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

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    Businesswomen listening to colleague in office

    Bringing different points of view to the table turbocharges problem solving, as the results of science and innovation competitions attest. Photo by Getty Images

    For many, innovation calls to mind images of mad scientists and genius engineers. The hyperspecialization they represent is, however, only part of the story. In fact, nurturing a broad range of perspectives is just as critical for progress as monolithic domain expertise.

    READ MORE: What do the liberal arts have to do with business? A lot, actually

    Bringing different points of view to the table turbocharges problem solving, as the results of science and innovation competitions attest. In these contests, organizations offer prizes to those who offer the best solution to an engineering or scientific problem. In a 2010 study of 166 science competitions, researchers Lars Bo Jeppesen and Karim R. Lakhani found that submissions were more likely to win when offered either by a woman or someone coming from a field different than the one at hand — yet another reason for business to embrace gender equality.

    The success of these two overlapping groups suggested that a diversity of perspectives can generate better solutions, particularly if social or technical outsiders are included. (The authors consider women outsiders in this context because they are subject to “systematic social exclusion…in the natural sciences.”) Less constrained by the baggage of conventional thought within a domain, outsiders can offer novel ideas and independent assessments. Distance from an issue, it seems, is an asset, not a liability.

    In the 18th century, the British government offered a large prize to anyone who could invent a technique for measuring longitude while at sea… the winning answer came from a clockmaker, not an astronomer.

    In the 18th century, the British government offered a large prize to anyone who could invent a technique for measuring longitude while at sea. Jeppesen and Lakhani point out that “Sir Isaac Newton, the principal scientific advisor on the Longitude Board, had boldly asserted that only astronomical solutions were possible and were anyway to be preferred.” But the winning answer came from a clockmaker, not an astronomer — a testament to how difficult it is to predict where progress will come from in advance.

    We have seen a proliferation of innovation competitions supplying a wealth of similar stories. For instance, a marine scientist was able to fix a health shake company’s problem with the coloring of its product thanks to his experience working with seawater. In another example, a chemist with no experience in the petroleum industry proposed a novel solution to an oil spill cleanup. The answer came to him by serendipity, informed by his experience working a summer job in construction. As a research program manager from the Oil Spill Research Institute put it, “Within the oil-spill response industry, there are a limited number of people to work on these problems… I’m fascinated to see that our winning solution uses related technology found in the cement industry. We would never have found this through our regular process.”

    READ MORE: Career tip: Embrace your planning, but beware your plans

    Outsiders solve problems by applying their unique points of view in unpredictable ways. And it’s not just disparate experts that can add value in this manner. Users are another vital source of independent perspective. In a 2012 study, the scholars Marion K. Poetz and Martin Schreier examined an Austrian company’s attempt to gather product ideas both from in-house experts and users. Judging the contributions blindly, the company’s executives found the users’ ideas to be both more novel and more beneficial to consumers than that of the professionals.

    The creativity of amateurs is not particularly surprising: There are countless examples of innovations we take for granted coming from users. For instance, according to MIT Sloan’s Eric Von Hippel and two co-authors, “The skateboard was developed and built by children for their own use. They did it by taking apart a kind of roller skate that attached to shoes and hammering the skate wheels onto boards (thus, ‘skateboard’).” Or take Twitter, where users first adopted retweets, hashtags and @-replies as conventions before they were built into the architecture of the social network.

    Less constrained by the baggage of conventional thought within a domain, outsiders can offer novel ideas and independent assessments.

    While having a wide range of viewpoints on a team is critical, it’s also extremely useful to have a breadth of perspective within each team member. Another competition study found that participants with experience in a range of domains were more likely to make substantial contributions. They were also more likely to help moderate discussion and provide feedback to their peers. As the authors put it, “Apparently, a broad stock of knowledge…helps participants understand the solutions provided by others, and so enables individuals to combine previous suggestions in a meaningful way.”

    Breadth of communities complements a broad base of knowledge. Social scientists studying a music technology forum found that “people who spanned communities were confronted by other means of solving problems that spurred their ability to innovate and provoked the community members to think differently.” From their knowledge base to their social ties, individuals’ breadth can be just as important as breadth across a team.

    READ MORE: Ask the Headhunter: Employers, stop trying to hire a superhero

    Recruiters of all stripes should keep this in mind when trying to find the elusive “perfect” match for an open position. Why not consider a less obvious candidate for a tough-to-fill position?  He or she might offer fresh perspectives, independent thinking and much-needed freedom from prevailing logic.

    Because many innovations arise from combining distinct perspectives in unexpected ways, we should seek out those with viewpoints different from our own. Bottom line: In a world that prizes hyperspecialization above all else, the power of breadth can differentiate you from the crowd.

    The post Column: Why different viewpoints lead us to the best solutions appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    FILE PHOTO --  David Duke, former Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, speaks to journalists on a street in central Barcelona, November 24, 2007, after the suspension of an initially planned news conference on the Spanish version of his book "Jewish Supremacy" (Supremacismo Judio).  REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino/File Photo

    FILE PHOTO — David Duke, former Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, speaks to journalists on a street in central Barcelona, November 24, 2007, after the suspension of an initially planned news conference on the Spanish version of his book “Jewish Supremacy” (Supremacismo Judio). REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino/File Photo

    BATON ROUGE, La. — Declaring “the climate of this country has moved in my direction,” white supremacist David Duke registered Friday for Louisiana’s U.S. Senate race, saying he was partially spurred by the recent shooting deaths of three law enforcement officers by a black man.

    “I believe my time has come,” the former Ku Klux Klan leader said after submitting his paperwork for the ballot. He added: “The people of this country, the patriotic, decent, God-fearing people of this country are now right with me.”

    Duke’s candidacy comes one day after Donald Trump accepted the GOP nomination for president, and Duke said he’s espoused principles for years that are similar to the themes Republicans are now supporting in Trump’s campaign, on issues such as immigration and trade.

    He said Americans are “embracing the core issues I have fought for my entire life.”

    Duke, 66, is registered with the GOP, but Republicans at the state and federal level quickly denounced his Senate bid.

    Roger Villere, chairman of the Republican Party of Louisiana, said in a statement the party “will play an active role in opposing” him, calling Duke a “hate-filled fraud who does not embody the values of the Republican Party.” Ward Baker, with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Duke will not have the support of his organization “under any circumstance.”

    Trump faced criticism from some GOP leaders for failing during the primary season to immediately denounce the tacit endorsement of Duke, who once told his radio show audience that a vote for any other candidate “is really treason to your heritage.” Trump eventually did disavow Duke. Trump’s campaign didn’t release any statement on Duke Friday.

    The launch of Duke’s campaign comes as Louisiana is grappling with deep racial tensions after the shooting death of a black man by white police officers and the killing of three law enforcement officers. Duke said he was “shattered” by the slayings of police.

    In a lengthy speech, Duke talked of the “massive racial discrimination going on right now against European Americans,” and what he called a biased media working against him. He called the Black Lives Matter movement a “terrorist organization” and said he wanted equal rights for everyone.

    “You don’t come together by a narrative in the controlled media that white people are evil and black people are faultless. You come together on the idea that every people in this country have a right to respect, every people have a right to fairness,” he said.

    Duke is among two dozen candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot seeking the open Senate seat. Republican David Vitter is not running for re-election. Republican and Democrat opponents sought to distance themselves from Duke’s campaign, with many offering critical statements of his candidacy.

    In Metairie, a predominantly white and Republican stronghold in the New Orleans area where Duke once was elected to the state House of Representatives, voters expressed mixed feelings about Duke’s interest in returning into politics.

    Maria Fox, a 68-year-old housewife who came to the United States from Nicaragua, was pleased that Duke is running.

    “Many, many years ago he woke up the consciousness of this country and this state just like Trump is doing to the country,” she said.

    Chuck Diesel, a 46-year-old Republican and bass player, shook his head at the news that Duke was running, calling him a “Nazi.” But he gave Duke no chance of winning.

    “Every time he’s tipped his toe back in, it’s zero chance,” he said.

    Duke reacted angrily to a question about whether he remained involved with the KKK. He said he was active with the organization for four years in the mid-1970s. He described it “four decades ago in a nonviolent group.”

    Duke’s last tenure in elected office was more than two decades ago, in the state legislature. He’s run unsuccessfully for Congress. His failed bid for governor in the 1991 race against former Gov. Edwin Edwards — who was later convicted of corruption — was one of Louisiana’s most high-profile elections, with Duke opponents proudly showing bumper stickers supporting Edwards that read “Vote for the crook. It’s important.”

    Edwards said Duke would have a “hard row to hoe” in the upcoming election but there might be a “niche” for him.

    “There’s a great deal of racial unrest in the country, and he may capitalize on it,” Edwards said.

    Duke also starts with name recognition that other candidates don’t have, Edwards said.

    Raymond Jetson, an African-American pastor in Baton Rouge who was a state lawmaker during Duke’s tenure, said Duke can potentially thrive with the national political scene currently so divided.

    “You have a climate that … highlights and stresses the divisions within us, a climate that in so many ways has a strong racial overtone and challenge to it,” Jetson said.

    A convicted felon, Duke pleaded guilty in 2002 to bilking his supporters and cheating on his taxes. He spent a year in federal prison, but later denied any wrongdoing.

    The post White supremacist David Duke runs for U.S. Senate, says ‘My time has come’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by

    Bongekile Sokhela consults with Dr. Richard Lessells at Hlabisa Provincial Hospital in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. Sokhela has both HIV and tuberculosis — a brutal, one-two punch that’s exacerbating epidemics of both diseases in South Africa. Photo by William Brangham/PBS NewsHour

    On a Wednesday morning in April, a line of 600 HIV-infected people snakes through the hallways to the first waiting room of the Themba Lethu Clinic, a wing of the Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa. In most places in the country, where clinics are overtaxed, this would presage a wait of up to 10 hours. But here something different is happening. Staffers at computer monitors swiftly log in people and dispatch them for triage or, if they have tuberculosis, a special area away from others. Those who only need their antiretroviral (ARV) drugs walk directly to the pharmacists, who retrieve each patient’s electronic medical record and use a robotic system to pull drugs from shelves and fill orders. The average wait time is 30 minutes to two hours to complete a doctor or nurse visit and 15 minutes at the pharmacy. A prototype ATM promises to further speed visits by directly dispensing ARV pills; one day, it is hoped, similar pill machines in shopping malls could make some clinic visits unnecessary.

    LEARN MORE FROM OUR SERIES: THE END OF AIDS?

    “This is an awesomely efficient place,” says Dr. Ian Sanne, who heads Right to Care, a nongovernmental organization that runs this and several other clinics in collaboration with the health department. In developed countries, where patients complain about much shorter waits, this boast might seem absurd. But in South Africa, the Themba Lethu Clinic is celebrated as an example of what can be done to care for large numbers of HIV-infected people. This is at once a compliment to the clinic and a hint of the country’s overwhelming HIV/AIDS challenge.

    South Africa has pledged to ramp up efforts to end its massive HIV/AIDS epidemic, the world’s largest. Come September, it will offer every infected person ARVs, which both stave off disease and make people less infectious. The immediate goal is to reach what is known as 90-90-90 by 2020: to have 90 percent of infected people aware of their status, 90 percent of known positives start ARVs, and 90 percent of that group drive the amount of virus in their bloodstream down to un-detectable levels. The theory is that as viral levels drop, transmission will, too, leading the epidemic to spiral downward. This 90-90-90 target is the cornerstone of a grand campaign, articulated by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and widely embraced by world leaders, to end the AIDS epidemic “as a global public health threat” by 2030.

    In a nation estimated to have at least 6.6 million HIV-infected people—18 percent of the world’s total—the drive to hit 90-90-90 by 2020 seems overly ambitious to many experts. And the obstacles faced by South Africa provide a sobering reality check to the lofty, laudable aspiration of ending AIDS, a topic that promises to occupy center stage later this month in Durban at the biannual International AIDS Conference.

    Models and reality

    South Africa has already made enormous gains against its HIV/AIDS epidemic. When it last hosted this international gathering in 2000, then-President Thabo Mbeki and his health minister questioned whether HIV even causes AIDS, triggering widespread outrage. At the time, only the wealthiest South Africans had access to ARVs, which cost about $5,000 per person for an annual supply. But by the end of 2015, the price had dropped to $100, and 3.4 million HIV-infected South Africans were receiving ARVs—more than in any other country in the world. South Africa, in fact, consumes the same amount of the life-saving drugs as Asia and the Pacific, North America, and western and central Europe combined.

    Photo by

    Themba Lethu Clinic has a prototype ATM machine to dispense ARVs. Dr. Ian Sanne, who came up with the idea, hopes to place these ATMs in shopping malls around the country, potentially eliminating the need for many HIV-infected people to visit pharmacies to pick up their meds. Photo by Jon Cohen/Science magazine

    As a result, life expectancy jumped nine years between 2005, when ARVs started to become widely available, and 2014. The country has pioneered innovative ways to deliver the drugs and help people stay on them. And South Africa’s strong cadre of HIV/AIDS investigators has made the country a hub of cutting-edge basic research and clinical trials. “Given our resources, we’ve done amazing things,” says Glenda Gray, an HIV/AIDS researcher who heads South Africa’s Medical Research Council in Cape Town.

    Yet almost half the infected population today is still untreated. Some have not suffered enough immune damage from the virus to merit ARVs under current government policy. Many other infected people don’t know their status or never seek care, and still others who start treatment have difficulty taking their daily pills for years on end. Estimates suggest that because of failures in this “care continuum,” only about one in four HIV-infected South Africans has fully suppressed the virus. “We have to ride two horses at the same time,” says Fareed Abdullah, who heads the quasi-governmental South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) in Pretoria. “One is to improve our system so that the more than 3 million on treatment are retained in care and properly managed, and we also have to expand to a group that is largely asymptomatic and well.”

    Adding to those challenges is South Africa’s alarming HIV incidence—the percentage of the population that becomes infected each year. The government reports that HIV incidence has dropped from a high of 1.67 percent in adults in 2005 to 1.22 percent last year, but that still translates into 330,000 new infections a year. The rate is shockingly high in women under 25, especially in the hardest hit province, KwaZulu-Natal, where incidence tops 6 percent in some communities.

    Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, who acknowledges that the country’s aggressive HIV/AIDS program got off to a late start because of Mbeki, is confident that South Africa has the willpower and the money to hit 90-90-90. “Can we afford not to treat people?” Motsoaledi asks. “Surely, we’re going to pay much more dearly socially, politically, and economically if you can’t.” To that end, the government, which already spends $1.2 billion a year on HIV/AIDS and receives another $300 million in foreign aid, is adding $65 million annually through 2019.

    But a new report concludes that meeting the UNAIDS target will require an additional $8 billion over the next five years. “UNAIDS is pushing very hard on our health ministry, which doesn’t want to be caught short again and wants to make the case that we can reach 90-90-90,” says Linda-Gail Bekker, who co-runs the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation (DTHF) in Cape Town and is one of the co-authors of the report. The cost of drugs is just one part of the equation, she says. Reaching the target will also require massive HIV testing and the costly delivery of ARVs to patients who must be monitored and then helped if they’re not suppressing the virus. “I’m really, really anxious about the resources it’s going to take.”

    Photo by

    Outreach workers test elderly residents of Mfekayi, South Africa, as part of the Treatment as Prevention trial being run by the Africa Centre. Residents are tested every six months and those found to be infected receive access to antiretroviral drugs immediately. Photo by Jason Kane/PBS NewsHour

    There are scientific questions, too. The assumption that reaching the 90-90-90 target will end AIDS is based on mathematical models that factor in ARV “coverage” in combination with other proven prevention strategies like male circumcision, condom promotion, and behavior change efforts. Researchers note that in large epidemics like the one in South Africa, which has spread far beyond “concentrated” populations such as men who have sex with men and sex workers, such strategies could prove less effective than expected, allowing HIV to continue spreading at high rates even after the country reaches 90-90-90.

    Epidemiologist Salim Abdool Karim, who runs the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) in Durban, points to recent data from Botswana that call into question the model’s assumptions. Botswana, which is relatively wealthy and has a tiny population of 2 million, has nearly reached 90-90-90, as shown in a study published online on 23 March in The Lancet. But incidence has barely budged, in part because the missing 10-10-10 continue to spread the virus. “For a country that’s close to 90-90-90, the incidence is ridiculously high,” Karim says. “It’s scandalous.” A report published by SANAC and the health department further questions the 90-90-90 mathematical modeling. Even if 90-90-90 leads to big declines in new infections by 2030, that report suggests that incidence in South Africa’s population of 53 million will not quite drop below 0.1 percent—the level that UNAIDS says it must reach for an epidemic to end.

    The bottom line is that it remains an open question whether the 90-90-90 treatment goal really can stop the spread of HIV in South Africa. Some of the world’s largest controlled trials of treatment as prevention (TasP) are underway in the country to try to answer it.

    In an area known as Mfekayi in rural KwaZulu-Natal, two dozen people are sitting on the shaded porch of a plywood shack waiting their turn to see a counselor. The shack is the Egedeni Clinic, and the people are participants in a 28,000-person, multisite clinical trial that will assess the precise relationship between increased levels of HIV suppression in a community and drops in incidence. At Egedeni and 10 other clinics across the province, the TasP study offers ARVs to all infected participants. Another 11 TasP clinics instead offer treatment in keeping with current government recommendations, meaning that people start ARVs only after their immune systems show signs of damage.

    One by one, the participants hand bottles of ARVs they received a month earlier to the counselors, who count the remaining pills. This ritual, which is a crude way to monitor adherence, underscores an obvious limitation of the underlying strategy: Even if ARVs make people less infectious, TasP relies on the fickle relationship humans have with taking daily medications.

    Run by the Africa Centre for Population Health in nearby Mtubatuba, TasP is the furthest along of four similar large trials in sub-Saharan Africa that are examining the care continuum and the real-world outcome of “universal treatment.” Early analysis of TasP results found that fewer than 40 percent of the people who tested positive sought care within three months, as recommended. This first step still has remained a major stumbling block on the road to 90-90-90.

    At the International AIDS Conference later this month, the researchers plan to reveal whether their intervention has reduced incidence. “This will be the first opportunity to assess whether, in fact, the bio-logical rationale is actually true in practice,” says Deenan Pillay, a clinical virologist who heads the Africa Centre. But Pillay says the study already has made clear that ending AIDS is not simply a matter of “let’s just treat everyone and everything will be OK.” In the final analysis, he says, the power of TasP depends as much on human behavior as it does on biology.

    Photo by

    At the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Youth Center in Cape Town’s Masiphumelele Township, teens from hang out after school and play games, surf the Internet, stage plays, and, if they want, get tested for HIV. Photo by Jason Kane/PBS NewsHour

    Jacqualine Ncube, a 19-year-old restaurant worker, first took an HIV test when she was in high school. At the time, Ncube spent many hours after school hanging out at DTHF’s Youth Centre, which abuts the struggling township of Masiphumelele outside of Cape Town. The Youth Centre offers teens internet access, holds soccer matches, loans surfboards, and provides care at a health clinic. Kids also earn “Tutus,” good for shopping vouchers or food, for every-thing from helping the community to taking an HIV test. When Ncube got her first results, she was overwhelmed. “I really screamed,” she says. She was negative.

    Ncube has repeatedly tested negative, and in April 2015 she joined the Youth Centre’s Pillsplus, a study of what’s known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, in 150 teens. With PrEP, uninfected people take daily ARV pills to prevent infection. Although PrEP is a proven strategy, South Africa recommends its use only in sex workers, and Ncube is one of the first heterosexual teens in the world to take ARVs for prevention. She still uses condoms with her boyfriend, but says she wanted to try PrEP because “no protection is 100 percent.”

    DTHF’s Bekker, who is heading Pillsplus to assess PrEP’s acceptability in teens, contends that PrEP should be provided to all people at high risk of infection. “When I sit opposite a 17-year-old young woman, I have nothing to offer her,” Bekker says.

    CAPRISA’s Karim says using PrEP in young women could be key to breaking the epidemic’s back. About 30 percent of new infections in South Africa occur in young women between 15 and 24 years of age. The new infection rate in men in the same age bracket is more than four times lower. In some districts of KwaZulu-Natal, a woman has a 60 percent chance of becoming infected by age 34.

    Sex and age

    To understand the pattern of viral spread, CAPRISA and the Africa Centre mapped out the infection cycle between men and women of different ages in KwaZulu-Natal. The study analyzed the genetic sequences of HIV isolated from 858 men and women, all between 16 and 35 years old, who belonged to the same sexual networks. The viral genetics linked different isolates and indicated which ones were older, allowing the researchers to infer who infected whom. Teenage girls were infected by men who were, on average, eight years older. After the age of 24, people typically became infected by partners their own age, with transmission more frequently moving from woman to man. “They are trying to find lifetime partners at this age,” Karim says. These older men are the same group having sex with the youngest women. “We have to break the chain between men in their late 20s and teen girls,” he says.

    PrEP can help address shortcomings of TasP, Karim says. In the infection-cycle study, men who infected younger women had extremely high HIV levels, indicating they recently acquired the virus and thus would not appear infected on standard antibody-based tests. “If your strategy is to test and treat these people, you’re not going to catch them,” Karim says. Men are also less connected to the health care system and often migrate for work, he adds, making it more difficult to help those who know they are infected fully suppress the virus. Giving PrEP to young women sidesteps the male dilemma. “We just have to protect girls for five years in that critical risk period until they find their partners,” he says.

    Karim says new biomedical interventions on the horizon may bolster prevention efforts. His group plans to report at the Durban meeting that it has identified an unusual microbe linked to vaginal inflammation in women in KwaZulu-Natal. Treating it could potentially lower their risk of HIV infection. Injectable ARVs that last for two months are also being tested in South Africa and elsewhere, and those could eliminate the challenge of taking daily pills—a key problem for both treatment and PrEP. Next fall, South Africa plans to launch the world’s only efficacy trial of an AIDS vaccine—the strongest preventive medicine of all.

    READ MORE: How vaginal bacteria could be stoking HIV cases and blocking prevention

    For now, 90-90-90 is the most powerful tool available to South Africa in its quest to end its epidemic, even if PrEP and other new strategies ultimately are needed. SANAC’s Abdullah takes a pragmatic view of meeting the UNAIDS deadline. “I think we should plan for it, because if we don’t hit it by 2020, we’ll do it by 2022,” he predicts. “What we’re really after is bringing down new infections to low levels,” along with getting as many HIV-infected people as possible on treatment and living longer lives. The virus itself, Abdullah says, “will be with us for the next 100 years.”

    “South Africa’s bid to end AIDS” has been reprinted with permission from AAAS. The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting provided support for the reporting in this story.

    The post Can South Africa meet its ambitious goal to end AIDS? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The Department of Justice uncovered a $1 billion scheme that referred Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries who did not qualify to skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

    The Justice Department has convicted three people who allegedly defrauded Medicare and Medicaid in a $1 billion scheme in Miami.

    “This is the largest single criminal health care fraud case ever brought against individuals by the Department of Justice,” said Leslie R. Caldwell, Assistant Attorney General the department’s criminal division, in a statement issued Friday.

    Philip Esformes, 47, allegedly led a scheme that referred Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries who did not qualify to skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. Esformes owned 30 such facilities, giving him access to thousands of beneficiaries. Also charged in the scheme are hospital administrator Odette Barcha, 49, and physician’s assistant, Arnaldo Carmouze, 56.

    The three also took kickbacks, disguised as charitable donations or paid in cash, for directing the beneficiaries to selected health care providers, including pharmacies, health care agencies and mental health centers, according to investigators.

    Attorneys representing Esformes said he did nothing wrong.

    “Mr. Esformes is a respected and well-regarded businessman. He is devoted to his family and his religion,” according to his lawyers’ statement, the Miami Herald reported. “The government allegations appear to come from people who were caught breaking the law and are now hoping to gain reduced sentences. Mr Esformes adamantly denies these allegations and will fight hard to clear his name.”

    Esformes has a history of conducting health care fraud–in 2006 he paid $15.4 million after civil federal health care fraud charges emerged, according to the Department of Justice. Since then, the agency said Esformes and others adapted their scheme so as to go undetected by law enforcement.

    The post Three charged in $1 billion Medicare fraud scheme appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    shieldsbrooks

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Back to politics now, and to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    And we welcome both of you, after four interesting days in Cleveland together.

    MARK SHIELDS: We can’t get enough of it.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re right.

    So, everybody’s speculating, Mark Shields, about Hillary Clinton’s choice for vice president. In fact, we just got word a few minutes ago that maybe she is going to tweet about it in the next few minutes. We’re keeping an eye on that.

    But, meantime, what should we be — what do we know at this point about what she’s thinking? Do you have insights that you want to share with us?

    MARK SHIELDS: I do.

    I have in my pocket — no, Hillary Clinton has emphasized that she is afflicted with or possessed of the responsibility gene. And that is that she takes a serious responsibility of her appointments and the people around her. And that’s probably the strongest argument that can be made for Tim Kaine, the senator from Virginia, who you tried — you talked with Hilary Rosen.

    But I have no inside information. And Bill Clinton, of course, went off the reservation, as he has more than once, by recommending Tim Kaine , which probably may put him in jeopardy, because now it looks like, if she does pick him, that he somehow would — she would be bowing to the big fellow’s will or direction or influence. I don’t know.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, what do your direct sources in the Clinton camp tell you?

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, it’s interesting to watch the two candidacies go — they used to go for geographical opposites or ideological opposites.

    Now they are apparently going for temperamental opposites, because Donald Trump picked a remarkably nice guy in Mike Pence. And the three people who are most often talked about with Hillary Clinton, whether it’s Tim Kaine or Vilsack or Cory Booker, they are three extremely nice people.

    And we will have a tonal change between the presidential debates and the vice presidential debates which will blow your mind. They are all — especially Kaine, sunny dispositions, open personalities and extremely likable.

    And so, as with the case of Pence, giving a little aurora of likability to a candidate, a lead candidate who’s a little lacking in that department.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, this is a decision, Mark. They say the choice of a vice presidential running mate doesn’t make all that much difference in the outcome, but it does tell you something about the thinking of the person who is running for president, doesn’t it?

    MARK SHIELDS: Absolutely, Judy.

    And remember this. The person you’re choosing is going to be 90 feet down the hall for four years. That’s a pretty intimate and close relationship, and it better be somebody you’re comfortable with, you like, you trust, you look forward to seeing, not someone you’re coming up with creative ideas on how to avoid.

    I had one very prominent and partisan Republican say to me that he personally hoped that Secretary Clinton would choose Tim Kaine. And I asked why. And they said because he’d like one of the four people running for vice president to be somebody he thought could be president, which I thought was quite a tribute and testimony itself.

    But it does tell you, I mean, whether you’re comfortable. I think David’s point is a very good one, that Mike Pence is a sunny conservative. I thought he had a good convention. And I think that the people that are publicly on her short list all are very congenial people. They’re not people with personality or Captain Queeg problems.

    JEFFREY BROWN: David, what would you add to that?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

    I think I agree, especially on the plausible president point. Kaine has been obviously a governor. He’s been a senator. He’s one of the smartest rising stars in the Democratic Party. He is very plausible as someone who could sit in and be president.

    Jim Stavridis is the former NATO commander who is sometimes on people’s lists, also very plausible, self-possessed, someone with sobriety. And so there’s so much strangeness in this year. These are all people who do seem relatively normal, relatively stable and warm, but not without gravitas in their own way.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, David, let me stay with you, because I was going to turn right now and ask you both about assessing the convention that we all have been watching closely over the week.

    But Donald Trump actually stepped into a little more controversy today. He had a news conference. He talked about how he didn’t want Ted Cruz’s endorsement, even if Cruz offered it. And he went on to bring up, to resurrect controversy in the past when he suggested that Cruz’s father might have some connection to the John F. Kennedy assassination, comments about the looks of Ted Cruz’s wife.

    What does this say to us about Donald Trump?

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, he has teleprompter moments, but they always precede a relapse.

    And he’s had another Trump-being-Trump relapse. And we should get used to that. He’s never going to be someone who’s normal or is on message or who is particularly charitable to anybody.

    My two big takeaways 24 hours later, first, I’m beginning to think Cruz had a good convention, that if Trump goes down, Cruz is pretty well positioned to be the Republican major figure in four, six or even within two years.

    The second big thing, we talked about it last night, his decision to go law and order. And at the moment, I thought it was a mistake, because I do think economic and social anxiety is the number one issue. And I’m pretty confident Hillary Clinton will be really riding that train pretty hard.

    But what happened in Munich today, if there is a series of attacks like that or, God forbid, if ISIS is really sending soldiers across Europe and maybe across the world for a barrage of these things, then the political climate is revolutionized here. And maybe the Trump speech will look like a precursor to a climate that we’re all about to walk into.

    So the Munich thing has to adjust the way we look back at that convention.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, what about that?

    Does — we talked about the law and order emphasis from Donald Trump’s remarks last night. Does he automatically benefit from incidents like this one today in Munich?

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes. Yes, he does.

    Judy, the pattern of American presidential elections is that the more optimistic candidate, whether it’s John Kennedy and let’s get America moving again, Ronald Reagan, it’s morning in America, or Barack Obama, yes, we can, always wins, or nearly always wins.

    And that’s been tapped into sort of the DNA of Americans, that optimism and confidence. We are not nearly as optimistic and far less confident than we were as a people. And Donald Trump is writing a different theme, which is it’s midnight in America and that things are bad, and they’re bleak, and they’re gloomy and they’re doomy, and the only thing that is going to save you is someone with the authority and power of somebody like me.

    And so I personally believe that he’s wrong on the condition of America.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: About the condition…

    MARK SHIELDS: We’re not being invaded by undocumented immigrants who are coming to kill police officers and commit crimes.

    I don’t think that’s true. And I don’t think most Americans think it’s true, but it does reinforce his argument, as the law and order candidate, when there are acts of such reckless and terrible, horrific lawlessness as there was today in Munich.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, David, all in all, this was a good convention for Donald Trump?

    DAVID BROOKS: I would say I would give it maybe a five out of 10. It was shambolically organized.

    I still think the speech was relentlessly negative and probably off-key, but it did hammer home some points. And the one thing I do think Hillary Clinton really has to do in her convention is to rebut this frame that Trump has set up, nationalism vs. globalism. She cannot appear as a globalist, whatever that means.

    She’s beginning to do that by talking about American greatness, but that’s the task in front of her.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What about that, Mark? What does she need to do?

    MARK SHIELDS: I think she has got to be optimistic. I think she has to be — she has to reveal herself. I mean…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you mean? She’s been around for a long time.

    MARK SHIELDS: I mean, there are people who know Hillary Clinton who tell wonderful stories about her, how likable she is, how funny she is; 99 percent of American people don’t — have never seen that side of her.

    Whether it’s her guarded privacy or whatever else, I mean, there has got to be some sense that this is a human being that I can identify.

    Let me argue with David, dissent with him on Ted Cruz. If Donald Trump does lose, and especially if he loses the way that David describes, being revealed as this bizarre personality, Ted Cruz is not going to be what Republicans are looking for in 2020.

    Dan Coats, retiring senator from Indiana, a mild-mannered man, a former United States ambassador to Germany, former congressman, a respected member of the Senate, said of Ted Cruz after this week in Cleveland he’s the most self-centered, narcissistic, pathological liar I have ever seen. And he said, you can quote me on that.

    Now, this is the kind of feeling that his colleagues have. People are going to be asking anybody at 2020 after this kind of election that David and I both expect it to be, what kind of person is this? Is this somebody we can be comfortable, somebody we can be confident in, somebody who is not neurotic or worse?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re talking about Ted Cruz at this point.

    (CROSSTALK)

    MARK SHIELDS: And Donald Trump.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Donald Trump agrees with him.

    MARK SHIELDS: That’s right. Right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, what about Mark’s point about Hillary Clinton needs to show more of who she really is, something personal about herself? What about that?

    DAVID BROOKS: It is true there is a contrast between the candidates.

    It is absolutely true the people who work for Hillary Clinton speak of her in glowing terms and say she’s loyal, she’s thoughtful, she thinks about them, she remembers birthdays. When something bad has happened, she’s there for them.

    These are not stories you hear about Donald Trump. Nobody is saying, I wish — the Trump I know is so personal and warm. Nobody says that. Even if his own daughter, when she talks — Ivanka, when she talks about her dad, it’s because she got to go see him on a work site. It’s not because he is ever at home.

    But, with Hillary, there is apparently this warm side that she has never let us see, but that intimates really do talk about. But to reveal that would mean breaking through the wall of distrust that she’s encased herself in for the last 25 years.

    And I’m not sure she’s — she’s never shown a personal willingness to do that, because it makes her vulnerable. And her emotional invulnerability has at once made her survive, but has hurt her politically and her likability ratings. So, I really don’t expect her to do that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Just very quickly to both of you, there was such a vitriolic — no other word for it — hatred of Hillary Clinton, with the “Lock her up” and “Hillary to Prison” coming out of the Republican Convention.

    David, quickly, is there something she can do to undo that animus, or is it just baked in?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I don’t think she can do anything.

    It will be interesting to see how much animus there is against Donald Trump and whether we have the same sort of emotional tone.

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes, Democrats, if they’re smart and they’re not brain-dead, are doing two things right now.

    They’re having self-deprecating humor written for them. There was no humor in Cleveland. And they are not making this a Donald Trump…

    (CROSSTALK)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Bashing convention.

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, David Brooks, get some rest this weekend. We will see you Monday at the convention in Philadelphia. Thank you both.

    The post Shields and Brooks on the Hillary Clinton veepstakes, the latest Trump-Cruz dustup appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO of Fox News and Fox Television Stations, answers questions during a panel discussion at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Pasadena, California July 24, 2006.  REUTERS/Fred Prouser (UNITED STATES) - RTR1FSPM

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: a big shakeup in television news, and a media and political bombshell, as Roger Ailes is ousted as the head of FOX News.

    Jeffrey Brown reports.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It all unfolded quickly, in a matter of weeks, after former FOX anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment suit against Roger Ailes, longtime head of FOX News.

    Ailes denied the charges. But 21st Century Fox, the cable network’s parent company, hired a law firm to conduct an investigation. According to Carlson’s lawyers, 20 or more other women then came forward with claims about Ailes’ conduct, including Megyn Kelly, one of the network’s star anchors.

    Publicly, many other prominent on-air personalities at FOX, including Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Greta Van Susteren, backed Ailes and said they were unaware of any inappropriate behavior.

    Rupert Murdoch issued a statement late yesterday without referring to the harassment charges, saying that: “Roger Ailes has made a remarkable contribution to our company and our country. Roger shared my vision of a great and independent television organization and executed it brilliantly over 20 great years.”

    Roger Ailes, now 76, has been an influential figure for decades in Republican politics, as an adviser and strategist to Presidents Nixon, Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He created FOX News 20 years ago and built it into the most-watched cable news channel.

    BRIT HUME, FOX News: More news is on the way, fair, balanced and unafraid.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Promoted as an alternative to traditional mainstream media. It has been a huge moneymaker for its parent company, and a target for critics of its conservative tone and team.

    Ailes said this in a 2004 interview with C-SPAN’S Brian Lamb:

    ROGER AILES, Former FOX News Executive: Well, we have changed the business a little bit. I think FOX News has come on the scene and identified itself as fair and balanced. We try to do that every day. I think others, instead of trying to get more fair and balanced, probably are offended by that or worried about it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Rupert Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan, will now decide on a successor to Roger Ailes and the future of the network he built.

    And joining me now, Jane Hall, a journalism professor at American University who previously served as a media reporter for The Los Angeles Times and commentator at FOX News, and Ken Doctor, who writes on the media business for Politico and on his blog, Newsonomics.

    Welcome to both of you.

    Ken, let me start with you.

    You watched this all unfold. Was it the accumulation of charges? What in the end led to Roger Ailes being ousted?

    KEN DOCTOR, Media Analyst, Newsonomics: It was. It was.

    And it’s an extraordinary event, as you laid out, and it’s almost operatic to have it happen, the final parting, on the day of the Trump acceptance. It was a culmination. It was clearly a frat boy kind of culture that has been characteristic of FOX News for a long time, and that’s not going to change overnight.

    So now the Murdochs are going to have to face that question. And we know the Murdoch sons are in charge of the business for the first time. Roger Ailes had kind of pushed them off. And they’re going to have to confront both the workplace question of, what kind of workplace is it? Is it a “Mad Men” workplace or a 20th century workplace? And some significant business issues ahead.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, before we look ahead, Jane Hall, why now? Because some of this had been out there. There was a biography of Roger Ailes by Gabe Sherman a few years ago. What do you see happening? What was your reaction?

    JANE HALL, American University: Well, I think — I hope that it means that the world has changed.

    The younger Murdochs didn’t particularly like Roger Ailes, but I think the fact that so many women, including, reportedly, Megyn Kelly came forward — Ailes has denied this. And we have to say that, of course.

    But with the accumulation of these charges, I think that this is not something that you can countenance in a modern media organization. He ruled and invented FOX News. And I think they do face the kinds of challenges that Ken is saying.

    But I do hope it means that someone would be investigated, that they took this seriously. It’s been so much a part of our culture that women who were sexually harassed — even go back to Anita Hill’s charges — were not taken seriously. So I’m hopeful this means that even a powerful person can be investigated for this.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Jane, you wrote an op-ed today in The New York Times.

    JANE HALL: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And you wrote of FOX as a perfect reflection of Ailes himself. In what sense? In what sense did he come to help shape political discourse?

    JANE HALL: Well, he is a brilliant television producer. And he created the jazzy graphics on the screen. He hired Bill O’Reilly. He brought in a number of people. He brought Megyn Kelly on board.

    He had a great eye for talent. What I think has happened is his fair and balanced slogan is really not accurate. They have pounded home lines like government takeover, Obama is soft on terrorism, Hillary is crooked. As I said in the piece, I don’t think we would have Donald Trump if we didn’t have Roger Ailes.

    But the network is absolutely a reflection of his vision. The only other person I can think of is Roone Arledge, who created ABC News and ABC Sports, who has had the same kind of impact. He merged politics, though, and a kind of bifurcated take-no-prisoners style that I think has hurt our discourse.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, so, Ken Doctor, come back to this question of, what happens next? Do key people stay? Does the network change course or change style?

    KEN DOCTOR: Well, I think we will have an interview leader.

    Yesterday, when Rupert Murdoch made his statement, we actually had an 85-year-old replacing a 76-year-old, which has got to be an interim situation. FOX has to get through the election. It is by far the number one network. This is its election. But that is four months away.

    I think we will see an interim leader who will come in there and soothe the waters. This company had the same issue, Dow Jones, just a couple of years ago. And they did that, and they did it well.

    But then they really have to look, as we get into 2017, of what’s the nature of cable news. And we’re going to see major changes, as we’re seeing live-streaming of things like the Republican Convention all over the place. We are going to see other sites from BuzzFeed and The New York Times be able to do the same thing that FOX and CNN are doing.

    And, of course ,the business model is changing because the bundle, buying 250 channels and paying a dollar a month for FOX, which is what most of us pay, is being replaced.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Right. It’s changing, but, Ken, no denying the success of FOX News. Right?

    KEN DOCTOR: Huge success, $1.5 billion a year in profit, and that’s 20 percent of the profit of 21st Century Fox.

    So they are going to handle this very carefully. And they have got contracts coming up for some of their major personalities. Let’s remember that four months ago Donald Trump said to somebody, well, if the election doesn’t work out, there is Trump News Network. And now he can hire Roger Ailes to run it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And, Jane, just in our last minute here, 9.3 million viewers last night, had the highest viewership of the convention night last night.

    JANE HALL: It did. They’re still a powerhouse.

    I will point out that their average age has been creeping up and it was already in the mid-60s. They are not growing a younger audience. And I think that is a problem. And CNN used to not do so well because they didn’t have the true believer base. But they have been gaining on them.

    It’s not a sure thing that they will continue to do this. They have a base that is extraordinary.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And just very briefly, that younger generation that you were talking about coming in of leadership, do you see any potential change in its course, I mean, for FOX News?

    JANE HALL: For FOX News?

    I have heard different theories. One is they’re going to — everybody who is closely associated with him may leave. Maybe they will bring in somebody new. The fact that he said he was going to be an adviser, I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes to work with Donald Trump. He sort of created Donald Trump inadvertently. It may be a marriage we might see.

    JEFFREY BROWN: OK.

    Jane Hall, Ken Doctor, thank you both very much.

    KEN DOCTOR: Welcome.

    The post The long rise and very quick fall of Fox News boss Roger Ailes appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A woman holds a child after disembarking from the Italian Navy ship Borsini in the Sicilian harbour of Palermo, southern Italy, July 20, 2016. REUTERS/ Guglielmo Mangiapane - RTSIWUV

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first: Latest figures from Save the Children show that nearly 13,000 children have been rescued so far this year while trying to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa to Italy.

    Of those, more than 11,000 are unaccompanied and under the age of 18.

    In the second of his reports from the Aquarius, a ship run by Doctors Without Borders, or MSF, and SOS Mediterranee, special correspondent Malcolm Brabant looks at the plight of women and children on these high seas.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: This serene night watch on the bridge of the Aquarius marked the end of a week when strong winds and high waves had prevented rafts from launching from the Libyan coast. But as the sea calmed down, a flotilla left the Libyan beaches and this boat was quickly in trouble.

    MAN: I think, at the moment, it’s reported that 26 women and five children, six of the 26 women.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Initially, rescuers thought this woman wasn’t breathing. One day, these babies and toddlers will be told just how close they came to death. They were soaked in petrol from leaking canisters for the outboard engine.

    Mixed with saltwater, the fuel causes serious burns. The traffickers’ callousness extended to denying the children life jackets. Revived, the patient was told to quickly shower the petrol off her skin to avoid burns.

    WOMAN: They are all crying. The kids are screaming. They’re babies. And the women seem quite in shock.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Still nauseous from the fumes, mothers, sisters, and daughters were too overwhelmed to recognize that after enduring the Sahara Desert, the anarchy of Libya and the capriciousness of the waves, they had just stepped back through the portal of humanity.

    WOMAN: Everybody is infested with fuel. The smell of fuel is gigantic. People are suffocating because of the fumes. And people are wet. There’s no food. There’s no water, and the quality of the boat is far below average. So they’re lucky.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Within an hour of being rescued, Manuela, a 2-year-old, who was always dancing on land, is dancing again below deck, testimony to the resilience of children.

    Although too young to understand the nature of their salvation, the kids instinctively responded to the protective atmosphere of the air-conditioned women and children’s sanctuary, separated from the men.

    International relief agencies say they’re extremely concerned about the major upswing in the number of children who are making this most perilous of journeys. The voyage between Turkey and Greece is bad enough, but this one is many, many, many times worse. Among those risking their lives are unaccompanied minors.

    Inside, in one of the areas behind me, there are three boys who are less than 12 years old. And because of international child protection procedures, we’re not able to talk to them about their ordeal.

    MSF’s coordinator on the Aquarius, Ferry Schippers, shares the views of the U.N.’s children fund, UNICEF, that unaccompanied minors face abuse, exploitation and death every step of their journey.

    FERRY SCHIPPERS, Advocacy Manager, Doctors Without Borders: They’re exploited on shore, forced to work to earn some money to pay for passage. It’s easier to force younger people to do something. They’re picked up by armed individual groups, unscrupulous men, and they are put into so-called detention centers, old factories, old warehouse. They are beaten, mistreated.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Out on deck, Manuela is reunited with her father. In the sanctuary, midwife Angi Perri is checking on the pregnant mothers and providing them with the first basic health care many of them have received in months.

    ANGI PERRI, Midwife: They are tried. They came with a lot of shock. They were crying all together. But after taking a shower, we reassured them that the situation I think is very stable and very, very nice.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: How lucky do you think they were?

    ANGI PERRI: They were very, very lucky because the trip tonight was a trip that we consider risky, because the weather wasn’t really good in the past days. Now they have food. They can recover very easily. So they were lucky, because the risk of traveling in the sea with a rubber boat is very high always. So this is very nice. For me, I am very happy today.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Twenty-seven-year-old Sophie Agbo comes from Cameroon, a West African country that has problems with the Boko Haram Islamist group, and also economic hardship.

    SOPHIE AGBO, Refugee: I left Cameroon, because, in Cameroon, there’s not — I wanted to go out to come and find — to look for my future.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Two hours after being plucked from the sea, she’s had time to reflect on the dangers of the journey.

    SOPHIE AGBO: I don’t know that I can describe it, but the journey was very bad. But thank God for that. I just thank God, because the God that took me from Cameroon to here, I just appreciate, to give the glory and honor to him.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Maria from Ivory Coast could only give single-word answers about her desperate journey, but her mother, who wanted to be identified as Fatima, claimed she has been calm throughout, fortified by her faith.

    FATIMA, Migrant from Ivory Coast (through translator): When I was at sea, I prayed to God to allow us to triumph and to save us. We could not have arrived without the help of the savior. We have the savior, and we have been saved.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: But at the far end of the sanctuary, 22-year-old Aseman, who is due to give birth to a son in two months’ time, was more forthcoming. She had traveled from Eritrea, sometimes described as the North Korea of Africa.

    ASEMAN, Migrant from Eritrea (through translator): I am so happy to be safely on board this ship. Recently, many Eritreans capsized. About 700 or 800 came by wooden boat. A lot of our brothers and sisters died. But we took a small rubber boat, which is very dangerous.

    I am so fortunate and happy to survive. I wouldn’t advise anyone to risk taking this journey because there are so many problems. But people are obliged to leave their country, because they have no choice. If the Eritrean government were to introduce democracy and decent living standards, then it would be preferable to stay.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Their stay on the Aquarius ended quickly, as they were transferred to another boat that would take them and other migrants to Italy. Their gamble paid off, just.

    Now they face a battle for acceptance in a Europe that has no solutions to the exodus from Africa. They leave behind a sea that for most Europeans is a holiday paradise. Out here, it’s another world.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” this is Malcolm Brabant off the Libyan coast.

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    Colli Albani—a volcanic complex of hills some 30 kilometers outside Rome—has been a hidden threat. It seemed extinct because through all human history there was no clear record that it had erupted. Photo by MM via Wikimedia Commons

    Colli Albani—a volcanic complex of hills some 30 kilometers outside Rome—has been a hidden threat. It seemed extinct because through all human history there was no clear record that it had erupted. Photo by MM via Wikimedia Commons

    Italy is a hotspot for hazardous volcanoes. As the crust of Africa’s tectonic plate burrows beneath that of Eurasia, magma rises from below, leading to nearly a dozen explosive mountains throughout the country. Vesuvius and Etna are the most infamous. But Colli Albani—a volcanic complex of hills some 30 kilometers outside Rome—has been a hidden threat. It seemed extinct because through all human history there was no clear record that it had erupted. Then in the 1990s scientists noticed that the hills were rising and an earthquake swarm shook the ground. Puffs of carbon dioxide seeped out of cracks in the hillside and silently killed roaming animals. Scientists started to dig further—literally—and found evidence that 11 eruptions had occurred over the last 600,000 years, proving the volcano was not extinct but dormant.

    In a new study published in Geophysical Research Letters, Fabrizio Marra of Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology and his colleagues suggest that Colli Albani is now waking from a long slumber. Because of Rome’s close proximity and the number of towns in the hills—the Pope’s summer residence in Castel Gondolfo among them—the possibility has drawn scientists in for a closer look, and has triggered a debate over the volcano’s near-term danger.

    Marra’s team collected samples of ash and lava from six past eruptions over the last 365,000 years and shipped them to Brian Jicha, a geochronologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, who dated the samples in his lab using the rate of decay of radioactive isotopes in the material as a kind of atomic clock. Jicha’s dates suggest that the eruptions happen at fairly regular intervals, and the most recent series occurred about every 31,000 years during the last 100,000 years. But the last one was 36,000 years ago.

    “The quiescent time has overrun the recurrence time of 31,000 years, a fact that indicates that the volcanic system is ready for a new eruption,” Marra says.

    The system appears overdue. But that alone does not suggest that the volcano is entering a new eruptive phase. Marra’s team points to a number of other indicators. In particular, new satellite data and geologic evidence revealed ongoing inflation—the hills have swelled by 50 meters over the last 200,000 years—which is likely caused by magma slowly seeping toward the surface. Previous research also hinted at this uplift but scientists did not know if that uplift was short-lived or continuing.

    “It’s pretty clear that this is not a system that you can call inactive,” says Alberto Malinverno, a geologist from Columbia University who was not involved with the research. “It seems to have these spurts of activity over timescales that are long for human beings, but it’s there.”

    Capitoline Hill in the very center of Rome is made of the huge deposits of volcanic rock that erupted during a large explosive phase at Colli Albani. The Tufo Lionato deposit and Tufo del Palatino date back 365,000 and 530,000 years. The Tufo Giallo di Prima Porta deposit was erupted by separate volcanic district northeast of Rome, called the Monti Sabatini, and dates to 515,000 years ago.

    Capitoline Hill in the very center of Rome is made of the huge deposits of volcanic rock that erupted during a large explosive phase at Colli Albani. The Tufo Lionato deposit and Tufo del Palatino date back 365,000 and 530,000 years. The Tufo Giallo di Prima Porta deposit was erupted by separate volcanic district northeast of Rome, called the Monti Sabatini, and dates to 515,000 years ago.

    Marra and his colleagues think the regular cycle of Colli Albani’s eruptions can be explained by changes in the region’s crust. Throughout the volcano’s quiescent time the land above was being pushed together by the surrounding geology, keeping the magma bubble sealed. But the pressure within the magma chamber built until it could overcome the compressive strength of the land above. Marra’s data suggest that this transition occurred in the last few thousand years.

    “It’s like you’re baking a cake and a bubble develops in the cake,” Malinverno says. “You can see that the crust in the surface at some point is going to split.”

    It has likely already started to open new pathways that will eventually allow magma to breach the surface. The volcano will erupt, the system will settle down, return to its sealed state and the cycle will begin again.

    Whereas Marra’s data suggests that the system is currently refilling its magma chambers, it still takes thousands of years to lead to an eruption, Marra cautions.

    “It is important to say that there is no sign at the moment that an eruption could happen soon,” he says. “For at least 1,000 to 2,000 years, such an event is very unlikely.”

    Adding to the uncertainty, not every scientist agrees that the volcano is entering an eruptive phase. Quiescent volcanoes, argues Guido Giordano, a geologist at Roma Tre University who was not involved in the research, can show similar signs of volcanic unrest. Even without new magma infiltrating the system, the old magma (even as it cools) continues to heat the ground above, leading to carbon dioxide release, seismic swarms and ground deformation.

    “If we have evidence—for example something geophysical—that suggests that something has changed, we have to cross-check that evidence with other evidence—for example something geochemical—before we can reach the conclusion that there is evidence of unrest, meaning input of new magma that may increase the level of hazards,” he says. “That’s the bottom line.” Giordano sees no other evidence of new magma entering the system, which suggests to him Colli Albani is dormant.

    Although Marra and Giordano disagree about the current state of the volcano, both say it is unstable and characterized by many well-known hazards, so scientists need to watch it closely.

    “I think the most important conclusion is not to go into a panic about the future of Rome but that this is an area that we need to keep tabs on and monitor with care,” Malinverno says.

    This article is reproduced with permission from Scientific American. It was first published on July 22, 2016. Find the original story here.

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    Cotton grows in a field around a home in Florence, Alabama October 23, 2015. Fields along the Mississippi River Delta once gleamed white in the autumn with acre upon acre of cotton ready to be picked. This year U.S. farmers planted the fewest acres of cotton since 1983, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. REUTERS/Brian Snyder PICTURE 9 OF 28 FOR WIDER IMAGE STORY "THE LEGACY OF 'KING COTTON' IN THE AMERICAN SOUTH" SEARCH "KING COTTON" FOR ALL IMAGES - RTS7H6P

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: While all eyes were on Ohio this week, we look now at another Cleveland, this one in the Mississippi Delta, where poverty and economic mobility are worse than anywhere else in the developed world.

    This report is part of our series How the Deck is Stacked. It’s funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and a collaboration from American Public Media’s Marketplace, and PBS’ “Frontline” and the “NewsHour.”

    Kai Ryssdal of Marketplace has the story.

    KAI RYSSDAL: The Mississippi Delta is known for music and for juke joints like this one, and for rich agricultural land.

    Cotton was once the main crop here, now mostly corn. Despite how fertile the ground is here, one in five households live below the poverty line, and, in fact, Mississippi is ranked 50th out of 50 states by poverty rate; 68-year-old Catherine Wilson has lived here her whole life.

    CATHERINE WILSON, Cleveland-area resident: Back then, in the ’60s, just like we had to move from home to home because we didn’t have enough to eat, enough money to survive on.

    KAI RYSSDAL: In 1964, President Johnson introduced legislation to deal with a national poverty rate that was almost 20 percent. It became known as the war on poverty. Jobs training, adult education and loans were all part of the plan.

    In April of 1967, Senator Robert Kennedy visited the Delta to have a look for himself at how bad the poverty was.

    So, this is 1967. That’s Bobby Kennedy right there. And who is that lady in the striped dress? Yes. Pretty good, huh.

    CATHERINE WILSON: That’s good.

    KAI RYSSDAL: That’s a smile, right? Do you remember that?

    CATHERINE WILSON: Yes, I remember the day he came, all right.

    KAI RYSSDAL: What did he want to know? What did he ask you about?

    CATHERINE WILSON: Asking about what did we want to see done. They said they want jobs and housing.

    KAI RYSSDAL: Blacks in the Delta had historically worked the land, but mechanization and pesticides meant fewer jobs and less money.

    CATHERINE WILSON: We have come a long ways since back then. We were so poor and struggling, we didn’t have anything. But right now, a lot of people have got jobs. They couldn’t get no jobs back then.

    KAI RYSSDAL: Catherine Wilson lives alone in a place called Freedom Village, built originally to house those displaced farm workers.

    Peter Edelman was an aide to Bobby Kennedy. He was with him on that 1967 trip to the Delta.

    PETER EDELMAN, Former Aide to Sen. Robert Kennedy: He said to me as we went from one house to the next that he — this was worse than anything he’d ever seen in a Third World country.

    KAI RYSSDAL: Marian Wright had been working in the Delta, opening Head Start offices to help low-income families. She’s the one who convinced Kennedy to come to Mississippi.

    There is a little bit of romance in this story. Marian Wright and Peter Edelman met on that trip to the Delta. They have been married for almost 40 years. Marian Wright Edelman went on to create the Children’s Defense Fund.

    Catherine Wilson, meanwhile, did get some education and training from programs that grew out of the war on poverty. But the economy today isn’t the same economy that we had half-a-century ago.

    PETER EDELMAN: What has happened over the last 40 years is that we have had a major change in our economy. Good jobs have gone to technology, to globalization. And the consequence is that half of our population is not earning enough to support their families, and a whole lot of them can’t find jobs at all.

    KAI RYSSDAL: Catherine Wilson’s had a whole series of part-time jobs, but she’s never made much money. She has survived mostly on government assistance. She’s now on Social Security now; 22 percent of the people in Mississippi rely on food stamps.

    WOMAN: Some things have gotten better. We have got a middle class that wasn’t there.

    KAI RYSSDAL: But there’s still lots missing.

    WOMAN: Over 80 percent of the black children in Mississippi cannot read or compute at grade level in 4th or 8th grade. What is a child going to do if they can’t read and compute at the most basic levels?

    KAI RYSSDAL: In Cleveland, those basic levels are determined, in part, by literally what side of the tracks you grew up on. Economic mobility, or the lack of it, is plain to see. The unemployment rate for whites is 6 percent; for African-Americans, it is 22 percent.

    TRAVIS CALVIN, Delta State University Mobile Music Lab: Our goal with this project to promote racial healing in our community.

    KAI RYSSDAL: Travis Calvin runs the Delta State University Mobile Music Lab. It’s a refurbished school bus outfitted with a complete recording studio.

    TRAVIS CALVIN: I grew up in Clarksdale, Mississippi. It’s about 30 miles north of here. Just like the Delta, it’s rich in history, rich in the blues, rich in musical culture, but a really bad town when it comes to crime rate. I came to Delta State, and it was my way out. So I feel like its my duty to pay it forward.

    KAI RYSSDAL: The program Travis runs, it’s called Healing With a Groove, focuses on young men of color, guys like 16-year-old A’Midius Sigle (ph).

    What would your life be like if you hadn’t found this?

    A’MIDIUS SIGLE, Student: I don’t know. I would probably be in a world I don’t need to be in. A lot of my friends, like, they don’t do stuff they don’t need to do. That’s why I don’t hang with some of them.

    KAI RYSSDAL: Mike Carr (ph) is from the other side of the tracks. He’s a public defender in Cleveland.

    MIKE CARR, Cleveland Resident: It was a wonderful place to grow up, but I’m very privileged, all right? I grew up with two parents that were middle-class, that were educated, that encouraged me.

    KAI RYSSDAL: Not all kids, though, in this town, have that same deal. Right?

    MIKE CARR: No, absolutely not. I spend 70 percent of my practice dealing with people who are at the bottom of the barrel, in the sense that they have not only just financially absolutely nothing, but just emotionally they also have absolutely nothing.

    KAI RYSSDAL: Nationwide, the wealth gap between white and black households has grown dramatically since the great recession. According to a report from the Pew Research Center, White households have net worths 13 times higher than black families do.

    In Cleveland, the median income for a black family is less than half of that for a white family.

    JIMMY WILSON, Restaurant Owner: We’re still divided, to a certain extent.

    KAI RYSSDAL: Do you feel it? Do you feel it everyday?

    JIMMY WILSON: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. But you can’t say nothing about it, you know?

    KAI RYSSDAL: Lifelong Cleveland resident Jimmy Wilson has owned this soul food restaurant since 1994, once a meeting spot for civil rights activists and leaders like Martin Luther King Jr.

    JIMMY WILSON: Right during the civil rights movement, all the people that would come into Cleveland would meet here. It was Lily’s Cafe back then.

    KAI RYSSDAL: When you look around today, though, at the young people in this town, where do they go when they get out of high school?

    JIMMY WILSON: Most of them is in the streets. They don’t go anywhere. They into drug business, because there’s no jobs here. And because there is no jobs, the education standard is not where it needs to be to entice companies to want to come here.

    KAI RYSSDAL: So, Bobby Kennedy comes here in 1967, right, almost 50 years ago.

    JIMMY WILSON: Yes.

    KAI RYSSDAL: Has it been wasted time?

    JIMMY WILSON: Has been wasted time.

    KAI RYSSDAL: Catherine Wilson is more optimistic. She’d like to see freedom village become a place to help those in need.

    CATHERINE WILSON: I ain’t given up Freedom Village. I still believe.

    KAI RYSSDAL: For the “PBS NewsHour” in Cleveland, Mississippi, this is Kai Ryssdal.

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    Supporters cheer as U.S. Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign event at the Culinary Academy Training Center in North Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. July 19, 2016.  REUTERS/David Becker - RTSIRD2

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now a closer look at the Democratic ticket and the strategy behind Hillary Clinton’s potential coming vice presidential pick.

    We turn to longtime Democratic consultant Hilary Rosen, who joins us from Philadelphia, the site of next week’s convention.

    Hilary, Hilary Rosen, welcome.

    So, what are your sources and what do your instincts tell you?

    HILARY ROSEN, Democratic Consultant: Well, my instinct tell me that Democrats are ready for this convention. There is a big contrast that we’re excited to have between the sort of hostile and pessimistic show that the Republicans put on this past week in Cleveland and the optimism that Democrats are going to feel this week.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And for all the speculation right now, and there’s been a lot of it, so much of it seems to be directed at Virginia Governor — or Senator, I should say, former Governor and now Senator Tim Kaine. What do you think about that? What would be the calculation in a Tim Kaine choice?

    HILARY ROSEN: Tim Kaine’s been governor. He’s been a senator, as you just said. He’s been a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. He knows a lot about domestic policy. He’s a fluent Spanish speaker.

    He would be an excellent pick for Hillary Clinton. He checks a lot of boxes. Virginia’s a battleground state. One thing that’s interesting about this V.P. selection over the last 10 days, I have noticed with Democrats contrasting with the Republicans, is, Democrats are not very sort of hostile or energetic around which one of these top-tier candidates Hillary Clinton picks.

    I think there is a lot of enthusiasm for her and, frankly, people are giving her leeway to pick the V.P. that she wants to govern with.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, what would be — say, if it were — and, again, we’re speculating now — we don’t know — but if it were a Tim Kaine, what would the pluses be for her and what would the liabilities be?

    HILARY ROSEN: So, he’s, you know, a white guy, a little boring. You know, we have talked about Latinos. We have talked about other women. We have talked about African-Americans.

    There’s a lot of enthusiasm around having a person of color on the ticket or another woman. You know, so that’s the downside, is that maybe people say, well, is she playing it safe?

    On the other hand, I think that you get in Tim Kaine a really thoughtful policy leader and somebody who she gets enthusiastic about. So much of this has to be about how Hillary Clinton feels every day when she wakes up and has a partner in governing. And so I think that Democrats are going to give her kind of the benefit of the doubt there.

    And if you’re Hillary Clinton, you want someone you know and feel comfortable with and feel aligned with.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Hilary Rosen, it’s been pointed out that she has known Tom Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa, now the secretary of agriculture, even longer, has a closer relationship — as we say, known him longer, closer relationship with him. Why wouldn’t a Tom Vilsack make sense?

    HILARY ROSEN: You know, this is — I haven’t talked to Secretary Clinton about this.

    My view is that maybe he’s a little old, that he doesn’t bring the kind of diverse constituency that a Tim Kaine brings with his experience in the Latino community. And Iowa is a smaller state. It is a battleground state, but it has fewer electoral votes than Virginia does. So, if you’re going to go for balance, if you’re going for the middle of the country, shoot at a bigger state.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Hilary Rosen, we talk a lot about whether the vice presidential pick makes a difference. How do you see that in this election year running against Donald Trump?

    HILARY ROSEN: You know, I think that sort of the polls always say that people vote for the president, not the vice president.

    But there is something about the vice presidential pick in every presidential campaign, because it’s kind of the first important decision that these nominees make. And so what goes into that decision, how they talk about, how they justify it, the kinds of character that they’re looking for, that does matter.

    The fact that Trump picked Mike Pence, for someone like me, he’s way too conservative. He only appeals to a limited base. On the other hand, it was a solid, safe pick for Donald Trump. So, that says something about him, that he was serious, he wasn’t going to play games.

    I think, with Hillary Clinton, people are looking for, you know, will she govern from — with solid progressive values, but try and appeal to the middle of the country? Will she go to independents? Can she even get moderate Republicans, or is she just trying to make a statement pick?

    And I think that Tim Kaine offers a little bit of both for Hillary Clinton. So, I think, again, it’s not going to make people vote for her or not vote for her, but it is going to say something about what she’s looking for in character.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It will tell us a little bit more once we know what it is, and everybody is waiting.

    Hilary Rosen in Philadelphia, thanks very much.

    HILARY ROSEN: Take care.

    The post Inside Hillary Clinton’s veep selection process — and why she may choose Tim Kaine appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Special force police officers stand guard at an entrance of the main train station, following a shooting rampage at the Olympia shopping mall in Munich, Germany July 22, 2016.   REUTERS/Michael Dalder  - RTSJ993

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    JUDY WOODRUFF:  There’s been a mass killing in Germany tonight.

    As many as three gunmen shot dead eight people in Munich.  Police say a ninth body may be an attacker.  It happened at a McDonald’s and in a shopping mall in the Bavarian capital.  Police swarmed to the scene as gunfire erupted.  Dozens of people ran, and authorities warned civilians to stay inside as they searched the area.

    In the U.S., Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton voiced solidarity with Germany.  Republican Donald Trump said the U.S. must do all it can to ward off terrorism.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  In the day’s other news:  President Obama denied today that the U.S. knew in advance about the coup attempt in Turkey or had any involvement.  He also said that Turkey’s request to extradite opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen from the U.S. will go through proper channels.  And he voiced concerns about thousands of Turks being arrested, and thousands more being fired from government jobs in a sweeping purge since the failed coup one week ago.

    Back in this country, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke announced that he’s running, as a Republican, for the U.S. Senate in Louisiana.  He said the climate of this country has moved in his direction, and he elaborated in a video statement.

    DAVID DUKE, Republican Senate Candidate:  I’m overjoyed to see Donald Trump and most Americans embrace most of the issues that I have championed for years.  My slogan remains America first.  The time is now.  A revolution is coming in the United States of America.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Republican leaders quickly announced that they will oppose Duke’s bid.  It comes amid heightened tensions over the police killing of a black man in Baton Rouge and a separate attack that killed three police officers.

    The first funeral was held today in Baton Rouge for one of the officers killed last Sunday.  Hundreds of mourners attended a service for Matthew Gerald.  He had joined the Baton Rouge force less than a year ago, after 11 years in the military.

    CARL DABADIE, Baton Rouge Police Chief:  It’s hard to say goodbye to a good man, to capture in words, not just the facts and the dates that make a life, but the essential truth of that person, their private joys and sorrows.  How much harder to do it for someone who protected and served both with honor and dignity.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Funerals for the other two officers will take place tomorrow and Monday.

    Federal authorities announced an indictment today alleging a $1 billion Medicare and Medicaid fraud scam in Florida.  The Justice Department says it’s the largest single health care fraud case, ever, against individual suspects.  Three men are accused of using 30 nursing homes in Miami in the scheme.  Officials say thousands of patients received unneeded services.

    North Carolina’s Republican governor fired back today after the NBA pulled next year’s All-Star Game from Charlotte.  The league cited the state’s law barring transgender bathrooms and limiting anti-discrimination protections.

    In Raleigh, Governor Pat McCrory called it — quote — “the wrong decision.”

    GOV. PAT MCCRORY (R-NC):  I think it sets a dangerous precedent, where a corporation can demand a quid pro quo, and in return for that quid pro quo on legislative policy, they will bring their service.  And if they don’t do it, they will deny their service.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  A number of top entertainers, including Bruce Springsteen, have also canceled appearances in North Carolina in recent weeks.

    And on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 53 points to close near 18571.  The Nasdaq rose 26 points, and the S&P 500 added nearly 10.  It was the fourth consecutive winning week for all three indexes, their longest streak since March.

    The post News Wrap: Deadly shooting rampage at German mall, Clinton moves to pick her No. 2 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A protestor is detained by NYPD officers as people protest the killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile during a march in New York City. Photo by Eduardo Munoz/Reuters.

    When video of the Baton Rouge shooting death of Alton Sterling first surfaced on July 5, social media networks became immediately populated with Sterling’s final moments. The following day, the shooting death of Philando Castile was streamed live by his girlfriend on Facebook. The video, which shows Castile gasping for air after being shot four times by a Minnesota police officer, has since been shared on Facebook more than 5 million times.

    Now, outrage is peaking again after cell phone footage captured a North Miami police officer shoot an unarmed caretaker as he lay on the ground with his hands up. Charles Kinsey, a behavioral therapist, was aiding an autistic patient who wandered away from his assisted living facility.

    Escaping the imagery can be nearly impossible, especially as online users post commentary and news updates. For some, it can merely be a nuisance. But research suggests that for people of color, frequent exposure to the shootings of black people can have long-term mental health effects. According to Monnica Williams, clinical psychologist and director of the Center for Mental Health Disparities at the University of Louisville, graphic videos (which she calls vicarious trauma) combined with lived experiences of racism, can create severe psychological problems reminiscent of post-traumatic stress syndrome.

    “There’s a heightened sense of fear and anxiety when you feel like you can’t trust the people who’ve been put in charge to keep you safe. Instead, you see them killing people who look like you,” she says. “Combined with the everyday instances of racism, like microaggressions and discrimination, that contributes to a sense of alienation and isolation. It’s race-based trauma.”

    While research on the psychological impact of racism has only emerged within the last 15 years, Williams says it’s “now starting to get the attention that it deserves” and experts are “seeing very strong, robust and repeated negative impacts of discrimination.”

    A 2012 study found that black Americans reported experiencing discrimination at significantly higher rates than any other ethnic minority. The study, which surveyed thousands of African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, also found that blacks who perceived discrimination the most, were more likely to report symptoms of PTSD. Although African-Americans have a lower risk for many anxiety disorders, the study reported a PTSD prevalence rate of 9.1 percent in blacks, compared to 6.8 percent in whites, 5.9 percent in Hispanics, and 1.8 percent in Asians.

    Social media and viral videos can worsen the effects. During the week of Sterling’s and Castile’s deaths, a scroll through timelines of black social media users could uncover subtle expressions of mental and psychological anguish, from pleas for others not the share these videos, to declarations of a social media hiatus. Williams says that’s not unusual. These expressions of anger, sadness and grief can hint at something much more serious.

    “It’s upsetting and stressful for people of color to see these events unfolding,” she says. “It can lead to depression, substance abuse and, in some cases, psychosis. Very often, it can contribute to health problems that are already common among African-Americans such as high blood pressure.”

    That stress is the reason why April Reign refuses to share the graphic final moments of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. In a column for the Washington Post, the former attorney and now managing editor for Broadway Black — which reports on African-Americans in the performing arts — calls the need to share viral footage of police shootings “a sick sort of voyeurism.”

    “We’re witnessing mentally and emotionally traumatizing videos and pictures. It’s enough, it’s just enough. It’s just so overwhelming all the time,” she told The NewsHour. “There are people who are having trouble sleeping, who are having trouble eating. There are people who are having those symptoms of PTSD in the truest sense.”

    Reign says opponents have pointed out that it sometimes takes the graphic videos going viral before issues of police brutality and racial bias are given any attention. Both Sterling and Castile’s deaths sparked national and international protests after first being shared among black users of platforms like Facebook and Twitter. While Reign agrees, she calls decisions to shield certain footage “selective censorship,” often influenced subconsciously by racial bias.

    She points to last August as an example, when many national media outlets opted not to air the graphic footage of news reporters in Virginia as they were shot and killed by a former coworker on live television. Many news organizations cited respect for the victims and their families as the basis of their decision. Reign says that sense of humanity isn’t typically given to victims of color, especially black-Americans. Instead, their gruesome final movements are replayed again and again for all to see.

    “It is a dehumanization of black people, and we don’t see that with any other race. It’s ingrained in us from our history,” she says. “White people used to have picnics at hangings and at lynchings, bringing their children to watch black bodies suffer and die. We are not far removed from that, it’s just being played out through technology now. And it hurts.” 

    “White people used to have picnics at hangings and at lynchings, bringing their children to watch black bodies suffer and die. We are not far removed from that, it’s just being played out through technology now. And it hurts.”

    Dr. Williams says that history of racism, passed down through generations of storytelling, can become crippling when combined with personal experiences, including daily microaggressions — subtle, racially-insensitive comments or acts such as a person of color being followed in a store, or having their name mocked or mispronounced by peers.

    The physical impact is something Black Lives Matter activist Brittany Packnett knows all too well. “Racism is not real to a lot of people, period,” she says, “But what people also don’t seem to get is how [black people] internalize that racism and manifest that suffering because, for so long, we’ve been conditioned to hide it. But’s real. It marks us everyday.”

    Packnett can recall every time she learned of a new person of color killed by law enforcement. In each instance, she struggled with whether to watch the video, and can recount the emotional reaction when she did.

    “I hadn’t had nightmares about Ferguson and tear gas or protests for a long time, but they came back when I saw those videos,” Packnett says referencing the shootings of Sterling and Castile. Avoiding them wasn’t an option. Both, she says, were set to automatically play on her Facebook timeline. 

    “I hadn’t had nightmares about Ferguson and tear gas or protests for a long time, but they came back when I saw those videos.”

    “I saw the Tamir Rice video while sitting in the parking lot next to the park where he was killed. In hindsight, did I need to feel that pain watching the video in order to fully absorb what clearly was a tragedy? No. So why did I? Pressure.”

    Packnett said that activists also feel an expectation to speak authoritatively on these subjects immediately after. “We’re supposed to be able to provide language for people’s grief that is informed. And in order for it to be informed, there’s this unspoken obligation to consume the images, to watch the videos. It’s easy to forget that activists are affected too.”

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    Amid the protests and pressure associated with being a public figure, Packnett finds herself still needing to take a break and unplug from the rest of the world. “I finally learned when to genuinely disconnect.  Yes, I know I’ll be coming back to tragedy and sadness, but at least when I do I’ll be coming back on a full tank instead of nearly empty.”

    Williams acknowledges that even the most experienced therapists can lack the cultural understanding necessary to treat minorities who exhibit symptoms of race-based trauma. The key, she says, is seeking help from culturally competent professionals or even loved ones. The Association of Black Psychologists have released guidelines for African-Americans experiencing cultural trauma from recent coverage of racial tension in the media and online.

    April Reign says the first step is simply recognizing when racism and the deaths of minorities played out publicly is becoming overwhelming.

    “Recognize that if you’re numb, that means something. If you’re breaking down in tears, that means something,” she says. “It affects you more than you know, and there is nothing wrong with saying that this pains you. Understand it, and actively move toward healing yourself.”

    The post Black pain gone viral: racism, graphic videos can create PTSD-like trauma appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    ORLANDO, Florida — Hillary Clinton named Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her vice presidential running mate Friday, adding a centrist former governor of a crucial battleground state to the Democratic ticket.

    In a text message to supporters, the presumptive Democratic nominee said, “I’m thrilled to tell you this first: I’ve chosen Sen. Tim Kaine as my running mate.”

    On Twitter a few seconds later, Clinton described Kaine as “a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others.” She called him “a relentless optimist who believes no problem is unsolvable if you put in the work to solve it.”

    With the pick, Clinton moved into the political spotlight a day after newly crowned Republican nominee Donald Trump closed out his convention with a fiery address accusing his general election opponent of “terrible, terrible crimes.”

    Kaine, 58, had long been a favorite for Clinton’s ticket. Fluent in Spanish and active in the Senate on foreign relations and military affairs, he built a reputation for working across the aisle as Virginia’s governor and as mayor of Richmond.

    In a recent interview with CBS News, Clinton noted that Kaine has never lost an election during his lengthy political career and praised him as a “world-class mayor, governor and senator.” A favorite of Barack Obama since his early 2008 endorsement, the president told Clinton’s campaign he believed Kaine would be a strong choice during the selection process, according to a Democratic familiar with the search who was not authorized to discuss it publicly.

    Those views are not shared by some liberals in the Democratic Party, who dislike his support of free trade and Wall Street. They pushed Clinton to pick Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren or Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, intensifying their criticism of Kaine late this week as his selection appeared imminent.

    Clinton’s campaign largely declined to comment on the search process, trying to keep the details — even the names of the finalists — under wraps to try to maximize the impact of their announcement. She made no mention of her impending pick during a somber meeting Friday with community leaders and family members affected by the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando and a later campaign rally in Tampa.

    She is expected to campaign with Kaine on Saturday morning at an event in Miami.

    As Clinton prepared to make her VP pick Friday, Trump met with supporters at his convention hotel in Cleveland to run through a long list of thank-yous after the end of his four-day coronation as head of the Republican Party.

    But rather than stay focused on Clinton or reach out to the general election voters he now must court, the newly minted Republican nominee spent considerable time stoking the fire of his bitter quarrel with Republican former rival Ted Cruz. “Ted, stay home,” Trump said, dismissing any interest in an endorsement the Texas senator refuses to provide. “Relax. Enjoy yourself.”

    Trump boasted of his TV ratings, his primary victories and other achievements, including winning over his wife, Melania, in a stream-of-consciousness delivery with his vice presidential nominee, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, standing quietly nearby.

    “I don’t do anything unless I win,” Trump insisted. He promised to work “so hard” as the nominee and vowed his campaign was “not going to disappear,” even though he has no plans to campaign this weekend and no events on his schedule for next week.

    No matter, perhaps, as that time will belong to Clinton and the Democrats, whose own convention begins Monday in Philadelphia. Kaine, who won election to the Senate in 2012 after serving as Obama’s first chairman of the Democratic National Committee, will likely speak in the slot reserved for the vice presidential pick on Wednesday night.

    Before entering politics, Kaine was an attorney who specialized in civil rights and fair housing. He learned Spanish during a mission trip to Honduras while in law school, an experience he still references on the campaign trail. During his political career, he’s demonstrated an ability to woo voters across party lines, winning his 2006 gubernatorial race with support in both Democratic strongholds and traditionally Republican strongholds.

    His wife, Anne Holton, is the daughter of a former Virginia governor, a former state judge and, currently, the state’s Education Secretary. The couple has three children.

    Clinton selected him to join the ticket from a group of candidates that included Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

    Clinton’s plans to pick Kaine, hinted at for several days leading up her Friday announcement, had been viewed as a safe choice against the Republican ticket of Trump and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

    Some Democrats believe Trump’s selection of Pence, a conservative white man from a largely Republican state, freed Clinton from pressure to add another woman or minority to her ticket. Her short list included Warren, two Latino cabinet secretaries and New Jersey Gov. Cory Booker, one of two black U.S. senators.

    Democrats argue that Kaine could help her woo moderate and even some Republican voters turned off by Trump’s provocative rhetoric, which was at the center of his 75-minute Thursday night acceptance speech. Trump pledged to restore a sense of public safety, strictly curb immigration and save the nation from Clinton’s record of “death, destruction, terrorism and weakness.”

    Democrats offered a different assessment of the state of the nation. Obama said Friday that Trump painted a picture that “doesn’t really jibe with the experience with most people.”

    At a White House news conference with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Obama said crime rates, especially those for violent crime, are lower than at any time in the past 30 years. He noted violent crime has recently risen in some cities, “but we’re not going to make good decisions based on fears that don’t have a basis in fact.”

    Kaine got some practice challenging Trump’s message when he campaigned with Clinton last week in northern Virginia, where he spoke briefly in Spanish and offered a strident assault on Trump’s White House credentials.

    “Do you want a ‘you’re fired’ president or a ‘you’re hired’ president?” Kaine asked in Annandale, Virginia, as Clinton nodded. “Do you want a trash-talking president or a bridge-building president?”

    The post Hillary Clinton picks Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as running mate appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) wave to the crowd during a campaign rally at Ernst Community Cultural Center in Annandale, Virginia, U.S., July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria - RTSHZ26

    Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) wave to the crowd during a campaign rally at Ernst Community Cultural Center in Annandale, Virginia, U.S., July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria – RTSHZ26

    Hillary Clinton named Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia as her running mate on Friday, choosing a well-known, moderate Democrat who could help deliver a key swing state.

    “I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others,”Clinton posted just after 8 p.m. ET on Twitter. She also sent a text message with the announcement to her supporters.

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    In selecting Kaine, Clinton passed over a shortlist of vice presidential contenders that included Julian Castro, the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, retired Navy Admiral James Stavridis and former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

    Clinton settled on Kaine after what some considered a “test-run” earlier this month when the pair campaigned together in northern Virginia.

    READ MORE: What you need to know about Trump’s VP pick, Mike Pence

    The announcement came just a day after the end of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, a move intended to shift attention away from Donald Trump, who accepted the GOP presidential nomination on Thursday night.

    The junior Senator from Virginia brings a substantial set of benefits to Clinton’s ticket, although immediately some analysts said Kaine was too safe of a choice.

    With that in mind, here’s a list of the pros and cons to Clinton’s selection, and the role Kaine could play in helping shape the general election.

    PRO: Swing state

    Perhaps the most obvious benefit of selecting Kaine as a running mate is his ability to help Democrats carry his home state of Virginia in November.

    The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll finds Clinton leading Trump in Virginia by 9 points. But it’s still considered a swing state, and adding Kaine to the ticket could help Clinton shore up support with Virginia’s Democratic voters, and potentially increase turnout from Republicans and independent voters as well.

    Republican candidates carried Virginia in every presidential election between 1968 and 2004. Barack Obama won the state by 2 percent in 2012 and 6 percent in 2008.

    With his popularity in the state, Kaine could help keep Virginia in the blue column. A former mayor of Richmond, lieutenant governor, governor and now senator, Kaine has never lost an election in the state.

    That popularity would only likely be amplified in the general election.

    “There is always state pride” among voters for a home state candidate on a national ticket, said Rick Ridder, an advisor on Bill Clinton’s 1992 and 1996 presidential campaigns.

    Even if Kaine only boosts the Democratic vote by one percent, Ridder said, that could be enough to put Clinton over the top in a tight race — or at least force Trump to spend more time and resources in Virginia as opposed to other battleground states.

    On the downside, Kaine’s selection opens up a Senate seat. Fortunately for Democrats, Virginia currently has a Democratic governor who would appoint a Democratic senator in Kaine’s place until a special election could be held in 2017 to elect a permanent replacement.

    PRO: The authenticity factor

    With Tim Kaine, “what you see seems to be what’s there,” said University of Virginia history professor Philip Zelikow, echoing an opinion held by many political observers who have followed Kaine’s career.

    “I don’t think there is anything about Tim Kaine that’s inauthentic,” said Zelikow, who has been a defense and national security advisor to both Republican and Democratic administrations.

    Kaine’s long-time friends agree.

    “If you meet Tim Kaine, it doesn’t matter if you are a head of state or an ex-con. He will say ‘Call me Tim.’ And they do,” said Heidi Abbott, a Richmond-based lawyer who has known Kaine for 25 years.

    Abbott first met Kaine in a group of friends, all young lawyers. The lawyers would sit together on each other’s porches to talk about issues in the city they wanted to address. He is the same person today, she said, a man with a strong moral compass and desire to help his community.

    He also enjoys playing Beatles tunes and the blues on his harmonica in his spare time.

    Kaine’s perceived authenticity comes in a contrast to public opinion about Clinton. A recent Washington Post-ABC poll found that only 37 percent of people believe Clinton is honest and trustworthy.

    Zelikow added that despite Kaine’s long political career, he has not been involved in a major scandal — another positive in light of the criticism Hillary Clinton has faced over her emails and Benghazi. Kaine did make headlines recently, however, for receiving more than $100,000 in gifts as governor, an issue that could crop up in the campaign.

    PRO: Appeal to moderates

    Kaine could sway more moderate voters toward Clinton: While he votes with the Democratic Party the vast majority of the time, GovTrack, which tracks voting in Congress, ranked Kaine the 11th most moderate Democratic senator in 2015.

    Additionally, if Kaine’s track record in Virginia — which currently has a Republican-controlled legislature and a Democratic governor — is any indication, he can appeal to and work with people on both sides of the aisle.

    “He’s done a good job straddling the different divides,” Zelikow said.

    Kaine’s stance on abortion is a good example of his moderate approach. He personally opposes abortion, a view that has earned him criticism from liberal Democrats.

    But he has also opposed calls to scale back Roe v. Wade. Instead, he has said the focus should be on reducing unintended pregnancies.

    CON: He’s an insider

    Kaine has been in politics since he was elected to the Richmond City Council in 1994, a potential liability in a year where voters have gravitated toward outsider candidates like Trump.

    The fact that Kaine spent his entire political career representing a state that borders Washington, D.C., won’t help with voters angry with establishment politicians.

    “He’s a hop, skip and a jump from the Beltway,” said Ridder, who is based in Colorado. “Can you find anybody who is more insider than Tim Kaine?”

    Nevertheless, Clinton’s decision to go with a veteran politician should not come as a surprise. Clinton made it clear she planned to pick a vice-presidential candidate who had the experience to be president.

    CON: He doesn’t excite progressives

    After a long-fought Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton needs to win over Bernie Sanders supporters. Tim Kaine is not particularly useful when it comes to that goal.

    “Many of us were waiting for Hillary Clinton to excite the base of voters who supported Bernie Sanders,” People for Bernie co-founder Charles Lenchner said. “Having Tim Kaine as vice president doesn’t move that needle.”

    Lenchner, who has not committed to voting for Clinton in the fall, said he would much rather have seen someone like Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the ticket.

    “By choosing someone who is more centrist than she is, [Clinton] is making a signal that the gains we seek inside the party are not yet complete,” he said. “We still have a lot to fight for.”

    CON: He’s a white man

    Of course, Hillary Clinton’s ticket would be historic no matter who she chose as her vice president. But some Democrats were hoping for more diversity — an all-female ticket or a Hispanic running mate like HUD Secretary Julian Castro or Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez.

    Instead Kaine, a white man, continues the status quo.

    The post What you need to know about Clinton’s VP Pick, Tim Kaine appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at her five state primary night rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 26, 2016.        REUTERS/Dominick Reuter - RTX2BT1M

    Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at her five state primary night rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 26, 2016. Photo by Dominick Reuter/Reuters

    BRYN MAWR, Pennsylvania — The Democratic National Convention is heading to Philadelphia, but Hillary Clinton has her sights set just beyond the city limits.

    Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes will probably hinge on Philadelphia’s suburbs. No presidential candidate in 40 years has carried the state without winning the overall vote in the four-county arc just outside the City of Brotherly Love.

    From the oil refineries in southern Delaware County to the 18th-century barns north in Bucks County, the suburban collar has grown over time to account for more than one-fifth of all Pennsylvania voters. In the past decade and a half, its political profile has shifted from decidedly Republican to narrowly Democratic.

    For that reason, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and her allies are trying to gain ground in the state, which Democrats have carried for the past six elections, in what could be a tight general election with Republican Donald Trump.

    “Anecdotally, that creates a challenge for Trump,” said Philadelphia-based Democratic strategist Mark Nevins. “He needs to appeal to the thoughtful moderates in the suburbs.”

    [Watch Video]

    Today, registered Democrats in the four-county region outnumber Republicans by roughly 52,000. That’s quite a change from 2000, when the GOP registration edge was 357,000.

    “As people have moved away from Philly, they have tended to be the more progressive voters,” Nevins said.

    Clinton may not see the historic vote totals won by Barack Obama in Philadelphia back in 2008, but she probably will match or exceed his suburban vote, said former Gov. Ed Rendell, D-Pa.

    Obama turned out Philadelphia’s black voters by overwhelming margins in 2008 and 2012. He also carried the suburban counties both times, albeit by fewer votes in 2012 than four years earlier, the result of economic discontent, said Rendell, a former Philadelphia mayor.

    Clinton’s campaign is targeting suburban Republicans turned off by Trump. He will gain in some white, blue-collar pockets of Philadelphia and its suburbs.

    “But Hillary is more popular in the Philadelphia suburbs in 2016, than Obama was in 2012,” Rendell said, predicting her share of the suburban vote to exceed the president’s.

    Trump’s tough talk on trade deals and building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border falls flat with Nicola Fryer, a 43-year-old Republican from Media, in Delaware County. He may be tougher on enemies abroad, Fryer said, but she worries that Trump will ruin relationships with U.S. allies.

    “He doesn’t know what he’s doing,” said Fryer, rushing between her office and picking up lunch in Bryn Mawr’s bustling commercial strip. “What would he get us into? I don’t trust him at all.”

    Trump has said he can compete in Pennsylvania as he maps a way to the 270 electoral votes needed to clinch the presidency. He points to GOP primary election victories in Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania as evidence.

    Winning Pennsylvania and other Rust Belt state such as Wisconsin and its 10 electoral votes, could offset a loss in Florida, which offers 29.

    Not since 1976 has a presidential candidate captured Pennsylvania without winning the collective four-county vote in Philadelphia’s growing suburbs. According to census data, the four suburban counties have higher employment rates, higher family incomes and higher proportions of college graduates and foreign-born citizens than Pennsylvania as a whole.

    In recent decades, the suburban population has risen while most other areas in the state have declined. The influence of the suburban vote on statewide elections has increased, from 18 percent in 1976 to 22 percent in 2012.

    While Democratic presidential candidates have carried the state in six consecutive elections, the race is competitive, with less than four months until the November vote. A Quinnipiac University poll published July 13 shows Trump ahead of Clinton by 2 percentage points. Other recent polls have shown Clinton with a lead in the single digits.

    Though Clinton’s campaign has spent relatively little advertising in Pennsylvania, the pro-Clinton group Priorities USA began advertising on television last month, having first left it off its list.

    For now, the group is airing an ad that includes the parents of a Columbus, Ohio, girl with a disability, highlighting negative remarks by Trump last November about a news reporter with a disability. The ad features the girl’s parents seated on a sofa in a homey setting expressing outrage at Trump.

    The group has reserved $10 million in advertising through the election, just behind Colorado, but well behind Florida and Ohio, which are viewed as more critical, and with more expensive media markets.

    “We’re going to do everything we possibly can to keep Donald Trump from becoming president,” Priorities USA spokesman Justin Barasky said. “That means we’re constantly reassessing the dynamics of the race.”

    This report was written by Thomas Beaumont and Marc Levy of the Associated Press. Beaumont reported from Des Moines, Iowa. Associated Press writer Julie Bykowicz in Washington contributed to this report.

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    The Liberty Bell, with Independence Hall in the background, is seen in Philadelphia on February 12, 2015. Photo by Charles Mostoller/Reuters

    The Liberty Bell, with Independence Hall in the background, is seen in Philadelphia on February 12, 2015. Photo by Charles Mostoller/Reuters

    PHILADELPHIA — The streets are freshly swept, the hotel rooms are pristine, the party invitations have gone out and extra police patrols are assigned.

    Philadelphia is ready for the Democratic National Convention.

    Tougher to clean up and shine, however, is the state’s political image, tarnished by recent political corruption cases that have implicated many Democrats across the state.

    — In June, a longtime Philadelphia congressman, Chaka Fattah, was convicted of laundering federal grants and nonprofit funds to repay an illegal $1 million campaign loan and help family and friends.

    — Last year, former state Treasurer Rob McCord left office and pleaded guilty to attempted extortion in a campaign fundraising scandal.

    — Attorney General Kathleen Kane is awaiting trial on charges that she unlawfully leaked secret grand jury material to a newspaper and then lied about it under oath.

    And those are just the high profile cases.

    [Watch Video]

    The former sheriff of Philadelphia has been charged with conspiracy; traffic judges have been convicted of ticket-fixing; state lawmakers have admitted taking bribes.

    Jeff Jubelirer, a communications consultant who has worked on Republican campaigns, said these cases send a message about this overwhelmingly Democratic city, which could provide grist for presidential nominee Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans as the general election draws near.

    “From a messaging standpoint, it lines up well for the Trump forces to say crooked Hillary and crooked Philadelphia,” Jubelirer said. “I think we will absolutely see that as we head into the fall.”

    Democrats can’t afford a diminished turnout in Philadelphia.

    Pennsylvania is shaping up as highly competitive in the race between Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who will need a sizable vote in greater Philadelphia to put her over the top.

    After the convention concludes, Clinton is planning a rally on Independence Mall, seeking to excite voters as she shifts to the general election.

    Former Gov. Ed Rendell, D-Pa., said he wasn’t worried about the scandals. “We had corruption in 2012 and Barack Obama carried the city by 468,000 votes,” Rendell said.

    He said some of this was what you get in “big city politics,” adding that the one-party dominance in Philadelphia can breed corruption.

    Philadelphia is no stranger to political malfeasance.

    It’s where congressmen and other elected officials were caught taking illicit cash payments in the Abscam sting operation in the 1970s. During that investigation, then-Rep. Michael “Ozzie” Myers was caught on tape, saying: “Money talks in this business and bull—- walks.”

    A state where the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were produced is now so rife with political scandal that it scored an F grade in the 2015 State Integrity Investigation.

    Over the past decade, former state Sen. Vince Fumo, a Democrat, went to prison for defrauding the state Senate, a South Philadelphia nonprofit and a seaport museum of millions of dollars. Former City Councilman Rick Mariano got prison time for taking bribes.

    Jubelier said that it may seem like political infractions are on the rise, but that’s only because “everyone’s a journalist. All the coverage and the videos and the bloggers.” Still, he added, “when you have someone as high up as Chaka Fattah, that levels a boom.”

    To be sure, the city is cracking down.

    Michael Nutter made city government ethics a priority when he was mayor, installing a “chief integrity officer” in an office near to his. Mayor Jim Kenney has continued the practice.

    “We try to and insist on the most ethical and transparent government we can do,” Kenney said, expressing confidence that these issues will not overshadow the convention.

    “Democracy was started here,” Kenney said. “The first fire department, library, the first woman president is going to be nominated and elected from Philadelphia.”

    At the end of the day, David Thornburgh, president of the nonpartisan good government group Committee of Seventy, said there was simply a certain amount of acceptance of corruption in Philadelphia.

    “It’s not like we were moving along at one level and all at once there was a huge spike (in corruption),” Thornburgh said. “Partly because of the one party dominance there’s a tolerance. Somebody called it the Philly shrug. ‘Eh, it’s Philly.'”

    The post Political scandals linger as Philly readies for convention appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Barack Obama is introduced by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine (R) during a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in New York City on October 20, 2009. Photo byJason Reed/Reuters

    President Barack Obama is introduced by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, right, during a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in New York City on October 20, 2009. Photo byJason Reed/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — As the governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine pushed to ban smoking in the state’s restaurants and made a priority of driving down infant mortality. As a senator, he called on doctors to stop prescribing so many opioids to help curb addiction.

    Now, he’s the prevention candidate of 2016.

    In picking Kaine as her vice presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton is putting the spotlight on an issue that many in the medical field believe gets short shrift: preventive health care.

    Marilyn Tavenner, president and chief executive officer of America’s Health Insurance Plans, who served as Virginia’s health secretary while Kaine was governor, recalled that he saw the prevention of health problems as a top-tier goal.

    “He was very interested in prevention and education,” she said.

    That’s a new dimension that the Virginia senator and former governor is likely to add to Clinton’s campaign. Much of Clinton’s focus has been on the health care coverage side, and on medical research to find new cures.

    But for Kaine, keeping people from getting sick — and taking care of their health care needs at the front end — is just as important as figuring out how to get the best medical care after they’ve gotten sick.

    Tavenner, who also headed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Obama, recalled that Kaine made his interests clear when she interviewed with him for the health secretary job.

    “He said, ‘Marilyn, maybe we should be a little more focused on health and a little less on the hospitals,’” Tavenner said — meaning, “the more we do on the front end, the less need we’ll have to send people to hospitals.”

    The prevention issue is a good match for Kaine’s overall political image. Like Kaine himself, preventive health care isn’t buzzy. But health care advocacy groups say it’s important and often overlooked, and they’ve spoken up when they believe it hasn’t gotten enough attention in major initiatives, as in Vice President Joe Biden’s cancer research program.

    Kaine has also stressed the importance of prevention to address the nation’s opioid epidemic. Legislation he introduced last year, which has since been approved by the Senate health committee, would encourage physicians to prescribe naxolone — a drug that’s used to reverse the effects of opioid or heroin overdoses — any time they prescribe painkillers.

    “This is just one solution. Obviously the real solutions, the important ones, are still around prevention,” Kaine said in a Senate floor speech in November 2015. “Why do Americans get prescribed so many more opioids than folks in other nations? What do you do about prescriptions when the quantities that are given are too big, and then you end up with a lot of unused opioids that can be taken by young people or stolen and sold?”

    “There’s a lot of issues that we have to solve. But there is this bit of good news — that naloxone saves lives, and it’s easy to administer, it doesn’t have a negative side effect, and if we can broaden access to naloxone for those who have been prescribed opioids, we’ve saved lives in the past and we’re going to save a lot more,” Kaine said.

    As Virginia governor, Kaine signed into law a ban on smoking in most restaurants in 2009, a measure he had been pushing since he took office in 2006. He also commissioned a plan to fight obesity and visited classrooms to talk to schoolchildren about the importance of exercise.

    Kaine also launched a campaign to reduce the state’s high infant mortality rate, noting in 2007 that “there is no excuse for a state with one of the highest incomes in the nation to have so many babies die in the first year of life.” By 2009, the state’s infant mortality rate had dropped to fewer than seven deaths for every 1,000 babies, though the reasons were unclear.

    And Kaine said the health care system had to do a better job of encouraging people to live healthier lives.

    “You’ll see me out there, getting my weight and blood pressure checked, getting my flu shot, walking, hiking and riding my bike,” he said in 2007. “I hope to see you there with me.”

    Kaine has drawn attention for expressing his personal reservations about abortion, even though he insists he supports women’s right to the procedure as a matter of public policy. That has been a concern for abortion rights groups, who don’t want to see the Democrats nominate a vice presidential candidate who would waver on the issue — especially in a debate against Indiana Governor Mike Pence, the Republican vice presidential nominee who signed one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the country.

    But there, too, Kaine’s approach has always focused on supporting education and access to contraception as a means of preventing the need for abortions, said Tavenner, who added that he fought against attempts by the Virginia legislature to restrict abortions by imposing strict facility standards.

    “He was strongly committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose, but he was also committed to prevention and education so that they don’t have to make that choice,” he said.

    Kaine did express reservations about one preventive health initiative as governor. In 2007, he signed legislation requiring all sixth grade girls in Virginia to get the human papillomavirus vaccine, which can prevent cervical cancer. But he initially said he had “some qualms” about the mandate, and wanted a stronger provision to allow parents to refuse to let their daughters get it if they had religious or other objections.

    Eventually, however, he decided the language was already good enough to give some discretion to parents. At the time, Virginia was only the second state in the country to require the vaccine.

    On other health care issues, Kaine tends to stick to the standard Democratic line. Like Clinton, he has called for Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, a proposal he began making in his 2012 race for the Senate, when he used it as a campaign issue against Republican George Allen.

    He has also shared other Democrats’ outrage against drug price hikes, like Martin Shkreli’s decision to increase the price of Daraprim, a drug manufactured by Turing Pharmaceuticals and used to treat people with AIDS, by more than 5,000 percent.

    “It’s basically a profit opportunity. It is the patient as a hostage, the patient as a profit center,” Kaine said at a Senate Aging Committee hearing in April on the price increase.

    The health care industry has been a consistant contributor to Kaine’s campaigns, but has become more prominent in this election cycle. Since 2015, health care political action committees — which include pharmaceutical companies, physicians, and health care services — have donated $63,500 to Kaine, making them his most important source of PAC funds, according to Political Moneyline.

    Among the largest donors in this cycle were $9,000 from 21st Century Oncology Inc., a Florida-based company that has affiliated doctors around the world; $5,000 from Centene Corporation, which provides services for uninsured and uninsured people; $5,000 from Fresenius Medical Care North America, which focuses on patients with kidney failure and other chronic diseases; and $3,000 from Novo Nordisk Inc., a pharmaceutical company that specializes in diabetes medications.

    Dylan Scott and Sheila Kaplan contributed reporting. This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on July 22, 2016. Find the original story here.

    The post Tim Kaine pick puts spotlight on preventative care appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    An edes aegypti mosquito is seen inside a test tube as part of a research on preventing the spread of the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases at a control and prevention center in Guadalupe, neighbouring Monterrey, Mexico, March 8, 2016. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril/File Photo - RTX2DV6U

    An edes aegypti mosquito is seen inside a test tube as part of a research on preventing the spread of the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases at a control and prevention center in Guadalupe, neighboring Monterrey, Mexico, March 8, 2016. Photo by Daniel Becerril/File Photo/Reuters

    More than 1,400 Americans contracted Zika while traveling outside the U.S. this year and a Caribbean-island nation is one of the top destinations where they caught the virus.

    Visitors to the Dominican Republic account for more than a fifth of the confirmed Zika cases in the U.S. through mid-July, according to data from state health departments. New York, Florida and California alone tally 304 cases linked to the country, the data show.

    As Florida officials investigate what may be the first non-travel-associated cases of Zika infection in the U.S., Kaiser Health News looked more deeply into the origins of the 1,404 travel-related cases reported by all states to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    For most people, Zika causes flu-like symptoms. Pregnant women are considered especially at risk of the threat because Zika can cause severe birth defects, such as microcephaly.

    The CDC does not break out the cases it tracks by country of origin — only by the infected person’s state of residency. It said in June that 48 percent of the travel-associated cases for all of 2015 and through May of this year originated in the Caribbean, 26 percent in Central America and 23 percent in South America. The cases numbered 591 at that time.

    Data from the four health departments that have reported more than half of the national case total — New York state, New York City, Florida and California — provide additional detail.

    More people who visited the Dominican Republic in 2016 returned with Zika than did U.S. residents who traveled to Puerto Rico, Colombia, Jamaica, El Salvador, Haiti, Guyana and Venezuela combined, the four departments’ figures show.

    [Watch Video]

    What’s the explanation? In part, it reflects travel patterns between people living in the U.S. with family members in the Caribbean nation, public health officials say.

    “It’s not really tourists going back and forth,” said Chris Barker, a researcher in the School of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of California, Davis.

    Dominican Republic immigrants are the fifth-largest Hispanic group in the United States, numbering 960,000 in 2012, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Their highest population concentrations are in New York, New Jersey and Florida. Dominicans comprise New York City’s largest Hispanic group and “have a significant travel exchange with the Dominican Republic,” according to the city’s health department.

    It counts 207 travel-associated cases linked to the republic, followed by 27 to Puerto Rico and 20 to Jamaica.

    “Dominicans, Puerto Ricans and Guyanese do not have a higher risk of transmission for Zika infection,” the department said in a statement. “The data we have released simply reflects New York City’s demographics and travel patterns.”

    People who travel outside the U.S. to visit family tend to make longer visits and often stay in residential locations, instead of “more sanitized areas made for tourists,” and that may increase their chances of getting bitten by a Zika-infected mosquito, Barker said.

    Travel-related Zika cases are a function of both travel volume and how active the virus is in countries being visited, according to Barker. “When there is a high level of both, that is where you have the most cases,” he said.

    Knowing which countries account for the most Zika travel cases helps drive public education efforts, said Vicki Kramer, chief of the vector-borne disease section at the California Department of Public Health.

    As in New York City and Florida, California’s Zika statistics are also linked to immigrant populations there. Of California’s 77 cases, the greatest numbers resulted from travel to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, all countries where state residents go to see family and often make extended visits, Kramer said.

    New York City’s Health Department said it has done “extensive outreach” to local communities with strong ties to countries where Zika is active.

    “These data could mean that Dominican New Yorkers are paying attention and testing more than other groups, which, in a way, is encouraging for us,” a statement from the department said.

    With a population of about 10 million, the Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.

    Comparing U.S. data with a dataset from an international public health group indicates many more American visitors to the Dominican Republic have contracted Zika than residents of the island. The Pan American Health Organization reports 101 locally acquired cases there.

    Brazil’s cases — 64,311 in total — account for almost 80 percent of the Zika infections in the Western Hemisphere through July 14, according to the organization. The country is so vast that infections are more spread out than in other areas of Central and Latin America, Barker said.

    Public health sources for Zika statistics for the same country can vary. Puerto Rico’s tally is 2,162 on the Pan American Health Organization’s site. The CDC reports 2,843 locally acquired cases.

    But among American travelers to both Brazil and Puerto Rico, the numbers appear to be far smaller, according to KHN’s analysis.

    Those figures show 80 travel-related cases linked to Puerto Rico and six to Brazil. Colombia was at 46 and El Salvador at 31.

    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 How a Caribbean island became prime source of U.S. Zika cases appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Naudia Loftus appears in a film from 'The Fixers,' a documentary series that focuses on several different individuals living in Cleveland. Photo courtesy of The Fixers

    Naudia Loftus appears in a film from ‘The Fixers,’ a documentary series that focuses on several different individuals living in Cleveland. Photo courtesy of The Fixers

    Seventeen-year-old Naudia Loftis stands in front of a small crowd that has gathered in Cleveland’s Kinsman neighborhood, holding signs that read “Value Our Lives,” “Pray for Peace,” or “Don’t Kill Just Chill.” As the group turns to face her, she begins to lead them in a chant: “We are the change!” they shout together.

    Loftis is one of the subjects in “The Fixers,” series of short films that document Cleveland from the perspectives of several individuals outside the political elite. It’s unlikely that any delegates would visit Kinsman, where Loftis grew up, Kate Sopko, a Cleveland-based artist who coordinated the project, said.

    “There was this profound disconnection between the political decision-makers that were going to be in town, adopting a political platform, and journalists that were going to be here covering it, and regular, everyday Clevelanders,” she said.

    Sopko, and other artists working around the conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia, want to address what they see as a gap between the concerns of citizens and the political machine that is using their cities as a stage. PBS NewsHour spoke with the artists behind several of these pieces about how they want to contribute to the public conversation around politics.

    ‘Fixers’ offer a rare look at Cleveland


    When a journalist visits a foreign country, a “fixer” who is connected in the area can give them the local’s guide to town.

    For the documentary series “The Fixers,” Sopko worked with six different filmmakers to film “fixers” from various neighborhoods in Cleveland, discussing their insider’s take on the city’s social and economic issues.

    Christina Vassalo, executive director of the SPACES Gallery in Cleveland that hosted screenings of the films, said the project came from the question: “If we’re going to have all these delegates and these political decision makers, and they’re only going to be very concentrated in this compact area downtown, where do they get to see how real people live in this city?”

    One film follows Loftis, who created the “Value Our Lives” campaign in Cleveland in part to honor her cousin, who was shot and killed in 2009. The film shows Loftis interviewing friends and family about their experiences growing up in Kinsman and the challenges the community has faced, including gun violence and drugs.

    Another film discusses police violence in Cleveland, which is currently under federal investigation for its police department’s use of force. “We’re the first city that’s ever hosted a political convention while under federal oversight for police violence,” Sopko said.

    The federal funding allocated to Cleveland for the convention helped purchase weapons for the police department, which Sopko said is a cause of concern for many of the people who appear in the film. “When you inherit a political convention, you also inherit federal money toward a lot of equipment that the police then have available to them in years to come,” she said. “People in the film speak directly toward what that means for communities on the ground here.”

    The films are available online and screened at the SPACES Gallery in Cleveland from May 20 to July 21.

    Cleveland women use the body as a political statement

    Women pose nude for photographer Spencer Tunick's art installation "Everything She Says Means Everything" near the location of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., July 17, 2016. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    Women pose nude for photographer Spencer Tunick’s art installation “Everything She Says Means Everything” near the location of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., July 17, 2016. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    Photographer Spencer Tunick already has the unique distinction of having photographed large-scale installations of nude crowds.

    For his latest, “Everything She Says Means Everything,” he gathered 100 female volunteers to pose naked, holding circular mirrors, outside the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. His previous projects highlighted naked crowds posing against landscapes from the Sydney Opera House to downtown Munich, Germany.

    Tunick received applications for this project from more than 1,800 volunteers, each of whom wrote a statement about why they wanted to participate. Women wrote about navigating life and politics in a female body — about lost pregnancies, sexual assault or living as a person of color. Some of the women who expressed interest in the project said they feel their body is an entity that affects, and is affected by, politics.

    One woman said she wanted to use her body as a medium to protest the GOP’s stance on reproductive rights.

    “As a woman, if I can use my body as a political statement as art for a peaceful protest I shall gladly do so. I am a Clevelander and gladly welcome this opportunity to display my female body as something that shouldn’t be shameful but beautiful and enlightening,” she wrote.

    The ‘American Dream’ disappears

    This ice sculpture of the words "The American Dream" melted over the course of roughly six hours at the Republican National Convention. Photo by Sue Abramson

    This ice sculpture of the words “The American Dream” melted over the course of roughly six hours at the Republican National Convention. Photo by Sue Abramson

    Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese are watching the American dream melt away.

    The two Brooklyn-based artists, who work under the name LigoranoReese, started sculpting ice in 2006, and two years later unveiled “The State of Things,” an ice sculpture that spelled “Democracy.” The piece appeared at that year’s Democratic National Convention in Denver, where it took roughly 24 hours to melt, and at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, where it lasted for five hours. In 2012, the pair staged another ice sculpture reading “The Middle Class” which melted at the conventions in Tampa, Florida, and Charlotte, North Carolina.

    This year, the two are unveiling the largest piece they have ever created at the conventions in Cleveland and Philly. Reading “The American Dream,” the piece measures 35 feet wide by 5.5 feet tall and weighs 4,000 pounds. Sculptors carved each letter from a 300-pound block of ice at two different sites. Then, they wrapped both sculptures in thermal blankets and placed them in a giant ice bath for travel to the conventions.

    Reese said the physical experience of watching the words “The American Dream” melt might bring up questions about the term itself, and how accurately it describes opportunity in U.S. society. “To see a word like ‘economy,’ or ‘the future,’ or ‘middle class,’ disappear, brings up so many ideas for many people, it affirms what they’re experiencing in their lifetimes,” he said. “I think it’s time to reconsider it, the idea of the American dream and who it’s for. In a way it’s an accepted term in political discourse and maybe it’s time to change it.”

    In Cleveland, the piece took roughly six hours to melt, with viewers constantly interacting with the piece. “There’s a familiarity with it, there’s a need to touch them, to see if they’re real or not,” Reese said.

    “The American Dream” will appear on July 25 at 1 p.m. EDT in Philadelphia’s Independence Mall.

    Philly’s newest art walk

    Artist Mat Tomezsko created a mural along the median of Philadelphia's Broad Street to go on display before the Democratic National Convention. Photo by Brian James Kirk

    Artist Mat Tomezsko created a mural along the median of Philadelphia’s Broad Street to go on display before the Democratic National Convention. Photo by Brian James Kirk

    Broad Street is “where everything connects” in Philadelphia, according to artist Mat Tomezsko. His new piece “14 Movements: A Symphony in Color and Words” speaks to that, linking Philadelphia’s City Hall and Washington Avenue with a vibrant mural on mile-long stretch of the S. Broad Street meridian.

    Tomezsko first thought of the idea for the project four years ago, but the idea stalled until the Democratic National Convention Host Committee asked Jane Golden, executive director of Philadelphia-based Mural Arts, if she had any project proposals for the convention. She resurfaced the proposal, and Tomezsko got back on board.

    It took three weeks to paint the mural on 500 pieces of vinyl, then a team installed it during the evenings from July 18 to July 21 to avoid disrupting traffic. Tomezsko said he hopes the piece will last for at least eight weeks.

    The mural is “not overtly political,” but as a public art piece, it speaks to the city’s inclusiveness, Tomezsko said. “It’s very experiential, and once it exists it really belongs to the city. It reflects whatever the city is and whatever the people make of it,” he said.

    The post Watch the ‘American Dream’ melt, and other artistic moments at RNC, DNC appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov is seen in front of his hot air balloon

    Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov is seen in front of his balloon before his record-breaking hot-air balloon flight around the globe. Photo by Oscar Konyukhov/Handout via Reuters

    Breaking the record for the shortest trip around the world in a hot air balloon, 64-year-old Russian explorer Fedor Konyukhov finished his 11-day journey in the Australian Outback on Saturday morning, dropping down 100 miles from his initial departure point.

    Tracking the balloon with six helicopters as it prepared to descend, team members assisted Konyukhov with the landing, described by the crew as perhaps the most difficult part of the trip.

    Konyukhov, a Russian Orthodox priest, began his trip from Northam, Australia, on July 12 before flying across the Pacific Ocean, South America and back to Australia.

    “He’s landed, he’s safe, he’s sound, he’s happy. It’s just amazing,” flight coordinator John Wallington said at the landing site.

    The balloon of Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov is seen after it lifted off in his attempt to break the world record for a solo hot-air balloon flight around the globe near Perth, Australia, in this handout image received July 12, 2016. Photo byOscar Konyukhov/Handout via Reuters

    The balloon of Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov is seen after it lifted off near Perth, Australia. Photo by Oscar Konyukhov/Handout via Reuters

    Konyukhov surpassed the previous record for a solo balloon flight around the world, held by American Steve Fossett, who in 2002 took 13 days and eight hours while traveling a route 600 miles shorter.

    Napping for 30 to 40 minutes at a time, Konyukhov aimed to sleep four hours each day.

    The balloon of Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov is seen being inflated before the start of his attempt to break the world record for a solo hot-air balloon flight around the globe near Perth, Australia. Photo by Oscar Konyukhov/Handout via Reuters

    The balloon of Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov is seen being inflated near Perth, Australia before the start of his solo hot-air balloon flight around the globe. Photo by Oscar Konyukhov/Handout via Reuters

    While traveling over the Antarctic Circle, his balloon passed through a thunderstorm, and outside temperatures dropped to -58 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Heating inside the balloon stopped functioning on Thursday, two days before the flight ended, forcing Konyukhov to heat his drinking water using the main hot air burner, Wallington told the Associated Press.

    The post Russian priest finishes record-breaking hot air balloon flight appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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