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

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    Rio Olympics - Olympic Park - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 01/08/2016. A swimmer practices.             REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. - RTSKKZ0

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    GWEN IFILL: Four days out from the Olympic Opening Ceremonies in Rio de Janeiro, it’s not a pretty picture.

    There are warnings about the risk of contaminated waterways, and the dispute continues between anti-doping officials and the chief of the International Olympic Committee over Russia’s participation.

    That said, there’s excitement around the actual competition.

    Jeffrey Brown got a preview of U.S. medal hopes with Christine Brennan, sportswriter and columnist for USA Today and ABC News.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Christine Brennan, welcome back.

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN, USA Today: Thanks, Jeff. Great to be here.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, there’s a certain point we talk about all the problems, but a certain point, let the games begin, right?

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Exactly. It’s time.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, let’s talk about athletics here.

    Often, Summer Olympics, Americans, and we have talk over the years about especially gymnastics, swimming and other things.

    Start with gymnastics, another big year coming.

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Oh, absolutely.

    In fact, it may be the biggest year ever for USA gymnastics, especially the women’s side, Jeff, which is saying something, because U.S. women have become the dominant gymnasts in the world, going back to the days of Mary Lou Retton, Shannon Miller, obviously Gabby Douglas.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Just last time.

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Right. Exactly. And she’s back. She did make it and will be a steadying influence, I think, and helpful to the next big names.

    So, in this list of names I just mentioned, there is another one coming, maybe the best of all, Simone Biles. She has won everything.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Maybe the best — she is coming in already talked about as one of the best ever. Right?

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Exactly.

    And, in fact, she’s so good that everyone just is basically handing her the gold medal for the individual all-around. Team gold medal should be the United States’, no problem. And then…

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, no pressure at all, right?

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Well, and that’s the point, though. It’s a great point.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: She did stumble at the Olympic trials.

    Everything was set. She was going to make the team. And she had a couple uncharacteristic bobbles and a fall. And, as you know, from watching sports, as everyone at home knows, just when you think you know it’s solid and it’s guaranteed, is there going to be a crack here?

    I think she is so good and so strong, and because she’s won world title after world title, the top gymnast in the world the last three or four years, I would be stunned if Simone Biles has a misstep. But that’s a tall order. And it’s also over a week-and-a-half basically of events, and we will see how she handles that pressure.

    JEFFREY BROWN: OK.

    Swimming, return of two big stars, right?

    Michael Phelps, to my amazement, I read it’s his fifth Olympics coming back.

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Right.

    Yes, he was a 15-year-old in 2000 — most people forget that — in Sydney. He’s now 31 years old. He’s a dad, and he says he has cleaned up his act. He’s had issues of course with drunk driving and other things. This is it. It’s his last gasp.

    JEFFREY BROWN: He says this is really it.

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: This is really it, as opposed to the other time when he was retiring the last time.

    But Phelps is still at one — certainly the best in the United States at what he does, the 100 butterfly, 200 butterfly. Whether — the key question, Jeff, is whether he’s the best in the world. And his times in Omaha at the Olympic swimming trials a month or so ago were not the best in the world. They were not his best.

    So, the question is, for Michael Phelps, can he get better, can he get faster? Otherwise, while we just expect him to win everything, it might be a little bit of a surprise. Maybe he will win the 100 fly, which is an incredible achievement, 200 fly. But the reality is, there is a lot of competition from around the world, and these guys would love to beat Michael Phelps.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And on the women’s side, Katie Ledecky.

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Oh, Katie Ledecky is gold.

    Now, that’s — I think if you said to me, what would be the most surprising to happen at the Olympics in terms of a U.S. athlete, it would be Katie Ledecky not winning.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Really?

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: She should be five seconds, six seconds ahead in the 400, 11 seconds ahead in the 800 freestyle. She has also got the 200 free. And then she would have the 4×200 relay.

    So, if everything goes well for Katie Ledecky, it would be four gold medals, the most for any American, I’m sure, at these Games in terms of swimming, and she will really come out of the Olympics — if all that happens, she will come out of the Olympics as the swimming star of the Games for the U.S.

    JEFFREY BROWN: OK.

    So, if we look — now I want to switch to track and field. And there the doping scandal has an impact. But start first with Usain Bolt.

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Yes. He is back, right.

    He is trying to do a triple double.

    JEFFREY BROWN: A triple double, yes.

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: We hear that all the time in basketball.

    Here’s the triple double in track and field, Jeff. It’s winning the men’s 100 and the men’s 200 in three consecutive Olympics. Beijing, he did it. People remember how he finishes the race, by turning around and jumping up and down, and looking at his competitors, and dancing while he’s still running, and has these incredible times, and then he did it again in London.

    So, here he is. He will be 30 years old on the day the Games end. That’s not exactly a spring chicken.

    (CROSSTALK)

    JEFFREY BROWN: Has had some injuries.

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: And he had a hamstring pull just a few weeks ago. He says he’s healthy. We will see.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Now, the Russian doping scandal, we know has an impact already in the track and field, right?

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: We do. Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And what impact would it have?

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Well, I think it’s a big one.

    Here’s the reality. The Russian track and field team is banned, except for one lone long jumper. So, the fact that they were second in the medal count in London, Jeff, in track and field, they had won seven gold and they won 16 medals overall.

    And those medals now are gone. They are just not going to be able to win them. So, while I personally believe Russia should have been banned completely, the entire team, for state-sponsored, government-sponsored systemic doping, the likes of which we have not seen since East Germany 40, 50 years ago, the reality is Russia is in the Games.

    But track and field is where the federation said, no, we’re not going to allow this cheating system, this incredible, diabolical system to get into our sports. So, the track and field federation kicked out the Russians. And that’s where you will see, I think, a significant impact in terms of the lack of Russian medals, obviously.

    And the U.S. and other countries will benefit from that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Speaking of medals, right, let’s look at just some big picture here in our last minute.

    More women competing and medal count, give me a look at the big picture when you watch these Games.

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Right.

    Jeff, we called the 2012 U.S. team Team Title IX. Well, we can call this team, the 2016 team, Team Title IX as well, the most women ever by any country being sent to the Olympics. The U.S. is sending 292 women out of a team of 555.

    That is all about watching that law, Title IX, signed in 1972 by Richard Nixon, work its way through our culture. And the power of U.S. women will be extraordinary, team sports, dominating basketball, maybe soccer, water polo, others, the rowing.

    And then as far as medal count…

    JEFFREY BROWN: The basketball team hasn’t — you were telling me before, right, hasn’t lost since…

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: The women’s basketball team hasn’t lost since 1992.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Yes.

    And one of the reasons people don’t know is this is because they’re so dominant, that the media tends to go, oh, give them the gold medal and move on to other sports.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Right. They won again.

    And women’s soccer, of course, will be a big deal as well. And then, as far as the medal count, the U.S. should do as it usually does at the Summer Games and dominate, especially with Russia being down, understandably so, correctly. I think the U.S. will do very well.

    China will be there. It will be interesting to see if Great Britain, which had a great Games, home Games, four years ago, if they can keep that up and continue to win medals in sports where no one expected them to do that in 2012. Can they keep it up now when they go to Rio in 2016?

    JEFFREY BROWN: Christine Brennan, enjoy yourself down there.

    (CROSSTALK)

    CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Thank you, Jeff. I will. Thanks.

    The post What we can expect to see from Team U.S.A. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A boy sits on his father's shoulders as they pose for a photograph in front of the giant portrait of late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong on the Tiananmen Gate, in Beijing, China, October 2, 2011. China will ease family planning restrictions to allow all couples to have two children after decades of the strict one-child policy, the ruling Communist Party said on October 29, 2015, a move aimed at alleviating demographic strains on the economy. Picture taken October 2, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer   CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA - RTX1TSTQ

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: In Southeast Asia, tensions continue to simmer as China claims sovereignty over the South China Sea, a busy international trade route.

    The United States and China have both beefed up their naval presence there, leading to fears of a military confrontation. This is just one example of China flexing its military muscle in recent months, and it coincides with a slowdown in the nation’s economy.

    Writing in “The Atlantic” magazine, journalist Howard French sees a connection between the two, pointing out that, as China’s population ages, the country faces a huge demographic problem that will affect all aspects of its economic and military aspirations.

    HOWARD FRENCH, The Atlantic: China has its own Baby Boom generation. And China’s baby boom generation, because of the size of China itself, is the world’s largest baby boom generation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Howard French, a former Shanghai bureau chief for The New York Times, has written extensively about China, and he’s photographed its people.

    HOWARD FRENCH: This baby boom generation in China will start to hit retirement age in the very next few years, let’s say by the end of this decade.

    And, at that moment, extraordinary numbers of Chinese people will exit the work force, and the Chinese work force, which has already begun to shrink, will shrink in a vastly accelerated way. And so China’s going to face huge retirement costs and Social Security costs, health care costs, related to this immense aging of the population.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What are the implications for China as a country and for the Chinese economy?

    HOWARD FRENCH: China will have the biggest aging crisis that the world has ever seen over the next generation, and this happens at a time when Chinese ambitions, geopolitically speaking, are expanding.

    And at some point, these two phenomena will collide, and very tough decisions will have to be made about guns vs. canes. In other words, how much can we afford to invest in our geopolitical ambitions, vs. how much must we invest in terms of supporting our population?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The massive number of baby boomers wouldn’t be such a problem if China’s younger generations were just as large. But they are not, mainly because of the one-child policy China imposed on all families beginning in 1978.

    HOWARD FRENCH: The one-child policy was based on some faulty science and had, as an ambition, reining in Chinese population growth, so as to enhance the per capita wealth of the country.

    Because the Chinese made a straight-line prediction based on what the present fertility rate was in the late 1970s, they made some big errors in their projections. Imposing the one-child policy meant that the fertility rate took additional hits. And the penalties of this decision are just now being borne.

    This is a mistake of extraordinary significance for China’s place in the world, for Chinese power, for Chinese prosperity. And for the Chinese Communist Party to turn around all of a sudden and say, hey, wait a minute, that big one-child policy thing was a huge mistake is very difficult for them to do.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But you believe, today, the Chinese leadership understands what’s happened and are trying to do something about it; they just don’t want to be so public with their acknowledgement?

    HOWARD FRENCH: They have been very grudgingly, very gradually coming — publicly coming to terms with what people have known for quite some time was a big issue.

    And this came to a head in the last year, when Beijing decided to relax the one-child policy officially.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You, of course, were a New York Times bureau chief in Shanghai. You have lived in China. You know the country very well. What is that going to mean, in terms of the old China, the evolving China?

    HOWARD FRENCH: Well, when you arrive in China nowadays, one of the first things you note is the emphasis placed on you, a non-Chinese person, being an outsider.

    Sometimes, this is done aggressively. Sometimes, this is done rudely, but most of the time it’s just done routinely. It’s just a normal thing in the course of your encounters with Chinese people in every walk of life.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Were you able to capture that in your photographs, do you think, the in and out?

    HOWARD FRENCH: Sure.

    As I set out to begin photographing Shanghai, I encountered this insider/outsider phenomena in the most personal of ways. You would walk into an old neighborhood in the center of city, and people would begin to point at you. People would begin to talk about you, spreading the word about the outsider who has wandered into their midst, look at him, he’s got a camera, what’s he doing, is this allowed, is this OK, how should be respond to him, et cetera, et cetera.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And what were you trying to capture?

    HOWARD FRENCH: Well, I was trying to capture a way of living in the city that was under immense pressure, that was being radically transformed right before my eyes.

    These neighborhoods were filled in a hugely disproportionate way with relatively old people, people who the Chinese back then already were speaking of as a lost generation, people who, during the cultural revolution, had not gone to college because Chinese schools were closed, and who had often been sent to the countryside as a way of political training.

    And then, so when China opens up at the end of the 1970s and begins to reform its economy and to become quasi-capitalist, these people, just by virtue of their own timing in the last century of their coming of age, they were not, most of them, eligible for these new competitive jobs that capitalism was providing to China. And so those were the left-behind people in those neighborhoods.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what does that mean the options are for the Chinese government and for the Chinese people? How do they reach some sort of equilibrium in terms of having enough people to fill the jobs to keep the engine of their economy going?

    HOWARD FRENCH: China, the world’s most populous country, 1.3, 1.4 billion people, will in the next decade or so have to begin looking for people outside of China.

    What does this mean? China will have to become a much more welcoming society. It means that China will have to attract immigrants from other countries in order to slow the aging of the population.

    The problem is, if you’re 1.3 billion, 1.4 billion people, where do you find enough immigrants in order to have a significant impact on a population of that size? There’s no obvious candidate.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: China’s need for immigrants stands in stark contrast to the situation in the United States, which French finds ironic, in light of the current political debate in the U.S.

    HOWARD FRENCH: The reason the United States is not aging rapidly in terms of its demographics is because we accept people as newcomers to this society in numbers that far surpass any of our major peers or rivals.

    And this is what replenishes the work force. It reinvigorates the society. It underpins our tax base. And so it is this immigration that, in a way, that has been largely unappreciated in our political debate, which really is a kind of churn of our economy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Until China finds a similar churn for its economy, immigration, increased fertility or something else, French says its leaders are faced with some bleak decisions, starting with scaling back the military.

    HOWARD FRENCH: Since the first Gulf War in 1991, the Chinese have been increasing their military budget roughly by 11 percent a year on average. There’s no way that China will be able to sustain that sort of military expenditure. And then the most important reason is because of its population changes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And that, says French, may well mean Chinese leaders are eager to make aggressive military moves now, while they still can.

    HOWARD FRENCH: This is the moment to go for the ring, if you will, to try to secure every gain that you can, before the huge costs come home.

    And, therefore, we’re seeing China push very hard in its immediate neighborhood, particularly in the maritime zone surrounding China, to kind of create a security zone for itself, trying to lock in the territorial and maritime gains that it can now, before a period of much more difficult choices arises some time in the 2020s.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you can read Howard French’s full article online at our partner, “The Atlantic”‘s Web site. That’s TheAtlantic.com.

    The post The unprecedented aging crisis that’s about to hit China appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A stone memorial to the 16 people and one fetus who died in the August 1, 1966 mass shooting is seen ahead of it being officially delegated at a ceremony on August 1, 2016 to mark the 50th anniversary of the killing at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, U.S. on July 27,2016. The monument sits near the tower on the university campus from which Charles Whitman perched in an observation deck near the top and shot more than 40 people.     REUTERS/Jon Herskovitz - RTSKEK5

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    GWEN IFILL: But, first: Texas marks a somber anniversary today, 50 years after a shooting massacre, then unprecedented, shook the campus of the state’s flagship public university.

    But along with that anniversary, the University of Texas at Austin and the state’s other schools marked another milestone today, the enactment of a new law that allows people to carry concealed guns on Texas campuses.

    William Brangham has the story.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This is the clock tower where horror rained down 50 years ago today. Bells rang to remember the lives lost, and to honor the survivors of the shooting at the University of Texas in Austin.

    The flags on the campus mall were lowered to half-staff. The clock tower was stopped for 24 hours. Bagpipes led mourners to the tower’s garden, where a new memorial was dedicated to victims of the horrific event. It was on a hot August day in 1966 that former Marine and engineering student Charles Whitman climbed to the top of the clock tower and opened fire.

    Whitman killed 14 people on campus that day, and had also murdered his wife and mother before his shooting spree began. More than 30 people were wounded, and a 17th victim died decades later of wounds sustained that day.

    Whitman’s rampage 50 years ago lasted an hour-and-a-half, and only ended after police stormed the tower and killed him. Other students had also fired at Whitman with their own rifles.

    Texas Congressman Lloyd Doggett was a student on campus that day.

    REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D-Texas): This massacre, we need to remember, occurred before terms like gun violence, and mass shooting or SWAT team were even a part of our regular vocabulary. This campus attack was unprecedented. I think it was as unexpected for us in the university community and for our police department as if some flying saucer had landed up there on top of the tower.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: As the community gathered to mark the anniversary of one of the nation’s first campus mass shootings, today also marked the very first day that concealed firearms will be permitted inside University of Texas buildings.

    Last year, state legislators passed the so-called campus carry law, arguing that armed students might be able to stop the next mass shooting from occurring.

    To talk about the university’s commemoration, as well as how it’s grappling with this new concealed carry law, I’m joined by Gregory Fenves. He is the president of the University of Texas at Austin. He originally spoke out against the concealed weapon bill, but now that it’s law, he’s implementing it on campus.

    President Fenves, welcome.

    First off, let’s talk about today’s memorial and commemoration. Why now? What is it you’re hoping to accomplish with this memorial?

    GREGORY FENVES, President, University of Texas at Austin: Well, it’s been 50 years since the tragedy of the tower shooting.

    Many of the survivors are getting on in age. And as we were preparing for this anniversary, sad anniversary, of this tragic event, we realized we had not adequately memorialized those 17 individuals that were killed on August 1, 1966.

    And we wanted to do two things. We first wanted to bring some measure of healing and closure to the survivors and the many law enforcement heroes that came to the rescue that day.

    But we also wanted to heal the campus. I think the campus had not given enough recognition to this tragedy. It is part of our history. It is a sad part of our history. So we wanted an appropriate memorial that would live on forever at the University of Texas to remember the events of 1966.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Why do you think it has taken 50 years to do this?

    GREGORY FENVES: Well, in the mid-1960s, this was the first mass shooting, sadly, the first mass shooting at an American campus.

    We have, unfortunately, had more of those in the past 50 years. I think the country and society and individuals felt the best way to cope with a tragedy is to move on, to not talk about it.

    We now know that that’s not the best way for a community and for individuals to deal with tragedy and to try to learn from it and try to move on. And so we wanted a public commemoration that would recognize the fallen and thank the survivors and thank the heroes.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Today’s commemoration, as you well know, also marks the implementation of this concealed carry law, which supporters say is a response to these types of shootings, that their belief is that, if we have more armed citizens in the population and on college campuses, that they will be better able to respond to these types of massacres before police can get there.

    What do you make of that argument?

    GREGORY FENVES: Well, I don’t think there is much evidence that that actually does help.

    But, nevertheless, it is the law in the state of Texas. There’s great opposition to it on our campus among faculty, students, among parents of students. But we went through nearly a year-long, very thoughtful, very engaging process with all members of our community, to develop policies that promote campus safety, but also follow the law, which I, as president of the university, are obligated to implement.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Supporters of this law point to what happened 50 years ago, which was, when Whitman starts shooting from that tower, that some students got rifles, were able to pin him down somewhat until police can get there.

    You don’t believe that that is a good argument in support of this kind of a law?

    GREGORY FENVES: Well, I think police tactics and police training have improved dramatically since 1966. There were no SWAT teams. Police didn’t have the weapons they needed to deal with the shooting. And so, unfortunately, we have a need for very highly trained law enforcement agencies who train regularly, are very rigorous in dealing with these situations, as is our University of Texas Police Department and local law enforcement agencies.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, starting this fall, some slice of your population of students could be carrying concealed weapons on campus.

    Do you worry, as president of the university, that something could go wrong? I mean, college kids drink. They — tempers can flare. Do you worry about something happening, some kind of a mishap?

    GREGORY FENVES: Well, I worry every night about what could happen. That’s my nature.

    We have 50,000 students. We’re a campus community of almost 70,000 individuals in a very dynamic, urban area. And so, as you have said, these situations can always develop, whether there is a concealed carry law or not.

    In Texas, an individual licensed to carry has to be over age 21 — many of our students are under age 21 — has to undergo a criminal background check, has to go through training. And less than 5 percent of the Texas population has concealed permits to carry.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You mentioned today that this event happened back before we even had a language to talk about mass shootings and gun violence in this country. Do you feel like the university is prepared for these types of events going forward?

    GREGORY FENVES: Well, you can never truly be prepared for a tragedy of that magnitude.

    But our police force, UTPD, in collaboration with the Austin Police Department and the state Department of Public Safety, regularly train for active — what they call active shooter events.

    Unfortunately, we had one a couple of years ago, and most people report the police responded almost instantaneously. So, I have great confidence in our law enforcement agencies.

    But one of the outgrowths of the tower shooting in 1966 was the understanding of mental health counseling. And the university was very proactive in that period to add mental health counselors to assist with students coping with tragedy. And we have used that for a number of different incidents that have occurred over the years.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, President Gregory Fenves of the University of Texas at Austin, thank you very much.

    GREGORY FENVES: Thank you very much.

    The post Remembering the Texas mass shooting that changed campus security appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    poli

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    GWEN IFILL: For more on the fight between Donald Trump and the Khan family, his recent comments on Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, and Hillary Clinton’s weekend outreach to Rust Belt voters, it’s time for Politics Monday with Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

    You just heard Ghazala Khan say to Judy in response to the questions about Donald Trump’s feud, whatever it is, that, “I can take it.”

    We have heard in the last few moments Warren Buffett on behalf of Hillary Clinton say, have you no decency, sir? You have made no sacrifice.

    We heard John McCain also scold, but not withdraw his endorsement today of Donald Trump.

    I wonder, starting with you, Amy, whether it’s ever a good thing to have to defend yourself by tweet?

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: No, but at the same time, nothing about this campaign has seemed normal. Right?

    The traditional candidate response to a speech like Mr. Khan gave would be to say, my condolences for your loss. Here is my differences of opinion on the policy of it, right? I differed with Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration on the war on terror. I differed with President Bush on going to Iraq in the very first place, even though he did say he supported it early on, when he invaded Iraq.

    But that is the answer that a traditional politician would give. And, Gwen, I just feel I should just come out here with a tape recorder and just every week say, nothing that he does is like a traditional politician would ever do.

    What we are seeing is, his supporters, I think, will continue to rally around him, but every day that this campaign is about Donald Trump and his messaging, which is not — which is about him and not about the bigger, broader issues, I don’t think that’s a good day for Donald Trump.

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s flip the script a little bit.

    Hillary Clinton, it seems to me, was asked about Pat Smith, the Benghazi mom, who spoke at the Republican Convention, and what was her reaction?

    TAMARA KEITH, NPR: Her reaction was more the typical politician answer. It was, thank you for your family’s service. I can’t begin to understand your loss, that kind of thing.

    And then she did get to the question of whether she remembered it the same way. But she remained respectful throughout, and you wouldn’t call it a feud.

    That’s the difference is, in the way Hillary Clinton answered, it ended there. And look at George W. Bush. Cindy Sheehan was parked outside his ranch for a very long time protesting him, and George W. Bush…

    GWEN IFILL: In 2008.

    TAMARA KEITH: Was it — it was earlier. I think it was even maybe 2004.

    GWEN IFILL: Yes.

    AMY WALTER: Right. Right.

    TAMARA KEITH: And George W. Bush said, that is her right, that is her right to protest, that is her right to say anything she wants about me, because this is America, actually.

    GWEN IFILL: That’s what America actually allows for.

    Let’s move on to something else Donald Trump had to say this weekend. He was asked on “This Week” by George Stephanopoulos about his views about Ukraine and Russia and his relationship with Vladimir Putin, and this was his response.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee: He is not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down, you can put it down, you can take it any way you want.

    GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC News: He is already there, isn’t he?

    DONALD TRUMP: Well, he is there in a certain way, but I’m not there. You have Obama there. And, frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama. With all the strength that you’re talking about and all of the power of NATO and all of this, in the meantime, he’s going away — he takes Crimea. He’s sort of…

    GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But you said you might recognize that.

    DONALD TRUMP: I’m going to take a look at it. But, you know, the people of Crimea, from what I have heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were.

    GWEN IFILL: He said two things there that horrified foreign policy experts. One was that, in fact, Russia wasn’t already in Ukraine, which Ukrainians would — the government we back in Ukraine disagrees with, and also that somehow Crimeans think it would be OK for Russia to stay there after having been annexed.

    And then he came out today and said, that’s not what I meant.

    AMY WALTER: That’s not what I meant at all, right.

    So, he tweeted back out, that’s not what I meant at al. What I meant is, when I’m president, they won’t do anymore in Ukraine. But it’s the Obama administration that failed in this.

    Again, this is where he makes Hillary Clinton’s job that much easier. Her entire focus — you saw it at the DNC — you are going to see every day for the next 99 days — is to say that he’s temperamentally unfit to be president of the United States, he’s dangerous.

    And it’s not just going to be one thing or another thing. It’s that this — if this happens day in and day out, this idea about his sympathies, whether it’s his sympathies to Putin, whether it’s his fight that he’s getting in with the Khan family, in the minds of people who are not already in a camp, polarized one way or the other, it sows enough doubt.

    GWEN IFILL: But, on the other hand — always throws the on the other hand, Tam, which is, people are not going to decide who to vote for based on whether they think that, or are they, that Donald Trump is great friends with Vladimir Putin?

    TAMARA KEITH: I think that the economy is far more of a factor for American voters than what happens in Crimea.

    The sector of voters that are Crimea voters is probably not very large. So, going back to the Khan family and the feud with the Khan family, the question is whether this is the thing that pushes Donald Trump over the edge, whether this is the time.

    GWEN IFILL: We have said that before.

    TAMARA KEITH: And we have asked that many times, like with John McCain and various other things.

    This seems more like the time that he mocked a disabled reporter than other — because these are regular people. These are civilians. These aren’t politicians that he’s going after. And we won’t know for a while, but focus groups showed that mocking a disabled reporter was the most resonant thing. It’s the thing that…

    (CROSSTALK)

    TAMARA KEITH: … and why it’s in an ads. And I just think that you’re going to see this in an ad.

    GWEN IFILL: We saw both of them in the Rust Belt, Ohio, Pennsylvania, in the last few days. You were on the big bus tour, which must have been…

    (CROSSTALK)

    TAMARA KEITH: Exhausting.

    GWEN IFILL: Exhausting, yes.

    But I wonder what the candidates are doing now right out of their conventions, starting off on the general election, what this tells us about how they were received at the conventions and what they are trying to do next, Amy.

    AMY WALTER: Well, to build on Tam’s point about the economy, this is another missed opportunity here for the Trump campaign.

    On Friday, the news came out, GDP numbers terrible, were at like the second worst recovery since 1949. You’re supposed to go to the Rust Belt and make that case. See, the economy is not doing well under Obama, why would you let Hillary Clinton do it?

    Of course, that’s not what we were talking about this weekend. We were talking all of these things. What Hillary Clinton was doing this weekend — Tam was on the bus and actually saw this, but if you look at the cities that she went, she went right into Trump country. And that’s not because she thinks she’s going to win there, but campaigns are as much as about winning over voters as it is not losing by a lot.

    And she’s trying to narrow the margins. In those areas that Obama lost, she can’t lose by as worst percentage.

    GWEN IFILL: And I know it’s too soon to talk about convention bumps, even though there are a handful of polls out today showing that she has some kind of a bump.

    But how is this campaign then positioning itself to take advantage of whatever positivity they can get out of this negativity for their opponent?

    TAMARA KEITH: They’re trying to hold their ground.

    No matter what the bump says, I get the feeling that Hillary Clinton and the Clinton campaign is just going to keep plugging away. This is not a flashy campaign. This is the nitty-gritty work. I mean, they’re in Omaha, where there is one electoral vote that she could possibly maybe win.

    GWEN IFILL: And that’s Warren Buffett’s.

    (LAUGHTER)

    TAMARA KEITH: And that’s where Warren Buffett happens to be, and that is where he is introducing her.

    But they are doing the small ball, trying to win that way. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is going for the big splash, and this is a real test.

    GWEN IFILL: Of which will work.

    TAMARA KEITH: Of which will work.

    AMY WALTER: Yes. Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: Tamara Keith of NPR, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report, thank you both.

    TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.

    The post Will Trump’s criticism of regular Americans hurt him with voters? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Khizr Khan, who's son Humayun was killed serving in the U.S. Army ten years after September 11, 2001, speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron - RTSK696

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Democratic Convention in Philadelphia last week showcased presidents past, present and possibly future. But one man, standing next to his wife, neither of them before in the national spotlight, delivered a speech that’s reverberated across American politics.

    Lisa Desjardins wraps up today on the campaign trail.

    LISA DESJARDINS: For Donald Trump, today was a day for a Rust Belt swing of battleground states.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee: Thank you. Thank you very much.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Stopping this afternoon in Ohio, and later in Pennsylvania. But on Twitter this morning, the Republican nominee stepped back into days-old questioning criticizing the Gold Star parents of Army Captain Humayun Khan, who died in Iraq in 2004.

    Trump said Khizr Khan, the soldier’s father — quote — “viciously attacked me from the stage of the Democratic National Convention, and is now all over TV doing the same.”

    That convention speech last Thursday made headlines.

    KHIZR KHAN, Father of Soldier Killed in Iraq: Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    LISA DESJARDINS: Trump first pushed back in an ABC News interview that aired Sunday.

    DONALD TRUMP: I think I have made a lot of sacrifices. I have worked very, very hard. I have created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Reaction has been swift from both political parties, from President Obama speaking to disabled veterans in Atlanta today.

    BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: No one has given more to our freedom than our Gold Star families.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    BARACK OBAMA: Michelle and I have spent countless hours with them. We have grieved with them.

    LISA DESJARDINS: To Senate Republicans mired in reelection fights. Arizona’s John McCain said in a statement that Trump’s nomination doesn’t give him — quote — “unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.”

    Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire wrote: “I am appalled that Donald Trump would disparage the Khan family.”

    And there were more. Missouri’s Roy Blunt, Ohio’s Rob Portman, Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, and Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson all today separated themselves from Trump. And, notably, a group usually far outside politics, the Veterans of Foreign wars, or VFW, also weighed in, with a statement saying: “To ridicule a Gold Star mother is out-of-bounds.”

    His Democratic counterpart, Hillary Clinton, is in Nebraska today, but spoke about all this yesterday during her own Rust Belt tour.

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), Presidential Nominee: To launch an attack, as he did, on Captain Khan’s mother, a Gold Star mother, I don’t know where the bounds are. I don’t know where the bottom is.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Team Trump, though, has a different take. Trump’s V.P. nominee, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, said in his own statement that the Khan family should be cherished by every American. But Pence went on to attack President Obama and Hillary Clinton, whom he blames for the rise of ISIS and threat to the American military.

    Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort also hit that theme on Sunday’s “Face the Nation.”

    PAUL MANAFORT, Chair, Trump Campaign: The issue is not Mr. Khan and Donald Trump. The issue really is radical jihad — radical Islamic Jihad and the risk to the American homeland. That’s the issue.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Even as the controversy continues, Trump is scheduled to press on with his swing state tour, with stops in Virginia and Florida in coming days.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Lisa Desjardins.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And with me now are Khizr and Ghazala Khan.

    Thank you very much, both of you, for being here. And condolences to both of you on the loss of your son.

    GHAZALA KHAN, Mother of Soldier Killed in Iraq: Thank you very much.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Your lives have changed since Thursday night, haven’t they?

    KHIZR KHAN: Yes, certainly, for the better. The love and support has just lessened our burdens so very much from all directions, from all levels. There has been just pouring of affection, pouring of condolences and support.

    It has just been amazing to all over again see the goodness of this society, goodness of this country.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Donald Trump tweeted this morning — quote — “Mr. Khan, who doesn’t know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC, and is now all over TV doing the same. Nice.”

    He does seem irritated by your talking to the news media. What do you say to him about that?

    KHIZR KHAN: We are in the political process of the greatest democracy on the planet Earth. He is candidate for the highest office of this nation.

    He has to have the patience and tolerance for criticism. Him and I have same equal rights. In his eyes, he thinks that he can criticize people, but no one else can criticize. That is not the value of this country.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mrs. Khan, Donald Trump and his advisers are saying that what this is really is about is about radical Islamic terrorism, and he says that’s what everybody should be talking about.

    GHAZALA KHAN: I think he doesn’t know the Islam. I actually don’t want to talk about him or if — in my eyes, the people who know Islam, they won’t say these things.

    Islam is a peaceful religion, and I’m really proud of my religion. So, I still don’t understand why he’s so upset about this that I didn’t say anything at that time.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you’re referring to his comment about the fact that you didn’t speak at the convention, but you have been speaking since.

    GHAZALA KHAN: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But what do you make of his really constant connection between Islam the faith and what he calls radical Islamic terrorism? He connects the two directly.

    GHAZALA KHAN: I don’t think he should do that, but it is his beliefs. He can do — I can take criticism from him. I can take it, but I believe that he shouldn’t do that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mr. Khan, what about that? Because Donald Trump has quoted a poll last year that he said showed that more than 50 percent of American Muslims believe that there should be Sharia law, which advocates violent acts against women and acts — violent, in effect, terrorism?

    KHIZR KHAN: Sharia law cannot be implemented in this United States, because this distorted Sharia law is against the basic principle of equal dignity, equal protection of law in the United States.

    What are we talking about? These are political statements to gather votes and create hatred and dislike. I would love to sit down and talk on, what Sharia law are we talking about? There is no such thing.

    These are laws of these countries. These are hodgepodge of various traditions, various British laws, various colonized times, laws, legal system. There is no such thing. The United States has the Islamic law, which is equal protection of law under the 14th Amendment.

    Therefore, there is no fear, except fear-mongers make it fear. Unless we amend our Constitution and we take out the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, sure, we can talk about Sharia law coming in and sneaking in here and all that. Otherwise, there is no place for that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mrs. Khan, Donald Trump on his Web site refers to what he said in the past, that all Muslims should be banned for a time from coming to this country. He now says all Muslims coming from countries where there is violent, as he puts it, Islamic terrorism should be subject to additional scrutiny, additional background checks.

    Do you think that’s fair? Does that make sense?

    GHAZALA KHAN: I believe that we should be — really, our security should be really tight to let them in.

    But I shouldn’t — I do not believe that they should be banned, because there are lots of innocent people in these countries. They want to come out for their children’s life, for their life, so we shouldn’t ban anything without looking into it, because there are lots of people who want to come out of those countries, and they are innocent. They don’t have to do anything with terrorism.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mr. Khan, what about that?

    KHIZR KHAN: Of course we agree that there should be the strictest standards to scrutinize, make sure we only allow good people, we don’t allow bad people.

    But then what? Last few incidences have indicated that these are homegrown, bad people. How do you deal with that? How would you scrutinize through immigration? They’re here. They’re born here. Therefore, to deal with it is join hand with the community, make it known that the community is part of the society.

    The community has an obligation to monitor themselves while they are in this community. Terrorism, manners of terrorism cannot be defeated by army, by military action. If it was possible, this would have already taken place.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Two other quick things.

    Mrs. Khan, many Americans say more American Muslims need to speak out against terrorism.

    GHAZALA KHAN: True. I believe that.

    We should all get together and speak that terrorism is not the answer. You always get respect and love when you love someone.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, Mr. Khan, some of Donald Trump’s supporters are saying you and Mrs. Khan were tricked into doing this by the Clinton campaign.

    KHIZR KHAN: Not at all. We were not tricked. We were given an option.

    She is my editor of the speech that was about six pages’ long. She kept editing and editing. Don’t say this. Don’t say this. Don’t say this. I rely on her strength and on her support and guidance, so that speech became three-minutes-long speech.

    And the Constitution came into play. I carry this in my pocket out of affection for this document. At home, we have a stack of it sitting. Any time a guest comes, we give them a copy of it. Amazon says that they have not sold that many Constitutions ever. These are good civic lessons.

    Anybody that picks up the Constitution, reads it begins to realize the wonderful values that exist and begins to see the goodness of this country. And the same thing is on registration of vote. We — it’s a sacred right that true democracy gives us. Lots of us don’t use it, but if somehow we were able to encourage, I think it was worth.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mr. Khizr Khan, Mrs. Ghazala Khan, thank you very much for being here. Our deepest condolences on the loss of your son.

    KHIZR KHAN: Thank you for inviting us.

    GHAZALA KHAN: Thank you.

    KHIZR KHAN: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you.

    KHIZR KHAN: And we are glad to be here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And the Trump campaign didn’t respond to repeated requests to provide a spokesperson for an interview today.

    The post Khizr Khan: As candidate for the highest office, Trump needs tolerance for criticism appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    ELLICOTT CITY, MD - JULY 31:
Vincent Saulsbury clears his flooded basement after heavy floods devastated the historic district of the town on Sunday, July 31, 2016, in Ellicott City, MD.  Intense thunderstorms unloaded as many as eight inches of rain in three hours.  Ellicott City's Main Street was transformed into a raging river that swept away cars and inundated homes and businesses.  
(Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Three months to go in the presidential campaign, and for a third straight day, the headline is Donald Trump’s feud with the family of a soldier killed in Iraq.

    The Republican presidential nominee took heat today from his own party, but he showed no sign of relenting. We will have the story in full right after the news summary.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Warnings about the Zika virus are intensifying in South Florida. Officials now say 14 cases were likely transmitted locally by mosquitoes, all within a neighborhood north of downtown Miami. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today issued a new warning to pregnant women to avoid that area.

    GWEN IFILL: Main Street in Ellicott City, Maryland, is a muddy shambles after a flash flood that killed two people Saturday night. It was triggered by a cloudburst of more than six inches of rain. Cell phone video captured people linking up to reach a woman in a car that was being carried away. Today, officials praised the rescuers.

    ALLAN KITTLEMAN, Executive, Howard County, Maryland: That human chain has gone around the world five or six times already. But people know that whatever people in a community would do that for their neighbors or even for strangers, they will not let this storm defeat us. We are going to make sure that Ellicott City rises up to be an even stronger, even more vibrant place than it is right now.

    GWEN IFILL: Officials say the damage will run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And from flood to fire. Cooler temperatures in central California today helped fire crews trying to corral a wildfire north of Big Sur. It has scorched more than 60 square miles since July 22, roughly the size of San Francisco. The fire has destroyed 57 homes and still threatens 2,000 more structures. It is less than 20 percent contained.

    GWEN IFILL: The United States launched multiple airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Libya today. At the request of Libya’s U.S.-backed government, they targeted a tank and other vehicles in the coastal city of Sirte. The strikes were the first by the U.S. since February.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In Northern Syria, a Russian transport helicopter was shot down, leaving all five crew and officers on board dead. The MI-8 helicopter was shot down in Idlib province, where Russian warplanes often target Syrian rebels. Moscow blamed a faction linked to al-Qaida.

    LT. GEN. SERGEI RUDSKOY, Russian Military General Staff (through translator): A terrorist act was committed today. The helicopter was coming back from a humanitarian mission, after having delivered food and medicine to the Aleppo residents. It was shot down from the ground in the area controlled by the militant group Nusra Front and the troops of moderate opposition that joined them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Also today, rebels claimed early progress in a new attempt to break the siege of Eastern Aleppo, but the Syrian military denied it.

    GWEN IFILL: Back in this country, for the first time, more than 60 groups affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement joined today to offer criminal justice and policing reforms. Among other things, the groups are pushing for an end to police use of military-style gear and vehicles. They also urge decriminalizing some offenses for drugs, sex work and youth crimes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Yet another voter I.D. law has been struck down. A federal judge ruled today that North Dakota’s statute is an undue burden on Native Americans. It requires a driver’s license or other identify cards issued by state or tribal officials. Similar laws in North Carolina and Wisconsin were struck down Friday.

    GWEN IFILL: And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 27 points to close at 18404. The Nasdaq rose 22 points, and the S&P 500 slipped two.

    The post News Wrap: Maryland town in shambles after flash flood that killed two appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    File photo of President Barack Obama at the White House by Mary F. Calvert/Reuters

    File photo of President Barack Obama at the White House by Mary F. Calvert/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The prime minister of Singapore joined President Barack Obama at the White House Tuesday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of U.S. diplomatic relations with the Southeast Asian city state. But the two leaders will also discuss a shared cause with less rosy prospects — the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal.

    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was greeted by an elaborate welcome ceremony as his limousine pulled in to the South Lawn of the White House. Hundreds of U.S. military members in blue and white uniforms formed an honor guard, some carrying bayoneted rifles. A canon fired repeatedly as a military band played the two countries’ national anthems.

    Obama and Lee were to meet in the Oval Office. Lee will also be honored with a state dinner on Tuesday evening.

    Singapore, a close U.S. partner, is one of the 12 nations in the TPP, an agreement key to Obama’s effort to boost U.S. exports and build strategic ties in Asia. But Lee’s Washington visit comes as opposition to the TPP intensifies in the United States. Both Republican contender Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, who are competing to succeed Obama as president, are against it.

    Speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce late Monday, Lee urged its ratification, saying the pact would give the U.S. better access to the markets that account for 40 percent of global economic output. He said it would also add heft to Washington’s so-called “rebalance” policy for the Asia-Pacific region.

    “For America’s friends and partners, ratifying the TPP is a litmus test of your credibility and seriousness of purpose,” he said.

    His sentiments are shared by Obama, who told Singapore’s The Straits Times in an interview published Monday that the U.S. can’t “turn inward” and embrace protectionism because of economic anxieties that have been drawn out by the presidential election.

    The Obama administration says it remains determined to try and win congressional approval for TPP, but the chances of achieving that in the “lame duck” session after the Nov. 8 election and before the new president takes office Jan. 20 appear slim because of the depth of political opposition, not least from Obama’s fellow Democrats.

    The deal would eliminate trade barriers and tariffs, streamline standards and encourage investment between the 12 countries that include Mexico, Japan, Vietnam and Australia. But critics say the pact undercuts American workers by introducing lower-wage competition and gives huge corporations too much leeway.

    Singapore, a city state of 5.7 million people, is heavily dependent on international trade for its prosperity. In 2004, it became the first Asian nation to strike a bilateral free trade agreement with the U.S. Last year, the bilateral trade in goods totaled $47 billion, with the U.S. enjoying a $10 billion surplus.

    Singapore is also a strong advocate of the U.S. security role in Asia although it retains cordial ties with China too. Under Obama, the U.S. has deployed littoral combat ships in Singapore, and last December, deployed a P-8 Poseidon spy plane there for the first time, amid heightened tensions in the South China Sea.

    Lee’s meeting with Obama on Tuesday will be watched for reaction to an international tribunal ruling July 12 that invalidated China’s historical claims to most of the disputed South China Sea. The U.S. says the ruling is binding but China has rejected it. Southeast Asian nations have been reluctant to speak out against Beijing.

    Lee will be honored with a state dinner Tuesday evening — the first held for a Singaporean leader since October 1985, when Ronald Reagan hosted Lee’s late father, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

    The U.S. and Singapore opened diplomatic relations in 1966, a year after the U.S. recognized Singapore’s independence from Malaysia.

    The post Obama meeting Singapore prime minister, looks to boost TPP trade pact appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    File photo of Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    File photo of Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    CARSON CITY, Nev. — Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence defended a military mom’s right to criticize Donald Trump’s comments about the Muslim parents of a slain U.S. Army veteran during a campaign stop in Nevada, and then lashed out at the media’s coverage of the controversy at the next.

    Pence quieted a crowd that was booing a woman who asked Pence at a town hall meeting in Carson City Monday how he could tolerate Trump’s disrespect for American servicemen. In Reno a few hours later, Pence said that both he and Trump have stated that “Capt. Humayun Khan is an American hero.”

    Pence said he understands and appreciates the attention given to Kahn’s family. But he doesn’t understand “why the media maligned and continues to ignore the moving mother of fallen Air Force veteran and diplomat Sean Smith.”

    Pence said much of the same media criticizing Trump earlier condemned Patricia Smith’s speech at the GOP convention about the U.S. information officer killed in the 2012 attack in Benghazi.

    “Let’s demand the media listen to and honor all of the families of the fallen in this country,” he said.

    The post Pence defends military mom’s right to criticize Trump appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Screen image of Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by PBS NewsHour

    Screen image of Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by PBS NewsHour

    WASHINGTON — The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says officials are finding it challenging to eradicate mosquitoes in a part of Miami where 14 people appear to have contracted the Zika virus.

    CDC Director Tom Frieden told ABC’s “Good Morning America” Tuesday that officials issued a rare travel warning advising pregnant women to avoid Miami’s Wynwood arts district because mosquito counts are still high in the area.

    Frieden said it’s possible mosquitoes are resistant to the insecticide being used, but it could take weeks for federal and state officials to figure that out. He said there also could be breeding sites that haven’t been destroyed.

    He said mosquito control is difficult in the neighborhood because it has industrial, commercial and residential development. The mosquito that carries the virus is generally difficult to eradicate.

    The post CDC: Mosquito eradication difficult in Miami neighborhood appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A student walks through the University of Texas campus in Austin, Texas, where a Marine-trained sniper killed 17 dead and wounded more than 45 others, 50 years ago. Photo by Jon Herskovitz/Reuters

    A student walks through the University of Texas campus in Austin, Texas, where a Marine-trained sniper killed 17 dead and wounded more than 45 others, 50 years ago. Photo by Jon Herskovitz/Reuters

    For some people, the attack on police officers by a gunman in Dallas this summer brought to mind another attack by a sniper in Austin 50 years ago — on Aug. 1, 1966. That’s when student Charles Whitman stuck his rifle over the edge of the clock tower at the University of Texas at Austin and started shooting. Ultimately, he killed 16 people and wounded more than 30 others.

    For decades, people have struggled to figure out why. There have been theories about abuse, a brain tumor and, of course, mental illness.

    Six months before Charles Whitman took aim from that tower he visited a school psychiatrist, and admitted while there that he had a violent fantasy of going to the top of the tower with a deer rifle and shooting people.

    Gary Lavergne, who wrote A Sniper in the Tower, said the school psychiatrist, Dr. Maurice D. Heatly, claimed he’d had many students who recounted violent fantasies during therapy sessions.

    “Today we take it a whole lot more seriously because of our history,” Lavergne said. “But back then, that kind of thing didn’t happen.”

    Listen to the accompanying radio report aired on NPR.

    Soon after the 1966 shooting, Heatly spoke in a news conference.

    “It’s a common experience for students who come to the mental hygiene clinic to refer to the tower as the site of some desperate action,” Heatly told reporters. “They say ‘I feel like jumping off of the old tower.’ [Charles Whitman had] no psychosis symptoms at all!”

    Whitman never went back to the clinic, but he did return to his violent fantasy. Lavergne said the 25-year-old former Marine and Eagle Scout was incredibly methodical as he went about killing his mother the night before the tower shootings, placing her body in bed as if she were sleeping. Then he went back home and stabbed his wife.

    “By 3 o’clock in the morning, his wife and his mother are both murdered,” said Lavergne. “After that, until he goes to the campus, he spent the rest of his time polishing, getting weapons ready, buying more ammunition. All for the specific goal of going to the top of the UT tower and shooting people.”

    Nearly two hours later, 16 people were dead and 32 more were wounded. Police finally killed Whitman.

    Speaking to the media, John Connally, who was then governor of Texas, could barely find words.

    “Of course I am concerned, disturbed, and yet somewhat at a loss to know how you prevent a maniacal act of a man who obviously goes berserk,” Connally said.

    Fifty years later, when news about shootings in Dallas, in Orlando or San Bernardino hits, our reactions are much the same. We avoid those charged words, but we often assume the shooter is mentally ill, and that crimes like this could be avoided if those with serious mental illness didn’t have guns.

    Which raises two questions: First, was Charles Whitman mentally ill? And second, could policies focusing on mental health prevent mass shootings?

    As to the first question, Lavergne said he doesn’t think Whitman had serious mental illness. Whitman, he said, did have mental health challenges that are common — depression and anxiety. But more than anything, he was manipulative.

    “He was always who he was expected to be,” Lavergne said. “In front of his father-in-law, he at times appeared to be a dutiful husband, when — in fact — he assaulted his wife, just like his daddy assaulted his mother. And he gave people the impression he was an honor student, when — in fact — when he died he had a 1.9 grade point average.”

    Charles Whitman did seem to think something was wrong with him. This is an excerpt from a note he left on his wife’s body:

    “I don’t really understand myself these days,” he wrote. “I’m supposed to be an average, reasonable and intelligent young man. However, lately, I can’t recall when it started, I have been a victim of many unusual and irrational thoughts. These thoughts constantly recur.”

    Whitman didn’t mention he’d also been abusing amphetamines. The potential impact of those chemicals fizzled out of the public conversation as soon as a pathologist made a striking discovery in his autopsy: a brain tumor.

    One doctor said the “grayish yellow mass” wasn’t a factor in explaining what Whitman had done. But a medical panel later diagnosed the mass as a glioblastoma and said it could have contributed to Whitman’s inability to control his emotions and his actions. Dr. Elizabeth Burton, a Dallas pathologist, agrees it’s possible.

    “You can have headaches, you can have seizures, and you can have changes in cognition, and you can actually have personality changes,” she said.

    But plenty of people have tumors and are not violent. And plenty of people have depression, anxiety and paranoia and aren’t violent.

    Dr. Paul Appelbaum, a psychiatrist and director of the division of law, ethics, and psychiatry at Columbia University, pointed out that only a tiny percent of violence — about 4 percent in the U.S. — is attributable to mental illness.

    “We know that people with serious mental disorders are at somewhat elevated risk of committing violence,” Appelbaum said. “Even so, the vast majority of them never commit a violent act. And we know that people with serious mental illnesses are much more likely to end up as victims of violence rather than as perpetrators.”

    But Democrats and Republicans have both touted mental health care legislation as a way of preventing mass shootings.

    After a shooter killed 20 children in Newtown, President Obama called for a gun crackdown. That didn’t happen. But, Obama’s 2017 budget does include a request for $500 million for mental health services.

    Appelbaum said this is a misguided approach.

    “We need more funding for treatment of people with mental illness in this country,” Appelbaum said. “But to argue for that funding on false grounds — namely to try and persuade the public that it will protect them [to] have more mental health clinics — in the long run can only backfire.”

    Applebaum said he believes there are alternatives. At least temporarily limiting access to guns for some people make sense, he said. In general, people who have been convicted of violent misdemeanors, or who are a under temporary restraining order, or who have multiple DUI convictions over a 5-year period are more likely to commit acts of violence than people with mental illness are.

    This story is part of a partnership with NPR, local member stations and Kaiser Health News. KHN 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 the KHN website.

    The post Gun violence and mental health laws, 50 years after Texas tower sniper appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The Duke Energy coal-fired power plant is seen from the Dan River in Eden, North Carolina February 19, 2014. Photo by Chris Keane/Reuters

    The Duke Energy coal-fired power plant is seen from the Dan River in Eden, North Carolina February 19, 2014. Photo by Chris Keane/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — North Carolina’s top public health official acted unethically and possibly illegally by telling residents living near Duke Energy coal ash pits that their well water is safe to drink when it’s contaminated with a chemical known to cause cancer, a state toxicologist said in sworn testimony.

    The Associated Press obtained a full copy of the 220-page deposition given last month by toxicologist Ken Rudo as part of a lawsuit. The nation’s largest electricity company has asked a federal judge to seal the record, claiming its public disclosure would potentially prejudice jurors.

    Rudo’s boss, state public health director Dr. Randall Williams, in March reversed earlier warnings that had told the affected residents not to drink their water. The water is contaminated with cancer-causing hexavalent chromium at levels many times higher than Rudo had determined is safe.

    “The state health director’s job is to protect public health,” testified Rudo, who has been the state’s toxicologist for nearly 30 years. “And in this specific instance, the opposite occurred. He knowingly told people that their water was safe when we knew it wasn’t.”

    Chromium is a metallic element that occurs naturally in the environment but can also be produced by industrial activity. Its most toxic form — hexavalent chromium or chromium-6 — is known to cause lung cancer when inhaled, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it is likely to be carcinogenic when ingested.

    How to get Chromium-6 out of your water

    As part of his deposition, Rudo said hexavalent chromium would cause an increased lifetime risk of causing tumors in those who drink it, especially for pregnant women, infants and children under age of 12.

    In April 2015, North Carolina officials issued letters to the owners of 330 water wells near Duke Energy’s coal-burning plants that their well water was too contaminated with the heavy metals vanadium and hexavalent chromium to use. Some wells showed hexavalent chromium levels many times higher than the state’s warning level — a one-in-a-million risk for a person to develop cancer over their lifetime, according to state officials.

    Hexavalent chromium is known to be present in coal ash, the byproduct generated after coal is burned to generate electricity. Duke has said that both forms of chromium can occur naturally in soil, and denies its massive dumps containing coal ash near the affected wells is the source of the contamination.

    Williams, an obstetrician and gynecologist who had worked in private practice, was appointed as state health director in July 2015, after the warning letters were issued.

    According to Rudo’s deposition, his new boss questioned whether the one-in-a-million risk standard laid out in state law was too strict when applied to the well water near Duke’s coal ash pits. In countermanding the earlier decision, Williams adopted Duke’s previously stated view that the .07-parts-per- billion health standard developed by Rudo and his colleagues based on reviews of the latest scientific studies was too cautious.

    Rudo holds a doctorate in environmental toxicology, the study of the harmful effects of various chemicals on the human body. Williams signed the letters reversing the decision himself, after another public health official in Rudo’s department refused on ethical grounds, according to the deposition.

    Duke Energy argued in court papers earlier this month that Rudo’s deposition should be kept private because the company’s lawyers had limited opportunities to question him during the July 11 deposition.

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    A student walks through the University of Texas campus in Austin, Texas, where a Marine-trained sniper killed 17 dead and wounded more than 45 others, 50 years ago. Photo by Jon Herskovitz/Reuters

    A student walks through the University of Texas campus in Austin, Texas, where a Marine-trained sniper killed 17 and wounded more than 45 others, 50 years ago. Photo by Jon Herskovitz/Reuters

    AUSTIN, Texas — Texas’ new law allowing concealed handguns in college classrooms, buildings and dorms has barely started and already faces a legal challenge seeking to block it before students return for the fall semester.

    Three professors at the University of Texas sued July 6 to overturn the law, claiming it is unconstitutional and is forcing colleges to impose “dangerously-experimental gun policies.” The 50,000-student Austin campus has been a flashpoint of opposition to the law among faculty and students.

    The law took effect Monday, the 50th anniversary Charles Whitman’s sniper attack from the top of University of Texas campus clock tower, a shooting spree that eventually claimed 17 lives and has come to be accepted as the nation’s first mass shooting.

    U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel had previously scheduled a preliminary injunction hearing for Thursday in Austin. Classes at the University of Texas start Aug. 24.

    Texas has allowed licensed concealed handguns in public since 1995 but had previously made college buildings off limits.

    The new law makes Texas one of eight states with laws that allow weapons on campus and inside buildings, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Another 23 let their campuses or governing boards decide.

    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday called the lawsuit “frivolous” and urged its dismissal. Gun rights advocates say it’s a key self-defense measure that is protected under the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

    “I’m confident it will be dismissed because the Legislature passed a constitutionally sound law,” Paxton said.

    The Texas law allows schools to set some gun limits, such as banning weapons from campus hospitals or labs with dangerous chemicals. The University of Texas rules allow professors to ban weapons from their private offices and places some restrictions on dorms.

    The lawsuit by sociology professor Jennifer Lynn Glass, creative writing professor Lisa Moore and English professor Mia Carter says allowing guns into classrooms could be dangerous when discussions can wade into emotionally and politically charged topics such as gay rights and abortion.

    “Compelling professors at a public university to allow, without any limitation or restriction, students to carry concealed guns in their classrooms chills their First Amendment rights to academic freedom,” their lawsuit says.

    The lawsuit also challenges claims that the law is protected by the Second Amendment right bear arms and says it violates the Constitutional equal protection clause.

    Texas’ Republican-majority Legislature passed the law in 2015 over similar objections from student and faculty groups, most notably at the Austin campus.

    University of Texas System Chancellor, former Retired Adm. William McRaven, a former Navy SEAL who coordinated the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, urged lawmakers not to pass the law, telling them allowing guns would make campuses “less safe.”

    University of Texas administrators and faculty have warned the law will make it difficult to attract and retain top students, teachers and researchers. University of Texas School of Architecture dean Fritz Steiner cited the law as a reason to leave the school for a job at the University of Pennsylvania.

    But those worries haven’t resonated statewide. At Texas A&M University, Chancellor John Sharp supported the law and professors there won’t be allowed to ban weapons from their offices without special permission from the administration.

    Supporters of the campus carry law say its impact is overstated, because most students won’t be legally allowed to carry concealed weapons.

    Texas law requires handgun license holders to be 21 years old (18 if active military), have clean criminal records and pass classroom and gun range training, although training requirements have been reduced in recent years. Texas recently passed 1 million handgun license holders.

    The law does not allow open carry of handguns in college buildings and all weapons must remain out of sight.

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    SEATTLE -- The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear a challenge to Seattle's $15-an-hour minimum wage from franchise owners who say the law discriminates against them by treating them as large businesses. People rally in support of a $15 minimum wage at Seattle Central Community College in Seattle, Washington March 15, 2014. Voters in SeaTac, Washington recently passed a ballot initiative for $15 minimum wage. Photo by Jason Redmond/Reuters

    Raising the minimum wage has not hurt anyone except the boogeyman in the imagination of the 1 percenters and their entourage, writes economist John Komlos, author of “What Every Economics Student Needs to Know and Doesn’t Get in the Usual Principles Text.” Photo by Jason Redmond/Reuters

    The economics of the minimum wage is widely misunderstood. While many commentators claim unjustifiably that increases in the minimum wage destroy jobs, there is actually no evidence to support their contention. Considered superficially, the logic seems plausible. If the price of something increases you’ll buy less of it, won’t you?

    Nonsense. Obviously, it is possible, but it ain’t necessarily so. That’s the key point: it ain’t necessarily so. It is essentially an empirical issue.

    While many commentators claim unjustifiably that increases in the minimum wage destroy jobs, there is actually no evidence to support their contention.

    Consider the context. Take the cup of coffee I have in the morning. I don’t care how much the price of coffee is — double it, triple it — I’ll still drink a cup in the morning. I won’t drink less of it. Or consider orange juice. I paid $2.35 for a quart the other day, but it was worth $4.00 to me. So in a sense I made a “profit” of $1.65. Thus, if the price were to increase to $3, I would still buy that orange juice, and I would still make $1 “profit.” See what I mean?

    The same thing is true for labor. Labor is worth a lot more to firms than they are paying for it. They are lucky in that they have the power to offer little and get a lot for it in the absence of countervailing power. The difference is their profit. Workers are organizing, but they have lacked power, because they have had little government backing, lacked union support, and they faced stiff competition from the unemployed multitude. In such a power imbalance, it is easy for firms to exploit their superior position, pay little and get a lot of work done.

    Today’s low-wage workers are far better educated than in 1968: 46 percent have some college compared to 17 percent in 1968, and 79 percent have high school diploma versus 48 percent in 1968. Yet they earn 23 percent less! Competition does not raise wages in an economy in which millions are looking for work. In that type of an economy, any type of work beats becoming homeless.

    READ MORE: Is a $15 minimum wage a boon or a risk for low-paid workers?

    Of course, there are a few ma-and-pa operations that are struggling already, making no profit and cannot afford to pay higher wages. Those businesses will have to let go an employee and work harder to make up the difference. So there will be a couple of workers laid off. But such shoestring operations are a miniscule segment of today’s economy, and our default model should not be based on them. As long as firms are making hefty profits, an increase in the minimum wage is most likely to affect only the profit rate.

    And today’s economy is characterized by mega-oligopolies wielding stupendous power and making stupendous profits — $2.2 trillion worth in 2015. Here are some examples: Walmart made $19.2 billion in 2015; Home Depot, $7.0 billion; CVS, $5.2 billion; McDonald’s, $4.8 billion; Walgreens, $3.4 billion; Target, $3.4 billion; Lowe’s, $2.5 billion; Kroger, $2.0 billion; Hilton, $1.4 billion. They all pay mostly miserable wages. In fact, one thing this economy is great at is producing profits. It is not great at raising salaries, it is not great at keeping people out of jail, it is not great at creating an educated labor force, but it is great at making profits.

    Twenty-nine states, D.C. and 21 cities and counties have a higher minimum wage than the miserly federal rate of $7.25.

    While Congress is catatonic, many states and municipalities are acting to protect workers. Twenty-nine states, D.C. and 21 cities and counties have a higher minimum wage than the miserly federal rate of $7.25. Having been enacted through referendums, it’s clear that the increases have voter support. Seattle’s minimum wage jumped from $9.47 to $11 in April 2015. Prior to that, the town of SeaTac, also in the state of Washington, implemented an increase to $15 in early 2014. Yet the unemployment rate did not increase at all; instead it fell in SeaTac from 6 percent to today’s 5.3 percent (in line with national trends), and employment is up by 6 percent since the enactment of the law.

    In Seattle, the increase in minimum wage is being phased in much slower and is only at $13 today for those franchises whose chain employs more than 500 workers. It will reach $15 for such large establishments, but only for those not paying health insurance in 2017; it will not become generally binding until 2022. The city of Chicago will also be raising the minimum wage to $13 by 2019. It started at $10 on July 1, 2015. California will lift the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2022 and New York State by 2018. In other words, there is a movement afoot to recognize that market outcomes are unbearable to a very large segment of the population.

    READ MORE: Column: Why raising the minimum wage is good economics

    Yet, the Republican Party platform skirts the issue of the federal minimum wage, stating, “Minimum wage is an issue that should be handled at the state and local level.” In stark contrast, the Democratic platform calls for an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 hours, asserting that “the current minimum wage is a starvation wage and must be increased to a living wage.”

    Unemployment in Seattle during the year before April 2015 averaged 4.1 percent, whereas during the year after that, it was 4.2 percent. This is hardly a meaningful difference. (Unemployment rates vary month to month. For example, the national employment rate was 4.7 percent in May and 4.9 percent in June.) In fact, the number of people employed in the Seattle area increased by 61,000 or 3.3 percent during the year after April 2015. No trace of massive layoffs there either. In fact, in April 2015 Seattle’s employment numbers were increasing 2 percent faster than the national rate. In April 2016, they were rising 2.3 percent faster.

    Raising the minimum wage has not hurt anyone except the boogeyman in the imagination of the 1 percenters and their entourage.

    What about prices? Did they rise as opponents of raising the minimum wage said they would? Seattle’s inflation was 2.5 percent — not very different from the 2.2 percent experienced by other urban consumers in the West, as indicated by the Consumer Price Index in Table 10. Researchers have also not found a difference in the inflation rate between Seattle and its suburbs. But even if all of the 2.5 percent inflation was due to the increase in minimum wage, it would mean a mere 2.5 cent increase for a cheeseburger. Do you think that would be worth having a fairer distribution of income? Fewer fast-food workers would require public assistance with an increase in the minimum wage. Now, fully half do. It makes no sense for taxpayers to subsidize the profits of the fast-food industry.

    Raising the minimum wage has not hurt anyone except the boogeyman in the imagination of the 1 percenters and their entourage. Conservatives are merely throwing invectives at a phantom of their own imagination. But they never complain about the annual salary of Target’s CEO being $28 million or that of Walmart being $19 million. No, that doesn’t increase prices at all, but increasing the wage of their employees from $9.47 to $11.00 an hour does. What hypocrisy!

    The post Column: Why a $15 minimum wage shouldn’t scare us appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A fighter of Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government fires a shell with a Soviet-made T-55 tank at Islamic State fighters in Sirte, Libya, on Aug. 2. Photo by Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

    A fighter of Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government fires a shell with a Soviet-made T-55 tank at Islamic State fighters in Sirte, Libya, on Aug. 2. Photo by Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Libya continued for a second day Tuesday, as President Barack Obama called the new bombing campaign critical to protecting U.S. national security interests.

    The strikes are needed to ensure that Libya’s fragile new Government of National Accord is “able to finish the job” and drive the militants out of the troubled North African country, Obama said.

    Obama authorized the Pentagon to open a new, more persistent military front against Islamic State insurgents in Libya after the internationally backed government there asked for help with precision-targeting inside the city of Sirte.

    Obama told reporters Tuesday at a White House news conference that the campaign would continue for as long as necessary “to assure that ISIL does not get a stronghold in Libya.” And he reiterated his regret that conditions in the country deteriorated since the NATO-led bombing campaign that drove longtime strongman Moammar Gadhafi from power in 2011.

    “I think that all of us collectively were not sufficiently attentive to what had to happen the day after and the day after and the day after that in order to ensure that there were strong structures in place to assure basic security and peace inside of Libya,” he said. He added that the instability in the country helped fuel the migration crisis in Europe and humanitarian tragedies as people fled Libya.

    Earlier this year, Islamic State militants tried to establish a headquarters in Libya, seeking safe haven as the group came under greater pressure from the U.S.-led coalition bombings in Iraq and Syria.

    But, the number of IS fighters in Libya has dwindled from as many as 6,000 to now just some hundreds, weakened by an offensive launched in May by local militias, including many under the control of the U.N.-brokered government.

    Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters the U.S. launched airstrikes on five locations in Sirte Monday and two Tuesday, targeting tanks, vehicles, a rocket launcher and Islamic State fighting positions.

    U.S. officials said Marine Corps strike aircraft participated in the mission, flying from the USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship in the Mediterranean Sea. The AV-8B Harriers conducted strikes on at least one location Monday, and were expected to fly again Tuesday, according to the defense officials, who were not authorized to discuss the missions publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.

    He said a small number of U.S. forces are in Libya working out of an air operations center to help assess and validate targeting information that the Libyans are giving to the Americans. The precision bombing, he said, has enabled the U.S. to take out militants that had blocked the Libya fighters from pushing further into Sirte’s center city.

    The goal of what Davis called a “finite” military campaign is to drive the Islamic State group out of Sirte. He said the mission is expected to last weeks, not months.

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    Step through an unassuming door, dwarfed by new apartment monoliths off Seattle’s Pike Street, and you are in Steve Jensen’s studio; one of the few grand loft/studio spaces left on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. A huge, white-bricked interior is adorned with dozens of paintings, sculptures and tall totem-like carvings. Most are the upward-smile bows of boat shapes — painted, welded, carved and fused in glass.

    "Blood Red Böt in Port Valdez"

    “Blood Red Böt in Port Valdez”

    The boat is the emblem of Steve Jensen’s Norwegian soul. Boats carried his grandparents to America from Bergen, and boats are where he spent his young life as son and grandson of fishermen and boat builders. Boats are what he paints, carves, welds and bends.

    “The image of the boat is meant to symbolize a voyage,” says Jensen. “Perhaps it is the voyage to the other side, or the journey to the unknown.”

    And, of course, the voyage from the old world to the new. It’s not a surprise that Jensen’s given name is Sven.

    “When I walk into Steve’s studio and look at his work I am immediately surrounded by a sense of Nordic-ness,” says Eric Nelson, CEO of Seattle’s Nordic Heritage Museum. “When you look at the occupations that Scandinavians took on when they came to the Pacific Northwest, you see boat builders, fishermen and people working in the maritime industries. And even though Steve is an accomplished artist, you see these references coming back.”

    In a series of paintings, Jensen places graceful boats on different watery and moonlit fields. Some appear unexpectedly from fog and others quietly escape into mist. Most are on wood and sealed in glossy resin, enhancing both their separate mystical worlds and the materials that mariners use every day. On some of Jensen’s larger pieces, one might not see a boat at all, but rather anticipate one to emerge from a wide energetic expanse.

    There are sturdy and imaginative sculptures — big heavy pieces that wrap resins and glass to brass, portholes, chains, stanchions, clasps and all manner of material that once had another use alongside water.

    “Rigging Canoe”, recycled glass, boat resin, salvaged bronze and rope.

    “Rigging Canoe”, recycled glass, boat resin, salvaged bronze and rope.

    “I’ve been using recycled materials for over 35 years,” Jensen says. “I pick them up off of beaches and hunt marine salvage yards. I like to make something beautiful out of something that is going to be thrown away.”

    And then there are the memorial boats, where Jensen expresses grief and loss.

    "Sylvain". Photo by Linda Young

    “Sylvain”. Photo by Linda Young

    When his best friend Sylvain was dying of AIDS, he presented Jensen with a drawing of a boat and asked that it be made to carry his ashes out to sea. Jensen started on what would become a ritual, taking the small funeral boat to a place between Southworth and Blake Island in Puget Sound and sinking it. He then made a memorial boat for Sylvain that would be a museum piece. He did the same for his mother and father and his partner of over 20 years. They are together in that water and together in a magnificent creation of memorials along with less personal boats in which Jensen incorporates ideas of life and death — voyage — from Mexico, China, Antarctica, Norway (of course), Australia and other cultures.

    Watch next: All-male choir at Detroit school shares a hopeful vision

    Again, Nelson notes the Nordic-ness of this. “Boats being used as funerary vessels is a tradition that goes way, way back — even burial mounds of boats that have been burial chambers for Vikings.”

    Says Jensen, “I just want people to think of voyage and journey in whatever way it may mean to them when they’re looking at my work.”


    This report originally appeared on Seattle’s public television station KCTS9. The video was produced by Stephen Hegg and edited by Amy Mahardy. Aileen Imperial was the director of photography. Local Beat is an ongoing series on Art Beat that features arts and culture stories from PBS member stations around the nation.

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    Jesus Christ The Redeemer seen through Olympic Rings at Rodrigo de Freitas Lake, a rowing training session venue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil August 2, 2016.   REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.   - RTSKQD4

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: With the Summer Olympics set to open in Brazil later this week, big questions remain about whether Rio de Janeiro is ready, and whether it can get completely ready in time.

    Jeffrey Brown has our look.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The governor recently declared a state of public calamity. City waterways are fouled and filled with bacteria, streets are clogged with traffic, and transportation projects aren’t finished. And beyond the Olympics, political chaos, as President Dilma Rousseff awaits an impeachment trial.

    Days before the start of the Olympic Games, we look at the state of play in Brazil with NPR’s Rio de Janeiro-based Lulu Garcia-Navarro, Alex Cuadros, author of the book “Brazillionaires,” a look at wealth and inequality in Brazil in the decade leading up to the Olympics, and Paulo Sotero, director of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

    Welcome to all of you.

    Lulu Garcia-Navarro, let me start with you.

    How prepared or unprepared is Brazil for these Games? And how are people that you’re talking to feeling about the Games just before they start?

    LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, NPR: I mean, I think it’s undeniable that it’s been very bumpy, just starting with the athletes and the Olympic Village. Half of them couldn’t move in. They had to send in an army of repairmen to fix basic infrastructure questions like electricity and plumbing.

    And we have seen a lot of other complaints, just today in the media village, some of the reporters complaining about the lack and quality of food. So it has been very bumpy. If you speak to ordinary Brazilians, they are not surprised by the problems, but they are definitely disappointed.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And just to stay with you a moment, even today, we heard of reports of huge amounts of traffic, 70-mile backups there in Rio. Have you experienced some of that?

    LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO: I have.

    I mean, Rio is always a challenging city to move around in. It’s a city with huge mountains and poor infrastructure. Add to that the fact that you have dedicated lanes now that are for Olympic transportation, buses and cars for the IOC members.

    And that’s meant that just people who are moving around the city in regular vehicles have had to face enormous amounts of traffic. Getting from Copacabana to the main Olympic venues, which are about 20 miles away, took me about two-and-a-half a hours the other day. So, it is a challenge.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Alex Cuadros, the promise was that these Games, of course, would benefit Brazilians beyond the Olympics, right, that they would reach the larger society.

    In what ways do you see that happening, and where is it falling short?

    ALEX CUADROS, Author, “Brazillionaires”: Well, look, I think that the Olympics were pitched to Brazilians as an excuse to modernize all of this woefully lacking infrastructure in Rio.

    And some of the projects that were built really will help the population at large. A number of express bus lines were created that are going to be a big benefit to the working-class Brazilians who can spend two-and-a-half-hours commuting each way every day.

    But Lulu talking about the traffic, you know, she brings up a really interesting point, which is, why were most of the Olympic installations put in this wealthy suburb known as Barra da Tijuca? It’s an area of the city where only 300,000 people live, and where people are generally much wealthier than the rest of the city.

    Meanwhile, poorer areas of the city like the north side remain desperately in need of public works.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Paulo Sotero, of course, the original idea also — this goes back to when Brazil got the Olympics in 2009, I think — was a kind of coming out party for the country on the world stage, right, to present itself as a major power and certainly an economic power? Where does that — how does that look now?

    PAULO SOTERO, Director, Brazil Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center: Well, it looks like the government oversold the story, because that really didn’t come to pass.

    Brazil a few years after that entered into its most serious economic crisis in a century. Eleven million people lost their jobs. So the promise of the Olympics didn’t have a chance. At the same time, we know now that people in the government in the state of Brazil were involved in a criminal organization, so says the attorney general of the country, stealing, assaulting the largest Brazilian company, Petrobras, headquartered in Rio.

    So, obviously, if we knew then what we know now, I believe most Brazilians would have been against hosting the Olympics. And now most Brazilians are disappointed, and not expecting much from the Olympics.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, Lulu, let me go back to you in Rio.

    One major issue, of course, is security. With all that’s happened in various cities around the world over the past months, how big a threat is it there? How seriously is it being taken?

    LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO: I think it’s now being taken extremely seriously, but, again, as with everything here, the criticism is that the Brazilian government took the threat too seriously too late.

    If you look around the streets of Rio de Janeiro right now, it’s a heavily militarized city. You have over 80,000 security forces here. That’s twice the number of the London Games. And so you’re not lacking for security.

    But certainly there are serious questions about how safe the venues are. There were just questions today about some of the security measures at some of the main venues. And so we still have to see exactly how the Brazilian government is going to deal with the very real threat of terrorism.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, Alex Cuadros, when you look — you have been looking at the financial state and the economic state of the country for the last decade or so.

    Apart — sports aside, what would constitute success for Brazil at this point? And what are the prospects?

    ALEX CUADROS: Well, look, I think that the near term for Brazil is not pretty.

    You know, it’s in the deepest recession in possibly a century. Millions of jobs have been lost. But, at the same time, I think that Paulo pointed to this moment when there was this amazing optimism about Brazil, and I think that people exaggerated then in their euphoria about Brazil’s prospects as a country.

    And I think that, by the same token, right now, people may be exaggerating in their pessimism. So, it may be that we’re approaching, if we haven’t reached, the bottom of the well, and that simply by virtue of the fact that we have fallen so much in Brazil, things are going to start to bounce back.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You mean expectations are so low at this point that perhaps things will look OK?

    ALEX CUADROS: Well, look, you know, the economy has shrunk by so much that, when there is a rebound, it’s going to be significant, just because of the base of comparison.

    And, you know, Brazil is not a Venezuela. We’re not seeing kleptocracy on the scale that we see there. This is a functioning country. It’s a diverse economy. And I think that, at least in the medium-term, it’s going to bounce back.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It’s also true, Paulo Sotero, that we have gone into many other Olympics thinking, oh, they’re not ready, this is going to be a disaster, they’re going to have all kinds of problems, only to see some great success.

    So, what do you think the prospects are here?

    PAULO SOTERO: I think prospects to have a good Olympics is reasonable now.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Reasonable?

    PAULO SOTERO: Reasonable. Do not underestimate the capacity of Brazilians in general and people from Rio in particular to throw a party.

    And Cariocas, as we call them, are famous for that. They have the Carnival every year that are great parties. They happen on the clock. And they are very well-organized.

    I believe also, as the athletes converge, you know, their effort, their merits will take over, and this will be a story of the real Olympics, but it will be, above all, a story about the Olympics.

    This is a very positive, interesting event. People — actually, tourists coming to Rio will be very warmly welcomed by people. They already are. And, actually, they should mingle with the people. They should go up to the hills and be with the people. Actually, the best summer in Brazil are up in the (INAUDIBLE) in the so-called slums.

    This is a very generous and nice people. So, don’t equate Rio and slums with crime. Yes, there’s crime there, but, as Lulu said, heavy security for 15 days. So, enjoy Rio. Enjoy the Olympics.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And, Lulu, just 20 seconds here, just, is your sense that people really feel the weight of this, I mean, that there’s a lot riding on this?

    LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO: I feel that they do feel that there is a lot riding on this, but they’re also very much ready for it to be over.

    There’s been a huge buildup. This has been a country that has been going through so many different things, as we have mentioned, economic, political crises, the World Cup just two years ago, and now this. So, I think Cariocas want this to be a success, but I also think that they very much want these Games to be over soon.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, in the meantime, let them begin, right?

    Lulu Garcia-Navarro, Alex Cuadros, Paulo Sotero, thank you, all three, very much.

    PAULO SOTERO: Thank you.

    The post 4 days before the Olympic Games start, Rio seems far from ready appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    gary

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Tonight, police officers across the country are heading out in their neighborhoods to talk to citizens, part of an effort called National Night Out.

    This summer has been marked in places by shootings and heated tensions between law enforcement and those they serve. But there are cities leading the way to improve things.

    As part of our Race Matters conversations focusing on solutions, special correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault reports from Gary, Indiana.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Karen Marie Freeman-Wilson became mayor of her native Gary, Indiana, after three attempts.

    High on her list of priorities was improving relations between the police and the predominantly black community, not great in a town with high unemployment dating back to the steel mill closures in the ’70s, in addition to a history of police brutality and crime.

    But Mayor Freeman-Wilson is starting to change Gary, and we sat down with the mayor to discuss her solutions.

    Mayor Freeman-Wilson, thank you for joining us.

    How high on your list of priorities was police-community relations?

    MAYOR KAREN FREEMAN-WILSON, Gary, Indiana: Well police-community relations was very high on my list, because public safety was one of the greatest concerns in our community.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Why?

    MAYOR KAREN FREEMAN-WILSON: We had a very high and still have a high murder rate. We had and have a high rate of crime, even though it’s gone down.

    A lot has to do with the fact that there’s frustration associated with not having employment, with not having adequate income, with poverty. And as a result of that, people tend to be angry or angrier. And as a result of that anger, you will find that people resort to violence sometimes.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: But at the time that you took office, there was real conflict between the community and the police. What was the biggest problem that you had to deal with there?

    MAYOR KAREN FREEMAN-WILSON: Well, there was distrust of the police.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Why?

    MAYOR KAREN FREEMAN-WILSON: Residents often thought that perhaps the police were involved in illegal activity, or, more often, didn’t care about what happened in neighborhoods.

    There’s a big gulf in between the fact that some of our police officers do not live in the city, and, as a result of them not living, that they didn’t understand what was happening in the neighborhoods.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: So, what did you do?

    MAYOR KAREN FREEMAN-WILSON: Well, we became involved in the national initiative on building police and community trust, an initiative out of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, as well as other organizations, Yale University, the National Institute of Justice, and other research organizations, that really look at ways to build police and community trust.

    And so they come in, they talk to members of the community. They provide training for the police department. Our police officers have all gone through implicit bias training.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: What’s that?

    MAYOR KAREN FREEMAN-WILSON: That’s training to really check your biases, to ask you to look at the way that you look at other people.

    So, do I look at you and think a certain thing? And how does that impact the way that I interact with you? So, as a police officer, do I look at an African-American male, whether I am an African-American male or not, and think a certain thing, and as a result act a certain way towards that person?

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: So, what would you say is the result of that?

    MAYOR KAREN FREEMAN-WILSON: What we have found is that police listen to the community more, the community listens to our police officers more. There’s more positive interaction.

    We have also found that there’s more of an effort to interact when it’s not — when a crisis is not occurring. And so, in August, we will have our National Night Out, when the community comes out on an evening. And the police, fire, and other departments of the city get together.

    But it’s really focused on public safety and the fact that you can go out after dark, you can interact after dark in a positive way. The police bring their canine units out. And young people will get a chance to interact with the canine.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And not be bitten by them.

    MAYOR KAREN FREEMAN-WILSON: And not be bitten by them. It’s a positive thing.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: What’s the complexion of your police department? And does that matter?

    KAREN MARIE FREEMAN-WILSON: About 55 percent of our police department is African-American. Another 35 to 40 percent is Caucasian. And the remaining officers are Latino.

    And that absolutely does matter. I think it’s important that young African-American children see police officers, see people in authority that look like them.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: What you have achieved here sounds pretty good. It actually sounds very good. Is it applicable in other circumstances in other cities?

    MAYOR KAREN FREEMAN-WILSON: I believe that the solution is really for the police to establish a rapport with the community that doesn’t necessarily involve an official interaction.

    Sometimes, it’s midnight basketball. Other, times it’s some type of youth league. Sometimes, it’s an explorers program, where you are recruiting young people to be involved with the police. Other times, it’s just neighborhood forums or neighborhood meetings where you help people to keep their community safe.

    When you know the officers, then you’re less inclined to think that they are there to harass you. And when you know the community, you will understand that the overwhelming — overwhelming number of citizens are really law-abiding people.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And you mentioned earlier the fact that your murder rate is going down. What do you attribute that to?

    MAYOR KAREN FREEMAN-WILSON: We attribute the reduction in the murder rate to the fact that we have now focused on those most likely to be involved in criminal activity.

    And so there was a time when we were just doing sweeps. I think a lot of people call it broken window policing.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Yes, city of Gary.

    MAYOR KAREN FREEMAN-WILSON: And so everybody would get stopped. You might get stopped. I might get stopped. And there might be positive results in terms of being able to detect a crime, or there might not.

    Now we focus on those who are most likely to be involved in criminal behavior. And we send them not just a punitive message, but we send them a message that we would like to see you become productive, law-abiding citizens. We want to support you in that effort, but if you choose to continue in the road of crime, if you continue to be involved in non-productive behavior, we will hold you accountable for that.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And when do you tell them that?

    MAYOR KAREN FREEMAN-WILSON: Well, we focus on those individuals who are on probation and parole.

    And we conduct what they refer to as call-ins. And so these call-ins are meetings. They’re meetings that involve the community, meetings that involve individuals on probation and parole. And essentially what we tell them is, we want to help you, we want to support you, but we also want peace and safety in this community, and that the killing has to stop.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Well, Mayor Freeman-Wilson, thank you for joining us.

    MAYOR KAREN FREEMAN-WILSON: Thank you.

    The post How Gary, Indiana, is improving community-police relations appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Halliburton oil trucks drive near the company's yard in Williston, North Dakota April 30, 2016. Picture taken April 30, 2016.  REUTERS/Andrew Cullen - RTX2CC2M

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    GWEN IFILL: But, first: a report on the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota, where employment and the economy are directly affected by the price of oil.

    Oil prices have dropped since their peak in 2014, and drilling has slowed, idling rigs and sending the once booming economy into uncertainty.

    Inside Energy’s Emily Guerin takes us on a tour of Oil Bust Alley, a short stretch of highway where the boom and bust of the oil industry plays out.

    EMILY GUERIN: I have spent two years reporting on the Bakken oil field in North Dakota. I have seen it when it was booming, back in 2014, and now, when it’s busting.

    There’s one highway in the oil field town of Dickinson, Highway 22, where you can see the entire boom and bust story. So we’re going on a road trip through Oil Bust Alley to see what we can learn in this five-mile stretch of road about how a community changes when the price of oil crashes.

    Let’s start with the obvious losers: businesses directly involved in the drilling and production of oil.

    So, I’m standing in front a field of stacked drilling rigs. There’s about 27 back there. We just counted. And that’s actually about the same amount that are actively drilling for oil in North Dakota. Two years ago, when the price of oil was high, there were over 180. And it’s really a sign of how much things have slowed down here in the oil field.

    Every time a drilling rig gets idled, about 120 people lose their jobs, people like Kaley Haugen’s husband, who worked on a drilling rig for over a decade before being laid off last year. Haugen has also seen a huge impact of the slowdown on her business, the Uniform Unit, which is right on Highway 22.

    KALEY HAUGEN, Owner, Uniform Unit: We do uniforms for a variety of industries. We do flame-resistant clothing for the oil and gas industry, as well as electrical. We do scrubs, medical uniforms, and then we also have brought in tactical for EMS management services.

    EMILY GUERIN: The Uniform Unit just opened last spring, right as oil prices were tanking.

    KALEY HAUGEN: If we would’ve been operating two years ago, three years ago, I would bet 90 percent of our business would have been oil field. Now I would say we’re pretty even within the different fields. I mean, I would say 30 percent oil fields, 30 percent tactical, 30 percent scrubs, so definitely different than I thought.

    EMILY GUERIN: Hotels have also been hit hard by the slowdown. Over 1,000 new hotel rooms were built in Dickinson in the past 12 years.

    Connie Hank and Bill Evans manage and do maintenance in three of those hotels just off Highway 22.

    BILL EVANS, Hotel Maintenance Worker: When I got here in March of ’14, there were no vacancies. If somebody checked out, you already had somebody’s name who was waiting on that room.

    CONNIE HANK, Hotel Manager: You would’ve been paying $80 a night for a single and almost — just about $100 for a double. That was cheap. And now you can get a room for $32 a night. That’s a big change.

    BILL EVANS: Drastic.

    EMILY GUERIN: Now their three hotels are at less than 30 percent occupancy. They end up with a lot of time on their hands.

    CONNIE HANK: I’m sitting here waiting, praying that a car pulls into my parking lot. And that was the truth. We look like a bunch of vultures. The minute they walked in the door, it was like, hey, thank you for coming here, you know?

    EMILY GUERIN: Just down the highway, there are signs that other parts of the housing market are also hurting.

    So, coming up, there’s a man camp graveyard. It’s just a field full of trailers that are just like jumbled together, almost piled on top of each other, because people don’t have a need to house these workers anymore because they have laid off so many of their employees.

    The slowdown in the oil field hasn’t been uniformly bad. Custom cabinet manufacturer TMI Systems had 25 percent growth last year. That means they need a lot of new workers.

    General manager Tom Krank says a few years ago, the cost of living was high in Dickinson due to the housing shortage brought on by the influx of oil workers.

    TOM KRANK, Senior Vice President, TMI Systems: With the rents where they were at, it was tough to even attract people with that, because even though we had good wages, the rents beyond where they could justify moving out here to work for us.

    EMILY GUERIN: But now there’s no longer a labor shortage. There are far more applicants than job openings. And rental prices are dropping. So TMI Systems is having no trouble hiring.

    TOM KRANK: As time went on, the oil field layoffs got deeper and deeper, and pretty soon we started seeing some of our former employees coming back.

    EMILY GUERIN: Scott Weiand is one of them. He worked at TMI for 21 years before leaving in 2012 load crude oil onto rail cars.

    SCOTT WEIAND, Installer, TMI Systems: For me, I was looking for a challenge, possibly a little higher pay. Obviously, that’s an attraction for people.

    But with the slowdown in the oil business, I wanted to look for other opportunities. And one of the first things in mind for me was TMI.

    EMILY GUERIN: The slowdown is also benefiting the local government. Dickinson City Administrator Shawn Kessel says hiring is easier and expenses are lower, because they no longer have to compete with higher oil field salaries. But on the downside, the oil bust has sent tax revenue tumbling.

    SHAWN KESSEL, Dickinson City Manager: We have lost about $1.5 million into our general fund. That’s a big hit to the general fund. Our general fund is about $16 million. So to lose 1.5 out of that fund causes you to be creative.

    EMILY GUERIN: Creative. If I have learned anything covering the oil field, it’s that oil booms and busts force communities, individuals and businesses to be creative.

    Take this Taco Bell right on Highway 22.

    WOMAN: Take your order when you’re ready.

    EMILY GUERIN: Hi. Can I get an order of nachos, please?

    They couldn’t hire or retain workers during the boom because it was so easy to get a higher-paying job. So they decided to triage. For a while, only their drive-through was open. You couldn’t go inside. Now they’re fully staffed again.

    As we headed out of town, we drove past the drilling rig graveyard one last time. For Kessel, those idled rigs are actually a sign that the oil industry hasn’t given up on North Dakota.

    SHAWN KESSEL: What that means is, when they stack them like that, they can respond quickly when things change. When that price goes up, they can just simply move it from that rig yard to wherever that their is on the wells that they want to invest in next.

    EMILY GUERIN: Like many people in Western North Dakota, Kessel wants the oil activity to come back, just not quite as crazy as last time.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Emily Guerin, reporting from Highway 22 in Dickinson, North Dakota.

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    context2

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    GWEN IFILL: Tonight, we launch a new election year series, Candidates in Context. Between now and Election Day, we will strive to go beyond the headlines to explain what’s happening and why.

    Lisa Desjardins kicks it off with a closer look at Donald Trump’s recent statements on Russia and Ukraine.

    LISA DESJARDINS: First, here’s what Donald Trump said. It was over the weekend about Ukraine and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee: You know, I have my own ideas. He’s not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He is not going to go into Ukraine. All right? You can mark it down, you can put it down, you can take it any way you want.

    GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC News: He is already there, isn’t he?

    DONALD TRUMP: Well, he is there in a certain way, but I’m not there. You have Obama there.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Critics point out Vladimir Putin and Russia are in Ukraine now.

    Let’s look at some facts. We’re talking about two critical areas, Crimea on the Black Sea, and the Donbass region in Eastern Ukraine.

    First, Crimea. In 1991, as the Soviet Union dissolved, Ukraine and Russia became separate nations. Voters in Crimea were split, but they voted 54 percent for Ukrainian independence. Tensions built, protests erupted, and, in 2014, Ukrainians pushed out a pro-Russian government in Kiev.

    In Crimea, unidentified forces, no flags on their uniform, fomented an uprising and a referendum going the other way, in favor of Russia. Then Russia annexed Crimea, with international outcry, but little bloodshed.

    Meanwhile, in the Donbass region, war broke out, as militant separatists took over towns and fought Ukrainian government forces. That’s a war that continues today.

    The key question, what was Russia’s role? We know Russian troops stationed in Crimea did seize key positions there, and Russia confirmed that it sent soldiers on intelligence missions in Donbass. The Ukrainian government says Russia has done far more, sending more soldiers and weapons.

    So, this brings us back to Mr. Trump. Here is his clarification on his words that Putin isn’t going into Ukraine from a speech yesterday.

    DONALD TRUMP: But a couple of papers said, Donald Trump doesn’t realize that the Crimea was already taken.

    I know it exact — two years ago, approximately, OK, approximately? It was taken during Obama’s watch.

    LISA DESJARDINS: In other words, Trump argues that he knew about Crimea, but he wasn’t talking about Crimea when he spoke of Putin and Ukraine.

    That is notable. It would be a profound shift in U.S. policy. The Obama administration sees Crimea and Eastern Ukraine as sovereign parts of Ukraine, and accuses Putin of violating international law. It’s a sharp turn in policy, as is something else Trump said last week. He was asked if he’d remove U.S. sanctions against Russia. His answer?

    DONALD TRUMP: We will be looking at that, yes. We will be looking.

    LISA DESJARDINS: And that is a change from where Trump was in 2014, when he said this about punishing Russia over Ukraine:

    DONALD TRUMP: We should definitely be strong. We should definitely do sanctions, and we have to show some strength.

    LISA DESJARDINS: One final piece of context about Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

    Manafort advised the campaigns of Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian leader of Ukraine, who was deposed in 2014. Manafort has said he was pushing Western interests.

    As we look closely at the candidate’s words, the Trump campaign insist Mrs. Trump’s overall belief is that the U.S. should be less involved in the entire region.

    Lisa Desjardins for the “PBS NewsHour.”

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    makingthegrade

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now a look at how required math classes may factor into the academic success or failure of high school and college students.

    Hari Sreenivasan has the story as part of our weekly education series, Making the Grade.

    ANDREW HACKER, Author, “The Math Myth”: Words and numbers, we use them both. We use them for different reasons.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Even if you aren’t going to be an engineer, getting through high school or college means getting through math.

    MICHAEL GENAO, Student, Queens College: Why do we need to take all these math classes? It’s not necessary. It’s not needed for what we are actually learning.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Andrew Hacker, the college professor teaching at the front of this classroom at New York’s Queens College, agrees.

    ANDREW HACKER: The goal is to have everybody do a full menu of mathematics, up to and including calculus.

    And I don’t see any rational reason for this at all. What I’m suggesting is that at least there should be other options, alternatives, instead of this rigid math curriculum for everyone.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Minimum requirements for math are different across the country, but many states today demand getting through the quadratic equations and two years of algebra to graduate high school, and most college degrees also require some math credits.

    Hacker writes about this perceived disconnect between academic requirements and the everyday needs of graduates in his recent book, “The Math Myth.”

    ANDREW HACKER: It’s actually several myths. One of the myths is that every one of us is going to have to know algebra, geometry, trigonometry in the 21st century, because that’s the way a high-tech age is going.

    It’s a total myth. At most, 5 percent of people really use math, advanced math, in their work.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You’re also drawing a distinction in your book between mathematics and arithmetic. Explain that.

    ANDREW HACKER: Yes.

    We use math, the term, indiscriminately. I think we teach arithmetic really very well up through grades, let’s say, five or six. We do it. But then, instead of continuing with arithmetic to what I would call adult arithmetic, or sophisticated arithmetic, we immediately plunge people into geometry and algebra.

    And, as a result, Americans are really quite illiterate in terms of numbers.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Hacker’s alternative? Teaching what he calls numeracy.

    ANDREW HACKER: It’s income per hour, essentially, per person. Is Norway well ahead of the United States? OK. Let’s continue with that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Where he focuses on developing his students’ mathematical literacy by giving them some real-world perspective on the subject.

    ANDREW HACKER: How to read a corporate report, how to look at the federal budget, how to parse the numbers on the campaign trail, how votes are cast, and how many seats are won, all sorts of assignments like this, which only require arithmetic, but adult arithmetic.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: A political scientist by training, Hacker and his assertions have predictably put college and high school math departments across the country on the defensive.

    DIANE BRIARS, President, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics: We need algebra as a basic way of making sense of our world. Many mathematical relationships are described using algebra.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Diane Briars is president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. We chatted with her on nearly her home turf, the National Museum of Mathematics in Manhattan.

    DIANE BRIARS: Algebra gives us a way of representing relationships in general, so that we can reason about them in the general case, instead of specific cases. Algebraic equations and expressions are also ways of describing patterns that we may see and differences between those patterns.

    ANDREW HACKER: This is put about by the mathematicians. I think they have to say this: Mathematics trains the mind.

    There’s no evidence for this whatever. Mathematics trains the mind for mathematics.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Hacker thinks math is a powerful divider of high school success. A number of students succeed and move onward, while a sizable fraction do not.

    ANDREW HACKER: One out of every five of our citizens has not finished high school. We have a 20 percent dropout rate. It’s one of the highest in the developed world. And the chief academic reason for this dropout rate is algebra in the ninth grade.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The fail rate is something Diane Briars doesn’t dispute.

    DIANE BRIARS: The fact that failing algebra I as a ninth grader is — makes a student more likely to drop out is a huge problem that the mathematics education community is actively engaged in. One of the ways we’re addressing that is by building a stronger foundation in K-8 mathematics.

    With a more solid conceptual understanding in K-8 mathematics, students are going to be much better prepared to be successful in algebra I.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But Hacker says the math failure is greater than just high school.

    ANDREW HACKER: Forty-seven percent of people who start a four-year college do not get a degree. That’s a very high dropout rate, close to half. Chief academic reason, freshman math course, which people fail and don’t make up. And why don’t we ask ourselves, look at the talent we’re losing.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Why are the institutions in high school and in college structured the way they are to emphasize math, as we do today?

    ANDREW HACKER: Here’s the big word I always hear: Let’s be rigorous, the big R. Let’s be rigorous, so let’s make everybody coming into community college pass a stiff algebra test. That shows how rigorous we are.

    Same thing at a higher level. If you take Princeton, Stanford, Yale, they want virtually all of their incoming students, except for athletes and a few alumni children, to have an SAT score on math of at least 700. That’s very high. That’s the top 7 percent. Why? We’re Princeton, we’re rigorous.

    And in the name of rigor, we have this irrational math barrier.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Diane Briars agrees with that too, but only up to a point.

    DIANE BRIARS: You can argue that, for some of them, that requirement may have been put there to ensure that they filter people out. On the other hand, being able to be facile with symbols and equations is necessary for a number of trades. For example, the electricians union has passing a course in algebra I as a requirement for an apprenticeship program.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So both sides agree that the formula for the right amount of math isn’t optimal. Figuring out the right equation may be one of the first major problems for new graduates everywhere.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Hari Sreenivasan in New York.

    The post Thinking about math in terms of literacy — not levels appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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