19 regional Area Technology Centers in western Kentucky. Thompson was a student in Breckenridge Center’s machine tool program and later returned to teach and eventually become the principal. “Today, there are 10 machine shops, employing anywhere from one or two people to almost 200 people.”

    Kenny Whitworth is the owner of the shop employing nearly 200 people. In his 43,400-square- foot, family-run factory, a photo of his son Tim Whitworth, the plant manager, with his University of Kentucky basketball team, greets visitors at the door. From Hardinsburg, population 2,300, Whitworth Tool. 

    “The only way we are going to compete with companies in places like India, China and Mexico, with much lower labor costs, is through knowledge.” — Kenny Whitworth, owner of Whitworth Tool

    “Anyone can get machine tools,” Whitworth said. “The only way we are going to compete with companies in places like India, China and Mexico, with much lower labor costs, is through knowledge.”

    Whitworth said his firm is able to beat those companies by providing consistently high quality products to clients with niche needs.

    Related: Can we really prepare kids for both college and career?

    Whitworth, who was the Breckenridge center’s second machine tool instructor, has been investing in the school to build that knowledge base by donating equipment and hiring many Breckenridge seniors through a pre-apprenticeship program. One of those students is Bryan Flood.

    “I’m pretty well set on doing this for life,” the high school senior says confidently. “I never did like school. I mean I like math, but I don’t like that other crap like history.”

    Luke Williams, a senior who commutes from Breckinridge County to Louisville to work at Atlas Machine & Supply, says that while the equipment is newer at his job, the school did a good job teaching him the basic principles.

    Proud of the center’s graduates, Whitworth is quick to point out that “other counties and industries are advertising for machinists in the Breckenridge Herald.”

    Dean Monarch, who has been teaching at the center since 2000, said that Breckenridge serves students like Flood and Williams particularly well because the community has long valued career education as much as a college degree, though he says that hasn’t always been the case.

    “These are good jobs and any student who wants a job can get one,” Monarch said. “It’s about creating opportunities. My dad wanted me to go to college, so I went off to the University of Louisville and just wasted a lot of time and money. At that age, I just didn’t know what I wanted to do.”

    Laura Arnold, a former school principal who is now  head of Kentucky’s career and technical education program, said that differentiating career readiness — and emphasizing that it’s just as important as college readiness — will help the state reach students who might otherwise fall through the cracks.

    “Back when I was a principal, every year in May, I’d ask students where they were headed and some would just make up a college and I’d see them a few months later and they’d say, ‘Oh it didn’t work out,’” said Arnold. “Now we have an accountability model that is encouraging those students to look beyond four-year colleges to opportunities like apprenticeships.”

    After years of concern that career tracks were a dumping ground for kids not seen as college material, the U.S. Department of Education appears to be reevaluating its position. In a 2014 letter, the Department of Education’s Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights, urged districts to ensure that low income and minority students have more access to vocational programs. This idea is old news to Nancy Hoffman, vice president for program and talent development at Jobs for the Future, a nonprofit focused on ensuring that low-income students graduate high school with a clear path to career success. In order to serve low-income students well, she says, career education programs must be designed to cater to all students

    “If you make it rigorous and get rid of the stigma, it’s going to have a diverse population, in terms of race, gender and family education levels,” she said.

    A recent study by the Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank, found that career education students — especially poor children and particularly boys — were more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in college and earn higher wages than their peers who didn’t take career courses. Kate Blosveren Kreamer — deputy executive director of Advance CTE, a national nonprofit that represents state officials responsible for career and technical education — said the key to ensuring that more students enjoy these benefits is to use accountability systems to shut down less rigorous career programs that don’t lead to student success.

    Related: Push for career-technical education meets parent resistance

    “There are a lot of people that still think these programs are lower rigor,” said Blosveren Kreamer. “I don’t think that’s inherently true, but there is a mix out there. Hopefully, we can eventually use accountability to find and replicate the good programs.”

    In communities that lack schools with a track record like Breckenridge’s area technology center, the accountability system is only half the battle. For families and educators to value career pathways, they must first see that the programs are actually setting students up for successful lives. That’s why the state department is working with districts to build programs that are not only rigorous, but that will also lead to jobs.

    Stephen Pruitt, Kentucky’s commissioner of education, said there’s still work to do in bridging the perception gap between the college and career sides of the curriculum.

    “I want to break down the walls between college and career,” said Pruitt, who started as commissioner back in September. “One of the smartest kids I’ve probably ever taught, he’s now a resident at Vanderbilt, I had him in AP Chemistry. He loved medicine and the school had a great occupational health program. He really wanted to be a part of it, but because of the stigma around [career and technical education] his parents thought it might keep him from getting into college. It took some convincing, but I think a part of the reason that he’s at Vanderbilt right now is that program.”

    One school district, Hardin County, is attempting that balance by designing career education courses specifically geared to kids headed to four-year colleges. After a disappointing start for the district’s pharmacy tech program, Dan Robbins — the center’s principal — decided to recruit some of the district’s top students.

    “We looked for a different student for the pharmacy program,” said Robbins.  “It’s a privilege, they have to be selected, and now we’re looking at the AP Chemistry and AP Biology kids for those spots.”

    Kentucky officials created the bonus half point for students who reach both career and college readiness standards for this very reason: to encourage schools to make career education available to more — even all — students, not just those who, in the past, may have been considered unable to tackle the rigor of the college-prep program.

    Kentucky’s approach has created a lot of buzz in the education community. At a recent meeting of state education superintendents, interest in replicating the system was high. Steve Canavero, superintendent of public instruction at the Nevada Department of Education, said the recent recession is his state has made career education an imperative.

    “We’ve been calling something college-and career-ready that was in fact just about student success in coursework that led to college,” said Canavero.  “We got here by a need to diversify our economy. Our economy was historically built on tourism, gaming and mining, and it was incredibly susceptible to downturns. We had one of the worst downturns in the country during the last recession. We know that we in education have to do something different.”

    This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Read more about High School reform.

    The post Kentucky embraces idea that not everyone needs college appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Poet Ross Gay is an avid gardener and founder of the Bloomington Community Orchard. Photo courtesy Ross Gay.

    Poet Ross Gay is an avid gardener and founder of the Bloomington Community Orchard. Photo courtesy Ross Gay.

    Ross Gay is passionate about poetry, gardening and basketball. He pauses when asked if he sees a connection between the three.

    “I guess you could say that I think all three things alter our notion of time,” he said. “There’s something about beautiful moments in sports that alters our experience of time. And I’d say the same thing about poetry and gardening. Gardening slows me down. I want to stop and observe everything.”

    Gay just moved back to Bloomington, Indiana, after a nine-month fellowship at Harvard University. He says it means his garden has been a bit neglected, although he still expects a good harvest from his peach and fig trees.

    Ross has a year-round love affair with his garden. “The madness of spring is so enticing. I love it when things are opening up and emerging from the ground. I also love the middle of summer when fruit is bursting forth, but I even love the garden in the winter when everything is resting,” he says with a laugh.

    Gay says he writes poems about things that he has powerful questions about, “questions that a poem won’t answer. But maybe they will further illuminate the question.”

    He is currently writing a poem about the legendary basketball player Julius Erving. “He feels like a formative figure in my life. There was something about his moves, something about his imagination.”

    Gay is also working on a book about connections between land and race.

    Themes of gardening even made it into a poem that was written from news events last year. Gay wrote a poem about Eric Garner, the African-American man who died after New York City police officers put him in a chokehold while trying to arrest him. Gay says he was struck after reading his obituary in The New York Times.

    “I think it’s crucial that we remember the lives of people, not their deaths. Our deaths are not our lives.”

    A Small Needful Fact

    Is that Eric Garner worked
    for some time for the Parks and Rec.
    Horticultural Department, which means,
    perhaps, that with his very large hands,
    perhaps, in all likelihood,
    he put gently into the earth
    some plants which, most likely,
    some of them, in all likelihood,
    continue to grow, continue
    to do what such plants do, like house
    and feed small and necessary creatures,
    like being pleasant to touch and smell,
    like converting sunlight
    into food, like making it easier
    for us to breathe.

    Gay’s poem “Burial” is about the death of his father and about transformation. You can hear Gay read the poem here or read the text below.

    Burial

    You’re right, you’re right,
    the fertilizer’s good—
    it wasn’t a gang of dullards
    came up with chucking
    a fish in the planting hole
    or some mid-wife got lucky
    with the placenta—
    oh, I’ll plant a tree here!—
    and a sudden flush of quince
    and jam enough for months—yes,
    the magic dust our bodies become
    casts spells on the roots
    about which a dumber man than me
    could tell you the chemical processes,
    but it’s just magic to me,
    which is why a couple springs ago
    when first putting in my two bare root plum trees
    out back I took the jar which has become
    my father’s house,
    and lonely for him and hoping to coax him back
    for my mother as much as me,
    poured some of him in the planting holes
    and he dove in glad for the robust air,
    saddling a slight gust
    into my nose and mouth,
    chuckling as I coughed,
    but mostly he disappeared
    into the minor yawns in the earth
    into which I placed the trees,
    splaying wide their roots,
    casting the grey dust of my old man
    evenly throughout the hole,
    replacing then the clods
    of dense Indiana soil until the roots
    and my father were buried,
    watering it in all with one hand
    while holding the tree
    with the other straight as the flag
    to the nation of simple joy
    of which my father is now a naturalized citizen,
    waving the flag
    from his subterranean lair,
    the roots curled around him
    like shawls or jungle gyms, like
    hookahs or the arms of ancestors,
    before breast-stroking into the xylem,
    riding the elevator up
    through the cambium and into the leaves where,
    when you put your ear close enough,
    you can hear him whisper
    good morning, where, if you close your eyes
    and push your face you can feel
    his stubbly jowls and good lord
    this year he was giddy at the first
    real fruit set and nestled into the 30 or 40 plums
    in the two trees, peering out from the sweet meat
    with his hands pressed against the purple skin
    like cathedral glass,
    and imagine his joy as the sun
    wizarded forth those abundant sugars
    and I plodded barefoot
    and prayerful at the first ripe plum’s swell and blush,
    almost weepy conjuring
    some surely ponderous verse
    to convey this bottomless grace,
    you know, oh father oh father kind of stuff,
    hundreds of hot air balloons
    filling the sky in my chest, replacing his intubated body
    listing like a boat keel side up, replacing
    the steady stream of water from the one eye
    which his brother wiped before removing the tube,
    keeping his hand on the forehead
    until the last wind in his body wandered off,
    while my brother wailed like an animal,
    and my mother said, weeping,
    it’s ok, it’s ok, you can go honey,
    at all of which my father
    guffawed by kicking from the first bite
    buckets of juice down my chin,
    staining one of my two button-down shirts,
    the salmon colored silk one, hollering
    there’s more of that!
    almost dancing now in the plum,
    in the tree, the way he did as a person,
    bent over and biting his lip
    and chucking the one hip out
    then the other with his elbows cocked
    and fists loosely made
    and eyes closed and mouth made trumpet
    when he knew he could make you happy
    just by being a little silly
    and sweet.

    From Ross Gay’s “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude”, Pittsburgh Poetry Series (2015)


    Ross Gay is the author of three books: “Against Which”, “Bringing the Shovel Down”, and “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude”, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude” was also a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry and nominated for an NAACP Image Award. He is a founding editor, with Karissa Chen and Patrick Rosal, of the online sports magazine Some Call it Ballin, in addition to being an editor with the chapbook presses Q Avenue and Ledge Mule Press. Ross is a founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a nonprofit, free-fruit-for-all food justice project. He has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Ross teaches at Indiana University.

    The post How gardening makes this poet more observant appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Then-Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama and Then-N.Y. Sen. Hillary Clinton wave to the crowd during a campaign rally in Orlando, Florida, in  October 2008. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

    Then-Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama and Then-N.Y. Sen. Hillary Clinton wave to the crowd during a campaign rally in Orlando, Florida, in October 2008. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is ready to make it official.

    With Hillary Clinton on the verge of securing the Democratic nomination for president, Obama is on the verge of formally endorsing his former secretary of state and starting to aggressively make the case against Republican Donald Trump. White House officials say the announcement could come within days, although not before Democrats in New Jersey, California and four other states vote Tuesday in contests expected to solidify Clinton’s claim.

    The timeline is likely to hold regardless of how Clinton rival Sen. Bernie Sanders reacts to the Tuesday outcome, the White House said Monday.

    On Monday, Clinton noted the timing has symbolic weight: Tuesday marks eight years since her concession speech and endorsement of Obama after their 2008 primary showdown.

    Campaigning in California, where she’s still struggling to hold off Sanders, Clinton said the timing of an official endorsement was “up to the president.” But she also said she looks “forward to campaigning with the president and everybody else.”

    White House and Clinton campaign aides have been discussing the sequencing of the long-expected announcement, and Obama’s schedule has several possible opportunities for maximizing the impact. On Wednesday, he’s due in New York City to address donors at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Clinton’s home state. He’ll also tape an appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” a favorite with the coveted young demographic, for the show set to air Thursday night.

    The news will likely be followed by a first joint appearance before long.

    Obama’s expected declaration comes as no surprise. Last week, he declared the Democratic contest was “almost over” and suggested he was waiting for the Tuesday contests before making his move.

    The president said he’s been waiting on the sidelines “rather than be big-footing the situation,” to ensure voters are deciding the outcome. Still, he’s hardly been silent about his personal preference. At key moments, Obama has offered high praise and needed defense for his former rival-turned-adviser, and little comparable support for Sanders.

    The White House and the Clinton backers are hoping the moment will serve as something of reset button, ending the surprisingly long and contentious primary and refocusing Democrats on the history in the making — Clinton would be the first female, major party nominee — and the job of defeating Trump. White House officials say the president is planning to be a steady and active player on the campaign trail, particularly in the fall. It remains unclear whether Sanders and his backers are ready for reset. Although the Vermont senator is looking at an insurmountable delegate deficit, he’s not said he’ll go quietly.

    Asked on Monday whether an Obama endorsement of Clinton would affect his campaign, Sanders deflected, saying he was being asked to speculate before an important primary in California.

    Meanwhile, many of his supporters have expressed a deep distrust in the Democratic primary process — particularly the influence of party leaders.

    Some Sanders backers may say that process is rigged, but White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Monday suggested the president had no qualms about the math.

    “Certainly somebody who claims a majority of the pledged and superdelegates has a strong case to make,” Earnest said, adding that once voters weigh in on Tuesday, “we may be in a position where we have much greater sense of what the outcome is likely to be.”

    Obama has strong reasons to want to be seen as a uniter rather than an anointer. Among his political tasks on the campaign trail will be bringing along the young, progressive voters who have been a key part of his base but have lined up behind Sanders this year. The president has wanted to retain his goodwill with those voters, as well as other parts of his loyal coalition that have helped boost his approval rating in recent months.

    White House officials say the president is planning to be a steady and active player on the campaign trail, particularly in the fall. Unlike recent sitting presidents, Obama remains popular enough to be welcome in both swing states and Democratic strongholds.

    Associated Press writers Catherine Lucey in Los Angeles and Ken Thomas in Emeryville, Calif.

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    British photographer Zenon Texeira got the chance to shoot the final photos of Muhammad Ali, weeks before the boxing legend’s death in a Phoenix hospital.

    On Monday, British tabloid newspaper The Sun used one of Texeira’s portraits of the three-time world heavyweight champion on the cover. Texeria said the photos were taken with the blessing of Ali’s family.

    Gordon Smart, who edited The Sun’s Monday edition, defended the choice to publish one of Texeira’s photos of Ali on the cover, The Washington Post pointed out.

    “He lived his entire life in front of the camera, and his family wanted one final photoshoot, this is it … It’s the last picture in the story of his life played out in photojournalism,” Smart said.

    British photographer Zenon Texeira, releases the last photos ever taken of #MohammadAli …. #rip #ali

    A photo posted by UrbanViewNg (@urbanviewng) on

    Although Ali, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, had to be helped into a chair at a makeshift studio in Phoenix, Texeira told the Sun that the 74-year-old boxer was “feeling well and rested.”

    Texeira remembered for The Sun what happened in those 45 minutes with Ali:

    “His skin glistens and he is meticulously groomed with cool dark sunglasses hiding his eyes.

    “He is helped into an armchair and it’s clear to see how fragile this man has become.

    “However, I am told that even though he may not respond he understands every word.

    “I do what I have to do and 45 minutes later wrap the shoot, over the moon with what I have captured.

    “I hold his hand, thank him, tell him that I’ll pray for him and kiss his forehead as I say goodbye,” he said.

    “It was an absolute pleasure and privilege to photograph one of the biggest icons this planet has ever seen,” Texeira told The Sun.

    A family spokesperson said on Saturday that Ali had died from septic shock.

    A public funeral will be held this Friday in Louisville, Kentucky, Ali’s birthplace. Former President Bill Clinton, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Jordan’s King Abdullah II are expected to speak.

    The post The last time a camera captured Ali’s greatness appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    NewsHour hosted on whether young people face too much pressure to go to college. Photo by Hero Images/Getty Images

    The U.S. lags behind several other nations when it comes to the percent of the population with 2- and 4-year degrees. Despite the slow progress, is the pressure to attend college too strong? Should some students be steered toward alternative options? The PBS NewsHour, as part of our series on higher education in May, hosted a Twitter chat on whether college is truly for everyone.

    Our guests included Vivek Wadhwa, a former entrepreneur and writer who has criticized other tech entrepreneurs for suggesting young people may be better suited opting out of higher education. Rich Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, also has said that college isn’t always worth it, especially for those who become saddled by massive debt. And Jillian Gordon, a former teacher and current graduate student of agricultural and environmental education at the University of Georgia, joined in the conversation. Gordon’s essay for our Teacher’s Lounge series on why she’s discouraging some of her students from attending college set off a firestorm of responses online.

    Take a look at the recap below.

     

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    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to a campaign rally in Redding, California. Photo by Stephen Lam/Reuters

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to a campaign rally in Redding, California. Photo by Stephen Lam/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Donald Trump is wasting precious time.

    By now, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was supposed to have stationed senior staff in battleground states, moderated his fiery message to attract new supporters and begun raking in big money.

    Instead, he’s spending more time right now picking fights and settling scores than delivering a message that might help draw voters.

    Five long weeks since he defeated his last remaining GOP rival, Republicans fear the New York billionaire has squandered his head start. As Democrat Hillary Clinton eyes her party’s nomination, Trump’s campaign has been roiled by infighting, his battleground strategy is lagging and his fundraising operation is barely off the ground.

    “I am getting bad marks from certain pundits because I have a small campaign staff. But small is good, flexible, save money and number one!” Trump insisted on Twitter.

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

    Some would-be Republican supporters also fear his unwillingness to budge from a flame-throwing formula targeting immigrants and Muslims that worked so well in the GOP primary.

    Case in point: Trump’s recent comments about the Mexican heritage of the judge presiding over a case against his now-defunct Trump University. The Republican businessman has refused to back down from his claim that the judge’s ethnic background creates a conflict of interest, drawing scorn from across the GOP as well as the legal community.

    “Once you go down that road, you destroy America,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a prominent Trump supporter, said Monday in a radio interview with “The John Gibson Show.”

    Trump also has been slow to adapt to other contours of an expansive general election. Since Ted Cruz dropped out of the race last month, he has spent precious little time in the battleground states that will likely decide the election.

    He has ignored Florida and Ohio, preferring to spend the bulk of the past two weeks in California, which hasn’t supported a Republican presidential candidate in nearly three decades. It has taken Trump several weeks to get new large-scale events on the books, leaving some of his fundraisers scratching their heads about his lack of urgency. The ongoing rivalry between aides loyal to Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and to campaign chairman Paul Manafort appears to affect virtually all aspects of the campaign.

    Two weeks ago, political director Rick Wiley was fired in the midst of a battleground hiring effort. While the campaign hoped to have senior staff in place across 15 states by June 1, the ex-political director did not finalize a single hire before leaving, according to an aide with direct knowledge of the hiring who was not authorized to speak publicly.

    The positions remained unfilled as the factions pushed separate candidates to step in as Trump’s political director. Two campaign aides said Manafort appeared to win that battle, getting Trump to hire Jim Murphy, a Republican operative who was involved in Bob Dole’s failed presidential campaigns. The aides insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the hiring privately.

    But Murphy’s hiring was a surprise to others in Trump’s inner circle, underscoring the level of confusion.

    “Never heard of him,” Hope Hicks, the only communications staffer on Trump’s payroll, wrote in an email Sunday night after The New York Times reported Murphy’s hire.

    A push to bolster the campaign’s communications shop has also met resistance.

    The understaffing has led to missed opportunities.

    After Clinton delivered a scathing foreign policy speech last week that doubled as a takedown of Trump’s qualifications to be commander in chief, he responded only with a tweet mocking her reliance on teleprompters — ignoring the former secretary of state’s record as the nation’s chief diplomat during intensifying international conflicts.

    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. Video by PBS NewsHour

    Trump’s slow start with fundraising also has sparked widespread concern across the party.

    Trump and the Republican National Committee spent weeks hashing out a money-raising plan after he became the presumptive nominee and stopped funding his White House bid largely with his own fortune.

    Yet starting from scratch has been a slow process.

    Trump held a small donor gathering ahead of a May 24 rally in Albuquerque and a large fundraiser the next day at the Los Angeles home of Tom Barrack, a good friend and fellow real estate investor. He peppered the rest of his California primary swing with smaller financial events, said Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s national finance chairman.

    By comparison, Clinton and her top surrogates have hosted some 17 California fundraisers since May 1 alone.

    It has taken Trump several weeks to get new large-scale events on the books – although five in Texas and New York are planned for the coming weeks — leaving some of his fundraisers scratching their heads about his lack of urgency.

    Rick Hohlt, a Washington lobbyist who has raised money for GOP presidential nominees since 1981 and plans to help Trump, said the campaign’s propensity for planning only two weeks ahead poses “a challenge for organizing some of these bigger fundraisers.”

    Still, he said the candidate “may be right” about his ability to do more with less.

    Terry Sullivan, Marco Rubio’s former campaign manager, suggested Trump’s greatest challenge is his inability to craft a message that appeals to voters beyond his loyal base.

    “Trump is a political one-trick pony. He can really excite his base by doing the same trick over and over, but after the rest of the voters have seen it for the 73rd time, they’re still not amused,” he said.

    Colvin reported from New York. Associated Press writers Julie Pace in Washington, Jonathan Lemire in New York and Tom Beaumont in Des Moines contributed to this report.

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

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    Police walk near a Turkish police bus which was targeted in a bomb attack in a central Istanbul district of Turkey on June 7. Photo by Osman Orsal/Reuters

    Police walk near a Turkish police bus which was targeted in a bomb attack in a central Istanbul district of Turkey on June 7. Photo by Osman Orsal/Reuters

    A car bomb exploded near a police vehicle in Istanbul, Turkey on Tuesday, killing 11 people and wounding 36 others.

    There were no immediate claims of responsibility, but four people were detained in connection to the blast. This is the fourth bombing to hit Istanbul this year.

    Tuesday’s bombing, which occurred during rush hour, detonated as the police bus was passing. Seven police officers and four civilians were among the dead.

    The bus flipped over by the force of the blast and several nearby buildings were damaged.

    “These (attacks) are being carried out against people whose duty it is to ensure the security of our people. These cannot be pardoned or forgiven. We shall continue our fight against terrorists fearlessly and tirelessly until the end,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters, according to the Associated Press.

    The post Car bomb strikes police vehicle in Turkey appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    People cast their ballots during a vote on whether to give every adult citizen a basic guaranteed monthly income of 2,500 Swiss francs ($2,560), in a school in Bern, Switzerland, June 5, 2016. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTSG2DC

    People cast their ballots during a vote on whether to give every adult citizen a basic guaranteed monthly income of 2,500 Swiss francs ($2,560), in a school in Bern, Switzerland, on June 5, 2016. The proposal lost, 77 percent to 23 percent. But supporters claim that this is just the beginning of a transition as inevitable as the 8-hour-day once was, writes economics correspondent Paul Solman. Photo by Ruben Sprich/Reuters

    On Sunday, the citizens of Switzerland, population 8 million, voted in a referendum that proposed three radical additions to its federal constitution, pushing an idea Making Sen$e first did a story on about two years ago:

    1. The government will provide a basic income.
    1. The basic income will allow the people to live in a dignified manner and participate in public life.
    1. Legislation will determine the funding for the system and the actual amount of the basic income.

    The proposal lost, 77 percent to 23 percent. But supporters claim that this is just the beginning of a transition as inevitable as the eight-hour day once was and pointed to the following figures from a recent survey of Swiss voters.

    • Seven out of 10 (69 percent) voters believe there will be another referendum on basic income in the future. Of yes voters, 83 percent believe there will be another referendum; of no voters, 63 percent.
    • 62 percent of voters believe basic income is now “on the table” and the debate is just beginning.
    • While 31 percent of all voters can imagine basic income being introduced in the future, among young voters between the ages of 18 and 29, 41 percent believe it’s rather likely or definite a basic income will be introduced.
    • Among voters who think an unconditional basic income will be introduced, 66 percent think it will be introduced within the next 20 years.
    • 49 percent of voters see basic income as a way to value and encourage unpaid household and volunteer work.
    • The strongest argument for basic income, according to 72 percent of Swiss voters, is the changing nature of work due to advancing technologies and a need for new lifestyle models as a result.
    • And finally, while Swiss voters soundly rejected a nation-wide universal basic income on June 5, 44 percent of voters believe unconditional basic income should be tested in a town, canton or different country. Of those 44 percent, about three-quarters (77 percent) would want it to be tested in a Swiss municipality.

    As we described in our story two years ago, in the U.S., the idea of a minimum income has long been floated, often by libertarians, as an alternative to an over-bureaucratized nanny state. It is also seen, by those on the left, as an answer to un- and underemployment, a persistent problem even now in supposedly low-unemployment America, as our monthly U-7 Solman Scale, still above 12 percent, makes clear. And what’s driving proponents is the specter of vastly increased un- and underemployment as human jobs give way to technology, as the Swiss survey above suggests.

    The income proposed by Swiss promoters of the referendum: about $30,000 a year.

    Watch our report on the topic here:

    READ MORE: What’s the welfare initiative uniting liberals and conservatives?

    READ MORE: How a basic income in the U.S. could increase global poverty

    The post Why universal basic income isn’t going away any time soon appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton attend a rally in Harlem, New York on March 30. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton attend a rally in Harlem, New York on March 30. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Lifted by a big win in Puerto Rico and a burst of late support from Democratic superdelegates, Hillary Clinton has commitments from the number of delegates needed to become the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for president.

    She reached the required 2,383 delegates on Monday, according to an Associated Press count.

    Here’s a look at the count and how the AP determined Clinton has enough delegates to become the presumptive nominee, besting her primary rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

    ___

    WHAT’S THE COUNT?

    In the primary elections and caucuses, Clinton has won 1,812 pledged delegates. Sanders has won 1,521. That gives her a lead of 291.

    That is far more than the 131-delegate lead that then-Sen. Barack Obama held over Clinton when he clinched the Democratic nomination on June 4, 2008.

    Among superdelegates, Clinton has the support of 571. Sanders has the backing of 48. That gives Clinton a lead of 523 superdelegates.

    Overall, Clinton has 2,383 delegates, Sanders 1,569.

    ___

    WHAT COMES NEXT?

    Two days of election contests remain. On Tuesday, voters in six states — California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota — head to the polls, with 694 delegates up for grabs. The Washington, D.C., primary is a week later.

    Even if Clinton were to lose all the remaining contests, she would continue to comfortably pad her delegate lead above the 2,383 threshold. That’s because Democrats award pledged delegates in proportion to the vote, so even the loser gets some.

    Sanders, meanwhile, would need to win 814 delegates to reach 2,383. Only 813 pledged delegates and uncommitted superdelegates remain.

    ___

    HOW AP COUNTS SUPERDELEGATES

    Of the 4,765 total delegates to the Democratic National Convention, 714 are superdelegates. They are all party officials, governors and members of Congress who may vote for the candidate of their choice, regardless of the outcome in their state’s primary or caucus.

    The AP surveys the superdelegates throughout the primary season, over months and months, to track whom they plan to support at the July convention.

    If a superdelegate tells the AP he or she plans to unequivocally support a certain candidate at the convention, that’s added to the candidate’s tally.

    Those who decline to answer, who say they have yet to make a decision or express any reservations are listed as uncommitted.

    The AP tally can be found here.

    ___

    WHY COUNT SUPERDELEGATE VOTES?

    Sanders argues superdelegates should not be counted, since they don’t formally cast their votes until the national convention. He intends to try to win over those who back Clinton by making the case before the party meets in Philadelphia that he would be a stronger general election candidate against presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.

    But in the AP’s survey, which began in late 2015, no superdelegate has flipped support from Clinton to Sanders. None has suggested that could happen.

    Since their creation in 1982, superdelegates have rarely strayed from their original endorsements — unless there is a change in the pledged delegate tally. In 2008, some superdelegates flipped from Clinton to Obama after he overcame her early lead in pledged delegates.

    The majority of superdelegates have always sided with the winner of the most pledged delegates, which in this election is Clinton.

    The Sanders campaign acknowledges it is unlikely he can switch enough superdelegates from Clinton to overtake her lead among the party insiders unless he is able to win a majority of the pledged delegates.

    Clinton remains far ahead on that front. She is on track to safely end the primary season with a majority of pledged delegates even if she loses all six states on Tuesday and in Washington, D.C., the following week.

    ___

    AP ON THE DELEGATE COUNT

    AP Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll said in a statement Tuesday:

    “AP concluded that Hillary Clinton had enough delegates to clinch the nomination after a painstaking but very straightforward exercise.

    “We counted.

    “By Monday evening, 571 superdelegates had told us unequivocally that they intend to vote for Clinton at the convention. Adding that number to the delegates awarded to Clinton in primary and caucus voting to date gave her the number needed to be the presumptive nominee.

    “That is news, and reporting the news is what we do.

    “Nothing in that discourages or prevents voters in six states from exercising their right to go to the polls today and cast their ballots.”

    ___

    IS THAT ALL?

    When it comes to winning the nomination, only delegates matter. But by two other measures, Clinton also comes out on top.

    She has won 29 states and U.S. territories, to 21 for Sanders. She has also won more than 13.6 million votes, compared with nearly 10.6 million for Sanders.

    Clinton’s big victories across the South and in the biggest states — such as New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas — provided her with that wide edge in raw vote and pledged delegates.

    The Vermont senator tended to fare better in smaller states and those with caucuses, which limited his overall gains due to their smaller pool of delegates and voters.

    Associated Press reporter Hope Yen wrote this report.

    The post How does the AP count delegates to arrive at Clinton’s win? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A H&M Conscious tag is seen on a pair of pants at their retail store in New York December 7, 2015.        To match CLIMATECHANGE-SUMMIT/CONSUMERS        REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton - RTX1XLUJ

    H&M has asked customers to donate their old clothes so they could recover the material for recycled clothing. Photo by REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

    Actress Emma Watson caught the internet’s attention last month when she showed up to the Met Gala wearing a dress made from recycled plastic bottles.

    Earlier this year, H&M partnered with hip-hop artist M.I.A., asking people to donate their old clothes to them so they could recover the material for recycled clothing.

    And Levi and the startup company Evrnu recently announced they’d found a way to turn recycled T-shirts into a jeans.

    It’s all part of a growing awareness, and demand, for recycled clothing. As consumers call for more sustainable products, companies are experimenting with ways to meet that demand while maintaining their bottom lines.

    That’s not an easy task, especially in the United States.

    “Part of the difference between Europe and the U.S. is that Europeans often value high-quality clothing,” said Jana Hawley, the director of the University of Arizona’s School of Family and Consumer Sciences, who has studied the textile industry for nearly 20 years and sits on the board of the Council for Textile Recycling.

    Americans, on the other hand, value an abundance of clothing, she said. “We want cheap and a lot of it.”

    The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that, in terms of carbon emissions, the amount of clothing already recycled each year is equivalent to taking one million cars off the road.

    But Americans still throw away 13 million tons of textiles — about 85 percent of their clothes — each year, accounting for 9 percent of total non-recycled waste.

    Hawley said retraining consumers to buy fewer, better-quality clothes at a higher prices would mark a major step toward reducing that waste.

    But many companies are already looking to the next step — creating a circular system by using almost entirely recycled materials to create new clothes.

    The barriers to making this a reality are steep.

    On the business side, retailers have to find ways to motivate customers to bring clothing back to the stores when they are done with them. Some companies, like H&M, have experimented with giving customers a discount on their next purchase in hopes of both incentivizing them to return their old materials and buy new ones.

    Other hurdles are technical.

    Polyester is a relatively easy material to recycle. Because it’s oil based, it can be melted down and reformed into new fibers.

    Cotton is a different story. When broken down, it doesn’t retain the same strength as the original fiber.

    Complicating the picture is that most clothes are made from multiple kinds of fibers.

    Actress Emma Watson arrives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala (Met Gala) to celebrate the opening of "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology" in the Manhattan borough of New York, May 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson - RTX2CJ85

    Emma Watson arrives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala to celebrate the opening of “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” in New York, May 2, 2016. Photo by REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

    Take jeans as an example. They used to be 100 percent cotton. Look at the labels today, and you might see 84 percent cotton, 14 percent polyester and 2 percent spandex.

    Clothing manufacturers need those thin fibers separated to make new clothes — which is where companies like Evrnu come in.

    The Seattle-based startup’s mission is to take recycled clothing and turn it into an entirely reusable fiber. It’s working to break materials down to the molecular level, separate them out and regenerate fiber that is just as strong as the original.

    These kinds of innovations are attractive to retailers, which don’t typically invest in new technology.

    “There’s a really interesting synergy between startups working with larger companies,” Evrnu founder Stacy Flynn said.

    In the case of the Levi jean prototype, Evrnu took less than 90 days to create the fiber, yarn and fabric — showcasing how nimble startups can push boundaries more quickly than big brands.

    “This is new in this space, and we’ve seen some really positive traction,” Flynn said.

    But recycled clothing on a large scale is still a ways off. Levi and Evrnu don’t have a timeline for when their recycled jeans might be on the shelves.

    That’s why Hawley said customers need to find ways to use the recycling system that’s already in place.

    “Consumers think, if it has a stain on it, I’ll just throw it in the trash,” she said. “The truth is that stained shirt is going to be shredded up and made into non-apparel products.”

    Instead, Hawley said, give your stained shirt to Goodwill or another nonprofit. If they decide it’s not good enough to sell in their retail stores, they’ll sell it to recyclers who sort it and use it for products like car carpeting or home insulation.

    So will there ever be a day when we regularly shop at stores with 100 percent recycled clothing?

    Hawley doesn’t see that happening.

    But she said by embracing all methods of recycling, there is plenty of potential for a more sustainable clothing industry — both now and in the future.

    The post How to stop 13 million tons of clothing from getting trashed every year appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator Peter Neffenger testifies before a Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing on "Rethinking TSA operations and frustrated travelers" on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Photo by Gary Cameron/Reuters

    Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator Peter Neffenger testifies before a Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing on “Rethinking TSA operations and frustrated travelers” on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Photo by Gary Cameron/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Significant progress has been made on shortening screening lines since earlier this spring when airlines reported thousands of frustrated passengers were missing flights, the head of the Transportation Security Administration said Tuesday.

    Over the busy Memorial Day weekend, 99 percent of passengers at U.S. airports waited less than 30 minutes and 93 percent waited less than 15 minutes in regular security lines, Peter Neffenger told a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. In TSA Precheck lines for travelers who have received priority security vetting, 93 percent of passengers waited less than 5 minutes, he said.

    The agency said it is reducing lines partly by adding more lanes and increasing staffing at peak periods, especially at seven of the nation’s busiest airports: John F. Kennedy in New York, Newark in New Jersey, O’Hare in Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles.

    “When you get stories of long wait times it has primarily been those airports,” Neffenger said. “If you can prevent problems from happening there, you don’t have problems that cascade throughout the system.”

    TSA also is exploring the possibility of adding automated screening technology at more than a dozen airports that can speed up lines by as much as 30 percent, he said. After TSA viewed the technology in operation at busy Heathrow Airport in London, Delta Air Lines helped pay for its installation in two screening lanes in Atlanta, he said. The new system, which went into operation in late May, has been such a success that TSA has created a special team to talk to other airlines and airports about installing the systems and going even further to add more automation, he said.


    TSA also won praise from one of its fiercest critics, John Roth, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general. TSA screeners overwhelmingly missed prohibited items in covert tests carried out by the inspector general’s office, according to a highly critical report by Roth last year.

    “I believe we are in a different place than we were last June,” Roth told the Senate committee. Under Neffenger, TSA has acknowledged its security weaknesses and is beginning to come to grips with them instead of “fighting us every step of the way,” he said.

    “We are generally satisfied with the progress they are making, which is by no means complete,” Roth said. Among his continuing concerns are that not enough is being done to protect against the “insider threat” of an airport worker or other persons who have access to airport restricted areas, he said.

    There is “no holistic look at an airport worker who has unrestricted access to aircraft,” Roth said. TSA continually checks to see if workers have been convicted of a crime, but doesn’t go beyond that if there hasn’t been a conviction, he said.

    WATCH: How TSA can improve airport security effectiveness

    The post TSA chief: Progress being made on shortening airport lines appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    According to new Education Department data released Tuesday, nearly 1 in 5 high school students in the U.S. were chronically absent. The data also revealed disparities in how black and white students are disciplined at school. Photo by Getty Images

    According to new Education Department data released Tuesday, nearly 1 in 5 high school students in the U.S. were chronically absent. The data also revealed disparities in how black and white students are disciplined at school. Photo by Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — It’s a challenge to teach children who aren’t in class — and new government numbers show about 6.5 million students were absent for at least three weeks of the school year.

    The figures are the first-ever look at chronic absenteeism from the Education Department. Overall, 13 percent of students nationwide were chronically absent in the 2013-14 school year.

    The data released Tuesday also suggest sharp disparities between how black and white students are disciplined in school as well as the types of advanced coursework offered in high school to black and Latino children.

    “A systemic failure to educate some groups of children as well as others tears at the moral fabric of the nation,” Education Secretary John B. King Jr., said in a phone call with reporters. “What sets the U.S. apart from any other country is the idea that opportunity is universal. These data show that we still fall far short of that ideal.”

    Here’s a look at the numbers from the Civil Rights Data Collection, a biannual survey of all public schools and districts in the country, covering more than 95,000 public schools and 50 million students.

    CHRONIC ABSENTEEISM

    More than 3 million high school students were chronically absent — nearly 1 in 5 high school students.

    The department defines chronically absent as missing 15 or more days during the school year, a pattern that increases a student’s chances of falling behind and dropping out of school.

    In elementary school, American Indian or Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students were twice as likely to be chronically absent as white students. Black students were 1.4 times as likely to be chronically absent as their white counterparts.

    The Obama administration began a program last fall called Every Student, Every Day. It partners with states and local groups in 30 communities identify mentors to help chronically absent kids get back on track.

    SCHOOL DISCIPLINE

    Black preschool children are 3.6 times as likely to get one or more out-of-school suspensions as their white counterparts, the report said. Black children represent 19 percent of preschoolers, yet they account for 47 percent of pre-school kids getting suspended. The comparison to white students: they make up 41 percent of preschoolers, but represent only 28 percent of pre-school children with suspensions.

    “These disparities beg for more districts to follow the lead of places like Baltimore and Chicago, which are dramatically limiting the use of suspensions in early grades,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights.

    One big positive in the report was a sharp drop in overall suspensions.

    Across the country, 2.8 million K-12 students received one or more out-of-school suspensions — a nearly 20 percent drop from the number reported two years ago.

    “A 20 percent reduction, overall, in suspensions is breathtaking,” said Lhamon. That’s a “tremendous testament to our educators’ commitment to making sure the students are in school and can learn.”

    COLLEGE-READY COURSEWORK

    Nationwide, almost half of high schools offered classes in calculus, and more than three-quarters offered Algebra II. But black and Latino students didn’t have the same access to high-level math and science as other students.

    According to the report, 33 percent of high schools with substantial black and Latino enrollment offered calculus. That compares to 56 percent of high schools with low numbers black and Latino children that offered calculus. Similar gaps were seen for physics, chemistry and Algebra II.

    Inequities were seen in Advanced Placement courses, too. While black and Latino students made up 38 percent of students in schools that offer AP courses, only 29 percent of them were enrolled in at least one AP course.

    Associated Press writer Mark S. Smith contributed to this report.

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    The post Lots of absences, disparities with school discipline, report finds appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in San Jose, California. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in San Jose, California. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Leading Republicans united Tuesday in an extraordinary denunciation of Donald Trump’s attacks on a federal judge, with House Speaker Paul Ryan calling them the “textbook definition of a racist comment” though he stood by his endorsement of the presumptive presidential nominee.

    Trump asserted that his comments were being “misconstrued” but did not back down or apologize for saying repeatedly that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel could not preside fairly over a case involving Trump University because of his Mexican heritage.

    “I do not feel that one’s heritage makes them incapable of being impartial, but, based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump University civil case, I feel justified in questioning whether I am receiving a fair trial,” Trump said in a lengthy statement that repeated his claims that students at Trump University, far from being fleeced as some claim and as evidence suggests, were overwhelmingly satisfied.

    Moments before Trump issued his defiant statement, a GOP senator who had previously indicated support for Trump withdrew his backing, as Republicans’ attempts to unite behind Trump looked at risk of unraveling.

    “While I oppose the Democratic nominee, Donald Trump’s latest statements, in context with past attacks on Hispanics, women and the disabled like me, make it certain that I cannot and will not support my party’s nominee for president regardless of the political impact on my candidacy or the Republican Party,” Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, who is in a competitive re-election race, said in a statement.

    “I have concluded that Donald Trump has not demonstrated the temperament necessary to assume the greatest office in the world,” Kirk said.

    Kirk was the first leading Republican to publicly disavow earlier support for Trump. Most others, including Ryan, reaffirmed their plans to support him, but the situation exposed the peril for Republicans with the volatile and unpredictable Trump as their standard-bearer. Time and again, they are forced to answer for Trump’s latest divisive comment, distracting from their own agendas as well as their goals of winning back the White House and hanging onto Senate control. “I have concluded that Donald Trump has not demonstrated the temperament necessary to assume the greatest office in the world,” Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois said. On Tuesday, Republicans were squirming over what might have been the billionaire’s most incendiary stance to date — the claim that Curiel couldn’t preside fairly over the Trump University case because the U.S.-born judge is of Mexican heritage and Trump wants to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

    “I regret those comments he made. Claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment,” Ryan said at a morning news conference where his attempts to focus on a new House GOP poverty-fighting agenda were overwhelmed by questions about Trump. “I think that should be absolutely disavowed. It’s absolutely unacceptable.”

    “But do I believe Hillary Clinton is the answer? No, I do not,” Ryan said.

    Video by Associated Press

    Others avoided the word racist but made their disapproval crystal clear.

    “My advice to our nominee would be to start talking about the issues the American people care about and to start doing it now,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “In addition to that it’s time, to quit attacking various people that you competed with, or various minority groups in the country and get on message.”

    Ron Weiser, one of the recently named top fundraisers for Trump and the Republican Party, said the nominee’s comments on the judge are “obviously making it more difficult” to raise money.

    Stanley Hubbard, a Minnesota broadcast company billionaire, recently gave $100,000 to a pro-Trump group and describes himself as a reluctant Trump backer. He said of Trump’s judge comments: “It’s ridiculous. He’s out of line. You don’t attack a federal judge, and you certainly don’t attack him on the heritage of his parents. It’s totally off the wall, and I don’t even have words to explain it.” Democrats ridiculed Republicans for denouncing Trump’s comments yet continuing to back the mogul. Only his fear of Democrat Hillary Clinton picking Supreme Court justices is enough to keep him giving money to Trump, Hubbard said.

    Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., the only black Republican senator, called Trump’s comments on the judge “racially toxic” yet said, “He needs to get on to the general election and we need to win.”

    “Let’s face it, meet the old Trump, just like the new Trump,” said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who has long opposed the billionaire’s candidacy. “We’ve got what we’ve got. That’s not somebody who can win the White House.”

    “Where there’s no talk of a convention challenge or anything else, this might spur it,” Flake added of Trump’s comments on the judge.

    Democrats ridiculed Republicans for denouncing Trump’s comments yet continuing to back the mogul, in evidence of how much ammunition Trump is giving them as they try to boost their own deeply flawed presumptive nominee in Clinton.

    “If Republicans believe that a man who believes in religious and ethnic tests for federal judges is fit to be president of the United States, they must explain why this is an acceptable position,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

    Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Alan Fram and Julie Bykowicz contributed to this report.

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