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

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    Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images

    Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images

    SAN FRANCISCO — Google is pulling another lever on its influential search engine in an effort to boost voter turnout in November’s U.S. presidential election.

    Beginning Tuesday, Google will provide a summary box detailing state voting laws at the top of the search results whenever a user appears to be looking for that information. The breakdown will focus on the rules particular to the state where the search request originates unless a user asks for another location.

    Google is introducing the how-to-vote instructions a month after it unveiled a similar feature that explains how to register to vote in states across the U.S.

    The search giant said its campaign is driven by rabid public interest in the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. As of last week, it said, the volume of search requests tied to the election, the candidates and key campaign issues had more than quadrupled compared to a similar point in the 2012 presidential race.


    It’s difficult to predict whether Google’s efforts will have a major impact on how many people cast ballots, says Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political scientist who closely studies election turnout.

    That’s because Google will narrowly target its voting instructions to people who are actively seeking that information. Sample requests that will elicit a helping hand from Google include “what do I need to vote,” ”when can I vote,” ”what is the absentee ballot deadline” and “can I vote by mail.”

    The summary boxes won’t appear for broader requests pertaining to the election, such as “Clinton” or “Trump.”

    That means Google may primarily end up helping out “politically engaged” people who’d be likely to cast a November ballot even without prodding from the world’s most popular search engine. “It’s an open question on how large the positive effect will be,” McDonald said.


    Other online services have previously tried to encourage more people to vote. In the November 2010 midterm election, for instance, Facebook posted a “get out the vote” message in the news feeds of about 60 million people on its social network. A University of California at San Diego study of that Facebook effort estimated it boosted voter turnout by about 340,000 people.

    Google will also release its registration and voting guides to nonprofit groups and other organizations aiming to get more people to the polls this November. The company said it considers its voting tools to be a nonpartisan public service, although swings in voter turnout have swayed past elections.

    McDonald, though, says it is always difficult to predict which candidate in an election stands to gain the most from an increase in voter turnout. As an example, he suggests, Google’s effort could easily help increase the number of younger people more inclined to vote for Clinton — or put more ballots in the hands of less educated, disillusioned citizens backing Trump.

    The post Google’s search engine directs voters to the ballot box appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo by Getty Images

    Photo by Getty Images

    Buried in the fine print of many marketplace health plan documents is language that allows them to refuse to cover a range of services, many of which disproportionately affect women, a recent study found.

    It’s unclear the extent to which these coverage “exclusions” have prevented patients from getting needed treatments. An insurance industry representative said patients are generally able to get the care they need if it’s appropriate for them. Yet, some women with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, advocates say, may have gaps in care because of the exclusions.

    More broadly, experts said that the report provides a useful roadmap to potential coverage issues that may still need to be addressed, despite significant improvements following passage of the federal health law.

    The study, by researchers at the National Women’s Law Center, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., examined health coverage exclusions in marketplace plans offered by 109 insurers in 16 states in 2014 and 2015.

    The health law requires insurers to provide a general summary of benefits and coverage for every plan that states whether the plan excludes coverage of 13 specific services, including acupuncture, bariatric surgery and infertility treatment. These coverage summaries, which are no longer than eight pages, are easy to read and available online or in paper form. But other services that aren’t in the summary documents may be excluded as well, although they may be hard for consumers to find because they appear in the detailed plan coverage materials. Health plans must provide a link from the online summary to those documents, which can be quite technical and run dozens of pages.

    Reviewing these detailed documents, researchers identified six types of excluded services that could have a disproportionate impact on women’s health care, although many of them also apply to men. The excluded services included:

    • Treatment for conditions that result from non-covered services, for example, if you get an infection following cosmetic surgery (42 percent of plans).
    • Maintenance therapy for a chronic disease or other care that prevents regression of a stable condition (27 percent of plans).
    • Genetic testing, except as required by law (15 percent).
    • Fetal reduction surgery, which is sometimes recommended when a woman is carrying multiple fetuses, to protect the woman’s health or improve the odds a pregnancy will be successful (14 percent).
    • Treatment for self-inflicted conditions, such as a suicide attempt or eating disorder (11 percent).
    • Preventive services not required by law (10 percent).

    “We wanted to highlight issues that would have a particular impact on women as well as show how broad some of the exclusions are,” said Dania Palanker, who co-authored the study and is now an assistant research professor at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms.

    It’s not uncommon for women who have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer to run into this type of roadblock when they need genetic testing or preventive services, said Lisa Schlager, vice president of community affairs and public policy at Force, an advocacy group for people affected by hereditary breast, ovarian and related cancers.

    The health law requires insurers to cover services that are recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of medical experts, without requiring consumers to pay anything out of pocket. The task force recommends that women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancers receive genetic counseling and, if necessary, testing for a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes that are known to increase the risk of developing those cancers.

    However, insurers aren’t required to cover testing for the 40 or so other genetic mutations that are also recognized as increasing women’s risk of breast or ovarian cancer, Schlager said, and many don’t do so.

    If a woman does test positive for a BRCA mutation, insurers may not cover earlier or more frequent screening or other preventive care she may need, Schlager said.

    “We are in this strange scenario where insurers are paying for the testing and then not paying for the breast MRIs or prophylactic mastectomies,” she added.

    Clare Krusing, a spokesperson for America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group, called the report “overblown.” She said it fails to address important issues such as whether treatments are safe and effective for all patients, whether there are alternative treatments that are covered and the processes in place to enable patients to get access to treatments if for whatever reason a plan doesn’t provide coverage.

    “If a patient has a medically necessary reason for this care, it will likely be covered,” Krusing said.

    Kirsten Sloan, senior policy director at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said people who use the society’s call center aren’t generally complaining about plan coverage exclusions. Still, coverage distinctions may be confusing for patients, Sloan said, and highlight the need for better transparency in communicating coverage information.

    More research is needed to understand how these exclusions affect patient care, said Gwen Darien, executive vice president for patient advocacy at the National Patient Advocate Foundation.

    “What the study does and calls for is further uncovering where the exclusions are and to make sure plans cover them as part of the essential health benefits,” she said.

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

    The post Hidden plan exclusions may leave gaps in women’s care, study finds appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    File photo of former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar by Robert Galbraith/Reuters

    File photo of former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar by Robert Galbraith/Reuters

    Hillary Clinton has tapped former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to lead her White House transition team.

    Salazar will chair a team that also includes former national security adviser Tom Donilon, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, and longtime Clinton allies Neera Tanden and Maggie Williams.

    The team will oversee planning for a potential Clinton administration should the Democratic nominee win in November.

    Republican Donald Trump has tapped New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to lead his transition efforts.

    By law, both nominees have access to offices in Washington and other resources to begin planning for their potential administrations.

    The post Hillary Clinton taps ex-Interior chief for transition appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The women’s 400-meter race at the Rio Olympics on Monday took an unusual turn when the Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller dove over the finish line to ensure the gold.

    Watch the dramatic finish:

    U.S. contender Allyson Felix lost her early lead and earned a silver medal, becoming the most decorated American woman in Olympic track and field history. Here’s what she had to say about Monday’s event:

    Felix, who battled an ankle injury before the Games, told NBC’s Today Show on Tuesday: “It wasn’t my best race. I tried to give all I had. It was time to just fight.”

    When asked about Miller’s headlong leap, Felix said she was “not too used to seeing it (but) it happens every now and then.”

    Indeed at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the United States’ David Neville used the same move, ironically, to pass the Bahamas’ Chris Brown to secure the bronze medal.

    And back in Rio, the technique was used earlier in the day when Brazilian runner Joao Vitor de Oliveira lunged and face-planted ahead of other competitors in the 110-meter hurdles to qualify for the semifinal:

    Meanwhile, on the gymnastics mat, U.S. standout Simone Biles reminded fans she’s only human when she slipped on the balance beam, earning a bronze medal instead of her usual gold:

    Biles, a three-time gold medal winner, quickly grabbed the beam at one point to keep from falling. She later said, “I’m disappointed in my beam set, not in the medal I got.”

    Sanne Wevers of the Netherlands took home the gold for the event. And Biles’ teammate, Laurie Hernandez, earned a silver-place finish, her first individual medal of the Olympic Games:

    Hernandez’s parents can relax, NBC Olympics noted on Twitter:

    Biles will have another chance to stand on the podium in the final gymnastics event on Tuesday, the women’s floor exercise.


    Kenya’s David Rudisha won his second straight Olympic 800-meter gold medal, the first person to defend an Olympic 800 meter gold since 1964:

    Jamaica’s Usain Bolt won his third consecutive gold for the 100-meter race:

    The news was far grimmer for Wilhem Belocian of France, who was disqualified from his first Olympic race because of a false start:

    Japanese pole vaulter Hiroki Ogita failed to qualify in his event for another reason when a body part got in the way.

    But when Cuban wrestler Mijain Lopez made history by winning his third straight gold medal after he beat Turkey’s Riza Kayaalp, his elated coach did not appear to expect what would happen next:

    The post Olympic highlights from Day 10: Photo finish at the track appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    File photo of the Affordable Care Act signup website by Mike Segar/Reuters

    File photo of the Affordable Care Act signup website by Mike Segar/Reuters

    Health insurance provider Aetna has decided to stop participating in the Obamacare health exchange program in 11 of 15 states next year, citing financial concerns.

    Aetna will continue to participate in Delaware, Iowa, Nebraska and Virginia.

    In a statement issued Monday, Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini said that the company has suffered a total pretax loss of more than $430 million since January 2014 in its individual products.

    “As a strong supporter of public exchanges as a means to meet the needs of the uninsured, we regret having to make this decision,” he said.

    Aetna was the latest insurance company to scale back participation, following Humana and UnitedHealth Group. Aetna said it would continue evaluating individual public exchanges in the counties where the program is still in effect.

    Kevin Counihan, CEO of Healthcare.gov, said in a statement that Aetna’s decision “does not change the fundamental fact that the Health Insurance Marketplace will continue to bring quality coverage to millions of Americans next year and every year after that. It’s no surprise that companies are adapting at different rates to a market where they compete for business on cost and quality rather than by denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions. But the ACA Marketplace is serving more than 11 million people and has helped America reach the lowest uninsured rate on record.”

    The issue of what to do about Obamacare has remained a political one, and Donald Trump’s campaign issued the following statement from its deputy national policy director Dan Kowalski:

    “Aetna’s decision to leave the Affordable Care Act’s public marketplaces is the latest blow to this broken law that is slowly imploding under its regulatory red tape. Millions of Americans have lost their health coverage under this disastrous policy, eliminating their ability to choose their doctors. Thousands of businesses have been forced to cut employment or shutter their doors in response to Obama’s signature achievement. Mr. Trump has vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare.”

    The post Aetna to pull out of most Obamacare health plans appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters inspect a centre that was used by Islamic State religious police (al-Hisbah) in Manbij, Aleppo Governorate, Syria, August 16, 2016. REUTERS/Rodi Said - RTX2LBP3

    Syria Democratic Forces fighters inspect an area that was used by Islamic State religious police in Manbij, Syria, Aug. 16, 2016. Photo by REUTERS/Rodi Said

    WASHINGTON — A military official says a couple hundred vehicles of Islamic State fighters were allowed to leave the northern Syrian city of Manbij as U.S.-backed forces seized the town in recent days because the militants had civilians with them.

    The official says some IS fighters may have already made their way into Turkey, but many are still in Syria. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly so spoke anonymously.

    Col. Chris Garver, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting IS, says the decision was made by Syrian rebel commanders who let the convoy leave the city because there were civilians in all of the cars. He says he doesn’t know how many of the civilians may have been in the cars voluntarily.

    The post Hundreds of ISIS vehicles were allowed to leave Syrian city appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The logo of Dow Jones Industrial Average stock market index listed company General Electric is shown at their subsidiary company GE Aviation in Santa Ana, California April 13, 2016.  REUTERS/Mike Blake  - RTX2E4CA

    General Electric plans to team science majors at Northeastern University with GE officials at jet engine facilities under a new education program from the Obama administration. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    The U.S. Department of Education is providing $17 million in grants and loans to assist low-income students in enrolling in eight “nontraditional” training programs.

    It is part of the Obama administration’s efforts to make college more accessible and affordable, as more jobs require workers to have some level of post-secondary education.

    The new program will give $5 million in grants and $12 million in loans to as many as 1,500 students who will be placed in additional classes through nontraditional education providers.

    General Electric, for example, plans to team science majors at Northeastern University with GE officials at jet engine facilities.

    Students at the University of Texas-Austin will partner with the coding and software bootcamp MakerSquare to learn skills that will prepare them for work as mid-level software engineers.

    “I’m thrilled that students will soon have access to these innovative programs, developed in partnership with colleges and new providers, with the help of federal financial aid,” Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell said in a statement.

    Tuesday’s announcement opens the door to for-profit companies becoming more involved in postsecondary education and the federal financial aid model.

    Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has presented a similar plan on the campaign trail, proposing $10 billion in federal funding for students to enroll in alternative postsecondary courses.

    The post Education Department to offer aid for professional training partnerships appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Global average temperature for July 2016. versus Julys spanning 1951 to 1980. Photo by NASA

    Global average temperature for July 2016. versus Julys spanning 1951 to 1980. Photo by NASA

    July was the hottest month in the 136-year history of instrumental temperature recordings, according to new data published by NASA this week.

    NASA calculates the average temperature in July was 1.51 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the average July temperature between the years 1950-1980.

    NASA climatologist Gavin Schmidt also tweeted the data in a visual graph, showing July was the hottest month since instrumental recording started 136 years ago.

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

    The previous four hottest months were all within the last four years: July 2011, July 2015, July 2009, and August 2014.

    This year is also quickly outpacing last year as the hottest year ever. Blistering heat has blanketed portions of the southern United States during the record breaking July including Tampa, Florida, Fort Lauderdale Florida, New Orleans and Houston.

    NASA cited last year’s El Niño as one contributor to the boost in the sweltering heat. But the scientists also contribute the long-term trend of increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which has been linked to climate change.

    The post Smashing past global temperature highs, July was the hottest month on record appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: a look at the history of poor white Americans.

    That’s the focus of the latest addition to the “NewsHour” Bookshelf.

    Here’s Jeffrey Brown.

    JEFFREY BROWN: “This book tells many stories. Arguably, the most important is the one we as a people have trouble embracing, the pervasiveness of a class hierarchy in the United States.”

    That line comes from a new book with the provocative title “White Trash,” which makes a provocative argument that, from the nation’s earliest history to now, ideals such as opportunity and upward mobility haven’t characterized the lives of many Americans.

    Author Nancy Isenberg is a professor of history at Louisiana State University.

    And welcome to you.

    NANCY ISENBERG, Author, “White Trash”: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America”: Well, thanks for having me.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I think what hit me most is the idea that the poor have not only been accepted, but expected, that it’s a part of our national DNA. That’s the argument you’re making?

    NANCY ISENBERG: Well, I think one of the things we forget is that, for half of our history, we were an agrarian nation.

    So, white trash really comes out of notions of rural poverty. And it goes all the way back to British ideas, because, in the colonial period and well throughout the 19th century, the mark of being a successful American was being a property owner.

    And what we have forgotten is that large numbers of Americans didn’t own property. For example, in Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia at the time of the revolution, 40 percent of white men were landless.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, when you refer to white trash, I just want to be clear. And the idea of white trash, literally, the term was used, the terms like waste. Who do you mean?

    NANCY ISENBERG: Yes, the word white trash, at least as far as we have been able to discover, first appeared in newspaper print in the 1820s.

    But it has a much older meaning, because, if we go back to some of the leading promoters of British colonization, when they imagined what were they going to do with the new world, the new world, first of all, was imagined as a wilderness, what they called a wasteland.

    And it was the perfect place for literally dumping the idle poor. And these were referred to as waste people.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, those are the beginnings, but your argument is that that has pervaded up to our own time, that we have the national myth of opportunity and social mobility. Are you saying that those don’t exist for everyone, or that they don’t exist for one subset of people?

    NANCY ISENBERG: No, I think there is clearly — you can find examples of people who have been able to rise up and improve themselves.

    The problem is that we exaggerate the idea that, at the time of the revolution, we abandoned the class system, we created an exceptional society, where we celebrated upward mobility.

    But, in fact, what the founders like Franklin and Jefferson really believed in is similar to what the British had in mind, that the poor would be allowed to move into the frontier, what was known as the southern backcountry and the old Northwest, and what they were really promising was horizon mobility, not upward mobility.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And land then, as you say, was the key factor, not education, not energy or earning. But what about now?

    NANCY ISENBERG: I would say that land is still extremely important. Class has a geography.

    If we think about the way most Americans live — and the other measure of class that I highlight is homeownership. If you’re poor, the same way they have different names for the poor, they have different names for what they live in, a shack, a shebang, or if we talk about trailer trash.

    What we live in today, we live in class-zoned neighborhoods. We have taken into account the importance of racial segregation, and we know that history, but we also live in neighborhoods that are divided by class. And if you live in a better neighborhood, you have more amenities, you have better infrastructure, better schools.

    And so geography still plays a very important part, and land — owning a house is a very important measure of being a member of the middle class.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I know you wrote the book before we got into the politics of the current campaign, but how do you see class driving our politics today?

    NANCY ISENBERG: I don’t see Donald Trump and the issues brought up by Bernie Sanders as that surprising, because at crucial moments when politicians are involved, they do use class language. They do heighten and emphasize class distinctions.

    So, that gets pulled — we get pulled in two directions there, too, because, sometimes, politicians like to say, we are all in the middle class, or we all have ambition to be in the middle class, or we’re all capable of being in the middle class. That’s when they want to sort of draw from the more positive script.

    But, at other times, I talk about key politicians who use class as a way to mobilize political divisions or to accentuate political divisions in our country.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Let me ask you briefly, if you could, does anything at all that you have studied through history give you any hope that there’s — that we could lessen these kind of class divisions in the country?

    NANCY ISENBERG: Our history forces us to confront things that at times we don’t want to deal with. We would prefer to have the myth.

    But I actually think it’s healthy if we can get to the point where we can talk about class, not just use it as a slogan, not just use it as political rhetoric, but actually to think about it more deeply and to think about how it affects who we are.

    And I often like to refer to the musical “My Fair Lady.” We judge people by the way they’re dressed, by the way they talk, by the unwritten codes of class behavior.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, the book is “White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America”:

    Nancy Isenberg, thank you very much.

    NANCY ISENBERG: Thank you.

    The post The origin of ‘white trash,’ and why class is still an issue in the U.S. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Now a look at how pre-K teachers and early child care workers struggle to make ends meet, earning little better than subsistence wages, even as parents and the Obama administration say they increasingly value what they do.

    It’s part of our weekly education series Making the Grade, produced this week in collaboration with The Hechinger Report.

    CHANEE WILSON, Teacher, Booth Memorial Child Development Center: OK. What color is this?

    CHILDREN: Yellow.

    CHANEE WILSON: Yellow and white.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Chanee Wilson teaches at the Salvation Army’s Child Development Center in Oakland, California. This year, the center received a top quality rating from the state.

    CHERYL MURRAY, Program Director, Booth Memorial Child Development Center: Our teachers are doing a really good job. They’re not just baby-sitting. They’re actually teaching.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But program director Cheryl Murray says, despite the high rating, she is not able to pay her teachers a livable wage.

    CHERYL MURRAY: We’re unable. If we pay them more, then we wouldn’t be able to serve the families, and the families really need the service. I wish I could hit the lottery and pay more for them.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The center serves low-income families and gets 80 percent of its funding from state subsidies. Families pay on a sliding scale based on their income, and teachers are paid minimum wage or slightly higher.

    One issue is staffing. Because they have younger children, child care classes require more teachers than kindergarten. Chanee Wilson lives in Section 8 subsidized housing with her two children and receives a small amount of money in food stamps. She makes $13.25 an hour.

    CHANEE WILSON: It’s a struggle every month paycheck to paycheck. You have kids and you have bills. We more focus on the needs, which is like providing the roof over their heads, the clothes, then the food, and things like that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Her problem is a common one. Labor experts say child care workers all over the country fail to earn a livable wage.

    MARCY WHITEBOOK, Director, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment: Early childhood jobs are amongst the lowest jobs across any occupation.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Marcy Whitebook is the director of the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley.

    MARCY WHITEBOOK: Forty-six percent of child care workers are relying on some type of federal income support. The wages are so low that somebody working full-time isn’t making a living wage, and what that means is that in order to meet the needs of their families, they need to get assistance.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Wilson has her associate’s degree in early childhood education and is attending weekend and night classes to earn her bachelor’s degree. But even with a bachelor’s degree, Wilson’s salary will still hover around the minimum wage, like lead teacher Laronda Rainey (ph), who earns $12.55 an hour. To make ends meet, Rainey, who has a bachelor’s degree, works as a security guard at night.

    CHERYL MURRAY: I think most of our teachers here really teach from the heart, because, if their heart is not in it, they wouldn’t be here, because of the wages.

    MARCY WHITEBOOK: College graduates who majored in early childhood have the distinction of having the lowest lifetime earnings compared to any other degree. That’s hardly a recruitment and retention strategy.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In fact, Whitebook says fewer and fewer colleges offer early education degrees because students say they can’t make a living with them.

    At Blue Skies for Children, another high-quality preschool in Oakland, co-director Claire Bainer can’t find the skilled teachers the program strives to recruit.

    CLAIRE BAINER, Co-Director, Blue Skies for Children: It’s very difficult. This year, especially with the economy up, people can get jobs, even with our high minimum wage, flipping burgers, and working the parking lot attendants and things like that pay the same, and much easier work.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Teachers here are paid more, but Bainer says, on top of a bachelor’s degree, she wants them to have extensive training in early education, and be good critical thinkers.

    CLAIRE BAINER: Children are learning to talk and learning to negotiate. So, it’s very important to have an articulate, smart teacher who knows how to help the children develop those skills.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: As a result, the school, which operates on parent fees and fund-raising, will increase their tuition this fall.

    CLAIRE BAINER: We can’t hire anybody at the amount that we’re paying the teachers, so we have to do a fee increase. That only translates to parents paying more. Poor parents. It’s terrible. It’s a lot of money.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute reported infant care in 33 states costs more than in-state college tuition and care for 4-year-olds exceeds college tuition in 24 states. At the same time, early educators say preschool is increasingly valued, and point to new science about critical brain development occurring well before kindergarten.

    MARCY WHITEBOOK: The care and education of young children before kindergarten is just as complex as teaching children who are older. But we haven’t restructured our system and invested the public dollars that it will take.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: For her part, program director Cheryl Murray wants her staff to be compensated equal to what public school teachers earn.

    CHERYL MURRAY: I believe they should be paid as well as secondary teachers.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Even some conservative think tanks are exploring the idea of expanding public funds for early education.

    Katharine Stevens heads the American Enterprise Institute’s newly launched early-childhood program.

    KATHARINE STEVENS, American Enterprise Institute: If we approach this in a smart, efficient way, what we will be able to accomplish is getting the neediest kids off to a good start.

    If kids are arriving in kindergarten better prepared, ultimately, our K-12 system will cost less. We will be reducing special ed costs. We will be reducing grade retention costs. However, throwing money at this problem is not going to assure us of that kind of result.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Stevens cautions that new pre-K programs shouldn’t repeat the mistakes of schooling for older children.

    KATHARINE STEVENS: It would be a really big mistake to scale up huge new public spending programs without any idea about whether or not those are going to be effective, because it’s going to be very difficult to roll that back.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Recently, the Obama administration proposed investing $82 billion to expand child care to working families and help providers hire, train, and retain a highly qualified work force.

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

    The post Why are early childhood educators struggling to make ends meet? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, an update on the fallout at FOX News over allegations that its co-founder, Roger Ailes, sexually harassed women employees for years.

    Ailes resigned in late July with a reported $40 million severance package, that after a lawsuit by former FOX anchor Gretchen Carlson alleged that her show was canceled because she’d rebuffed sexual advances from Ailes.

    In the following weeks, a growing number of women, including prime-time anchor Megyn Kelly, reportedly came forward with similar stories of impropriety. Ailes has called Ms. Carlson’s accusations false. And an internal investigation by FOX’s parent company is still under way.

    For a closer look, not only at this case, but at the wider matter of sexual harassment in the workplace, we turn to Sarah Ellison, a contributing editor at “Vanity Fair.” She recently reported on the Ailes allegations. And Shelley Ross, she’s a former network television news executive, best known for her 17-year tenure at ABC News. She recently wrote about her own professional experiences with Roger Ailes, and the news business at large, in The Daily Beast.

    And we welcome both of you to the program.

    And we should note at the outset, Roger Ailes back in the news today because of a New York Times report that he’s now advising Donald Trump’s campaign. And we should say the campaign denies that.

    But, Sarah Ellison, I want to turn to you first.

    What is the state of what is known about Roger Ailes’ alleged harassment of women at FOX News?

    SARAH ELLISON, Vanity Fair: Well, we know — largely, what we know is what we have learned from our reporting, which is that the internal investigation that is ongoing that you referred to earlier has identified at least women in the double digits who have come forward and spoken to the internal investigation.

    And we know that it was something that implicated Ailes certainly. There are people who have come out and told their stories, but there are people who have not yet come forward, and I think that we’re going to see more women, even more women come forward in the coming days.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, we should say that he’s denied any wrongdoing.

    SARAH ELLISON: That’s right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: He did reportedly receive this $40 million settlement when he left FOX. Does that mean he’s legally free and clear, whatever is discovered?

    SARAH ELLISON: Well, no, I don’t know that any kind of a contractual arrangement could actually put someone legally free and clear from any kind of behavior.

    I mean, one of the things that we know and that I reported last week was that there are — in the course of this — these discussions that have been going on with the internal investigation and also with the women who initially brought a lawsuit against Roger Ailes, Gretchen Carlson, is that there have been some settlement discussions that have begun.

    And at issue in the settlement discussions are tapes that multiple women, including Gretchen Carlson, have made of their interactions with Roger Ailes. And the fact that those are now circulating, at least among the people who are discussing this possible settlement, just makes every bit of this a bit more explosive.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Sarah Ellison, one more. Is there then the potential for more legal action against Roger Ailes?

    SARAH ELLISON: Well, what we have seen in the press, we — again, he denies any kind of wrongdoing. But there are — beyond sexual harassment charges, there are sort of intimidation and bullying and leaking stories about people.

    It’s not clear to me if he was using the company money to settle multiple lawsuits against multiple women and not disclosing that. I don’t know at what point that reaches the level that corporate governance experts or FEC people would be interested in, or at what point any of this becomes actually criminal.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And which is a question we can’t know the answer to at this point.

    Shelley Ross, let me turn to you now. You did write that you have known Roger Ailes for — since the beginning of your career, practically. You wrote of meeting him over lunch. He made — proposed what you described as a sexual alliance as you were going to work for him.

    Your lawyer contacted his lawyers. He then apologized. You did work with him. You have since stayed in touch with him over the years.

    But you go on to say — in this article you wrote in The Daily Beast, you said, “Sexual harassment in network television is pervasive.”

    How pervasive is it?

    SHELLEY ROSS, Former Network News Executive: It’s everywhere. It’s everywhere I worked. And it has many levels, many faces. Being thrown into a swimming pool on a company picnic is sexual harassment. It’s an act of hostility.

    I was the one at ABC, I was the producer doing the very first stories on sexual harassment around the time of Anita Hill’s testimony against Clarence Thomas. And my boss presented me with a birthday cake with a phallus on it.

    It’s a hostile environment. I know executive producers who turn to their young girls on their staff, and, “I haven’t had my morning hug.”

    I was once — as I was leaving ABC, I had a correspondent grab me and grab my behind and said to me, “I can do this now that you’re no longer my boss.”

    And I stepped back and said, “No, you can’t.”

    It’s pretty ugly. It’s — the reason I wrote this piece in The Daily Beast is that we have got to stop, we have got the end harassment now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Shelley Ross, let me just stop you there. Do you think it’s worse in the news business than it is across the board for women?

    SHELLEY ROSS: No, I don’t think it’s any different.

    It’s just you think, since we report on it, that our colleagues should know better, that they should be a little more elevated. And they’re not.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And do you — no, go ahead. What were you going to say?

    SHELLEY ROSS: It’s men and women. I have had a lot of men and former male colleagues reach out to me since I wrote The Daily Beast article to tell me things have happened to them years ago. And they sound as scarred as women in the workplace.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you do go on, Shelley Ross, to write about what you think needs to be done, that there just needs to be more candor. Explain what you’re talking about.

    SHELLEY ROSS: Well, I think, even at FOX — I think FOX has the opportunity — now that Bill Shine, who was Roger Ailes’ number two, has become president, I think — everybody thinks he’s a really good guy and he’s very popular. But he has an opportunity to become a hero.

    He could say, I want FOX News to become the safest place in the world for men and women. I think there has to be public airings. What usually happens, which happened at FOX for 20 years, is a woman is sexually harassed. Where do they go? They go to human resources.

    Human resources is working for the corporation. They don’t want a lawsuit. So, there is a settlement. There’s hush money paid. And there’s a nondisclosure. So, everything is swept under the carpet. And it goes on and on and on.

    And I say we need something akin to the Truth and Reconciliation hearings after apartheid in 1974. Nelson…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In South Africa?


    Nelson Mandela had a great idea to say, come forward, clear the air, without any retribution, and we can all move forward safely.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me turn to Sarah Ellison.

    Having written as much as you have about what happened at FOX, and I know you’re familiar with other news organizations, whether it’s something exactly like what Shelley Ross describes or something akin to that, what do you see as a real potential solution here, or is there one?

    SARAH ELLISON: Well, I mean, I can tell you what is happening at FOX News, and — with the internal investigation that is ongoing.

    And that is that someone very close to that said to me, this is not a therapy session for the women involved. This is a law firm that has been hired to give legal advice to 21st Century Fox.

    So, I don’t want to — I think that what Shelley is proposing is quite interesting. And there has been some lip service paid to the notion that they want to create a very safe place to work, but it’s — you look at how pervasive this is in something like television, and where people are invited to comment in the newsroom on how someone looks on air, and people are constantly talking about appearance and weight and hair and makeup.

    I mean, I think it’s a very difficult environment. I can tell you only what I’m seeing unfold so far, and it’s not that promising.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we — this is a subject that’s much, much bigger than what we have time for tonight. But we thank both of you for certainly giving us something to think about.

    SARAH ELLISON: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Shelley Ross and Sarah Ellison, we thank you.

    SHELLEY ROSS: Thank you.

    The post In the wake of the Ailes resignation, we discuss workplace sexual harassment appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A combination photo shows U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (L) and Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) in Los Angeles, California on May 5, 2016 and in Eugene, Oregon, U.S. on May 6, 2016 respectively.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (L) and Jim Urquhart/File Photos - RTX2DUNR

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: One of the most contentious issues during the current presidential election is how to confront ISIS and who was responsible for the rise of the extremist group.

    Margaret Warner reports.

    MARGARET WARNER: This was the scene recently in a village not far from Mosul in Northern Iraq. Newly uploaded video purports to show Islamic State fighters doing battle with Iraqi Kurdish forces. Despite battlefield setbacks in Iraq and Syria, the militant group remains lethal.

    How to fight ISIS has become a central theme in the 2016 U.S. presidential race.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee: ISIS is honoring President Obama. He is the founder of ISIS. I would say the co-founder would be crooked Hillary Clinton.


    MARGARET WARNER: That was last week. Yesterday, Republican nominee Donald Trump delivered a fuller anti-ISIS message in Youngstown, Ohio.

    DONALD TRUMP: My administration will aggressively pursue joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS, international cooperation to cut off their funding, expanded intelligence-sharing, and cyber-warfare to disrupt and disable a their propaganda and recruiting.

    MARGARET WARNER: He also proclaimed that he would end what he called an era of nation-building, and would take harsh steps to stop ISIS from penetrating the United States.

    DONALD TRUMP: The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today. I call it extreme vetting. I call it extreme, extreme vetting.

    MARGARET WARNER: It would screen out those who sympathize with terror groups and those who have, in his words, any hostile attitude towards our country or its principles.

    DONALD TRUMP: Those who do not believe in our Constitution.

    MARGARET WARNER: In a Web video released last night, Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign tried to turn Trump’s own words against him, saying he would fail the test he’d set for immigrants.

    Last November, Clinton said she would defeat ISIS by massing more U.S. ground troops against the group, though with limits.

    HILLARY CLINTON (D), Presidential Nominee: And we should be honest about the fact that, to be successful, airstrikes will have to be combined with ground forces actually taking back more territory from ISIS. Like President Obama, I do not believe that we should again have 100,000 American troops in combat in the Middle East.

    MARGARET WARNER: That fits with the picture of Clinton in a joint Washington Post/ProPublica report today about the early Obama administration debate over whether to fulfill his campaign pledge to pull out of Iraq altogether.

    It notes that Clinton was — quote — “one of the most vocal advocates for a muscular U.S. presence in Iraq after the withdrawal deadline at the end of 2011.” Clinton lost that argument, and all U.S. fighting forces left.

    It’s also been widely reported that, in 2013, Clinton and then CIA Director David Petraeus proposed arming and training the so-called moderate rebels in neighboring Syria, but that the president rejected it.

    Those U.S.-backed rebels are still doing battle against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but with mixed results, in the brutal five-year old civil war that continues to this day.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Margaret Warner.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what are the differences between how Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would combat ISIS?

    For that, we turn to Walid Phares, a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump. And Wendy Sherman, she was undersecretary of state for political affairs while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. She’s now an outside adviser to the Hillary Clinton campaign.

    Walid Phares, what’s the key strategic difference that Donald Trump wants to make in the fight against ISIS that the Obama administration has not?

    WALID PHARES, Foreign Policy Adviser, Trump Campaign: Well, first of all, very important to know that, between now and 2017, many things will change on the ground, and they will change for either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump. So, anything we’re projecting right now has to do with the moment.

    There are major differences. First, in looking at the three battlefields, one is Iraq, Syria and, of course, Libya has to be dealt with. Three levels are important in terms of difference.

    Level number one is who — what forces are going to be engaging ISIS on the ground? Is it Kurdish forces, the Iraqi army or others in Syria? And why do we ask this question? Because we don’t want to end up with a sect controlling another sect on the ground, which will found the next war.

    Second is also, who would take over after liberation from ISIS? Should it be the locals, national, the government, or a coalition of regional forces that would help them? And, thirdly, of course, what is the future of civil wars such as in Syria? Who will stay? Who will go?

    And I think we have tremendous differences in how to go in, how to manage and, of course, the negotiations for the future.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, Mr. Phares, one of the things that Donald Trump has said in a debate in March is that he’s open to up to 20,000 to 30,000 U.S. troops being on the ground. Is that necessary? Is that the right course?

    WALID PHARES: Mr. Trump made that statement. He may make other statements.

    These are decisions that only when Mr. Trump is the president, hopefully, with his national security Cabinet, will decide upon the time. President Obama, for example, didn’t want to send forces to the region after the withdrawal from Iraq. He had engaged in a warfare situation in Libya. He is sending forces.

    So, these are national security decisions that would be decided once there is an evaluation of the situation on the ground. The American public in general has no appetite for sending tens of thousands, but each situation has a condition.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Ms. Sherman, Secretary Clinton has also called for ground troops, but in a limited capacity.

    What do you see as the differences between what Mr. Trump is proposing and what Mrs. Clinton would carry out?

    WENDY SHERMAN, Former State Department Official: Well, first of all, all of the things that Walid just outlined were not discussed in Mr. Trump’s speech at all yesterday.

    In fact, the strategy that Mr. Trump put on the table, other than the extreme vetting, is exactly what President Obama and Secretary Clinton have worked toward. That is an international coalition with local troops on the ground, having a very aggressive strategy in the cyberworld to stop the financial flows.

    All of these are part of a multivector strategy that has been under way under President Obama for quite some time now and is actually having success.

    Just today, Secretary of Defense Carter said that Syrian democracy forces had indeed taken back Manbij, which is a very key transit point, and now opens the way to ultimately getting to Raqqa, which ISIL has said is its centerpiece for a caliphate, which is disappearing on the ground in Syria.

    There is a very complex environment in the Middle East. In that, Walid is correct. But it can’t come without some knowledge and some background. And every day, we get a different message from Mr. Trump. I would like to know, does he still support torture, which is not the American way and doesn’t bring results?

    Does he still believe that we ought to be killing innocent civilians if there is a family of terrorists that have nothing to do with the terror? Is he someone who still believes in, as you pointed out, Hari, sending thousands and thousands of troops? Mr. Trump has been on all sides of that issue over the history of the last several years.

    So it’s very difficult to know whether Mr. Trump stands and whether he has an understanding of the complexity of the situation and the progress that’s being made, but the progress that is still absolutely needed to protect our homeland and to make sure that Americans feel safe and secure.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: One of the things that she said about extreme vetting, what does that mean? We have heard that there might be an ideological questionnaire. But if I’m a terrorist, wouldn’t I just lie?

    WALID PHARES: The final goal of this is to interdict jihadists from coming to the United States. Everything else could be reconstructed.

    He needs to have the input of national security agencies. One of the problems with our analysts and our national security agencies over the past eight years have been encountering is that the ideological discourse that the jihadists have among themselves has been removed, removed from the analysts.

    So it would be very difficult to be preemptive in the sense to understand when there is radicalization. This is something that our liberal democratic allies in France, in Britain and also in other countries and also in the Arab world have not done.

    We have retreated from the ideological element. It’s not that we are against one or the other ideology. But we need some indicators that these people are Salafis, are Takfiri, are jihadists, so that we can vet them.

    Extreme vetting is not a physical extreme vetting. It’s an intellectual exercise that would bring us back to where we should have been, understanding better the ideas that radicalizes these jihadists.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: One of the things that Mr. Trump also said yesterday was that he was — the similarity that existed between Orlando and San Bernardino, the attacks, were that they were carried out by children and grandchildren of immigrants.

    Is there a particular generation where Americans are patriotic enough where they wouldn’t be — fall under the spell of ISIS?

    WALID PHARES: What he meant by that was not actually a sociological interpretation of how these communities would work, because we also have immigrants and sons and daughters of immigrants from the Arab and Muslim war who fought in our armed forces and who died for America.

    What he meant by that is, despite the fact of integration, the French are telling us the same thing, the Germans are telling us the same thing. So, integration is not the answer. It’s basically deradicalization.

    So, we want to make sure that this ideology doesn’t go and thrust through the generations to a third one. It would be the same case for a neo-Nazi or an anti-Semite or a Bolshevik. It’s not about a social problem. It’s about an intellectual, ideological problem.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Wendy Sherman, one of the distinctions that I think exists between Hillary Clinton and President Obama is the institution of a no-fly zone over Syria.

    President Obama, even as recent as the G20, said that that would be counterproductive. What would a President Clinton do in that case to make it work?

    WENDY SHERMAN: First of all, Hari, in answer to your question about what extreme vetting is, quite frankly, I didn’t understand Walid’s answer.

    This is not an intellectual exercise. This is about our immigration policies. And they are very strict, and the vetting is very tough. And our authorities are always looking at ways to make sure that we are as clear as we possibly can be.

    As Walid himself knows — he’s not a Muslim, but he came here himself in 1990, when he no longer felt personally safe in Lebanon because of his own history, which we could discuss at another time.

    So, I don’t quite understand yet what extreme vetting means, other than a nice sound bite on television.

    To your point about a no-fly zone, Secretary Clinton has said that she wants to explore whatever alternative may deal with the really tragic humanitarian disaster which has played out in Syria. You know that there are literally millions of people who are now refugees.

    There are millions of people who are internally displaced. The leader of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, has used starvation as a weapon of war, has used chemical weapons against his own people, has used chlorine gas probably against his own people.

    And so the question is, in fact, how do we create some humanitarian safety for all of these millions of people who are really in a desperate, desperate situation? We have put enormous pressure on Turkey, on Jordan, on Iraq, and now on Europe, as migrants and refugees pour out of Syria looking for safety.

    So, I applaud Secretary Clinton in wanting to explore every alternative, even knowing some of these are quite tough to do. And she will look very carefully to see what is doable. But we can’t not try to see if there is an answer to this humanitarian tragedy.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Wendy Sherman, Walid Phares, thank you both.

    WALID PHARES: Thank you.

    WENDY SHERMAN: Thank you.

    The post Comparing Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s different approaches to ISIS appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    FILE PHOTO -  The interior of an unoccupied communal cellblock is seen at Camp VI, a prison used to house detainees at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, March 5, 2013.   REUTERS/Bob Strong/File Photo - RTX2L3FY

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: When President Obama took office, there were 242 detainees being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison. He stated his priority was to close the facility in Cuba. But finding places for the inmates to go, even after they had been legally cleared, has proven difficult.

    Yesterday, the Pentagon announced the latest transfer out, 15 prisoners to go to the United Arab Emirates, meaning the number left is down to 61.

    William Brangham has the story.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: On his first day in office, President Obama promised to close Guantanamo. He’s called it expensive, unnecessary and a — quote — “recruitment brochure for our enemies.”

    While Congress has blocked the transfer of high-risk detainees to U.S. prisons, the administration has focused on moving those who are cleared for release to other nations. But Monday’s announcement, which was the single biggest transfer for this administration, has been criticized by Republicans, who say these 15 men are dangerous and should never have been let go.

    I’m joined now by Charlie Savage of The New York Times. He’s covered Gitmo and the war on terror for many years.

    Charlie, help us understand, who are these 15 men that were just recently released?

    CHARLIE SAVAGE, The New York Times: Hi. Thanks for having me on.

    So these men, these 15, none of them are Emirate. Twelve of them are from Yemen and three of them are from Afghanistan. And they were approved for transfer to a stable country that could provide various security assurances some time ago in many cases either by a task force in 2009 or later by a parole-like review panel, in both cases made up of six security agencies, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Department, the State Department, the Justice Department, and so on.

    These are career officials, not political appointees. And they unanimously agreed that these men no longer posed such a threat to the United States that it was necessary to keep holding them in indefinite detention without trial.

    But because they came from, especially in the case of the Yemenis, countries that were not stable, in fact, chaotic and had a weak central government, they were stranded until some other country that could meet these security assurances was willing to take them in.

    And in this very sizable transfer, the UAE solved that problem for the United States and brought them to its country, and is now putting them through a rehabilitation program. They have not been released on to the streets. They are still in custody, but with an eye towards eventually moving them out towards a halfway house and then life in relative freedom in that country under monitoring.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Several Republicans have pointed out that these — they argue that these 15 men are very dangerous and they point out that in a prior classification, these men were ruled as being very high-risk.

    So what has changed in their status as far as the U.S. government’s view of these men?


    Well, there are two things to understand about that. One is that it has become a politically potent sort of partisan fodder to say that any transfer release from Guantanamo is endangering national security as a sort of way to attack the Obama administration. And it polls well. And no matter who is released under what circumstances, this is a recurring theme. And so it has to be understood as part of this, the texture of these policy debates.

    Now, as to your question specifically, what they’re referring to is, there was a group of reports or dossiers prepared by the military about everyone at Guantanamo in the first few years that they were there under the Bush administration that later became public when they were released by Private Chelsea Manning through WikiLeaks.

    And they raised the threat level of the detainees and sort of described who the military at that point thought they were. And almost everyone who was there was rated either a medium or a high risk. And most of the men in this group were also rated a high risk.

    That is a snapshot in time based on the military’s understanding in the year 2004, 2005, 2006. So what happens later, as years continue to pass, is that then the Obama administration came in and appointed that task force I mentioned earlier, and then later since 2013 that parole-like review board with these six agencies.

    And so they come back and they take another look at these men and how have they behaved in custody. What kind of trouble have they gotten into or do they comply with the rules? What have they said over the years? What are their family members saying about them? What kind of situation would they go into?

    And now things are different, in that we have this very well-developed system, some of it imposed by Congress, over the Obama administration’s objection, that requires detainees to go to a place where there are adequate security assurances of monitoring and other steps to reduce the chance of recidivism, whereas, in 2004, 2005, 2006, if someone was released, they really were just simply let go.

    And so what could be a threat, what could be perceived as a threat at the time of those reports may or may not still be the case 10, 12 years later. But that is the basis of the attacks that you’re hearing in the political sphere.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, we have 61 men who are still at Guantanamo now. What’s likely to happen with those men?

    CHARLIE SAVAGE: So, 20 more of them have also been recommended for transfer if security conditions can be met in the receiving countries.

    And the Obama administration is clearly trying very hard to get that list down to zero or as close to zero as they can get it before President Obama leaves office. And a few more names may be added to it over time by that parole-like review board.

    But there are still going to be dozens of men, currently 41, who are not recommended for transfer, either because they’re facing charges before a military commission, or more likely because, by numbers, they are simply still deemed too dangerous to release, but untriable.

    They will have to be housed somewhere. President Obama’s plan to close Gitmo wasn’t to let them go, but to bring them to a different prison on domestic soil. Congress has forbidden him from doing that. And so most likely, come January 20, when the next president takes office, those men at least will still be there.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Charlie Savage of The New York Times, thank you very much.

    CHARLIE SAVAGE: Thank you.

    The post With Gitmo on the path to closure, Obama approves major prisoner release appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The floodwaters recede from Bethel United Methodist Cemetery in Greenwell Springs, Louisiana, U.S., August 14, 2016. REUTERS/Jeffrey Dubinsky - RTX2KT43

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: The toll from days of historic flooding in Louisiana kept on climbing today. Local officials raised the number of fatalities to 10. Early estimates indicate at least 40,000 homes have been impacted.. The water did start to slowly recede in areas near Baton Rouge.

    Meanwhile, some residents managed to return to their homes to assess the damage.

    Governor John Bel Edwards acknowledged recovery efforts have been tough.

    GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D), Louisiana: This is a very difficult situation to get response out as quickly as we would like to. We still have about 34,000 meters without electricity. That’s customers, so those are homes or businesses. We understand that there is still a lot of people who are suffering.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The governor also reported about 8,000 people remain in shelters, a number he expects will rise.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In California, crews have gained ground on a massive wildfire north of San Francisco. It’s charred nearly seven square miles, and destroyed 175 homes and other buildings. But local officials said the fire is now about 20 percent contained.

    The progress came as authorities arrested a man they believe set the fire. He was charged with 17 counts of arson, and is suspected of starting several other fires in the area.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The nation’s third largest health insurer, Aetna, has announced plans to leave most of the health care exchanges set up under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. It will sharply cut its participation from 15 states to just four next year, citing heavy financial losses. Aetna is the third major health insurer to pull out of the ACA in recent months, joining UnitedHealth and Humana.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Russia widened its bombing campaign in Syria today, this time launching airstrikes from Iran. The warplanes took off from a base near Hamedan about 175 miles southwest of Tehran. They targeted Islamic State fighters and other militants.

    It’s the first time Russia has used another country’s territory for attacks in Syria. An American military official said the U.S. was warned in advance.

    COL. CHRIS GARVER, Spokesman, Operation Inherent Resolve: They informed us they were coming through, and we ensured safety of flight as those bombers passed through the area and toward their target and then when they passed out again. They didn’t impact coalition operations in either Iraq or Syria during the time. We knew in time. It’s not a lot of time, but it’s enough. And it was enough time to make sure that we could ensure safety of flight.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s believed to be the first time that Tehran has allowed a foreign country to use one of its bases for military operations since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: One of Britain’s most well-known radical Muslim preachers has been convicted of rallying support for the Islamic State. Anjem Choudary was found guilty in a London court last month. That was unreportable until now due to criminal proceedings. His followers have been linked to a number of high-profile attacks, including last year’s beheading of a British soldier in London. Choudary could face up to 10 years in prison.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Here in the U.S., regulators today unveiled new fuel-efficiency rules for large trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles. The caps will cut greenhouse gas emissions by over one billion tons, and save over $170 billion in fuel costs.

    By 2027, heavy-duty trucks will be 25 percent more fuel-efficient than those sold in 2018. Heavy-duty vehicles account for more than 20 percent of transportation-related pollution.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Stocks slipped on Wall Street today, due in part to a lag in phone and utility company shares. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 84 points to close at 18552. The Nasdaq fell nearly 35 points, and the S&P 500 dropped 12.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A passing to note: Renowned TV host John McLaughlin has died. He was the creator, executive producer and host of “The McLaughlin Group,” a long-running weekly public affairs show. McLaughlin was too ill to host this past Sunday, the first time he’s missed a taping in 34 years. Besides his work in TV, he served as a speechwriter for Presidents Nixon and Ford.

    John McLaughlin was 89 years old.

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    John McLaughlin, host of The John McLaughlin Group, with Eleanor Clift of The Daily Beast and Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune during a 2015 show.

    John McLaughlin, host of The McLaughlin Group, with Eleanor Clift of The Daily Beast and Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune during a 2015 show. McLaughlin died Tuesday at the age of 89.

    NEW YORK — John McLaughlin, the conservative political commentator and host of the namesake long-running television show that pioneered hollering-heads discussions of Washington politics, has died. He was 89.

    McLaughlin died Tuesday morning, according to an announcement on the Facebook page of “The McLaughlin Group” series. No cause of death was mentioned, but an ailing McLaughlin had missed the taping for this past weekend’s show — his first absence in the series’ 34 years.

    Since its debut in April 1982, “The McLaughlin Group” upended the soft-spoken and non-confrontational style of shows such as “Washington Week in Review” and “Agronsky & Co.” with a raucous format that largely dispensed with politicians. It instead featured journalists quizzing, talking over and sometimes insulting each other. In recent years, the show billed itself as “The American Original” — a nod to all the shows that copied its format.

    “John McLaughlin was a TV institution for generations of Americans,” tweeted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. “We will miss his contagious spirit & tireless dedication.”

    In an interview with The Associated Press in 1986, McLaughlin said he felt talk shows hadn’t kept pace with changes in television.

    “I began the group as a talk show of the ’90s,” he said, adding that he thought informing an audience could be entertaining: “The acquisition of knowledge need not be like listening to the Gregorian chant.”

    Critics said the show was more about show business and entertainment than journalism and politics. They said it celebrated nasty posturing, abhorred complexity and featured a group of mostly aging conservative white men spouting off on topics they knew little about.

    “Whether it was the guerrilla strategy of Afghan mujahedeen or the next open-market operation by the Federal Reserve Board, the members of the group always seemed to have just gotten off the phone with the guy in charge,” Eric Alterman charged in his 2000 book, “Sound and Fury: The Making of the Punditocracy.”

    But the format was hugely successful. As McLaughlin himself might have said, on a probability scale from zero to 10 — zero meaning zero probability, 10 meaning metaphysical certitude — in the show’s heyday, the chances that the Washington establishment were faithfully tuning in each week was definitely a 10.

    The show began with McLaughlin declaring, “Issue One!” and often featured the journalists pontificating on four or five issues. It would end with the journalists forecasting the future — usually with a high degree of certainty, if not accuracy — and McLaughlin declaring, “Buh-bye!”

    The show made stars of its panelists, who could go on to command high-priced speaking engagements and even played themselves in movies such as “Independence Day,” ”Mission: Impossible” and “Watchmen.” McLaughlin also played himself on episodes of “ALF” and “Murphy Brown” and was ridiculed as a speed-talking egomaniac by Dana Carvey on “Saturday Night Live.”

    The current group of panelists included Pat Buchanan, Eleanor Clift, Tom Rogan and Clarence Page.

    “Sad news,” Page tweeted. “We lost John McLaughlin this morning. I hear that he smiled before he passed. His final gift to us.”

    “My parents made us watch him every week,” tweeted former “Saturday Night Live” player and current “Late Night” host Seth Meyers, “which made the SNL sketches all the sweeter.”

    The 1982 pilot featured syndicated columnists Jack Germond and Robert Novak as well as Chuck Stone of the Philadelphia Daily News and Judith Miller of The New York Times. Stone and Miller were quickly replaced by Pat Buchanan and Morton Kondracke.

    Fred Barnes and Eleanor Clift were added in 1985, after Buchanan left to become Reagan’s communications director, giving the show its first woman.

    In July 1984 McLaughlin began hosting “John McLaughlin’s One on One,” an in-depth interview program. He also hosted a CNBC show, “McLaughlin,” from April 1989 to January 1994.

    McLaughlin could be a hard boss to work for. A 1990 article in The Washington Post Magazine by Alterman quoted former McLaughlin staffers Anne Rumsey, Kara Swisher and Tom Miller recalling instances of petty tyranny and McLaughlin leering at female employees.

    His former office manager, Linda Dean, filed a $4 million lawsuit against McLaughlin in 1988, claiming she was fired after protesting his unwanted sexual advances. McLaughlin denied the allegations; the suit was settled out of court in December 1989.

    McLaughlin and his wife of 16 years, former Labor Secretary Ann Dore McLaughlin, divorced three years later.

    In 1997, McLaughlin, then 70, married 36-year-old Cristina Vidal, the vice president of his production company. They divorced in 2010.

    Born March 29, 1927, McLaughlin grew up in a middle-class neighborhood of Providence, Rhode Island, where his father was a furniture salesman. He trained for the priesthood at Shadowbrook, a small Jesuit seminary in western Massachusetts, and earned master’s degrees in philosophy and English at Boston College and a doctorate in communications at Columbia University.

    He worked as an editor at a Jesuit weekly and gave lectures on sex before shocking his friends in 1970 by switching parties to run unsuccessfully as a dovish, anti-war Republican against Rhode Island’s hawkish incumbent Democratic U.S. senator.

    He opened a consulting firm and gave up his Roman collar in 1975 to marry longtime friend Dore, who served as secretary of labor from December 1987 to January 1989. McLaughlin became a talk radio show host on a Washington station in 1980, but only lasted a year.

    In 1982, he persuaded wealthy friend Robert Moore, a former aide in the Nixon White House, to underwrite a new form of public affairs television — and a juggernaut was born.

    Former Associated Press writer Derek Rose contributed to this report.

    The post John McLaughlin, pioneer of raucous political punditry on TV, dies at 89 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    File photo of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump by Chris Keane/Reuters

    File photo of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump by Chris Keane/Reuters

    TETERBORO, N.J. — Republican Donald Trump announced a shakeup of his campaign leadership Wednesday, the latest sign of tumult in his bid for the White House as his poll numbers slip and only 82 days remain before the election.

    The billionaire real estate mogul named Stephen Bannon of the conservative Breitbart News website as chief executive officer and promoted pollster Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager. Paul Manafort, Trump’s controversial campaign chairman, will retain his title, but it is unclear if his role will change.

    In tapping Bannon for a top campaign role, Trump is doubling down on his outsider appeal rather than appeasing more traditional Republicans. The conservative Breitbart figure has been a cheerleader for Trump’s campaign for months and was critical of Republican leaders, including Ryan. Bannon is a former Goldman Sachs banker and does not bring presidential campaign experience to Trump’s White House bid.

    Trump has resisted pleas from fellow Republicans to overhaul the flame-throwing approach on the campaign trail that powered his surge to the top of the Republican field in the primary season. Instead of working to broaden his appeal, Trump has largely hewed to the large rallies and attention-grabbing comments that appealed to the party base.

    Conway joined Trump’s campaign earlier this year as a senior adviser. A longtime Republican strategist and pollster, she has close ties to Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

    “I’ve known both of them for a long time. They’re terrific people, they’re winners, they’re champs, and we need to win it,” Trump told The Associated Press in a phone interview early Wednesday.

    Manafort deputy Rick Gates, who has been traveling often with Trump, is expected to maintain a senior role with the campaign.

    File photo of Paul Manafort by Brendan McDermid/Reuters

    File photo of Paul Manafort by Brendan McDermid/Reuters

    Manafort, who took over the reins following the departure of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in June, has come under scrutiny because of his past work for a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Manafort helped the party secretly route at least $2.2 million in payments to two prominent Washington lobbying firms in 2012, doing so in a way that effectively obscured the party’s efforts to influence U.S. policy.

    The campaign shakeup, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, comes as polls show Trump trailing Clinton nationally and in key battleground states following a difficult campaign stretch that saw him insulting the Muslim parents of a soldier who died in Iraq and temporarily refraining from endorsing House Speaker Paul Ryan in his primary race.

    Trump has resisted pressure to change his campaign style.

    “Everyone talks about, ‘Oh, well you’re going to pivot, you’re going to.’ I don’t want to pivot. I mean, you have to be you. If you start pivoting, you’re not being honest with people.” — Donald Trump

    “You know, I am who I am,” he told a local Wisconsin television station Tuesday. “It’s me. I don’t want to change. Everyone talks about, ‘Oh, well you’re going to pivot, you’re going to.’ I don’t want to pivot. I mean, you have to be you. If you start pivoting, you’re not being honest with people.”

    Conway called the moves “an expansion at a critical time in the homestretch.”

    Details of the new pecking order were hashed out at a lengthy senior staff meeting at Trump Tower Tuesday while Trump was on the road. A statement announcing the hires was released Wednesday. Additional senior hires are expected soon.

    Trump, whose campaign is built on his persona as a winner, said several times Wednesday that the campaign was “doing well,” and said his speech hours earlier in Wisconsin Tuesday was well-received.

    “We’re going to be doing something very dramatic,” Trump added.

    Trump’s campaign announced earlier that it would finally begin airing its first ads of the general election next week in the battleground states of Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

    The candidates trade punches on foreign policy.

    While polls have shown Clinton building a lead following last month’s convention, Democrats fear that a depressed voter turnout might diminish support among the minority, young and female voters who powered Obama to two victories.

    Clinton said at a voter registration event at a Philadelphia high school that she’s “not taking anybody anywhere for granted” in the race for the White House.

    In the Wisconsin outing Tuesday, Trump accused Clinton of “bigotry” and being “against the police,” claiming that she and other Democrats have “betrayed the African American community” and pandered for votes.

    Trump charged that Clinton has been on the side of the rioters in Milwaukee, declaring: “Our opponent Hillary would rather protect the offender than the victim.”

    “The riots and destruction that have taken place in Milwaukee is an assault on the right of all citizens to live in security and to live in peace,” he said.

    The Clinton campaign responded by accusing Trump of being the bigot instead.

    “With each passing Trump attack, it becomes clearer that his strategy is just to say about Hillary Clinton what’s true of himself. When people started saying he was temperamentally unfit, he called Hillary the same. When his ties to the Kremlin came under scrutiny, he absurdly claimed that Hillary was the one who was too close to Putin. Now he’s accusing her of bigoted remarks — We think the American people will know which candidate is guilty of the charge,” spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri said in a statement early Wednesday.

    Associated Press reporters Julie Pace and Jill Colvin wrote this report.

    Julie Pace reported from Washington.

    The post Donald Trump shaking up campaign staff appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photos of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton by Getty Images

    Photos of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton by Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — In this unconventional campaign season, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have produced two conventional tax plans that mostly track their parties’ long-standing views.

    Trump is pushing a plan squarely in the GOP tradition of sharp tax cuts for individuals and businesses, which most analyses conclude would largely benefit wealthier Americans. That’s in contrast with other issues such as international trade, where he has jettisoned decades of GOP orthodoxy and taken a more populist stance.

    Clinton, meanwhile, is proposing to raise taxes for the wealthiest households to pay for traditional Democratic proposals such as expanding access to higher education.

    “Here, at least, they fall into very much traditional Democratic and Republican proposals,” said William Gale, co-director of the Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and Urban Institute.

    Taxes are emerging as the biggest difference between the two candidates, at least when it comes to economic policy. Clinton has backed off her previous support for free trade agreements, and like Trump, now opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a trade deal involving the United States and 13 Pacific Rim nations.

    Trump, for his part, has proposed spending twice as much as Clinton on building and repairing airports, roads, tunnels and other infrastructure. That’s a departure from recent GOP opposition to proposals by President Obama to increase spending on infrastructure.

    Yet on taxes the two candidates remain far apart. Here are summaries of their proposals:



    TRUMP: He would cut the top income tax bracket to 33 percent from its current level of 39.6 percent. Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has made the same proposal, which the conservative Tax Foundation said would help boost after-tax income for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans by 5.3 percent. Trump updated his tax proposal in a speech last week in Detroit, and plans to release details in the coming weeks. Tax experts haven’t been able to evaluate many of his proposals as a result.

    CLINTON: She has proposed several tax increases on wealthier Americans, including a 4 percent surcharge on incomes above $5 million, effectively creating a new top bracket of 43.6 percent. And those earning more than $1 million a year would be subject to a minimum 30 percent tax rate. She would also cap the value of many tax deductions for wealthier taxpayers. The changes would increase taxes in 2017 for the richest 1 percent by $78,284, reducing their after-tax income by 5 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center.



    TRUMP: Would reduce the seven tax brackets in current law to just three, at 12 percent, 25 percent and 33 percent. Using the Tax Foundation’s evaluation of the House Republican plan, which includes the same brackets, the change would lift after-tax incomes for the bottom 80 percent of income earners — those earning less than about $195,000 a year — by 0.2 percent to 0.5 percent.

    CLINTON: Says she will not raise taxes on the middle class. Her current proposals would have little impact on the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers, according to the Tax Policy Center.



    TRUMP: Would cut the corporate rate from its current 35 percent to 15 percent. He would also cut taxes on “pass-through” business income from partnerships such as law firms to 15 percent. More than two-thirds of “pass-through” income flows to the richest 1 percent of taxpayers, according to the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

    CLINTON: Would not change the corporate tax rate.



    TRUMP: Managers for private equity firms and hedge funds can classify their investment profits as “carried interest” and pay capital gains taxes on their income. That typically allows them to pay much lower tax rates than middle-income taxpayers. Trump says he would eliminate the loophole, but hedge fund and private equity managers would likely pay even lower tax rates under his proposal to cut business taxes to just 15 percent.

    CLINTON: Would eliminate the loophole and tax carried interest as ordinary income.

    PBS NewsHour co-anchor Judy Woodruff speaks with Neil Irwin of the The New York Times and David Wessel of the Brookings Institution about the candidates’ tax plans.



    TRUMP: Would eliminate the so-called “death tax” on large estates that is currently levied on estates worth more than $5.45 million ($10.9 million for married couples).

    CLINTON: Would increase the estate tax to 45 percent from 40 percent and apply it to more estates, starting with those worth $3.5 million ($7 million for married couples).



    TRUMP: Says his steep cut in the corporate tax rate would end the practice of corporate “inversions,” which occur when a U.S. company acquires a foreign corporation, then relocates overseas, to avoid paying U.S. corporate taxes. The U.S. corporate tax rate of 35 percent is the highest in the developed world, though many companies use deductions and other strategies to avoid paying that amount.

    CLINTON: Would discourage inversions by making it harder for a U.S. company to classify itself as a foreign-owned to avoid U.S. taxation. She would also place an “exit tax” on companies that leave the U.S. while still keeping earnings overseas that haven’t been subject to U.S. tax.



    TRUMP: Wants to make all child care costs tax-deductible. Would allow the deduction to apply to Social Security and Medicare taxes to benefit lower-income earners who pay little or no income tax. Current law allows parents to deduct up to $6,000 in child care expenses.

    CLINTON: Has made several proposals intended to help limit child care expenses to 10 percent of a family’s income, but has made no specific mention of using the tax code to achieve that goal.



    TRUMP: Would allow taxpayers to deduct child care costs from Social Security and Medicare taxes.

    CLINTON: Says she will ask the wealthiest to “contribute more” to Social Security, by raising the cap on income currently subject to Social Security taxes, but has not released any details.

    ISSUES MATTER: Where do the candidates stand on health care?

    The post How do the presidential candidates’ tax proposals compare? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad enter a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow in 2015. Photo by Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin via Reuters

    Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad enter a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow in 2015. Photo by Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin via Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Russia’s use of an Iranian air base to bomb targets in Syria sends a message to Washington as it weighs a military partnership with Moscow: Join us or we’ll look to your enemies.

    Tuesday’s missions were unprecedented. Iran allowed Russian warplanes to take off from its territory to strike opposition targets in Syria. The move came with little notice to the United States, which has watched helplessly the escalating bloodshed near Aleppo, the country’s biggest city, and even offered an alliance with Russia against Islamic State and other extremist fighters as a way to get Syria’s government out of the fight.

    The negotiations have dragged on for weeks. Russia has grown impatient, with top officials several times suggesting an imminent deal, only to have American officials counter that the sides weren’t close. The bombing runs from a base near the Iranian city of Hamedan, 175 miles southwest of Tehran, may have been a reminder to the Obama administration that Moscow could be cozying up to Iran if Washington doesn’t come around.

    “The Russians are showing they have options in Syria while they have Washington over a barrel on Aleppo,” said Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He said the operations also cement Russia’s alliance with Iran in the region.

    Russia and Iran have strongly backed Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government throughout the five-and-a-half year civil war with rebel groups supported by the United States and allies such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

    But the West has been pinning its hopes on Moscow.

    When Russia intervened militarily in Syria last August, it claimed privately that its action would ultimately sideline Iran and its proxy Hezbollah force in Syria, making Assad more conciliatory in a peace process, according to U.S. and European diplomats.

    The argument was one of several by Russia that the U.S. and others have clung to as a potential pathway to peace, and which they hope to test when the U.N. sets up a new round of peace talks in coming weeks, even if they accuse Russia of failing countless previous challenges by persisting in bombing Assad’s more moderate opponents.

    The latest Russian-Iranian coordination would suggest Tehran isn’t being sidelined. It is virtually unheard of in recent Iranian history for a foreign power to use an Iranian base to stage attacks. And Russia had only used its own territory and assets inside Syria for such operations previously. If Russia is moving closer to the Assad-Iran-Hezbollah alliance, it could spell doom for Syria’s besieged opposition.

    File photo of Secretary of State John Kerry by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    File photo of Secretary of State John Kerry by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    Secretary of State John Kerry called Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday to discuss the operations. Underscoring the U.S. confusion, State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters that Washington was “still trying to assess what exactly they’re doing.”

    Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said the Russians activated a communications link with coalition officials just ahead of the bomber mission.

    They “informed us they were coming through” airspace that could potentially put them in proximity to U.S. and coalition aircraft in Iraq or Syria, he said. Asked how much advance notice the Russians gave, Garver said: “We did know in time” to maintain safety of flight.

    The setup at the Iranian air base occurred very quickly, perhaps overnight, said U.S. officials, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly on military matters and requested anonymity.

    One U.S. military official said the Russians flew four Tu-22 Backfire bombers to the Iranian air base, along with a Russian cargo plane loaded with the munitions for the bombers, just hours before the missions. Another official said that all the aircraft were back in Russia later Tuesday, suggesting that the action was a test or gesture, not the start of any permanent Russian presence in Iran.

    Flying missions out of Iran wouldn’t appear to provide an advantage, though Russian officials said it enables heavier loads and lower costs. Russia maintains significant numbers of combat aircraft inside Syria, and it has flown long-range bomber missions from southern Russia.

    Syria’s civil war has killed as many as a half-million people since 2011. Millions have fled as refugees, contributing to a global migration crisis. And the Islamic State has seized on the instability to become a worldwide terror threat.

    Syrian rebels and opposition activists reacted angrily to the news.

    The Russians “are taking advantage of the political vacuum that was left by America and Western countries that withdrew,” said Paris-based Syrian opposition figure George Sabra.

    The deployment in Iran comes a day after Russia’s defense minister said Washington and Moscow were near agreement on the proposed military partnership. U.S. officials said no agreement was close.

    The State Department’s Toner said the Russian cooperation with Iran doesn’t preclude the possibility of a U.S.-Russian partnership in Syria. But such an arrangement would become more difficult if it essentially meant a U.S.-Russia-Iran partnership.

    Toner also suggested Russia violated last year’s U.N. security Council resolution enshrining the Iran nuclear deal. The resolution prohibits the supply, sale and transfer of combat aircraft to Iran unless approved in advance by the U.N. Security Council, something he said hadn’t occurred.

    Russia said its planes targeted Islamic State militants and the al-Qaida-linked group formerly known as the Nusra Front in Aleppo, as well as in Deir el-Zour and Idlib, destroying five major ammunition depots, training camps and three command posts.

    The Russian planes flew over Iraq, apparently without the permission of Iraq’s government, a U.S. official said.

    That by itself is hardly significant. Iran has flown supply and other missions over Iraq to Syria without permission. There is little Baghdad can do to stop those flights, and the U.S. has regularly turned its cheek.


    Associated Press writer Bradley Klapper wrote this report.

    Associated Press writers Zeina Karam and Bassem Mroue in Beirut, Nataliya Vasilyeva and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow, Lolita C. Baldor and Robert Burns in Washington, Nasser Karimi in Tehran and Jon Gambrell in Dubai contributed to this report.

    The post Russia-Iran cooperation in Syria sends message to U.S. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Drugs are prepared to shoot intravenously by a user addicted to heroin in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

    Drugs are prepared to shoot intravenously by a user addicted to heroin in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has announced that it will spend $17 million to help law enforcement agencies deal with the increase in heroin and opioid abuse.

    At the same time, the administration is using the announcement to encourage Congress to meet President Barack Obama’s call for $1.1 billion in new funding to help states expand access to treatment.

    The administration says the spending announced Wednesday will support an array of projects to disrupt drug trafficking, increase the use of the drug naloxone to reverse overdoses and train medical providers on safe prescribing practices.

    Congress has approved legislation aimed at curbing heroin and opioid drugs. Obama signed the bill into law last month, but the president said he was deeply disappointed about funding levels. The bill authorized $181 million in new spending.

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    A supporter of Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton wears a handmade hat before the Democratic Presidential nominee holds a rally in Philadelphia. (Photo by Mark Makela/Reuters)

    Editor’s Note: On Thursday, Aug. 18, at 5 p.m. EDT, the PBS NewsHour along with the Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research will present a special forum on “Race & the Race to the White House.” Arielle Newton, activist and founder of the Black Millennials blog will join in a live chat during the forum on Twitter. You can watch live and join in the discussion here.

    As a radical black militant, this presidential election is best characterized as a tyrannical pageant of white fear. Across the political spectrum, white voters are terrified of what the future will bring should either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump become the next commander in chief.

    White supporters of Hillary Clinton are concerned with the rise of neo-­fascism, of what a Trump presidency would mean for the fragile economic sector, foreign policy, immigration and social progress. For Trump supporters, a world of black and brown people pouring through American borders is a dastardly reality that must ultimately be confronted and curbed through racist, ideological litmus tests for incoming immigrants, draconian and impractical measures against the undocumented and isolationist economic policies that are sure to disrupt our precarious economy.

    “To be a black body witnessing this unprecedented election means to be in a constant state of conflict; to be caught in the middle of two great evils.”

    To be a white spectator in this election season means to cast an uncomplicated vote dependent on personal value systems. To be a black body witnessing this unprecedented election means to be in a constant state of conflict; to be caught in the middle of two great evils.

    I will not be voting for either mainstream candidate. Hillary Clinton does not care deeply for black lives; she is a foreign policy hawk that has dismantled black and brown communities for profit and special interest. Trump is a thin-­skinned coward.

    Many politically and civically engaged black folk are voting for Clinton come November. Historically, the Democratic Party of which Clinton is the newly elected standard­-bearer, has relied heavily on dedicated and reliable groups of black voters. Following the meteoric election of President Barack Obama, the Democratic Party is sure to reap the political benefits of the robust black voting bloc for years, ­­ if not centuries ­­ to come.

    READ MORE: Clinton and Democrats have their own race problem

    Compounded with the election of the first black president is the overarching strategic inclusion of black voices throughout Democratic contemporary political operations. In recent times, the Democratic Party, with its well-­stocked infrastructural establishment, has secured its allegiance of black voters through the careful installation of black political operatives and its comprehensive grassroots ground game. But the Democratic Party pays lip service to the black community, and does not represent any transformative pathway to wholehearted racial justice or black liberation.

    The Democratic Party is a master of reformist performance. They claim to care about the plight of black bodies and offer half measures that serve to placate black voters. Yet they are beholden to multi-­national corporations and are incapable of introducing and implementing radical policies that will fundamentally reshape the anti­-black construction of this nation. The Democratic establishment will never call for the abolition of law enforcement or economic reparations for black bodies; instead they’ll call for police­-worn body cameras and (maybe) “independent” oversight.

    “The Democratic Party is a center-right political operation that relies on the passions of black bodies to maintain its mainstream political dominance.”

    They will not trim the budgets of surveillance agencies, and they will never view Palestinians as an oppressed, disenfranchised people and place righteous, unapologetic blame on the government of Israel. They will never view domestic law enforcement as a direct entity of historical slave patrols or call for the end of mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex. Instead, they will demand that we compromise, wait our turn, be peaceful and vote. The Democratic Party is a center-right political operation that relies on the passions of black bodies to maintain its mainstream political dominance.

    So I’m voting for a third­-party candidate: Dr. Jill Stein. Dr. Stein holds an enlightened intersectional value system in which the most vulnerable are centered. From advocating for the eradication of student loan debt to proposing an end to mass incarceration and the failed War on Drugs, Dr. Stein is closest to my pro­-black perspective.

    READ MORE: Is Donald Trump losing his party with his rhetoric and leadership style?

    White and black liberals alike have told me that my vote is a waste. To them, voting for Dr. Jill Stein is a way to ensure that Donald Trump becomes president. And maybe it is. I concede that I would rather not experience life with the petty Trump having access to nuclear codes. But my desire for long term and scalable freedom, for both myself and my people domestically and globally, is more palpable than the temporary comfort my middle-class upbringing provides me.

    “Voting third party is a long-term strategy.”

    Voting third party is a long-term strategy. The Green Party only needs 5 percent of the popular vote to qualify for public campaign funds come 2020. Such funds could amount to $10 million, a sum that could translate into effective grassroots community organizing in key counties across states.

    My disdain for the Democratic Party is not an endorsement of the Republican Party. The right-wing establishment is a nativist institution that aims to protect rich, heterosexual, cis-gender and able-bodied white men. Instead, my disdain for the Democratic Party is the result of my disgust with institutions that, at a cursory glance, appear inclined and empathetic to progressive causes while serving and protecting the interests of the most privileged.

    The current two-­party system has wreaked havoc on the black community. It has co­-opted our fundamental value systems to fit trending political molds.

    And such is a reality that I will no longer deem credible, fixable or worthy of my vote.

    This column is the third in a five-part series related to the 2016 Hutchins Forum on Race and the Race to the White House.

    Check out all the columns in this series by clicking here.

    The post Column: It’s time for black people to break the two-party system appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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