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- 08/20/16--06:06: _In-person voting fr...
- 08/20/16--07:29: _Trump and new team ...
- 08/20/16--07:43: _This man is abstain...
- 08/20/16--08:34: _Puberty blockers ma...
- 08/20/16--09:56: _Outside groups rush...
- 08/20/16--12:08: _Tens of thousands i...
- 08/20/16--12:25: _Meet some of the Ch...
- 08/20/16--12:49: _Trump meets Nationa...
- 08/20/16--14:02: _Why a 1995 speech p...
- 08/20/16--14:03: _Aetna announces it ...
- 08/20/16--15:46: _Justice Department ...
- 08/20/16--16:48: _Why so many gay and...
- 08/21/16--06:12: _Trump says GOP must...
- 08/21/16--07:00: _A photographer’s di...
- 08/21/16--07:12: _Black-and-white por...
- 08/21/16--07:39: _In North Carolina, ...
- 08/21/16--08:02: _After imam shooting...
- 08/21/16--08:45: _Trump-Clinton race ...
- 08/21/16--10:01: _The complications o...
- 08/21/16--10:48: _Olympic highlights ...
- 08/20/16--06:06: In-person voting fraud is rare, doesn’t affect elections
- 08/20/16--07:29: Trump and new team have little time to execute new strategy
- 08/20/16--07:43: This man is abstaining from sex for a year so he can donate blood
- 08/20/16--09:56: Outside groups rush to help Clinton, Trump, Senate hopefuls
- 08/20/16--12:25: Meet some of the Chinese Americans voting for Trump
- 08/20/16--12:49: Trump meets National Hispanic Advisory Council in New York
- 08/20/16--14:02: Why a 1995 speech proved formative for Clinton
- 08/20/16--14:03: Aetna announces it will leave exchanges in 11 states
- 08/20/16--15:46: Justice Department will not renew contracts with private prisons
- 08/20/16--16:48: Why so many gay and bisexual men can’t donate blood in the U.S.
- 08/21/16--06:12: Trump says GOP must improve its outreach to black voters
- 08/21/16--07:12: Black-and-white portraits from apartheid-era South Africa
- 08/21/16--07:39: In North Carolina, audience shrinking for Trump’s message
- 08/21/16--08:45: Trump-Clinton race tests Senate race in reliably GOP Georgia
WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s newest campaign ad begins with a warning: “In Hillary Clinton’s America, the system stays rigged against Americans.”The commercial, which aired Friday as part of his $5 million swing state ad buy, harkens back to a claim Trump has been hammering for weeks — that the general election is rigged against him. The questionable claim looks to mobilize Republicans, with the all-important start of early voting in some states just weeks away.
The presidential nominee has voiced strong support for North Carolina’s stringent voter ID law — struck down as discriminatory, but to be appealed — saying without it, voters will cast ballots “15 times” for Democrat Hillary Clinton. He also launched a new effort on his website last week seeking volunteers to root out fraud at the polls.
Things to know about voting fraud:
What are voter ID laws?
That ID law Trump referred to had involved a broader package of restrictions — among them, reducing early in-person voting, which is popular among blacks in particular. At the same time, it exempted tough photo ID requirements for early mail-in voters, who were more likely to be white and Republican.
In all, 17 states were set to have restrictions for the first time in a presidential election, pending final appeals, such as voter ID or cuts to voter registration or early in-person voting. Among them: the battlegrounds of North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin and Georgia. Florida and Iowa had restrictions in place since 2012.[Watch Video]
The potential impact is significant: Barack Obama’s strength among early voters in 2012 helped him capture Florida and Iowa despite losing the election-day vote in those states, according to voting data compiled by The Associated Press. He narrowly lost North Carolina by 92,000 votes; in 2008, Obama had won all three states plus Colorado, thanks to early voters.
Is voting fraud a problem?
Not the type that Trump is referring to.
While fraud can occur, the number of cases is very small and the type that voter IDs are designed to prevent — voter impersonation at the ballot box — is virtually non-existent.
News21, a reporting project affiliated with Arizona State University, in 2012 found 2,068 cases of election fraud nationwide since 2000. Of those, just 10 involved voter impersonation — or one out of every 15 million prospective voters. More common was absentee mail-in ballot fraud, with 491 cases. None affected the outcome of an election.
Lorraine Minnite, a political science professor at Rutgers University-Camden, says voter impersonation fraud is rare because it’s difficult to do on a large-enough scale to tip an election.
“It’s so irrational to even try just for one or two more votes,” said Minnite, author of “The Myth of Voter Fraud.”
In court cases that temporarily invalidated some of the ID laws, including North Carolina, Wisconsin and North Dakota, election officials could barely cite a case in which a person was charged with in-person voting fraud.
But Trump continued his warnings, calling last week for “election observers” on his official website to “stop Crooked Hillary from rigging this election.” Volunteers who sign up are directed to a donation page.
A new Pew Research Center report released Friday found that 38 percent of registered voters who support Trump are very confident their vote will be accurately counted. This view stands in contrast to the 2004 and 2008 elections, when substantial majorities of voters who backed Republicans George W. Bush and John McCain expressed confidence in the count of their votes.
The survey found that 67 percent of Clinton supporters have a high degree of confidence that their vote will be counted accurately.
What can we expect with early voting?
North Carolina is the first to kick off early voting on Sept. 9, when its residents may request and submit mail-in absentee ballots through election day for any reason. It will be followed by Georgia, Wisconsin, Virginia and Iowa.
A total of 37 states also offer in-person early voting, typically in mid to late October.
Over the years, mail-in early voters usually have been older, better educated and more likely white, while in-person early voters were often young people and black Americans, according to University of Florida professor Michael McDonald, an expert in election statistics.
As a result, early voting will likely be concentrated heavily among registered Republicans initially before turning in the Democrats’ favor in late October to early November. Those initial numbers will offer clues as to the depth of Trump’s support among his biggest partisans, who vote right away, McDonald said. Meanwhile, in North Carolina, a potential wild card is its voter ID law. An appeals court recently invalidated restrictions that cut in person early voting from 17 to 10 days, but the governor has vowed to appeal, creating uncertainty about the extent of early voting this fall.
Voter mobilization is a key part of Clinton’s strategy to winning North Carolina, as it was for Obama.
Will rulings invalidating voter ID increase the Democratic vote?
Not necessarily. More likely, it will prevent a net loss of would-be Democratic voters — the black Americans, young people and the poor, whom recent rulings said would be less able to vote if newly passed state voter ID laws remained.
Based on rulings as they stand now, voters in North Carolina and North Dakota are ultimately unlikely to face new ID requirements, while those in Wisconsin and Texas will in some form.
A number of factors can influence voter turnout, beyond ID laws, such as voter excitement for a candidate, as was seen in 2008 and 2012, when voters rushed to the polls to help elect the first-ever black president, said Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California at Irvine.
AP Director of Election Tabulations and Research Don Rehill contributed to this report.
The post In-person voting fraud is rare, doesn’t affect elections appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — Donald Trump is on the clock.He has about 80 days to reset and rally a presidential campaign that’s done little but stagger since the close of the Republican convention. The GOP nominee’s allies say the celebrity businessman and his new leadership team are “laser-focused” and ready to direct the billionaire’s venom against Democratic Hillary Clinton.
“This has been one of the best weeks the campaign has had,” said Sean Spicer, chief strategist at the Republican National Committee.
For much of the past year, Trump has ignored the tools of modern-day presidential campaigns. That’s a big reason why Trump’s Republican critics are skeptical their party’s nominee has the time or discipline to rescue his struggling White House bid.
“The Trump campaign is at a ludicrously high disadvantage,” said Dan Senor, a former adviser to 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. “The Democrats have something that the Republicans don’t: They have a nominee that’s built a real campaign organization.”
While Trump did bring in a new set of advisers in the past week, it appears all but certain his comeback strategy cannot benefit from the proven building blocks of winning campaigns, especially when compared with the structure Clinton has assembled.
Trump has few loyal staffers devoted to his election working in the tightly contested states that will decide the election; little early investment in the data operation needed to help ensure his supporters vote; and no significant effort to take advantage of early voting, which begins next month in some states.[Watch Video]
If not for the Republican National Committee’s staff, Trump would have a skeleton presence in the most competitive states.
Only in the past week did Trump place his first round of general election advertising — nearly $5 million for TV commercials in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
By contrast, Clinton’s campaign has spent more than $75 million on ads in the weeks since she effectively locked up the nomination in early June, according to Kantar Media’s political ad tracker.
Out of time to build a campaign to match Clinton’s, the team at Trump Tower will by necessity focus on a broad messaging effort to capture the attention of voters and try to highlight Clinton’s shortcomings. For now, Trump finds himself behind Clinton in preference polls in nearly every battleground state.
“This new team will be very, very aggressive. They understand the nature of taking on the left,” said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump ally. “They will be on the attack.”
That team includes Stephen Bannon, a combative conservative media executive with no presidential campaign experience, and pollster Kellyanne Conway, who has known Trump for years. The campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, resigned on Friday amid scrutiny of his past work for Ukraine’s former pro-Russian political leaders.
Bannon and Conway will have money to work with. In July, Trump raised more than $80 million for his campaign and allied Republican Party groups, his campaign has said. That’s just shy of the $90 million that Clinton’s aides said the nominee collected in July for her campaign and fellow Democratic committees.
The goal for the Trump campaign’s leaders is not to tame the candidate’s passion, according to Trump’s allies, but refocus his attacks on Clinton. The hope is that Trump can avoid the missteps that have defined his campaign since the end of the conventions, including a public feud with an American Muslim family whose son was killed while serving in the military in Iraq.
“Unfortunately, it took them two months to figure out that Donald Trump is Donald Trump,” former Trump adviser Barry Bennet said of Manafort and his team. “He’s the bulldozer candidate. What you need to do is aim him at an immovable object, not try to change him.”
That approach was evident Friday. Trump began with a visit to flood-wreaked Louisiana and ended with a measured, but pointed rally in Michigan. He took on Clinton and her strong support among American-Americans, and contended that his rival would rather give jobs to refugees than American citizens. Trump accused Democrats of taking advantage of black voters while failing to offer them new jobs, better schools and a way out of poverty.
“It’s time to hold Democratic politicians accountable for what they’ve done for these communities,” he said, adding: “What do you lose by trying something new like Trump?”
Clinton had no intention of letting Trump’s messages pass politely. Within hours of his speech, she tweeted: “This is so ignorant it’s staggering.”
Associated Press writer Julie Bykowicz in Chicago, Jonathan Lemire in New York and Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.
The post Trump and new team have little time to execute new strategy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Jay Franzone is on a mission to bring attention to the country’s ban on blood donated from men who have sex with men.
As part of that mission, he is remaining celibate for a year in order to meet the requirement set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which prohibits men from donating blood if they have had sex with another man in the past year. It was most difficult when he turned 21 on April 17 and could not have sex with his then-boyfriend. “That came and went,” he said.
More than 30 years ago, the FDA introduced a ban on blood donations from men who had had sex with another man at any point since 1977. This provision was borne out of the HIV/AIDS crisis that developed within the gay community and the fear that infected blood could get into the donation supply.
While the rule was updated in December, it still prohibits donations from men who have had sex with another man in the past year, which some proponents say is necessary and based on higher-than-average rates of HIV infection within the gay community.
And it’s a policy that came into the national spotlight again in June, when 49 people were shot and killed at gay club Pulse in Orlando. Donations from some people within that community were turned away.
Franzone says he wants to be able to keep bringing attention to the ban and also add to the nation’s blood supply, so he has vowed to remain abstinent for a year. PBS NewsHour Weekend recently sat down with him to hear more.
Can you tell us what it is you’re doing and why?
This year, I am staying abstinent so that I can donate blood. I am looking forward to donating. It’s definitely kind of a big ask for people. The FDA says you have to be abstinent to give blood. So, okay, that’s ridiculous, but I’m going to do it. This policy is a lot more than me. It affects men across the country and affects anyone across the country who’s relied on blood. And at the end of the day, the number one priority is keeping the blood supply safe and having a plentiful supply.
Why is this an important issue to you, personally?
This is an LGBT issue that’s black and white. This is about risk, not gay or bisexual men. It’s time we moved to a policy based on mutual risk, that allows gay men to give blood if they’re engaging in safe behavior, just as heterosexuals should be required to do as well.
When was the first time you heard about the FDA ban on men who have sex with men donating blood?
It was in high school. There was a blood drive going on, and you could get tickets to Six Flags if you donate blood. It was something a lot of my friends were doing because they want to go to Six Flags, who doesn’t. But when you look at the policy, and if you’re able to donate blood, if you weigh enough, if you’re tall enough, you don’t think they’ll ask, “Are you gay? Are you a man who has sex with men?” That’s essentially what they’re asking us, are you gay. And the answer is yes. And I couldn’t donate blood, and I didn’t get that free ticket to Six Flags. My friends did, and it was a tough thing.
At that point, were you sexually active?
Yeah, at that point in high school I couldn’t give blood based on this policy. Even some of my friends who were gay who weren’t sexually active, they didn’t want to give blood because of how this policy was framed.
How did that feel, to be told that you weren’t going to be able to donate blood?
Being told you can’t donate blood, I think it’s kind of a shocker. It wasn’t because I was really short or because I was very, very skinny. It was just based on my sexuality. That really sucked. And of course we didn’t have nationwide, same-sex marriage then, but I expected a little more. I expected to at least be able to give blood. It brings up that stigma that gay equals HIV, and that’s not true. Yes, the gay community is adversely impacted by HIV. But the majority of gay people are HIV negative.
Can you talk about the significance of this policy in regard to the Orlando shooting?
Orlando was a tragic, tragic massacre — an attack on our country, an attack specifically on the LGBT community. And for so many people to be severely injured and presumably need blood, their best friends, who are likely gay as well, they can’t donate. And so that’s a horrendous, horrendous irony that we have, where these people can’t even, when they’re better and get healed, can’t even give blood to replenish the supply that they needed. It’s really tough to grasp that whole situation — your community’s attacked and you can’t do anything to help it.
What message are you hoping to send?
The FDA’s deferral is kind of similar to Donald Trump saying “ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.,” no matter the risk. And the same thing could be said about gay and bisexual men. You’re not welcome to contribute to society, to our blood supply, no matter your risk. And if you’re going to ban all Muslims from entering the country, then you’re banning PhDs, world leaders and doctors. So what message does that send? And where are we basing things on risk?
I think I’m continuing to remind people that this is crazy to ask people to stay abstinent for a year. No one’s really going to do that. But my ask in return is, take two hours and if you can, go donate blood.
This transcript was edited for length and clarity.
The post This man is abstaining from sex for a year so he can donate blood appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Puberty is no picnic, even in the best of circumstances. Once the sex hormones estrogen or testosterone kick in, there’s no turning back: Here come breasts and periods, Adam’s apples and acne. It’s a tough passage for many kids, but for some — transgender youth whose bodies don’t match their gender identity — puberty can be unbearable.For one Oakland family, their daughter’s path was clear from the time she was 3. Her birth certificate said “male,” but the child would always say she wanted to be a girl, and that soon became, “I AM a girl,” said the mother, who asked that her family’s name not be used to protect her daughter’s privacy. She recalled a day when the girl wept in frustration trying to fashion a skirt out of some t-shirts.
“Finally I just said, ‘Honey, do you want a dress?’’ and they went to a store and bought one. “I literally thought she was going to faint or hyperventilate,” said the mother. “She couldn’t sit still, she was so excited and so happy. It was a moment of pure joy for her, and also a turning point,” she said.
She was happy growing up and attended a progressive school in the San Francisco Bay Area as a girl. But when she was approaching puberty, she became very nervous, “worried about getting facial hair or watching her shoulders get broader. It was all very painful for her,” her mother said.
The child was experiencing what’s known as gender dysphoria, a DSM-5 diagnosis of significant ongoing distress, with the feeling of being assigned the wrong gender at birth. Researchers at Harvard recently found that transgender youth are at a much higher risk for mental disorders, including depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and self-harm. They are more than twice as likely as non-trans youth to be diagnosed with depression (50.6 percent vs. 20.6 percent) or suffer from anxiety (26.7 percent vs. 10 percent).[Watch Video]
“These kids are saying to the world, ‘I was born in the wrong body, and there’s something just not right about living this way,’” said Scott Leibowitz, head child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
Blockers ‘Safe and Effective’
Full-blown puberty is irreversible, but for transgender children, it’s no longer inevitable. By taking a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist, secretion of the sex hormones can be stopped and the onset of puberty suppressed, so that the body does not develop secondary sex characteristics. This has been done safely for decades to suppress sex hormones in children who develop too early, a condition known as precocious puberty. Suppressors have also been used to treat endometriosis, uterine fibroids and prostate cancer.
It was only in 2008 that the Endocrine Society approved puberty suppressors as a treatment for transgender adolescents as young as 12 years old. The Society, with members in more than 100 countries, has since declared that the intervention appears to be safe and effective. In 2011 the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), also issued Standards of Care for the treatment of patients with gender dysphoria, which include puberty suppression.
There are few reported side effects to this off-label use of sex hormone suppressors. Despite early concerns that blocking sex hormones might harm bone development, a recent study from the Netherlands found no evidence of long-term effects on bone mineral density. If the suppressors are halted, puberty resumes as if there had been no treatment.
Data on the use of puberty blockers is scarce, but in the past decade or so, it’s believed thousands of transgender youth and their families have chosen to suppress puberty to give adolescents a time-out while they figure out the next step in their development.
A St. Louis, Mo., child was classified as female at birth, one of a set of twin girls. But the parents had been discussing puberty blockers with him since he was seven years old, after he had begun dressing as a boy and showing more masculine traits.
“I remember watching a documentary where he learned what blockers were and we talked about it and he was sure that’s what he wanted when the time came,” said his mother, who also asked that the family’s names not be used to protect her child’s privacy.
“As soon as he got breast buds, it was like the panic button was hit,” the mother said. “He was quickly and very intensely uncomfortable and afraid. He would cry, knowing that this was the beginning of something that he didn’t want, that he knew wasn’t right for him,” she said.
In March, after the boy turned 11, a pediatric endocrinologist prescribed the sex hormone suppressor Eligard, an injection that he receives every four months. According to his mother, because they intervened early, the unwanted breast buds receded quickly, along with her son’s depression and anxiety. “I don’t know what we would have done if we were not able to stop puberty so he doesn’t have to feel in constant conflict with his own body,” she said.
So far, according to the mother, the biggest problem their family has faced has been trying to get insurance coverage for her son’s treatment. She said they have been lucky to obtain the injections at cost — $500 per shot — rather than the $1,500 to $2,000 per shot that the therapy typically costs. Her husband’s employer, which self-funds its medical insurance plan, chose a clause that excludes transgender care.
That kind of exclusion could change, especially since the Obama Administration recently issued final regulations on Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act that ban the denial of health care on the basis of gender identity in programs that receive federal funding. The rule could help people who feel they have been discriminated against to bring complaints or lawsuits, according to the Transgender Law Center in Oakland, Calif.
In 2014, Oregon became the first state to provide Medicaid coverage for adolescents receiving puberty blockers. Medicaid programs in other states, including New York and California, have also expanded transgender healthcare coverage, although that does not mean that puberty blockers always are covered.
How Early is Too Early?
Treatment with puberty blockers gives transgender children a breather so they can continue to mature and decide whether they will pursue treatment with cross-sex hormones or gender reassignment surgery. For many families, the question is not whether to intervene with blockers, but how early to start.
Because the onset of puberty varies so widely — as early as age 9 for some — suppression can begin at different ages. And that’s prompted some disagreement within the field — the “age versus stage” debate — about when to begin, according to Leibowitz. Most often blockers are initiated at the first visible signs of development as measured by the Tanner Stages, a scale of sexual maturation developed by pediatrician James Tanner. The trigger for suppression is usually Tanner stage 2, when pubic hair and breast buds appear.
“If you are able to suspend puberty as soon as it happens you’re optimizing the benefits that it can bring physically,” said Leibowitz. Starting early may alleviate the need for surgical breast removal or voice modification therapy later on. It also makes it far easier for transgender teens to fit in. “That ability to blend in and be perceived as the gender that they identify with is associated with long-term psychological benefits,” said Leibowitz.
But does that mean that 9- or 10-year-old transgender kids should be started on puberty blockers? Even though the treatment is reversible and is considered safe, Leibowitz said some clinicians argue the age issue is important because less is known about very early interventions. How long can puberty be safely suppressed? And if the next step is transitioning with cross-sex hormones, at what age should that begin?
Of course, there is no treatment at all unless the parents of transgender children agree. “For most of my clients [who are minors], the issue revolves around whether they can start hormones or puberty blockers without parental consent, and the short answer is ‘No,”’ said Danielle Castro, a psychotherapist and project director at the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health at the University of California, San Francisco.
Castro said families of some transgender youth refuse the intervention because they believe their children are “just going through a phase.” A study in 2008 found that 43 percent of very young children who experienced gender dysphoria no longer felt that way after adolescence. The 27 percent who remained dysphoric were the ones who had felt that way most strongly when they were young.
Young children may indeed change their minds, but gender identity seems to be fixed by the time kids have reached puberty. The Endocrine Society finds that transgender adolescents grow up to be transgender adults “100 percent of the time.” Dr. Stephen Rosenthal, director of the Child and Adolescent Gender Center at UCSF, agrees: “Children who meet the mental health criteria for gender dysphoria in adolescence are likely to be transgender for life.”
In a recent study of 70 participants all the adolescents who had been given puberty blockers went through with sex reassignment.
The Standard of Care
Even though the Oakland family had agreed in advance that their daughter would start on blockers at the right time, “we had to reassure her constantly that we wouldn’t let it go too far,” she said.
When she turned 13, the girl started receiving monthly injections of Lupron, a widely prescribed sex hormone suppressor. “As soon as she started, you could just see the relief in her,” said the mother. “You could see it in her demeanor, in her mood; it was just a huge weight off her shoulders,” she said.
The family’s insurer, Kaiser Permanente, covered the treatment. Puberty blockers are considered “standard of care in the appropriate clinical circumstances,” said Erica Metz, medical director for Transgender Health at Kaiser Permanente Northern California. According to Metz, the treatment “gives patients and their families time to work with their mental health and medical providers to determine if it is appropriate to start transitioning.”
When the girl was 14, she started taking estrogen — the next step in her male-to-female transition. Instead of growing facial hair and a male physique, she developed breasts and some curves. Her voice didn’t deepen, and she doesn’t have an Adam’s apple.
The mother described her daughter as a social, outgoing and well-adjusted teenager. She knows the grim mental health statistics for transgender people — 41 percent have attempted suicide, nearly nine times the national average — and she doesn’t want to imagine a world where her daughter would be without puberty blockers, a medical intervention that she called a “lifesaver.”
“The thought of her having had to go through male puberty, I think it would have destroyed her mental health and well-being,” the mother said.
This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, which publishes California Healthline, a service of the California Health Care Foundation. 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 Puberty blockers may improve the mental health of transgender adolescents appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — The father of Florida Senate candidate Patrick Murphy is among the million-dollar donors to an outside group helping Democrats try to win back the Senate this fall. Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association’s political committee is pooling together small contributions to run attack ads against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.Those are among the findings of the earliest fundraising reports this weekend. The presidential candidates and many outside groups must report their July fundraising and spending details to federal regulators by midnight Saturday. Here’s what we know so far:
Senate money rushes in
Outside groups facing no contribution limits are piling up money ahead of what could by a brutal fight for control of the Senate, with Indiana, Florida, North Carolina and Ohio among the key races. The Senate Majority PAC, a super political action committee with ties to Minority Leader Harry Reid, netted $7.3 million in July — its best fundraising yet this year.
Among the donors who gave $1 million is Thomas Murphy, whose son is likely to face off with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. The Greater New York Hospital Association Management Corporation, a network of heath care facilities in the northeast, and the Laborers’ International Union of North America, also wrote $1 million checks. Billionaire New York investor George Soros gave $500,000, and hedge fund manager James Simons gave $900,000.
Senate Majority PAC began this month with $6.9 million in available cash.[Watch Video]
NRA aims at Clinton
The National Rifle Association, which endorsed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump over the summer, through its political committee has aired about $5 million in TV ads knocking Clinton. That helped keep pro-Trump messages on the airwaves even as he sat out. (The Trump campaign began advertising this week.)
The NRA Political Victory Fund’s July fundraising shows that money came from donors giving $5,000 or less, because it is not a super PAC and therefore faces campaign finance limitations. The vast majority of the $1 million it raised last month were from donors giving $200 or less. The committee had $12.3 million in the bank as this month began.
Trump, Clinton raised record sums
Ahead of their filings, Trump and Clinton announced their July fundraising totals.
Trump, who did not raise much money during the primary and had no finance team until late May, has proven a surprisingly strong fundraiser. In July, he raised more than $80 million for his campaign and allied Republican Party groups, his campaign said. That’s just shy of the $90 million Clinton’s aides said they collected in July for her campaign and fellow Democratic committees.
Clinton’s campaign said it began this month with more than $58 million in the bank. Trump’s campaign said that as of Aug 1 it had $37 million in cash and another $37 million in joint accounts with the Republican National Committee.
Campaign finance documents will give details about how both candidates spent their money in July.
The post Outside groups rush to help Clinton, Trump, Senate hopefuls appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
As floodwaters in Louisiana begin to recede across the state, thousands of residents are returning home to take stock following a week of devastation.
Roughly 2.5 feet of rain fell in parts of the state last week, causing several rivers in southern Louisiana to breach their banks and pour into surrounding homes and businesses, the National Weather Service told the Associated Press.
While many returned to their waterlogged homes this week to begin the arduous recovery process, rescuers on Saturday continued to search door to door and comb through washed-out neighborhoods searching for survivors.
At least 13 people died and more than 30,000 were rescued from the flooding. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said on Thursday that emergency workers have largely moved from “response to recovery.”
“In Louisiana, taking care of one another is a way of life,” Edwards said.
U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives are starting to process as many as 86,000 claims for aid, officials said. At least 4,000 people were being housed in shelters as of Thursday.
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said the agency would assist in recovery efforts including helping those who were displaced after losing their homes.
“A lot of people didn’t have flood insurance,” he said.
Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump visited the state on Friday and President Barack Obama announced his plans to survey the damage there on Tuesday.
The post Tens of thousands in Louisiana seek FEMA aid following devastating floods appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Tao Yu, a 48-year-old Chinese American woman, said meeting Donald Trump was a wonderful memory.
“I told him, ‘Mr Trump, I’ve supported you from day one,’ and he kept telling me ‘Thank you,’” Yu remembered. “He is nothing like the mean and loud person the media has pictured. He is a gentleman.”
Yu, one of a group called “Chinese Americans for Trump,” was invited with a group of approximately 40 other members to meet with Donald Trump at a private event near his Beverly Hills home in June. The group took a picture with a T-shirt saying “Chinese Americans ♥ Trump.”
A survey by three Asian-American non-governmental organizations, released in May, showed that Asian-American voters overwhelmingly favor the Democratic Party. But Trump’s unapologetic style, along with his stances on key issues, have won him the support of some Chinese immigrants like Yu. According to David Tian Wang, founder and president of the “Chinese Americans for Trump,” the group now has over 6,000 registered members.
Wang, a 32-year-old green card holder living in Los Angeles, has been known in the Chinese community for taking a politically active role, joined by Chinese Americans, despite being ineligible to vote. Wang believes that Trump’s values resonate with many Chinese Americans.
Wang said many Chinese Americans are opposed to granting transgender people access to the bathrooms that match their gender, and a high amount are also opposed to affirmative action based on skin color — both views, he said, that Chinese Americans associate with Republicans. In addition, “Trump wants to build a wall. I mean, we Chinese people built the Great Wall, and we kept the Mongols out for thousands of years.”
Wang has applied for U.S. citizenship in order to be able to cast his vote for Trump in November.
Why affirmative action matters to Chinese Americans
On Wechat, a messaging app that is popular among Chinese speakers, Trump supporters dominate the conversations in some of the most active group chats, and numerous groups were formed on the platform in support of the Republican presidential candidate.
One of the heated issues that is brought to frequent discussion in those groups is affirmative action, which is hailed by many members of the Democratic Party but is blamed by many Asian Americans for leaving them disadvantaged in the college application process.
Trump has not voiced an explicit opinion for or against affirmative action recently, and in fact, he criticized statements by then-Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in December 2015 when Scalia questioned affirmative action. But some Chinese Americans say voting for a candidate of the Republican Party helps them address their concerns over the policy, and that those candidates “better represent the interests of Chinese Americans,” Yu said.
A 2004 study led by Thomas J. Espenshade, a professor of sociology at Princeton, concluded that while the bonus for African-American applicants is roughly equivalent to an extra 230 SAT points and to 185 points for Hispanics on a 1600-point scale, the Asian disadvantage is comparable to a loss of 50 SAT points, using data on 124,374 applications for admission during the 1980s and the fall semesters of 1993 and 1997. The findings have since been quoted in numerous news reports and used in lawsuits against affirmative action, but the validity of the study as evidence of racial discrimination is disputed, which was acknowledged by Espenshade himself.
Yu, whose daughter is about to apply to college, sees affirmative action as discrimination against Asian Americans.
“No matter how hard my kid works and how good her grades are, she may not get as good results as her African-American or Latino friends,” Yu said.
The fury over affirmative action was again ignited when a data dis-aggregation bill was introduced by Democrats in California to break down Asian Americans into smaller subgroups early this year, in an effort to address the disparities between various Asian groups. The bill drew backlash among some Chinese Americans, who questioned whether the dis-aggregated data would be used to discriminate against subgroups with higher academic performance.
But not everyone in the Chinese community agrees. Kenneth Chiu, a Chinese American and president of the Asian-American Democratic Club in New York City, said he believed affirmative action is still needed.
“I don’t know the exact numbers,” said Chiu, referring to the dis-aggregated data of Asian subgroups. “But if we are really doing that great, I think we should give other people more opportunities.”
His support for the bill, though, comes with one caveat: the dis-aggregation of data should be applied to other racial groups as well, not just Asian Americans.
Chiu, 37, is a community activist in New York who has worked with members of the New York State Assembly and New York City Council as a community organizer, at times serving as their liaison to the Asian-American community. He is now a special assistant to New York State Senator Jesse Hamilton.
He, like many others, is troubled by Trump’s provocative rhetoric around race.
“He likes to talk about making America great again. I can easily see how great America is just in Sunset Park,” Chiu said. “We have so many different people. We have Mexican, Chinese, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Jewish, all coming together and just enjoying a lovely afternoon.”
Chinese Americans converge to address voter turnout
For all the discord among Chinese Americans, many seem to agree on one thing: low voter turnout among Asian Americans is an issue.
U.S. Census data show that Asians have become the fastest-growing minority group in the U.S. According to a Pew Research Center projection from 2015, the rise in the Asian share of the total population could grow more than twofold to 14 percent of the population by 2065, surpassing that of African Americans. By then, Asians will also rise to be the largest immigrant population, accounting for 38 percent of the foreign-born population.
In the meantime, turnout among Asian voters has struggled to catch up. A Pew Research study in 2014 found that only three out of 10 eligible Asian voters have voted in midterm elections since 1998. Asian American voter turnout lags behind all races, and is much lower than that of whites and blacks.
The reluctance of Asian Americans to cast ballots seems counter-intuitive, considering the fact Asians are the most educated and highest-income ethnic group, and people with higher levels of education and household income are generally more likely to vote.
But according to Wei Chen, a 24-year-old community activist in Philadelphia, the low voter turnout is a result of language barrier and lack of resources in Chinese rather than people’s unwillingness to vote.
“It’s because they don’t understand how to vote,” Chen said. “They don’t understand the process, and they don’t have the candidates’ information.”
Working as a project coordinator for the “Chinatown Vote” in Philadelphia, a non-partisan project that aims to register more Chinese-American voters and motivate them to vote, Chen says he also faces challenges stemming from the lack of democratic political expression in the home countries of many immigrants, such as China.
“People didn’t use voting as a tool. So they are not used to it. And people are not comfortable with it,” Chen said.
Likewise, in New York, Chiu is also working to register more Asian-American voters, mainly for the Democratic Party, with the first-ever Asian-American Democratic Club in the city that he has founded. Chiu has carried out voter registration “wherever we could – in city centers, schools, churches, on the street, you name it,” he said.
Others have turned to social media tools such as WeChat to increase political participation. Yu, who heads a group of about 300 Chinese canvassers for the Republican Party in Missouri, has been an ardent voice for Trump on WeChat.
WeChat has proven to be an efficient platform for mobilizing Chinese Americans. In February, Wang started a rally on WeChat for the former Chinese American NYPD officer Peter Liang, who was then convicted of second-degree manslaughter in a fatal shooting of an unarmed man during a routine public housing patrol. Within only one week, a WeChat post calling for a rally escalated into nationwide protests joined by people “from 48 different states, all from WeChat,” said Wang. “This is how powerful WeChat is.”
Chinese Americans who rallied for Peter Liang protested the fact that Liang was the first NYPD officer found guilty of an on-duty fatal shooting in more than a decade. Though charges against Liang were later reduced to criminally negligent homicide with no jail time, the incident was a wake-up call to many Chinese Americans for more active political participation.
At the rally in New York on Feb. 20, “Go vote” was a recurring theme. “We need to make sure our voices are heard, heard through this rally, but also heard through the ballot boxes, through the power of our votes. Because [at] the end of the day, it is the votes that count in the American system,” ex-mayoral candidate of New York City and prominent Chinese American community leader John Liu said to the crowd of thousands in Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn.
With an ever-expanding population, Asian Americans want more registered voters and increased turnout to add weight to their political power.
At the rally for Liang in New York, volunteers set up tables to hand out voter registration forms to people attending the rally. Jerry Lo, one of the key organizers, said that one of the main goals of the rally was to push for more votes.
“No one would bother looking at us if we don’t have votes,” Lo said.
The post Meet some of the Chinese Americans voting for Trump appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
NEW YORK — Donald Trump met with his newly-minted Hispanic advisory board in New York Saturday, sitting down with elected officials, business leaders and faith leaders, along with his new campaign team.The National Hispanic Advisory Council for Trump, as it is officially called, is looking to help Trump focus his message, as well as provide assistance with the campaign’s Hispanic outreach.
But winning over Hispanic voters will not be easy for the Republican nominee. He launched his campaign with a speech that accused Mexico of illegally sending rapist and criminals across the border, and has since vowed to deport all of the estimated 11 million people living in the country illegally.
That message has not resonated well with many minority voters.
Helen Aguirre Ferré, director of Hispanic communications for the RNC, called the meeting a “game-changing” opportunity.[Watch Video]
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement that the group’s participation “is just one component of our expansive effort to engage the Hispanic community, and their contributions will help us compete for every vote in every community all the way through Election Day.”
Trump has also been working in recent days to boost his appeal among African American voters. The move followed a shake-up in his campaign management in the face of falling poll numbers that quickly prompted noticeable changes to his campaigning tactics.
The post Trump meets National Hispanic Advisory Council in New York appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
NEW YORK — Flying across the Pacific on an Air Force jet bound for Beijing, first lady Hillary Clinton huddled deep into the night with a few aides and advisers, honing her speech for the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women.
It was 1995, and it had been a bruising first few years in the White House: Troopergate, Travelgate, Whitewater. Not to mention the failure of her own high-profile efforts – unprecedented for a first lady – to reform the nation’s health care system.
Even her trip to China provoked controversy. There were objections in some quarters to a first lady wading into tricky diplomatic waters and addressing issues like human rights abuses. Some in Congress called the conference “anti-family” and felt the United States shouldn’t be attending at all. Some feared offending the Chinese with criticism; others feared the hosts might use the U.S. participation – and the first lady’s – as propaganda.
In the end, Clinton decided to make the trip, hoping to “push the envelope as far as I can on behalf of women and girls.”
“All eyes were now on Beijing, and I knew that all eyes would be on me, too,” she writes in her memoir, “Living History.”
But as she rose to the podium, and even after she had stepped down to thunderous applause, Clinton had no idea the impact the moment would have, she says. More than two decades later, that 21-minute speech – with its declaration that “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights” – remains one of her signature moments in public life.
It also stands out as a moment Clinton began to truly forge an identity as a public figure on the world stage apart from her husband.
“It gave her a platform that was instantly recognizable, one that she could utilize in a very efficacious way to make a difference,” says Melanne Verveer, Clinton’s chief of staff at the time.
And while Clinton was no stranger to the subject she addressed – she had long been an advocate for women and children – the Beijing speech would set a course for the issues with which she would be involved for the rest of her career, especially as secretary of state, says Verveer, who later served as the first U.S. ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues.
“It played a major role in who she would become. It really was one of those evolutionary, transformative moments.”
And it almost didn’t happen. A few months earlier, Chinese-American dissident Harry Wu had been arrested upon entering China and charged with espionage, throwing the participation of the U.S. delegation and Clinton, its honorary chair, into limbo. He was finally released less than a month before the conference; Clinton writes that there was “never a quid pro quo.”
She and her aides flew from Hawaii, where President Bill Clinton was speaking on the anniversary of V-J Day at Pearl Harbor. Working on the draft while others slept, the group was keenly aware that “one wrong word in this speech might lead to a diplomatic brouhaha,” Clinton writes.
Hours later, she took the microphone in the large hall. She began by telling the delegates that when women are healthy, educated and free from violence, with a chance to work and learn, their families flourish, too. About halfway through, she declared: “It’s time to break the silence. It’s time for us to say here, for the world to hear, that it is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights.”
With emphasis on the word “human” each time, she listed abuses against women – and called them human rights violations (she did not mention China by name). Then came her most famous line: “If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.”
Once the words had been translated for all to digest, the reaction was thunderous. “People have tears running down their cheeks, they’re stomping their feet,” Verveer recalls. In her memoir, Clinton writes that despite the reaction, she still had no idea “that my 21-minute speech would become a manifesto for women all over the world.”
It’s difficult to understand in 2016 just how new Clinton’s message felt, says Kathy Spillar, executive director of the Feminist Majority Foundation.
“We look back 21 years later, and we go, ‘duh’ – but it was groundbreaking at the time,” she says. “It was huge – the first lady of the United States saying this, just outright. Many women were coming from countries where discrimination against women disguised as cultural practice was widely happening. Even the U.N. as a whole hadn’t embraced this agenda. … It was just an extraordinary moment in the centuries-long struggle for women’s full human rights around the world.”
But does the moment resonate for younger generations? Clinton’s presidential campaign has struggled – especially during the primary season against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders – to capture the enthusiasm of young voters.
“For millennials and the 18-30 group, it does seem like ancient history,” says Debbie Walsh of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. “But I think that when that speech is played and those words are heard, they’re still meaningful. The global issues are not solved, and I think they do resonate with young women. So teaching young women in particular about Beijing – and what a departure it was from most first ladies to do something like that – is an important message for the Clinton campaign.”
Writer Andi Zeisler was in her early 20s at the time, and she remembers news of the Beijing speech coming in stark contrast to more negative coverage of Hillary Clinton, especially when her husband was running for president.
“Hillary had become a focal point in so many ways, almost all of which were negative – the fact that she didn’t give up her career … this whole phenomenon of Hillary Clinton as a first lady considered too big for her britches or uppity or unforgivably ambitious,” says Zeisler.
And so the Beijing speech amounted to “seeing her find a place where her voice was welcomed and where she kind of fit,” says Zeisler, 43, author of “We Were Feminists Once” and co-founder and editorial director of the nonprofit Bitch Media. “I always think of the Beijing speech in the context of the word ’empowerment’ because it was one of the first places on a global level where empowerment as an agenda – and as something that we should be striving for – was brought up.
“It was such an obvious thing: Women’s rights are human rights. It seemed self-evident. But that was a real bombshell for a lot of people,” she says.
Reminders of the moment have arisen often in Clinton’s global travels, Verveer says.
“Even today if somebody comes up to her who remembers, they’ll introduce themselves,” she says. “They’ll say, ‘I was in Beijing.’ It’s that instant recognition that they shared something.”
Read the full transcript below.
ALISON STEWART, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: Since the Affordable Healthcare Act, often called Obamacare, took effect three years ago, more than 20 million more Americans have obtained health coverage — a majority of them through federal and state exchanges with insurance companies. But this week one of the nation’s largest private insurers, Aetna, decided to drop out next year in 11 of the 15 states where it offers plans. United Health Group and Humana have made similar market exits.
In this map published today, “The New York Times” shows in 2017, 17 percent of Americans eligible for Obamacare will have only one plan from which to choose — the purple areas offer one plan, and the pink ones, two.
“Bloomberg News” healthcare reporter Zach Tracer joins me here in the studio to discuss the pullout and its impact.
OK, Aetna said this was a business decision, straight forward. Was it?
ZACH TRACER, BLOOMBERG NEWS: You know, Aetna has said, “Look, we’re losing a lot of money on the Affordable Care Act, and this is not a market we can afford to be in.”
Now, the big question everybody wants to know is, was this related to the Justice Department’s move to block Aetna’s takeover of Humana. So, about a month ago, the Justice Department sued to stop Aetna from buying another health insurer called Humana. And there is some indication that this may not have just been about financial losses.
STEWART: Yes, the CEO wrote a pretty direct letter, saying we need to do this or we might not show up for 2017.
TRACER: That’s right. So, in early July, before the lawsuit, Aetna’s CEO wrote a letter to the Justice Department in response to some questions from DOJ, about how them potentially blocking the deal would affect his plans. And he said, “Look, if you sue to block this deal, we are going to pull out.”
Aetna says, “That’s true, but the reason we’ll pulling out is that our financial results are worsening. This isn’t retaliation.”
But, clearly, you know, this is a big pullback that came after that lawsuit.
STEWART: Let me ask you a question about language. Aetna’s CEO said it’s losing money. Are they losing money or just not making the same amount of money?
TRACER: Aetna is losing something like $300 million this year on the Affordable Care Act exchanges.
Now, they’re making lots of money in other businesses, and until now they’ve been willing to say the wait-and-see how this particular business worked out. You know, there are not that many places in the U.S. where as a health insurer you can pick up business. Most folks already have health insurance. So, the Affordable Care Act was a new market opportunity for these guys.
STEWART: That was one of the talking points about it — yes, you get new insurers, new people to insure. It didn’t happen?
TRACER: Well, they did. They get about — Aetna has got something like 800,000 new customers. So, some nice growth. The problem is, right now, they’re not making money on it.
STEWART: Can you explain to me why Aetna said it’s losing so much money on Obamacare.
TRACER: So, the key thing that Aetna has said is that they just ended up with sicker, older customers than they expected. There are some other things going on, maybe around the edges. So, they’ve complained about people gaming the exchanges, people signing up for coverage for a few months, they’d be getting a costly surgery or procedure and then dropping out.
But the main thing appears people were sicker than Aetna expected. You know, young, healthy people have stayed away from the exchanges, maybe more than anyone thought that they would. You know, these are not inexpensive policies, though, of course, there are subsidies to help people afford them.
But, you know, if you’re a young, healthy person, you know, it’s a lot of money and you may just say, “You know, I’m going to take my chances,” even though there are these financial penalties for not buying insurance.
STEWART: At least one critic I read of this move said these companies like Aetna and UnitedHealth just are doing business a different way. There are companies that have done business with exchanges which are doing just fine, that they have not adjusted to the marketplace.
TRACER: That’s right. There are companies that are doing well that say they’re making money on the exchanges. So, there’s clearly some strategies, some things insurers are doing that are working. But so far, like you mentioned, United, Humana, Aetna, the real big national insurers just don’t appear to have hit on these winning strategies.
STEWART: So, I’m someone who was in this exchange with Aetna. What do I do in 2017?
TRACER: Well, you know, it’s going to be a problem for folks. They’re going to lose their Aetna coverage as of January 1, 2017. So that means that people have that Aetna policies through the exchange in one of the 11 states that they’re pulling out of, those people are going to need to go and shop and found a new health plan.
STEWART: Zach Tracer from “Bloomberg News” — thanks a lot.
TRACER: Thank you.
The post Aetna announces it will leave exchanges in 11 states appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Read the full transcript below.
ALISON STEWART, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: Twelve percent of inmates serving sentences for federal crimes in the U.S. are incarcerated in privately-run prisons. But according to a report by the Justice Department inspector general, those prisons are less safe and more expensive than government-run prisons. The findings led the Justice Department to announce this week, it will begin phasing out contracts with all private prisons.
To explore how that decision was reached and its impact, I’m joined from Washington by NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson.
And, Carrie, what did the Justice Department identify as the biggest problem for these prisons run by private companies.
CARRIE JOHNSON, NPR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The deputy attorney general, Sally Yeats, told me that simply, government-run prisons operate better. By contracting out with private companies, the government saves very little money, and in fact, runs into a lot more trouble. The inspector general at the Justice Department found assaults, uses of force, and contraband, especially contraband cell phones, were much higher at private prison facilities, rather than the ones operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons around the country.
STEWART: Why is there more trouble in private prisons?
JOHNSON: Well, there are a couple of arguments about that. One is somewhat some of the operations at private prisons are understaffed, both in terms of correction officers — what we would call guards — and also medical personnel. And inmates there have expressed a lot of dissatisfaction about the quality of medical care they’re getting in these private contract facilities, as well as the quality of food, sometimes not even enough food, they complain. And, of course, not enough supervision from guards, which allows some of these contraband cell phones and assaults on inmates by other inmates, assaults on inmates against guards, and the those are all on the rise, according to the I.G., in these private contract facilities.
STEWART: It sounds like it was a combination of a decision that was both financial and about safety and conditions.
JOHNSON: Yes, that’s right. And in fact, it’s important to note the Justice Department says that demand for outside prison space — for private contract prison space — has declined a lot just in the last few years. In the last few years alone, 25,000 inmates in federal prisons have left those prisons because of changing in the way we punish low-level drug criminals and other policy decisions.
So, there’s a lot more space in the government-run prisons to move about 22,000 inmates who are now in the contract prisons back into the regular government-operated prisons.
Demand is much lower than it was back, say, in the 90s, when violent crime was on the rise, and drug punishments, punishments for drug crimes, were very, very steep in those days.
STEWART: Sentencing and prison reform advocates have hailed this as a win of some sorts. Is it really?
JOHNSON: Well, it is a big symbolic victory for people who have been pressing, including the ACLU, prisoners’ rights groups, and others for a long time against the use of private-contract prisons.
That said, this decision by the Justice Department, affects only 22,000 inmates in some federal facilities. It does not affect the vast majority of people incarcerated in the U.S. in state or local prisons.
And just as importantly, this decision does not apply to immigration detainees, people who are in the country illegally, and who are detained awaiting some kind of a decision by an immigration judge.
The Department of Homeland Security and Immigrations Customs Enforcement say they are going to continue to use private prisons and that is where the fight is going to move in the years ahead.
STEWART: Carrie Johnson from NPR — thanks for sharing your reporting.
JOHNSON: My pleasure.
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This past June, the U.S. experienced its biggest mass shooting to date, when a lone gunman opened fire in an Orlando nightclub. Over 100 people were shot, 49 fatally.
In the aftermath of the shooting at the club — a popular hangout spot for the local LGBT community — thousands of people lined up around the block to donate blood. But even as outpourings of sympathy and condolences were sent to members of the gay community, hundreds of gay and bisexual men who wished to donate were turned away from local blood banks.
While many people were outraged by this turn of events, the fact is that gay men have been legally barred from donating blood in the US for the past 30 years. In the midst of the AIDS epidemic in the mid-1980s, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which oversees federal blood donation policies, authored guidelines that restricted blood banks from accepting donations from men who had sex with men. These restrictions were held in place until December 2015, when the FDA lifted its lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood. The new guidelines stipulate that men can only donate if they have refrained from sexual activity with other men for a period of no less than twelve months.
Kelsey Louie, CFO of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, which was formed in the early years of the AIDS epidemic, said that this policy is based more on prejudice than scientific evidence. “By banning a group of people from partaking in an activity based on who they are and how they identify, that is discrimination,” he said. “If you think about it, what this policy is saying is that a gay man who is in a monogamous relationship is at higher risk than a heterosexual person who is having unprotected sex with several partners. And that just isn’t accurate. That’s not true. We’re looking for a fair and science-based approach.”
But researchers and medical experts point out that men who have sex with men are at a higher risk of contracting the AIDS virus than others. In 2014, gay and bisexual men accounted for 67% of HIV diagnoses.
Brian Custer is a medical investigator who helped to write several studies that the FDA used in coming up with its new guidelines. He said that the emphasis should be on keeping the blood supply safe for recipients. “There are many acts, many reasons why we don’t allow individuals to donate,” he says. “Not because they belong to a specific group, but because that group or that issue or that behavior could truly pose a risk to a blood recipient. And if it could, that’s where we err. We err on that side.”
Last month the FDA announced that it will be reevaluating its policy yet again and is asking the public to submit any new scientific research that will help in its decision making.
This report contains discussions of a sexual nature, including clinically explicit language, that may not be appropriate for all viewers. Read the full transcript below:
IVETTE FELICIANO: On a recent Friday morning, in Sterling, Virginia, the staff at Inova Blood Donor Services is gearing up for a blood drive at a Washington Nationals baseball game. Inova supplies blood products to 25 hospitals in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
A.J HUGHES: It would be great if these were completely filled. Ugh, that one is empty.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Manager A.J. Hughes estimates the drive will net the center 400 donations, helping replenish its low blood supply.
A.J. HUGHES: Summer is always kind of a tough time for us. We have a really tough time getting donors in.
IVETTE FELICIANO: 28-year-old Sam Brinton would like to donate to the Inova Center, but can’t, because of a 33-year-old government ban preventing men who have sex with men from donating blood.
The policy, implemented by the Food and Drug Administration at the start of the AIDS epidemic, requires gay and bisexual men like Brinton to affirm they’ve abstained from sex for a whole year before giving blood.
SAM BRINTON: As a bisexual, if I were to sleep with women for the next year, FDA says, “Way to go, you’re an awesome person, you’re allowed to give blood.” If I sleep with my boyfriend for the next year, “You’re a horrible person, and you’re not allowed to give to those who you might want to give.” Now they’re not saying it in such explicit terms, but limitation provides stigma.
IVETTE FELICIANO: A national spotlight fell on the FDA’s blood donation restriction after the mass shooting inside a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in June. The morning after 102 people were shot, 49 fatally, there were long lines to give blood. Hundreds of gay men were turned away.
SAM BRINTON: I went to go try to give blood and again was told, ‘No.’ You see on the television people, your brothers and sisters, bleeding in the streets. You saw that video. And there’s nothing you can do. You’re being told, ‘No, your blood is not worthy.’
IVETTE FELICIANO: For Brinton, the rejection was especially painful. Two good friends, Drew Leinonen and Juan Guerrero, had been killed inside the club.
SAM BRINTON: Drew and Juan had been dating. I had literally seen them the week before.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Until recently, the ban was even stricter. In fact, it was permanent. The policy dates back to 1982, when a abby was infected with AIDS through a blood transfusion given at the University of California San Francisco hospital Shortly after, the FDA, which regulates the nation’s blood supply, instituted a lifetime ban on blood donations from all men who admitted having sex with other men. Since then, advancements in testing technology have greatly improved.
Today, blood banks screen for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, with an acucracy rate of 99.99%, according to the FDA. Typically, all blood donations are screened for HIV twice. One test checks for the direct presence of HIV genetic material and the other looks for antibodies produced by the immune system to fight HIV. Today, the odds of getting an HIV infection through a blood transfusion are one in 1.5 million, less likely than being struck by lightning.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there were more than 9,000 transfusion-related HIV transmissions between 1981 ad 1985. Then, as testing methods improved, the numbers dropped to the single digits per year. Since 2000, there have been only 4 confirmed cases in the U.S.
Still, as of 2014, 636,000 Americans had died from AIDS. 1.2 million people in the U.S. have the disease, according to the CDC.
Dr. Peter Marks is the director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Do you believe that the FDA’s policy is discriminatory?
DR. PETER MARKS: I don’t believe it’s discriminatory, because I believe it’s not a policy that’s based on a sexual orientation; it’s based on keeping the blood supply safe.
IVETTE FELICIANO: While gay and bisexual men have the highest rates of new HIV infections, accounting for 67 percent of all diagnoses in 2014, Marks says the term “gay” isn’t used in the policy because many men who sleep with men don’t always identify as gay or bisexual.
DR. PETER MARKS: It’s not a gay blood ban. It’s not about what you call yourself. It’s about a behavior. And that behavior is associated with certain risk. At the risk of blushing before camera, the clear thing that’s most highly associated with the transmission of HIV is anal receptive intercourse. And there’s no way around that.
IVETTE FELICIANO: But clearly men who have sex with men aren’t the only people engaging in that sort of sex.
DR. PETER MARKS: That’s correct, except that they’re the ones that are involved with the highest risks of transmitting it through that mode. And unfortunately we know that anal receptive intercourse is associated with a relatively high condom failure rate each episode. I understand, people want to be able to donate blood. And feel that they’re doing good. And I’ve heard, “Well we use protection,” or, “I’m monogamous.” The problem is that if you use protection each time, you may not know that it failed. And unfortunately you could have become infected then.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Another important player in this debate is Brian Custer, a senior investigator at San Francisco’s Blood Systems Research Institute, one of the nation’s largest blood collectors. Custer spearheaded several studies, which led the FDA just last December to amend its lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men to a 12-month deferral, meaning donors must have abstained from sex with men during that time.
BRIAN CUSTER:There are many acts, many reasons why we don’t allow individuals to donate. Not because they belong to a specific group, but because that group or that issue or that behavior could truly pose a risk to a blood recipient. And if it could, that’s where we err. We err on that side.
IVETTE FELICIANO: In fact, Custer says only 4 in 10 Americans are eligible to donate blood at any given time because of a host of ever-changing FDA bans and deferrals. Like the restrictions for people who have traveled to countries with Zika outbreaks, people with Hepatitis C, sex workers, intravenous drug users, and anyone who recently got a tattoo or piercing.
The Gay Men’s Health Crisis, a New York-based advocacy group that formed in the early years of the AIDS epidemic, considers the FDA rules for men who have sex with men discriminatory. Kelsey Louie is the organization’s CFO.
KELSEY LOUIE: By banning a group of people from partaking in an activity based on who they are and how they identify, that is discrimination. How would you feel if you were told that you would still have to wait a year before you could donate blood? A year where you had to be celibate before you could donate blood? It’s still unfair. It’s not based in science.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Louie believes all potential donors should have their risk factors evaluated individuals, such as whether a man or a woman has multiple sexual partners, has unprotected sex of any kind, and lacks awareness of his or her HIV status.
KELSEY LOUIE: If you think about it, what this policy is saying is that a gay man who is in a monogamous relationship is at higher risk than a heterosexual person who is having unprotected sex with several partners. And that just isn’t accurate. That’s not true. We’re looking for a fair and science-based approach.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Brian Custer, who advocated for the new 12-month deferral, stopped short of recommending completely lifting the ban. In part, because research shows that HIV-positive blood donors were more likely to report a history of male to male sexual contact than donors without HIV. And even though tests are now highly accurate, there is a so-called “window period” of up to 10 days when a person could test negative for HIV, even when they are actually positive.
BRIAN CUSTER: It’s not trying to say that all men who have sex with men, even if they’re sexually active, are at high risk for HIV acquisition or anything like this. But it is trying to say that in total, there is a higher risk there, and for that reason, this was sort of the place to start a change in this deferral.
IVETTE FELICIANO: While it is a felony in many states to knowingly donate HIV-infected blood, blood banking questionnaires used to screen potential donors depend on the honor system.
AJ HUGHES: They answer a series of about 50 questions that cover anything from their health history, travel history, sexual history. No stone unturned.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Yet, researchers at the University of Wisconsin and the FDA have found many men who have sex “knowingly donate despite the deferral.” The FDA’s data shows HIV rates for those donors are much lower than expected.
DR. PETER MARKS: It is clear that men who have sex with men who come to donate blood seem to have self-selected in some way. That being said, even with that self-selection, their risk is many-fold higher than a person who has sex with an individual of the opposite sex, even with multiple individuals of the opposite sex, who comes to donate.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Last month, the FDA announced it is re-evaluating its blood donation policy yet again. Sam Brinton is hopeful that ultimately the ban will be lifted.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Why is your blood safe?
SAM BRINTON: In the end, it’s safe because I’m safe. I make decisions about my sexual desires and my sexual activities from a place of intelligence. We recognize that risks exist. No person that is giving blood doesn’t think that risk exists. We just want it to be managed in a way that is respectful.
The post Why so many gay and bisexual men can’t donate blood in the U.S. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — Donald Trump says the party of Lincoln must improve its efforts to bring black voters back to the fold and that he wants an inclusive GOP.Trump has been working in recent days to boost his appeal among African-American voters. On Saturday, the Republican presidential nominee assured supporters at a rally in Virginia that he and the GOP are up to the task.
“I fully recognize that outreach to the African-American community is an area where the Republican Party must do better, and will do better,” Trump said in Fredericksburg, located between Richmond and Washington in the critical battleground state of Virginia.
Trump noted the GOP’s ties to Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president and the chief executive who issued the proclamation freeing slaves, and said, “I want our party to be a home of the African-American voter once again.”
Trump’s new minority outreach efforts followed a shake-up in his campaign management in the face of falling poll numbers that quickly prompted noticeable changes to his campaigning tactics. In Fredericksburg, he spoke with the aid of a teleprompter, as he has at rallies all this week, and continued to strike a more inclusive, less caustic tone.
Still, Trump continued to rail against the impact of illegal immigration, claiming that an influx to the state of Virginia was putting “enormous pressure” on local schools and public services. And he blamed “border-crossers” who are “being relocated to the state” for taking jobs away.
“The people hurt most by our open border are low-income Hispanic and African-Americans who are competing for jobs and community resources against new arrivals,” he said.
Trump once again accused his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, of “bigotry,” saying that she took black votes for granted. He delivered the remarks to an overwhelmingly white audience.
Earlier Saturday in New York, he met with his new National Hispanic Advisory Council for Trump, which will work to help him to focus his message, as well as provide assistance with the campaign’s Hispanic outreach.
Polling shows Trump lagging significantly behind Clinton among minority voters, partially due to some of the more critical comments on immigration he has made since entering the race. He has accused Mexico of sending rapists and criminals across the border, and has vowed to deport all of the estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally.
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Pictures of violence, protests, anger and divisiveness — or of signs that say “whites only” — are perhaps the most well-known images from the apartheid era in South Africa.
But this summer, a photo exhibit at the Walther Collection Project Space in New York shows another side to the era through the photographs of S.J. “Kitty” Moodley, who died in 1987. Moodley takes a closer view, showcasing the private lives people carved out amid an environment where the white minority ruled.[Watch Video]
After Moodley was fired from a shoe factory in 1957, he opened a photography studio in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa — a working-class area about an hour’s drive north of Durban — to serve mostly non-whites like himself.
During extreme segregation in the 1970s and 80s, the studio became a safe spot for anti-apartheid activists. The curator told the PBS NewsHour Weekend that the Woodley studio reminds him of African American barbershops.
“People can come, they can get news, they can share news, they can talk about ideas,” he said. “Kitty’s studio, you know, served the same function.”
And while most photographers during that era documented the hardship of life under apartheid, Moodley’s photos on exhibit often show playful self-expression. In one photo, three men appear to dance in sync. In another, a woman wears a lampshade on her head.
Connie Kargbo contributed reporting. “Who I Am: Rediscovered Portraits from Apartheid South Africa,” is on display at The Walther Collection Project Space through September 3rd. For more, watch the PBS NewsHour Weekend tonight.
The post A photographer’s diverse, complex portrait of apartheid-era South Africa appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Read the full transcript below.IVETTE FELICIANO: These photographs by S.J. “Kitty” Moodley are part of an exhibit called “Who I Am: Rediscovered Portraits from Apartheid South Africa,” now at the Walther Collection project space in New York City.
In 1957, after being fired from a shoe factory, Moodley opened a studio in a working class area and served mostly “non-whites” like himself.
In line with his political views — that’s Moodley at a rally — his studio in the 70s and 80s became a safe space for anti-apartheid activists.
STEVEN DUBIN: It reminds me very much of African-American barbershops.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Columbia University professor steven dubin curated the exhibit and spoke to “newshour weekend” by skype from south africa.
STEVEN DUBIN: People can come, they can get news, they can share news, they can talk about ideas. You know, Kitty’s studio, you know, served the same function.
IVETTE FELICIANO: While photojournalists often documented the protests and violence of the time, these photos tell a different story.
STEVEN DUBIN: Even under the the most restricted conditions people were able to fashion lives for themselves and perhaps they were able to imagine lives for themselves that did not exist before that.
IVETTE FELICIANO: The 38 photos on display are often playful. A lady wearing a lampshade on her head. Three men dancing. Moodley also captured the bending of social norms.
Here a woman wears traditional Zulu female attire, and then she’s seen in pants typically worn by Zulu men. According to Dubin, dressing like that would have been considered daring. But Moodley’s studio allowed for self-expression during a turbulent time.
He died in 1987 — seven years before apartheid collapsed. These photos will be on display until September third.
The post Black-and-white portraits from apartheid-era South Africa appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Hillary Clinton “owes the state of North Carolina a very big apology,” Donald Trump thundered, condemning the loss of manufacturing jobs due to free-trade deals supported by the Democratic presidential nominee.
The attack line drew no more than polite applause at his event last week in Charlotte.
In the state that may be the most pivotal to Trump’s White House bid, the audience for the Republican’s chief economic pitch is shrinking by the day. Textile and furniture manufacturing no longer dominates the state’s economy as it did a generation ago. Banking, technology and others industries have driven North Carolina’s economic output to grow faster than any state in the past three years.
Voters are flowing into the state at a firehose rate — young, educated and many to take high-paying jobs when they arrive. They’re coming from everywhere and quickly diluting North Carolina’s conservative political underpinnings.
“Clinton is winning,” said North Carolina Republican pollster Michael Luethy. “Particularly because folks who have moved to the state in the last five years are very different voters. They’re persuaded by a different issue set than those have been here a while.”
Meet Katie Snyder of Asheville.
She moved to the hip mountain oasis two years ago as a new college graduate to take an engineering job waiting for her at Thermo Fisher Scientific, a global laboratory equipment maker that has a freezer division in Asheville.
The Ohio native said she tends to support Republicans, but “I don’t know what I’m going to do in November.” She doesn’t fully trust Clinton, and the 2010 health care overhaul enacted under Democratic President Barack Obama has been hard on some of her peers. But she adds: “I don’t know if I can see myself voting for Trump.”[Watch Video]
On the road to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House, the inability of Trump’s message on trade to win over voters such as Snyder in North Carolina is a major problem for the Republican nominee. A win here and in neighboring Virginia would open a path for Clinton reach 270 even if Trump captures the traditional powerhouse battlegrounds of Ohio and Florida.
“I don’t see a path without North Carolina,” said Chris Jankowski, a Republican campaign strategist based in Virginia whose work includes North Carolina candidates.
In 2008, Obama was the first Democrat to win North Carolina since 1976. While Republican Mitt Romney won the state four years later, political professionals such as Luethy believe the more than 200,000 people that have moved to North Carolina since the 2012 election increase the challenge for Trump.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll found Clinton up 9 points in North Carolina in early August. But it also showed that she’s substantially outpacing Trump in the state’s economic boom regions. She had more than 50 percent support in the Charlotte area and led Trump by more than 2-to-1 in the Triangle region of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill.
Trump’s attacks on the North American Free Trade Agreement may echo in rural North Carolina, but urban centers have done well in the decades since NAFTA was enacted.
The Charlotte area has nearly doubled in size over the past 25 years, due in part to its transition to a transportation and financial hub. It is home to Bank of America Corp., the nation’s second largest bank by assets. The Raleigh-Durham area has doubled in size in the past 15 years, exploding alongside the university region’s medical and technology businesses.
Even the Asheville area, small by comparison, has grown has grown by 45 percent since 1990 — and faster since 2000. The town now has a population of roughly 500,000, many like Snyder who benefit from free trade. Thermo Fisher Scientific, her employer, has roughly 50,000 employees in 50 countries.
Clinton’s statewide advantage among such younger and college educated voters is also helping tighten the race in what were once the more conservative regions that surrounded Asheville in the state’s west and Fayetteville in the east.
Gia Haynes moved from Atlanta after graduating from college in May to Fayetteville with the hope of landing a job as a scientist for one of the major food processors in the region, such as Smithfield Foods Inc. For her, paying off her $25,000 student loan is more pressing than global trade.
“Trump’s down side is he doesn’t empathize with people or understand what they are going through,” she said.
Jankowski, who has been a leading Virginia legislative race tactician for more than 20 years, said a similar economic transition is helping put Virginia out of Trump’s reach. Northern Virginia has evolved in the past generation from a bedroom community for federal employees into a technology hub, especially for military and aerospace design.
Obama twice carried Virginia, which hadn’t gone with a Democratic nominee for the 11 consecutive previous presidential elections. Apparently confident in her leads in public and private polls alike, Clinton suspended advertising in the state early this month.
“In North Carolina, you’re seeing a smaller version of what’s happening in Virginia,” Jankowski said.
Cautiously optimistic, the Clinton campaign’s battleground data analyst Michael Halle said new voters give her an advantage in North Carolina, though not to the same degree as in Virginia. But, he added: “North Carolina is moving in that direction, faster than Virginia, in fact.”
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Siblings Sharmin Hoque and Shakhawat Saimoon were at a conference for Muslim youth when they heard that the imam of one of their community mosques in New York City had been shot.
They rushed to their neighborhood of Ozone Park, a growing Bangladeshi enclave that has become all too familiar with violence. The attack, which killed 55-year-old Imam Maulama Akonjee and his 64-year-old associate Thara Uddin, hit especially close for them: their home is tucked directly behind Al-Furqan Jame Masjid, where the imams presided. Their cousins lived across the street.
Within hours, the street where the shooting took place, just blocks from the mosque, was crowded with more than 100 community members demanding justice. Among them were Hoque and Saimoon, her younger brother.
The tone of the crying crowd was angry, she said. Part of that rage was fueled by a sense of betrayal.
Residents told the PBS NewsHour Weekend that for years, the local police department, precinct 106, had worked closely with the community to try to stop anti-Muslim attacks before they happened. And community members said they trusted the police, regularly calling on them for help.
After the shootings, however, Hoque said she felt the police and others were reluctant to label Saturday’s shooting a hate crime, even though the local officers knew that hate crimes have taken place in the neighborhood before.
The New York Daily News quoted a police official who said “investigators were looking into the possibility of a botched robbery because one of the men was found carrying several hundred dollars.”
“I really don’t understand where that came from,” Hoque, a masters student at Columbia University, said she first thought upon reading the news. “There was a lot of, ‘There was a robbery,’ ‘Why are you so sure it’s a hate crime?’ It all felt very dismissive of the community’s concerns.”
On Thursday, The New York Times reported that the motive of the crime remains a mystery.
“It’s a bit of a tough one for us to figure out,” Robert K. Boyce, the department’s chief of detectives, told reporters.
The sudden disconnect felt huge, Hoque said. She wondered how the police were missing what the community members saw and felt.
Saturday’s shooting, which took the lives of Alauddin Akonjee, 55, and Thara Miah, 64, was not the first incident of violence to hit this growing Bangladeshi community, which straddles the border between the New York boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn.
For years, attacks have happened, most frequently during Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, when activity at the five neighborhood mosques peaks. Police bolstered patrolling efforts and stationed officers outside of mosques during the month. For the most part, community members said their presence has been helpful.
But protection during Ramadan is not enough, Hoque said.
“I feel like 106 Precinct is very lazy because they don’t have enough patrolman in our area,” she said. At the rally, Hoque said she witnessed community members, usually on the side of the police, levy similar charges.
While some uneasy neighborhood residents believe the need for more robust policing is greater than ever, some younger community members feel it is time to lessen the community’s dependence on police.
On Wednesday afternoon, the men of Al-Furqan Jame Masjid were gathered in the prayer space, which amounted to little more than two adjoining rooms cooled by an array of three-armed ceiling fans. There, they discussed plans for succession and next steps.
Mohamed Amen, an Egyptian-American police officer in the community affairs bureau, was among the men seated in front of the crowd of 30 men.
During his comments, Officer Amen reiterated that morning’s news: the charges against Oscar Morel, the suspected killer, had been changed from second-degree murder to first-degree murder. If convicted, he explained, the assailant could face life in prison without parole.
“Alhamdulilah,” a few men murmured in unison. Thank God.
Then he addressed the matter of motive. “I can tell you that the hate crimes unit is conducting its own investigation,” he said.
On Thursday, the families of the murdered men gathered on the steps of City Hall to call for justice. Afaf Nasher, the president of the New York chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, pushed for a hate crimes investigation.
“I applaud the district attorney for upgrading the charges to murder-one however at the same time, we continuously pursue and push for the investigation of hate crimes,” Nasher said.
Partway through deliberations, some of the men spilled outside. A few approached Officer Amen with questions, most related to the community’s future safety. Amen attempted to answer them all.
When one man, wearing a traditional white thobe, told Amen about mysterious phone calls his wife was receiving at home, Amen said, almost automatically, “No problem, we’ll take care of it.”
Despite the residents’ expectation of constant and personalized policing, Amen is confident that the NYPD can manage the task of keeping this community safe.
“We’re always building good relationships with the Muslim community,” he said. “We’re always in constant communication. Today they welcomed me here. They called me and invited me here.”
He listed a few of the department’s efforts at community outreach and inclusivity, including the Muslim Officers Society and the soccer and cricket matches that they put on for the public.
But he added that expectations are not always realistic.
“It’s not feasible to have a car assigned to every house of worship,” he said, adding that there are thousands of place of worship in New York City, more than 200 of which are mosques. As he talked, a police SUV pulled up to the curb in front of the mosque.
Four years ago, a man was leaving a mosque in East New York, the neighborhood northeast of Ozone Park where Saimoon and Hoque used to live, when a person on a bike launched a brick at his head. The man suffered several facial fractures, Saimoon, who is 18 and about to begin aviation school, said.
When the young community members, feeling unsafe, approached leadership at the mosque about what could be done to prevent future attacks, the reply amounted to a shrug, Saimoon said. Frustrated by inaction, a few neighborhood members founded the Council of Immigrants Rights (CIR), a community organization meant to improve quality of life for residents who may feel under-served.
The group is busiest during Ramadan, Saimoon said, when area mosques call on the organization for extra patrol after Taraweh prayer, which can end as late as midnight. Saimoon said he and the others would often walk women and young people home at night.
Saimoon, who wanted to be a police officer when he was a kid, is proud of his work with CIR.
“I know it made a difference because I know a few kids in the neighbors who would start trouble, but ever since we started that group I haven’t seen them again,” he said.
In the wake of tragedy, Hoque wishes that the community would come together to protect each other.
“I do think that we can definitely channel our anger into being more self-reliant. Even if the NYPD isn’t there, we can be there to protect our own,” she said.
This shift in residents’ thinking comes as the NYPD doubles down on community policing, The New York Times reported. The goal is to get residents “on a first-name basis with the officers who patrol their neighborhoods and even having their cellphone numbers…to work together to solve percolating issues before they grow into bigger crimes,” according to the paper.
As the bustle outside the mosque settled on Wednesday afternoon, the man who was receiving mysterious phone calls emerged from inside with two plastic water bottles in hand. He offered them to the officers posted out front.
Officer Amen nearly jumped up. “See! See! This is what I’m talking about,” he said, gesturing to the exchange. “Positive community relationship!”
Moments later, he walked off with the man. They were headed to his house, just a few blocks away.
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ATLANTA — Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson insists he won’t be a “volunteer apologist” for Donald Trump or anyone else who utters something stupid, but that defiant independence is being sorely tested by the GOP presidential nominee’s sinking support and Democrat Hillary Clinton’s push into surprisingly competitive Georgia.
The down-ballot Senate race involving the affable, two-term Isakson wasn’t ranked as poachable for Democrats despite the changing demographics in the southern state and the higher, diverse turnout of a presidential election year. After all, reliably Republican Georgia has only voted for a Democratic presidential candidate once since 1980.
That was Bill Clinton in 1992.
Recent polls show Trump and Hillary Clinton locked in a tight race as the Democrat opens a campaign office in the state and invests in a field organization. Isakson holds a single-digit lead over first-time candidate Jim Barksdale, a wealthy investment manager whose opposition to trade deals and calls for a higher minimum wage has attracted backers of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate.
The 71-year-old Isakson, who disclosed he has Parkinson’s disease, sought to shore up his support with Republicans while appealing to independents and Democrats. He made a two-day trip around the state in late July to highlight the Georgia Chamber of Congress’ endorsement with low-key stops at large companies in five cities to tour factory floors and talk with employees.
In metro Atlanta recently, Isakson talked about his Senate work to members of a Rotary club, a business group and a Realtors’ association.
Questions about Trump’s more divisive comments proved inevitable. Isakson says he’ll support the GOP ticket but won’t answer for the nominee.
“If Donald Trump or anybody else makes a stupid statement, I’m not going to be their apologist and let the press beat up on me,” Isakson said in an interview with The Associated Press. “They’ll have to go to the person who made the stupid statement. I’ll apologize when I do something stupid because I should. But I’m not going to be the volunteer apologist for anybody else.”
He says he doesn’t expect “a lot of coattails” from either party’s presidential ticket.
Isakson’s supporters, including some still struggling to wholeheartedly support Trump, said they believe the incumbent can go it alone. Ben Hinson, a retired business owner from Macon, said he plans to support Trump because Clinton is the alternative, but he does worry that independents will be driven away from the overall GOP ticket.
“I think Johnny’s stronger in Georgia than any presidential candidate this year,” Hinson, 64, said. “I don’t see any upside to him getting close to Mr. Trump. I think Sen. Isakson can run his race quite on his own.”
With a $4 million cash advantage, his first ad of the general election made a direct pitch to Democrats, focusing on Isakson’s response to the 2009 murder of Georgian Kate Puzey while volunteering in the west African country of Benin for the Peace Corps.
Puzey’s mother, Lois, says at the end of the ad: “I’m a lifelong Democrat. I am so grateful that he was my senator.”
Jason Anavitarte, a 38-year-old health care executive from northwest Paulding County, said Isakson has support across party lines and pointed to Democratic Rep. David Scott’s plans to vote for Isakson. Scott, who is African-American, and Isakson have worked together for decades since serving in the state legislature. Anavitarte, a Republican, said that relationship is representative of Isakson’s personal appeal.
“It comes back to the idea that all politics is local,” he said.
The race could go into overtime with Isakson, Barksdale and libertarian Allen Buckley. Georgia law requires the top vote-getter to win more than 50 percent of the vote in November. If no one reaches that threshold, Barksdale and Isakson likely will wind up in a nine-week runoff.
In 2008, Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss survived a three-week runoff after falling just short of 50 percent in a three-person general election. Republican Paul Coverdell narrowly defeated sitting senator Wyche Fowler Jr. in 1992.
With a personal investment of $3 million, Barksdale’s ads show the 63-year-old Republican-turned-Democrat wearing a flat-brim cap and declaring it proof he’s “not a politician.”
“He’s pretty much the main reason I’m going to vote this November,” said Scott Brown, a 31-year-old Sanders delegate from Duluth. “At this point, I’m trying not to pay attention at all to the presidential election. I’m hoping to work for a new Congress and get ‘Bernie-crats’ like Jim Barksdale elected.”
Barksdale said in an interview that he’s focused on building his profile statewide against a well-known incumbent. His campaign sees an opportunity to woo unaffiliated voters turned off by Trump’s style, but so far hasn’t made it their focus.
“Polling has gotten within single digits — for somebody who’s relatively unknown,” Barksdale said. “If we get the name identity up, and people have a chance to see me, I think they’re going to see that I’m a good choice.”
Paige Hunter, a 26-year-old who works in human resources for a school district, met Barksdale for the first time at a young voters’ group meeting this month. She was happy to hear him talk about reducing health care costs and maintaining the Affordable Care Act.
“I think people forget just two governors ago, we were still a blue state,” Hunter said.
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Jamie Shupe entered the military years before most of the country had heard of the word “nonbinary.”
Shupe, who uses the pronoun “they,” was born in 1963 and grew up in southern Maryland knowing that the way the rest of the world saw them — male — was wrong. But any efforts to correct that, or act less masculine, were met with abuse: a slap from their mother, someone calling them a “sissy.”
So they grew up side-stepping the issue by hiding how they felt. They always dated women — “that was shielding me” from more abuse, they said. At 19, after graduating from high school and looking for the next step, they entered the armed forces and stayed there for 18 years.
The next part of their story reveals a gap between the words that people like Shupe use to describe themselves and those that the state assigns. Now — in part because of Shupe, and buoyed by a growing movement for LGBTQ rights — state and federal agencies are confronting those issues as they apply to IDs for the first time. What happens next could make a huge difference for people who are neither male nor female, marking a new chapter in our understanding of gender.
‘One battle after another’
There were no openly transgender or gender nonconforming people in the military, Shupe said. “I was totally living in fear,” they said.
In the unit’s morning meetings, Shupe said the unit’s first sergeant, a religious Christian, would preach about Sodom and Gomorrah. Meanwhile, at home, Shupe was beginning to experiment with wearing women’s clothing, trying to understand why they felt so out of place. “I didn’t have an understanding that I was transgender,” they said.
The definition of “nonbinary” and “genderqueer” can vary for different people, but both convey the feeling of living outside of the gender binary — in other words, outside of the “male vs. female” structure that is so predominant in everyday life. Some people who identify as nonbinary are also transgender or intersex, and while some use the pronoun “they,” others stick to “he” or “she.”
Nearly a decade into their service, Shupe’s gender dysphoria had intensified, and another few years later, they were discharged with an injury (unrelated to their gender identity), causing them to go into early retirement as their depression became worse and worse. After coming across a Reddit forum for transgender people and talking to their wife, they decided to transition to female.
But in rural western Maryland, where they were living at the time, “getting medical care was next to impossible,” they said. Shupe and their wife moved to Pittsburgh, where they found a clinic that allowed Shupe to begin hormone treatment. And in 2014, they filed to change the sex marker on their driver’s license from M to F.
The process to do this varies by state, and in about half the states in the U.S., a person must provide proof that they have medically transitioned with surgery or hormone therapy in order to change their license. In others, a note from a physician is sufficient. Shupe’s doctor helped them fill out the necessary papers, and they were able to get a license marked “F” from the state of Pennsylvania.
But Shupe was coming to realize that they did not identify with other transgender women. “The reason I wasn’t fitting in was because I wasn’t one,” they said. They moved to Oregon in November 2014, where they joined a genderqueer support group. “They totally clicked with me,” Shupe said.
In April, Shupe petitioned the Multnomah County court for a sex change — this time as nonbinary. Petitioning a court is a standard procedure in states that require a court order before changing a person’s license. Though when the court granted the order, it was the first time that anyone had been legally designated as nonbinary in U.S. history.
Shupe was thrilled and LGBTQ advocates celebrated as the case made headline after headline. But when it came to getting a license, “I knew right off the bat it was just going to be one battle after another,” Shupe said.
Nearly four months after filing that petition, Shupe doesn’t have a license that reflects their gender and no idea of when they ever will.
What’s happening in Oregon?
The decision caught the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles, which issues driver’s licenses, off-guard, spokesman David House said.
“When we have a change that goes through the legislature, we have months to study it and prepare for it before laws pass. This is different, because this came out of the blue. We didn’t have any advance warning of this,” he said.
Now, the agency is researching the question of how changing their system would affect how other agencies — for example, law enforcement — use and store shared data. From their research, “not a lot of jurisdictions” in the U.S. have ever looked into this before, House said.
When the decision came out, the Oregon DMV asked the state Department of Justice to research “what needs to change” in order for them to comply with the court’s decision, House said. But the department has not issued any guidance to them so far. “It’s going to be months or perhaps more than a year” before Shupe has an accurate license, House said.
The DMV isn’t the only one looking at these questions — so is the federal government. That case revolves around Dana Zzyym, an intersex and nonbinary person who sued the State Department after they were denied a passport.
While filling out the forms to apply for a passport, Zzyym saw that the only available options were “male” or “female.” Instead of choosing one, they wrote “intersex,” which is not currently an available option for U.S. passports. After they were denied, LGBTQ advocacy organization Lambda Legal filed suit on their behalf against the U.S. State Department, seeking a gender-neutral option for U.S.-issued passports, according to Paul Castillo, who is currently representing Zzyym.
Some groups, including Lambda Legal, believe that identification should leave off sex altogether. Some already do: New York City IDs, Social Security cards and a number of others do not require sex. Another option is to make the letter “X” an option for licenses and passports as an alternative to “M” or “F,” which is already in use in several countries, including Australia and New Zealand, under an existing international standard, Castillo said.
The U.S. currently recognizes passports from other countries that are labeled with an “X.” People holding those passports “are able to enter and exist in the U.S., assuming they meet all other visa requirements. Yet, our own citizens who are nonbinary cannot even leave the U.S. with an accurate passport,” Castillo said.
In filings for the case, the State Department said that “Allowing passports with sex markers other than ‘F’ or ‘M’ would compromise the department’s efforts to prevent identity theft and passport fraud by upending the department’s long-established system for validating the identity and citizenship of passport applicants and requiring the department to rely on less reliable and less uniform identification documents.”
If the court issues a decision in Zzyym’s favor, it won’t be the first time the federal government has recognized the existence of nonbinary people. Castillo pointed to Section 1557 in the Affordable Care Act, the part of the law that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity. The section specifies that an individual’s gender “may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female.”
The Federal Register’s website provides more context on why the section reads that way: “The insertion of this clause helps clarify that those individuals with non-binary gender identities are protected under the rule.”
Castillo said a ruling in the Zzyym case may come within the next 1-2 months, which could affect existing standards for U.S.-issued passports. Meanwhile, in Oregon, the DMV “needs more time,” House said.
Why IDs matter
For people whose IDs are already inconsistent with their presentation, having an accurate ID could mean the difference between safety and harassment.
Ellie*, a transfeminine nonbinary person in their late 20s, always feels nervous using their driver’s license as ID, since it lists their sex as male. “‘That’s not you’ [is] a frustrating response for me to get when I show someone my ID,” they said. “I feel better about having an ID symbol that I might need to explain to people than one they’ll think is incompatible with my appearance.”
And having an accurate ID may help public understanding of what nonbinary means in general, said Michel*, who requested anonymity because they have not come out to many people.
“I have no intentions of coming out to my employer at the moment, primarily because they don’t seem to have a decent grasp on basic trans issues. Having an official form or ID might make it easier to come out,” they said.
For others, having another ID option would help mitigate the complications that arise when different documents say different things in situations like health care.
For Cyree Jarelle Johnson, these complications were particularly damaging. Johnson, who has lupus, had insurance documents labeled with an M, but their state ID was labeled F. That discrepancy meant that their primary care provider could not continue treating them under their insurance, and cost them months of care while they changed their driver’s license to match the insurance. If they had a gender-neutral option the first time they applied for an ID, they said, that conflict could have been avoided.
“It was extremely distressing,” they said. “I’m trans, I’m just not a trans man.”
Michele Herzog, who is 22 years old and nonbinary, was shocked during a routine visit to a Planned Parenthood in Massachusetts to find that their forms only included a “male” or “female” option.
“I have a dating app that lets me choose from over 20 gender options, and a medical provider only gave me two?” she said. “I am a firm and trusting believer in Planned Parenthood, and I felt as though an organization I was proud of suddenly didn’t apply to me.” Planned Parenthood responded to her concerns on Twitter:
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When asked for comment, Planned Parenthood spokesman Liz Clark said that people’s experiences at different health centers may vary when it comes to patient intake forms, since the organization does not have one set of medical forms it uses across the country. She added:
We provide guidance in our national Medical Standards and Guidelines on creating a transgender-friendly health center — and that includes the need to recognize and respect a patient’s preferred name, pronoun and gender by ensuring that intake forms and electronic health records provide choices for gender and sex other than just male and female; and having a space for ‘preferred name’ and ‘preferred pronoun’ on all forms.
Even though some nonbinary people worry a mark on their ID will invite more discrimination or harassment, Michel said, “any kind of legal recognition is better than nothing.”
*Name has been changed.
The post The complications of ID for nonbinary people — and how it could change soon appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
With the fifth and final penalty kick for his team, Brazilian men’s soccer captain Neymar slotted the ball into the upper-right corner of the net to win the gold medal match. While Neymar trotted a few feet before sinking to his knees with outstreched arms, his teammates swarmed him and the crowd in Maracana Stadium erupted.
The win against Germany — the same country that dealt a crushing 7-1 defeat to the Brazilians on home soil during a 2014 World Cup semifinal — brought a measure of redemption for the host nation, and earned Brazil its first Olympic gold in soccer.
After 120 minutes, the score remained tied 1-1, leaving the game to be decided by penalty kicks. Brazilian goalkeeper Weverton blocked the fifth shot by Germany, the only attempt that missed its target, allowing Neymar to clinch the title.
The win also served as a personal victory for Neymar, who was criticized earlier in the tournament for his team’s performances against lower-ranking teams such as Iraq and had his captain-ship questioned.
“This is one of the best things that has happened in my life,” Neymar said.
The U.S. won both the men’s and women’s 4×400 meter relays in track and field. The result marked the sixth consecutive Olympic gold for U.S. women in the event. Allyson Felix, who anchored the relay, earned her sixth Olympic gold medal and third in Rio.
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British runner Mo Farah became the first man in 40 years — and the second ever — to win the 5,000 and 10,000 meter races in consecutive Olympics after taking first in the 5,000.
“It shows I didn’t just fluke it in London,” Farah said. “To do it again is incredible. I can’t believe it.”
In the men’s water polo final, Serbia beat defending world champion Croatia 11-7 to win its first Olympic gold medal in the sport.
OTHER NOTEWORTHY MOMENTS:
South African runner Caster Semenya won the 800 meter women’s race. Semenya is hyperandrogenic, meaning her body produces a higher-than-average level of testosterone, and her competition in the Rio Olympics has received scrutiny.
Spanish high jumper Ruth Beitia became the oldest Olympic champion in a jumping event at age 37.
American swimmer Ryan Lochte spoke with Globo TV, Brazil’s largest broadcaster, on Saturday night after the soccer final. While apologizing for exaggerating the details of his story, he insisted he had not lied.
The post Olympic highlights from Day 15: Soccer victory for Brazil, repeat for U.S. and Farah appeared first on PBS NewsHour.