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

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    A Turkish soldier on an armoured personnel carrier waves as they drive from the border back to their base in Karkamis on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 27, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas  - RTX2N8Z1

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  The United States warned Turkey today over its military drive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria.  Turkish tanks and planes are backing Syrian rebels in attacks on the Kurds, who are supported by the U.S.

    Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the Turks need to focus on the Islamic State.

    ASH CARTER, Secretary of Defense:  American interests are quite clear.  We are — we, like they, want to combat ISIL, and we want — we’re calling on them all now.  Let’s keep our priorities clear here and helping them to deconflict, so to speak, on the battlefield.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  Turkish s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted today the Kurdish group is an arm of the Islamic State.  Meanwhile, the White House announced President Obama will meet with Erdogan on Sunday at an economic summit in China.

    GWEN IFILL:  In Yemen, at least 54 people died when a suicide truck bomb tore into a gathering of military recruits.  The Islamic State group claimed the attack, in the southern city of Aden, near two schools and a mosque.  Officials said the attacker drove through a gate and exploded a pickup truck.  In addition to the dead, nearly 70 people were wounded.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  Thousands of migrants were pulled from the sea off Libya today in a new surge of sailings.  The mostly African migrants were trying to reach Italy.  Rescuers reached dozens of wooden boats packed with people, including women and young children.  Some leaped into the water to swim toward rescue ships.

    GWEN IFILL:  A permanent cease-fire is now in effect in Colombia.

    The formal halt to hostilities took place today, after the government and leftist FARC rebels agreed to end 52 years of warfare.  Colombia will hold a national referendum on the peace accord in October.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  Brazil’s suspended President Dilma Rousseff proclaimed her innocence today at her impeachment trial.  She said the effort to oust her on charges of breaking budget rules amounts to a coup.  Rousseff choked back tears during her speech, and charged that the country’s economic elite want her overthrown.

    DILMA ROUSSEFF, Suspended President, Brazil (through translator):  In the face of these accusations against me, I cannot stop feeling in my mouth the sharp and bitter taste of injustice.  Don’t expect me to be silent against cowards, who in the past used weapons, and today aimed to undermine democracy and the rule of law.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  The Brazilian Senate will vote within days on whether to remove Rousseff from office.

    GWEN IFILL:  Back in this country, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted fast-track approval of a test to detect the Zika virus.  The blood test made by Roche will be used to screen patients who have symptoms of Zika, and to screen donated blood.

    So far, about 2,500 cases of Zika have been reported in the U.S.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  In the presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton’s vice chair is leaving her husband over reports that he sent sexual text messages to another woman again.  Huma Abedin married then-Congressman Anthony Weiner in 2010.  But he’s repeatedly been accused of so-called sexting.

    Republican Donald Trump claimed today that Weiner had access to government secrets through Abedin.  He said it shows Clinton’s bad judgment.

    GWEN IFILL:  Bank stocks led Wall Street today, amid talk of higher interest rates.  The Dow Jones industrial average gained 107 points to close above 18,500.  The Nasdaq rose 13 points and the S&P 500 added 11.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  And two deaths of note:  The Latin music world mourned today for Juan Gabriel, Mexico’s top-selling singer-songwriter.  He died of a heart attack on Sunday.  Gabriel’s ballads about love and heartbreak often paired with a full mariachi band were widely popular throughout Latin America and with Spanish speakers in the U.S.  Juan Gabriel was 66 years old.

    GWEN IFILL:  And actor Gene Wilder died last night at his home in Connecticut.  He had Alzheimer’s disease.  He had major hits in the 1960s and 1970s with “The Producers,” Blazing Saddles,” and “Young Frankenstein.”  And he was the lead in the 1971 version of “Willy Wonka and the Charlie Factory.”

    GENE WILDER, Actor (singing):  There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination.  Living there, you will be free, if you truly wish to be.

    GWEN IFILL:  Gene Wilder was 83 years old.

    The post News Wrap: U.S. tells Turkey to focus attacks on ISIS, not Kurds, in Syria appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A housing construction project is seen in San Francisco, California June 2, 2015. The median rent for an apartment in the city is now $4,225 per month, according to local media. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

    A housing construction project is seen in San Francisco, California June 2, 2015. The median rent for an apartment in the city is now $4,225 per month, according to local media. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

    Nearly a decade after the Great Recession stalled construction nationwide, the industry is roaring back: In 43 states, construction is now contributing more to the economy than it did in 2010, creating a demand for skilled workers and transforming skylines from Boston to Oklahoma City.

    Overall, the construction industry’s impact on U.S. gross domestic product has grown by more than 21 percent since its low point in 2011, according to a Stateline analysis of inflation-adjusted data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

    This year, construction’s contribution to the U.S. economy soared above $650 billion for the first time since 2008.

    The only states that haven’t experienced construction-related economic growth since 2010 are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Maine, Mississippi, New Mexico and Wyoming.

    Three of the seven states — Alaska, New Mexico and Wyoming — have economies that are closely tied to slumping energy markets, and Alabama, Alaska, Maine, Mississippi and New Mexico have experienced slow population growth.

    “Population growth accounts for a great deal of construction work,” said Alex Carrick, chief economist for ConstructConnect, an organization of construction professionals.

    Arizona has had relatively robust population growth and it isn’t heavily reliant on energy, but it has been hampered by the Phoenix housing market, which more than other cities was overbuilt in the housing bubble, Carrick said.

    About 6.7 million people were employed in construction last month, up from a low of 5.4 million in January 2011. In 2006, at the peak of the last housing boom, the industry employed 7.7 million people.

    To a large extent, the surge reflects pent-up demand, according to Kim Kennedy, manager of forecasting for Dodge Data & Analytics, which studies the construction industry in North America.

    In 2010 and 2011, in the aftermath of the recession, there were fewer apartments and other buildings constructed than at any other time since the late 1960s, Kennedy said.

    “The industry is still struggling to regain what it lost and after five years of expansion, still hasn’t made it back,” Kennedy said.

    Millennials — who were born starting in 1982 and often have a taste for city life and are willing to move in search of work — have helped fuel a boom in apartment construction, especially in Colorado and on the West Coast.

    Cheap natural gas is spurring the construction of fertilizer plants in the Midwest, and numerous data centers are going up in Nevada and California, said Brian Turmail of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

    Recession-delayed work on roads, bridges and other infrastructure also is fueling the increase, he said.

    As the building of new housing, offices and roads continues apace, many construction firms are struggling to find enough workers, especially skilled workers such as carpenters and electricians.

    In a 2015 survey by the AGC, 86 percent of respondents reported having trouble filling available positions, up from 81 percent in 2013.

    “Carpenters, sheet metal installers, concrete workers, project managers and supervisors are particularly hard to find,” the survey found. “Every part of the country is experiencing construction worker shortages, but the most severe shortages are in the Midwest.”

    California firms also face serious workforce challenges, according to Ed Coghlan of the California Economic Summit.

    “Hundreds of thousands of California construction jobs evaporated during the Great Recession and people left the business,” Coghlan said. “Folks either started doing others things or moved out of California.”

    Calls for Vocational Education
    The construction boom offers opportunities for the 30,000 energy workers displaced by the sharp decline in oil and gas prices since December 2014. But many will require additional training for the construction jobs that are available, according to Tyson Conrad, a Florida consultant who recruits electricians for builders.

    “You’re not going to learn these trades overnight — there are four-year apprenticeships,” Conrad said. “But it’s true that construction is a place where a guy doesn’t have to go to college to make a six-figure income.”

    Some builders are calling for states to create or expand vocational training programs as a way to produce more skilled construction workers, many of whom retired or moved on to other professions when the industry shed more than 2.2 million jobs between 2007 and 2011.

    In a 2015 report, the AGC complained that the national decline in manufacturing has prompted many high schools to de-emphasize the trades in favor of college preparation.

    “The consequence has been the overwhelming impression among youths, their parents and teachers that career and technical education is unacceptable, despite the fact that construction jobs often pay better than many post-college options,” the organization argued while calling for more vocational education.

    Historic Numbers
    Construction has been one of the few bright spots for states such as Oklahoma and Iowa, where steep decreases in oil and grain prices have hampered the overall economy.

    Oklahoma City is having its biggest year for downtown construction since 1930, said Steve Lackmeyer, the author of five books about the history of the city.

    The new construction, which includes apartments and a proposed convention center, helped boost construction-related employment by 7.7 percent since last year, the largest increase of any economic sector.

    Iowa raisedroad use taxes” on gas and car registrations last year, allowing long-delayed road construction to start statewide. In addition, a 2008 increase in the statewide sales tax is providing $1.5 billion annually for school construction and repair, said David Swenson, an economist at Iowa State University.

    Even though two-thirds of Iowa counties are losing population, cities like Des Moines, Iowa City and Ames are seeing strong demand for new housing, Swenson said.

    Fertilizer plants fueled by natural gas also are under construction, as are wind farms and ethanol plants.

    On the other side of the country in Boston, “one of the three biggest building booms in the city’s history” is underway, according to Nick Martin of the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

    Martin said the $6 billion in development his agency has approved this year is comparable to the boom of the 1970s and the giant landfill project that created the city’s famous Back Bay neighborhood in the 19th century.

    The post U.S. construction is on the rebound after the Great Recession appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Doctors nationwide are prescribing multiple medications to elderly patients with chronic diseases, according to a new report from Kaiser Health News. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

    Doctors nationwide are prescribing multiple medications to elderly patients with chronic diseases, according to a new report from Kaiser Health News. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

    SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Dominick Bailey sat at his computer, scrutinizing the medication lists of patients in the geriatric unit.

    A doctor had prescribed blood pressure medication for a 99-year-old woman at a dose that could cause her to faint or fall. An 84-year-old woman hospitalized for knee surgery was taking several drugs that were not meant for older patients because of their severe potential side effects.

    And then there was 74-year-old Lola Cal. She had a long history of health problems, including high blood pressure and respiratory disease. She was in the hospital with pneumonia and had difficulty breathing. Her medical records showed she was on 36 medications.

    “This is actually a little bit alarming,” Bailey said.

    He was concerned about the sheer number of drugs, but even more worried that several of them — including ones to treat insomnia and pain — could suppress Cal’s breathing.

    An increasing number of elderly patients nationwide are on multiple medications to treat chronic diseases, raising their chances of dangerous drug interactions and serious side effects.

    An increasing number of elderly patients nationwide are on multiple medications to treat chronic diseases, raising their chances of dangerous drug interactions and serious side effects. Often the drugs are prescribed by different specialists who don’t communicate with each other. If those patients are hospitalized, doctors making the rounds add to the list — and some of the drugs they prescribe may be unnecessary or unsuitable.

    “This is America’s other drug problem — polypharmacy,” said Dr. Maristela Garcia, director of the inpatient geriatric unit at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica. “And the problem is huge.”

    The medical center, where Bailey also works, is intended specifically for treating older people. One of its goals is to ensure that elderly patients are not harmed by drugs meant to heal them.

    That work falls largely to Bailey, a clinical pharmacist specializing in geriatric care.

    Some drugs can cause confusion, falling, excessive bleeding, low blood pressure and respiratory complications in older patients, according to research and experts.

    Older adults account for about 35 percent of all hospital stays but more than half of the visits that are marred by drug-related complications, according to a 2014 action plan by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Such complications add about three days to the average stay, the agency said.

    Data on financial losses linked to medication problems among elderly hospital patients is limited. But the Institute of Medicine determined in 2006 that at least 400,000 preventable “adverse drug events” occur each year in American hospitals. Such events, which can result from the wrong prescription or the wrong dosage, push health care costs up annually by about $3.5 billion (in 2006 dollars).

    And even if a drug doesn’t cause an adverse reaction, that doesn’t mean the patient necessarily needs it. A study of Veterans Affairs hospitals showed that 44 percent of frail elderly patients were given at least one unnecessary drug at discharge.

    “There are a lot of souvenirs from being in the hospital: medicines they may not need,” said David Reuben, chief of the geriatrics division at UCLA School of Medicine.

    Some drugs prescribed in the hospital are intended to treat the acute illnesses for which the patients were admitted; others are to prevent problems such as nausea or blood clots. Still others are meant to control side effects of the original medications.

    University of California, San Francisco researcher and physician Ken Covinsky, said many doctors who prescribe drugs in hospitals don’t consider how long those medications might be needed. “There’s a tendency in medicine every time we start a medicine to never stop it,” Covinsky said.

    When doctors in the hospital change or add to the list of medications, patients often return home uncertain about what to take. If patients have dementia or are unclear about their medications, and they don’t have a family member or a caregiver to help, the consequences can be disastrous.

    One 2013 study found that nearly a fifth of patients discharged had prescription-related medical complications during their first 45 days at home.

    One 2013 study found that nearly a fifth of patients discharged had prescription-related medical complications during their first 45 days at home. About 35 percent of those complications were preventable, and 5 percent were life-threatening.

    UCLA hired Bailey about three years ago, after he completed a residency at University of California, Davis. The idea was to bring a pharmacist into the hospital’s geriatric unit to improve care and reduce readmissions among older patients.

    Speaking from his hospital bed at UCLA’s Santa Monica hospital, 79-year-old Will Carter said that before he was admitted with intense leg pain, he had been taking about a dozen different drugs for diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis.

    Doctors in the hospital lowered the doses of his blood pressure and diabetes medications and added a drug to help him urinate. Bailey carefully explained the changes to him. Still, Carter said he was worried he might take the drugs incorrectly at home and end up back in the hospital.

    “I’m very confused about it, to tell you the truth,” he said after talking to Bailey. “It’s complicated. And if the pills are not right, you are in trouble.”

    Having a pharmacist like Bailey on the team caring for older patients can reduce drug complications and hospitalizations, according to a 2013 analysis of several studies published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

    Over a six-month stretch after Bailey started working in UCLA’s Santa Monica geriatric unit, readmissions related to drug problems declined from 22 to three. At the time, patients on the unit were taking an average of about 14 different medications each.

    Bailey is energetic and constantly on the go. He started one morning recently with a short lecture to medical residents in which he reminded them that many drugs act differently in older patients than in younger ones.

    “As you know, our elderly are already at risk for an accumulation of drugs in their body,” he told the group. “If you put a drug that has a really long half-life, it is going to last even longer in our elderly.”

    The geriatric unit has limited beds, so older patients are spread throughout the hospital. Bailey’s services are in demand. He gets paged throughout the day by doctors with questions about which medications are best for older patients or how different drugs interact. And he quickly moves from room to room, reviewing drug lists with patients.

    Bailey said he tries to answer several questions in order to determine what’s best for a patient. Is the drug needed? Is the dose right? Is it going to cause a problem?

    One of his go-to references is known as the Beers list — a compilation of medications that are potentially harmful for older patients. The list, named for the doctor who created it and produced by the American Geriatrics Society, includes dozens of medications, including some antidepressants and antipsychotics.

    When he’s not talking to other doctors at the hospital, Bailey is often on the line with other pharmacists, physicians and relatives to make sure his patients’ medication lists are accurate and up to date. He also monitors patients’ new drugs, counsels patients about their prescriptions before they are discharged and calls them afterward to make sure they are taking the medications properly.

    “Medications only work if you take them,” Bailey said dryly. “If they sit on the shelf, they don’t work.”

    That was one of his main worries about Cal, the 74-year old with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Standing at her bedside, Bailey pored over the list of 36 drugs. Cal told him she only took the medications that she thought seemed important.

    “It is figuring out what they need versus what they can survive without.”

    Bailey explained to Cal that he and the doctors were going to make some changes. They would eliminate unnecessary and duplicate drugs, including some that could inhibit her breathing. Then she should take as prescribed all of the medications that remained on the list.

    Bailey said he’s constantly weighing the risks versus the benefits of medications for elderly patients like Cal.

    “It is figuring out what they need,” he said, “versus what they can survive without.”

    The post Has overmedicating seniors become ‘America’s other drug problem’? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    An illustration picture shows a projection of binary code on a man holding a laptop computer, in an office in Warsaw June 24, 2013. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

    An illustration picture shows a projection of binary code on a man holding a laptop computer, in an office in Warsaw June 24, 2013. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

    WASHINGTON — FBI Director James Comey is again warning about the bureau’s inability to access digital devices because of encryption.

    In a speech Tuesday, Comey said default encryption built into smartphones is “making more and more of the room that we are charged to investigate dark.”

    He said the FBI is working to collect information on the issue so that “next year we can have an adult conversation in this country.”

    He said that while Americans have a reasonable expectation of privacy in houses, cars and electronic devices, law enforcement officials can “invade our private spaces” with legal approval. Comey said that “bargain” has been part of the country since its founding.

    Comey spoke at a symposium organized by Symantec, a software technology company.

    The post FBI director says encryption obstructs bureau’s access to smartphones appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Longtime aide to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, waits in the wings as Clinton  makes a campaign stop in Fresno, California. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    Longtime aide to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, waits in the wings as Clinton makes a campaign stop in Fresno, California. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — Longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin has won plaudits for her campaign instincts, her deep-rooted loyalty and her glamorous personal style. But she has been pushed into the spotlight for another attribute — as a wronged political wife.

    Abedin, who is expected to play a major behind-the scenes role if her boss is elected president, announced Monday she was separating from her husband, Anthony Weiner, after the former New York congressman was accused of sending lewd photographs and messages to yet another woman.

    It wasn’t the first time Abedin was confronted with her husband’s raunchy recklessness.

    Weiner, a Democrat, resigned his seat amid a 2011 media firestorm that erupted after he texted suggestive photos of himself to several women. When he ran for mayor of New York City two years later, his campaign stumbled when it was revealed he was still sexting women who were not his wife.

    Declaring the marriage over, Abedin said in a statement that she had decided to separate from Weiner “after long and painful consideration and work on my marriage.” The couple has a young son, Jordan.

    Weiner didn’t return a call, text or email from The Associated Press. He deleted his Twitter account Monday.

    The 41-year-old Abedin, now vice chairwoman of Clinton’s campaign, began working for the former first lady while a student at George Washington University in 1996. Her role deepened as Clinton won a New York Senate seat in 2000, ran for president in 2008 and later served as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state.

    “With Huma, her grace, her intellect and her humility have been unmatched as I’ve watched her go from an aide to an adviser to one of the people at the top of my campaign,” Clinton said in a recent profile of Abedin in Vogue.

    With roughly two months to Election Day, Abedin is Clinton’s near-constant travel companion and has long exerted great influence within Clinton’s inner circle — a role in which she is expected to continue should Clinton win the White House. Few major decisions in the campaign are made without Abedin’s input, and she remains an important back-channel in the Clinton orbit of friends, political allies and donors.

    Stylish and poised, Abedin carries enough clout within Clinton circles to headline high-profile fundraisers, as she did in 2015 alongside Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour in Paris, raising money from Americans living abroad. She’s close enough to the Clintons that former President Bill Clinton officiated when Abedin and Weiner married in 2010.

    Before The New York Post published photos late Sunday that it said Weiner sent last year to a woman identified as a “40-something divorcee,” Abedin was spotted outside a Clinton fundraiser at the Southampton home of philanthropist Marcia Riklis.

    A friend of Abedin, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the breakup, said she was with her young son, Jordan, and her family members in the Hamptons during the weekend. Abedin’s friend said the separation from Weiner had been brewing for some time.

    At the State Department, Abedin served as a jack-of-all-trades to Clinton, helping her with everything from scheduling meetings and arranging phone calls around the globe to offering fashion advice. In an early morning email to Clinton in August 2009, Abedin advised her to “wear a dark color today. Maybe the new dark green suit. Or blue.”

    Abedin’s behind-the-scenes role has often drawn unwanted attention. Her email exchanges with Clinton were closely scrutinized during the Justice Department’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server. Federal prosecutors ultimately declined to issue charges in the cases.

    Congressional Republicans have raised questions about whether Abedin skirted ethics guidelines during her 2012 work as an adviser to Clinton while she also worked for Teneo Holdings, a consulting firm co-founded by Doug Band, a former aide to former President Bill Clinton.

    Republicans have also alleged that donors to the Clinton Foundation got preferential treatment while Clinton was secretary of state. Last week, the group Judicial Watch released several previously undisclosed exchanges turned over by Abedin that included a 2009 message she received from Band — a foundation official at the time — seeking a meeting with Hillary Clinton for the crown prince of Bahrain.

    Crown Prince Salman had made a $32 million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative, a program run by the foundation. Copies of Clinton’s calendar obtained by AP confirm the meeting occurred in her State Department office on June 26, 2009. The State Department has said there was nothing improper or unusual about the messages with Clinton Foundation staff.

    Abedin’s marriage has also come under fire from Clinton’s Republican opponent Donald Trump, who immediately seized on the aide’s marital split to accuse Clinton of “bad judgment.” He suggested that Weiner might have compromised national security, but offered no evidence to support the allegation.

    “I only worry for the country in that Hillary Clinton was careless and negligent in allowing Weiner to have such close proximity to highly classified information,” Trump said in a statement. “Who knows what he learned and who he told?”

    Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz contributed from New York.

    SUBSCRIBE: Get the analysis of Mark Shields and David Brooks delivered to your inbox every week.

    The post Latest Weiner scandal pushes Clinton aide Huma Abedin into spotlight again appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton testifies before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, on Capitol Hill in Washington October 22, 2015. The congressional committee is investigating the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, when Clinton was the secretary of state.          REUTERS/Gary Cameron  - RTS5NL3

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton testifies before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, on Capitol Hill in Washington October 22, 2015. The congressional committee is investigating the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, when Clinton was the secretary of state. REUTERS/Gary Cameron – RTS5NL3

    WASHINGTON — The FBI is expected to release documents soon related to its investigation into Hillary Clinton and her use of a private email server.

    A law enforcement official said Tuesday that documents in the case would be made public as the FBI responds to Freedom of Information Act requests.

    It wasn’t immediately clear when the documents would be released or exactly what they would include. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

    The FBI this month provided Congress portions of its file from the agency’s yearlong investigation into whether then-Secretary of State Clinton and her top aides mishandled classified information that flowed through a private email server.

    CNN reported that the records could be made public as early as Wednesday.

    The post FBI may release documents from its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    An airplane flies over a drone Jan. 1, 2015. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    An airplane flies over a drone Jan. 1, 2015. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — There will be 600,000 commercial drone aircraft operating in the U.S. within the year as the result of new safety rules that opened the skies to them on Monday, according to a Federal Aviation Administration estimate.

    The rules governing the operation of small commercial drones were designed to protect safety without stifling innovation, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told a news conference.

    Commercial operators initially complained that the new rules would be too rigid. The agency responded by creating a system to grant exemptions to some of the rules for companies that show they can operate safely, Huerta said.

    On the first day the rules were in effect the FAA had already granted 76 exemptions, most of them to companies that want to fly drones at night, Huerta said.

    “With these rules, we have created an environment in which emerging technology can be rapidly introduced while protecting the safety of the world’s busiest, most complex airspace,” he said.

    Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said people are “captivated by the limitless possibilities unmanned aircraft offer.” The few thousand commercial drones that had been granted waivers to operate before Monday have been used to monitor crops, inspect bridges and transmission lines, assist firefighters, film movies, and create real estate and wedding videos, among dozens of other uses.

    In general, the new rules apply to drones weighing 55 pounds or less, and require commercial operators to:

    • Keep the drone within sight at all times.
    • Keep drones from flying over people not involved in their operation.
    • Limit drone operations to the hours from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset.
    • Limit speed to no more than 100 mph.
    • Fly no higher than 400 feet.

    Drone operators must also pass a test of their aeronautical knowledge administered by the FAA. More than 3,000 people had registered with the FAA to take the test as of Monday.

    The Air Line Pilots Association complained that the new regulations are “missing a key component” because there’s no requirement that drone operators first have an FAA pilot license to fly a plane. The FAA considered requiring drone operators to have manned aircraft pilot licenses, but relented when the drone industry complained that the time and expense involved in obtaining a license, including considerable time practicing flying a plane, would be prohibitive.

    The post 600,000 commercial drones may soon fill the sky. Here are the FAA’s new drone rules appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager gestures during a news conference on Ireland's tax dealings with Apple Inc at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium August 30, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Vidal

    European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager gestures during a news conference on Ireland’s tax dealings with Apple Inc at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium August 30, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Vidal

    The European Union ordered Apple on Tuesday to pay $14.5 billion to Ireland in back taxes, plus interest, after finding that the Irish government provided the U.S. company with 11 years of illegal tax benefits.

    EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said an in-depth investigation found that Ireland’s “selective treatment” of the multinational company allowed Apple to pay an effective corporate tax rate of 0.005 percent on its European profits in 2014, down from 1 percent in 2003.

    “Member states cannot give tax benefits to selected companies – this is illegal under EU state aid rules,” Vestager said in a statement.

    Both Apple and Ireland vehemently oppose the ruling and plan to appeal.

    “At its root, the Commission’s case is not about how much Apple pays in taxes,” Apple said in a statement. “It is about which government collects the money.”

    The company went on to say that the European Commission is trying to “rewrite Apple’s history in Europe, ignore Ireland’s tax laws and upend the international tax system in the process.”

    Ireland also resisted the investigation’s conclusion.

    “I disagree profoundly with the Commission’s decision,” Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan said in a statement. “Our tax system is founded on the strict application of the law.”

    Noonan announced he will seek Cabinet approval for an appeal, calling the EU’s decision an encroachment on one of its sovereign member states. He also pointed out that Apple employs thousands of people in the region.

    The U.S. Treasury released a white paper last week on EU state aid investigations and accused the Commission of disproportionately targeting American companies and using an approach that is “inconsistent with international norms and undermines the international tax system.”

    The post European Union orders Apple to pay Ireland $14.5 billion in back taxes appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can breed in a drop of water. Here, their larvae are pictured. Photo by Dean Calma/IAEA/via Flickr

    Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can breed in a drop of water. Here, their larvae are pictured. Photo by Dean Calma/IAEA/via Flickr

    Zika virus passes from mother mosquitoes to eggs, based on new observations from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Known as vertical transmission, the habit is common in the flavivirus family to which Zika belongs. And the pattern may guarantee the disease’s perpetuation in the Americas for years to come.

    Mosquito eggs are the insect’s hidden ace in the game of disease control.

    “It makes mosquito control more difficult,” said pathologist Robert Tesh of UT Medical Branch, who led the study published Monday in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. “Vertical transmission provides a mechanism for the virus to survive from one season to another.”

    Mosquito eggs are the insect’s hidden ace in the game of disease control. Mosquitoes lay their eggs just above the surface of the water in a container. When the receptacle fills with water, the eggs get covered and hatch. However, if the container dries out, the eggs just sit there. Their shells are resistant to heat and cold. Eggs, therefore, make a great hideout for a virus to survive the winter or a dry season in the tropics, while its main ferrymen — adult mosquitoes — die off.

    As a result, vertical transmission of a virus from mother mosquito to egg can play a crucial role in the resurgence of an outbreak. “A number of other flaviviruses have demonstrated vertical transmission, including dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, West Nile,” Tesh said.

    Tesh’s team conducted a straightforward experiment to discover the phenomenon with Zika virus in Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, the two primary carriers of the disease. One hundred pregnant mosquitoes from each species were infected with Zika. When mosquitoes suck up blood infected with flaviviruses, the germs tend to enter every organ, including the ovaries. These infected bugs laid eggs, and the scientists raised the resulting larvae to adulthood, whereupon they examined the spawn for the presence of Zika virus. The team found 1 in 290 mosquitoes in the next generation carried the disease.

    Aedes aegypti mosquito. Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture

    Aedes aegypti mosquito. Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture

    That’s not a very high rate. Females mosquitoes infected with La Crosse viruses, for instance, transfer the diseases to 70 or 80 percent of their offspring, which may explain why diseases like California encephalitis remain a persistent problem, Tesh said. However, 1 in 290 is a typical rate for flaviviruses like Zika and enough to extend survival across seasons.

    Mosquito eggs also are resistant to chemicals.

    “It only takes a few. If you have just a few eggs that are infected — like 1 in 290 — then there will be a few individuals that will hatch,” Tesh said. “When they grow to be adults, and they find a susceptible human, then they can transmit the virus and get the cycle started again.”

    Mosquito eggs are also resistant to chemicals, Tesh said, so insecticide spraying or putting larvicide in standing water won’t remove them. He said the best way to get rid of the mosquito eggs is by removing all the receptacles that collect water, such as old tires and plant pots in people’s backyards. Communities in the tropics, which tend to collect rain water, should periodically scrub their tanks to eliminate mosquito eggs.

    Vertical transmission won’t cause Zika to explode, Tesh said, given it doesn’t change how often the virus passes between mosquitoes and human or rates of sexual transmission. However, he said it’s important to remember mosquito biology in the journey to eradicate Zika virus.

    The post Zika stays in the family, mother mosquitoes pass virus to eggs appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Video produced by Stephen Hegg, KCTS 9.

    There’s an old video of Julian Morris when he’s maybe 6 or 7 years old, singing “Sweet Baby James” with his father. He’s sitting cross-legged, singing along, dropping words when he forgets them, never breaking eye contact with his dad. In that grainy footage, Julian’s gender is a coin toss. And the reality of his gender was just as fuzzy. At the time, the child in that video was known as a little girl, but from Julian’s first memories, that label never felt right.

    All through high school and college, Julian would carry a nostalgia for childhood, when gender was less defined. But as Julian aged, there was no Caitlyn Jenner or Laverne Cox. There were no sitcoms for gender dysphoria, no young adult novels either, and so Julian had no way of understanding, or even talking about being transgender.

    Instead, when he realized he was attracted to women, Julian pushed aside questions of gender for questions of sexuality. “I didn’t really even know what trans was,” he says. “If I had had examples of trans people around me, it could have clicked a lot sooner. But unfortunately I didn’t, so I went to the closest identity I thought of maybe being accurate, which was gay.”

    As Julian struggled to come to grips with his feelings of gender dysphoria, his music had become a refuge.

    When he was 16, he told his friends and family he was gay. Imagine: taking the harrowing step of coming out as gay at 16, but it’s still not right. It would be more than a decade before he’d come out all over again. And when he did, he’d risk losing the one thing that got him through the years of turmoil.

    I first met Julian in college, in Portland. He was one of those people with whom, for whatever reason, you want to share your secrets and spill your hopes and concerns for the future.

    As with many of Julian’s friends, I particularly connected with him through music. I played drums for him in a folk rock band, rattling out a brand of train-car rhythms like you might hear on a washboard. Never in my life have I felt like such a rock star. The shows were sweaty and cramped into basements. We’d drink too much and play too fast, but somehow Julian could cut through all of that.

    As Julian struggled to come to grips with his feelings of gender dysphoria, his music had become a refuge. Where his gender was a point of wavering and questioning, Julian’s voice, the same one that would start as a seed in his childhood sing-alongs with his father and grow stronger as he aged, kept him grounded. It gave him an identity that made sense: he was a singer.

    “There was a huge ball of pain that I was carrying around with my gender identity,” he says. “Singing was a place that I knew I could go to be seen and celebrated and appreciated in the world.”

    Julian’s singing voice was never feminine, not exactly. It lived in a more androgynous space occupied by the likes of Tracy Chapman: breathy, gravelly, scraping low notes without ever landing on them directly.

    Julian was proud of the androgyny in his voice. But if he needed to, he could still hit notes out of range to most men. He’d lift his chin to pull his larynx tight before jumping to a heady falsetto, as a yodeler might do. And he’d settle there, lingering on vowels, stretching them out long enough to expose the vulnerability in a word. He could make the consonants guarding the space inside “cheeks” or “cracks” feel soft. It was ideal for his brand of folksy rock — strong enough to hold a crowd, soft enough for nuance.

    “He had a really forceful, and almost acrobatic voice,” says John Value, the drummer in the Portland band Little Star, where Julian now plays bass. “He’ll just throw in triplets and things that are not simple, but he makes them sound simple.”

    Julian had been singing since he was a kid in choirs, but it wasn’t until high school that it became a form of self-expression. His songs centered on relationships past, present and future. Sometimes he’d sing as if speaking directly to someone, like he was reading a letter. Every song had a tension that seemed to be borne out of misconnections with other people or himself.

    Something, he seemed to say, was just a little off.

    Listening to Julian, you got the feeling that you were hearing something deeply personal, both in the lyrics themselves and in the way that he delivered them. He could quiet a room or tear its roof off, and either way people heard him and wanted to be closer. It was voyeurism with a permission slip.

    “I saw it as my little niche, my space… it was a place I could go to find love from some people,” he said.

    When you’ve teetered on the edge of something as long as Julian had with his gender, it only takes a gentle push to put things into motion. After college, Julian moved in with a friend named Nash who’d gone through a transition and went by the gender-neutral pronouns “they” and “them.” That was all he needed. In many ways, Julian had long ago made his decision about his gender, but just needed a framework to lay it on. Nash was living proof it could be done and done well.

    “When your mind feels like a different gender than is built on your body,” says Julian, “it is just not really a relationship that you can right. You can go a lot of places and do a lot of things, but you cannot get out of your body.”

    Top surgery was first. He went back to Massachusetts to have the operation, to be near his family. After the surgery, Julian would ride bikes in tank tops, the wind on his chest. He’d float rivers with his shirt off, tanning his stomach and the scars beneath his nipples. His shoulders rolled back and his chest puffed out as he no longer cowered from the world. How freeing, to celebrate your body after hiding it for so many years.

    The second step was harder: hormones. With hormones it’s not like going to sleep with breasts and waking up without. The before and after of taking them is as uncertain as puberty, with A not leading to B, but possibly too many things all at once: acne, body hair, changes in emotion, strength.

    Everything is on the table and there’s no way of knowing what will change and how much. Julian’s close friends of course stood near, but he would be striking out on his own, changing in a way that few would truly understand. This would be like going through puberty and coming out all at once. His name would be different, and his pronouns too. He’d encounter people unable or unwilling to call him “him.”

    Hardest of all for Julian, however, was the question of his voice. When a cisgender male — that is, a person with a man’s body who identifies as male — hits puberty, his vocal cords get thicker and his larynx gets bigger. For a trans male taking hormones, the vocal cords get thicker, but the larynx doesn’t change — it’s already hardened. “So it’s always going to be a little bit different instrument then it would be for a cisgender person,” says Peter Fullerton, Julian’s vocal teacher.

    Muscle development, facial hair, the shape of his body — these were all things Julian understood and desired. But his voice? Every song he’d written since he was 16, a breadcrumb trail of his relationships and self-examination through some of his most vulnerable years, was crafted for that voice. Even specific words fit with pitches Julian was used to singing — an “ee” sound works better in higher registers while an “oh” sound works for low. Could Julian sing the words “we” or “me” like he used to?

    As he learned more about what it meant to transition, the verdict was blunt: There’s no way to know. “To be that risky with something as important as your instrument felt pretty f—ing scary,” he says.

    But what would Julian’s voice symbolize if he didn’t go through with it? Were Julian to not take the plunge, that once warm space he could go to would turn cold, transformed from a safety blanket to the barrier that prevented him from taking a necessary step.

    After he made the decision to take the hormones, Julian mostly stopped writing music. What’s the point, he thought, if in a few months I won’t be able to sing my songs?

    “I had a breakthrough moment talking to my partner, that if my voice was the thing that was holding me back from transitioning, then I don’t think I could get behind that voice. If all I had was my voice, then that wouldn’t be enough.”

    After he made the decision to take the hormones, Julian mostly stopped writing music. What’s the point, he thought, if in a few months I won’t be able to sing my songs?

    But he did write one more song. It’s called “Voice.” It’s a heavy song, with deep bass and harmonics on the guitar. While it starts low, it crescendos with the chorus “I’m going to give you my voice.” The note on the word “voice” is so belting and high that Julian knew he wouldn’t be able to sing it as his voice changed. “Voice” would be the barometer by which Julian could measure his evolution.

    He started on a half dose of hormones once a week — housed in an oil and stabbed into his thigh for slow release — to see how his body would take it, so the initial changes were slow. Little Star was still playing “Voice” at their shows and Julian was hitting the note. But every time they would, Julian would wonder if it was the last time.

    When he started taking the full dose, things moved more quickly. His voice began to drop and he started getting stronger. Eventually, some of the falsetto and throaty notes started fading. Julian was reaching further as he sung and it was beginning to hurt. He worried.

    “My voice is already in a pretty vulnerable place and it’s changing and if I try and sing these same ways I don’t know if it’s going to work and I could damage my voice.”

    Julian tried to transpose his music down to match the changes. But the falsetto, the choice of words didn’t work at a lower register. So he killed them all.

    None was more powerful than the death of “Voice.” “He hit that note and he nailed that note and then he couldn’t sing it anymore,” says Value. “I just can’t emphasize enough how someone can turn songwriting into this exercise of sacrifice and meaning. I don’t think that there could be a better testament to what he went through than that song.”

    For a time, Julian was happy to take the backseat as the bass player for Little Star and the drummer for another band, Post Moves. There, he could reconcile with his changing musicality and occasionally sing harmony as practice. For the first time in a decade, he didn’t feel the pressure to write.

    Watch next: After police shooting, San Francisco actors tackle racial profiling

    Lately, Julian has been developing his lower voice. He found his teacher, Fullerton, who had experience teaching trans people to sing. He helped Julian explore his voice in ways he’d never done before — to keep his airways open, his shoulders back, to breath, and to not stretch his larynx.

    “Maybe it’s because I’m particularly attuned to it,” says Fullerton, “but I just hear something about the essential self. If you really listen to people and how they use their voice, there’s something really, really powerful that’s hard to hide. It just comes through.”

    It’s easy to fall in love with a voice and think you’re falling in love with the person behind it. I remember once in college, I was going through a hard time and had a terrible bout of insomnia. Julian had recorded this song that I’d listen to in the middle of the night as I lay awake. It was gentle, with almost doo-wop background vocals. Sometimes I’d fall asleep, other times I’d just listen. Other people heard that song, but not like I heard it.

    A lot of people would tell Julian what they heard in his voice. I know because I saw it happen. To have people like me say, “Your voice helped me through a hard time” — what a hard thing to let go of.

    “You really have to be willing to give a lot up,” says Julian. “You have to be willing to say, ‘Alright, I’m going to listen to myself and believe this is right, and I’m not going to know what’s going to happen. I don’t know how people are going to react to this, but I have to be willing to give it all to try.’”

    The song “Voice” was a sacrifice to that, to what Julian calls “whatever gods look after trans people.”

    “Of all these things I’m going to put out into the world and not know what was happening, my voice was the most precious piece of that offering,” Julian says. “That’s the thing I have to give in the hopes of having a body and existence that just feels better to me.”

    Video originally appeared on local station KCTS 9 in Seattle. The producer was Stephen Hegg, photographer was Christopher Nolan and the editor was Amy Mahardy. Additional video courtesy: Julian Morris, Little Star. Local Beat is an ongoing series on Art Beat that features arts and culture stories from PBS member stations around the nation.

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    MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 09: Campaign volunteers for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump make phone calls to New Hampshire voters at Trump's campaign office on February 9, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Voters throughout the state are heading to the polls as the New Hampshire Primary, also known as the first-in-the-nation primary, continues the process of selecting the next president of the United States. (Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)

    Campaign volunteers for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump make phone calls to New Hampshire voters at Trump’s campaign office on Feb. 9, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images

    As the presidential election marathon breaks into a final sprint, the Trump campaign faces a jaw-dropping gap in the ground game: Hillary Clinton currently has more than three times the number of campaign offices in critical states than does Donald Trump.

    The contrast is a test for the conventional campaign model and points to the candidates’ stark differences in methods. Clinton is cleaving to the data-driven, on-the-ground machine that won two elections for Barack Obama. Trump, on the other hand, insists he does not need traditional campaign tactics to win the election, pointing to his overwhelming nomination victory achieved with a relatively small team and little spending.

    Nevertheless, the ground game is poised to be critical in 2016. Undecided voters are becoming scarce, and targeted turnout may be the deciding factor on Nov. 8. That usually requires field offices with phone banks, organized volunteers and a coordinated effort to knock on doors and get people to the polls.

    To pinpoint campaign operations, PBS NewsHour compiled office data from 15 key states, speaking with state and national campaign officials, cross-referencing Federal Election Commission spending reports and checking local news coverage.


    As of Aug. 30, Hillary Clinton has 291 offices in those 15 battlegrounds. Donald Trump has 88. (Those figures include joint presidential and party offices.)  Both campaigns pledge that more offices are coming.  



    The Trump campaign says its number will more than double — adding another 132 offices — in coming days and weeks.

    Lagging so far behind in infrastructure as the campaigns enter the post-Labor Day blitz is unprecedented.

    But lagging so far behind in infrastructure as the campaigns enter the post-Labor Day blitz is unprecedented. To win, the Trump team hopes that their candidate can rewrite the laws of the ground game.

    Inside Campaign Offices

    Donald Trump’s suite of offices in Alexandria, Virginia, is not a campaign field office, we are told when we visit.

    That makes sense, given the lack of Trump posters or photos and the absence of any identifying sign outside the large glass doors. The solitary entryway campaign token is a Trump bobblehead doll, standing on the side of a long, brown and otherwise unadorned reception desk.  

    The sparsely-furnished space is devoted to national strategy and liaison work with Congress, an important function.

    But it sits in Virginia, which was a key battleground state but lately is moving away from the Trump campaign’s grasp. It is a state where Hillary Clinton has 29 field offices open. Trump has 18, one of his largest totals at the moment, but the campaign clarified that all 18 are Republican Party offices. Trump is set to open 25 of his own Virginia offices soon, the campaign says.  But until he does, the strategy hub was the closest thing we could find to a local Trump-staffed office.

    In contrast, Clinton’s nearby Alexandria office is smaller, but full of signs of on-the-ground campaign life: A giant calendar of community outreach events, a room set aside as a phone bank, and posters swirling local flavor into national mantras. One says “Hillary Ya’ll!” Another, “Virginia is Stronger Together.”

    Time, Not Space

    For the Trump campaign, the deeper issue may be time, not space.

    Take three make-or-break states. Pennsylvania has two Trump offices right now. North Carolina, one. Florida, the biggest swing state prize, also has just one – Trump’s Sarasota headquarters.

    No matter how many staffers get on the ground, the Trump campaign faces a question of timing in many swing counties.

    Those four Trump offices cover 165,000 square miles of critical election territory. Clinton has 100 offices in the same space.

    That is just right now. The Trump campaign plans to open 57 Trump offices in those three states in the next few weeks, according to Susie Wiles, a communications strategist for the campaign.

    But no matter how many staffers get on the ground, the Trump campaign faces a question of timing in many swing counties.

    “There’s an element of time required to get operational,” said Steve Schale, Obama’s campaign manager in Florida in 2008. “Little things like getting leases signed for offices, getting cell phones for organization, getting volunteers trained, these are not turnkey operations.”

    And even if Trump eventually closes the field office gap in Florida, the offices will be playing catch up compared to Clinton staffers who have been on the ground in the state for months, said Schale, who also served as a senior advisor to Obama’s Florida operation in 2012.

    Fewer Offices = A Different Game?

    The Trump campaign says it is reinventing the ground game. Its critics say the campaign simply doesn’t have one.

    “I haven’t seen a successful candidate with less infrastructure, particularly in a presidential campaign, than this one,” said one longtime Florida political insider who asked not to give his name to speak candidly about Trump’s operation.

    In response, Trump’s chief strategist in Florida points to an unconventional tactic just launched in the Sunshine State: three campaign RV’s on the road.

    The mobile offices, a way to stretch resources and miles, launched in the past week. Two were scheduled to move out Tuesday.   

    Trump “wants to go after every voter,” said Karen Giorno, the chief strategist for Trump in Florida. “Politicians take voters for granted, and the idea [of campaign offices] is the old guard, which Hillary represents. That the voter comes to them. We are not the old guard, Mr. Trump wants to go to the voters.”

    Giorno said one of the RV’s will focus on voters in the central I-4 corridor, between Tampa and Daytona. Another will tour farther north, from Pensacola to Jacksonville, along the I-10.  And the third will rove everywhere else as needed.

    The Trump campaign says it is reinventing the ground game. Its critics say the campaign does not have a ground game.

    Moreover, Giorno stresses, the campaign is focusing on an unquestionably important ground game component that does not require offices: registering voters.

    Since 2012, Republicans in Florida have registered some 300,000 more voters than Democrats. And Giorno has set a goal of registering 100,000 more Republicans in the next few weeks.

    “We are not unaware of the fact that the ground game is important,” she said, “But we haven’t stopped registering voters.”

    Clinton Strategy

    In contrast to Trump, the Clinton campaign has invested in hundreds of field offices in places across the political map, including in several traditionally conservative states like Virginia and North Carolina that have become toss-ups in recent elections.

    In Virginia, several of Clinton’s 29 offices are located in the rapidly expanding — and increasingly Democratic – suburbs of Northern Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. But she has also opened up offices in more conservative counties farther south in the state, like Chesterfield and Henrico, a sign the campaign is confident voters in those areas are receptive to her message.

    ARLINGTON, VA - AUGUST 27: A Hillary Clinton supporter works on a laptop at the Virginia Victory Coordinated Campaign Field Office August 27, 2016 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images)

    A Hillary Clinton supporter works on a laptop at the Virginia Victory Coordinated Campaign Field Office on Aug. 27 in Arlington, Virginia. Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images

    In North Carolina, which Obama won in 2008 and narrowly lost four years later, the Clinton campaign has opened 26 offices, most of them in the past month. Trump has just one field office in the state.

    At the same time that Clinton appears focused on winning Obama-era tossup states like Virginia, the campaign remains heavily invested in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, three critical swing states.

    Clinton has 25 field offices open in Florida, for example, a state Trump likely needs to carry in order to win the election. A similar contrast exists in Pennsylvania, where Clinton has 36 field offices. Trump has just two offices open right now, though the campaign told the NewsHour it plans to open more than 20 in the near future.

    Since 2012, Republicans in Florida have registered some 300,000 more voters than Democrats.

    Trump needs a large turnout among white, mostly working-class voters in western Pennsylvania to win the state. But Clinton has opened several offices in that part of the state, including nine on one day in mid-August alone, in an effort to make inroads with moderate blue-collar voters who may be hesitant to vote for Trump.

    To all that, add a profound and polished data game. The Clinton campaign has been working for nearly two years on a digital package that takes the renowned Obama data model and adds to it, allowing the campaign to tailor messages, volunteer requests and specific ads to individuals. Trump has said that data is “overrated” in presidential campaigns.

    Trump Strategy

    The Trump strategy, like Clinton’s, targets a range of states.

    North Carolina, with 12 offices planned, is the red state with the largest presence expected.

    And Trump officials insist they are building up large infrastructure in traditionally blue states like Wisconsin and Michigan, where the campaign says it plans to open 26 and 25 field offices, respectively. And, Trump officials point out, even without the majority of their offices in place, their campaign has begun to close in on Clinton in the polls in a few battleground states.

    The Trump team is also counting on something that is harder to measure: voter passion.

    In Michigan, Trump state director Scott Hagerstrom said he has never seen the response he has witnessed over the past few weeks.  “We are used to having to beg people to volunteer but now we’re seeing huge demand,” he said. Several other Trump state directors echoed the thought and insisted they are running out of yard signs.

    But what Team Trump calls passion, others called a campaign still looking for a foothold with 70 days until Election Day.

    “Trump doesn’t really have a campaign on the ground,” said Schale, the Democratic strategist. “Every day that goes by that Trump doesn’t have a footprint on the ground is just another missed opportunity.”

    “Offices are bricks and mortar,” said Trump Florida strategist Giorno. “That doesn’t make a campaign. What makes a campaign is the people. And we have an army of people we have not deployed yet.”

    The post The Trump campaign has a ground-game problem appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack delivers keynote remarks at the public launch of the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba while at the National Press Club in Washington, January 8, 2015.  REUTERS/Larry Downing  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS AGRICULTURE) - RTR4KMYV

    File photo of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who urged USDA employees employees to be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity in an email Tuesday. Photo by REUTERS/Larry Downing

    WASHINGTON — The Agriculture Department said Tuesday it had closed offices in five states after receiving anonymous threats that it considered serious.

    USDA spokesman Matthew Herrick said the department had received “several anonymous messages” late Monday that raised concerns about the safety of USDA personnel and facilities. He said offices in six locations in the five states were closed Tuesday morning until further notice.

    Herrick said the threat was one email message sent to multiple employees at all of the locations.

    “Without getting into detail of the email message, USDA continues to work closely with federal and local law enforcement, including the FBI, to determine whether the threat is credible,” Herrick said.

    The closed facilities are in Fort Collins, Colorado; Hamden, Connecticut; Beltsville, Maryland; Raleigh, North Carolina; Kearneysville, West Virginia and Leetown, West Virginia.

    They include offices for eight USDA agencies, including the Forest Service and the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Among the sites affected was USDA’s sprawling agricultural research center and library in Beltsville, where employees were informed of the threat Tuesday morning and sent home. In Fort Collins, four buildings at the Natural Resources Research Center — a campus where over 1,000 people work — were closed.

    In an email to employees, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said USDA is closing the offices “due to the serious nature of these threats.” He did not characterize the threats, but asked employees to be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity. He said employees could telework or take authorized leave.

    White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said the Department of Homeland Security is working with USDA “to ensure the safety of their offices and the personnel that work there.”

    The temporary closures may affect some tourists. In Colorado, the Forest Service’s Canyon Lakes Ranger District tweeted that their information center is closed.

    Associated Press writers Ben Nuckols and Darlene Superville in Washington and Colleen Slevin in Denver contributed to this report.

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: But, first: Urban school districts are tough places to be a teacher — but also where the best and the brightest are needed the most. In Chicago, which is dealing with one of the worst budget crises in years, recruiting and holding on to good teachers is an uphill battle.

    The district also faces a common dilemma. Even as the student body is growing more diverse, the teaching profession is not.

    One university teacher-training program is trying to step up to the challenge.

    Lisa Stark of Education Week has the story.

    LISA STARK: It’s summer in the city of Chicago, the nation’s third largest public school district. And these aspiring teachers are getting to know each other, the first step in an intensive summer fellowship to prepare them to teach in urban schools.

    WOMAN: I want to be a teacher in Chicago Public Schools.

    MORGAN BRAUER: Because I think I can make a really big difference.

    MAN: And make sure other students who come from backgrounds like myself get these opportunities.

    LISA STARK: These fellows, 21 of them, are all students at Illinois State University, training to be teachers. They have high hopes, but most, like Morgan Brauer, have little or no experience in the inner city.

    We first met Morgan the day before, at her home about an hour away.

    Tell me about this neighborhood, how you grew up?

    MORGAN BRAUER, STEP-UP Fellow: So, I’m from the suburbs of Chicago, Rolling Meadows specifically.

    LISA STARK: Morgan typifies America’s teaching force, mostly white, mostly female.

    MORGAN BRAUER: I grew up, it’s everyone basically goes to college. There is not really like any question. Like, I was going to college. That was that.

    And I think that’s kind of why I want to teach in Chicago Public Schools, is because they don’t have the same opportunities that I did growing up in the suburbs. So, it’s just going to be a new experience.

    LISA STARK: This morning, Morgan is leaving for this unique teaching fellowship that takes her out of Rolling Meadows for a new home in Auburn Gresham, a predominantly African-American community on Chicago’s South Side, one of four neighborhoods fellows are placed in for one month, all with high-poverty schools, many with high crime rates as well.

    It’s a nonstop four weeks, assisting in the classroom in the morning, volunteering in the afternoon. Classes and seminars fill evenings and weekends, all to help them appreciate and understand the culture of these communities.

    ROBERT LEE, Illinois State University: And they hope that, when this is all finished, that you come back and become a teacher for their community.

    LISA STARK: Robert Lee runs this fellowship, called STEP-UP.

    ROBERT LEE: This infusion, this allowing candidates to experience firsthand and start to confront their — their own race, their own class, their own sources of privilege, leads to a much stronger teacher when they enter the field.

    LISA STARK: Only 7 years old, with 144 participants so far, it’s a small program, but one that takes enormous effort, including finding funding, about $8,000 a fellow.

    ROBERT LEE: That’s where the challenge is going to be.

    LISA STARK: Virtually every teacher college requires so-called cultural competency training, but Professor Carol Lee says many programs come up short.

    CAROL D. LEE, Northwestern University: The notion of cultural competence is often pitched as something special you need to know if you’re working with colored kids. And I’m saying, I don’t care where you’re teaching. The cultural competence means that I have to go into that community with the humility in order to learn.

    LISA STARK: One of the key ways that STEP-UP fellows learn is from the host families.

    Yolanda Smith will provide Morgan meals and a place to sleep, but, most importantly, lessons that can’t be taught in the classroom.

    What do you hope Morgan leaves this neighborhood with?

    YOLANDA SMITH, Host Mom: Just to learn about us, and don’t believe the hype.

    LISA STARK: What is the hype, in your view?

    YOLANDA SMITH: That we’re shiftless and violent. And I just want us — want her to see the human side of us, not what is portrayed on the media.

    MORGAN’S MOM: We’re so thankful that you’re watching over her while she’s here.

    YOLANDA SMITH: I sure do, me and God.

    MORGAN’S MOM: Yes. Yes.

    LISA STARK: Not all of the fellows are from the suburbs. Asia-Ana Williams grew up in Chicago.

    ASIA-ANA WILLIAMS, STEP-UP Fellow: I’m, like, a little nervous. This is going to be my first time teaching, so I don’t know how I will do. And that’s, like, scary to think about.

    LISA STARK: Asia-ana was recruited by Illinois State while in high school as part of an effort to encourage students of color to become teachers.

    ASIA-ANA WILLIAMS: I want to come home to students who look just like me, who have been through things just like I have, and help them the way my teachers helped me.

    LISA STARK: She too is in an unfamiliar neighborhood, the largely Hispanic community of Little Village. It didn’t take her long to feel at home.

    TONY VELAZCO, Host Dad: This is really good, so try it.

    ASIA-ANA WILLIAMS: My host family can’t get rid of me now. Like, I love them too much. Yes, they’re pretty much stuck with me.

    LISA STARK: The Velazco family has taken in fellows since the STEP-UP program began seven years ago.

    What do you tell these student teachers who come to your house?

    TONY VELAZCO: Not to have the savior mentality. They’re not coming in here to save people. They’re here to be part of the community. And they really have to get to know where the kids are coming from in order to be able to teach them better, to reach them, to inspire them.

    LISA STARK: Finding host families and local schools is done with the support of community groups, such as the one run by Carlos Nelson in Auburn Gresham.

    CARLOS NELSON, Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation: The teachers in our schools have daunting tasks. And it’s way beyond just being able to teach kids math and reading.

    But they’re also having to deal with social, emotional challenges, kids that haven’t had a full night’s sleep, that haven’t had a full meal. And that’s why we need to prepare educators to be more in tune with teaching the kids in our South Side community.

    LISA STARK: The hope with a program like this one is that, if teachers are truly trained to teach in urban schools, not only will they take jobs here, but they will stay.

    VANESSA PUENTES HERNANDEZ, Assistant Principal: Hey, guys, what’s up?

    LISA STARK: Assistant Principal Vanessa Puentes Hernandez, who has worked in the district for a decade, has seen teachers come and go. Turnover in some Chicago schools is as high as 50 percent over four years.

    VANESSA PUENTES HERNANDEZ: It takes a village. It really does. And so it’s important to learn about the community that you work in, because you want to be invested in that, not as an outsider coming in and maybe gaining some experience and leaving, but as someone who truly wants to create change.

    YOLANDA SMITH: That’s a lot of work. That’s a sacrifice.

    MORGAN BRAUER: It really is.

    They care so much about their community. It’s kind of sad to see like how much effort they’re kind of putting in, and they still get seen in such negative lighting.

    LISA STARK: Most of STEP-UP’s graduates end up in Chicago or other high-need schools. And over 80 percent are still in the classroom after five years.

    ASIA-ANA WILLIAMS: We all came from so many different backgrounds, but I think that the common ground was always that we all wanted to be good teachers. These schools deserve good teachers, just like any other school district.

    LISA STARK: And you want to be one of them?

    ASIA-ANA WILLIAMS: And I want to be one of them. And I am going to be one of them.

    LISA STARK: And with the help of this program, she’s likely to have some company.

    Reporting from Chicago, I’m Lisa Stark of Education Week for the “PBS NewsHour.”

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    GWEN IFILL: Cataloging the atrocities committed by the so-called Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq is a difficult, sometimes impossible task.

    A new report from the Associated Press attempts to document the mass graves holding some of the group’s victims. The AP found 72 mass gravesites around Syria and Iraq. One of the sites held as many as 1,700 bodies.

    For more, we are joined by Associated Press reporter Lori Hinnant, one of the authors of the investigation.

    Lori, thank you for joining us.

    Seventy-two mass grave sites, how were you and your colleagues able to find them and document them?

    LORI HINNANT, Associated Press: Well, we used a variety of sources.

    We first went to Iraqi Kurdistan, where there are at least 35 mass graves on Sinjar Mountain alone, most of them holding the bodies of minority Yazidi.

    We also talked to the Kurdish regional government, who told us of at least two others, one outside Mosul at a prison, where 600 to 800 inmates were killed, and another in a deep natural geological pit.

    Then we asked the government in Baghdad what they knew to try and triangulate some of the other information. We also went into archives of news reports when sites were discovered. For Syria, we can’t go in. So, we had to speak to activists, locals, some fighters who are fighting against Islamic State, and people who are trying to document human rights abuses.

    GWEN IFILL: Do mass graves also — always mean mass killings? That is to say, did all of the people — or the bodies that you found in these graves all come from single episodes, single assaults?

    LORI HINNANT: Not necessarily, although, largely, they did. And even for some of them, it’s not clear who is even in them. The graves have not been excavated and they are untouched.

    Others are in territory that no one has seen. The pit outside Mosul and another one in Syria, for example, we know from Islamic State’s own propaganda that they have buried hundreds, if not more, bodies in them. And they just tossed them in really without a thought. We have no idea why the people were killed exactly or when.

    So, in those cases, yes, the victims are killed at different times. In Sinjar, they were all killed at the same time.

    GWEN IFILL: Do we know how they were killed? Are we talking about gunshots? Are we talking about sometimes in some cases illness?

    LORI HINNANT: Illness seems unlikely. It’s mostly gunshots.

    The assault on Sinjar, for example, it was some gunshots. Some people were beheaded. A few were run over by cars. And the site that holds the bodies of about 1,700 Iraqi soldiers, they were all gunned down after being forced to lie down on the ground. Same with the Shiite prisoners of the prison in Mosul.

    GWEN IFILL: You said that, in Syria, it was difficult to physically get to the actual gravesites. Then how were you able to document what happened?

    LORI HINNANT: Well, what we did was, we relied on multiple sources.

    So, we didn’t just wait for one person to say, we think there is a mass grave here. We tried to find a variety of sources, including locals. Some people sent us photos, which we could help by geolocating and by coordinating with what Islamic State’s own propaganda says. They have made no effort to hide what they’re doing.

    GWEN IFILL: Can the bodies that are then retrieved, or are they being retrieved, can they be identified?

    LORI HINNANT: Well, that’s the complicated part right now, that they largely aren’t being retrieved, for a variety of reasons, a want of money, want of political will, and very, very unstable areas.

    Sinjar Mountain, although it’s been largely taken back from Islamic State, still remains a part of it inside a no-man’s land within reach of mortars. Some of the sites are believed to be booby-trapped and are too unsafe to go in to.

    The bodies in some cases have been identified. Relatives can find personal belongings. They can sometimes even find I.D.s. And there is a center in the city of Dohuk where they are keeping some of these belongings, in hope of finding other survivors who might be able to say who they were.

    GWEN IFILL: Has anyone ever been charged or jailed or in any way punished for these deaths?

    LORI HINNANT: There has been justice done in one case, quite recently actually, in the death at Camp Speicher of the 1,700 Iraqi soldiers.

    Just on August 21, 36 men were hanged who had been convicted in those killings.

    GWEN IFILL: As part of this investigation, Lori, and you talked to people who were survivors or witnesses. Were you able to talk to any of the relatives of people who think that their loved ones might be in one of these graves?

    LORI HINNANT: We did.

    At one point, we went to an area just outside the town of Hardan, Iraq, and we met a man there who originally was just there to tell us about the graves. He was one of the leaders of the village, and he wanted to tell us about the graves and how much they wished that they would be excavated and that the people who were buried in there would get a proper burial.

    And it took some time before he finally acknowledged that, in fact, two of his adult sons were among the victims of that killing. And after a little while, he and I talked for a bit longer, and he invited another young man down from the hillside town just above where the killings had taken place, and said he actually saw the killings.

    Turned out that the young man whose name was Arkon (ph) had never spoken with the father about what happened the day his two sons were — died. It was really chilling. As we were standing there, the two men discussed the events of this horrific day that they feel as though they’re reliving every single day that they pass the grave.

    GWEN IFILL: Will this father ever be able to retrieve the bodies of his sons?

    LORI HINNANT: He hopes to. He sounded very resigned to it. He said he wanted the international community to understand that they couldn’t keep reliving the sorrow all of the time. All he wanted was a proper place for his sons to be laid to rest.

    GWEN IFILL: Lori Hinnant of the Associated Press, thank you very much.

    LORI HINNANT: Thank you.

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    European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager gestures during a news conference on Ireland's tax dealings with Apple Inc at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium August 30, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Vidal - RTX2NKZR

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: The European Commission ruled today that Ireland must collect $14.5 billion in back taxes from Apple. The announcement fueled new tensions between the U.S. and Europe over the role of multinational corporations, how they are taxed and whether it should be considered a subsidy.

    The antitrust regulator for the EU said Ireland had given Apple a sweetheart tax deal for well over a decade, with special laws that effectively allowed Apple to pay less than 1 percent corporate tax. The EU accused Apple of setting up two companies in Ireland with a head office that only exists on paper. The profits from European stores all go to the Ireland head office and are essentially untaxed.

    Apple said it would appeal the decision and denied the characterization. In a statement, the company’s chief executive, Tim Cook, said the European Commission is trying to — quote — “rewrite Apple’s history in Europe, ignore Ireland’s tax laws and upend the international tax system in the process.” The company has more than $200 billion in cash.

    I spoke with Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who announced the decision.

    Ms. Vestager, thanks for joining us.

    First off, what gave Apple an edge in Ireland that was unfair in the eyes of the EU?

    MARGRETHE VESTAGER, European Commission: Well, we have a long longstanding prohibition of state aid, which means benefits, advantages to a selected company.

    And that may come in any form, as a piece of land, a favorable loan, a grant or a tax benefit. And, of course, any member state can have their own tax legislation. We would never question that. But the thing is that you cannot give a specific company a benefit or an advantage which is not open to other companies.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Is there evidence that this was specific to Apple and not to all the other companies that are doing business in Ireland?


    This arrangement is due to two things which are none of our concern, how Apple is organized and the Irish tax legislation. But the thing that is specific is two tax rulings — are two tax rulings that are directed specifically to Apple.

    And tax rulings are, by nature, specific because they are directed from the government or from the authorities to a specific company. And this is only for them. It is not for other companies.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: One of Apple’s concerns today, in a call with reporters, the CFO said the .005 percent effective tax rate that you cited this morning during your press conference, they said that — “I said it before. It’s a completely made-up number. We paid $400 million of taxes in Ireland during 2014. We’re one of the largest taxpayers in the country.”

    MARGRETHE VESTAGER: Well, the thing is that it is important for profits to be paid where profits are made.

    And what we have seen is that the Irish tax rulings allowed Apple to put the huge majority of their profits into a so-called headquarter or head office. This head office only existed on paper. It had no employees, no premises, no real activities, and it wasn’t taxed, not in Ireland, nor anywhere else.

    And that, of course, then led to the result that Apple paid very, very, very little in taxes compared to their profits, in some years, as little as 0.005 percent.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Is this part of a broader effort to redefine how multinational corporations pay taxes? We have heard that you’re also going after McDonald’s and reportedly Amazon?

    MARGRETHE VESTAGER: Well, the thing is that I do state aid control, and state aid control do not redefine taxation as such.

    That, of course, takes the legislature to work. And that is why we have worked with the European Council, with the European Parliament in order to change legislation, to make transparency greater, to have country-by-country reporting, for tax authorities actually to know what other tax authorities are doing.

    But it is for the legislature to change that. What I do is what we have a longstanding tradition of doing and a longstanding court practice of doing, which is to control state aid seen as specific advantages to specific companies.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Doesn’t this draw into conflict the role of the European Union or the Commission vs. countries and their sovereignty and how they’re able to lay out their tax laws?

    MARGRETHE VESTAGER: Well, the sovereignty of the member state is protected by our treaty. And I, of course, respect that 100 percent. I have sworn to respect the treaty.

    But the thing is that two things have to be in place at the same time, both upholding national legislation as tax legislation and, at the same time, the European legislation that we have made in common, that — the EU state aid rules.

    And here we have a situation where you have Irish states — Irish tax legislation, but a breach of European state aid rules, because illegal state aid was handed out.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: For the record, we did invite Apple. They didn’t have anybody available today.

    But they did say in a statement that this could have a profound and harmful effect on investment and job creation in Europe. They employ about 6,000 people in Ireland. Do you expect that?

    MARGRETHE VESTAGER: Well, the thing is that Europe is a wonderful place to do business.

    It’s a single market with more than 500 million potential customers. It’s a place where you find research and development of highest quality. You find very skilled people, good people to employ, wonderful infrastructure.

    So you’re more than welcome to come to Europe to do business. And I think you can have a very good business here. The thing is that what we don’t like so much is if you come to Europe for tax avoidance.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Is there a concern that this is — the uncertainty between how the EU rules on different laws inside member nations could create a climate where a company might not come to Europe; they might base themselves somewhere else?

    MARGRETHE VESTAGER: I think there is an issue here also of corporate culture, because, if you’re in a country where the tax rate is 12.5 percent, as in Ireland, and you pay less than 1 percent, also substantially less than 1 percent, well, then I think you should also reconsider if everything is all right.

    And 12.5 percent is, in the first place, a very low corporate taxation compared to other European member states.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Margrethe Vestager, thanks so much for joining us.

    MARGRETHE VESTAGER: It was a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

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    U.S. Senator and Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio speaks at a campaign rally in The Villages, Florida, March 13, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo - RTX2NJDD

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    GWEN IFILL:  This was primary day in some states, with two big-name Republican senators working to hold onto their seats.

    In Arizona, John McCain campaigned for a sixth term one day after turning 80.  And in Florida, Marco Rubio sought nomination for a second term, after dropping his presidential bid.

    Also in Florida:  Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz faced Bernie Sanders backer Tim Canova.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  Good weather sent thousands more African migrants sailing for Sicily today.

    Dan Rivers of Independent Television News reports at least 11,000 people have been rescued since Sunday.

    DAN RIVERS:  They have risked everything to get this far, and now their desperation overwhelms them.  Some plunge into the water to swim the last few yards to safety.  Many must have feared they would never make it.

    This vessel was carrying more than 500 migrants, mostly from the Horn of Africa, who had been packed into this small boat found drifting 13 miles off the coast of Libya.  The first off were dozens of children who might not fully appreciate the change they were in.  It was thanks to a Spanish aid agency that they were plucked to safety.

    LAURA LANUZA, Proactiva Open Arms:  They were really desperate.  For us, it was really hard, because what we saw is basically many, many, many children, many babies and a lot of women, which is kind of exceptional, because, in general, there are more men traveling than women and children.  For them especially, this crossing is really, really difficult.

    DAN RIVERS:  It shows how desperate they are when 5-day-old twins are found aboard, born into a migration, barely a week old and already homeless.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  The International Organization for Migration reports more than 100,000 people have reached Italy by boat this year.  More than 2,700 have died in the attempt.

    GWEN IFILL:  In Italy, grieving survivors of last week’s earthquake paid final respects to loved ones today.  Hundreds gathered at a state-sponsored funeral in Amatrice, where at least 231 people were killed.  Firefighters and first-responders stood along caskets under makeshift tents as family members looked on.  Later, a mass was held, and mourners released white balloons.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  One of the Islamic State group’s leading figures has been killed in Northern Syria.  The militants say Abu Muhammad al-Adnani died today in Aleppo province.  A U.S. defense official says he was targeted in an airstrike.  He’s the ISIS leader who declared a modern-day caliphate across Syria and Iraq two years ago.

    GWEN IFILL:  At least 10,000 people may have died so far in Yemen’s civil war.  That estimate today from the U.N. Humanitarian Office is nearly double any previous figure.  The fighting in Yemen has now lasted 18 months.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  In economic news:  France joined Germany today in dousing hopes for a free trade deal between the U.S. and the European Union.  A top German official said Sunday that negotiations have failed.

    Today, French President Francois Hollande added his skepticism in a speech in Paris.

    PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, France (through translator):  The negotiations are bogged down.  Positions have not been respected.  It’s clearly unbalanced.  So, rather than prolonging talks, it is better to make sure that we can advise all parties that France will not be able to agree on an accord which has been prepared that way.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  The potential agreement has run into growing opposition in both the U.S. and Europe.  And Britain’s vote to leave the E.U. has further damaged prospects for a deal.

    GWEN IFILL:  Back in this country, President Obama commuted the sentences of another 111 federal prison inmates.  That makes more than 670 during his time in office.  They’d been convicted of nonviolent drug crimes.  The president has argued that sentences in such cases are too long, and he’s called for congressional action to lessen the penalties.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  And on Wall Street, stocks gave back some of Monday’s gains.  The Dow Jones industrial average lost 48 points to close at 18454.  The Nasdaq fell nine points, and the S&P 500 slipped four.

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    U.S. President Barack Obama walks from Marine One as he arrives to visit wounded service members at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, U.S., August 26, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RTX2N7T7

    President Barack Obama is expected to continue using his clemency authority through the end of his administration. Photo by REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama cut short on Tuesday the sentences of 111 federal inmates in another round of commutations for those convicted of nonviolent drug offenses.

    Obama has long called for phasing out strict sentences for drug convictions, arguing they lead to excessive punishment and incarceration rates unseen in other developed countries.

    White House Counsel Neil Eggleston said the commutations underscored the president’s commitment to using his clemency authority to give deserving individuals a second chance. He said that Obama has granted a total of 673 commutations, more than the previous 10 presidents combined. More than a third of the recipients were serving life sentences.

    “We must remember that these are individuals — sons, daughters, parents, and in many cases, grandparents — who have taken steps toward rehabilitation and who have earned their second chance,” Eggleston said. “They are individuals who received unduly harsh sentences under outdated laws for committing largely nonviolent drug crimes.”

    Eggleston noted that Obama also granted commutation to 214 federal inmates earlier in the month. With Tuesday’s additions, Obama has granted the greatest number of commutations for a single month of any president.

    Eggleston says he expects Obama to continue using his clemency authority through the end of his administration. He said the relief points to the need for Congress to take up criminal justice reform. Such legislation has stalled, undercut by a rash of summer shootings involving police and the pressure of election-year politics.

    Two goals of the legislation are to reduce overcrowding in the nation’s prisons and save taxpayer dollars. In 1980, the federal prison population was less than 25,000. Today, it is more than 200,000.

    But the legislation’s supporters have encountered opposition from some Republicans who argue that changes could lead to an increase in crime and pose a greater danger to law enforcement.

    Eggleston said Obama considered the individual merits of each application to determine that an applicant is ready to make use of their second chance.

    One of those granted relief was Tim Tyler, who at 25 was sentenced to life in federal prison for possession with intent to deliver LSD as he followed the Grateful Dead. He is now set to be released on August 30, 2018, conditioned upon enrollment in residential drug treatment. Families Against Mandatory Minimums, an advocacy group, said it had been working on the Tyler family’s behalf.

    “We applaud the president for using the clemency power to free people who fully expected to die in prison and for shining a light on the excesses of federal drug sentencing.” said Julie Stewart, the group’s president.

    The release dates for the inmates vary. Most are set to be released December 28.

    Legal groups supporting the president’s actions have formed an organization called Clemency Project 2014 that has submitted some 1,600 clemency petitions to the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney. The group said a prisoner must have served at least 10 years of his or her sentence to be considered for a commutation grant and must be a non-violent offender without significant ties to gangs or cartels. The inmate also must have demonstrated good conduct in prison while serving a sentence that likely would have been substantially lower if handed out today.

    “We are looking forward to many more grants during the remaining months of President Obama’s term in office,” said the group’s project manager, Cynthia Roseberry.

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    Islamic State group spokesman and head of external operations Abu Muhammad al-Adnani is pictured in this undated handout photo, courtesy the U.S. Department of State.  U.S. Department of State/Handout via REUTERS

    Islamic State group spokesman and head of external operations Abu Muhammad al-Adnani is pictured in this undated handout photo, courtesy the U.S. Department of State. U.S. Department of State/Handout via REUTERS

    The Islamic State reported Tuesday that its official spokesman and senior leader, Abu Muhammed al-Adnani, was killed in Syria, according to the Associated Press.

    The Amaq news agency, considered the Islamic State’s media outlet, tweeted that al-Adnani died while surveying military operations in the city of Aleppo, The Washington Post reported. No cause of death was given.

    Al-Adnani’s death has not yet been confirmed, but would be a major blow to the terrorist organization.

    The State Department previously offered a $5 million reward for information on al-Adnani. The department’s reward offer called al-Adnani “the main conduit for the dissemination of ISIL messages.”

    Al-Adnani was responsible for generating propaganda and inciting threats against the West.

    He was also a founding member of the Islamic State militant group and believed to be in line for the group’s top leadership role, currently held by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

    It was his voice, in a June 2014 audio recording, that declared an Islamic caliphate under al-Baghdadi.

    “Listen to your caliph and obey him. Support your state, which grows every day,” he said.

    More recently, al-Adnani purportedly released a May audio recording instructing supporters to make the most of Islam’s holy month, which began in June, Reuters reported.

    “Ramadan is coming,” said al-Adnani said “Make sure that every one of you spend it in the name of God and on the attack.”

    Al-Adnani’s death would be one of the most high-profile killings of an ISIS official since Abu Omar al-Shishani died — described by the Pentagon as the ISIS “minister of war” — in a U.S. airstrike in March 2016.


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    A man walks past a mural of Freddie Gray in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland, U.S. on December 17, 2015. Baltimore's top prosecutor on July 27, 2016 dropped remaining charges against police officers tied to the death of black detainee Freddie Gray, after failing four times to secure convictions in a case that inflamed the U.S. debate on race and justice.  REUTERS/Bryan Woolston/File Photo

    A man walks past a mural of Freddie Gray in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland, U.S. on December 17, 2015. Baltimore’s top prosecutor on July 27, 2016 dropped remaining charges against police officers tied to the death of black detainee Freddie Gray, after failing four times to secure convictions in a case that inflamed the U.S. debate on race and justice. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston/File Photo

    Baltimore officials presented a 10-year plan Tuesday that sharply highlights the poor health status of African-Americans and aims to bring black rates of lead poisoning, heart disease, obesity, smoking and overdoses more in line with those of whites.

    “We wanted to specifically call out disparities” in racial health, said Dr. Leana Wen, who became the city’s health commissioner early last year. “And we have a moonshot. Our moonshot is we want to cut health disparities by half in the next 10 years.”

    “Our moonshot is we want to cut health disparities by half in the next 10 years.”

    Black Baltimore leaders praised Wen for putting disparities squarely in the conversation even as they acknowledged the difficulty of achieving the plan’s goals.

    “It’s a big challenge. There’s no debating that,” said Diane Bell-McKoy, CEO of Associated Black Charities, a Maryland nonprofit. “She takes a step forward more so than anybody else I’ve seen because she calls it out. Most of the time we find code words for it. We don’t call it out.”

    Violence last year following the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died after being injured in police custody, exposed Baltimore’s health divide as well as its criminal justice differences, officials said. Gray’s family had won a settlement for alleged lead-paint poisoning, which is blamed for low test scores and cognitive challenges among thousands of Baltimore children.

    “What happened last year with Freddie Gray put Baltimore in the national media spotlight,” said Helen Holton, a Baltimore councilwoman who represents a portion of the city’s west side. “That made people stop and take notice of what had been going on and stop treating it as business as usual.”

    The health plan, called Healthy Baltimore 2020, was first reported by the Baltimore Sun. Officials plan to track blood-lead levels, overdose deaths, child fatalities, healthy-food availability and other indicators year by year. It’s called Healthy Baltimore 2020 because officials have set ambitious goals to achieve before 10 years is up, Wen said.

    Tentative targets include cutting youth homicides by 10 percent and disparities in obesity, smoking and heart-disease deaths by 15 percent — all by 2020.

    Tactics include more programs to reduce street violence, expanded anti-smoking campaigns, more home visits for pregnant women and increased access to naloxone, which blocks the effects of heroin.

    The blueprint is “an ongoing document” that will be amended with community participation and results closely scored, Wen said.

    “Our community is sick of us overpromising and underdelivering.”

    “Our community is sick of us overpromising and underdelivering,” she said.

    Baltimore officials have made substantial progress in reducing lead poisoning, lowering teen pregnancy and cutting infant mortality.

    But as in many other areas, Baltimore is still divided by health. Residents of Gray’s west-side neighborhood of Sandtown-Winchester live 10 years less on average than Marylanders in general. Poor neighborhoods have far higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, addiction, HIV infection and other illness than more prosperous parts of the city.

    Black leaders emphasized that Baltimore’s health won’t improve unless policymakers address deeper causes of illness such as poverty, unemployment and poor housing.

    “It is affirming to see someone in Dr. Wen’s role address the uncomfortable truths behind health inequities,” said Debbie Rock, CEO of LIGHT Health and Wellness, which offers health and other community services on Baltimore’s west side. “This is a great platform to also address upstream factors” such as low incomes, she said.

    Holton compared the health blueprint to a Justice Department report this month alleging a pattern of excessive force and violation of constitutional rights by the Baltimore Police Department.

    Both documents address racial differences and offer challenges for improvement, she said.

    “You can travel 5 miles from one neighborhood to another and it’s like you are in two different communities” in health levels, Holton said. “Freddie Gray was like the tipping point. Let’s take this and make it a teachable moment of how to be better moving forward.”

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    SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — Hillary Clinton plans to stress her support for “American exceptionalism” during a speech in the battleground state of Ohio, while arguing that Donald Trump has rejected the concept.

    Clinton’s midday address at the American Legion’s annual convention in Cincinnati Wednesday comes as Trump plans a last-minute trip to Mexico in advance of a long-awaited speech on immigration. A Clinton campaign official said the Democratic nominee plans to use her first public event in days to portray her Republican opponent as a questionable leader who would “walk away from our allies, undermine our values, insult our military — and has explicitly rejected the idea of American exceptionalism.”

    In contrast, the official said Clinton “will make the case” for it and call for maintaining America’s military and diplomatic leadership in the world.”

    American exceptionalism refers to the country’s standing and leadership in the world. Donald Trump has pledged to “Make America Great Again” and restore the country to a time when, in his view, the U.S. was more prosperous and full of opportunity. Clinton says Trump would undermine America’s greatness, and she would maintain it.

    To bolster her argument, Clinton will talk about her experience, including serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee and as secretary of state. She will also emphasize the growing list of Republicans who have backed her campaign.

    A campaign official said that in advance of her Wednesday speech, another leading Republican would back the campaign. James Clad, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush, will announce his support for Clinton, following a slew of GOP endorsements. In a statement, Clad will say that “giving an incoherent amateur the keys to the White House this November will doom us to second or third-class status.”

    Clinton’s remarks come on the same day her Republican opponent is set to deliver a long-awaited speech on immigration where he is expected to provide more clarity on his primary pledge to deport all of the estimated 11 million people living in the country illegally. While Trump had said during the primary that he intended to accomplish that goal with the help of a “deportation force,” in recent weeks he has suggested in closed-door meetings with Hispanic activists that he might be open to re-considering. He and his aides have spent the last week-and-a-half offering mixed signals.

    Trump is scheduled to speak in Arizona in the evening. Trump’s campaign said Tuesday night that he will make a surprise trip to Mexico on Wednesday to meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. The Washington Post first reported the planned trip.

    Responding to Trump’s Mexico plans, Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri said in a statement that “what ultimately matters is what Donald Trump says to voters in Arizona, not Mexico, and whether he remains committed to the splitting up of families and deportation of millions.”

    Clinton’s campaign says she has also been invited by Nieto to make a visit and that the two will talk again at “the appropriate time.”

    Clinton’s speech in Ohio comes after several days of big-ticket private fundraisers in the Hamptons, a wealthy community on New York’s Long Island, where she collected millions at waterfront mansions in preparation for the fall campaign. The fundraising swing concluded in style Tuesday night, with an event featuring performances from Jimmy Buffett, Jon Bon Jovi and Paul McCartney.

    Though many national and state polls show Clinton with an edge, she has been stressing that the campaign must not take anything for granted. At a fundraiser on Monday she told supporters she was “running against someone who will say or do anything. And who knows what that might be.”

    Associated Press writers Jill Colvin and Catherine Lucey wrote this report.

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    The post WATCH: Clinton touts American exceptionalism in Ohio speech appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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