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

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Back in this country: It’s been quite a week for political news, with allegations of racism from both presidential candidates, and calls to disband the philanthropic behemoth that is the Clinton Foundation.

    As the country watches all of this unfold, we take the temperature of the race.

    Our Judy Woodruff sat down this week with a group of six voters in Northern Virginia, one of the few competitive states this election year.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s talk about the candidates.

    We have been through this pretty long, some would say tortured process of figuring out who the nominees were going to be, especially on the Republican side. We started out with a big field of candidates. It’s now winnowed down to Donald Trump.

    Alison, what do you think about Donald Trump?

    ALISON KATZMAN, Tax Preparer: Early on, like, I would say last August, I felt Trump was going to be the nominee.

    There was just something. He was drawing these crowds of ordinary citizens in. When he did his first Virginia rally in Richmond in October, I drove all the way down there to the Richmond International Raceway, and it was like a huge pep rally or a rah-rah revival. It got me involved in an emotional level in a way that none of the other candidacies, just listened to somebody on television, did.

    And I also very much liked the fact that he was a businessman.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Bill Lupinacci, have you said you voted Republican for a long time. So, what do you make of the argument that Donald Trump is somebody with business experience?

    BILL LUPINACCI, Small Business Owner: I have disavowed my association with the Republican Party for this election, because I find him morally repugnant.

    I have done business with his companies. They have bought our software. The word on the street is, get the money up front. Other people, other vendors of his say, get the money up front. So he pays us in credit cards when he has bought our software, his companies, not him personally.

    The things that he says in his rallies to try to incite violence, to inflame people is sickening to me. I won’t have anything to do with it anymore. So I’m having nothing to do with the Republican Party this year, as are many other Republicans, like George Will and President Bush and others, saying they’re not going to for him.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Marissa, what do you think? What is your take on Donald Trump?

    MARISSA BAPTISTA, Federal Contractor: So, I have three young children. I’m actually the PTA president of a school, an elementary school of about 800 kids.

    We have a sizable portion of English-language learners — we call them ELL — and then free and reduced lunch children, children who are from a lower socioeconomic status or group.

    And it angers me when people say, well, we’re wasting all these money on these children that are illegal. They’re children. They want to be educated. They come here for a better life. Like, how do we say, because you were not born here or because you were some type of anchor baby or just something that is derogatory along those lines, that you don’t also deserve the same opportunities as every child that’s born here?

    ALISON KATZMAN: If those children who are coming here illegally had been born in the home countries that they belong in, they wouldn’t be here anyway.

    Where do we draw the line? At some point, we’re getting inundated. And it’s costing such as where I grew up. I grew up in Appalachia. There’s poor children there that were part of the poor lunch, the free lunch program and needed Head Start. And they’re being ignored.

    It’s like, oh, bless the illegal immigrant children, illegal alien children. And we’re not taking it out on the children, but their parents are coming here, are plotting to bring them here with the idea that, oh, no, we’re not going to want to send them back.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me bring in Farah here.

    You have been hearing this conversation about immigrants, illegal immigrants and other immigrants, are hurting this country. What do you think, and as it connects to Donald Trump?

    FARAH IMAM, School Principal: There were things like — there were drugs, there were immigration problems, there was unemployment long before this perception of an immigrant wave.

    It’s been a long — it’s been around long time. It’s the history of our nation, the history of our great nation. And it’s kind of what has built us and brought us to where we are.

    And so I think, when we look at Trump or any other candidate, we need to think of how we can address those problems and not just say, we have to fight this and not do anything about it, essentially.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Corey, what about that? You have looked at him closely. You say you’re going to vote for him. What about that?

    COREY SOLIVAN, IT Contractor: Donald Trump is very well-educated.

    And a lot of his language that’s being spun into being divisive, I don’t think you will see these extreme policies come out of him. But what you will see is him using effective communication tactics that any effective leader does and utilizes to actually bring forward the issues, so that we can bring policy into legislation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Marissa, could that be an explanation, that he’s doing this to shock people and to get the conversation going, and that he’s not going to do this if he’s elected?

    MARISSA BAPTISTA: So, that he’s relying on theatrics and abusing people on Twitter.

    I mean, I work for a large corporation. The leaders in my corporation would never act the way in which he’s acting on such a large stage, with him potentially being the leader of our country. I mean, it just would never happen. So, I mean, I think…

    COREY SOLVAN: If you study, though, any effective communicator, leadership, self-development professional, they all use these tactics in interventions. They use these tactics in…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What kind of tactics are you referring to?

    COREY SOLIVAN: Powerful rhetoric, offensive rhetoric, things that get people’s attention and allow you to say, wait a minute, I have to think about this. What are my values? How do they affect the larger masses of people outside myself and inside my circle?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But let me — Tom, what about that tactic? Could this just be a tactic to get people talking?

    TOM SMITH, Retired Teacher: Yes, I mean, the tactic, I would call bullying.

    He’s really picking on people who are vulnerable. And the word repugnant was used to describe him. And I just — I don’t find any positive values in the guy. We talk about his business knowledge, $650 million in debt. He’s had how many bankruptcies? That’s not the way you run a successful business.

    I don’t know what’s going to happen in the end, but I certainly don’t want that leadership in the White House.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Alison.

    ALISON KATZMAN: OK.

    If you want the talk about divisiveness, I would point to the Obama administration, and hence Hillary as a subsequent administration. I didn’t vote for Obama in 2008, but I thought maybe it’s a good thing we have got an African-American president, and it will bring racial harmony, and, well, it’s time, and even though I didn’t care for him.

    But all he’s done is pretty much sneer and look down and feel like Americans who have been here for a long time, like myself and my family, are the enemy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I can see this is clearly an election that’s bringing up strong emotions and reactions.

    You’re now confronted with two choices, two main party choices, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

    And you have decided to vote for Clinton.

    MARISSA BAPTISTA: Absolutely, yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Why?

    MARISSA BAPTISTA: It was probably because I didn’t like Trump. I think if there were other Republican candidates that were maybe a little more moderate, then I could be swayed to vote the other side.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: To vote against Clinton.

    (CROSSTALK)

    MARISSA BAPTISTA: To vote Republican, which I have never done in the past.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What is it about Clinton? You sound hesitant?

    MARISSA BAPTISTA: It’s not necessarily that I’m hesitant. I think I just don’t know enough.

    I think we were talking about, you know, how much time have you spent just listening to sort of the rhetoric or just the information that is coming out on TV? I work. I have three young children.

    So, a lot of my information doesn’t come from the news. It comes from what I see on the Internet.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Tom, what about you, as you look at the choices?

    TOM SMITH: I feel like the economic mess that we’re a part of now goes way back, and both parties bear equal responsibility.

    The losers have been the lower half or the lower — at this point, maybe, 90 percent of Americans, but certainly the lower half. And I don’t think either of the choices right now are going to serve that lower half.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Clinton or Trump?

    TOM SMITH: Clinton or Trump.

    But, for me, the power of appointments is really critical for the future of the country, the Supreme Court, the attorney general, EPA, just down the line. Clinton, I have more confidence in who her appointees would be than I — than if Trump were president.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Farah, what about you?

    FARAH IMAM: I do tend to agree with Democratic Party when it comes to social policy.

    When I comes down to if I had to choose between Trump or Clinton, I’m conflicted. If I had to choose between only those two, then maybe I wouldn’t vote. But knowing that I had…

    (CROSSTALK)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Could you imagine yourself voting for Clinton?

    FARAH IMAM: Yes. Yes. It’s just difficult.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Why?

    FARAH IMAM: There is a lack of sincerity that I feel with her.

    And I know some people that I speak with are, like, oh, you’re just saying that because she’s a woman. But I’m a woman, too, so it’s not that. It’s, I don’t find her relatable. I don’t feel like she can, even though she’s a mother, she’s a working mother, she just — she has a hard time relating to a broader population.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to come back to you, Bill.

    You’re a traditional Republican. We wouldn’t expect you to support the Democrat. But did you even give her any thought in this election?

    BILL LUPINACCI: It’s a possibility. I doubt I’m going to vote for her. I seriously doubt.

    But vilifying her and making her into — as the right has done, into this caricature is just wrong. I’m more likely to vote for neither a Democrat or a Republican. I’m looking at both Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I’m struck that, in a state where Hillary Clinton is supposedly polling, I don’t know, 10 points ahead, that there is no one here who is enthusiastic for Hillary Clinton.

    Am I hearing you correctly?

    MARISSA BAPTISTA: Actually, now that I think about it, I think, because of her position within the Democratic Party, so she falls in lines with things that typical Democrats support, pro-choice, pro-immigration, stronger restriction on like gun laws, or tightening up those gun laws.

    So, I think she falls in line with the Democratic Party, the platform, so, in that, I would say that I would vigorously support her.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Would plan to vote for her?

    MARISSA BAPTISTA: Oh, absolutely, yes.

    TOM SMITH: And I will vote for her, for sure. I can’t imagine a country run by Trump.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to try to sum this all up by asking you all whether you think it’s possible for the country to come together, or are we just destined, at least for the next number of years, to be divided?

    Corey?

    COREY SOLVAN: I think, unfortunately, I think we’re looking at four more years of division.

    You would like to…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: No matter who is elected, you’re saying?

    COREY SOLIVAN: Yes. Yes.

    You would like to hope and wish for it to be different, but we have come so far apart, it’s going to take time to start healing and coming back to a middle ground on everyday issues that affect all of us.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Bill, what do you think? Can the country come together under these circumstances?

    BILL LUPINACCI: What I’m hoping for, what I think could be possibly the best for the country, is if these independents get enough vote, because people are so disgusted with both the Republicans and the Democrats, that these two independents, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, get enough votes that it puts the fear of God into them and saying, oh, maybe four years from now, a third party can win.

    It’s going to be almost impossible for them to win this year. But maybe it will scare them enough to say, one of these parties just might take it in four years because the country is fed up.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Does anybody see coming together, or do we just live with this division?

    FARAH IMAM: This nation was built on hope and perseverance and renewed chances.

    And I feel like, no matter what, we will find ways to come together again. We will find topics to come together again. I think we’re all kind of aching for it, no matter Republican, Democrat, independent. I think we all kind of need that, that moment of unity again, because we’re all kind of like, oh, my gosh, the ship is sinking. But — so that’s — so, I do have hope.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, we’re going to leave it there. We thank you all very much.

    There is a lot more we could talk about tonight. But this has really been a wonderful conversation and I thank you all very much.

    The post Six Virginia residents share their election perspectives — and voting plans appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A resident helps a firefighter to set down a crucifix from San Lorenzo e Flaviano church following an earthquake in San Lorenzo, central Italy, August 26, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi - RTX2N7EN

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Three days after a powerful earthquake hit central Italy, the death toll has climbed higher to 281. Rescue operations have been called off in some parts, as hopes of finding survivors fades.

    For an on-the-ground report, we turn to special correspondent Christopher Livesay in Amatrice. I spoke with him a short time ago.

    Christopher, thanks for joining us.

    The thing with earthquakes is, it’s not just one quake. What are the aftershocks you’re feeling?

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Well, everyone is on edge in the town of Amatrice, where I’m standing, but all over this region, they have been rippling throughout ever since the initial quake on Wednesday, all the way through just a few moments ago.

    But the biggest one happened at about 6:30 this morning. It reached 4.8 on the Richter scale and it sent structures around Amatrice toppling to the ground, ones that were still standing. In fact, the last time I spoke to you, you might recall a church that was standing behind me.

    We actually had to move to a different location because that church was deemed unstable and the bell tower could have toppled at any moment. That’s been the case for some roads leading into this town, also for a bridge that was a central pipeline.

    As I was trying to get back into the city, I couldn’t get past a certain road because they were demolishing a hospital that was on the brink of collapse. So that’s making the rescue effort very difficult, but rescuers, when you talk to them, they will tell you that, at this point, three days into their efforts, they’re really not counting on finding anyone alive.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: How significant is it, if that infrastructure starts to crumble or is deemed too unsafe to travel, that resources, like people, and goods and services are getting through those roads and bridges?

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Well, you would be surprised by the breadth of people who have come out to lend a hand. You hear accents from all over Italy, people from as far north of Milan and Venice, all the way to the tip of the toe of the Italian boot, shall we say.

    But some volunteers come from even further afield. I spoke to a group of Israeli volunteers who are lending help as trauma therapists today. But then another, even more surprising group of people I spoke to, 50 volunteers, all of them migrants from Africa, when I asked them why they were doing this, they said, look, we’re here to help. In the same way Italy helped us in our time of need, we want to help as well.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Given the scale of all the buildings that have collapsed, who is responsible for rebuilding or in some of the cases the newer buildings, making sure that they didn’t fall in this earthquake?

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Well, there is sort of a reckoning that is taking place right now, a lot of soul-searching and some finger-pointing.

    In fact, a couple of probes have been opened into some structures that toppled down that some people believe shouldn’t have. One in particular in the town of Accumoli, which is close to here, that church tower came tumbling to the ground. This was 10 years after an expensive restoration process took place on this church that should have made it earthquake-proof. That steeple that came crashing down killed a family of four people.

    And so now people are trying to find out who’s responsible for that or if it’s just Mother Nature. Another example was a school in this town that came crashing down. That was a public building that, again, should have been built up to code and should have been retrofitted.

    No matter how old these buildings are, the question is, can you make something earthquake-proof in a part of the country that’s seen seismic activity since time immemorial?

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Christopher Livesay joining us from Italy tonight, thanks so much.

    The post In time of grief and need, devastated Italian towns receive global support appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A Syrian army soldier stands at the entrance of the besieged Damascus suburb of Daraya, before the start of evacuation of residents and insurgents of Daraya, Syria August 26, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki - RTX2N47A

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    HARI SREENIVASAN:  The U.S. and Russia neared an agreement today that aims to reduce hostilities in Syria.  Word of the progress came after an hours-long meeting in Geneva between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.  Kerry said the deal, if completed, will make the possibility of a lasting truce more likely.  But he conceded there was more work to be done.

    JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State:  In the next days, our experts will be meeting here in Geneva to conclude the few remaining technical issues and to move forward in order to take the steps necessary to build the confidence to overcome the deep mistrust that does exist on all sides.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  An earlier cessation of hostilities failed after numerous regime and rebel violations.

    Meanwhile, in Syria, one of the war’s longest stand-offs drew closer to ending.  Hundreds of residents and fighters were allowed to evacuate the Damascus suburb of Daraya, which has been under government siege since 2012.  Secretary Kerry accused the Syrian army of forcing them to surrender.

    A suicide truck bombing in Southeast Turkey killed at least 11 police officers today.  Another 78 people were wounded.  It happened at a checkpoint just steps from a police station near the Syrian border.  Kurdish militants claimed responsibility.  It’s the latest in a string of attacks targeting the country’s police and military.

    The Philippine government has agreed to an indefinite cease-fire with communist rebels.  It’s aimed at ending one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies, a conflict that’s killed at least 40,000 people since the 1960s.  The deal was the culmination of peace talks in Oslo, Norway.  It includes a timetable for discussions about political, economic and constitutional reforms.

    A government representative hailed the agreement.

    JESUS DUREZA, Presidential Peace Advisor, Philippines:  This is an historic and unprecedented event.  Many of us have been here doing this before, but I think we’re looking at a very opportune opportunity that we can finish off what we have started a long time ago.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  Representatives from both sides agreed to return to Oslo in October for further negotiations.

    France’s top administrative court overturned a controversial ban on the so-called burkini in one resort town today.  The body-covering swimsuit worn by Muslim women has sparked a fierce debate in France.

    Martin Geissler of Independent Television News has our report from Paris.

    MARTIN GEISSLER:  These were the pictures that divided France and shocked the world beyond, a Muslim woman forced by a group of armed policemen to remove her clothing on a public beach.

    The burkini was banned by more than a dozen French towns for being overtly religious.  The law had wide public support, but activists from one town took it to the highest court in Paris today.  Judges ruled it should be suspended.

    PATRICE SPINOSI, Human Rights Lawyer:  It’s against the civil freedom of religion, and now the decision of the Conseil d’Etat is final.

    MARTIN GEISSLER:  As absurd as this all may seem, it’s important to remember the context.  France has suffered a series of terror attacks over recent months, and the country feels embattled and angry.

    NICOLAS SARKOZY, Former President, France (through translator):  I support without any hesitation the mayors who have banned the burkini to preserve public order.  I ask for a law forbidding it on the entire territory of the republic.

    MARTIN GEISSLER:  There was little sign of stress at the manmade beach on the banks of the sand today, Parisians enjoying some late summer sunshine, no burkinis to be seen.  But that didn’t stop the debate.

    “We have been victims of terror in this country,” he says, “and the burkini is a clear symbol of Islam.  That’s why it offends people.”

    WOMAN:  We live in a free country, so they do what they want.  If they want to wear something like this, it’s not…

    MAN:  It’s no problem.

    WOMAN:  Yes.

    MARTIN GEISSLER:  These are extreme times in France, and many here believe they require extreme measures.  But the republic’s great founding values, freedom, equality and brotherhood, are being tested now like never before.

    As this country debates the best way forward, it’s being forced to ask some difficult questions of itself.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  The human rights lawyer fighting the ban said that while today’s ruling applied to only one town, it should set a legal precedent throughout the country.

    Back in this country, the Food and Drug Administration wants all U.S. blood banks to start screening for the Zika virus.  That requirement had previously been limited to areas with active Zika transmission like Puerto Rico and parts of Florida.  Last month, the FDA ordered facilities in Miami and Fort Lauderdale to stop taking blood donations until Zika screening could begin.

    Republican Donald Trump’s campaign is taking fresh heat over its new CEO, Steve Bannon.  The Guardian reported Bannon registered to vote in the swing state of Florida using the address of a vacant home, a move that would violate election laws.  A Trump spokesman insisted he’s moved elsewhere in Florida.

    Meanwhile, various news outlets revealed Bannon was charged with domestic violence in 1996.  He allegedly grabbed his then-wife’s neck and wrist.  The case was dismissed when she didn’t testify.

    We will have more on the campaign later in the program.

    The federal government will give Amtrak a nearly $2.5 billion loan, the largest in the history of the Transportation Department.  It will be used for improvements on the busy Northeast Corridor, which goes from D.C., through New York, to Boston.  Amtrak will buy new trains, upgrade tracks, and improve platforms.

    President Obama created the world’s largest marine protected area today.  The Marine National Monument is located off the coast of his native Hawaii.  It will now quadruple in size, to span nearly 600,000 square miles.  The sanctuary will protect more than 7,000 different species, including sea turtles and whales.

    White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained why the president felt it was time to act.

    JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary:  There is a role for Congress to play in terms of setting aside certain territory, lands and waters in the United States for future preservation.  But we haven’t seen a lot of congressional activity of any sort really over the last few years.  And it has turned the president’s attention to more robust use of executive action.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  Hawaii’s National Marine Monument was originally created a decade ago, under President George W. Bush.

    Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the case for raising U.S. interest rates has gotten stronger in recent months.  She spoke at an international gathering of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  But Yellen gave no indication of when the Fed might raise rates.

    That led to choppy trading on Wall Street today.  The Dow Jones industrial average lost 53 points to close above 18396.  The Nasdaq rose six.  The S&P 500 fell three.  For the week, all three indexes lost a fraction of a percent.

    The post News Wrap: Siege near Damascus to end after 4 years; suicide bomb kills 11 in Turkey appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at Futuramic Tool & Engineering in Warren, Michigan August 11, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane - RTSMQP2

    U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at Futuramic Tool & Engineering in Warren, Michigan August 11, 2016. Photo by Chris Keane/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Seven months after a federal judge ordered the State Department to begin releasing monthly batches of the detailed daily schedules showing meetings by Hillary Clinton during her time as secretary of state, the government told The Associated Press it won’t finish the job before Election Day.

    The department has so far released about half of the schedules. Its lawyers said in a phone conference with the AP’s lawyers that the department now expects to release the last of the detailed schedules around Dec. 30, weeks before the next president is inaugurated.

    The AP’s lawyers late Friday formally asked the State Department to hasten that effort so that the department could provide all Clinton’s minute-by-minute schedules by Oct. 15. The agency did not immediately respond.

    The schedules drew new attention this week after the AP analyzed the ones released so far. The news agency found that more than half the people outside the government who met or spoke by telephone with Clinton while she was secretary of state had given money — either personally or through companies or groups — to the Clinton Foundation. The AP’s analysis focused on people with private interests and excluded her meetings or calls with U.S. federal employees or foreign government representatives.

    The AP’s reporting was based on official calendars covering Clinton’s entire term plus the more-detailed daily schedules covering roughly half her time as secretary of state. The AP first asked for Clinton’s calendars in 2010 and again in 2013. It then sued the State Department in federal court to obtain the detailed schedules, and the department so far has provided about half of them under court order.

    Clinton has said the AP’s analysis was flawed because it did not account fully for all meetings and phone calls during her entire term as secretary. She also said the analysis should have included meetings with federal employees and foreign diplomats. The AP said it focused on her meetings with outsiders because those were more discretionary, as Clinton would normally meet with federal officials and foreign officials as part of her job.

    [Watch Video]

    Clinton said she met with people outside government regardless of whether they gave money or charitable commitments to her family’s charity.

    “These are people I would be proud to meet with, as any secretary of state would have been proud to meet with, to hear about their work and their insights,” Clinton said this week on CNN.

    With the foundation drawing continued attention, Clinton promised Friday to put in place additional safeguards to prevent conflicts of interest with the charity should she win the White House.

    The foundation issue, along with continued focus on her use of a private email server, has dogged Clinton politically throughout the week, drawing strong criticism from opponent Donald Trump.

    Trump spokesman Jason Miller released a statement Friday night saying: “It is unacceptable that the State Department is now refusing to release her official schedule before the election in full. Voters deserve to know the truth before they cast their ballots.”

    Former President Bill Clinton said last week that if she is elected president, the foundation will no longer accept foreign or corporate donations.

    The State Department is now estimating there are about 2,700 pages of schedules left. Under its process, it is reviewing and censoring them page-by-page to remove personal details such as private phone numbers or email addresses. In some cases it has censored names of people who met privately with Clinton or the subjects they discussed.

    A State Department spokeswoman, Elizabeth Trudeau, declined to discuss the ongoing case and noted the agency is struggling with thousands of public records requests.

    In court, the AP in December had asked U.S. District Judge Richard Leon to order the State Department to produce specific percentages of the remaining schedules every 30 days under a formula so that all would be released before the presidential primary elections were complete.

    Instead, because the State Department said it did not know how many pages were left, Leon ordered it in January to release at least 600 pages of schedules every 30 days. Each 600-page group covers about three months of Clinton’s tenure.

    Under the present rate, a government attorney working on behalf of the State Department notified the AP’s lawyers, it will take about four and one-half months — or until Dec. 30 — to release all the remaining schedules through the end of Clinton’s term, in February 2013. The government’s notice late Thursday was the first time the State Department has provided the AP with a measure of how many pages were remaining and when it expected to complete the job.

    It was unclear whether the judge will reconsider his earlier decision and order faster results. In the AP’s lawsuit over other Clinton-related files, Leon has said it would be “ridiculous” to allow the State Department to delay until even weeks before the election. He also cited “mounting frustration that this is a project where the State Department may be running out the clock.”

    The post Clinton’s past schedules won’t be released until after election appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    An aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carries the Zika virus is seen at a laboratory of the National Center for the Control of Tropical Diseases (CENCET) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Photo by Stringer /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    An aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carries the Zika virus is seen at a laboratory of the National Center for the Control of Tropical Diseases (CENCET) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Photo by Stringer /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    Most people in Florida — the first US state to experience local spread of the Zika virus — favor the use of genetically modified mosquitoes to combat spread of the virus, a new poll suggests.

    In fact, use of this technique to try to halt Zika’s spread has more support in Florida than in other states, the poll conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found.

    Earlier this month the Food and Drug Administration gave its blessing to proposed field trials of GM mosquitoes in Florida. But final approval rests with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District. It plans to hold a nonbinding referendum of residents in November to help it decide whether to proceed with the field trial.

    The latest data, released Friday, suggests 60 percent of Floridians support the use of specially adapted male mosquitoes, which sire offspring that die young, to fight Zika — 40 percent “strongly” favoring it and another 20 percent “somewhat” favoring it. Only 19 percent strongly oppose the idea.

    Elsewhere in the US, about half of people support this approach.

    The Annenberg Public Policy Center, part of the University of Pennsylvania, conducts a weekly poll — the Annenberg Science Knowledge survey — to gauge public knowledge on a range of issues. Since it began in February, the survey has tracked public understanding of the Zika virus outbreak.

    Florida has reported 42 cases of Zika infection among people who were infected in the state; at least two people from out of state have been infected there as well. Two areas — the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami and a section of Miami Beach — have been determined to have ongoing transmission of Zika.

    [Watch Video]

    The poll also found Floridians and people in other parts of the US generally approve of “special spraying from the air” to eliminate mosquitoes that carry Zika — even though mosquito experts have suggested this approach won’t work for Aedes aegypti, the mosquitoes that spread the virus.

    Aedes aegypti often live inside homes, putting them out of reach of chemicals released in aerial spraying.

    The poll found Floridians were twice as likely than people elsewhere to have taken steps recently to protect themselves from contracting Zika. Still, only 40 percent of people from Florida reported taking steps like removing standing water from outside their homes, wearing long-sleeved clothing, or using insect repellant.

    The phone survey was conducted between Aug. 18 and Aug. 22. A total of 1,472 adults were surveyed, with an over-sampling of 509 respondents from Florida.

    The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.5 percentage points for the responses from Floridians, and plus or minus 3.7 percentage points for non-Florida respondents.

    This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on Aug. 26, 2016. Find the original story here.

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    Donald Trump surrounded by members of Atlanta's black clergy speaks at a news conference before a rally in Norcross, Georgia in October 2015. Photo by Tami Chappell/Reuters

    Donald Trump surrounded by members of Atlanta’s black clergy speaks at a news conference before a rally in Norcross, Georgia in October 2015. Photo by Tami Chappell/Reuters

    LAS VEGAS — Russ Wheeler bears the financial scars of Nevada’s lost decade, and he hopes Donald Trump can heal them.

    He worked for a Las Vegas roofing company when the real estate bust crushed the state’s economy. He took two pay cuts before getting laid off. He had to commute into the California desert to find work after that.

    Wheeler considers himself one of the lucky ones. He was able to build up enough savings to retire, but even now his wife had her teaching hours reduced at a community college, dramatically reducing their household’s income.

    “It’ll be better with Trump because he’ll bring the jobs back,” Wheeler, 66, said as he stopped by a Republican Party office to scoop up some “Make America Great Again” yard signs and bumper stickers. “Everybody I know is a Trump supporter. He resonates well in Nevada.”

    Nevada is the most diverse battleground state. On paper, it should be secure for Democrats. But there are enough people like Wheeler, still rattled by the recession and frustrated about other things, to make it one of Trump’s best swing states.

    Democrats and Republicans agree that the state’s competitiveness is not just a quirk of public polling, which has a spotty track record in Nevada, but is reflected in private surveys, the tightness of Nevada’s races for the U.S. Senate and House, and the observations of seasoned political operatives.

    “Nevada’s a picture of where the country’s at,” said Yvanna Cancela, political director of the Culinary Union, which represents nearly 60,000, mostly immigrant workers in casinos and hotels on the Strip. “It’s increasingly diverse but the ideas of nationalism, open borders are very much at play here.”

    The economy has recovered since the recession. The unemployment rate is down to 6.5 percent from 13.7 percent in 2010. While home prices have doubled since 2012, they are well below their 2007 peak, and many Las Vegas residents live in subdivisions dotted with still-unoccupied houses.

    Nevada also has one of the lowest rates of college education in the country, with only 23 percent of its population having graduated college, giving Trump a reservoir of noncollege graduates that traditionally form his base. And the state’s anti-establishment streak and rebellious culture may prove a good fit for the brash New York developer and reality show star.

    “In Nevada, we have this mindset of it’s us versus the world,” said Charles Munoz, Trump’s state director. “It’s the perfect storm of policy and messaging.”

    The stakes in Nevada go beyond the state’s six electoral votes in the presidential election. The race for retiring Democratic Sen. Harry Reid’s seat pits his hand-picked successor, former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, against U.S. Rep. Joe Heck. Two of the state’s four U.S. House seats are also in play.

    The state has become a presidential bellwether, voting for the winning candidate in every election since 1980. But its partisan divides have hardened as an influx of immigrants has helped fuel Las Vegas’ boom and pull political power from the more rural and conservative northern part of the state.

    “When I first moved here in 1974, you could barely tell the Republicans and the Democrats apart,” said Donna West, 59, who was working a phone bank for Clinton one recent night. “Now there are huge differences.”

    Those differences provide Clinton with plenty of advantages in the state.

    Democrats have a formidable Nevada ground game, with 70,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans to date. It’s a gap similar to that in 2012, when President Barack Obama won the state by 6 percentage points. Clinton has targeted the state for more than a year, announcing her immigration policy there in 2015 to appeal to Nevada’s growing numbers of Latinos and Asian-Americans. The state is 51 percent white, though whites comprised two-thirds of the 2012 electorate, according to census data.

    “We know that we have the votes, we just have to turn them out,” said Clinton state director Jorge Neri, who has a view of Trump’s Las Vegas hotel from his office in the Clinton campaign’s headquarters.

    That hotel, rising just off the Strip and surrounded by a sea of stucco, Asian markets and adult video stores, has been engaged in a battle with the Culinary Union, which organized more than 500 of its workers. The hotel refused to recognize the union until the National Labor Relations Board forced it to do so in April. Now the union complains the hotel won’t negotiate a contract and has sent housekeepers and bartenders there to picket Trump rallies nationwide.

    Democrats think the union battle can convince Nevadans that Trump’s populism is phony and he actually hurts workers. “For some people in the country it may seem like a distant thing, but this is in our backyard,” Neri said.

    The Trump campaign sees the hotel as a net positive. “Trump has invested in this state while Hillary Clinton hasn’t,” Munoz said.

    On Friday, Trump met at the hotel with about two dozen Latino supporters, Republican leaders and campaign staffers, and asserted: “People don’t know how well we’re doing with the Hispanics, the Latinos. We’re doing really well.”

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    Nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults have used at least one shared or on-demand service, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center. Photo by Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

    Nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults have used at least one shared or on-demand service, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center. Photo by Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    Carpooling is at a new low — just 9 percent of people share their ride to work with others, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But carpooling services offered by popular internet ride-hailing services, such as Uber and Lyft, may have the potential to change that.

    “Most efforts at increasing carpooling in the past have been on the public side of things,” said David Schrank, a Texas A&M researcher who studies traffic congestion. “Now, more so than ever, is the private sector getting involved. There’s potential for the private sector to expedite that process because they see income to be generated.”

    If private ride-hailing services are successful in getting people to carpool in greater numbers, traffic congestion could be eased and greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced. But getting people into the habit of sharing rides — especially to and from work — could be a challenge. Recent trends are running against it.

    The share of commuters who carpool has been falling since the Census Bureau began tracking numbers in 1980, despite city and state efforts to encourage carpooling by introducing more high-occupancy lanes that give preference to cars with two or more passengers. Twenty percent of commuters carpooled to work in 1980. That number plummeted to 13 percent in 1990. It has trailed off since 2000, from 12 to 9 percent.

    Meanwhile, congestion has worsened. A record number of cars now are on the road. The number of hours Americans lose to traffic delays hit nearly 7 billion last year — more than three times the amount lost in 1982, according to researchers at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. The amount of wasted fuel resulting from stalled traffic rose to 3.1 billion gallons from 500 million gallons in the same period.

    Although greenhouse gas emissions had been dropping in the U.S. since 2005, they rose 1 percent from 2013 to 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calculated.

    Academics who have studied the decline in carpooling point to many reasons for it, including far-flung workplaces, busier lifestyles and even a recent drop in gas prices. But some say that the new mobile ride-hailing apps have the potential to provide the flexibility that can revive carpooling.

    [Watch Video]

    “Driving in your car alone is so inexpensive and convenient it’s not worth the hassle of an inflexible schedule,” said Paul Lewis with the Eno Center for Transportation, a nonprofit focused on mobility, safety and sustainability. “People aren’t just going to work and then going home.”

    “On the flip side, new technology applications are starting to change that equilibrium. They’re making haphazard commutes easier by allowing you to schedule trips on the fly. That last-minute convenience is what consumers are demanding right now.”

    The Gender Gap in Schlepping

    The share of commuters driving alone to work is 76 percent, up from 64 percent in 1980 — the rate has remained about the same since 2000. And people are driving more miles. Americans drove 3 percent more in the first half of this year than the year before.

    The change in the nature of work is a major reason behind this, said Alan Pisarski, an expert on commuting and the author of the “Commuting in America” report. “You just don’t have as many people working in manufacturing, with 3,000 people working in a large facility where the whistle blows and then everyone goes home. People in dispersed housing are working for dispersed organizations.”

    People’s schedules are also changing. Employers are providing more flexible schedules, which allow people to come and go at different times. And people are changing how they use their commutes.

    It’s what people who study commutes call “trip-chaining.” A trip to work is really a trip to day care, then to the bank, and then to work. Tacking on errands makes it difficult to coordinate carpooling.

    The errands often fall on women. Brian Taylor, a professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles, calls this “the gender gap in schlepping.”

    In a 2015 study in Social Science Quarterly, he found that, in couples with children, women make twice as many trips related to caring for children as their partners.

    “People tend to drive every day because they want the flexibility of deciding when they make that non-work stop,” said Chandra Bhat, a professor of transportation engineering at the University of Texas at Austin who studies commuter behavior. “They want to make that decision on the fly.”

    Reversing the Trend

    Reversing the slide in carpooling to and from work is a big challenge, but Uber and Lyft have shown success in getting people to share rides.

    Uber’s pooling trips, which it started in 2014, comprise about 20 percent of its trips worldwide. When people open the app they can choose between a regular ride and a cheaper one that stops to pick up other riders. But the carpool option is only available in 13 major cities, such as Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Seattle and Washington, D.C. Lyft launched its carpooling service on a similar timeline and offers it in many of the same cities.

    In Uber’s case, the company saw pooling as a way to make money, but quickly realized the environmental benefits.

    “We initially started Uber pool as a business bet,” said Kaitlin Durkosh, a company spokeswoman. Riders get to split the cost of their trip while drivers have less idle time between picking up passengers.

    Uber estimates that, worldwide, in the first three months of this year, its carpooling service has eliminated 21 million miles of travel, 400,000 gallons of gas and 3,800 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

    What’s not clear, however, is how many people are using the companies’ carpooling services to commute to and from work — where big dents can be made in traffic congestion, gas and emissions.

    Uber and Lyft have launched a commuting service trial feature on their apps designed to match people already driving to work with a passenger looking to carpool. Uber’s commuting option in Chicago is still underway. But Lyft recently stopped its commuting program in San Francisco. That’s not because there was a lack of demand, said Lyft spokesman Tim Rathschmidt. There just weren’t enough drivers.

    Uber also is looking at offering driverless rides and carpools. The company will soon test driverless cars in Pittsburgh.

    Other new mobile apps also are aimed specifically at carpooling.

    RideFlag, which launched in May, matches Miami-area drivers with passengers who want to carpool. Drivers set the price they would like to receive from passengers, but RideFlag sets an upper limit so drivers cannot profit.

    “We use similar technology as Uber, but for a completely different purpose,” said RideFlag CEO Mike Papineau. Uber pool pays a driver to shepherd riders around. RideFlag pairs riders with drivers who are already on the road.

    Paul Mackie with Mobility Lab, which advocates for sustainable transportation, said the ride-hailing services have started to change attitudes about carpooling by having gotten people “to get out of the mind frame that you have to drive alone.”

    Carpooling to and from work may not become a daily habit for many people, said Steven Polzin of the Center for Urban Transportation Research, at the University of South Florida. But the flexibility the apps offer could persuade commuters to do it on days when don’t have errands to run, he said.

    To really turn around the decline in carpooling, many more people would have to start using ride-hailing apps. Eighty-five percent of people have never used Uber or Lyft, according to a Pew Research Center survey. (The Pew Charitable Trusts funds both the Pew Research Center and Stateline.)

    “There’s a lot of excitement” about ride-hailing, Eno’s Lewis said, “but in order for it to become mainstream, many more people will have to be using it.”

    This story was produced by Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

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    Giovanni D'Ercole, bishop of Ascoli Piceno, spreads incense during a funeral service for victims of the earthquake inside a gym, Italy August 27, 2016. REUTERS/Adamo Di Loreto FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. - RTX2N91Z

    Giovanni D’Ercole, bishop of Ascoli Piceno, spreads incense during a funeral service for victims of the earthquake inside a gym, Italy August 27, 2016. Photo by Adamo Di Loreto/Reuters

    Italy held a day of mourning on Saturday as the search continued for survivors of a devastating earthquake in central Italy that killed at least 291 people this week.

    Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Premier Matteo Renzi joined family members at a state funeral in Ascoli Piceno at a community gym filled with 35 caskets, including two for children. The local bishop recounted the story of two sisters who were buried in rubble just yards from a church – the younger survived because the older one shielded her, according to the Associated Press.

    “The older one, Giulia, was sprawled over the smaller one, Giorgia.” Bishop Giovanni D’Ercole said. “Giulia, dead, Giorgia, alive. They were in an embrace.”

    No one has been fond alive since Wednesday, though the death toll continues to rise. Giulia’s small coffin was at the center of the gym.

    A man is helped by Red Cross members during a funeral service for victims of the earthquake inside a gym in Ascoli Piceno, Italy August 27, 2016. REUTERS/Adamo Di Loreto FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. - RTX2N90Y

    A man is helped by Red Cross members during a funeral service for victims of the earthquake inside a gym in Ascoli Piceno, Italy August 27, 2016. Photo by Adamo Di Loreto/Reuters

    The 6.2-magnitude quake ravaged central Italy before dawn on Wednesday morning, demolishing three main towns in central Italy. Ascoli Piceno is a main city close to them, and Saturday’s funeral was mostly for people from Arquata del Tronto, about 16 miles southwest.

    Firefighters and rescuers work following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy August 27, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca - RTX2N8HV

    Firefighters and rescuers work following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy August 27, 2016. Photo by Ciro De Luca/Reuters

    Saturday was supposed to be a day of celebration in Amatrice, the hilltop town that was hit the worst. The death toll there has reached more than 200, in part because a rush of visitors for the city’s 50th annual festival of “pasta all’amatriciana,” Amatrice’s famous dish, doubled its size from 2,000 to 4,000.

    Mattarella stopped there in the morning to meet with the mayor and thank rescue workers who were still trying to find people in the rubble.

    In support of Amatrice, people in the U.S. have been eating pasta all’amatriciana.

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

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

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    A federal judge has blocked the University of North Carolina from enforcing part of the state’s recent law that limits bathroom use by transgender people, adding that the plaintiffs “are likely to succeed on their claim” that the law is discriminatory.

    House Bill 2, a state law passed in March, requires transgender people to use bathrooms matching the sex listed on their birth certificate. It also repealed an LGBT protections law in Charlotte and prevents other cities from passing similar legislation. While the case is still being heard, Friday’s preliminary injunction will prevent the university from enforcing the provision of the law that applies to bathroom use for the plaintiffs in the case.

    The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, Lambda Legal, and Equality North Carolina issued a legal challenge to the law in late March on behalf of students and employees at UNC schools. They include employees at UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina Central University and students at UNC-Greensboro and University of North Carolina School of the Arts High School.

    Joaquin Carcaño, a transgender man who works at UNC-Chapel Hill and a plaintiff in the case, said he was celebrating the injunction.

    “Today is a great day for me and hopefully this is the start to chipping away at the injustice of HB2 that is harming thousands of other transgender people who call North Carolina home,” Carcaño said in a statement. “Today, the tightness that I have felt in my chest every day since HB2 passed has eased. But the fight is not over: we won’t rest until this discriminatory law is defeated.”

    Other members of the community responded to the decision on Twitter.

    UNC-Chapel Hill issued a statement in April noting that HB2 applied to its campuses, but that statement did not say whether, or how, the university planned to enforce it.

    “We have been asked how the University intends to ‘enforce’ this provision of the law. As noted in the memorandum, the law does not contain any provisions concerning enforcement,” university officials said.

    One key issue in the battle over HB2 hinges on the interpretation of Title IX, which outlaws sex discrimination in education. According to the Department of Education, transgender people are entitled to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity under Title IX’s sex discrimination protections.

    In Friday’s ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder referenced a previous decision by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board, a case brought by a transgender Virginia high school student that also followed the DOE’s guidance on Title IX. (The Supreme Court issued an injunction on that ruling in early August while it decides whether to hear the case.)

    The ruling in that case applies throughout the 4th Circuit, which also hears appeals from North Carolina, Schroeder wrote, adding that HB2’s “wholesale ban on access to facilities is inconsistent with DOE’s guidance on Title IX compliance under G.G.”

    North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has defended the law. “This extremely new social norm came in a very quick time, and we need to have these discussions,” he said on Meet the Press in April.

    But members of the LGBT community and advocates roundly criticized McCrory after the bill was passed, saying the law unfairly discriminates against transgender people.

    Emily Potter, who is bisexual and a senior at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, said that HB2 “appalled” her when it was passed.

    “I got really worried when it passed because I have a lot of friends, at school specifically but also at places around the country, that are put in danger daily for living their lives as transgender individuals,” she said.

    A number of businesses have denounced the law, including NASCAR, PepsiCo, Hewlett Packard, Hyatt, Wells Fargo and Google. Private colleges, including Duke University, Wake Forest University and Davidson College also condemned the bill.

    The Boston City Council, along with city mayors in San Francisco, Seattle and New York City, placed a ban on taxpayer-funded travel to North Carolina. The states of New York, Connecticut and Vermont did the same.

    In response to critics, McCrory signed an executive order in April establishing employment protection for employees of the state government based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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    Red and white balloons are released during the opening ceremony of newly built Yavuz Sultan Selim bridge, the third bridge over the Bosphorus linking the city's European and Asian sides in Istanbul, Turkey on August 26, 2016. Photo by Murad Sezer/Reuters

    Red and white balloons are released during the opening ceremony of newly built Yavuz Sultan Selim bridge, the third bridge over the Bosphorus linking the city’s European and Asian sides in Istanbul, Turkey on August 26, 2016. Photo by Murad Sezer/Reuters

    Turkey opened a third bridge connecting Istanbul’s Asian and European sides on Friday. The Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge stretches across the Bosphorus Strait, which flows between the two continents.

    The $3 billion bridge is part of $200 billion worth of construction initiatives pushed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    Spanning the northern part of the Bosphorus, the bridge is 4,620 feet long. With a width of 192 feet and a height of 1,056 feet, officials describe it as the world’s tallest suspension bridge.

    A general view shows the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, the third Bosphorus bridge linking the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, Turkey, August 18, 2016. Picture taken August 18, 2016. REUTERS/Osman Orsal - RTX2N6JE

    A general view shows the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, the third Bosphorus bridge linking the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, Turkey, August 18, 2016. Picture taken August 18, 2016.Photo by Osman Orsal/Reuters

    “This bridge puts Turkey among the world leaders,” Michel Virlogeux, one of the project’s lead designers, told Agence France-Presse. “It’s the most spectacular to have been built in the last years.”

    Erdogan and architects have championed the new construction, which holds eight lanes for vehicles and two for transit rails, as a way to ease heavy traffic in Istanbul, a city of more than 14 million people. The Associated Press reported that heavy trucks must use the new bridge, which could ease congestion because it is located farther from the city than the two other bridges.

    “It not only alleviates traffic in Istanbul, it speeds movement of goods across Turkey and, as Syria stabilizes, the importance of the link will increase,” said Paolo Astaldi, chairman of Astaldi, a construction group that helped build the bridge.

    Workers climb up to a tower of the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, the third Bosphorus bridge linking the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, Turkey, August 23, 2016. Picture taken August 23, 2016. REUTERS/Osman Orsal - RTX2N6J4

    Workers climb up to a tower of the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, the third Bosphorus bridge linking the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, Turkey, August 23, 2016. Picture taken August 23, 2016. Photo by Osman Orsal/Reuters

    But some critics disagree, raising environmental concerns. In particular, they have criticized the destruction of Istanbul’s last remaining forestland to create roads leading up to the bridge.

    “This opens up hitherto pristine lands to more construction projects, because Turkey’s economy depends on construction,” Cihan Baysal of the Northern Forests Defence told Reuters.

    A general view shows the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, the third Bosphorus bridge linking the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, Turkey, August 23, 2016. Picture taken August 23, 2016. REUTERS/Osman Orsal - RTX2N6JM

    A general view shows the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, the third Bosphorus bridge linking the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, Turkey, August 23, 2016. Picture taken August 23, 2016. Photo by Osman Orsal/Reuters

    Naming the bridge after Selim I, who served as the ninth Ottoman emperor and oversaw a period of expansion, has also generated resistance.

    The Alevi religious minority, which according to the Washington Post comprises more than 10 percent of the Turkish population, blames Selim’s troops for slaughtering tens of thousands of their population. Since the announcement of the name in 2013, protesters have unsuccessfully argued to change it.

    At the opening ceremony, Erodgan indicated that the bridge and other infrastructure achievements would be part of his legacy. “When man dies, he leaves behind a monument,” he said.

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    The Bollman Factory in Adamstown, Pennsylvania. Photo by Christopher Booker/PBS NewsHour

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    By Christopher Booker and Connie Kargbo

    In 2013, Hessaire, a cooling machine and fan blade manufacturer, took control of a large shuttered factory in Holly Pond, Alabama. The space once housed a jeanswear company in the rural town of about 800 people. Before the facility first closed in 2010, it was one of the area’s largest employers.

    But just as the closing left a mark on the community, so too has the re-opening, creating dozens of jobs — jobs that were once more than 8,000 miles away in China.

    Between 2000 and 2009, close to 6 million manufacturing jobs were lost, many to a practice known as “offshoring,” or moving a business’s production or services abroad.

    Hessaire’s decision to bring some jobs back to the U.S. was based on a confluence of factors, according to president Jerry Fan. Rising labor costs in China and increased shipping costs played a role. Fan said when customers place an order, they want a short delivery window. By shipping products from China, “you’re adding weeks, and it’s hard to time,” he said. “The variability of a container can take three weeks or it can take six months.”

    Manufacturers like Hessaire are part of a growing move to “re-shore” manufacturing jobs that were once lost to countries such as China and Mexico. The Reshoring Initiative, a group that focuses on bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S., estimates that between 2009 and 2016 more than 250,000 jobs were created or brought to the U.S. from other countries.

    A number of factors have influenced the creation of jobs in the U.S., including rising labor costs overseas, higher freight costs, low energy costs in America, and federal and state incentives. But while closed factories continue to reopen, critics argue that without government policies that help improve our skilled workforce, tax reform, and renegotiation of trade deals, the U.S. will continue to feel the effects of the millions of manufacturing jobs that were lost in the 2000s.

    Read the full transcript below.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: To walk into the Bollman Hat Company, in Adamstown, Pennsylvania, is to walk into the past.

    Since 1868, America’s oldest hat maker has made everything from fedoras to cowboy hats — and each part of the process — from the way the wool is cleaned and felted, the materials pressed, and hats are shaped is a throwback to an older America.

    While still making hats largely the same way it did in its earliest days, this past January the employee owned company added a new brand to their Pennsylvania assembly line – Kangol.

    Coming to prominence in the U.S. in the 1980s, the British brand was an integral part of hip hop – a constant accessory of early rap luminaries like Run DMC, Grandmaster Flash & LL Cool J .

    Founded in 1938, Kangol hats were made in the UK for about 60 years before moving to China.

    In 2001, the Bollman Hat Company acquired the global license to design, produce, and distribute Kangol headwear.

    Then in 2014, the Chinese plant producing the Kangol hats closed in order to move to Bangladesh for cheaper wages, forcing Bollman to find a new production facility.

    And like its role in hip hop, Kangol is once again trendsetting – joining a growing roster of products formerly made in China.

    Through a combination of state grants, online fundraising and company investment, Bollman bought and shipped the Kangol knitting machines from China to Adamstown.

    Don Rongione is the company’s CEO.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: How difficult has it been to learn how to use these machines?

    DON RONGIONE: Extraordinarily difficult.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: While some Kangol hats are still produced in offshore facilities, Rongione says U.S. based production looks increasingly attractive. Chinese wages have risen between about ten and 15 percent a year and more and more customers shop online expecting faster delivery times.

    DON RONGIONE: If we get to the same efficiency levels that we had in Asia– using U.S. labor rates — our cost is fairly close. We don’t have to transport the product and over time, as labor rates continue to rise — in other parts of the world at a faster rate than they are here in America, it would actually become cost competitive to do it here.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Such calculations, are music to Harry Moser’s ears.

    As the founder of the Reshoring Initiative – a group working to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S., Moser spends a great deal of his time trying to sell this type of cost calculation to American companies.

    HARRY MOSER: When they first offshore, say, to China, the Chinese wages were so low that the price differential was, say, 30 or 40 percent but now that the Chinese wages have come up, that gap might only be 15 or 20 percent.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Moser believes increased Chinese wages make it difficult to justify the other costs associated with offshoring, like shipping, delivery delays, and the overhead that comes with maintaining large inventories.

    HARRY MOSER: So, all these things that each one might only be one or two percent, but when you have 30 of them at one or two percent, you can make up for a 15 or 20 percent price difference from China.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Today’s he’s pitching his “Reshoring Initiative” at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi.

    HARRY MOSER: So my favorite single case about reshoring is GE. They brought back appliance production to an appliance park in Louisville, Kentucky.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Moser argues, companies could afford to bring nearly a million jobs back to the U.S..

    HARRY MOSER: We conclude that about 25 percent of what is offshore today would come companies did the math.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: While U.S. employment in manufacturing started declining in the early 1980s, the massive job losses really didn’t start until the millennium.

    Between 2000 and 2009, close to 6 million manufacturing jobs were lost. But in 2010, the hemorrhaging started to slow.

    Moser says, since then, 265,000 manufacturing jobs with around 900 companies have been created or reshored to the United States.

    HARRY MOSER: So, we’ve gone from a net loss of over 200,000 a year to a net loss of zero, so huge improvement.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: The jobs are in industries as diverse as appliances, autos, and furniture.

    In June, Emerald home Furnishings, a Tacoma, Washington based company, moved some of its production from China to this facility in New Albany, Mississippi.

    Manager Terry Treadaway says the internet and the need for faster delivery drove Emerald’s decision to reshore.

    TERRY TREADAWAY: I’ve been in furniture for 34 years. And I have traveled in China, but China today and the China 20 years ago are different. So there are changes coming. And I think, you know, we’ll see more and more jobs move back to the states.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Before, a couch would take as long as six weeks to ship from China to a U.S. customer. From New Albany, it can be built and shipped to the customer in seven to twelve days. Mississippi also sweetened the deal.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Emerald Home Furnishings received a 1.3 million dollar incentive from the state of Mississippi to open this facility in New Albany. In return they promised to hire 150 new workers over the next three years. When they opened the plant this past June, the company says it received nearly 300 applications for 35 positions. They plan to hire an additional 25 people before the years end.

    TERRY TREADAWAY: Starting minimum wage is $10 to $12 and up to $16, $17 an hour. The company pays 75 percent of the employee’s health insurance and 50 percent of their dependents. We also have 401(k).

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: In neighboring Alabama, Hessaire, which makes cooling machines in Holly Pond, took over this shuttered jeans distributing center in April after they received a tax abatement from the town.

    President Jerry Fan purchased the business 11 years ago, at the time when it produced nearly all of its products in China.

    Fan says his decision to reshore jobs in Alabama was influenced by the desire to be closer to his customers and the availability of a more skilled workforce, even if that meant paying higher wages.

    JERRY FAN: Part of our manufacturing is that we have to provide a certain level of customer service. And the people working for us, the skill levels, Holly Pond, we find they’re problem solvers, and they’re motivated. And so those are very important considerations.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Robert Atkinson is among the skeptics of the impact of these recent manufacturing developments. He’s president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, in Washington, D.C.

    ROBERT ATKINSON: We’re not engaged in a renaissance. We’re engaged in a partial recovery. What we are in the midst of, is it is not so bad as it used to be. So, yeah manufacturing is growing a little bit, but we lost over a third of our manufacturing jobs in the 2000s. It was decimated. And we’re running essentially an $800 billion trade deficit.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Atkinson says Harry Moser’s model is good, but absent substantial changes in tax, tariff, and trade policies, the U.S. will not return to it former manufacturing might.

    ROBERT ATKINSON: Every other country’s putting in place a manufacturing strategy, better tax incentives for investing in research, better tax incentives for investing in machinery, apprenticeship programs for their workers. You know, if we just sort of sit back and think we’re gonna win, win the race by the fact that we’re Americans, well, we’re not.

    HARRY MOSER: We’ve proven that the cost gap is low enough with China and countries like that, we can bring back hundreds of thousands. So, with some improvements in our terms of trade, in our competitiveness, it’s reasonable that we will bring back millions.

    CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: Until that happens, the future of American manufacturing may well be determined by the efforts already underway in places like New Albany, Holly Pond or Adamstown.

    Would you take, would you make this bet again?

    DON RONGIONE: At this point, we’re still in the early stages of climbing this mountain. Our costs are way outta line with where they need to be. And we’ve mastered some of the quality, but not all of the quality. So this story ends very happily if this is successful and we’re making profits and providing for our employee-owners, which is our mission as a company. But it ends very sadly if America’s oldest hat maker can’t make this happen and be successful and survive.

    The post Why some manufacturers are returning to the U.S. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The Kangol Ventair 504 cap after blocking, ready to be sewn. Photo By Connie Kargbo/PBS NewsHour

    The Kangol Ventair 504 cap after blocking, ready to be sewn. Photo By Connie Kargbo/PBS NewsHour

    In the heart of Amish country, hat makers are maintaining a century-old business.

    The Bollman Hat Company, located in the small town of Adamstown, Pennslyvania, is America’s oldest hat maker, having survived since 1868. At the time, the machines used to produce the hats were powered by water. Today, electricity has replaced water as the machines’ main power source, but much of the process to produce the hats has remained the same.

    Blocking of the Kangol Ventair 504 cap during production. Photo By Connie Kargbo/PBS NewsHour

    Blocking of the Kangol Ventair 504 cap during production. Photo By Connie Kargbo/PBS NewsHour

    According to the U.S. Labor Department, nearly 6 million manufacturing jobs were lost between 2000 and 2010. But some companies, including the Bollman Hat Company, are making an effort to bring small numbers of jobs back to the country.

    In 2001, the company secured the rights to Kangol, the British hat brand that became iconic as early rap luminaries like Run DMC, Grandmaster Flash and LL Cool J sported it. For years, the hats were manufactured in China — but this year, Bollman bought and shipped knitting machines from China to Adamstown, where the company began producing Kangol headwear at its factory.

    Final inspection of a wool felt Bailey western hat, part of Bollman’s operation dating back to the 1860s. Photo By Connie Kargbo/PBS NewsHour

    Final inspection of a wool felt Bailey western hat, part of Bollman’s operation dating back to the 1860s. Photo By Connie Kargbo/PBS NewsHour

    Don Rongione, CEO of the Bollman Hat Company, said that bringing production to the U.S. saves the company money by cutting out some of the costs to transport the product.

    “We don’t have to transport the product and over time, as labor rates continue to rise, in other parts of the world at a faster rate than they are here in America, it would actually become cost-competitive to do it here,” he said.

    Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, said that these developments in manufacturing mark only an incremental improvement to the U.S. economy. “Manufacturing is growing a little bit, but we lost over a third of our manufacturing jobs in the 2000s. It was decimated. And we’re running essentially an $800 billion trade deficit,” he said.

    The embroidery of the Kangol Ventair 504 cap after it has been knitted, shaped, and sewn. Photo By Connie Kargbo/PBS NewsHour

    The embroidery of the Kangol Ventair 504 cap after it has been knitted, shaped, and sewn. Photo By Connie Kargbo/PBS NewsHour

    For more on the growth in U.S. manufacturing jobs, watch the PBS NewsHour tonight.

    The post The oldest hat factory in the U.S. tells a larger story about manufacturing appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) speaks to the 38th annual Conservative Political Action Conference meeting in Washington DC, U.S. February 10, 2011.   REUTERS/Larry Downing/File Photo - RTX2GDW7

    U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) speaks to the 38th annual Conservative Political Action Conference meeting in Washington DC, U.S. February 10, 2011. Photo by Larry Downing/File Photo/Reuters

    CARLISLE, Pa. — Freshman U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey is the rare conservative Republican who is running for re-election with the support of leading gun-control groups, but it may not be enough to save him in Democratic-leaning Pennsylvania in this unusual election year.

    Toomey, who also has separated himself from most of his GOP Senate colleagues by refusing to endorse Donald Trump, is facing questions from skeptical Republicans over his votes to expand background checks and prevent gun purchases by suspected terrorists as he campaigns in a state where Hillary Clinton leads Trump in polls by 10 points in the presidential race.

    His stance so angered one gun-rights group that it is backing his Democratic opponent, Katie McGinty, just to send a message to Toomey and any other Republican who might deviate from orthodoxy on guns.

    Toomey’s gamble — separating himself from his party and Trump — is drawing help from unlikely quarters for a Republican once endorsed by the National Rifle Association.

    In a blow to McGinty’s campaign, two prominent gun-control activists, billionaire Michael Bloomberg and former Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, endorsed Toomey. Bloomberg’s political action committee even poured $4 million into Pennsylvania in recent weeks — primarily for TV ads — to support Toomey.

    For Toomey, it may help him with a Republican’s perennially thorny task of appealing to moderates in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 4-to-3. But it could hurt him with the Republican base in a passionate gun-rights state.

    Polls show the race is virtually tied, and the winner of the Nov. 8 election could tip control of the U.S. Senate.

    Some gun-rights activists say they will reluctantly vote for Toomey because McGinty supports a long slate of gun restrictions. Others are unsure whether to vote at all.

    “I have friends that are saying they are not going to vote for you because of your stance on gun control,” a meet-and-greet audience member, Mark Myers, told Toomey at a Carlisle restaurant last month.

    Stephen Mohr, a municipal Republican committeeman, said he found himself trying to talk hesitant gun owners into backing Toomey while manning a GOP booth at the Elizabethtown Fair in southcentral Pennsylvania a few days ago.

    On the campaign trail, Toomey says he doesn’t see a conflict between the right to own a gun and “a three-minute background check,” but also points to his 2010 NRA endorsement and his support for gun-rights causes.

    “Katie McGinty and the Democrats are attacking me all the time for all the votes I have cast consistently to make sure we don’t allow the Democrats to deny law-abiding citizens their Second Amendment rights,” Toomey told Myers.

    In an interview Friday, Toomey said gun-rights supporters who learn about his record are overwhelmingly supportive and that he believes he will draw votes from both sides of the issue.

    “The fact is, the vast majority of people, whatever they think of the Second Amendment, believe that background checks make sense,” Toomey said.

    McGinty portrays Toomey’s devotion to gun control as politically calculated and paper-thin, and rolled out her own endorsement from CeaseFire Pennsylvania. In recent elections, Democrats have largely steered clear of the gun issue, viewing it as a political loser because of the power of the NRA. This year, Clinton and others have made it a focus in the wake of mass shootings of civilians and police.

    Gun rights are no small matter in much of Pennsylvania: Even Toomey’s predecessor, Arlen Specter, a moderate Republican from Philadelphia, cast staunch gun-rights votes during his five terms in office.

    Christopher Nicholas, a Republican political consultant who worked on four Specter campaigns, said Toomey’s move to the middle on gun rights should win over more voters than he loses. If Toomey ultimately loses, it won’t be because of guns, Nicholas said.

    “It will be because of the Trump catastrophe,” Nicholas said.

    Gun rights activists viewed one bill that Toomey supported as an unnecessary expansion of background checks and another as potentially depriving people of their Second Amendment rights without due process.

    The NRA hasn’t rendered a verdict on Toomey in 2016.

    Pennsylvanians For Self Protection, a gun-rights group based in suburban Philadelphia, may not endorse Toomey, but will try to make it clear that he’s the “lesser of two evils,” president David Sager said. The Pittsburgh-area Firearms Owners Against Crime decided against endorsing either candidate after it endorsed Toomey in 2010, chairman Kim Stolfer said.

    “When you vote for the lesser of two evils, you’re still voting for evil,” Stolfer said.

    And the American Gun Owners Alliance, based in northeastern Pennsylvania, is encouraging its members to support McGinty, but not because they like her.

    If McGinty wins, she will be less powerful as a first-term senator than a second-term Toomey, and it will put the Republican Party on notice that candidates cannot cross gun-rights activists and win, founder David Dalton said.

    “It’s a scary choice to make,” Dalton said, “but you finally have to tell Toomey, ‘enough is enough.'”

    The post Toomey crosses gun-rights divide in Pennsylvania Senate race appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A green sea turtle is seen off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii April 8, 2006. U.S. First Lady Laura Bush on Friday dedicated the Hawaiian name "Papahanaumokuakea" to the Northwest Hawaiian Islands National Marine Monument, home to more than seven thousand species of animals, including turtles like the one shown, during her visit to Honolulu. Photo taken on April 8, 2006.  REUTERS/Hugh Gentry (UNITED STATES) - RTR1N17V

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    Read the full transcript below.

    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: President Obama has decided to quadruple the size of a federal marine preserve around his home state of Hawaii. By an executive order issued yesterday, the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument will become the largest ecological preserve on the planet, encompassing more than 580,000 square miles of land and sea.

    For more on the area and species that will be protected, I’m joined by Matt Rand, director of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Global Ocean Legacy Project.

    So, Matt, tell me, why this patch of ocean? What’s so special about it?

    MATT RAND, PEW CHARITABLE TRUSTS: Well, this is amazing place in the Pacific Ocean. The northwest Hawaiian Islands where Papahanaumokuakea is a very special place, over 7,000 marine species, talking about the oldest living organism on earth, a deep sea coral that’s 4,500 years old is found here. Ghost Octopus, creatures that are endemic, found only in this stretch of ocean up to 90 percent in certain locations are only found in this stretch of the ocean. And, then, of course, all the magnificent megafauna that everybody sees in the National Geographic films like whales and turtles and sharks and manta rays, and the amazing sea bird life as well.

    So, it’s a spectacular piece of ocean and we are so excited that it’s now been protected in perpetuity.

    SREENIVASAN: So, how do you protect schools of fish from this area that decide to go outside and back in, right? I mean, this is one of the concerns that the fishing industry has had for some time.

    RAND: There are some certain species that definitely go beyond these borders. But while they’re in this huge refuge, and it’s a massive refuge, about three and half times the size the state of California, these fish have an opportunity to reproduce and grow unmolested. So, they have excellent chance of passing on their genes and repopulating.

    SREENIVASAN: And put this in perspective of the larger ocean. I mean, while we talk about three times the size of California, put that in perspective for all the ocean that’s sort of not protected this way.

    RAND: Yes, scientists are saying we need to protect up to 30 percent of the ocean. And currently right now, in highly protected or fully protected reserves, we have about 3 percent of the ocean. So, we still have very long way to go.

    That said, we’ve come a very long way in very short timeframe. In fact, when Papahanaumokuakea was first designated in 2006, the first version of it, by President Bush, that was the largest protected area in the world. We were down around 0.05 percent of the ocean protected just ten years ago now we’re at 3 percent of the world’s ocean protected. This, of course, really sets the standard for the rest of the world, and hopefully a wake up call that we need to start taking bold action like the president just took.

    SREENIVASAN: What took it so long? Why the gap in years between when George Bush started this and when President Obama expanded it?

    RAND: New scientific information that’s just come out in the last decade, really not that long when you think about it from the scientific perspective. They didn’t know about the world’s oldest living organism or the fact that these endemic sea creatures were found out in these further distances. And they also didn’t have as much scientific information about the importance of the large scale and the interconnectivity between all the different species and their need for such a wide range for protection.

    And in the spiritual and cultural connection to the Native Hawaiians has really come to the forefront as well.

    SREENIVASAN: Matt, put this kind of space in the context of climate change, what’s the value?

    RAND: Yes, scientists are very excited about this area being protected now. Fully intact ecosystems are much more resilient to the impact of climate change. And in this particular location, they’re very excited that it’s one of the, if not the best largest climate refuge, certainly for the ocean but also for the planet. It’s situated in the tropics, but also in the tempered ocean, and actually to the further northern end of the island chain and the now protected marine reserve, the water actually becomes quite cool.

    So, the scientists are hopeful that as the waters of our ocean continue to warm and become acidified, that this area will hopefully be climate refuge where species, not only coral but also fish that are threatened from the changing of our ocean temperatures, and acidity. So, it will hopefully, as things change, continue to be resilient and will certainly be a huge refuge for wildlife.

    SREENIVASAN: From the Pew Charitable Trusts Global Ocean Legacy Project — Matt Rand, thanks for joining us.

    RAND: Thank you.

    The post Obama to make marine preserve largest in the world appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Firefighters stand next to a collapsed house following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 27, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca - RTX2NABM

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    Read the full transcript below.

    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: Good evening, and thanks for joining us.

    As Italy marked a national day of mourning, rescue workers spent a fourth day searching for survivors of the devastating earthquake, but found none. Italian authorities say at least 291 people were killed when the overnight quake struck mainly in three towns on Wednesday. Almost 400 injured are in hospitals.

    Today, Italy’s president and prime minister attended a state funeral for 35 of those victims, including two children in tiny white coffins. The worst hit town is Amatrice, and that’s where “NewsHour” weekend special correspondent Christopher Livesay joins us.

    Christopher, the funerals for all these people began today.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY, NEWHOUR WEEKEND SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: That’s right. In fact, today was declared a national day of mourning, the prime minister and president both were here in attendance. Now, it was originally scheduled to be a day of celebration. Today would have marked the 50th anniversary of the town of Amatrice’s famous pasta dish, La Pasta Amatriciana.

    Amatrice is the town where I’m standing right now, and it was at the epicenter of this quake. One of the sad stories you come across is the fact that because of this food festival, the town’s population practically doubled because of all the visitors who were here from elsewhere in Italy and even further afield. So, of course, that celebration did not take place. Instead there was a state funeral in a town nearby here called Ascoli Piceno.

    There were lots of sad stories told there. One, however, was sort of uplifting, it was story of two sisters, one who actually seemed to have sacrificed herself grabbing on to her little sister who is four years old. The big sister died but the little sister was able to survive.

    SREENIVASAN: All right. What about the rescue turning into recovery efforts. What about those who are still missing?

    LIVESAY: Well, in this city there are approximately 20 people who are still unaccounted for. So, technically, the rescue effort is still ongoing, there is 100-hour window which rescuers can still expect to find, or at least hope to find survivors if the survivors have some access to water.

    However, that window is now closing, so the rescuers I speak to really don’t seem optimistic. In fact, they tell me that they only expect to recover bodies at this point.

    SREENIVASAN: And this is not a region that’s unfamiliar with earthquake, some of the buildings behind you were supposed to be retro-fitted to be stronger, what happened?

    LIVESAY: That’s absolutely right. Well, that’s a good question. In fact a state prosecutor has opened up over a hundred probes into building that allegedly should have been stable and should have been able to withstand a quake like this. The question is, why didn’t they? Was it a question of the money never getting to where it should be? Was it a question of corruption? In fact, Italy is a country that is no stranger when it comes to corruption, and that’s a question that we’re hearing asked when it comes to the reconstruction period.

    In fact, the Italian anti-corruption czar spoke out against that today, warning against mafia infiltration. Italy, as you know, is a seismic region. It’s had lots of earthquakes in the past. There have been cases of these big lucrative building contracts going out to people with mafia connections. So, that’s something that officials are looking out for right now.

    SREENIVASAN: All right. Christopher Livesay, joining us from Amatrice, Italy — thanks so much.

    LIVESAY: Thank you, Hari.

    The post Italy marks national day of mourning after quake appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Protesters demonstrate against France's ban of the burkini, outside the French Embassy in London, Britain August 25, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall - RTX2N0JG

    Protesters demonstrate against France’s ban of the burkini, outside the French Embassy in London, Britain August 25, 2016. Photo by Neil Hall/Reuters

    PARIS — The national identity crisis exposed by France’s burkini controversy is threatening to set the tone for the country’s presidential campaign.

    A top court ruling Friday against banning the head-to-ankle swimwear didn’t put an end to the debate.

    Along with the economy, the relationship between France’s Muslims and non-Muslims has been a recurring theme as presidential hopefuls kick off campaigning for the April-May elections.

    Former President Nicolas Sarkozy told a campaign rally he wants a national law banning burkinis.

    His chief rival for the conservative nomination, Alain Juppe, has called for a special accord between the state and Muslim leaders to lay out clear rules for respecting French secularism.

    Some leftist candidates have criticized the burkini as oppressing women, but say the far right is using the issue to encourage racism.

    The post Burkini clash sets tone for France’s presidential campaign appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    People hold up letters to spell IOWA as they wait for Republican nominee Donald Trump to speak at "Joni's Roast and Ride" in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., August 27, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri - RTX2NB26

    People hold up letters to spell IOWA as they wait for Republican nominee Donald Trump to speak at “Joni’s Roast and Ride” in Des Moines, Iowa, on Aug. 27, 2016. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    DES MOINES, Iowa — Donald Trump said rival Hillary Clinton will push regulations and high taxes that will hurt family farmers as he campaigned in Iowa, an agricultural state that remains a presidential election battleground.

    Trump warned a crowd in Iowa on Saturday that Clinton “wants to shut down family farms” and implement anti-agriculture policies. His comments came in a speech to the annual “Roast and Ride” fundraiser for Republican Sen. Joni Ernst. Trump skipped the 42-mile motorcycle ride that preceded the event.

    Joining the presidential nominee on stage were top Iowa Republicans — among them Ernst, Gov. Terry Branstad, Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Steve King — in a rare show of establishment support for a candidate who has struggled to unite his party.

    In a gesture to Iowa’s agriculture industry, Trump renewed his commitment to continuing a requirement that all gasoline sold contain an ethanol-based additive, an issue important to corn growers. He also promised to cut taxes on family farms, which he called the “backbone” of the country.

    “Hillary Clinton wants to shut down family farms just like she wants to shut down the mines and the steelworkers,” he said at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. “She will do this not only through radical regulation, but also by raising taxes on family farms – and all businesses – to rates as high as nearly 50 percent.”

    Clinton’s campaign website touts a plan to increase funding to support farmers and ranchers in local food markets and regional food systems, saying she’ll create a “focused safety net to help family farms get through challenging times.” It also says she plans to target federal resources in commodity payment, crop insurance, and disaster assistance programs to support family operations.

    Branstad, in an interview with The Associated Press, said he felt Trump could score points against Clinton by focusing on agricultural issues. Branstad, whose son runs Trump’s campaign in the state, said he also hopes Trump would launch campaign ads there and that he sees the race as “about even.”

    “I don’t like that but, hopefully, that’s going to change,” Branstad said.

    [Watch Video]

    Speaking to an overwhelmingly white crowd, Trump again pledged that as president he would help African-Americans living in cities with high crime and low employment. He offered no specifics for how he would achieve that goal.

    Trump drew an online backlash Saturday for a tweet he sent in response to the shooting death of NBA star Dwyane Wade’s cousin, who was gunned down near the Chicago school where she had planned to register her children.

    “Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!” Trump tweeted. He later sent a tweet offering his “condolences to Dwyane Wade and his family.”

    Campaigning in Florida, Clinton running mate Tim Kaine said, “We just ought to be extending our sympathy to the family,” and added, “That’s the only reaction that’s appropriate right now.”

    Clinton met Saturday for more than two hours with intelligence officials at the FBI office in White Plains, New York, for her first overview of the major threats facing the nation around the globe since she became the Democratic nominee. Trump received his briefing earlier this month, a customary move for major-party nominees.

    Trump also previewed his immigration plans at the Iowa event, saying that he was developing an “exit-entry tracking system to ensure those who overstay their visas, that they’re quickly removed.” The proposal echoed the language of Trump’s former primary rival, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is now advising him.

    Thomas reported from White Plains, New York. Associated Press writers Jill Colvin in Washington and Alan Suderman in Miami contributed to this report.

    The post Trump warns of regulations, taxes harming family farmers appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada, August 25, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein/File Photo - RTX2N5T7

    Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada, August 25, 2016. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/File Photo/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — With the hourglass running out for his administration, President Barack Obama’s health care law is struggling in many parts of the country. Double-digit premium increases and exits by big-name insurers have caused some to wonder whether “Obamacare” will go down as a failed experiment.

    If Democrat Hillary Clinton wins the White House, expect her to mount a rescue effort. But how much Clinton could do depends on finding willing partners in Congress and among Republican governors, a real political challenge.

    “There are turbulent waters,” said Kathleen Sebelius, Obama’s first secretary of Health and Human Services. “But do I see this as a death knell? No.”

    Next year’s health insurance sign-up season starts a week before the Nov. 8 election, and the previews have been brutal. Premiums are expected to go up sharply in many insurance marketplaces, which offer subsidized private coverage to people lacking access to job-based plans.

    At the same time, retrenchment by insurers that have lost hundreds of millions of dollars means that more areas will become one-insurer markets, losing the benefits of competition. The consulting firm Avalere Health projects that seven states will only have one insurer in each of their marketplace regions next year.

    Administration officials say insurers set prices too low in a bid to gain market share, and the correction is leading to sticker shock. Insurers blame the problems on sicker-than-expected customers, disappointing enrollment and a premium stabilization system that failed to work as advertised. They also say some people are gaming the system, taking advantage of guaranteed coverage to get medical care only when they are sick.

    Not all state markets are in trouble. What is more important, most of the 11 million people covered through HealthCare.gov and its state-run counterparts will be cushioned from premium increases by government subsidies that rise with the cost.

    [Watch Video]

    But many customers may have to switch to less comprehensive plans to keep their monthly premiums down. And millions of people who buy individual policies outside the government marketplaces get no financial help. They will have to pay the full increases or go without coverage and risk fines. (People with employer coverage and Medicare are largely unaffected.)

    Tennessee’s insurance commissioner said recently that the individual health insurance market in her state is “very near collapse.” Premiums for the biggest insurer are expected to increase by an average of 62 percent. Two competitors will post average increases of 46 percent and 44 percent.

    But because the spigot of federal subsidies remains wide open, an implosion of health insurance markets around the country seems unlikely. More than 8 out of 10 HealthCare.gov customers get subsidies covering about 70 percent of their total premiums. Instead, the damage is likely to be gradual. Rising premiums deter healthy people from signing up, leaving an insurance pool that’s more expensive to cover each succeeding year.

    “My real concern is 2018,” said Caroline Pearson, a senior vice president with Avalere. “If there is no improvement in enrollment, we could see big sections of the country without any plans participating.”

    If Republican Donald Trump wins the White House, he’d start dismantling the Affordable Care Act. But Clinton would come with a long list of proposed fixes, from rearranging benefits to introducing a government-sponsored “public option” as an alternative to private insurers. Not all her ideas would require congressional action.

    “She is going to find it important to continue to expand health care,” said Joel Ario, a former Obama administration official who’s now with the consulting firm Mannatt Health.

    People in the Clinton camp say she recognizes that as president she’d have to get Obama’s law working better, and is taking nothing off the table.

    A look at some major ideas and their prospects:

    Public option

    Clinton’s primary rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, advocated “Medicare for all” and that pushed Clinton to a fuller embrace of government-run insurance. But Democrats could not get a public option through Congress even when they had undisputed control. Whichever party wins the Senate in November, the balance is expected to be close and Republicans are favored to retain control of the House.

    While a new national insurance program seems a long shot, Obama’s law allows states to experiment. “I think the public option is more likely to be tested at a state level,” Sebelius said.

    Sweetening subsidies

    Clinton has proposed more generous subsidies and tax credits for health care, which might also entice more people to sign up. But she’d have a tough time selling Republicans. It may be doable in the bargaining around budget and tax bills, but Democrats would be pressed to give up some of the health law’s requirements, including a premiums formula that tends to favor older people over young adults.

    Incremental changes

    Whether it’s fixing a “family glitch” that can prevent dependents from getting subsidized coverage, requiring insurers to cover more routine services outside the annual deductible, or reworking the premium stabilization program for insurers, incremental changes seem to offer a president Clinton her easiest path.

    Medicaid expansion

    Expect a Clinton White House to tirelessly court the 19 states that have yet to expand Medicaid for low-income people. She’d ask Congress to provide the same three full years of federal financing that early-adopting states got under the health law. GOP governors would demand more flexibility with program rules.

    “I’m just hoping that reality begins to sink in when she is inaugurated,” Sebelius said. “If the law is not going to go away, then let’s make it work.”

    The post Can Clinton save health overhaul from its mounting problems? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A pump jack operates at a well site leased by Devon Energy Production Company near Guthrie, Oklahoma September 15, 2015. Photo By Nick Oxford/Reuters

    A pump jack operates at a well site leased by Devon Energy Production Company near Guthrie, Oklahoma, on Sept. 15, 2015. Photo By Nick Oxford/Reuters

    The number of earthquakes in Oklahoma have decreased since peaking last year, a development geologists have said this month may be linked to stricter regulations on wastewater created by the oil and gas industry.

    The U.S. Geological Survey announced that the state has experienced 461 3-magnitude earthquakes or larger in 2016, down from 592 during the same period a year ago.

    After historically averaging two 3-magnitude earthquakes or above each year, Oklahoma saw those numbers surge around 2013, soon after domestic production of oil and gas grew along with the price. That year, 109 earthquakes were recorded and by 2014 that number shot up to 585. “We’re slowing down, but nobody is breathing super easy yet.” — Todd Halihan, professor of geology at Oklahoma State University

    By 2015, more than 900 earthquakes were documented on that scale, as growing consensus among scientists pointed to wastewater injection as the reason behind the uptick.

    After companies extract the gas and oil from water found deep underground, they often inject the leftover wastewater back into the earth through disposal wells, which has been connected to the rapid increase in earthquakes.

    How it works

    The wastewater is routinely pumped deep within the earth and into the nooks and crannies of the vast Arbuckle formation, a 7,000-foot-deep sedimentary rock layer under Oklahoma. Fault lines rooted in place, sometimes for millions of years, lie below it.

    “It looks like the majority of water, about 68 percent, was going into the Arbuckle zone,” Kyle Murray, a hydrogeologist with the Oklahoma Geological Survey, said.

    The water fills into holes in the rock, increasing pore pressure, according to George Choy, a USGS seismologist. “So you have a fault that might have been locked for millions of years and would have stayed that way indefinitely,” Choy said. “[The wastewater] counteracts the pressure that’s holding these faults together.”

    Murray said that in 2009 the industry moved about 50 million gallons of wastewater a day into the earth. By 2014, the peak of the wastewater disposal, that number nearly tripled to an estimated 126 million gallons per day.

    As the NewsHour Weekend reported in January, more than 1.5 billion barrels of wastewater were injected into disposal wells last year.

    [Watch Video]

    The phenomenon caused state regulators to take a hard look at the process of disposing of wastewater underground, headed by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC), which regulates oil and gas production in the state. The OCC began installing limits on a small number of disposal wells in 2013, before imposing stricter regulations in January this year.

    Despite common misconception, the wastewater generated by hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, “represents only a small percentage of the total volume of wastewater injected in disposal wells in Oklahoma,” according to the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

    Todd Halihan, a professor of geology at Oklahoma State University, said the vast amount of water reduced friction between faults, releasing energy and causing the the earth to shudder.

    “We’re slowing down, but nobody is breathing super easy yet,” he said.

    Crude oil storage tanks are seen from above at the Cushing oil hub, appearing to run out of space to contain a historic supply glut that has hammered prices, in Cushing, Oklahoma, March 24, 2016. Picture taken March 24, 2016. REUTERS/Nick Oxford - RTSDLP8

    Crude oil storage tanks are seen from above at the Cushing oil hub, appearing to run out of space to contain a historic supply glut that has hammered prices, in Cushing, Oklahoma, March 24, 2016. Photo by Nick Oxford/Reuters

    Have new regulations made a difference?

    During the last two years, the USGS and others released findings that the process of injecting wastewater at such high volumes were linked to the dramatic increase in earthquakes.

    In 2015, the Oklahoma Geological Survey found that most of the earthquakes documented during the last several years “are very likely triggered by the injection of produced water in disposable wells.”

    Stricter regulations overseen by the OCC soon followed. Since late January, the OCC said it has targeted areas in central Oklahoma with high rates of seismic activity, shuttering or limiting the amount of wastewater pushed into the Earth at more than 600 injection wells in the central portion of the state. Oklahoma has approximately 3,600 injections wells overall.

    Matt Skinner, a spokesman for the OCC, said so far those targeted areas have reduced wastewater injections by roughly 40 percent. Skinner said the state had previously placed restrictions on a smaller number of wells.

    “One of the strategies that the corporation commission has is to try and reduce volumes back to where they were in 2012 when we had a pretty moderate seismicity in Oklahoma,” Murray said.

    In a statement issued in March, Chad Warmington, president of Oklahoma Oil & Gas Association, a group composed of industry representatives, said while “Oklahoma researchers and regulators have already determined that there are specific areas of increased seismic activity in parts of the state that need to be addressed,” the OCC should expect the results of the new regulations on wastewater to take up to two years.

    “It’s important to keep in mind that the state has been repeatedly advised by independent experts that the actions taken by the OCC should not be expected to have instant results,” he said.

    While some are attributing the drop to new regulations overseen by the OCC, others posit the decrease in oil and gas production caused by lower prices may also have been a factor.

    Richard Andrews, associate director for the Oklahoma Geological Survey, said scientists continue studying the causes.

    “It seems to be a combination of both,” he said. “The jury is still out as far as what exactly contributes to the decrease.”

    Choy, of the USGS, told the NewsHour that there are case histories in Texas, Colorado, Arkansas, Ohio, Kansas and New Mexico where various restrictions on oil and gas production have affected the number of earthquakes taking place.

    ‘There’s a correlation,” he said. “If you increase injection it’s followed by an increase or decrease in seismicity.”

    The post Why is Oklahoma seeing fewer earthquakes? Scientists point to new oil & gas rules appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Aaron Elizalde.

    Ryan Elizalde, left, gave blood regularly before coming out as gay. Photo by Ryan Elizalde

    In July, the public received the chance to weigh in on a long-debated topic: a policy by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that bans blood donations from men who have had sex with men in the past year.

    The FDA policy dates back to the 1980s. As HIV became a public health issue, the FDA instituted a ban on donating blood for men who have had sex with another man since 1977. Last year, that ban was changed to a one-year deferral, meaning that only men who have not had sex with another man in the past year can donate.

    Proponents of the deferral say that it lowers the risk of HIV transmission through the blood supply, pointing to higher-than-average rates of HIV infection among gay and bisexual men. Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, told the PBS NewsHour that the purpose of the ban was not to discriminate. “I don’t believe it’s discriminatory, because I believe it’s not a policy that’s based on a sexual orientation; it’s based on keeping the blood supply safe,” he said.

    But critics of the deferral note that testing technology has improved since the 1980s when the ban was first created. Blood banks can screen for HIV with an accuracy rate of 99.99%, according to the FDA. Some members of the LGBTQ community say that the ban also reflects stigma regarding gay men and HIV.

    We asked our readers for their thoughts and if the ban had ever affected them. Here’s what a few of them said.

    Ryan Elizalde, 45

    Prior to coming out as a gay man and entering into a long term relationship, I gave blood regularly. Through high school to my early twenties I know I’d given gallons. Now, coming up on 17 years with the same partner (husband since 2008), I’m still unable to give blood.

    I remember as a teenager having blood drawn and the person saying, “Your blood type can help many people.” As a young kid, that made it so easy for me to want to continue to come back and donate. I know if the ban (and especially the stigma) was lifted I would absolutely start giving again along with many other LGBT people.

    Mark Chong, 35

    I work at a leading medical device company that actually designed and manufactures the blood screening tests used across the country. The company even received a presidential award for the impact its blood screening technologies have had on keeping the countries blood supply safe. “I wanted to direct my anger at the lab tech … but I saw that she was pained by the situation as well, and thinking how often she must go through it, I left quietly.”

    I started at this company 8.5 years ago and because we had such an important role in keeping the nation’s blood supply safe, I thought I should do my part. Little did I know, as I walked into the donation bus on our very own corporate office lot, that I would be rejected for having had sex with a man.

    I understand our technology and it has some of the most powerful tools in detecting very low levels of HIV as well as hepatitis. It is a shame, knowing the sensitivity of the tests available to screen the blood supply for HIV and hepatitis, that decades-old prejudice and fear still shape policy.

    Photo courtesy of Eric Benha

    Photo courtesy of Eric Behna

    Eric Behna, 24

    Within the past year I have come out as bisexual and I now fall into the FDA’s MSM category. I used to donate blood frequently but now I am unable to, due to the regulations. I still frequently receive mail and phone calls asking from the Red Cross asking me to donate. Even though I have gotten tested regularly and know my HIV status is negative, I am unable to donate.

    Additionally, I am on the Be the Match bone marrow registry. In college I matched a patient with leukemia and went on through the whole process to donate bone marrow. I ended up getting very involved, interning and volunteering with Be the Match, educating others about the process. Due to my newly-embraced sexuality, I am prohibited from donating — even though, having gone through the process and having explained the donation process to hundreds of people, I know that there is basically no way someone who is HIV positive could make it through the screening. Overall, it just makes me frustrated and sad that I can’t participate in blood or bone marrow donation any longer even though I am committed to ensuring that I am a healthy donor.

    Jack Hatchett, 29

    Although I now choose to lie about my sexual history and identity (answering truthfully and confidently about my sexual health) in order to contribute to what I consider an important civic duty, I was dissuaded for years after an embarrassing interview at a Red Cross drive when I was a college freshman in 2006. Several of my friends within earshot learned this about me in the context of a confession and I was lucky that they joined me in astonishment and anger at the regulation.

    I wanted to direct my anger at the lab tech who put my sexuality on trial and denied my donation, but I saw that she was pained by the situation as well, and thinking how often she must go through it, I left quietly. I believe I’m making a better decision today when I answer negatively, but the law and the need for healthy blood like mine make an ethically perfect decision impossible.

    Tracy Matthew Burridge, 48

    After the Pulse massacre, I decided to donate blood for the first time in 48 years. I knew there was a ban on homosexual donations but I do not have HIV and I am on PrEP so I wanted to do my part. I heard there was a temp lift on the ban so I went in. I was turned away. The door to the office I was in was closed and I was told I would need to abstain from sex with the man I am in a relationship for a year and then I would be eligible. I am type O blood and find it incredible that my blood is being turned away because of my genetic predisposition to being attracted to other men.

    READ NEXT: Why so many gay and bisexual men can’t donate blood in the U.S.

    Jack S., 32

    I’ve never been banned because I’ve always lied about my sexuality and sexual activity. As a gay man who tested every three months, I was confident I was lying for a greater good without putting others at risk. The act of hiding who I am in order to potentially save a life, though, was stressful and shameful. Whenever I wanted to do this good act, I was reminded that, to some people, even my blood was “less than.”

    Robert Ferguson, 41

    I grew up and attended school from K-12 in a small town of fewer than 1,000 people. I knew from an age when I was young enough to have attraction, but not yet know about sex, that I was solely interested in the same gender. I was a virgin, and didn’t “come out” until I turned 31 for a number of reasons.

    When I was a senior in high school, I had my first opportunity to donate blood. I did so proudly, and every time afterward when a blood drive was held. At this stage of my life, I remained almost certain I would never have the chance at sex, as I’d never known a homosexual and figured that would never change. Finally, again I was 31, and whether it was from loneliness or enlightenment, all this changed. The next time I visited a bloodmobile, I had recently been tested for HIV. I tested negative and remain so to this day. When I came to that question, I felt confident in lying and donated. I hated lying though, and have never attempted to donate since.

    The post ‘It makes me frustrated and sad’ — stories from men who cannot donate blood appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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