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

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    Negin

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to another in our Brief But Spectacular series, where we ask interesting people to describe their passions.

    Comedian Negin Farsad describes how she uses comedy to fight bigotry. Her latest book, “How to Make White People Laugh,” was released earlier this month.

    NEGIN FARSAD, Writer/Comedian: I’m an Iranian-American Muslim lady, and, as such, growing up, I didn’t really have any icons to look up to.

    I yearned to be Mexican because there were so many Mexicans in our schools, and they had issues and icons like Cesar Chavez, and everyone could say their names like Aralia and Rodrigo.

    And then, with me, they just — they were just like, Megan, Megrime?

    I grew up in Palm Springs, California, and Palm Springs is a really weird place. It’s simultaneously like one of the top five retirement communities and also one of the top five gay cities in California. It’s the kind of place where you will see people dancing to Lady Gaga while adjusting their catheters.

    One of the main problems of being a Muz in today’s world is that people immediately conflate that with terrorism and violence. I’m like 5’3-and-a-half, and I dress like a cartoon character.

    And I ended up getting a master’s degree in African-American studies. I was the only non-black person in the department. The purple represents all the black students, and then the non-purple part is the me. People were sort of like, it’s weird that — don’t you have your own people?

    And I would be like, how could you say that? I will fight for African-American rights whenever and wherever. I have a DVD box set of “A Different World” on my backpack. I’m about to change my name to Tyler Perry Presents Negin Farsad.

    At a certain point, I sort of realized, you know — and this is well after 9/11 — that like I do have my own people. Islamophobia is on the rise. And there’s actually something I can do about it, comedy but about stuff that mattered and had some kind of social impact.

    I wrote a musical called “The Israeli Palestinian Conflict: A Romantic Comedy.” I made a feature documentary comedy called “The Muslims Are Coming.” I basically rounded up a bunch of Muslim-American comedians in a nonviolent way, and we went around the country to places like Tennessee and Alabama and Georgia, and places where they love the Muzzies. And we did these stand-up shows.

    “How to Make White People Laugh” is a memoir meets social justice comedy manifesto. I talk about being Iranian. I talk about Islamophobia. I talk about xenophobia. I talk about being a brown lady dating online. There are some really earth-shattering chapters in it, like the one called “Immigrants Spit Out More Patriotic Babies.”

    My parents are immigrants, and they raised, like, an uber-dorky patriot who had a giant American flag in her bedroom all growing up. That’s how in love with the country I was raised to be.

    So, I feel like, every time I take the stage, I have to announce to everybody, hey, I’m an Iranian-American Muslim female, like all of you, and just to calm people down that, like, I know that you know that this is not the normal package for a comedian, and it’s going to be OK.

    My name is Negin Farsad, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on being an Iranian-American Muslim female comedian…lady.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: She’s a winner.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: She’s got enough adjectives at the end there, yes.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You can watch more episodes of our Brief But Spectacular series on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief.

    The post When a comedian realized she could fight Islamophobia appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump signs autographs after a rally with supporters in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump signs autographs after a rally with supporters in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — There are few, if any, black executives in the upper ranks of the Trump Organization, a review by The Associated Press has found. Other minorities are also scarce at that level though Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has employed scores of executives.

    Former executives say they cannot recall a single black vice president-level executive at Trump’s headquarters during their combined tenures at the Trump Organization LLC, which ranged from 1980 to late in the past decade. Reviews of social media postings by Trump and his family and Trump’s acknowledgements thanking executives in his books also fail to identify any senior black employees past or present.

    Asked about the lack of African-American vice presidents in an interview last month, Trump assured the AP that he had hired minorities as senior executives and said his staff could readily provide specific details.

    “I am the least discriminatory person in the world,” Trump said. “I have people that do the hiring, if you want to speak to them.”

    The Trump Organization, however, did not grant subsequent requests by the AP to provide such information or say whether Trump had hired an African-American vice president over the past 35 years.

    The AP limited its review to the circle of senior executives who hold titles of vice president or higher within the Trump Organization, an amorphous corporate entity in which Trump and a group of top executives oversee hundreds of different companies and partnerships that control real estate, licensing and hospitality businesses. Some subsidiary businesses have their own hierarchies of presidents and vice presidents, but those executives are generally not located within Trump Tower headquarters and do not have the same authority and prestige.

    Trump’s subsidiary businesses over the years have included golf courses, a modeling agency, casinos in multiple states and an airline. The AP did identify some African-Americans holding the VP title at such individual properties. Some black former employees said the absence of minorities among Trump’s top lieutenants was striking. “The Trump Organization employs both females and minorities in positions of authority across the entire company and in recent years has made great progress in expanding an already diverse workforce,” Trump’s son, Eric, said in a statement to the AP. “As the company continues to expand, both domestically and internationally, we will continue to recruit the very best and brightest regardless of gender and ethnicity.”

    The AP’s review found two Trump executives whose surnames could potentially indicate Hispanic or Middle Eastern backgrounds but did not draw any conclusions given the lack of cooperation by the Trump Organization.

    Some black former employees said the absence of minorities among Trump’s top lieutenants was striking.

    “It was quite commonplace for me to be the only person of color in the room for meetings at the executive level,” said Randal Pinkett, who in December 2005 won on “The Apprentice,” Trump’s reality show competition. That earned Pinkett a temporary vice president title within Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., not the Trump Organization directly.

    “And when I had the opportunity to meet with the heads of affiliate companies, as I did often, not once did I encounter a person of color,” Pinkett said.

    Former contestant on 'The Apprentice,' Randal Pinkett, speaks as fellow contestants Tara Dowdell (C) and Kwame Jackson (L) look on during a news conference against Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump in New York City in April. Photo by Brendan McDermid/Reuters

    Former contestant on ‘The Apprentice,’ Randal Pinkett, speaks as fellow contestants Tara Dowdell (C) and Kwame Jackson (L) look on during a news conference against Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump in New York City in April. Photo by Brendan McDermid/Reuters

    The apparent lack of diversity among Trump’s senior staff undermines an image portrayed in a recent online campaign advertisement, in which Lynne Patton, who described herself as a black, female executive at the Trump Organization, praised Trump for “hiring more minority and female executives than any other company for which I’ve ever worked.”

    Patton is Eric Trump’s longtime personal assistant. After the AP questioned the campaign’s citation of her as a Trump Organization executive, her title on the Eric Trump Foundation’s website and her profile on the LinkedIn service was changed to “vice president of the Eric Trump Foundation.” That position did not appear on the foundation’s most recent tax filing for 2014, which said Patton was one of 16 unpaid directors who devote approximately one hour per week to the charity. Diversity questions come as Trump tests his appeal beyond the generally white and male voters that dominate Republican primaries. Paige Scardigli, the executive director of the Eric Trump Foundation, said that those filings understated Patton’s role. Patton did not respond to inquiries from the AP through email, a message to her LinkedIn account and requests to a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization.

    The National Urban League said Trump did not reply to a questionnaire about diversity and he has twice rebuffed requests to speak or meet with the group and the NAACP.

    The president of the National Urban League, Marc Morial, called Trump’s claim to colorblindness “a smoke-screen” and said it was a worrisome sign of how the businessman would handle appointments as president.

    “There are lots of African-American graduates from Wharton and Harvard and Yale,” Morial said. “If you were applying the same standard to everyone in the talent pool, you’d be hiring a lot of people of color.”

    When Trump takes fire for comments about women, he can point to a roster of female executives who held senior positions, reporting only to him. On matters of racial diversity, however, Trump does not have that option.

    The AP spoke with six former Trump executives. Some spoke on condition of anonymity because they said they were concerned about retaliation by Trump.

    “There weren’t many black employees at all that I remember, to be honest with you,” said Barbara Res, who worked for Trump from 1980 to 1992. “I know he had a black doorman, which is a big thing for him — that’s the front of his building.”


    Trump has dismissed comments by Res about other matters involving the Trump Organization, calling her a disgruntled former employee whom he declined to rehire.

    Some former Trump executives said the prevalence of white executives in the Trump Organization’s upper ranks reflected the real estate world, not Trump’s preferences.

    “I don’t think it’s different from any other real estate company, honestly,” said Jill Cremer, a vice president at the Trump Organization until 2008. Cremer described a respectful, family-friendly environment during her decade with the Trump Organization. Even if the organization’s top executives were white, she said, Trump’s willingness to promote women to senior positions demonstrates his open mind about diversity.

    Bruce LeVell, a black former county GOP chairman in Georgia who founded The National Diversity Coalition For Trump and says he has met most of the Trump Organization’s top executives, said he sees no sign of discrimination in Trump’s 25th floor office in Trump Tower. LeVell described diversity in the organization’s information technology department.

    Trump, he said, does not care “if you’re black, small, white or tall. If you’ve got a gift and a talent, he’s going to go after you.”

    In his social life, Trump has long had a place for African-American celebrities and athletes. His relationship with Herschel Walker went well past Walker’s star role on the New Jersey Generals, Trump’s team in an upstart football league. He called Michael Jackson a good friend, provided financial advice to Mike Tyson and in more recent years socialized with Russell Simmons.

    Diversity questions come as Trump tests his appeal beyond the generally white and male voters that dominate Republican primaries. Most polls have pegged his likely support among blacks below 10 percent, in line with 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s performance. Trump campaign officials say they expect to do far better.

    The campaign has put effort into diversity among its officials and surrogates. Its official national spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson, is an African-American woman; another black “Apprentice” contestant, Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, has been a regular television surrogate for Trump. Trump also has been endorsed by a group of African-American pastors.

    But Paul Manafort, a top campaign official, told the Huffington Post in an interview last month that picking a woman or a minority as Trump’s vice presidential nominee “would be viewed as pandering, I think.”

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

    The post Few, if any, minority senior execs in Trump’s empire appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Cans of soda are displayed in a case at Kwik Stops Liquor in San Diego, California February 13, 2014. Sodas and most other sugar-sweetened drinks sold in California would be required to carry warning labels for obesity, diabetes and tooth decay under a bill introduced in Sacramento on Thursday and backed by several public health advocacy groups. REUTERS/Sam Hodgson (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS FOOD HEALTH) - RTX18S2N

    Cans of soda are displayed in a case at Kwik Stops Liquor in San Diego, California February 13, 2014. Credit: Sam Hodgson/Reuters

    The Philadelphia City Council on Thursday approved a soda tax on sugar-sweetened and diet beverages, becoming the first major city to impose such a policy.

    “Philadelphia made a historic investment in our neighborhoods and in our education system,” city mayor Jim Kenney said in a press release. “Today would not have been possible without everyone coming together in support of a fair future for every zipcode.”

    The 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax is expected to raise about $91 million for the city each year, Philly.com reported.

    Sugary drinks, which include sodas, fruit drinks, sports drinks, sweetened teas and energy drinks, account for 46 percent of all added sugars in the American diet, according to a 2015 report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

    The beverage industry had fought the measure, calling the tax “discriminatory.”

    “The government shouldn’t be focused on demonizing certain products,” the American Beverage Association said in a statement released after the vote. “We should be working together to ensure we are providing consumers the information and choices they need to make the decisions that best fit their diet.”

    Graphic credit: Lisa Overton/NewsHour Weekend

    Graphic credit: Lisa Overton/NewsHour Weekend

    Laura Schmidt, a professor of health policy at the University of California at San Francisco’s School of Medicine, said targeting sugary drinks with public health measures makes sense as they have “no nutritional value.”

    “There’s no value in consuming these products and it’s also so easy to consume them in excess because you can consume them so fast,” she told the NewsHour.

    Dr. Jim Krieger, executive director of Healthy Food America, said in a statement that the council’s actions represented a “win not just for the health and well-being of Philadelphia kids but for communities across the country.”

    As PBS NewsHour reported in May, Kenney had proposed to use part of the soda tax revenue to help make pre-kindergarten available to all 3-and 4-year-olds in Philadelphia.

    “The ancillary benefit to this will be healthy choices, but it’s not the purpose,” Kenney said then. “The purpose of imposing this 3-cents-an-ounce sugar-sweetened beverage tax is to allow people to get their kids educated and move them out of poverty into taxpaying citizens.”

    Schmidt echoed Kenney’s comments, saying it is this latter benefit that has people in the public health world especially excited.

    “The tax might affect teenagers and kids in terms of their consumption because they have less pocket change,” she said, “but the bigger impact is raising funds for programs that elevate, support and lift the lower-income communities’ capacity to better themselves economically, which will mean bettering their health.”

    The city will begin collecting the tax on Jan. 1.

    The post Philadelphia becomes first major U.S. city to pass soda tax appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A journalist walks in front of a screen with olympics logos during the medal launching ceremony in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 14, 2016. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes - RTX2G9LN

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Several athletes have decided not to attend the summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this August. Some male competitors have taken the precaution of freezing their sperm in advance of going.

    The reason? Zika. Brazil has been severely affected by the virus, shown to cause birth defects. There have even been calls among some in the international community to move the Games.

    But the World Health Organization, or WHO, now says it’s safe.

    “NewsHour” producer Jon Gerberg and NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro report now on Brazilian reaction to the controversy.

    MAN: Hey, man, what’s up.

    LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO: Paulo Cesar Vieira, known by his nickname Peanut, is something of a celebrity in his favela, or informal settlement of Rocinha.

    PAULO CESAR VIEIRA, Brazil: I feel proud. I am from here, but I am so proud because, since kids, I always dreamed to see my favela up.

    LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO: A community leader and a tour guide, he had hoped that the coming Olympics would be the next step in improving the lives of everyday Brazilians. But then Zika happened.

    MAN: The Zika virus and its potentially devastating consequences continue to spread.

    MAN: Growing fears now among Olympic athletes and fans worldwide over the looming threat of the Zika virus.

    WOMAN: Hundreds of thousands of people traveling to Brazil this summer for the Olympics. We already have a pandemic on our hands. What could happen?

    LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO: Brazil is the epicenter of the mosquito-borne Zika virus. In advance of the Rio Games, Olympic organizers and local authorities have been spraying facilities and struggling to assure the world that it is safe for athletes and tourists to come here.

    A group of international media, which included “PBS NewsHour,” was invited to film health inspectors in Rio’s Jacarepagua neighborhood last week. Mosquito eradication measures like these have been taking place across the city. At the local health clinic, doctors told us that Zika is a much smaller problem right now.

    VIVIANE DOS SANTOS, Doctor (through interpreter): In the summer months, we had more Zika cases, because we have more mosquitoes. We had around 10 cases per week. Now we have seen a decline. Currently, we have about one case every 15 days, very little.

    LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO: Even though they are called the Summer Games, they will be taking place in South America’s winter, which is typically cooler with fewer mosquitoes. One local resident told us that he’s actually worried about what other diseases tourists and athletes could bring, as Zika was actually discovered in the forests of Uganda.

    So, Paulo Jozze thinks that actually the Brazilians are the victims here. He points out that the Zika virus actually arrived in Brazil from outside of the country.

    But it’s the Zika virus that has overshadowed the run-up to the Olympics here; 234 scientists and global health experts recently wrote a letter to the World Health Organization calling for the Games in Rio to be canceled, postponed or even moved. “An unnecessary risk is posed when 500,000 foreign tourists from all countries attend the Games, potentially acquire that strain, and return home to places where it can become endemic,” it read.

    But Rio’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, insisted that the seasonal decrease in mosquitoes would keep the epidemic at bay.

    MAYOR EDUARDO PAES, Rio de Janeiro: This will not be a problem for the Games. Obviously, if you’re a pregnant woman, you need to take more care of it. But come to Rio. This will not be a problem. I’m sure that, in one year time, if you come back here, we will say, OK, there was no Zika during Rio Games.

    LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO: Olympics spokesman Mario Andrada echoed that sentiment, saying the Olympic venues were undergoing daily mosquito inspections.

    MARIO ANDRADA, Rio 2016: We are 100 percent sure that our tourists, our athletes, our guests will be safe in Rio. And we do the best to protect them.

    LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO: The WHO has agreed and says there is no reason to move the Games. It’s issued a series of guidelines for those coming to Rio. They include warnings to pregnant women and sexually active men.

    More controversially, however, the WHO initially advised foreign tourists to avoid visiting impoverished and overcrowded areas in cities and towns with no piped water or poor sanitation.

    BRUCE AYLWARD, World Health Organization: It is in the poorer, impoverished areas where you’re more likely to find still water or stagnant water that has collected rainwater or whatever is being kept. It is really just looking at what factors help drive the higher mosquito density, the probability of getting bitten by mosquitoes. And that will be higher in those areas.

    LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO: But some experts disagree. The threat of mosquitoes breeding in dirty, stagnant water is real. But the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which spreads Zika and dengue, among other diseases, likes to breed next to clean water.

    Brazilian biologist Claudia Codeco is with Brazil’s largest scientific research center. She also says, in Rio, rich and poor live side by side and mosquitoes don’t respect class boundaries.

    CLAUDIA CODECO, Biologist: We know from many studies that these mosquitoes, they can breed in any type of environment. So this is not a particular problem of poor areas. It can actually breed in any type of environment.

    LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO: The concern among some in Brazil is that telling people disease and the favelas are connected could prove unnecessarily harmful to poor and struggling communities, which are already stigmatized.

    Peanut, our host in Rocinha, is among those worried. The sprawling informal settlement is the largest in Rio de Janeiro, home to tens of thousands of people. And he was hoping to introduce tourists to his favela.

    PAULO CESAR VIEIRA: People in other countries have totally bad information about us. You know, it’s important we take them and they see the reality of favela.

    LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO: And what is the reality?

    PAULO CESAR VIEIRA: The reality is the people.

    LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO: Peanut showed us an herb called arruda, which has a pungent smell. He buys from local vendors and wears it to ward off the mosquitoes.

    With regard to his tourism business, he says his hopes are not high. He blames what he calls propaganda in the international press.

    PAULO CESAR VIEIRA: I hope many tourists come. But I don’t believe it much, because they have very strong propaganda all over the world: Don’t come to Rio. Don’t come to Colombia. Don’t come this — don’t come to South America, because they have Zika.

    LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO: He says his own message is very different.

    PAULO CESAR VIEIRA: Come to the Olympics. Come to the favela. And have a good time. I know nothing bad will happen with you.

    LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO: But not everyone is so sure, including those who have dealt with the virus’ most harmful effects.

    Pollyana Rabello’s son, Luis Felipe, was born with Zika-related microcephaly, a condition where children are born with small heads because the brain is underdeveloped. She says many mothers who’ve had children with congenital Zika syndrome in Brazil have been getting little government financial or medical help, despite many promises.

    POLLYANA RABELLO, Mother of Microcephalic Child (through interpreter): If our country is unable support its own people, who are Brazilians, who pay taxes, why bring others if you can’t even support these people?

    Zika hasn’t gone away. It is here. And if it happened to us, it can happen to many more people. I think the Games shouldn’t happen. I think this money they are investing in the Olympics should be invested in the health and well-being of the Brazilian population.

    LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO: A desperately needed investment in the lives of the people, who will still have to grapple with Zika when the Olympics are just a memory.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Lulu Garcia-Navarro of NPR, Rio de Janeiro.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Tune in tomorrow, when we hear from local residents on the story behind Brazil’s polluted waters, where some Olympic competition will take place.

    The post Will Zika virus overshadow the Rio Olympics? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Migrants, who are part of a group intercepted aboard a dinghy off the coast in the Mediterranean sea, stand on a rescue boat as they arrive at a port in Malaga, southern Spain, June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jon Nazca - RTSGSSB

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: People seeking safety in Europe are now sailing the Western Mediterranean, after Turkey and the European Union struck a deal to stem the refugee flow.

    The results have been deadly. More than 1,000 people have drowned just in the past several weeks. And both here and abroad, the debate about their fate rages on.

    For an update, Gwen Ifill spoke this week with Amin Awad. He’s the director Middle East and North Africa for the U.N. Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

    GWEN IFILL: Mr. Awad, welcome.

    On this program, we have seen the terrible stories of the hundreds of thousands of refugees coming, especially from the Mideast and Africa, trying to get to Greece, trying to get to Turkey, trying to get into Europe.

    Has that problem, has it gotten worse or gotten better since this whole crisis began?

    AMIN AWAD, Director for Middle East and N. Africa Bureau, UNHCR: I think this problem of migrants and refugees and secondary movement is persisting.

    I wouldn’t say it’s getting better or it’s getting worse, simply because the conditions that people are fleeing are getting worse. The serious situation is not better than it was before. Cessation of hostilities ended. The resumption of fighting continued. And as a result, people are fleeing.

    The poverty and impoverishment that people fleeing sub-Saharan Africa continue to persist. There isn’t a south-north collaboration, as used to be before. People are fearing — fleeing Niger, where there is conflict. There is poverty. And they seek opportunity, new places, market and labor and mobility.

    And some of them are fleeing conflict, coming from East Africa, the Horn of Africa, or the central part of Africa or the western part of Africa. So the root causes for flight are still there. And the world has to come up with more mechanisms and better mechanisms to tackle the root causes of these conflicts or poverty.

    GWEN IFILL: So the root causes are still there, but the welcome mat is not there anymore. In fact, it’s certainly not there in Turkey, and it’s certainly not there in Germany like it once was. So how does that affect the flow?

    AMIN AWAD: People — the flow will persist. People will continue to try all they can to make it to safety, to make it to better places, to find opportunity or protection.

    If the welcoming mat is not there, then there ought to be equal investment in the communities where conflicts are and where poverty is, and try to stem the flow in a more dynamic and cooperative manner.

    But you also have to uphold all international instruments, the international protection, international national refugee law, the international human rights law. We have to rally around these and similar, because that’s what makes the world also orderly.

    GWEN IFILL: But you know that, in this country, we’re having a big presidential debate which circles around in part what we should be, how many refugees we should be accepting. And, in Europe, the vote, the Brexit about whether to exit the European Union to some degree also centers around that.

    Doesn’t make your task an uphill one?

    AMIN AWAD: It does in a way, but, on the other hand, I think there are also more people, be it politician or constituencies, or outfits, policy think tanks, politicians, parliamentarians or congressmen or senators, who know, and they can differentiate between the political hype and the xenophobia and the real issues.

    Refugees are fleeing terror. They are fleeing radical groups. They are fleeing conflicts. And they’re looking for safety.

    GWEN IFILL: And yet people…

    AMIN AWAD: They couldn’t be the people to blame.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, that’s exactly the point, yet people say that refugees themselves could be spreading the terror. That’s the fear.

    AMIN AWAD: Well, there isn’t — there are no guarantees for us to really think this is really the truth, nor, if we look at history of refugees during the last 200 years, that they have been carrying attacks against hosts. It never happened.

    GWEN IFILL: It never happened. In order for this to work, you need some financial resources. And many nations have pledged financial resources to this cause. Have they fulfilled those promises?

    AMIN AWAD: London conference, February, good initiative by the U.K. and by Norway, Kuwait and others, pledges were made in good faith, but they were not made.

    GWEN IFILL: How much money are we talking about?

    AMIN AWAD: We’re talking about $12 billion.

    GWEN IFILL: And how much has been…

    AMIN AWAD: Two-point-five.

    GWEN IFILL: Two-point-five, instead of 12?

    AMIN AWAD: If we are to stabilize the world and the protracted conflicts, resources have to be there.

    The other problem we have is protracted conflicts, they have been open for long, like never we have seen before, 60 million people displaced, the refugees or IDPs, because of natural disaster or conflicts. A lot of protracted situation, the world, they could not find solutions.

    I think there ought to be a new model, an approach, robust, to bring the East and the West together to make sure that conflicts are solved. If conflicts are not solved, the world will be an unruly place, a dangerous place like never before.

    GWEN IFILL: That’s one end of — that’s the source of the flood of migrants.

    What about what happens on the other end, people who fear that their economies will be adversely affected, that their jobs will be taken?

    AMIN AWAD: Stabilize the world. Find solutions to natural disaster, conflicts, and don’t leave protracted situation, open conflicts.

    We have Yemen, Libya, Syria, South Sudan, a few places in Central Africa.

    GWEN IFILL: Do you see progress toward that?

    AMIN AWAD: We haven’t seen. Frozen conflicts. More and more people flee. This is a threat against political — our very stable planet. It is a threat to international security.

    GWEN IFILL: Frozen conflicts.

    Amin Awad, the director of the Middle East and North Africa Bureau of the UNHCR, thank you very much.

    AMIN AWAD: Thank you.

    The post Problems driving migrant crisis persist, but the welcome mat has been rolled back appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Mourners hug after the funeral for Kimberly Morris, one of the victims of the shooting at the Pulse night club in Orlando, in Kissimmee, Florida, U.S., June 16, 2016.  REUTERS/Carlo Allegr - RTX2GNUY

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: But, first: As families in Orlando were preparing to bury the first victims of the mass shooting, the president spoke today of grief beyond description. Many in the community are mourning for sons, daughters, family and friends who were just in their 20s and 30s.

    We spent much of this past day listening to what survivors and members of the community had to say.

    William Brangham has the story.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The president and vice president’s visit today comes as the people of Orlando are finding different ways of coping and trying to recover from this massacre.

    DON PRICE, Greenwood Cemetery: I think it means a lot. It shows that the nation is watching. I think that’s the idealism at that point, that he’s taken time, the president has taken time to let everybody know that, hey, he feels for them and is watching it.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But, for others, especially those who witnessed the attack firsthand inside the Pulse nightclub, ceremonies and visits can only do so much.

    Jeanette McCoy drove to the club Saturday night and was inside with her friends Julian Amador and Yvens Carrenard when the shooting began. Another friend shielded McCoy, taking a gunshot to the back and allowing her to escape. She says her grief has made it hard to sleep.

    JEANETTE MCCOY, Survivor: We lost so many people. We lost a part of us. People don’t realize. There’s people who were dead, but the ones that survived, we can’t hold a service for our heads.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Carrenard can’t shake the images of what he saw as he escaped the club.

    YVENS CARRENARD: I could hear people moaning. And I could hear people screaming for help. When they came and got us, I had to physically walk by bodies. We had to walk by the dead bodies that were just where we were standing.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: McCoy told us today she believes the police waited too long to rush in, which she says allowed it to become a hostage situation.

    JEANETTE MCCOY: Through all of this that’s going on, the gunshots didn’t stop. They just didn’t stop. I’m still yelling at the cops and telling them it made no sense. I said, it’s one individual in there. How it is that there’s hundreds of cops out there and no one is going in?

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But others believe officials did the best they could and now is the time to focus on the future.

    Don Price is helping the city of Orlando establish a permanent memorial here in Greenwood Cemetery. The city is offering free burial plots for any of the victims.

    DON PRICE: A lot of these victims are not staying in Orlando. They’re being sent home to Puerto Rico. They’re going to Mexico. They’re going to the Dominican Republic. They’re going to New Jersey. They’re going all around. Their friends and their family base is still here in Orlando. So we need a place that the community can come and grieve.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: DeAngelo Scott was dancing that night at Pulse, too, but he left just before the attacks began. Six of his friends died that night.

    He says the so-called Pulse family, the whole LGBT community, must come together to heal and to lead by example for the rest of the city.

    DEANGELO SCOTT, Orlando Resident: We’re going to get fine. We’re going to get through this. And I was like, we don’t really have a choice. I was like, because the Pulse family is what built the overall Pulse family, which is the family we have in the community.

    I was like, so we have to make sure that we fix ourselves, so that the rest of us, the rest of the city, you know, can look up to us for support.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That’s right. You don’t have a choice.

    DEANGELO SCOTT: Yes. Otherwise, they win. We can’t let them win.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m William Brangham.

    The post For Orlando shooting survivor, ‘we don’t have a choice’ but to recover appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus takes his seat to testify at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the implementation of the decision to open all ground combat units to women on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 2, 2016.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque  - RTX253Z4

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to a major change being made by the U.S. Navy that will affect servicemen suffering from one of the unseen wounds of war.

    John Yang has that.

    JOHN YANG: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have killed thousands of American servicemen and maimed and injured tens of thousands more, but some wounds are not as easily seen or identified.

    Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD afflicts as much as one-fifth of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in any given year. Compounding the affliction, personnel who were kicked out of the military because of erratic behavior caused by PTSD, by traumatic brain injury, called TBI, or by other mental health conditions often lose their benefits, including access to veterans health care.

    But that will now change for at least one of the services, navy personnel, sailors and Marines, under a new policy enacted by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.

    Secretary Mabus joins us now.

    Thank you for joining us.

    RAY MABUS, Secretary of the Navy: Glad to be here.

    JOHN YANG: Tell us what this new policy is and why you made this change.

    RAY MABUS: The policy that we had been operating under was, if somebody committed misconduct, the erratic behavior you were talking about, that took preference over everything else in terms of a discharge.

    And so people would get discharged with bad paper, with discharges that didn’t give them any benefits when they left. What we have done with policy that I have just signed was to say, if you’re being administratively discharged for some misconduct, we’re going to take a look to see if you have got a diagnosable condition, to see if you have got PTSD, to see if you have got traumatic brain injury, and then that will factor in, so that you may still be discharged, but you will be discharged with benefits, with help that we’re going to recognize the reason for this erratic behavior and give you help after you leave the military.

    And it’s not just for combat injuries, combat wounds. It’s also for things like sexual assault that is often followed by PTSD.

    JOHN YANG: And just to be clear, you say that this conduct took precedence.

    In other words, it didn’t matter that the misconduct may have had an underlying cause.

    RAY MABUS: Right.

    The only thing that was looked at was the misconduct. And the discharge was based on that misconduct without why it was caused, without PTSD evaluation, without TBI evaluation. And the awful thing was, when people left under this circumstance, they got no benefits.

    So, they couldn’t get into veterans health care. They couldn’t get the assistance they needed to deal with PTSD or to deal with traumatic brain injury. It was a pure policy issue. And this is not just for people being discharged now, not just for active-duty people. If you’re a veteran, and you were discharged and got bad paper, and so you’re not getting any benefits, and you believe that it was caused by in some way or another PTSD or traumatic brain injury, come back. We will take another look at it.

    We will take another run at the determination of the discharge. If it is found by that, you will be able to get your benefits, even if you have been discharged for a while.

    JOHN YANG: Any idea how many men and women that could affect?

    RAY MABUS: The estimates we have got on traumatic brain injury are 46,000 sailors, 49,000 Marines. That’s a lot of people. It’s hard to know, in terms of why people were discharged, why — what kind of discharges they got.

    This sort of thing, it’s hard to know how many are going to fit in under that, but it’s clearly not just a few people.

    JOHN YANG: Do you think enough is being done for sailors and Marines to recognize, on the commanders’ part, to recognize when behavior may be because of PTSD or traumatic brain injury?

    RAY MABUS: I think we’re making progress on that.

    The other part of this policy is that, if you’re going to be discharged and there’s a possibility you will be discharged without benefits, that discharge decision was moved way up in the chain of command. It has got to be done by an admiral or a general, a flag officer, instead of where it used to be, which was a unit commander, which would be lieutenant colonel, colonel, somewhere around in there.

    JOHN YANG: Mr. Secretary, do you think the other services will follow your lead on this?

    RAY MABUS: Well, I certainly hope so.

    And we have had some talks with the other services on how we implemented this and what the new policy is. And so this is the right thing to do.

    JOHN YANG: Let me ask you one more question about an issue facing the modern military. The Pentagon just recently had their LGBT pride event.

    Secretary Carter said last year that he would — was looking to change the policy to allow transgender people to serve in the military. That new policy was due five months ago. Can you give us any insight into what the issues are that are holding this up?

    RAY MABUS: I know that the process is ongoing. We have participated in the process in terms of transgender.

    And I think that, from Secretary Carter’s memo, when he set this out, it’s not if, but when. It’s not if, but how. We had all expected the policy before now, but things take a while sometimes.

    JOHN YANG: Very good.

    Secretary Ray Mabus, thank you for being with us.

    RAY MABUS: Appreciate it, John.

    The post Why the Navy is making a major change in its approach to PTSD appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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  • 06/16/16--15:40: Brexit: the case for leaving
  • Part of a flotilla of fishing vessels campaigning to leave the European Union sails under Westminster Bridge towards Parliament on the river Thames in London, Britain June 15, 2016.  REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth    - RTX2GCLW

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: As we heard, Britain was stunned today by the killing of a member of Parliament. Jo Cox was a strong supporter of saying the country should stay in the European Union.

    In one week, Britain votes on that very question. Both sides in the argument suspended their campaigns today out of respect.

    Before the latest, our economics correspondent Paul Solman was in Oxford hearing the arguments.

    Tonight, the case for leaving the E.U.

    It’s part of his Making Sense series, which appears every Thursday on the “NewsHour.”

    PAUL SOLMAN: The Oxford Union, perhaps the world’s most famous debating society.

    ALEX SALMOND, Scottish National Party MP: Mr. President, I am delighted to be here at the Oxford Union, the pinnacle of university debating in England.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Capping off the spring term last week, the year’s most hotly anticipated debate, the E.U. referendum, better known as Brexit, British exit from the European Union, coming up for a real vote one week from today.

    MICHAEL HOWARD, Former Leader, Conservative Party: We have a long and illustrious tradition of democratic self-government. We are as entitled to rule ourselves as are the people of the United States of America. This is your birthright. This is your heritage. This is your future. Reclaim it and vote leave.

    (APPLAUSE)

    ALEX SALMOND: Let’s make the case for immigration as a sign of success of this country, and let’s celebrate the magnificent achievement of those who’ve come.

    PAUL SOLMAN: This is Mansfield, one of Oxford’s 38 colleges, where some 400 of Oxford’s 22,000 students live and learn.

    Mansfield is known for its nonconformity, its openness to students from all countries and classes, not just from upper-crust prep schools. Small wonder its faculty want to remain in the E.U.

    WOMAN: Sometimes, I talk to my colleagues over lunch, and they cannot imagine that anybody would vote leave.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But at the entry point to Mansfield, Terry Greenwood, who helps run the Porter’s Lodge, will vote to vamoose.

    TERRY GREENWOOD, Deputy Head Porter, Mansfield College: I have no confidence in the basic ability or competence of anybody in the European Parliament, whatever.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But it’s going to cost the United Kingdom to leave the union, is it not?

    TERRY GREENWOOD: So what? We should be in charge of our own country, we, not some unelected Parliament. You wouldn’t have your next-door neighbor come in and tell you what to eat at your table. Well, that’s precisely what the European Union is telling us to do. It’s telling us how to conduct our lives.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Somerville was one of Oxford’s first colleges to admit women, in 1879. Indira Gandhi lived and learned here. So did Margaret Thatcher. The faculty want to stay in Europe, but Olga Smith, a so-called scout who helps keep house for the current head of college, doesn’t.

    OLGA SMITH, Scout, Somerville College: Well, I think we have lost control of the borders.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Do you think that the people who are coming in are driving down wages?

    OLGA SMITH: The wages and unemployment, yes, yes, because there’s a lot more foreign people doing all that, doing all sorts of jobs.

    DAVID TOWNSEND, Assistant Gardener, Somerville College: I feel that we should leave.

    PAUL SOLMAN: David Townsend is assistant gardener.

    DAVID TOWNSEND: I have always regarded myself as English first, then British. I have never regarded myself as European. As an island nation, I think it’s inborn, I think.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But the Brexit vote isn’t just a class conflict, town against gown. Consider this excerpt from a feature film gone viral making the case for leaving.

    NARRATOR: We the people are being cajoled, frightened, and bullied into surrendering our democracy and freedom. This film is a rallying cry. We must fight for our independence, for the right to determine ourselves the laws under which we live, and for the freedom to shape our own future.

    PAUL SOLMAN: The politician often compared to Donald Trump here, former London Mayor Boris Johnson, makes the economic case for leaving.

    BORIS JOHNSON, Former Mayor of London: Why are we sending 10 billion pounds a year net to Brussels, some of which is spent, my friends, you know, some of which is spent on Spanish bullfighting?

    PAUL SOLMAN: And though almost half of Oxford students are foreign-born, a few are pushing Brexit vigorously. Harrison Edmonds is one of their leaders.

    HARRISON EDMONDS, Student: For Britain to be viable in the future economically, it has to be where the market is. And the market increasingly of the next century is not going to be in Europe. It’s going to be in Asia. It’s going to be in America. It’s going to be in South America. It’s not going to be in Europe. And that’s where we need to be looking. We need to be looking outside of the European Union for those markets.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Meanwhile, says Peter Saville, commonwealth nations like Australia or India become second-class trading partners.

    PETER SAVILLE, Student: If trade agreements localize to one area, that is effectively a protection racket. They disadvantage the world community towards the European one, that accident of geography.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But this is a protectionism racket, not a protection racket. Protection racket is when you extort somebody because you’re going to hurt them if they don’t do what you say.

    (CROSSTALK)

    PETER SAVILLE: If you’re a member of the club, and you vote to leave that club, and that club threatens you to stay inside, that’s not a group of friends. That is a protection racket.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And in the end, says Oliver Shore, the E.U. will come round and trade with the U.K. anyway.

    OLIVER SHORE, Student: Can you really see Angela Merkel going to all the German car manufacturers and saying, look, you’re going to have to cut your jobs because Britain’s been bad and we’re going to have to put big tariffs up and stop you selling cars to Britain, and even though I’m a very unpopular prime minister in Germany at the moment, I’m going to become even more unpopular by cutting manufacturing jobs?

    PAUL SOLMAN: But the nub of the argument, says Sam Slater, is sovereignty.

    SAM SLATER, Student: A big point is about British elected — elected representatives making our own laws, not the unelected commission handing down laws to the kind of elected European Parliament, who kind of give them an agreement, and then maybe it will become law. It’s rubbish.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Case in point, a Scottish tax passed a few years ago, in part to combat alcoholism.

    SAM SLATER: It was passed by the Scottish Parliament, which is elected by the Scottish people, and they have a mandate to pass laws, and it was blocked. It was blocked by the European Union because of this technical standards directive. What has it got to do with the other 27 member states what Scottish people want to do in their own country? It’s a disgrace. It’s an utter disgrace.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Well, disgrace or not, Scottish voters turn out to be strongly in favor of remaining. And we will explore that side of the debate, to remain, in our next piece.

    Until then, reporting from Oxford, England, this is economics correspondent Paul Solman.

    The post Brexit: the case for leaving appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) (center L) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) (center R) depart the Senate floor directly after ending a 14-hour filibuster in the hopes of pressuring the U.S. Senate to action on gun control measures, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. June 16, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX2GHZ2

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The debate over gun control took center stage in the U.S. Senate for nearly 15 hours, as Democrats pushed for votes on measures they say could help prevent another mass shooting.

    Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid confirmed this morning that Republicans will allow votes on gun control amendments to a larger money bill. But he complained it’s not at all clear they can pass.

    SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), Minority Leader: Republicans must join us for those measures to pass. But that won’t happen if Republicans continue to take their orders — and I mean orders — from the National Rifle Association and the Gun Owners of America.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had a ready answer, that Democrats played politics yesterday while the FBI briefed senators on Orlando.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), Majority Leader: Senate Republicans attended, and asked serious questions. A rather significant group of Senate Democrats skipped it, skipped the briefing altogether, for a campaign talk-a-thon out here on the Senate floor, which also prevented us from going forward on the bill.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy spearheaded the filibuster that ran nearly 15 hours, until early this morning. He evoked the 2012 massacre at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, and a teacher who shielded a child.

    SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), Connecticut: It takes courage to look into the eye of a shooter, instead of running, wrapping your arms around a 6-year-old boy and accepting death for a little boy under your charge. Ask yourself, what can you do to make sure that Orlando or Sandy Hook never, ever happens again?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Murphy wants a vote on barring gun sales to those on a terror watch list. He drew support from a number of fellow Democrats.

    Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania also spoke up.

    SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R), Pennsylvania: I’m of the view that it’s time to get something done here. What I think we need to do here is do everything we can to make sure that terrorists are not able to buy guns, at least not legally.

    But we also need to have a meaningful mechanism for people to challenge their status of being that list, and that’s what we haven’t put together here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A GOP alternative calls for not barring gun sales, but delaying them by 72 hours, for anyone on the watch list.

    This afternoon, the Senate’s number two Republican, John Cornyn, said the Senate will vote on four gun-related measures on Monday.

    Joining me now is one of the more than 20 Democratic senators who took part in last night’s filibuster, Senator Al Franken of Minnesota.

    Senator, thank you for joining us.

    Given the implacable opposition of virtually every Republican in the Senate, what do you think this filibuster accomplished?

    SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), Minnesota: Well, I hope it changed the conversation, in light of the just horrific events — event in Orlando, the worst mass shooting in our country’s history.

    Chris Murphy represented Newtown when he was in the House of Representatives, and said how difficult it is for him to talk to the families of the kids who died there in that shooting and tell them that, four years later, nothing has happened.

    And I think that — I commend Chris Murphy for doing this. And I think it changed the conversation. And that’s why we’re having these votes. We’re going to have these votes on Monday. And I think anything that we can do to stop one of these events is a good thing.

    And Dianne Feinstein is putting forward a bill that will take people who are on the terror watch list and make it so they’re not able to buy a gun.

    And Chris Murphy has offered legislation to close the loopholes and the background checks at gun shows and online, because anyone who is on a terror watch list, if they get turned down at a gun store, they can just right now go online or go to a gun show.

    And we have got to do everything we can to prevent something like this happening. We’re not going to get all of them, but any one that we can stop, we must do.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Senator, I’m sure you know Republicans are arguing. They have got their own arguments on every one of these proposals. On the terror watch list proposal, they say, well — they still think that, since — or they argue that buying a gun is a constitutional right.

    And even for someone who is on a terror watch list, maybe there’s a short delay, but you still have to give that person an opportunity to buy a gun at some point.

    SEN. AL FRANKEN: Well, you know, we can — we should be talking about how to do this.

    But talking about a three-day delay, I don’t think makes sense. The GAO just came out with a report that says that people on the no-fly list, 91 percent of them were able to buy guns at gun stores. The ones that were turned down, they weren’t denied because they were on the terror watch list. They were denied for some other reason.

    We have to make sure that people who shouldn’t have guns do not have guns. That is a priority. And, yes, if you want to adjudicate somebody who is wrongly on the list, that should be done, but it shouldn’t be done in three days.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator, what makes you think a compromise can be worked out now, when even when the Democrats were in the majority in the Senate, after the Newtown school shooting, they were not able to enact significant legislation on guns?

    SEN. AL FRANKEN: One, we came very close then.

    And, two, I think this terror watch list is a different issue. And I think that what we saw in this filibuster last night and the reaction of people to it around the country, I think that my Republican colleagues who are certainly up for reelection — you see it with Donald Trump, whose response to this has been, you know, in many ways terrible, is seeing — he’s running for president.

    He sees that, you know, 80 percent of Republicans are for these measures, and 80 — some 87 percent of the American people are for that. So I hope that my colleagues understand that this is just the right thing to do, and that they will not give into the pressure from the NRA.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Even if the Senate were the pass some language, Senator, we have every expectation that the House wouldn’t. So is this just then an exercise in what?

    SEN. AL FRANKEN: This is an exercise in trying to prevent these from happening.

    That’s what this is. And there has been movement on this issue because of this horrific event. And I believe that’s being felt in the Senate and in the House.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So you do believe next week we may see some of — one or more of these proposals pass the Senate?

    SEN. AL FRANKEN: I hope so. I don’t know what Senator Cornyn’s proposal is. I don’t know what Senator Grassley’s proposal is. But you will notice that we are getting proposals from them now.

    Now, they may have — they may be like we have seen before, with poison pills or something like that. But I think the conversation has changed in the wake of this horrific event.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, we thank you very much.

    SEN. AL FRANKEN: Thank you, Judy.

    The post Did Orlando change the conversation about gun control in Washington? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Vice President Joe Biden place flowers at a makeshift memorial for shooting victims of the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, U.S., June 16, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria  - RTX2GNQO

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

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And I’m Hari Sreenivasan.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: On the “NewsHour” tonight: Senate Democrats end a nearly 15-hour filibuster early this morning in a push for gun control, four days after the Orlando shooting.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Also ahead this Thursday, we sit down with three survivors of the Orlando attack to hear their stories of that harrowing night inside the Pulse nightclub.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And with the Olympic Games in Brazil around the corner, fears of Zika grip both athletes and tourists — how residents are reacting.

    POLLYANA RABELLO, Mother of Microcephalic Child (through interpreter): If our country is unable support its own people, who are Brazilians, who pay taxes, why bring others if you can’t even support these people?

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

    (BREAK)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: This was a day when President Obama joined the mourning in Orlando, as a shocking new killing shook England. The president traveled to Florida to console survivors and families of the 49 murdered Sunday at a gay nightclub. And he met with police and first-responders.

    Afterward, Mr. Obama and Vice President Biden left flowers at a makeshift memorial, and spoke with reporters.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Today, once again, as has been true too many times before, I held and hugged grieving family members and parents, and they asked, why does this keep happening? And they pleaded that we do more to stop the carnage. They don’t care about the politics. Neither do I.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But a leading Republican caused a stir today when he initially charged the president bears the blame for the nightclub killings.

    Arizona Senator John McCain told reporters: “Barack Obama is directly responsible for it because his decision to pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq led to the rise of ISIS.”

    Later, McCain said he misspoke, and didn’t mean to imply the president was personally responsible for Orlando.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Britain was stunned today when a member of Parliament was shot dead in her own district. Labor Party M.P. Jo Cox had campaigned to keep Britain in the European Union. She was killed in the small town of Birstall, near Leeds, in Northern England.

    Griff Witte is London bureau chief for The Washington Post, joins us now.

    Griff, for an American frame of reference, there might be people who think about this like the Gabby Giffords shooting or attack that happened a few years ago here. Who was Jo Cox?

    GRIFF WITTE, The Washington Post: Jo Cox was someone who was widely respected on all sides of the political debate in Britain. She was someone who had been a human rights campaigner before she became a member of Parliament. She was elected to Parliament last year as a member of the center-left Labor Party, and she was seen as someone with a really extraordinarily bright future in politics.

    David Cameron today called her a rising star.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And there were several different narratives that were swirling. What happened on the scene around the attack?

    GRIFF WITTE: Well, what we understand is that Jo Cox was meeting with constituents at a library in this small town, which is something that she does every Thursday afternoon, and she was walking out of the building, and she was approached on the sidewalk by a 52-year-old man who began stabbing her. A passerby tried to intervene, tried to stop the attack, and the attacker then pulled out a gun.

    It’s believed to have been perhaps an antique weapon. Firearms are very tightly regulated here in the U.K., and he began to shoot her. And shot her at least two times, perhaps three times. And she died about an hour later.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Griff Witte, we also heard that the shooter or the assailant had yelled “Britain first.” Besides being a slogan, it’s also the name of a far-right party. And this comes in the context of this much, much larger conversation about the Brexit right now.

    GRIFF WITTE: Right.

    And I want to stress that it’s not clear that this man has any kind of relationship with Britain First, which is an organization that is on the far, far right here in the U.K. It is an anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim organization that does very provocative demonstrations across British.

    The organization says it has no affiliation with the assailant here and has condemned his actions. Nonetheless, witnesses have said that he yelled “Britain first” as he was engaging the attack and afterward. And so that has led to speculation that he has had — he has some kind of political motives.

    Family members, however, say that they don’t know him to be someone who had any kind of political affiliations at all or strong political views, but they say that he was mentally troubled.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Griff Witte of The Washington Post joining us from London, thanks so much.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: Search crews in the Mediterranean have recovered the cockpit voice recorder from the EgyptAir plane that crashed last month. The flight disappeared between Crete and the Egyptian coast, killing all 66 people on board.

    Investigators say the voice recorder was damaged, but its memory unit is still intact. They’re working to see if it sheds light on what caused the crash.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: CIA Director John Brennan warned today that the Islamic State group is trying to send operatives into the West to carry out new attacks. Brennan told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the militants hope high-profile attacks will compensate for territory they have lost in Iraq and Syria.

    JOHN BRENNAN, Director, CIA: ISIL has a large cadre of Western fighters who could potentially serve as operatives for attacks in the West. And the group is probably exploring a variety of means for infiltrating operatives into the West, including in refugee flows, smuggling routes and legitimate methods of travel.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The gunman in the Orlando killings claimed allegiance to the Islamic State, but Brennan said today the CIA has found no actual connection.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Swathes of downtown Saint Louis had no electrical power, and no air conditioning, for much of this day, as the heat headed toward 100 degrees. The cause was an overnight fire inside a manhole. Last night, smoke could be seen billowing from underground. City hall, courts and other administrative buildings closed for the day.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Philadelphia is now the first major American city to adopt a tax on carbonated drinks. City council today gave final approval to a levy of 1.5 cents per ounce for sugary and diet sodas. The beverage industry had waged a multimillion-dollar campaign to block the measure.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A late-day rally lifted Wall Street after five days of losses. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 93 points to close at 17733. The Nasdaq rose 10 points, and the S&P 500 added six.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And Walt Disney opened Shanghai Disneyland today, its first theme park in mainland China. The opening ceremony featured Communist Party leaders and familiar characters. Officials held up the park as a symbol of U.S.-China relations. It’s valued at $5.5 billion.

    Still to come on the “NewsHour”: a senator’s 15-hour filibuster, could it change the gun control debate?; making economic sense of Britain’s vote to leave or stay in the E.U.; the Navy’s new approach to PTSD; first-hand accounts from survivors of the Orlando shooting; and much more.

    The post News Wrap: Obama consoles Orlando attack survivors appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A man passes in front of the UK Independence Party's pro-Brexit campaign bus in London on May 28. Photo by Neil Hall/Reuters

    A man passes in front of the UK Independence Party’s pro-Brexit campaign bus in London on May 28. Photo by Neil Hall/Reuters

    The UK is holding a referendum on June 23 on whether Britain should exit the European Union — known by the abbreviation “Brexit.” We’ve collected some handy guides and interesting reads on what to expect either way.

    •••

    1. The Economist outlines the 17 main issues of the Brexit referendum, from trade to security. Also, see its chart of the reasons to stay “in” or get “out.”

    •••

    2. Politico looks at how Britain’s exit from the EU could affect presidential contender Hillary Clinton’s chances.

    •••

    3. An interview in Xinhua covers how Britain’s departure might impact Northern Ireland’s peace, Scotland’s decision to stick with the UK, and international relations in general.

    •••

    4. Some Chinese investors are waiting to see what happens in the referendum before buying property in Britain, Reuters reported.

    •••

    5. Who is “the brains behind Brexit”? Politico says it’s Michael Gove, the UK’s justice secretary.

    •••

    6. From Bloomberg: What do the bookies say about the chances of Brexit?

    •••

    7. The New York Times delves into what the financial industry is doing to prepare for a possible Brexit.

    •••

    8. The Guardian offers some advice on what to do before the vote: Freeze your Camembert and go on a booze run.

    •••

    Now that you’ve read up, take our 8-question quiz on the upcoming vote:

    The post What is Brexit? 8 reads on Britain’s big choice appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Image by Colin K. Khoury, Harold A. Achicanoy, Carlos Navarro-Racines, Steven Sotelo, and Andy Jarvis at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

    Image by Colin K. Khoury, Harold A. Achicanoy, Carlos Navarro-Racines, Steven Sotelo, and Andy Jarvis at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

    In the July issue of Scientific American, our Graphic Science section features a data visualization on the consumption of food crops around the world from 1961 to 2009. The data comes from a study published inProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on trends in global food supplies. The two main takeaways of the study—that diets are becoming more homogenous and calorie-rich overall—are immediately apparent in the graphic, shown below.

    Source: “Increasing Homogeneity in Global Food Supplies and the Implications for Food Security,” by Colin K. Khoury et al., in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Vol. 111, No. 11; March 18, 2014. Graphic by Jen Christiansen

    Source: “Increasing Homogeneity in Global Food Supplies and the Implications for Food Security,” by Colin K. Khoury et al., in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Vol. 111, No. 11; March 18, 2014. Graphic by Jen Christiansen

    Also recently, the same group of researchers published an in-depth look at where different food crops originate and where they are consumed. Here, the primary message is that countries are highly interconnected when it comes to food supply; increasingly, the crops we eat come to us from distant countries. Since the dataset associated with this study is so large and complex, the researchers published a set of interactive graphics to help viewers understand and navigate the many global links underlying the production and consumption of various food crops.

    VISUALIZATIONS BY COLIN K. KHOURY, HAROLD A. ACHICANOY, CARLOS NAVARRO-RACINES, STEVEN SOTELO, AND ANDY JARVIS AT THE INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR TROPICAL AGRICULTURE (CIAT) CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE TO LAUNCH THE INTERACTIVE

    CLICK HERE TO LAUNCH THE INTERACTIVE Visualizations by Colin K. Khoury, Harold A. Achicanoy, Carlos Navarro-Racines, Steven Sotelo and Andy Jarvis at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

    At first, it may seem as if the main idea of the first study—increased homogeneity of diets—conflicts with that of the second—ample global exchange of food supplies. Intuitively, if each country is consuming crops from diverse regions, we should all have plenty of variety in our diets. However, given a closer look at the interactive graphs, it becomes clear that many of the top crops consumed in each region are the same, even if they come from different sources. For example, hover over some of the connection lines in the interactive food consumption graph, and notice how often wheat, rice, and sugar emerge at the top of the list.

    Visualizations by Colin K. Khoury, Harold A. Achicanoy, Carlos Navarro-Racines, Steven Sotelo and Andy Jarvis at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

    Visualizations by Colin K. Khoury, Harold A. Achicanoy, Carlos Navarro-Racines, Steven Sotelo and Andy Jarvis at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

    Each of the above graphics offers a global, big-picture view of food consumption. Meanwhile, Nathan Yau of Flowing Data has taken a different approach to visualizing changing diets. His recently published interactive graphic, The Changing American Diet, focuses on specific food products consumed in the United States from 1970 to 2013.

    This interactive is a great example of a type known in the data visualization world as “small multiples:” a series of visualizations juxtaposed to emphasize variations from one to the next, as well as outliers from the group. Yau has created a wonderfully multi-dimensional version of this classic brand of information graphic; the user can look at the data in various ways in order to glean different bits of information.

    Image from The Changing American Diet. Visualization by Nathan Yau

    Image from The Changing American Diet. Visualization by Nathan Yau

    For example, each area chart in the series can be viewed either on its own scale (to show fluctuations within each graph), or on a universal scale (to emphasize the overall hierarchy of products within each category). Moreover, the major changes in diets over time are highlighted in two different ways. A simple, static shot of the graphic shows some clear trends, such as the steady rise of chicken over the years, or the decline of whole milk. But let the visualization “play,” and as the year advances, the graphs in each category switch places as one overtakes another in popularity. The movement holds our attention as the visualization becomes a fascinating sort of race among the foods.

    As all of these visualizations demonstrate, there are many graphical ways to examine different aspects of what we eat. And given the dangerous trends in obesity both here in the U.S. and globally, it is a topic certainly worth our attention.

    This article is reproduced with permission from Scientific American. It was first published on June 17, 2016. Find the original story here.

    The post The world’s ever evolving diets in 4 infographics appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    June 1, 2016; President Barack Obama holds a town hall discussion with the residents of Elkhart, Indiana, hosted by PBS NewsHour co-anchor Gwen Ifill at The Lerner Theatre, in Elkhart, Indiana.(Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

    June 1, 2016; President Barack Obama holds a town hall discussion with the residents of Elkhart, Indiana, hosted by PBS NewsHour co-anchor Gwen Ifill at The Lerner Theatre, in Elkhart, Indiana.(Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

    One afternoon this month, I was standing on a stage with President Obama in Elkhart, Indiana, where we had just completed an hour-long conversation about politics, the economy and why a community that benefited from Obama-era policies still reliably votes Republican.

    At the end of the PBS NewsHour taping, which featured questions from an invited crowd of local residents, I signed off. The credits rolled.

    What followed has since garnered more than 42 million views on NewsHour’s Facebook page. A post featuring the clip reached nearly 80 million people.

    Then, as the president began to work the crowd, Doug Rhude, a local gun shop owner, rose to his feet and stayed there until he snagged Mr. Obama’s attention. Fortunately, the cameras were still rolling, and I rushed over with the microphone to where Rhude stood in the crowd.

    Speaking politely, but with force, he said:

    Doug Rhude, a gun shop owner from Elkhart, Indiana. Photo by PBS NewsHour

    Doug Rhude, a gun shop owner from Elkhart, Indiana. Photo by PBS NewsHour

    “Knowing that we apply common sense to other issues in our society, specifically like holding irresponsible people accountable for their actions when they drink and drive and kill somebody, and we do that without restricting control of cars and cells phones to the rest of us, the good guys, why then do you and Hillary want to control and restrict and limit gun manufacturers, gun owners and responsible use of guns and ammunition to the rest of us, the good guys, instead of holding the bad guys accountable for their actions?”

    The president listened with his arms folded.

    What followed has since garnered more than 42 million views on NewsHour’s Facebook page. A post featuring the clip reached nearly 80 million people.

    When he replied, Mr. Obama was just as polite and just as forceful.

    “First of all, the notion that I or Hillary or Democrats or whoever you want to choose are hell-bent on taking away folks’ guns is just not true,” he replied, growing more animated as he spoke.

    “And I don’t care how many times the NRA says it,” he continued. “I’m about to leave office. There have been more guns sold since I have been president than just about any time in U.S. history. There are enough guns for every man, woman and child in this country.”

    You can see his entire exchange here.

    The president’s retort was revealing for a number of reasons. By noting that he is about to leave office, he said out loud what his actions have signaled for months. To his mind, it is time to throw caution to the wind in order to protect his legacy.

    It was also instructive because, in retrospect, the president previewed this week’s post-Orlando debate by inviting listeners into one of the White House’s most secret spaces.

    “I just came from a meeting today in the Situation Room, in which I’ve got people who we know have been on ISIL websites, living here in the United States, U.S. citizens,” he said, his voice rising. “And we’re allowed to put them on the no-fly list when it comes to airlines, but because of the National Rifle Association, I cannot prohibit those people from buying a gun.”

    Minds may not have been changed, but two citizens who disagreed were forced to listen to one another.

    It was a remarkable exchange precisely because we never get to see anything like this. We have grown used to watching adults fight on television, but not to watching the president of the United States go toe-to-toe, face-to-face, with someone he disagrees with but who deserves to be heard.

    Whether you support gun rights or gun control, there was something in this conversation for you. More than a half million Facebook users posted the video to their timelines.

    In the wake of Orlando, the president’s words also took on new poignancy. Could the shooter have been stopped? Is there such a thing as common ground when it comes to access to guns?

    In an era when opposing forces more often retreat to their corners and hurl insults at each other, this was different. Minds may not have been changed, but two citizens who disagreed were forced to listen to one another.

    It is an approach we could use more of, especially in times of grief, confusion and political distress.

    All hail public broadcasting.

    The post Gwen’s Take: The gun debate, face to face appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Lou Gehrig whacks a double into left center in a game at Yankee Stadium in 1938. Luke Sewell is the catcher for the opponent White Sox. Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images

    Lou Gehrig whacks a double into left center in a game at Yankee Stadium in 1938. Known as the
    “Iron Horse,” Gehrig retired in 1939 after being diagnosed with ALS. Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images

    On the Fourth of July, 1939, 61,808 New York Yankees fans crowded into the House that Ruth Built. But they weren’t there for the Bambino. Not that day.

    Instead, the afternoon marked a moment of appreciation and fond farewell for Lou Gehrig, the “Iron Horse,” the first baseman who played in 2,130 consecutive games.

    The tall, once-muscular ballplayer donned his flannel, pinstriped uniform one last time on that hot July day in the Bronx. Just two weeks earlier, on June 19, he had celebrated his 36th birthday.

    On May 1, 1939, Gehrig gallantly took himself out of the lineup because he could no longer will his body to perform athletic miracles.
    On his back was the number 4, indicating his position in the batting order, right after Ruth (#3); it was the first number to be “retired” in major league baseball. Lou Gehrig approached the microphone, looked out at the vast crowd of fans, and said, “For the past two weeks, you’ve been reading about a bad break. Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth…I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for.”

    Thanks to radio broadcasts, millions more heard what is, without doubt, the most famous speech ever delivered from the diamond. And, of course, it was reprised and immortalized for many millions more by Gary Cooper in the 1942 Hollywood motion picture, “The Pride of the Yankees.” The American Film Institute later ranked “the luckiest man” speech the 38th best on its list of the 100 Greatest Movie Quotes, but these were no scripted lines. Gehrig actually said them.

    Virtually every American today, be they a baseball fan or not, knows Lou Gehrig’s “bad break” was his diagnosis with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fierce neurodegenerative disorder that robs one of muscle control, swallowing, breathing, and ultimately, life.

    Two months earlier, on May 1, 1939, Gehrig gallantly took himself out of the lineup because he could no longer will his body to perform the athletic miracles that made him, arguably, the best baseball player ever to play the game. The Hall of Famer won the Triple Crown in 1934 and was the American League’s Most Valuable Player twice, in 1927 and 1936. He was a member of six World Series Championship teams (1927, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1937, 1938) and during his 14-year career, he knocked out 493 homers and 2,721 hits, batted in 1,995 runs, and achieved a lifetime batting average of .340!

    His history of so many head injuries may well have played a role in his rapid decline and death.
    Gehrig began experiencing his first neurological symptoms in 1938, right around the time of his 35th birthday. Desperate to find out the cause of his problems, he and his wife visited the famed Mayo Clinic, from June 13 to June 19, 1939. On the 19th, Gehrig’s 36th birthday, his internist, Dr. Harold Habein, certified his diagnosis of the poorly understood, rare and typically fatal ALS.

    Today’s medical consumer would be shocked to learn that Gehrig’s doctors couched the prognosis in terms of a 50-50 chance of recovery, even though they knew this not to be so. Yet medical ethics and practice of this era often emboldened physicians to tell a patient partial truth about a lethal malady or, paternalistically, not to tell the patient at all, and, instead, only inform close relatives. Nevertheless, recovery was a belief Gehrig hung onto for the remaining two years of his life. In retirement, he took on an active role as a member of the New York City Parole Commission, but by spring 1941, he had lost too much strength to fulfill those duties. He died on June 3, 1941, just 16 days shy of 37 years of age.

    Approximately 30,000 people living in the United States have the incurable and progressive ALS, most of them are men between the ages of 40 and 70 years. Many die within a few years of being diagnosed; others, such as the famed physicist Stephen Hawking, can live for years with their brains fully functioning even though their bodies and muscles have degenerated and wasted.

    But was ALS the cause of Lou Gehrig’s death?

    Maybe not, say a group of neurologists, physicians and pathologists at the Boston University School of Medicine Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy. These doctors are presently conducting landmark research on the brains of deceased former NFL players. In 2010, they presented convincing pathological evidence that “repetitive head trauma experienced in collision sports” may be associated with the development of motor-neuron disease. In other words, repetitive head trauma, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) may result in a syndrome that mimics ALS. (Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology. 2010; 69 (9): 918-929)

    Lou Gehrig was called the Iron Horse not only for his incredible strength and speed, but also because he was always in the line-up, no matter what injury he incurred the day before. On numerous occasions, he was “beaned” by an errant pitch or hit in the face by ground balls, suffered repeated concussions, episodes of loss of consciousness, and other forms of head trauma, without the slightest protection, beyond wearing a woolen baseball cap. Gehrig collided with rapidly moving objects unrelated to the batter’s box or first base, as well. In 1924, for example, during a post-game fight with the Detroit Tigers, Gehrig took a swing at Ty Cobb, missed, fell, and hit his head on concrete pavement, only to lose consciousness for a brief period of time.

    Lou Gehrig was called the Iron Horse not only for his incredible strength and speed, but also because he was always in the line-up, no matter what injury he incurred the day before.
    It is unlikely that we will ever definitively prove whether Gehrig died of ALS or a trauma-related motor neuron disorder diagnosis. His remains were cremated and the Mayo Clinic has sealed his records. Without Gehrig’s patient chart, it is impossible to even know if an autopsy was conducted. Yet his history of so many head injuries may well have played a role in his rapid decline and death.

    The irony, of course, is that ALS is widely known and referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

    It is only over the past several years that doctors (and athletes) have focused on the long-term effects of brain injuries associated with contact sports. With each passing year, the risks and dangers of these repetitive brain injuries have become abundantly clear. Indeed, they demand a slate of safety measures, especially for youngsters who engage in such activities.

    Whatever Lou Gehrig’s precise diagnosis was, what better way to celebrate his birthday than by fighting both amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and sports-related concussions? We can attack ALS by donating money to research about its cause and treatment; and we can begin to prevent chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) by making certain the heads (and brains) of our children and loved ones are well protected whenever they engage in sporting events.

    The post Did Lou Gehrig actually die of ‘Lou Gehrig’s disease’? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Russia's track and field athletes will miss the Rio Olympics. Photo by Jim Young/REUTERS

    Russia’s track and field athletes will miss the Rio Olympics. Photo by Jim Young/REUTERS

    Russia’s track and field athletes will miss the Rio Olympics after the sport’s governing body — the International Association of Athletics Federations — opted to uphold a ban on Friday.

    The team was first banned by the IAAF in November, following a sequence of reports of performance enhancing drug use among the nation’s athletes. Russian officials responded to the ruling with disappointment, claiming they’ve tried to repair the team’s reputation with IAAF since last autumn.

    “We are extremely disappointed by the IAAF’s decision to uphold the ban on all of our track and field athletes, creating the unprecedented situation of a whole nation’s track and field athletes being banned from the Olympics,” the Russian Ministry of Sport said in a statement.

    The ministry contests that the decision blocks all of Russia’s track and field competitors from the games, regardless of whether or not they had a previous history of doping. On Wednesday, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko made a final plea, on behalf of the clean athletes, in an open letter to IAAF President Sebastian Coe.

    “Clean athletes who have dedicated years of their lives to training and who never sought to gain unfair advantage through doping should not be punished for the past actions of other individuals,” Mutko wrote, according to The Washington Post.

    Yet on the same day, the World Anti-Doping Agency released new details about the track and field team’s doping efforts, including that during a drug test, one athlete attempted (and failed) to smuggle in a sample of clean urine by hiding a container inside her body.

    Russia’s summer athletes aren’t the only ones facing a drug scandal. Last month, the New York Times reported that many of Russia’s biggest stars from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi were part of a state-run, performance-enhancing drug ring.

    The post Russia track and field banned from Rio Olympics appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    As many as 420 natural and man-made chemicals known to or likely to cause cancer were detected in blood, urine, hair and other human samples that were taken as part of a national survey. Photo by Keoni Cabral/via Flickr

    As many as 420 natural and man-made chemicals known to or likely to cause cancer were detected in blood, urine, hair and other human samples that were taken as part of a national survey. Photo by Keoni Cabral/via Flickr

    Everything from our plastic water bottles and cosmetics to our non-stick frying pans contains chemicals that accumulate in our bodies. But it is unclear what effects these chemicals might have on human health and well-being.

    A report released this week by the Environmental Working Group, a research and advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., attempts to inform part of this discussion by quantifying the extent these chemicals are found in Americans.

    “It’s hard to make the connection between being exposed to something and getting the disease because the disease is going to develop five, 10, 20 years later,” said Curt DellaValle, author of the report and a senior scientist with the group. “I hope something like this raises some awareness that these exposures are out there, there are some dangers generally … and we should work to try and reduce those exposures.”

    The group analyzed biomonitoring data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which provides a representational snapshot of the U.S. population.

    PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl), which is no longer produced in the U.S…was detected in between less than 5 percent to 100 percent of the people tested depending on the form of the chemical.
    According to their findings, as many as 420 natural and man-made chemicals known to or likely to cause cancer were detected in blood, urine, hair and other human samples that were taken as part of the survey. Arsenic, lead, nitrate, a breakdown product of the insecticide DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) and chloroform were found in nearly every person participating in the survey. Benzene, which is widely used to manufacture plastics, synthetic fibers and lubricants, was found in more than a half.

    PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl), which is no longer produced in the U.S. but may still be found in old electrical equipment and products such as fluorescent light ballasts and plastics, was detected in between less than 5 percent to 100 percent of the people tested depending on the form of the chemical.

    According to the report, nine of the chemicals were estimated to be at toxicity levels that exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s safety standards.

    Exposure to the chemicals can come from flame retardants in furniture, waterproof clothing, cookware, fragrance ingredients, pesticides or contaminated air, soil or food. Evidence suggests that some of the chemicals may cause cancer while for others the link is weaker.

    The study’s author stresses that the mere presence of these toxic chemicals has not been shown to increase cancer risks. The real matter for concern, according to the author, is the lack of understanding about how these chemicals will interact with each other when they accumulate in the body.

    Junfeng Zhang, a professor of global and environmental health at Duke University, said it’s a tough job trying to figure out if environmental exposure to chemicals leads to cancer. Proving toxicity of a chemical — such as tobacco — is easy, but finding out the level of exposure that might cause cancer is difficult. It’s a factor that is overshadowed by the recent advances in highlighting the disease’s genetic causes. The report, Zhang says, is useful for people to understand their health risks even if it doesn’t guarantee that cancer will result. Zhang was not involved in the report.

    “We introduce lots of chemicals, we have to tell people what sort of risk they have,” he said. “A carcinogen is a carcinogen, at high enough doses it will cause cancer … The number is just an indicator of risk.”

    The study comes a week after Congress passed the first reform in 40 years to the Toxic Substances Control Act, which gives the Environmental Protection Agency regulatory authority over thousands of such chemicals, and as the European Commission began consideration of increasing the regulation of endocrine disruptors — chemicals that affect the endocrine system, including PCBs, pesticides and BPA (bisphenol A).

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

    The post Harmful chemicals are everywhere, but what does that mean for your body? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Britain Horse Racing - Royal Ascot - Ascot Racecourse - 14/6/16 General view of a EU referendum themed hat Reuters / Toby Melville Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY. - RTX2G4T3

    A woman wears an EU referendum themed hat. On June 23, the United Kingdom will vote to stay in the European Union or to leave. Photo by Toby Melville/Reuters

    Editor’s Note: In a mere six days, British citizens will vote in a referendum to decide whether their country will remain a part of the European Union. Last night, in the first of a two-part series, economics correspondent Paul Solman spoke with those in favor of exiting the European Union. In tonight’s Making Sen$e report, he covers the economic case for remaining.

    While reporting in Oxford, England, Paul spoke to Helena Kennedy, a leading barrister and an expert in human rights law, civil liberties and constitutional issues. She’s also a member of the House of Lords and the head of Mansfield College at Oxford, and she’s in favor of staying in the European Union not only for economic reasons but for legal and labor reasons as well. Read that conversation below, and tune in to tonight’s Making Sen$e report for more on the topic. The following text has been edited for clarity and length.

    — Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor


    Paul Solman: To the extent that Scotland has sovereignty, it has been restrained. I gather that Scotland couldn’t put in a liquor tax because of Britain’s membership in the EU.

    Helena Kennedy: Well, Scotland wanted to increase the tax on alcohol, because alcoholism and excessive drinking is a real problem in Scotland. And so there was a period when they thought one of the ways that you can deal with that is to price it out of people’s reach. But they found that they were up against a brick wall, because there are certain limits on the range within you can tax. And to do something above that range was going to create problems with regard to obligations in Europe. And so it is one of those problems that to an American may seem very strange, because of course having state distinctiveness is an important right in the United States. But you try to have norms across borders so that you don’t run into problems making the markets all work.

    And you know I’m pushing for the same sort of thing with regard to the tax system. I want some greater sort of evenness across the tax system. We can’t have Starbucks coming in and saying they have paid their British taxes over in some other part of Europe where it’s going to be a much cheaper deal for them. In a world that is globalized and where you can choose where you pay your taxes, I want arrangements made across nations. And that’s one of the things that Europe allows us to do. It allows us to think creatively about the ways we should be collaborating.

    READ MORE: What is Brexit? 8 reads on Britain’s big choice

    Paul Solman: So the objective is equalization, but rational equalization.

    Helena Kennedy: But it’s not true equalization. It’s within bands. It’s never rigidly saying that this is the tax that you have to impose, but it’s simply saying that you can’t go too hugely outside of the bands so that you skewer the market.

    Despite having had that problem with the liquor tax, Scotland is incredibly pro being part of the European Union. And it may be that there is sort of a greater sense of history with Europe. France and Scotland particularly had very strong ties. And they certainly feel that they have benefited from being part of the European Union. They will vote to stay in. And so, too, will other bits of the United Kingdom.

    Paul Solman: So the Scots did have their sovereignty somewhat restricted, but they are still in favor of staying rather than leaving?

    Helena Kennedy: Listen, there is a kind of fiction around the business of sovereignty, and it’s very interesting that it’s the English who are busily talking about sovereignty and claiming that this shouldn’t have been done to Scotland, when the Scots in fact don’t seem to have minded it too much at all. Most nations have to surrender elements of sovereignty; as soon as they sign up to a treaty, they’re saying we are going to conform to this for the benefits that come with it. And it usually involves some kind of limitation on your own kind of swaggering decision-making that is only in your own interest. Working collaboratively with other nations usually brings benefits in the end that are greater than the restrictions that come with restraining sovereignty. So you have to make those balances. Peace and justice is the other thing. We sometimes forget that this union has been responsible for making sure that Europe keeps good relations, and in my mind, that is worth tinkering a little bit with sovereignty.

    READ MORE: Is it time to embrace the dissolution of the European Union?

    Paul Solman: But doesn’t it restrict the U.K.’s ability, to make deals with, say, former Commonwealth countries?

    Helena Kennedy: Well, in fact, there’s no doubt I would make criticism of some of the things that I think Europe has done in relation to the Commonwealth.

    I’m someone who’s in favor of staying in the European Union, but I’m not without my criticisms of it. My criticisms are very different from that of the Brexiteers, the people who want to leave. We actually do an unfairness to the Commonwealth; they often don’t get to sell their goods easily, because we have kind of created a cabal to do it together. It’s very hard for them to reach markets with some of the things they produce.

    I don’t accept the argument that we would somehow reach greater markets. We do great deals with China, with whole parts of the world, and we are made stronger by the fact that we are part of a block, and China knows that by entering into deals with us, it will open gates into other parts of Europe. And vice verse: gates into other markets are opened to us by our being in the European Union.

    WATCH MORE: Brexit: the case for leaving

    Paul Solman: Well, the Brexiteers who I talked to who are undergraduates here, definitely made the point that by being part of this trading cabal, as you put it, other countries are being excluded. They mentioned developing countries like India, but they also mentioned Australia and New Zealand.

    Helena Kennedy: What is being recognized in globalization is that being the sole operator, far from giving you this swaggering independence and freedom, actually makes you low on the list of people that nations want to do business with. They want to do business with bigger blocks, and a tiny, wee country like the U.K., isn’t going to figure very well in all of that, but if you are part of something bigger — doing deals with the U.K. means also doing deals with the whole of Europe – that actually takes us into markets that we would probably not be able to access with the greatest of ease.

    Paul Solman: So what are the great advantages of being in the European Union?

    Helena Kennedy: For me, it’s more than economic union. For me, it’s about belonging to a part of the world that I feel we have great links and history with, and I think that culturally we are enriched by those associations.

    The other thing about it is that I really do believe that it’s about raising of standards. During the period of Thatcherism, we saw a huge attack upon the trade unions. And British Trade Unionism has been absolutely emasculated. But the interesting thing is that many of the protections in employment that we still have, have been maintained because we are part of the European Union structure. There are certain social chapter elements, which many, of course, of the right-wing Brexiteers don’t like. But they’ve given us better maternity leave, paternity leave, rights for fathers to have time off and limitations on the hours people are expected to work. Those things have been part of our obligation, because we are part of the European Union. And that benefits workers in Britain considerably.

    Paul Solman: But immigration does drive down wages if it’s lower income people competing with lower income people.

    Helena Kennedy: Yes, but your answer to that would be: Are we going to see a return to trade unions? Are we going to see a return to the things that kept wages higher? And I don’t see that happening under the group of people who are vociferously wanting to pull us out. I don’t think that workers’ wages are going to be increased by the people who are leading this fray to come out.

    It’s often not acknowledged enough that a lot of good things have come from our belonging to this union of nations. And some of it has to do with human rights and with law. Increasingly, European law is invested with human rights standards, and that’s incredibly important, and it also sets standards for the whole of Europe.

    READ MORE: As Brexit vote approaches, why some have no confidence in European Union

    Paul Solman: But wasn’t that initiated in large part by the U.K.?

    Helena Kennedy: Absolutely in the early days, but it’s forgotten by the Brexiteers. The other thing is that we collaborate with Europe on has to do with security. I’m a lawyer, and we have a thing called the Euro warrant, and it makes it much easier, for example, to deal with trafficking in drugs, trafficking in arms and trafficking in people, because we can arrest people who flee this jurisdiction and get them brought back with much greater ease than would be possible if we weren’t part of this collaboration.

    People think that it is always going to be as before — just without us having to play by the rules. Don’t kid yourself. That’s not going to happen. When people say, “I want a divorce, we’re all going to do this in a nice, civilized way,” we always know that once they start talking money and all of that, it becomes a rather different story, and it starts getting a bit uglier. And all I can say is that I don’t think it’s going to be the easy journey that the Brexiteers imagine, which is, “We’ll just come out and carry on as before,” because a lot of the good stuff and the good will, will not be there.

    Paul Solman: Is there any argument that you’re sympathetic to with respect to leaving?

    Helena Kennedy: I’m sympathetic to the need for reform in the European Union. I think it is overly bureaucratic. I think that it isn’t sufficiently transparent and democratic. I have many of the criticisms that the Brexiteers have, but I think that the answer to that is to reform it better. The answer to undemocratic protests is to democratize them. I think we should have much closer links with Parliaments in the nation states.

    The post The case for Britain to stay in the EU appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Government leaders said Friday they would not allow Istanbul’s gay pride parade to go forward, citing safety concerns.

    “We ask our valuable Istanbul residents to not heed such calls [to march in the parade] and to help the Security Forces by following their warnings,” the Istanbul governor’s office said in a statement.

    The city has been under tightened security in recent months following a series of terror attacks linked to the Islamic State group and Kurdish militants, The Guardian reported.

    Ultra-nationalist groups, like the youth group Alperen Hearths, have also threatened those in the LGBT community. The Alperen Hearths promised to stop the June 26 parade, calling participants “degenerates.”

    The right-wing newspaper Yeni Akit also reported the news of the June 12 shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando with a headline referring to victims as “perverts,” The Huffington Post reported.

    Despite the threats, parade organizers are speaking out against the ban. They promised to take the issue to court.

    “The governor’s office has chosen to waste human rights and freedoms rather than take precautions against threats,” the organizers of the LGBT Pride Week is quoted as saying in a statement on Facebook.

    Supporters also said on Twitter they wanted to march in solidarity with the Orlando victims.

    The parade, which is thought to be the largest pride parade in the Muslim world, was also shut down last year. Instanbul’s governor banned the event on the grounds that it coincided with Ramadan.

    The post Citing security concerns, Turkey bans Istanbul’s gay pride march appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Anti-government demonstrators hold placards reading "No Brexit" during a protest outside the parliament in Athens, Greece June 15, 2016. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis - RTX2GFHW

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first: It is less than a week until voters in the United Kingdom decide whether to stay or leave the European Union.

    Campaigning was suspended for a second straight day today because of the shooting death of a lawmaker.

    Last night, our economics correspondent, Paul Solman, explored the arguments in favor of Brexit, or exiting the E.U.

    Tonight, he hears the case for remaining. It’s part of his series on Making Sense of financial news.

    MICHAEL HESELTINE, Former Deputy Prime Minister, United Kingdom: This is a two-tiered debate, hearts and minds.

    PAUL SOLMAN: At the Oxford Debate Union last week, the audience seemed to side with those in favor of the United Kingdom remaining in the European Union.

    ALEX SALMOND, Scottish National Party MP: I have never heard the phrase workers’ rights come out the mouth of any of the three of the leading protagonists.

    MICHAEL HESELTINE: The man in the desert is sovereign, he is free, he can do whatever he likes, but he has no power. We’re better together.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And the remain sentiment certainly prevails at Mansfield College, where I’m spending the spring term.

    LUCINDA RUMSEY, Senior Tutor, Mansfield College: We should definitely stay in Europe, absolutely, unambiguously.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Lucinda Rumsey teaches old English literature.

    LUCINDA RUMSEY: We should be in Europe, because it’s good for Europe to have us in. And we should be contributing. We’re a rich country, and we should be contributing and helping people.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But why then has there been so much support for leaving? Well, one reason, Rumsey speculates:

    LUCINDA RUMSEY: Lots of English people hate the French, hate the Germans since the — kind of since the wars, and so they kind of come back to that. They don’t want to be in that club with those people. They just don’t like them; they haven’t liked them since the 13th century. They’re not going to like them now.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But put prejudice aside, says Paul Flather, who runs the Europaeum, an association of top European universities. The costs of leaving, he says, are simply too great.

    PAUL FLATHER, Secretary-General, Europaeum: Every single financial economic report of the last two weeks have unanimously pointed out that we will have between 2 and 4 percent down on growth.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Because of less trade?

    PAUL FLATHER: Because of less trade, because of having to renegotiate agreements and not being able to sell things, of tariffs, losing markets. I think 40 percent of our exports go to Europe. Only 3 percent of theirs come to us.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Economics, the key to conservative Prime Minister David Cameron’s case for remain.

    DAVID CAMERON, Prime Minister, United Kingdom: The shock to our economy after leaving Europe would tip the country into recession. This could be, for the first time in history, a recession brought on ourselves.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And what about Mansfield’s students?

    ROSHAN FOROUHI, Student: I’m for remaining.

    ELLA GRODZINSKI, Student: I think we should remain as well.

    PETER BERGAMIN, Student: Remain.

    LUKE CHARTERS-REID, Student: Yes, I think Britain should remain.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Luke Charters-Reid came to Oxford from a low-status state school.

    LUKE CHARTERS-REID: I think pretty much all the students I spoke to want to stay in Europe. I think it’s better off for students who are thinking about the jobs for when we leave, and I think those jobs are more secure if we remain in Europe.

    ELLA GRODZINSKI: The lack of confidence people would have of a Britain outside of Europe would itself cause losses in jobs.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Ella Grodzinski says no one can predict what would happen.

    ELLA GRODZINSKI: But it seems to me that the predictions of what will happen if we stay are much more solid and grounded than the predictions of what will happen if we leave.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Roshan Forouhi is more emphatic.

    ROSHAN FOROUHI: The world is going to carry on globalizing without us. For me personally, I would perceive the opportunities in the job markets to be more international, and I would probably leave Britain, whereas, if we remain, I have a strong case for remaining in Britain myself.

    PAUL SOLMAN: So you think that there is a possibility of brain drain, essentially.?

    ROSHAN FOROUHI: Absolutely. The job markets will shift abroad, more to the states, more to Germany, more to the emerging markets in Asia. And the prominence of London as a financial sector will massively decline if we leave.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But wait a second. These kids go to Oxford. Their futures are assured. What about Britons who feel their wages, jobs and safety are threatened by immigration?

    Peter Bergamin hails from Canada.

    PETER BERGAMIN: I think, when times get tight, people tend to look for easy answers or easy solutions. And this is exactly what’s happening now. This is why you can see the moves towards these kind of populist leaders. And they approach things from, let’s say, a primordial, nationalistic perspective, right?

    It’s all about ethnicity on some level, Britishness on some level, which usually means a certain stereotype.

    PAUL FLATHER: I sense that there’s been a failure on the part of the governing elites. I don’t think we have explained properly what changes are happening in the world and the benefits of being in a big club, in an international, much more interdependent, much more complicated world.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Paul Flather has been a journalist, diplomat, and professor in England, but was raised in India.

    PAUL FLATHER: I actually came as a migrant on a boat through the Suez Canal, but I’m so British that I sometimes put, you know, other Brits to shame, you know, the village green, the sound of cricket bats, and sunny teas and lovely sandwiches. But we can’t pull up the drawbridge.

    HELENA KENNEDY, Principal, Mansfield College: Listen, there is a kind of fiction around the business of sovereignty.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Mansfield’s head of college, Baroness Helena Kennedy, is also a human rights lawyer and a Labor party member of the House of Lords.

    HELENA KENNEDY: being the sole operator, far from giving you this swaggering, you know, independence and freedom, actually makes you low on the list of people that nations want to do business with. They want to do business with bigger blocs.

    And a tiny, wee country like the U.K. isn’t going to figure very well in all that.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But in the end, says Kennedy, the remain case is bigger than just economics.

    HELENA KENNEDY: Europe is a union of nations, making us close enough that we would never think of ever getting involved in conflict again, about coming together in order to defeat things like fascism, to coming together to prevent the kind of horror that I imagine could easily happen just now.

    MICHAEL HESELTINE: So that the self-interests of this country, driven by people like you, is as important in the generations to come as it has been in the generations of which I have been privileged to be a part.

    PAUL SOLMAN: So, finally, how did the vote go at the Oxford Debate Union?; 227 in favor of remaining, only 79 for Brexit.

    Next week, we will see if the rest of the country mirrors those results in any way at all.

    This is economics correspondent Paul Solman, reporting from Oxford, England.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: At the moment, polls show more British voters are in favor of leaving the European Union. But the betting markets, which have often been more accurate, see it differently. There, the wagers are weighted toward Britain staying in.

    The post Is the economic cost of Brexit too great? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Syria Democratic Forces fighters take positions as they await U.S.-led air strikes on Manbij's mills where Islamic State militants are positioned, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria June 16, 2016. REUTERS/Rodi Said - RTX2GMD1

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you end the war in Syria? It is a question that has plagued world leaders since the start of the devastating civil conflict there.

    Today, we learned more about the extent of disagreement inside the U.S. State Department about the course set by President Obama.

    Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner reports.

    MARGARET WARNER: For five years, the savage Syria conflict has killed some 400,000 and put millions more to flight.

    Now 51 mid-level diplomatic officials have gone on record advocating a dramatic shift in U.S. strategy. They have signed an internal so-called dissent letter, calling for targeted military strikes against President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

    The dissenters argue it would help bring Assad to the negotiating table and deal a major blow to ISIS. The document remains secret, but Andrew Tabler, an expert on Syria at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, is familiar with the document’s contents.

    ANDREW TABLER, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy: If the Assad regime violates the cessation of hostilities and uses it to further its position on the battlefield, in such cases, military force could be used. Second, if humanitarian assistance is not provided or is impeded in some way, military force could be used.

    MARGARET WARNER: In Copenhagen today, Secretary of State John Kerry said he had not yet seen the memo, but welcomed it.

    JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: I think it’s an important statement, and I respect the process very, very much, and I will probably meet with people or have a chance to talk with them when we get back.

    MARGARET WARNER: The memo came through a channel created for State Department employees to register policy disagreements without retaliation. When conflict first broke out in 2011, President Obama called for ousting Assad. And in 2012, he threatened military action.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: A red line for us is, we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus.

    MARGARET WARNER: But after a regime chemical attack killed more than 1,000 Syrians in August 2013, the president didn’t launch military strikes, nor step up arming the Syrian rebels.

    More recently, he’s launched U.S. airstrikes in Syria, but only against ISIS. Instead, Russia intervened last fall on Assad’s behalf, bolstering him. Today, Russian air attacks hit anti-Assad rebels battling is in Southern Syria.

    A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin warned today any U.S. move targeting Assad’s forces would plunge the region into total chaos.

    Andrew Tabler’s response?

    ANDREW TABLER: If you look at this, over time, whether it’s the United States and the threat of use of military force in 2013 or Israel’s continued use of strikes inside of Syria, this is something that the Assad regime is known to respond to.

    MARGARET WARNER: All of this comes as a February cease-fire has largely dissolved. It did let humanitarian aid reach some Syrian communities, but others remain cut off by Assad loyalists. And peace talks backed by Secretary of State Kerry and the Russians have shown no progress.

    An August 1 deadline for a political transition won’t be met. Plans now are only to resume talks then.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And Margaret joins me now.

    So, Margaret, how unusual is this, to have so many diplomats weigh in like this?

    MARGARET WARNER: You put your finger on it, Judy. It’s unprecedented in the memory of anyone in the history of the State Department.

    Usually, these are solo letters, maybe three or four. There was a little flurry during the Iraq War. Never have you seen 51. And that just shows the depth of the frustration. And I talked to Ambassador — former Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford who actually, as you know, two years ago resigned publicly because he felt he couldn’t support the policy, that the president wasn’t supporting the opposition sufficiently.

    And he said, when you’re in the State Department, you must follow the commander in chief. If you can’t, you have to resign. And he said the grave danger for these mid-level people is, they’re all people with young families with mortgages to pay, and it can be risky, even though the rule is no retaliation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Margaret, how widely held are these views in the State Department?

    MARGARET WARNER: They are widely held, Judy, from the people I talk to not only at State, but in intelligence and defense agencies, which is, you have got 400,000 dead and all these millions driven from their home.

    And whether or not we could have done anything about it, clearly, whatever has been tried has been a failure. But for some of these officers who are acting to try to implement the policy, as Fred Hof, who used to be the envoy to the Syrian opposition, and he first resigned in protest at the lack of action, he said — and I thought it’s was very touching — he said, this gap between belief and duty has weighed heavily on some very conscientious officials, younger officials.

    And by that, he meant duty to the commander in chief — you’re not the elected one — but a belief that this whole policy is leading us down to more destruction.

    The post State Department officials push for military intervention in Syria appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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