Articles on this Page
- 08/24/16--09:43: _Meet the Dolphin sp...
- 08/24/16--09:44: _Comparing Trump’s e...
- 08/24/16--10:06: _2 days after cash d...
- 08/24/16--10:41: _Park Service celebr...
- 08/24/16--11:18: _Column: Will increa...
- 08/24/16--15:15: _In Iceland, refugee...
- 08/24/16--15:20: _A glimpse inside op...
- 08/24/16--15:30: _Turkish, U.S. force...
- 08/24/16--15:40: _News Wrap: Strong e...
- 08/24/16--15:50: _Magnitude 6.2 earth...
- 08/24/16--16:03: _Tribe will have to ...
- 08/24/16--16:58: _How do you stop inv...
- 08/25/16--05:20: _Where do the presid...
- 08/25/16--06:14: _Colombia, FARC rebe...
- 08/25/16--06:27: _U.S. pursues Syria ...
- 08/25/16--08:11: _French burkini bans...
- 08/25/16--10:13: _Clinton seeks to at...
- 08/25/16--10:33: _Trump meets with mi...
- 08/25/16--12:13: _Twitter Chat: Why a...
- 08/25/16--15:15: _At the pool with fr...
- 08/24/16--09:44: Comparing Trump’s evolving immigration plan to Clinton, Obama
- 08/24/16--10:06: 2 days after cash delivery, U.S. paid $1.3 billion to Iran
- 08/24/16--10:41: Park Service celebrates 100 years, seeks minorities’ support
- 08/24/16--11:18: Column: Will increasing longevity change the way you live?
- 08/24/16--15:20: A glimpse inside operations at the Clinton Foundation
- 08/24/16--16:03: Tribe will have to wait on Dakota Access Pipeline fate
- 08/24/16--16:58: How do you stop invasive lionfish? Maybe with a robotic zapper
- 08/25/16--05:20: Where do the presidential candidates stand on trade?
- 08/25/16--06:14: Colombia, FARC rebels agree on terms of truce
- 08/25/16--06:27: U.S. pursues Syria cooperation with Russia amid new volatility
- 08/25/16--08:11: French burkini bans face legal challenge as tension mounts
- 08/25/16--10:13: Clinton seeks to attach Trump to so-called ‘alt-right’ movement
- 08/25/16--10:33: Trump meets with minority leaders ahead of Clinton speech
- 08/25/16--12:13: Twitter Chat: Why are Syrian doctors being targeted by airstrikes?
- 08/25/16--15:15: At the pool with freestyle phenom Katie Ledecky
A new species of dolphin has spent the last 65 years hiding at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
Paleontologists made the discovery by combing through the museum’s massive collection of 143 million specimens. They stumbled upon a 9-inch dolphin skull, part of the collection since 1951, which might shed light the evolutionary ties between whales and dolphins.
The fossil belonged to a dolphin that swam in Antarctic waters nearly 25 million years ago, according to Nicholas Pyenson, the museum’s curator of fossil marine mammals, and one of his researchers, Alexandra Boersma. The skull represents a new genus and species, which Pyenson and Boersma have named Arktocara yakataga.
A digital 3-dimensional model of the Arktocara yakataga fossil described by Pyenson and Boersma. Click and drag to manipulate the digital fossil. Model by Smithsonian X 3D.
By comparing the skull to other known species, the team concluded that the new species is related to South Asian river dolphins — the sole surviving species of a once large and diverse group.
“Considering the only living dolphin in this group is restricted to freshwater systems in Southeast Asia, to find a relative all the way up in Alaska 25 million years ago is mind-boggling,” Boersma said.
The South Asian river dolphin is unique in that it swims on its side, cannot see and uses echolocation to navigate murky waters in its native India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The dolphin lives in freshwater, and in recent decades, its populations have dwindled due to human activity, including fishing nets, pollution and habitat destruction.
Pyenson and Boersma intend to use their discovery to explore the long lineage of dolphins as well as the evolutionary patterns of baleen and toothed whales. Pyenson hopes this discovery will support efforts to protect South Asian river dolphin habitats and the mammal’s evolutionary heritage.
“Some species are literally the last of a very long lineage,” Pyenson said. “If you care about evolution, that is one basis for saying we ought to care more about the fate of [these dolphins].”
For a behind-the-scenes look at the new species by Pyenson, tune in at 1 p.m. EDT on the PBS NewsHour’s Facebook page.
The post Meet the Dolphin species that was hidden in Smithsonian’s fossil room appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s new line on immigration — “fair, but firm” — is leaving both Republicans and Democrats with the same question: Is the famously hard-line GOP nominee softening his approach?
His campaign insists his position is “exactly the same” in principle. But even Trump acknowledged Tuesday there “could certainly be a softening, because we’re not looking to hurt people.”
And in the course of just a few days, Trump has gone from calling for mass deportations for millions — a position to the right of even many Republicans — to arguing deportations should focus on those who commit crimes, veering into the same territory as President Barack Obama and Democrat Hillary Clinton.
So what gives?
If this week’s string of vague and contradictory statements by Trump and his team is revealing anything, it’s that his immigration policy is still evolving. Just days ago Trump reshuffled his campaign staff as part of an effort to recalibrate his message for the general election, in which his tough stance on immigration may be more of a liability than it was in the Republican primary.
This week, Trump’s campaign postponed a major immigration speech scheduled for this week, but announced he’d hold two events highlighting border security needs and crimes committed by immigrants in the U.S. illegally.
A look at what Trump has proposed, compared to Clinton’s policies and Obama’s record in office:
TRUMP: From the start, the brash billionaire’s campaign has been rooted in the promise of a dramatically different approach to immigration. He presented a detailed deportation plan for 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally, complete with estimated timeframes and references to a “deportation force.” Trump argued all would have to return to their country of origin but that the “good people” could come back through legal processes.
His tune seems to have changed. On Monday, Trump said his first focus would be to get rid of “the bad ones.” Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said Trump wanted to deport immigrants with criminal records, not all 11 million. What about that deportation force? “He has not said that for a while,” Conway said.
CLINTON: The Democratic nominee has said overhauling immigration laws will be a top priority, but in the meantime, she says current laws should be enforced “humanely.” Her campaign says deportations would focus on immigrants “who pose a violent threat to public safety.” Clinton wants to shut down privately run detention centers.
OBAMA: Immigration advocates have railed against Obama for deporting huge numbers — more than 2.5 million in all — and dubbed him the “deporter in chief.” In 2012, Immigration and Customs Enforcement set a record of removing 409,000 immigrants. Since then, though, the numbers have declined to just 235,413 in the 2016 budget year.
CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
TRUMP: He’s offered conflicting takes on how he’d deal with immigrants brought here illegally as children, and their parents. He praised the Supreme Court’s move in June that halted Obama’s second wave of executive actions on that issue, actions Trump decried as “executive amnesty.” His campaign says he’d reverse Obama’s remaining actions.
On the other hand, Trump has said he wouldn’t split up families, though he hasn’t explained how he’d reconcile those policies. He also supports eliminating birthright citizenship for children born in the U.S. to parents who came here illegally.
CLINTON: She wants to preserve Obama’s executive actions — both those affecting children and those affecting their parents. Clinton also wants to expand those actions to immigrants who have contributed to their communities or faced “extreme labor violations.”
OBAMA: Obama’s position, like Trump’s recent comments, is rooted in the notion that limited law enforcement resources should be focused on law-breaking immigrants, not kids and families.
The president’s first set of executive actions has shielded more than 800,000 young immigrants from deportation since 2012. After Republicans won the Senate in 2014 and the prospect of an immigration overhaul grew dimmer, Obama acted again to protect up to 4 million parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents and let them work legally. The courts have put the more recent actions on hold.
TRUMP: He says the border isn’t adequately protected. Trump has called for tripling the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, who handle deportations.
And then, of course, there’s the wall. Trump is standing firm behind his plans to build a “real wall” on the Mexican border and to force Mexico to fund it. He says until Mexico pays up, the U.S. will increase visa and border crossing fees, “impound all remittance payments” from immigrants here illegally, and possibly increase tariffs or cut foreign aid.
CLINTON: She’s called for securing U.S. borders, but has also said the U.S. is already doing “a really good job.” In March, Clinton said increased border security staffing, new fencing and lower immigration rates have lessened the problem.
She opposes Trump’s wall.
OBAMA: In the 2008 budget year, before Obama took office, the U.S. had about 17,000 Border Patrol agents, reflecting an increase under President George W. Bush from the 9,212 the U.S. had in 2000. Obama increased it to 20,199 in 2009, and the numbers have hovered around there ever since. Border apprehensions dropped significantly during that time.
Meanwhile, billions of taxpayer dollars have gone toward border fencing and technology to secure the border, another project that started under Bush.
Associated Press writers Alicia A. Caldwell and Jill Colvin contributed to this report.
The post Comparing Trump’s evolving immigration plan to Clinton, Obama appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said Wednesday it paid $1.3 billion in interest to Iran in January to resolve a decades-old dispute over an undelivered military sale, two days after allowing $400 million in cash to fly to Tehran.
State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau says the U.S. couldn’t say more about the Jan. 19 payments because of diplomatic sensitivities. They involved 13 separate payments of $99,999,999.99 and final payment of about $10 million. There was no explanation for the Treasury Department keeping the individual transactions under $100 million.
The money settles a dispute over a $400 million payment made in the 1970s by the U.S.-backed shah’s government for military equipment. The equipment was never delivered because of the 1979 Islamic Revolution that overthrew the shah and ended diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Iran.
On Jan. 17, the administration paid Iran the account’s $400 million principal in pallets of euros, Swiss francs and other foreign currency, raising questions about the unusual payment. The $1.3 billion covers what Iran and the U.S. agreed would be the interest on the $400 million over the decades.
The deal has faced increased scrutiny since the administration’s acknowledgment this month that it used the money as leverage to ensure the release of four American prisoners.
Republican critics accuse the administration of paying a “ransom.”
President Barack Obama and other officials deny such claims, though they’ve struggled to explain why the U.S. paid in cash. Obama said it was because the United States and Iran didn’t have a banking relationship after years of nuclear-related sanctions, but that wouldn’t rule out using intermediary banks that maintain relationship with both.
Briefing reporters last week, a senior U.S. official involved in the negotiations said the interest payments were made to Iran in a “fairly above-board way,” using a foreign central bank. But the official, who wasn’t authorized to be quoted by name and demanded anonymity, wouldn’t say if the interest was delivered to Iran in physical cash, as with the $400 million principal, or via a more regular banking mechanism.
The money came from a little-known fund administered by the Treasury Department for settling litigation claims. The so-called Judgment Fund is taxpayer money Congress has permanently approved in the event it’s needed, allowing the president to bypass direct congressional approval to make a settlement. The U.S. previously paid out $278 million in Iran-related claims by using the fund in 1991.
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GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. — When Asha Jones and other Grand Canyon interns arrived for their summer at the national park, they were struck by its sheer immensity, beauty and world-class hiking trails. Soon, they noticed something else.
“It is time for a change here, specifically, at Grand Canyon and in the National Park Service in general, to get people who look like me to your parks,” said Jones, a 19-year-old black student at Atlanta’s Spelman College.
The National Park Service, which oversees more than 131,000 square miles of parks, monuments, battlefields and other landmarks, thinks it’s time for a change, too.
As it celebrates its 100th birthday Thursday, the agency is facing some key challenges ahead. Among them is reaching out to minority communities in an increasingly diverse nation and getting them to visit and become invested in preserving the national parks.
“If public lands aren’t telling their story, and they don’t see themselves reflected in these beautiful places, they may not support them,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said. “They may not recognize that these are their assets and protect them for future generations.”
The NPS doesn’t track the makeup of its visitors, but commissioned studies have shown about three-quarters are white. The agency’s workforce is less diverse, at 83 percent white, a figure that can fluctuate with temporary employees.
Minorities are expected to eclipse the country’s white population before 2050.
The problem of lack of minority engagement is longstanding and complex but can be tied to two main factors, said Myron F. Floyd, a leading scholar on race and ethnicity in outdoor recreation at North Carolina State University.
The first relates to cultural traditions. Outings to national parks generally aren’t passed down through generations in minority communities, he said, and few minorities grow up with an appreciation for such sites. Also, for many years, African-Americans were excluded from national parks and other public resources, he said.
Barriers to visiting national parks also can be as simple as not knowing they exist, or not having a way to get to them or enough money for entry fees and gear, said Jose Gonzales, Latino Outdoors founder.
Asian-Americans, meanwhile, can be reluctant to travel outside their ethnic circles, and they might find few billboards or brochures in their language at national parks, said Mark Masaoka of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council.
“It may not seem welcoming or as inviting to go to a place where there are hardly any visitor centers, few signs, and you’re left to figure it out,” Masaoka said.
The Park Service has made some changes to address these issues, including recruiting minority interns and producing videos and brochures for Spanish-speaking audiences. Its employees spend time in schools with large minority populations to encourage children to visit the outdoors.
The agency also has pushed to designate more sites that highlight the history and contributions of minorities. Some of its newest locations include the Cesar A. Chavez National Monument, established in 2012, and New York’s Stonewall Inn, the first national monument to gay rights, in June.
National parks need more support than ever because years of tight budgets have left them with a lengthy and growing backlog of maintenance projects, officials say. The list of needed repairs totaled almost $12 billion as of last year.
The Park Service gets help from some outside groups like the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Conservancy, which recently worked to restore old cabins used by research scientists at Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. But that’s not enough, experts say.
“I would argue that one of the greatest challenges (the agency) faces in the 21st century is how to engage an increasingly racially and ethnically diverse population in order to maintain the support it has had for generations,” Floyd said.
Kristen Smith, a 44-year-old black woman from Long Island, New York, said she and two white friends were subjected to racial slurs and gawked at by visitors during a 2014 trip to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. But she didn’t let it spoil her outlook on the outdoors.
She particularly enjoyed an earlier visit to Yosemite, where a hiking guide nonchalantly noted black men built some of the park’s first trails. The hundreds of Buffalo Soldiers — members of the nation’s first black Army regiments — were protectors of the land before it became Yosemite National Park, and also served at California’s Sequoia National Park.
“The part that was the nicest was having someone so casually mention that, acknowledge the truth,” Smith said.
The history of minorities in national parks isn’t always well-known. An annual pilgrimage to Yosemite’s Sing Peak honors Chinese Americans. Frazer Point in Maine’s Acadia National Park is named for a freed black slave who built a homestead on land that became part of the park.
Those types of stories are important in selling national parks to minorities, Grand Canyon intern Iesha Baldwin said. Conversations in the students’ cabins sometimes focus on frustrations about seemingly being the only black people in the park.
Jaszymne McKenzie, a black intern from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, will return this fall with another adventure to share. She walked along the East Coast looking at stingrays during a previous internship, and this year watched Grand Canyon visitors marvel at elk and squirrels.
The Park Service hopes the interns’ experiences translate into a desire to work for the agency, and McKenzie isn’t ruling that out. She wants to be part of a team that recruits minorities.
“It’s the National Park Service. You think, ‘Does it need a marketing team?’ But when you look at it with ethnicities, I would say so,” she said.
Fonseca reported from Flagstaff. Associated Press writers Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana, and Brennan Linsley in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, contributed to this report.
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Editor’s Note: Journalist Philip Moeller, who writes widely on aging and retirement, is here to provide the answers you need in “Ask Phil.” Send your questions to Phil.
Check out his new Recommended Reading section with links to notable stories and reports at the end of today’s post.
If you knew you were going to live to 100, how would it affect the way you live your life? Today, very few people have such certitude. But according to a provocative new book, “The 100-Year Life,” more and more will, as sustained longevity gains continue adding years to our lives.
More significantly, British academics Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott argue, the prospect of such long lives will become part of younger people’s life view. It’s one thing if an 85-year-old concludes she will live to 100. But if a 25-year-old is convinced she still has 75 years of life in front of her, the implications are likely far more substantial.
We already are seeing a sustained deferral of marriage and childbearing decisions until later ages. The movement of people into full-time careers in their 20s likewise seems more and more to be delayed until their 30s. More research needs to be done about the extent to which people are changing behaviors because they believe they will live longer.
For example, it is easy to chalk up some trends to economic upheaval and related pressures. People with attractive career paths, especially women, are swayed by the logic of spending additional years cementing their professional futures before having families. Those without such appealing paths — of which there are far too many these days — may be forced to bunk in at their parents’ homes.
As a result, a snapshot of people in their mid-30s today can look a lot like a picture taken 30 years ago of people in their mid-20s. There is, of course, no single image that can capture the diversity of ways people choose or are forced to live their lives. And who would want to travel along such a narrow proscribed path anyway?
The point here, and the point of the book, is that such changes have occurred and will more and more become the new normal. Yes, technology and shifting economic realities certainly play a role here. But, Gratton and Scott argue, so does the inexorable conclusion that longer and longer lives are in store for us.
I have some quibbles with this book, which has been shortlisted by the Financial Times as a candidate for the best business book of the year. Trying to suss out the ways that longevity will change our lives requires a better crystal ball than they (or, certainly, I) possess.
It’s also very hard to separate the effects of longevity from the impact of technological change. In an email exchange, Stone agreed with this, but said longevity gains deserve more of a marquee placement than they’ve received.
“Every generation tends to benefit from better technology and longer longevity. However, the technological change seems disruptive and discrete and so is much discussed, whereas the longevity is slow and constant and tends not to be of much focus.”
Quibbles aside, I have no argument with the growing likelihood that living to 100 someday will be a ho-hum milestone or that people and institutions should be spending more time thinking about how they need to prepare for these added years.
I also think the authors are on sound ground when they argue that the basic units of modern life must change. These units, which they describe as a “three-stage life,” include education, work and retirement. I think you could toss childhood into that first stage if you like and look at it as a period of development and preparation that younger people must complete before they’re ready to be on their own.
Likewise, there are broader models available in the second and third stages. For many people, the work stage of their lives also includes raising families — hardly an inconsequential afterthought. The broader point is that people spend their first 20 years or so in stage one, their next 40-plus years in stage two and the rest of their lives in stage three.
In a 100-year life, however, retiring at 65 is not feasible for most people. They simply do not have the financial resources to afford retirements lasting 35 years. They also may not have the patience to spend so many years on the sidelines of a life where they had long been active. We’ve already begun seeing responses to these pressures.
More people in their late 60s and 70s have remained in the workforce. Investment and job losses caused by the Great Recession are often cited as a powerful driver of this change. But looked at through the lens of “The 100-Year Life,” the possibilities of longer retirements also emerge as a factor.
The three-stage life increasingly will not be a workable model for people who must anticipate longer lives. Instead, the authors argue, people will be developing multi-stage lives. They will feel increasingly comfortable, but also practically driven to break their careers into more pieces, moving in and out of the workforce and going back to school to maintain and sharpen job skills. Parents will adopt patterns of shifting domestic duties among partners to spend more time with their younger children.
As people approach their mid-60s and 70s, they too will need to develop additional stages of life. We’re already seeing this in today’s “encore careers” movements. It will need to expand further in a world of longer life spans. Here, the risk-taking and entrepreneurial mindsets now associated with younger people could be adopted by people in their 70s and 80s.
“Imagine you will have two or three different careers,” the authors write, “one perhaps when you maximize your finances and work long hours and long weeks; at another stage you balance work with family, or want to position your life around jobs that make a strong social contribution. The gift of living for longer means you don’t have to be forced into either/or choices.”
This liberating longer-life view is, of course, much more feasible for highly educated and better-compensated people. For those on the lower rungs, choice is not so much the word that comes to mind. Without economic resources and options, the prospect of living to 100 is not so much fun. Worries about running out of money or of illness-plagued decades can predominate. Touting multi-stage lives to such folks can be a cruel form of humor.
“The danger is that the gift of a long life will only be open to those with the income and education to construct the changes and transitions required,” the book notes. “It is therefore crucial that governments begin now to construct a package of measures to support those less fortunate.… It is unacceptable that a good long life should only be an option for a privileged minority.”
In practice, of course, that seems exactly what will happen in the near term. If government does step up, such actions are not likely to occur until long after that better-enabled minority has been playing and winning the longevity game for some time.
Social Security changed its mind last week and withdrew a hastily launched requirement that people needed to use their smartphones to access their online Social Security accounts. The Social Security Administration seems to have a tin ear when it comes to evaluating public needs and preferences and certainly did so here. Millions of people were unable to comply with the new rules nor fathom why it was needed. The agency’s motives were commendable. Increasing the security of personal wage and benefits information is important. But this effort was not well conceived. (Source: Mark Miller for Reuters via Money.)
Can the profit motive succeed where good intentions have fallen short? A potentially marvelous Medicaid program to help frail and mostly older people stay in their homes is about to find out. It’s called the PACE program, an acronym that stands for Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly. Medicare does not pay for nonmedical long-term care services, but Medicaid does. However, the government’s tab for nursing-home care can be very steep. Rather than putting people into nursing homes, PACE provides them with at-home support services and provides transportation for them to a PACE center, where they can receive medical care, counseling and a daytime program of activities. All of these services, it turns out, can be provided for less money than a nursing home would cost. Not only does the government save money, but the quality of life enjoyed by PACE participants can be superior. Historically, PACE programs have been run by nonprofits, and not many people are enrolled in them. Recent regulatory changes have allowed for-profit companies to create PACE programs. Now, attention will be focused on how these companies balance the prospect of making money off of PACE participants with the quality of services they provide. (Source: Sarah Varney for The New York Times in collaboration with Kaiser Health News.)
In an effort to save money, Medicare and other health insurers have the right to require doctors and patients to try less expensive drugs and procedures. If these efforts do not produce good results, people are then free to try progressively more expensive therapies until they find one that works for them. In a world of costlier medicine, these “step therapy” programs are likely to become more widespread. So, too, will be concerns that patient welfare is being sacrificed in the interest of corporate profits. (Source: Bob Tedeschi for STAT.)
The post Column: Will increasing longevity change the way you live? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first: Anti-immigrant sentiment is on the rise in Europe, and it has spread to Iceland, one of the more unusual destinations for refugees from the war in Syria.
But many people on this island nation in the middle of the North Atlantic welcome the prospect of their traditionally white, Christian country becoming more multicultural.
Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports from the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik.
MALCOLM BRABANT, Special Correspondent: Outside Iceland’s tiny Parliament, pro-refugee supporters outnumber and encircle a group from a new party called the Icelandic National Front, which objects to recent legislation relaxing rules on immigration.
One of their standard-bearers is nurse Maria Magnusdottir.
MARIA MAGNUSDOTTIR, Icelandic National Front: We do not want people that are not adapting to our culture, like, for example, Muslims. I’m not saying that all Muslims are bad people. But, unfortunately, they are not adapting to cultures. So, like, in Europe, we can see two cultures in most of those countries. And that is what we are afraid of.
MALCOLM BRABANT: One of the cheerleaders on the other side is Salmann Tamimi, a Palestinian imam who stopped off in Iceland en route to North America in the 1970s, and never left.
IMAM SALMANN TAMIMI, Muslim Association of Iceland: You see how many supporters are, five, six, 10 times more than the other guys. And this is how the Icelandic society is, really. We have maybe 2 or 3 percent who are what I call racists and fascists. And — but the majority is nice people and we are happy for their support that we are getting.
SIGRIDUR BALDVINSDOTTIR, Artist: The population is very small here in Iceland. We are very few persons. And if you open all the borders, then we’re in trouble.
MALCOLM BRABANT: “This is a disgusting use of the flag,” shouts Logi Stefansson, a well-known musician who shares Icelandic and Angolan heritage.
LOGI STEFANSSON, Musician: They want to basically keep the country white. They’re talking about — like, they have 800 asylum-seekers coming next year, which is, like, a disgraceful number. That’s too small. They just want the white supremacy. Like, seriously, the system for asylum-seekers in Iceland is disgusting. They get treated like dogs.
MALCOLM BRABANT: But the treatment afforded the Al-Mohammad family from Aleppo has been exemplary. The Al-Mohammads left Syria for Lebanon in 2012, signed up for the U.N. refugee resettlement program, and in January were told that they were going to Iceland. Although it wasn’t their choice, English teacher Khattab is not complaining.
KHATTAB AL-MOHAMMAD, Syrian Refugee: This is now the dream of most of the Syrians, to restore the happiness of their children and find a means for making this happen. And we were very lucky to be here, for example, and have this chance to play, because other children in Syria now, they are killed by the — our criminal president and his supporters.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Al-Mohammad, his wife, their six children and his mother, have been given an apartment in the middle-class neighborhood of Akureyri, a northern town less than 40 miles from the Arctic Circle.
KHATTAB AL-MOHAMMAD: We found a lot of similarities between the two societies, for example, the safety of children, and the educational system, health care. These are free in Syria, and now we found it here. And maybe the most obstacle was the weather, the climate itself.
So, we used to have sunny days. A little bit were cold winter, but not snow for, for example, six months. It’s very hard for us.
MALCOLM BRABANT: The local council is working hard to integrate the newcomers. And the refugee coordinator is visiting to help the family with temporary citizenship documents that will enable them to travel freely throughout Europe.
Al-Mohammad is looking to get off welfare benefits and is seeking a business partner to set up a restaurant.
KHATTAB AL-MOHAMMAD: Although we are — appreciate their help, but we want to participate in this society and in the economy of this country. So, we don’t like to be living on this kind of charity. And I suppose all the Syrians are trying their best in the different places. We are normally independent. We don’t like to be dependent on someone.
NOUFA AL MOHAMMAD, Syrian Refugee (through translator): I’m very happy. Icelanders are good people. The country is very generous and welcoming. And we are proud to be here and to be part of this country.
BOY (through translator): I’m happy here. I have friends to play ball with.
HALINA AL-MOHAMMAD, Syrian Refugee (through translator): Of course it’s better here, and secure. The living here is good, especially the kids’ school.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Akureyri is a bustling town of 18,000 people, popular with tourists for whale watching and another nature pursuits.
The council is anxious to avoid the mistakes of much bigger countries, which have created ghettos by placing immigrants together. In a nation of just 330,000 people, it’s much easier to house refugees amongst Icelanders.
The town’s Red Cross has organized a support group whose purpose is to help the newcomers find their feet and bloom.
KARI LAURSSON, Conservationist: I hope that, if at some point, Iceland would go sort of be a war zone or something like that, someone somewhere else on the planet would welcome me as well as they possibly can.
KRISTIN ISLEIFSDOTTIR, Student: I think of our country as just a part of the global village. Nobody can decide where they’re born, and I think everyone should have a fair chance.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Two of the volunteers are heading out to the house of an electrician from Damascus called Joumaa Naser, who lives with his wife and their five children.
INGIBJORG STEFANSDOTTIR, Red Cross Volunteer: They don’t speak English but they’re very good at practicing Icelandic. And we are helping them to learn. I want to teach them how to be themselves in our society and to use the Icelandic language.
MALCOLM BRABANT: As the girls help one of the younger children with his Icelandic, the town’s cultural coordinator is on hand to translate a conversation between one of the sons, who is just about to start high school, and his new teachers.
Joumaa Naser’s skills as an electrician are in demand, and he’s happy to be working.
JOUMAA NASER, Syrian Refugee (through translator): In the long term future, we haven’t yet decided what’s going to happen. But for the immediate future, we are settling here. This is good for the children. They feel safe here. They will get an education. But, ultimately, our aim is to get back to Syria, when it’s safe to do so.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Much of the debate about refugees and immigration centers on multiculturalism and religion. But the realpolitik of hard cash has entered the fray.
Ever since the financial crisis of 2008, Iceland has been trying to get back on its feet, and it has succeeded. The economy is booming. The growth rate here is about 4 percent a year, and, according to the country’s business leaders, Iceland needs 2,000 immigrants a year to maintain that level of growth.
Akureyri’s Mayor Eirokur Bjorgvinsson is very clear where he stands on the issue.
MAYOR EIROKUR BJORGVINSSON, Akureyri, Iceland: Some people say that the people need also social support. So it is also money getting out. But they are giving more back than they have actually received. Maybe they have received something for months or years, but in the long term, they will give much more back than they have received.
MALCOLM BRABANT: As elsewhere in Europe, some Icelanders have a profound fear, if not phobia, of Islam.
KHATTAB AL-MOHAMMAD: Islam is a group of values, not only just praying and you agree that — values. The values of Islam, we see it here. So, why are they afraid?
The values, to be honest, the value of to be helpful, the value to be democratic, the value of being human, these are the values of Islam. And we found them here. We missed them in Syria, but we found them here.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Now to the 2016 presidential race, and the growing scrutiny over Bill and Hillary Clinton’s namesake foundation.
DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee: It’s impossible to tell where the Clinton Foundation ends and the State Department begins.
HARI SREENIVASAN: That was Republican nominee Donald Trump today in Tampa, Florida.
The Clinton Foundation, a nonprofit, was started back in 1997, and in less than two decades, has grown into a philanthropic giant. In 2014, the foundation took in $338 million and had $250 million in expenses, geared toward improving global access to AIDS drugs, speaking out on women’s rights, and more.
But some of the countries that contribute to the Clinton Foundation struggle with human rights issues of their own, like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Kuwait.
And a recent Associated Press analysis found that about half of the 150 people from outside government who met with or spoke by phone with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state either donated or pledged donations to the Clinton Foundation.
This morning, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook responded.
ROBBY MOOK, Clinton Campaign Manager: By our count, there were 1,700 other meetings that she had. You know, she was secretary of state. She was meeting with foreign officials and government officials constantly. So, to pull all of them out of the equation, cherry-pick a very small number of meetings, is pretty outrageous.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And in a statement posted on Monday, Bill Clinton said that, if Hillary is elected, the foundation would — quote — “accept contributions only from U.S. citizens, permanent residents and U.S.-based independent foundations, and not foreign or corporate entities.” He also said he would step down from its board, and stop fund-raising for it.
DONALD TRUMP: The amounts involved, the favors done, and the significant number of times it was done require an expedited investigation by a special prosecutor immediately, immediately, immediately.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Still, the Republican ticket has seized on the Clinton Foundation as a line of attack in recent days.
But as Trump’s campaign stop today made clear, the questions swirling around the philanthropic group could keep on swirling as the campaign moves into the final stretch.
We dig into the details now, with Doug White, former director of Columbia University’s graduate fund-raising management program, and an adviser to nonprofit groups and philanthropists, and James Grimaldi, investigative reporter for The Wall Street Journal.
Doug White, let me start with you. What’s the core critique of how the foundation operates?
DOUG WHITE, Former Director, Columbia University Fundraising Management: Well, right now, the core critique should be what its mission is accomplishing around the world. We don’t know the specifics on that, but they are doing a lot of good work around the world, from my estimation.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And so is there an appearance of impropriety or a conflict of interest in how the foundation works or whether or not it increased access to Secretary of State Clinton?
DOUG WHITE: There is most definitely an appearance of impropriety. There’s no question about that at all.
My concern is what kind of influence prior to now that has been into Secretary Clinton’s office, and then, as — if she becomes president, what will the influence be then?
I don’t want to have a president who is that enhanced by the donors of other — by another charity, so that when we have questions that are dealing with the issue of international relationships, we have to separate that from what a foundation is all about.
HARI SREENIVASAN: James Grimaldi, what are the meetings that Secretary of State Clinton took that are raising these concerns?
JAMES GRIMALDI, The Wall Street Journal: Well, there was a recent Associated Press report that analyzed the calendars of Secretary Clinton.
And they looked at all the private meetings for the first half of her tenure at the State Department, because that’s all that’s been released under the lawsuit they have under the Freedom of Information Act. There were 145 meetings, and about 85, I believe, of those meetings were with Clinton Foundation donors.
So, that raised the question about whether those meetings meant that if you paid money to the donation or gave some sort of gift that you were going to get expedited treatment at the State Department.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Even if this is a limited cross-section of all the meetings that she took, is there evidence or are there issues where she advocated on behalf of companies that might have contributed to the foundation?
JAMES GRIMALDI: Yes, so I took a look at that question.
We broke down all of the donors for the Clinton Foundation. We categorized them by size. And then we looked at the largest corporation. Of those corporations, we then compared them with lobbying records that are filed with the United States Congress.
When we did that, we found that 60 corporations that were lobbying the State Department while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state had given $26 million to the Clinton Foundation. In addition, they had participated in commitments, they call them, charitable projects, with the Clinton Foundation, valued by the foundation at more than $2 billion.
Those are sort of big numbers in terms of that. The billions didn’t go to the Clinton Foundation. They went to charities and charitable activities, but the Clinton Foundation rightly takes some credit for those.
So the question is, when these favors that Hillary is doing for certain companies or these companies are seeking favors from Secretary Clinton, were they giving because they were hoping she was going to help them out?
Now, in certain cases, we know that she actually did help certain companies out. But, in those cases, they were probably for logical, rational reasons any secretary of state, for example, lobbying the Russians to buy jets from Boeing, lobbying Algeria to buy $2 billion worth of generators from General Electric.
But we also know that both of those companies, as well as others like Microsoft, Wal-Mart who had asked for favors and gotten them, also had given gifts to the Clinton Foundation, either before, during or after those favors were performed by Secretary Clinton.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Doug White, how do we sort out intent? If a Boeing or Microsoft comes in and says, well, look, this is in our best interest, we were not trying to curry favor to gain access to her, we believe in the causes that the Clinton Foundation is working on?
DOUG WHITE: I think what Jim said is absolutely correct. and you can’t really parse out intent.
And as a result of that, that’s why we have the larger question of really separating the Clintons from the foundation. And it’s not just that there is a conflict of interests. It’s the execution of conflict of interests.
And as long as she has the ability to be perceived as having a favor or a favorite place or person, then the public is going to be very excited about that and very upset about that. And I don’t think that’s the kind of anchor she needs going into her presidency, should she be elected.
HARI SREENIVASAN: James Grimaldi, what about the steps that President Bill Clinton and the foundation said that they are planning to take going forward if Mrs. Clinton is elected to the White House?
JAMES GRIMALDI: Well, that’s interesting. They seem to be almost in flux.
As you just reported, they will stop taking corporate and foreign government gifts. However, we found out recently, just in the last couple of days, there is a major exception to that. It’s possible and perhaps even likely that the Clinton Global Health Access Initiative, which has a separate board, may actually continue to take foreign government contributions and corporate gifts.
This was revealed to us today in our questioning. While we found out that Bill Clinton will leave the Clinton Foundation board, we now know that Chelsea Clinton, their daughter, is going to remain on the board. And we don’t know, because they haven’t said or apparently have not decided. She may actually be raising money for the Clinton Foundation going forward.
So there’s a possibility that we will have a president of the United States whose daughter is raising millions of dollars for their foundation, or the remnants of their foundation, going into her administration. That has to be a cloud that should — will probably hang over her if there ends up being appearances of conflicts of interests.
HARI SREENIVASAN: James Grimaldi, Doug White, thank you both.
DOUG WHITE: Thank you.
JAMES GRIMALDI: Thank you.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And we are joined now by Donna Shalala, president of the Clinton Foundation. She served as secretary of health and human services in the Bill Clinton administration.
Madam Secretary, thanks for joining us.
Members of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, as well as your foundation, have said recently that there is — has been no conflict of interests in the meetings that Secretary Clinton took with those people who also happen to be donors to the Clinton Foundation. Can you see the appearance of impropriety?
DONNA SHALALA, President, Clinton Foundation: Well, our goal is to eliminate all appearance of impropriety if Mrs. Clinton is elected.
And the president has already announced not only that we won’t take any corporate donations or foreign donations, but he will leave a role in governance. He will leave the board of the foundation.
And, as for the other organizations which are our partners, we will make sure that both the governance is clean, but, more importantly, that those programs are spun off, either as separate 501(c)(3)s without our participation, or we will find partners that will take over the responsibility.
We help millions of people around the world. There are 100,000 farmers in East Africa that depend on the Clinton programs for their seeds, for technical assistance, for training. We have to make sure that whether they’re women entrepreneurs in Latin America or farmers in Africa or Asia that all of these programs are seamlessly transferred either to other organizations or to become independent organizations.
We have already announced that the Clinton Global Initiative, the great matchmaker between not-for-profit foundations and corporations to do wonderful charity work around the world, that that will end after this September’s conference.
So we’re taking very strong steps, but it would be irresponsible to do all of this before she is elected. And so, if she is elected, we will take very strong steps that will make it very clear that the Clinton Foundation has no conflict of interests, as many as we can reduce, by spinning off or finding partners for our major programs.
We will keep some domestic programs. We can — we have full responsibility for the Clinton Presidential Library, for the Clinton Center in Little Rock, which has had tremendous economic interests and impact on Arkansas.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Sure.
DONNA SHALALA: So, people forget the Clinton Foundation includes a major presidential library and center.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Sure.
Well, I don’t think anybody would fault President Clinton for wanting to be involved with his own library, but how about having President Clinton, Chelsea Clinton as well, step away completely from the foundation?
There are lots of foundations around the planet that are doing the work that you’re interested in and are good at it.
DONNA SHALALA: And, in fact, we will find partners, successful partners, to make sure that the programs that we have continue and continue seamlessly.
And that’s what we’re working on now. The president has made this announcement. Chelsea has said that she is going to stay on the foundation board to provide oversight for this transformation. And we will have announcements about her role in the future as well.
But I think the important thing is that all of this will take place and we will make sure it’s in place if Mrs. Clinton is elected. We have a responsibility to millions of people around the world that we have — that our programs have an impact on. And we simply cannot walk away from that.
And the idea that we could just close down the foundation without carefully going program by program, and making certain that the people that are served by those programs actually continue to get those kinds of services would be irresponsible.
HARI SREENIVASAN: If Mrs. Clinton does win the White House, then, would Chelsea Clinton step away as well from her role on the board?
DONNA SHALALA: We will have an announcement about that if Mrs. Clinton is elected.
I think the important thing now is that we have made a series of statements about what we’re going to do with the programs. The major programs, we have actually been very clear about. And we have some smaller programs that we’re working through, thinking about what partners and talking to partners.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Sure.
DONNA SHALALA: But all of this takes place if she is elected.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Ms. Shalala, President Bill Clinton is no stranger to politics. Neither is Hillary Clinton. Even as she was being confirmed for the secretary of state position, several senators tried to bring this up, the appearance of impropriety, the potential conflict of interests.
But the question really is, is that does the foundation offer an opportunity, a vehicle to access a sitting secretary of state, a senator or possibly a president? There are so many different — in these emails, we see people have who have given significant amounts of money have access or have had access at short notice to her. Is that a coincidence?
DONNA SHALALA: I wouldn’t describe it as a coincidence, but let me say this, that we know very clearly what conflict of interests we have to eliminate as part of the foundation.
We’re focused on the foundation program. And no one should assume, if they give a gift to the foundation, that they’re going to get access to Mrs. Clinton or to President Clinton because of that for the purposes of changing public policy. And we’re committed to that.
The president is committed to that. There was a memorandum of agreement between the secretary and the administration that she went in to. I think it was signed off on by the Foreign Relations Committee.
And while we made one small mistake, in my judgment, in terms of what we were supposed to submit through that process, as far as I’m concerned, we have kept — we kept to that agreement.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Sure.
DONNA SHALALA: But, more importantly, what we’re doing now is very significant. We cannot do the same types of things that we did when she was secretary of state. We have to take a much stronger position to eliminate any perception of conflict of interests.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Right.
I think that right now, unfortunately, because this is the political season, the examples that are being brought out in these emails happen to be in the public domain now. Right? You have got a billionaire that was coincidentally at a breakfast meeting at the New York Stock Exchange. The next day, the State Department starts working on a visa request on his behalf, the wife of another billionaire who got a last-minute meeting.
We have got another billionaire. I mean, it sort of — without having to cherry-pick individual meetings, it clearly to the American public points out that there seemed to be a line. If you helped the foundation, you had access to Mrs. Clinton.
And I think the concern is…
DONNA SHALALA: Well, I think we have to be careful about that conclusion.
The major companies in the United States, the multinationals spend billions of dollars lobbying in Washington. So, I don’t think that anyone has made any connection there.
But here’s what’s important. What’s important to us is that there are millions of people around the world whose lives are improved by the work of the Clinton Foundation, whose lives have been changed by the work of the Clinton Foundation.
We have to make sure that work continues. The president has reinvented philanthropy in this country. This is an extraordinary foundation. And no one in the foundation wants to see these attacks or in any way be perceived as having a conflict of interests.
And by the end of the election, if she wins, it will be very clear to the American people what we will do and what programs will remain in the foundation. The only thing I can assure you at the moment is the Clinton Library is going to remain in the foundation and that the president is going to visit his foundation, library.
HARI SREENIVASAN: OK.
Thank you, Donna Shalala, the president of the Clinton Foundation. Thanks for joining us.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Turkish military forces launched a major operation inside Syria today to retake the strategic border town of Jarabulus from ISIS.
Turkish and American jets attacked from above, as Turkish tanks and special forces moved into the town. Syrian rebel groups were also part of the operation.
Beyond ousting ISIS from the area, Turkey has another motive for attacking on Jarabulus, to stem the ambitions of the main U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militia, known as the YPG, which has been taking over territory from ISIS.
Vice President Biden was visiting Turkey today, and he called upon the Kurds to limit their advances.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We have made it absolutely clear to the elements that were part of the Syrian democratic forces, the YPG that participated, that they must move back across the river. They cannot, will not and under no circumstances get American support if they do not keep that commitment, period.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We examine the significance of all of this now with Aaron Stein. He’s a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.
Aaron Stein, thank you for being here.
AARON STEIN, Atlantic Council: Thank you for having me.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what is the significance of this incursion across the border into Syria?
AARON STEIN: I think the biggest one is, it denies ISIS one of its last major crossing points across the Turkish-Syrian border.
Jarabulus has historically been a place where they have moved men and material across. So, by Turkey moving in alongside of its host of Arab groups, ISIS loses territory along its border, ISIS goes weaker. And this is a good thing for the U.S. and Turkey.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But if it hadn’t been for this move, it’s possible that the Syrian Kurds would have been in that territory sooner or later, is that not right?
AARON STEIN: Yes, I think that’s the issue here, is that the United States is having to thread a very fine needle. It’s having to thread the needle very finely here.
But it has to, one, prosecute the war against ISIS, where the Syrian Kurds have become the most prominent ground force and the one capable of taking the most territory, while managing ties with a NATO ally who is very wary of the Syrian Kurds moving up to its border.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I know, for many people, some of these terms are hard to follow. I mentioned the YPG, this particular Syrian Kurdish group.
But let me ask you about the U.S. interest here, because until now it seems the U.S. has been careful to respect the role of the Kurds in that region, despite the tensions with Turkey’s government. What’s changed?
AARON STEIN: I don’t think anything has changed.
What I think is going on is that, in this previous operation, the one for the city of Manbij, which is just a few miles south, they had Turkish buy-in for heavy Turkish presence in there, contingent upon the larger, broader deal that the Kurds, as the vice president said, would move back across the river.
And I think that’s what the vice president was saying today, is that the Kurds have got to uphold their end of the bargain. The United States essentially told Turkey that they would make the Kurds move back. And then concurrent to that, you have Turkey moving into Jarabulus.
Syria is a very complicated place with a lot of moving parts. And this is just one of them.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But let’s back up and look at the larger political — geopolitical picture here, and that has to do with the coup attempt in Turkey just a month or so ago. That’s really changed the dynamic, hasn’t it, between the U.S. and Turkey?
AARON STEIN: Right.
I don’t think anybody was planning for a coup on July 15, a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15. And that’s obviously complicated relations largely because the person that Turkey accuses of being the mastermind of the coup, Fethullah Gulen, is a U.S. green card holder who lives in Pennsylvania.
And there’s been some back and forth about the extradition process. Turkey just wishes we would hand him over, and the U.S., for very obvious reasons, if you ask me, is making Turkey follow all the legal steps, because, if you really violate those legal steps, and if you take special measures, even for an ally, it sends the wrong message that the U.S. will just simply turn people over.
And sometimes an ally doesn’t ask to turn people over.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, connect the dots. Between Turkey’s nervousness and asking to get Fethullah Gulen back extradited from the United States, and then Turkey being anxious to put a stop to any potential Kurdish move in Syria, connects the two things.
AARON STEIN: Well, so this is where the politics become very important.
So, the United States has an incentive to support Turkey, a NATO ally, as it moves into Syria, particularly in Jarabulus. And I think, moving forward, that’s where the questions will be. So, how long does Turkey plan to stay in Jarabulus? Does it have plans to move farther? And what is the U.S. role in this?
And I think we’re still figuring that out, as outsiders, and I would even say that the U.S. government is still figuring that out, because this operation does seem to have kind of come together relatively quickly on the Turkish side, even if their plans have been on the shelf for a little over — for the past year or so.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Aaron Stein, remind us why Turkey is an important ally for the United States.
AARON STEIN: Well, they have been an ally in the NATO alliance since 1952.
It’s always hard to point to why breaking such an alliance is a big deal, other than, at a time when transatlantic relations and the NATO alliance has come under pressure from the Republican presidential candidate for the presidency, you want to keep the transatlantic alliance in place.
And if you look beyond ISIS, the threat from the Islamic State, Turkey is in a part of the world where the U.S. likes to play a role in. And obviously we would like to have as many friends as possible.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But this is clearly — or in part, at least, a case of the United States placating, wanting to make sure it stays on good terms with Turkey, as Turkey deals with its insecurity when it comes to the Kurds.
AARON STEIN: I think we do have an incentive to try and reach back out to Turkey, even though, within Turkey, there has been, in my opinion, sort of an overplaying of the anti-American card to deflect from what really has been a very traumatic past month in Turkey.
You have a failed coup attempt, over 200 people killed. Parliament was bombed. And the military was really fractured. So this is a big problem, and the Turkish leaders have leaned on anti-American sentiment to explain it away.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, just bottom line here, it’s a reminder that, yes, ISIS is a big enemy, but ISIS is not the only complicating factor in that part of the world. There’s a lot going on between the Turks and the Kurds.
AARON STEIN: Absolutely.
For Turkey, the Kurdish sub-state actor problem is always number one. ISIS, I would say, is 1-A, and now you have to add Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey also claims is a sub-state actor, who they say carried out a coup attempt on July 15 and now lives in the United States. All three things came together. And it’s a very difficult time for U.S.-Turkey relations because of it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, there are a lot of threads to follow here. And we thank you for helping us understand what’s going on.
Aaron Stein, we appreciate it.
AARON STEIN: My pleasure. Thank you very much.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Five thousand miles away from Italy, another powerful earthquake rocked Myanmar today, killing at least four people. The 6.8-magnitude quake struck near the town of Chauk, 20 miles from the former capital of Bagan. Officials estimated almost 200 of Bagan’s centuries-old Buddhist pagodas were damaged. The devastation could have been worse, had the quake not hit so deep underground.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Militants attacked the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, the capital, today. At least one person was killed and 18 more were wounded.
Foreign staff and dozens of students were reportedly trapped inside the compound. Student witnesses said the shooting lasted for more than an hour.
ZIAUCOIN, Student, American University of Afghanistan (through translator): First, an explosion happened, and then we heard the sound of gunfire. Twenty of us were in the class. Two bullets hit on the door of our classroom. All the boys escaped through the window of the class.
JUDY WOODRUFF: There was no immediate claim of responsibility. This is the second time this month that the university or its staff have been targeted.
HARI SREENIVASAN: In South Sudan, at least 275 people have died in fighting between government troops and rebel forces. Each side blamed the other today for launching attacks in a northeastern town less than a week ago. Those reports came after word that opposition leader Riek Machar, who’d recently fled the country, is now in Sudan for urgent medical attention.
JUDY WOODRUFF: North Korea’s successful launch of a ballistic missile triggered swift condemnation today. It was fired from a submarine, and flew over 300 miles within range of hitting South Korea and parts of Japan. It is the farthest distance the North has successfully fired such a weapon. The foreign ministers of China, Japan, and South Korea denounced the launch today in Tokyo, in a rare show of unity.
WANG YI, Foreign Minister, China (through translator): China opposes North Korea’s nuclear missile program, and opposes any words or deeds that could cause tensions on the Korean Peninsula. China will adhere to its consistent and firm stand of making persistent efforts towards denuclearization on the peninsula.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. State Department echoed that sentiment, saying its commitment to protecting its allies in the region from North Korean aggression was — quote — “iron-clad.”
HARI SREENIVASAN: And stocks slipped on Wall Street today, led by drops in the health care and materials sectors. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 66 points to close at 18481. The Nasdaq fell 42 points, and the S&P 500 dropped 11.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In today’s early morning hours, Italy’s countryside was jolted awake by an earthquake, striking just beneath the surface and wreaking terrible havoc. The official number of deaths has reached 159, but that number is expected to grow.
An army of rescue workers quickly descended on three small Italian towns that were leveled in the quake. They were able to pull some people from the rubble, but others remain trapped.
GIANCARLO, Earthquake Survivor (through translator): I heard people asking for help, people calling out, asking for help, but in this condition, what could I do? I have been to the center, and it’s all in rubble.
AGOSTINO SEVERO, Earthquake Survivor (through translator): We came out to the piazza, and it looked like Dante’s Inferno, people crying for help, help.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The 6.2-magnitude earthquake hit in the middle of the night, just after 3:30 a.m. It was felt across Central Italy, but the tiny towns of Amatrice, Accumoli, and Pescara del Tronto were hardest-hit.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi arrived in Amatrice late today after promising the area his full support.
MATTEO RENZI, Prime Minister, Italy (through translator): This is a time when we’re allowed to shed tears. For the faithful, it is a moment to say a prayer. For everyone, it is a moment of respect and pain.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s slow going for the rescue workers who are combing the wreckage for survivors, oftentimes using only their hands.
ANDREA GENTILI, Department of Civil Protection (through translator): We need chain saws, shears to cut iron bars, and jacks to remove beams. Everything. We need everything.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The hard work paid off in Accumoli, where a 65-year-old man was pulled out of the rubble after nine hours. Applause followed the man as he was loaded into an ambulance.
We get an on-the-scene report now from special correspondent Christopher Livesay, who is in Amatrice, Italy. We spoke just a short time ago.
Chris Livesay, welcome.
First of all, you have been there all day long. What are you seeing?
CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Well, I’m seeing what looks like the aftermath of a war zone. The imagery all around me is much more similar to what we’re used to seeing come out of places like Aleppo and Syria, not the idyllic hillside town of Amatrice.
Normally, this is a place where tourists go to escape the heat during the summer, especially the month of August, which in Italy is the national month of vacations. So a town of normally 2,000 people had twice the population this time of year, only increasing the amount of injuries and fatalities, unfortunately.
JUDY WOODRUFF: When people think of Italy, of course they think of history. Just how widespread was the damage?
CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: The damage stretches all the way from the west coast to the east coast. I mean, if you want a sense of history and culture, just look behind me at the Church of St. Augustine. It dates back to the 14th century.
Half of it is collapsed right before your eyes. Only the belfry is really standing. And that’s rather indicative of the damage that stretches all across Central Italy, not just here in the region of Lazio around Rome, but also the nearby region of Umbria, which has a number of artistic heritage sites.
We’re talking not just in that region, but all across Central Italy, buildings that range from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. There’s going to be all types of loss, not just of life, but, of course, that is the most important thing that everyone is rushing to save. People all around me, volunteers and professionals likewise, are working around the clock to see if there are any survivors still underneath this rubble.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Do they have the resources they need, Chris, to get this done?
CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: They seem to have all the resources they need, especially in terms of manpower. I have been overwhelmed by the amount of volunteers and other rescue agencies from firefighters to ambulance drivers to civil protection agents, you name it. Even the military is chipping in at this point. They’re all working around the clock to help people.
You have tents. You have cots that have been set up in parks. There’s a sports center that has been converted into a makeshift dormitory. So, just in this town of Amatrice, there are temporary beds set up for hundreds of people, and that’s the case all across Italy right now. Thousands of temporary beds and housing have been set up.
So the people do appear to have all the help they need. What they have working against them is perhaps the very thing that makes this part of Italy so picturesque, and that’s the fact that these are small hilltop towns with twisting and winding roads.
Those roads were not made for heavy vehicles, lots of ambulances, one after another. They’re having to negotiate the road. Oftentimes, there’s just not enough space for everyone to go in and out of these place, so they’re relying heavily on helicopters to air evac people into nearby hospital, but also hospitals as far afield as Rome, which is almost 100 miles from here.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Chris Livesay in Amatrice, thank you.
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At least 300 people opposed to a controversial oil pipeline under construction in North Dakota waited anxiously outside a D.C. federal courthouse this afternoon for a decision on whether or not the project can to continue. And now they’ll have to wait just a little longer.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed a lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers on July 27 to stop the pipeline that would cross under the Missouri River, the reservation’s sole source of water. The corps approved the pipeline last month, but the tribe argues they were not properly consulted, and that cultural and historical sites would be destroyed during construction.
Judge James E. Boasberg from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia said he will make a decision about the $3.7 billion Dakota Access Pipeline on or before September 9.
“We’re very concerned because construction is ongoing,” said Jan Hasselman, a lawyer with EarthJustice, an environmental advocacy organization representing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. “In another couple of weeks or a month there won’t be anything left to protect.”
Lawyers for the Corps and Energy Transfer Partners, the Texas-based company building the pipeline, rejected the tribe’s claims, saying there is no evidence there are historic artifacts in the path of this pipeline, and that invitations for consultation were rejected.
Requests for comment from Energy Transfer Partners and the Corps were not immediately answered.
The tribe, whose land is located a half-mile south of the pipeline, has resisted the project for months. People started gathering near the construction site in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, in April to stage demonstrations. In recent weeks, hundreds more arrived, and some sparked confrontations with police and construction workers. At least 28 people people were arrested for disorderly conduct and trespassing this month. The pipeline company says it halted work after some demonstrators attacked workers with rocks and bottles.
The Morton County Sheriff’s Department, the leading law enforcement on site, posted on Facebook that they’ve gotten reports of weapons and bombs at the demonstration. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe says the protest is peaceful. There is a ban on weapons, alcohol and drugs at the camp.
With the legal ruling delayed until next month, it is uncertain what will happen at the site and to the several hundred protesters camped nearby.
“We have to play by the rules the federal government has given us,” David Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, told PBS NewsHour. “We’re still going to pray and be in peace and ensure our strength in unity is powerful.”
If completed, Dakota Access Pipeline will run almost 1,170 miles, delivering 500,000 barrels of crude oil each day from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to facilities in Illinois. The pipeline runs mostly over private land, except for when it crosses bodies of water. That’s when federal rules apply and permits are required.
Energy Transfer Partners say the project will bring in new investments and jobs, and will help wean the country off foreign oil. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe says it wants to protect their past, and worries about their future if the pipeline spills crude in the Missouri River.
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“The problem with the lionfish is it’s like Darwin’s nightmare,” Oliver Steeds said, standing on the deck of the Baseline Explorer.
A late afternoon sun dwindled over the 146-foot research vessel, as it sat anchored in St. George’s Harbour on Bermuda’s northeast corner. Licks of ocean water dried off a gold-plated submersible parked next to Steeds, the director of a deep ocean exploration project called the Nekton mission, as he recounted the basics of the invasive species.
“Lionfish are chowing their way through the food chain, because they don’t have any predators,” Steeds said.
The first lionfish sightings occurred off the Florida coast in the mid-1980s. Lionfish hail from the Indo-Pacific, but due to their ruby stripes and daggerlike spines, they are a favorite among exotic pet owners. Scientists now believe that it was U.S. owners dumping adult lionfish into public waters that allowed a local population to establish itself. (In 1992, Hurricane Andrew famously washed out a tank of six lionfish into Biscayne Bay, Florida, which people often inaccurately cite as the start of the invasion.)
Since then, lionfish have terrorized Atlantic waters, their ferocious appetites upsetting the balance of reef ecosystems. Such was the case near the Bahamas between 2003 and 2009, where lionfish overconsumed juvenile parrotfish and other young plant eaters. The result: Algae bloomed with abandon, choking the reef ecosystems at a 150- to 200-foot depth. Coral coverage shrank by as much as 88 percent in places; sponge coverage by 96 percent.
“In U.S. waters, we know the lionfish are consuming a number of economically important species too, like snapper, grouper and even spiny lobster,” said ocean ecologist James Morris of NOAA’s National Ocean Service. What’s more, lionfish multiply swiftly. A single female spawns every two to three days and can lay 2 million eggs in a year.
Two species of lionfish — Pterois volitans and Pterois miles — now threaten reef ecosystems across the Western Atlantic and the Caribbean.
But a solution may be on the way, in the form of a robot.
The RISE of a robot
In a way, the lionfish terminator — not the robot’s official name — is cousin to a vacuum cleaner.
The idea surfaced in the fall of 2015, when Colin Angle, the CEO for iRobot and the maker of the Roomba robotic vacuum, paid a visit to friends on Bermuda. During the visit, Angle and his wife, biochemist Erika Ebbel joined a group of locals and sailed offshore for a dive. With them was Chris Flook, who had a long relationship with lionfish.
As a collector of marine specimens for the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo, Flook had been one of the first people to notice lionfish in Bermudian waters in the early 2000s. For unknown reasons, sightings began to surge up and down the Atlantic around the turn of the millennia.
“The first one I saw, I thought “Oh, that’s pretty cool. Lionfish aren’t supposed to be here, so maybe somebody’s released it,” Flook said. “Then very quickly I started to notice over time, we were losing small fish from these areas.”
Lionfish began outcompeting Bermudian predators, like groupers, for food. Groupers feed in spurts, Flook said. They eat and then chill out for a few days. By comparison, lionfish feed constantly, which Flook and other experts blame on a hunting technique developed in their native range. In the Indo-Pacific, small species see the spiked barbs and know to retreat, so the lionfish must work hard for its meals. Fish in the Atlantic, however, are naive to the danger and don’t flee.
Flook did early experiments when he noticed the invaders, where he put lionfish and Bermuda’s dominant reef predator in separate tanks. He then collected juvenile bream fish from an enclosed bay, which he suspected had never come in contact with a grouper or lionfish.
“[The bream] did exactly what we thought. They would stay away from the grouper because they knew at some point that grouper was going to try to eat them,” Flook said. “In the lionfish tank, it was actually surprising how quickly the breams swam up to the lionfish to try and hide next to it. The lionfish ate every single one.”
As the invasion grew, Flook and a collection of local divers founded the Bermuda Lionfish Task Force, which holds daily dives and fishing tournaments to rid their waters of the invasive species.
On that fall day, while the group ate their catch on the boat, Flook and the other Bermudians recounted these stories of the lionfish, and Angle had a thought.
“He envisioned building a robot to kill lionfish,” recalled Geoffrey Gardner, a native Bermudian, a friend of Angle’s and fellow MIT alumnus. “And that was the beginning of RISE.”
After the trip concluded, the Angles laid the foundation for Robots in Service of the Environment (RISE).
The independent, nonprofit company has recruited a league of engineers and scientists — all volunteers — to establish a skynet for lionfish. Gardner, for instance, is coordinating the robot testing. Meanwhile, Ed Williams, an ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) designer at Robo Nautica in California, is pitching in weekends to engineer prototypes.
John Rizzi, a retired entrepreneur and Navy veteran, was appointed as the group’s executive director. “In order to attack the problem of lionfish in the Western Atlantic, you need maybe thousands of machines,” Rizzi said. “To do that, you have to be able to build them reliably, inexpensively.”
Two ROV designs are leading the way. One model carries a spear gun, matching how human divers typically harvest lionfish. The second model will electrocute the lionfish by using a robot arm equipped with two metal electrodes.
“When the probes get to either side of the fish, you basically zap it,” Rizzi said. To start, each model will sport video cameras, so a pilot can guide the ROVs from onshore or inside a boat. But the team’s long-term plan is autonomous underwater robots that hunt lionfish on their own.
One of the first steps in development, especially for the zapper model, is observing how lionfish might react to an approaching robot. But here’s one advantage for the RISE team. Due to their venomous barbs, lionfish have few predators. As a result, they don’t automatically flee when approached.
To keep other nearby fish from being zapped, Rizzi and the other designers are relying on ocean chemistry. Saltwater is highly conductive, so they expect it should act almost like a straight wire between the two electrode plates. The team is testing the shocking mechanism on lionfish in aquariums before rolling out the design into oceans. RISE hopes these robots will appeal to fishermen, who are looking for ways to supply lionfish to restaurants — a growing sustainable market.
Morris, who isn’t involved with the RISE project, said NOAA is actively engaged in the creation of lionfish-trapping tools for the deepest parts of the reef. This outlook includes robotics.
“We are very excited about the application of robotics in marine conservation,” Morris said. “But whether or not a lionfish-killing robot is practical or not is yet to be determined. The accuracy — or its ability to discriminate lionfish from other fish — is one concern, he said.
Into the deep
It’s no accident that Bermuda was picked as a testing ground for these robots. Local scientists have recently learned that the island’s lionfish invasion may differ from the rest of the Western Atlantic. Along the U.S. coast and in the Caribbean, shallow water reefs tend to be invaded with lionfish.
“They’re overrun, in fact,” said reef ecologist Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences. “But, here in Bermuda we seem to be buffered somewhat in the shallows.”
Thanks to a grant in 2013 from the U.K. Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Goodbody-Gringley and her colleagues conducted dives around the island to track lionfish populations. In an upcoming publication in Marine Ecology Progress Series, they report Bermudian lionfish congregate in their densest populations on deep reefs situated 200 feet underwater. Other areas — such as North Carolina, Florida, the Gulf of Mexico and the Bahamas — record high densities of lionfish in shallower water, closer to shore.
The lionfish palate differs near Bermuda too. “Overall, we’re most concerned with crustaceans, because it’s surprising how many are consumed,” said Corey Eddy, a soon-to-be-minted PhD student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Eddy, who is first author of the upcoming study, addedthat red night shrimp “are taking the biggest hit imaginable.” These skittish creatures appear to drop their guard around lionfish, even occasionally mistaking the predators for rocks.
One minute these crustaceans are hiding; the next, they’re lunch. This naivety occurs in juvenile fish too.
Lionfish also disrupt reef ecosystems by targeting baby bluehead wrasses and other cleaner fish. “Cleaning stations are areas on the reef where our [native] predators don’t eat the other fish,” Flook said. Akin to how we go to doctors to get checkups, the reef fish have these areas, which are like no-feed zones. Except lionfish don’t abide. Flook said lionfish target these cleaning stations in Bermudian waters, not only eating the cleaners but all the fish in need of a tune-up.
It’s a dilemma, and the Bermuda Lionfish Task Force, of which Eddy and Goodbody-Gringley are also members, has tackled the invasion around shallow corals. Members of the team even launch dangerous technical scuba dives to depths of 200 feet to catch lionfish.
“It’s a risk every time we don a rebreather and go down to 200 feet,” Goodbody-Gringley said. That’s why she, Flook and the others teamed with Nekton and RISE. Nekton is using its submersibles to gauge lionfish populations lower than 200 feet, while RISE’s robot may provide a safer alternative to hand culling lionfish at risky depths.
But, is that fair to the lionfish? Sure, humans created this problem, which endangers red night shrimp, bluehead wrasses and countless other animals. A lionfish, however, is a living creature too — one that didn’t purposefully migrate into our waters.
“Often times, we blame the fish,” Animal Welfare Institute wildlife biologist DJ Schubert told NewsHour. “Obviously in this case, lionfish are paying for our mistakes with their lives.”
Neither Schubert, nor the AWI, advocate the killing, particularly the inhumane killing of any species, but he said in this case the science is pretty clear that lionfish do have an adverse impact on the ecosystem.
“To the extent that the experts believe lionfish have to be killed, we simply say that it has to be done as humanely as possible,” Schubert said.
This is where he becomes nervous about a lionfish-culling robot. He worries robots may leave the door open to animal cruelty. Spearing is considered the most humane way to kill lionfish, but what if the speargun robot misses the mark? The zapper robot has the humane advantage of evolution — other fish will flee, while the lionfish won’t. Yet there’s always a chance that fisherman might target another bold species.
NOAA’s James Morris agrees that lionfish culling programs must be humane. But he doesn’t see any ethical issues with utilizing lionfish as a commercial resource to sustain the native balance of ecosystems.
“But if we’re looking for an ethical question, it’s the one behind introducing non-native species and the impacts that it has on the region and the biodiversity of these very important places,” Morris said. There have been discussions about restricting imports of the eight or so species of lionfish, he said, but at the moment, the federal government doesn’t formally track how many lionfish enter the country or their populations in U.S. waters. Florida, however, banned all lionfish imports to the state in 2014.
Morris doesn’t believe culling programs can fully eradicate lionfish from the Atlantic. There are simply too many. But NOAA is confident that lionfish control plans can effectively protect conservation areas like national parks, marine sanctuaries and refuges. These plans would end with forcibly removing lionfish from protected areas and start with keeping lionfish out of the aquarium trade.
“So prevention is absolutely key here in terms of outreach with the public,” Morris said.
Genetic analysis argues every single lionfish in the Atlantic descended from fewer than 10 lionfish females. If you see a lionfish in the wild, you’ll quickly realize why this process took 30 years. Lionfish paddle slowly across the coral bed, and the stealthy predator rarely travels far from home. Eddy described their march across the seas as little grenades peppering the water. A slow creep to an uncertain end.
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WASHINGTON — In this angry election year, many American voters are deeply skeptical about free trade — or downright hostile to it.
The backlash against trade threatens a pillar of U.S. policy since World War II: Through trade pacts and institutions like the World Trade Organization, the United States has sought to rip down barriers to global commerce, including quotas and taxes on imports.
Economists argue that the benefits of free trade outweigh the costs. Imports cut prices for consumers, and exposure to foreign competition makes American firms and the overall U.S. economy more efficient. There’s a geopolitical angle, too: Countries that do business with each other are less likely to go to war.
Free trade, it seemed, paid off.
But doubts lingered, especially as China emerged as an economic power. China overwhelmed the world with hundreds of millions of low-paid factory workers who could crank out products for less than just about anybody else. And critics charge that China doesn’t play by the rules — unfairly subsidizing exporters, manipulating its currency to give them a competitive edge and condoning the theft of U.S. trade secrets. Whatever the reasons, the United States last year ran a $334 billion trade deficit with China — a big chunk of America’s $500 billion total trade deficit.
Even economists are having second thoughts. David Autor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Gordon Hanson of the University of California, San Diego, and David Dorn of the University of Zurich looked at the American workers most exposed to competition from China. They got an unpleasant surprise. Instead of finding jobs in newer, growing industries, as economic theory dictated, Americans thrown out of work by the “China shock” bounced from job to job and suffered a drop in lifetime pay. China’s rise has “challenged much of the received empirical wisdom about how labor markets adjust to trade shocks,” they concluded.
WHERE THEY STAND
Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton oppose the trade agreements that are a hallmark of U.S. economic policy. Clinton has broken with President Barack Obama by opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an agreement that Obama’s administration hammered out with 11 Pacific Rim countries (excluding China) and that awaits congressional approval. Awkwardly for Clinton, she had called the agreement the “gold standard” for trade deals when she was Obama’s secretary of state.
Trump vows to tear up existing trade deals, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada, and to slap huge tariffs on Chinese imports. He traces America’s economic problems to bad trade deals reached by clueless U.S. negotiators outfoxed by craftier foreigners. The author of “The Art of the Deal” says he can do better.
WHY IT MATTERS
Foreign competition is one reason America has lost 3.4 million factory jobs since China joined the World Trade Organization and became a bigger part of global trade in 2001. It’s also partly responsible for stagnant American wages. Adjusting for inflation, U.S. households earn less than they did in 1997.
But trade isn’t the only culprit: Technology allows factories to cut jobs and still increase production.
Despite the campaign rhetoric, trade deals have far less impact on jobs than forces such as automation and wage differences between countries. The controversial Pacific deal, for instance, probably would have a negligible impact on American employment, the International Trade Commission concluded.
Trump’s plans to impose punitive tariffs would risk setting off a trade war and driving up prices for American consumers. Pulling back from trade agreements could also reduce America’s diplomatic influence. The Pacific agreement, for instance, is aimed partly at countering China’s clout in Asia.
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After years of talks and a 52-year civil war, the Colombian government and FARC rebel group announced they have reached agreement on all terms of a peace deal.
The announcement of the final deal came from negotiators in Havana, Cuba, on Wednesday evening, and was greeted with cheers across Colombia’s capital Bogota and elsewhere.
“The war is over,” said Humberto de la Calle, the Colombian government’s top negotiator, quoted the Washington Post.
“We have finished fighting with weapons and will now do battle with ideas,” said the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia’s (FARC) lead negotiator, Ivan Marquez.
“The United States strongly supports this accord that can achieve a just and lasting peace for all Colombians,” said U.S. Secretary John Kerry in a statement.
More than 220,000 have died in the fighting between the government and Marxist rebels over five decades. The rebels will agree to lay down their arms, but many say they must be punished for their crimes of the past. The agreement includes special peace tribunals to handle war crimes cases and amnesty for those who committed lesser crimes.
Alan Jara, who was a former captive of the rebels, said forgiveness must come before lasting peace and progress. “Not to forgive would keep me captive and not allow me to get rid of the anger and move on,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “For peace to exist, Colombians have no option but to forgive.”
The public will vote on the peace deal on Oct. 2.
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is launching a fresh bid to enlist Russia as a partner in Syria despite more than a month of dashed hopes as the situation on the ground becomes more volatile and uncertain with the introduction of Turkish ground forces.
As the military picture grows more chaotic and complicated by the day, Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov later this week to try to hammer out a diplomatic initiative that would see greater cooperation that could lead to a resumption in talks on a political transition.
Before talks can begin, though, U.S. officials say it is imperative that Russia use its influence with Syrian President Bashar Assad to halt attacks on moderate opposition forces, open humanitarian aid corridors, and concentrate any offensive action on the Islamic State group and other extremists not covered by what has become a largely ignored truce.
Those goals are not new, but recent developments have made achieving them even more urgent and important, according to U.S. officials. Recent developments include military operations around the city of Aleppo, the entry of Turkey into the ground war, Turkish hostility toward U.S.-backed Kurdish rebel groups and the presence of American military advisers in widening conflict zones.
Expectations are low, however, particularly given how efforts to forge a new U.S.-Russia understanding have fallen short virtually every month for the past five years. At the same time, the administration is not of one mind regarding the Russians. The Pentagon has publicly complained about getting drawn into greater cooperation with Russia even though it has been forced recently to expand communication with Moscow. Just last week the U.S. had to call for Russian help when Syrian warplanes struck in an area not far from where U.S. troops were operating on the ground.
As the administration continues to pursue a strategy of partnering with a hodgepodge of local fighters against the Islamic State group without getting pulled deeper into Syria’s civil war or rupturing relations with Turkey, Kerry will meet Lavrov in Geneva on Friday. He will press Russia for help on re-establishing the fractured nationwide truce with a focus on Aleppo and bringing food, medicine and other supplies into besieged communities.
“We want to be very measured in our expectations as we go forward into this meeting, but we believe the meeting is worth having,” State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said Wednesday.
Yet, the only tangible indication that the meeting is worth having seems to be that it has been scheduled. “The fact that we’ve scheduled a meeting is a good sign,” Trudeau said. “We’ll see what happens.”
Kerry and Lavrov will be meeting just days after Turkish forces allied with Syrian Arab rebels and backed by U.S. air power pushed into Syria to retake Jarablus, a border town held by Islamic State militants, which has the potential to further muddle an already confusing picture on the ground.
This move is significant as it marks NATO member Turkey’s most overt incursion into Syria. But it also puts Turkey on a path toward potential confrontation with Kurdish fighters in Syria who the United States is supporting in their fight against the Islamic State group and have been the most effective force battling IS militants in northern Syria.
The Turks are adamant that the Kurds not advance as they have a long-running fight with Kurdish insurgents on their side of the border.
And Russia is not on board. The Foreign Ministry in Moscow issued a statement expressing deep concern about Turkey’s ground incursion, saying it raises the risk of civilian casualties and the worsening of ethnic tensions between Kurds and Arabs.
AP national security writer Robert Burns contributed to this report.
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PARIS — France’s highest administrative authority is studying whether local bans on full-body burkini swimsuits are legal, amid growing concerns in the country and abroad about police forcing Muslim women to disrobe.
Images of uniformed police appearing to require a woman to take off her tunic, and media accounts of similar incidents, have elicited shock and anger online this week.
Some fear that burkini bans in several French towns, based on a strict application of French secularism policies, are worsening religious tensions. Divisions have emerged in President Francois Hollande’s government over the bans, and protests have been held in London and Berlin by those defending women’s right to wear what they want on the beach.
Critics of the local decrees have said the orders are too vague, prompting local police officials to fine even women wearing the traditional Islamic headscarf and the hijab, but not burkinis. The bans do not generally use the word “burkini” but forbid in a general way clothing that is ostentatiously religious.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on BFM television Thursday that burkinis represent the “enslavement of women” and reiterated support for the bans — but urged police to implement the bans fairly and respectfully.
Two human rights groups, arguing the bans are discriminatory, appealed to the Council of State.
The council held a hearing Thursday and is expected to issue a ruling on Friday. The ruling specifically concerns a ban in the Riviera town of Villeneuve-Loubet, but the decision will be binding and set a legal precedent on the increasingly heated question of whether cities can tell Muslim women what to wear on the beach.
The Human Rights League and the Collective Against Islamophobia in France say the Villeneuve-Loubet mayor’s decree violates basic freedoms of dress, religious expression and movement.
The president himself has remained cautious on the issue, which reflects a long-running debate about France’s century-old separation of church and state and its model of integrating immigrants from former colonies. Hollande said Thursday that life in society “presumes that each person conforms to the rules, and that there is neither provocation nor stigmatization.”
Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, a feminist with North African roots, said that while she doesn’t like the burkini swimsuit, bans of the garment are politically driven and unleashing racist sentiment. Health Minister Marisol Touraine took a similar stance.
“My dream of society is a society where women are free and proud of their bodies,” Vallaud-Belkacem said on Europe-1 radio. But with tensions in France high after a series of deadly Islamic extremist attacks, she said, “We shouldn’t add oil to the fire” by banning burkinis.
In London, about 30 demonstrators threw a “wear what you want” beach party outside the French Embassy on Thursday to protest the bans.
Whatever the reason behind the ban, it doesn’t justify “men with weapons standing over a woman telling her what not to wear. That’s not a sight that any of us should stand for,” said demonstrator Jenny Dawkins, 40, a curate at All Saints Church in Peckham.
The Villeneuve-Loubet order bars from local beaches anyone whose garments don’t respect the principles of secularism, health and safety rules and good moral standards.
The conservative mayor in Villeneuve-Loubet, Lionnel Luca, has said he wanted to foresee any disruption to public order in a region badly hurt by the deadly Bastille Day truck attack in nearby Nice last month. The two towns are only 15 kilometers (9 miles) apart.
On Monday, a lower court in Nice ruled that the Villeneuve-Loubet ban was “necessary, appropriate and proportionate.” The administrative court added that wearing “conspicuous” religious clothing on the beach may be seen as a “provocation” by some people and increase local tensions.
The Nice court also said that burkinis can be viewed as an “expression of an erasing” of women and “a lowering of their place which is not consistent with their status in a democratic society.”
Religious clothing is particularly sensitive in France, where an unusually large part of the population has no religious affiliation, and where the first provision in the constitution says France is a “secular Republic.”
Angela Charlton contributed to this report.
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WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton is ready to call out Donald Trump and his advisers for embracing a “disturbing alt-right” political philosophy that her campaign says presents “a divisive and dystopian view of America.”
She’ll try to make the case in a speech Thursday in Nevada.
Trump’s campaign counters that the GOP presidential nominee has never used the term “alt-right” and disavows “any groups or individuals associated with a message of hate.”
Since the term is new to many in the United States, here’s a look at its meaning, its origins, its adherents and how it intersects with the 2016 presidential campaign:
“Alt-right” is short for “alternative right,” to distinguish the movement from mainstream conservatism. There’s no one way to define its ideology, but it is often associated with efforts on the far right to preserve “white identity,” oppose multiculturalism and defend “Western values.” Adherents say those values are increasingly under attack with the rise of racial minorities in the U.S. and as the left pushes “political correctness.” Some adherents sometimes refer to themselves as “Europeanists” or “white nationalists,” rejecting the labels of racist and white supremacist. Some want to curb or block immigration to the U.S.; others would remove minorities from the country.
The Southern Poverty Law Center says the term “alt-right” was popularized in 2008 by Richard Spencer, head of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank. Spencer this week tweeted: “Identifying as #AltRight entails HUGE risk, as it’s a position explicitly forbidden by the system.” As word of plans for Clinton’s speech spread, he also tweeted: “We’ve made it. #AltRight.” The movement largely swirls in online message boards and websites, attracting mostly young people.
Paul Gottfried, a retired professor at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania who has written extensively about conservatism, wrote about the alternative right before the phrase was adopted and shortened by Spencer. Gottfried, who doesn’t consider himself alt-right, says it’s an amorphous group of people who disdain establishment conservatives, show “a willingness to be influenced by the European right” and believe American democracy has gone too far in an egalitarian direction.
“They’re still straining to become something more than a group of right-wing dissenters,” says Gottfried.
In a video on the National Policy Institute’s website, Spencer says white Americans need to “resist our dispossession,” claiming that a nation that is “for everyone” becomes one that is “for no one.” In an interview with The Associated Press at the Republican National Convention last month, Spencer advocated removing blacks, Hispanics and Jews from the U.S. He spoke admiringly of Trump, saying, “I don’t think people have fully recognized the degree to which he’s transformed the party.”
Kevin MacDonald, a former psychology professor at California State University Long Beach and an alt-right thinker, said in an interview this week that “white people in America are becoming a minority that is increasingly being victimized, and there’s a cost to multiculturalism and immigration.” Another alt-right adherent, Jared Taylor, founder of the “race-realist” American Renaissance online magazine, recently told Fox News Radio that “the melting pot ceases to work very well when you have to melt across racial lines.”
Gottfried says there are a lot of more moderate people in the movement as well.
Clinton’s campaign, in a preview of her Thursday speech, said Trump’s “alt-right brand” embraces extremism and “should concern all Americans, regardless of party.” Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, said in a statement that Trump’s hiring of Breitbart News CEO Steve Bannon and others represents an “alt-right shift” to the GOP fringe that “tells voters everything they need to know about Donald Trump himself.”
Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in a statement: “Mr. Trump has never used or condoned that term and continues to disavow any groups or individuals associated with a message of hate.”
Trump’s “America first” campaign pitch has attracted many on the alt-right, drawn in particular to his pledges to deport the estimated 11 million people living in the country illegally and to temporarily bar foreign Muslims from the U.S. Trump has since softened his tone, raising questions about whether he’ll backtrack on mass deportations. He’s also shifted away from talking about a Muslim ban to propose putting a hold on immigration from areas of the world with a history of terrorism against the U.S. and allies.
Trump also has retweeted a number of messages from Twitter users with questionable profiles, including one with the handle @WhiteGenocideTM.
Bannon, Trump’s new campaign chairman, last month told Mother Jones magazine that Breitbart was “the platform for the alt-right” but he insisted the movement wasn’t racist even if it has attracted some people who are.
Alt-righter MacDonald says many Trump positions “fit into our world view.” But he added that Trump isn’t alt-right and it would be unfair to “tar Trump by doing a guilt-by-association thing.”
The Republican Party and conservatives in general have been tying themselves in knots trying to figure out how to handle Trump and some of his more inflammatory statements and policies. The party did not respond to requests for comment on any Trump connection to the alt-right.
Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, faulted Clinton for trying to tie Trump to racists, calling it “a tired old tactic from the past” and comparing it to her claim decades ago that her husband was the target of a “vast right-wing conspiracy.”
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NEW YORK — Republican Donald Trump is courting minority voters as rival Hillary Clinton prepares to deliver a speech that will accuse his campaign of courting hate.
Trump met Thursday with members of a new Republican Party initiative meant to train young — and largely minority — volunteers to reach out to voters like them.
The meeting comes as Trump had been trying to win over blacks and Latinos in an effort to broaden his appeal in the November election. At rallies over the last week, the Republican presidential nominee has tried to paint Democratic policies as harmful to minority communities and urged them to give him a chance, despite his past inflammatory rhetoric. Polls show minorities overwhelmingly favoring Clinton.
“I’ve always had great relationships with the African-American community,” Trump told the group, which included his former rival Ben Carson and South Carolina Pastor Mark Burns.
A day after labeling Clinton “a bigot” at a Mississippi rally, Trump continued making the case that Democrats have taken their minority support for granted.
“They’ve been very disrespectful, as far as I’m concerned, to the African-American population in this country,” Trump said.
Many African- American leaders and voters have dismissed Trump’s message — delivered to predominantly white rally audiences — as condescending and more intended to reassure undecided white voters that he’s not racist than actually help communities of color.
In his speeches, Trump has painted a dismal picture of life for black Americans, describing war zones as “safer than living in some of our inner cities” and suggesting that African-Americans and Hispanics can’t walk down streets without getting shot.
But Trump insisted Thursday that his message had already “had a tremendous impact” on the polls.
“People are hearing the message,” he said.
Trump also said that he’ll give an immigration speech “over the next week or two” to clarify his wavering stance on the issue. During the Republican primary, Trump had promised to deport the estimated 11 million people living in the United States illegally. In recent days, he’s suggested he might be open to allowing them to stay.
Before the meeting, several protesters unfurled a banner over a railing in the lobby of Trump Tower that read, “Trump = Always Racist.” They were quickly escorted out by security as they railed against Trump for “trying to pander to black and Latino leaders.” ”Nothing will change,” they yelled.
Later Thursday, Clinton will deliver a speech in Reno, Nevada focused on attaching Trump to the so-called “alt-right” movement, which is often associated with efforts on the far right to preserve “white identity,” oppose multiculturalism and defend “Western values.” His new campaign CEO, Stephen Bannon, was the executive chairman of the conservative Breitbart News site, which is a favorite of alt-right supporters.
Clinton said Wednesday that Trump “is taking a hate movement mainstream. He’s brought it into his campaign.”
Speaking to CNN’s Anderson Cooper, she said: “He’s bringing it to our communities and our country, and someone who’s questioned the citizenship of the first African-American president, who has courted white supremacists, who’s been sued for housing discrimination against communities of color, who’s attacked a judge for his Mexican heritage and promised a mass deportation force is someone who is very much pedaling bigotry and prejudice and paranoia.”
Trump’s campaign says the Republican nominee has never used the term “alt-right” and disavows “any groups or individuals associated with a message of hate.”
At a Mississippi rally Wednesday, he escalated his pushback, calling Clinton “a bigot who sees people of color only as votes, not as human beings worthy of a better future.”
Jill Colvin reported from Washington.
The post Trump meets with minority leaders ahead of Clinton speech appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
At the beginning of August, pro-government forces attacked a maternity hospital in Idlib — a city in northwestern Syria. This attack represents just one of more than 375 strikes on medical facilities since the beginning of the revolution.
Over the last few weeks, PBS NewsHour special correspondent Marcia Biggs has been reporting on various aspects of the ongoing war in Syria. One of her reports focused on Syrian doctors who are being repeatedly targeted by airstrikes in their own medical facilities.
In Syria’s largest city of Aleppo, only 35 physicians remain to serve more than 300,000 people.
“Can you imagine, when you have more than 300,000 people in your city, and you have only two pediatricians, and you have lost one?” said Dr. Rami Kalazi, an Aleppo neurosurgeon who spoke with Biggs.
Why are these doctors being targeted? What does their loss mean for Syria and civilians in need? To talk more about this report, special correspondent Marcia Biggs (@) will join PBS NewsHour for a Twitter chat at 1 pm EDT on Friday. Also joining the chat will be Dr. Zaher Sahloul (@) of the Syrian American Medical Society and Widney Brown (@), director of programs for Physicians for Human Rights. Follow along via the hashtag #NewsHourChats.
The post Twitter Chat: Why are Syrian doctors being targeted by airstrikes? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Now a conversation with one of the biggest stars of this summer’s Olympics, gold-medal-winning swimmer Katie Ledecky, about what’s behind her success.
Margaret Warner sat down with her earlier today.
MARGARET WARNER: She’s been likened to a Lamborghini, to a hard-charging swimming machine.
Katie Ledecky, the freestyle phenom, won five medals in Rio, four gold, one silver. Also remarkable is her dominance in her sport. In this 800-meter race in Rio, for example, her closest competitor was nearly a pool-length away.
Ledecky’s Olympic debut came at age 15 in the 2012 London Games, when she defeated the favorite, a British gold medalist, to win the 800. Now 19, she repeatedly breaks world records, usually her own.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MARGARET WARNER: Ledecky is known not just for her relentless training, more than four hours a day, but for her friendliness, calm and modesty.
Amid the celebrations since her return to Washington, last night, she threw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals Game.
MAN: Oh, great pitch.
MARGARET WARNER: Now she’s taking an unusual path for such a proven winner, retain her amateur status, attend Stanford this fall, and pass for the moment on millions of dollars of endorsement deals.
We got together today at the pool where she competed in high school, Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, Maryland.
Katie Ledecky, welcome. Thank you for joining us.
KATIE LEDECKY, Olympic Gold Medalist: Thank you.
MARGARET WARNER: Or letting us join you at your old stomping ground here.
Something that struck me watching you swim, but also out of the pool, is just this joy you seem to radiate.
KATIE LEDECKY: I have always loved swimming. I started swimming when I was 6 years old for a summer league swim team. And they made it really fun right from day one. And I never really looked back.
I started swimming year-round, and did it with my family, with my friends, and just have gotten to meet so many great people through swimming.
MARGARET WARNER: And I was surprised to see that, in 2012, when you went to the Olympic training camp, they gave you some elite athlete tests just on your physical abilities. And it came back saying remarkably unremarkable.
MARGARET WARNER: What does that mean?
KATIE LEDECKY: I’m not ridiculously tall for swimmers. I don’t have very big hands. I don’t have very big feet, nothing really unusual.
I think it’s just been hard work that’s gotten me to where I am today. It wasn’t a lot of talent, really. It was more getting through the work and setting some big goals that has gotten me to this point.
MARGARET WARNER: Do you enjoy working hard?
KATIE LEDECKY: I do. And it’s fun when you get to do it with some of your best friends. And that’s what I have loved. I have just loved setting big goals and trying to reach towards them.
So, a couple of years ago, my coach, Bruce Gemmell, and I sat down and set some goals. And at the time, they seemed pretty big, but I reached them all in Rio, and that’s the best feeling.
MARGARET WARNER: And the goals are about not beating someone else, but about times.
KATIE LEDECKY: Right.
My goals for Rio were to go 3:56 or better in the 400 free, and I went 3:56, to go 8:05 or better in the 800 free, and I went 8:04. And then the third goal was to win the 200 free. And I did that. So, I matched all my goals.
And at the time, three years ago, those seemed pretty far out there.
MARGARET WARNER: To what degree are you competing with others vs. yourself?
KATIE LEDECKY: You are always racing against the other swimmers, but I always try to just focus on what I’m doing and how I want to swim my races.
MARGARET WARNER: Are you checking out what’s going on in the other lanes?
KATIE LEDECKY: I sometimes do.
And if I’m ahead, I can sometimes tell. It might mean I’m having a good swim, but pretty much, I’m just focused on how fast I’m going, how fast I’m feeling, and pretty much block everything out, the sounds, the sights, just kind of listen to the rhythm of the water, and just maintaining the same stroke, the same rhythm, the same tempo, and thinking about how I want to get my hand to the wall.
MARGARET WARNER: David Marsh, who is the coach of the whole U.S. team, Olympic team, said you had an intensity that he’d never seen in a distance athlete, and that you were fearless.
Another coach of yours said that, put you at the beginning of a race, and you’re like a bull in a stall waiting to get out.
Where does that come from?
KATIE LEDECKY: I don’t know.
I think I have always loved the competitiveness of swimming. And I have just had that outlet from since I was 6 years old. But I think it’s something that’s developed over time, too. As I have gotten faster and I have come down to some of the shorter races, the sprint events, I have always just tried to have that mind-set of attacking each race and really treating each race, no matter how long it is, as a true race.
MARGARET WARNER: And that’s why you don’t pace yourself, the way a lot of coaches would advise you to do?
KATIE LEDECKY: Right. Yes. I like to think of it more as racing than pacing.
MARGARET WARNER: A lot of top athletes, especially when they reach even near the pinnacle you have, talk about the pressure they feel, and that they feel anxiety to perform. Do you ever feel that?
KATIE LEDECKY: No, I don’t.
I always just focus on what my own goals are, and not what anybody else’s goals for me are or their expectations. I just know that my family will always be supporting me and my friends and my coaches. And as long as I put in the hard work and know that I’m giving it my best effort, I will always be happy.
MARGARET WARNER: There is a lot of comment about your swimming style, and that your coach at, what were you, at 12 or 13 changed your style, so that you could swim really more like Michael Phelps. It’s been called a half-gallop.
Explain that is and what advantage it gives you.
KATIE LEDECKY: Yes, it’s kind of a stroke we found is the most efficient for me. And it’s the fastest stroke for me. And I think it was just utilizing my strength to the best.
MARGARET WARNER: But what does it consist of?
KATIE LEDECKY: It’s just more of a loping stroke, and it’s using my kick more than most female distance swimmers use. So, I’m just kicking a lot more and getting a lot of power out of my hips and out of my stroke.
And I have a really good catch with my arms. And so it’s just kind of putting all those things together.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, you have always, recently, practiced with men. And one male athlete said that other male athletes were actually “broken” — quote, unquote — by having to swim against you.
How did you feel about that?
KATIE LEDECKY: I don’t really pay attention to it. I just — you know, when there is a swimmer next to me, I try to race that swimmer, no matter the gender.
And, you know, I try to give the guys a run. They need someone to push them, too. And it helps me, and hopefully it helps them as well.
MARGARET WARNER: There was also a lot of commentary during the Olympics about sexist comments they were seeing about female athletes. And one of the examples was the commentators who said Katie Ledecky swims like a man.
Did you found that sexist or offensive?
KATIE LEDECKY: Well, I think Rowdy Gaines actually said something like: Katie Ledecky doesn’t swim like a man. She swims like Katie Ledecky.
And that was a good comment. I swim the way I swim. And I take it as a compliment when somebody says I swim like a man, because, as you said, my stroke is kind of taken after what some of the male freestylers have done. But I’m just trying to go as fast as I can go.
MARGARET WARNER: So, now you’re onto Stanford, NCAA swimming. You’re not going professional. I have heard estimates from $5 million to $15 million you could be making a year.
Did you even consider that? What went into your decision not to go pro?
KATIE LEDECKY: No, I didn’t consider it at all, really.
I have always wanted to swim collegiately and have that experience. And I can’t wait to be a part of the Stanford team. And I can’t wait to just be swimming with them and going to class with them and enjoying that whole experience.
MARGARET WARNER: So, if a 6-year-old or 7-year-old or 8-year-old girl were watching you in the Rio Olympics and said to herself, I want to be the next Katie Ledecky, what advice would you give her?
KATIE LEDECKY: Yes, I would encourage her to set some big goals, because I never dreamed I would go to the Olympics when I was 6, 7 or 8 years old.
I just started setting goals. And all of a sudden, when I was 14 years old, my next goal was to make the Olympics. And I never imagined it. And I never imagined I would come away with medals and be able to travel the world and swim.
And it’s been such a great experience. And I hope that young girls will have that dream and will have experiences. And it might not be in swimming. It might be in something else. But I found a passion, and I love it. It’s something I love and something I enjoy. It’s something I’m good at. And it’s what I have been able to give 100 percent to.
MARGARET WARNER: Well, Katie, you’re certainly an inspiration to that young girl and all of us.
KATIE LEDECKY: Thanks.
MARGARET WARNER: Thank you so much.
KATIE LEDECKY: Thank you.
HARI SREENIVASAN: One Olympic postscript of a very different tone.
Late today, Brazilian police charged American swimmer Ryan Lochte with filing a false police report. Lochte said he and three teammates were robbed at gunpoint during the Rio Olympics. Brazilian police said no such crime took place. Investigators have asked that Lochte be deposed in the United States.