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

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    John Hinckley Jr., pictured here in 2003, shot and wounded then President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Reuters

    John Hinckley Jr., pictured here in 2003, shot and wounded then President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Reuters

    John Hinckley Jr., the man who shot President Ronald Reagan 35 years ago will be released to his mother’s home in Virginia on Sept. 10, his attorney said Thursday.

    Today’s announcement came from Hinckley’s attorney, Barry Levine, who said he thought his client “will be a citizen about whom we can all be proud,” the Associated Press reported.

    A federal judge ruled in late July that Hinckley, 61, could be released from the psychiatric hospital where he has lived for the past three decades.

    In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman noted that both the federal government and the hospital agree that Hinckley’s diagnosed psychotic disorder and depression “have been in full and sustained remission for well over 20 years, perhaps more than 27 years.”

    Hinckley attempted to assassinate Reagan on March 30, 1981. He shot and wounded the president, then-White House press secretary James Brady and two others outside the Washington Hilton hotel. Beforehand, Hinckley had written a letter to actress Jodie Foster, with whom he was obsessed, about his plans to “get Reagan.”

    This video originally aired on the Macneil/Lehrer Report. Video by PBS NewsHour

    Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of mental insanity and committed to St. Elizabeths Hospital.

    Over the years, Hinckley received permission to leave the hospital for longer periods to visit his family. Over the last two years, he was allowed to spend up to 17 days each month at his 90-year-old mother’s home in Williamsburg, Virginia, AP reported.

    Friedman’s ruling stipulates that Hinckley be allowed to live with his mother for at least one year. He must continue therapy, find paid or volunteer work and check in with his doctors on a monthly basis. If he successfully completes one year of living with his mother, he will be allowed to move out and live on his own, with roommates or in a group home.

    Levine called Hinckley’s release a “milestone” that came about because his client and his family made a commitment to “responsibly deal with disease.”

    The post 35 years after shooting Reagan, Hinckley to be released next week appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a sign supporting his plan to build a wall between the United States and Mexico that he borrowed from a member of the audience at his campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Photo by Jonathan Drake/Reuters

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a sign supporting his plan to build a wall between the United States and Mexico that he borrowed from a member of the audience at his campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Photo by Jonathan Drake/Reuters

    CINCINNATI — “Crushed.” ”Disappointed.” ”Confused.”

    Some Hispanic leaders who have been advising Donald Trump say they feel betrayed after his long-awaited immigration speech that definitively ruled out a pathway to legal status for people living in the country illegally.

    Trump stopped short of calling for the mass deportation of millions of people who have not committed crimes beyond their immigration offenses. But he also ruled out what he dismissed as “amnesty,” saying those who want to live legally in the U.S. will need to leave and head to the back of the line in their home countries.

    “People will know that you can’t just smuggle in, hunker down and wait to be legalized,” Trump declared in his hard-line speech Wednesday night. “Those days are over.”

    The language caught off guard a group of Hispanic faith and business leaders who have been advising him, often in the face of criticism from their own communities. In closed-door meetings and phone calls, Trump had given many the impression that he was prepared to soften his stance on immigration as he tries to court more moderate, general election voters and boost his standing with Hispanics and other minorities.

    Now, some feel Trump misled them.

    “There’s several of us who have gone out on a limb, if you will, to try to at least be at the table of reason with him, and that’s left us confused and disappointed,” said Tony Suarez, the executive vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. He’s been among those pushing Trump to moderate his stance.

    As recently as Monday, he said, the GOP presidential nominee had signaled on a conference call with faith leaders that they could expect to see a gentler, more compassionate Trump in the speech. Trump, Suarez said, was asked explicitly whether they would see a softening or any “hope” for at least some of the people currently living in the shadows.

    “He said, ‘Yes,’ and he thought we would be very pleased on Wednesday,” said Suarez. “The impression given on the call was not what we heard last night.”

    Alfonso Aguilar, president of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, had prominently endorsed Trump after initially opposing his candidacy. He, too, said Trump had signaled a willingness to moderate some of his immigration plans, including limiting his call for deportations to those convicted of crimes.

    “At this point, I just don’t see how I can support him. So I’m withdrawing my support,” Aguilar said. “I was expecting something very different last night. I’m not naive, I knew who I was dealing with. I knew this could happen. It was a risk.”

    “From a political perspective, this is the end of Donald Trump. I really think now he’s definitely going to lose.”

    As summer winds down, the presidential campaign ramps up. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton highlighted racial issues this week, while Trump appeared to soften on immigration. Video by PBS NewsHour

    Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    But Pastor Darrell Scott, CEO of Trump’s National Diversity Coalition, said there was no way for the candidate to please everyone.

    “If he backs off they accuse him of flip-flopping. If he doesn’t, he’s disappointing,” Scott said, praising the speech.

    Those speaking out against Trump also included Jacob Monty, a Houston-based attorney and member of the candidate’s National Hispanic Advisory Council. In a Facebook post, Monty said he was finished supporting Trump after hearing the speech.

    “I gave Donald TRUMP a Plan that would improve border security, remove hardened criminal aliens and most importantly give work authority to the millions of honest, hardworking immigrants in the US. He rejected that tonight and so I must reject him,” he wrote, adding that Trump had at one point been moving toward a “compassionate immigration plan.”

    “Tonight he was not a Republican but a populist, modern-day Father Coughlin who demonized immigrants,” he continued, referring to an anti-Semitic priest who gained prominence as a radio personality in the 1930s. “He must want to lose. He can do that without me.”

    Mark Gonzalez, founder of the Hispanic Action Network, had also expected Trump to go in a different direction.

    “We didn’t see compassion last night so we’re extremely disappointed,” he said. “We were anticipating something a lot more favorable.”

    “He definitely didn’t help himself with the Latino community last night.”

    Suarez, who had never endorsed Trump personally, said he would now be focusing his attention on Congress and on electing lawmakers who are more amendable to immigration reform.

    “We’re disappointed and it’s only raised more questions than answers,” he said of Trump’s speech. “We tried,” he said. “You don’t always win. We tried.

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

    The post Some Hispanic leaders who advised Trump now feel ‘crushed,’ misled appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Three storm systems are shown (L TO R) Tropical Depression Nine to the southeast of Florida, Tropical Depression Eight just off the coast of the Carolinas and Hurricane Gaston in the central Atlantic Ocean are shown in this GOES East satellite image captured August 29, 2016.  NOAA/handout via REUTERS   ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY - RTX2NMJV

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL:  In the day’s other news:  People along Florida’s Gulf Coast braced for a direct hit tonight by a hurricane, the state’s first since 2005.  Hermine is projected to make landfall with winds of 75 miles an hour or higher and drive across the state toward the Atlantic.

    As it approached today, rain caused minor flooding, and people filled sandbags.

    Governor Rick Scott warned against taking the storm for granted.

    GOV. RICK SCOTT (R-Fla):  We’re going to see a big storm surge.  We’re going to see a lot of rain.  We’re going to see flooding.  We’re going to see downed power lines.  We’re going to see — there’s going to be a lot of risk if we don’t do our job.  Everybody needs to be prepared.  We are blessed.  We have the best emergency management teams in the country at the state and at the local level.  We have a great National Guard, but you have got to take this seriously.

    GWEN IFILL:  Many cities in the storm’s path, including the capital, Tallahassee, have not been hit by a hurricane in decades.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  State lawmakers in California are expanding a climate change law that’s already the most aggressive in the nation.  Majority Democrats agreed last night to regulate methane emissions from landfills and dairy farms for the first time.  It came over the objections of industry and farming interests.

    GWEN IFILL:  A huge explosion rocked a SpaceX launch pad today at Cape Canaveral, Florida.  The unmanned Falcon rocket blew up as a test for a Saturday launch was under way.  The blast also destroyed a communications satellite on board, but no one was hurt.  SpaceX said there was a problem in a fuel tank, but they gave no details.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  In Eastern Ukraine, a fragile new cease-fire took effect at midnight between government troops and pro-Russian rebels.  Both President Petro Poroshenko and the rebels said the truce appeared to be holding.  Fighting had flared in the contested Donetsk region over the last month after an earlier cease-fire collapsed.

    GWEN IFILL:  Back in this country, authorities in Florida have found Zika virus in three groups of mosquitoes in Miami Beach.  It’s the first time that’s happened in the continental United States.  The insects were trapped in the small area that’s seen active Zika transmission.  Officials said today the finding will help them fight the virus.

    DR. CHRIS BRADEN, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:  If there are positive traps, we know when, we know where.  All right?  We can identify where this transmission is occurring.  Typically, what happens is that transmission occurs in mosquitoes in a limited area.  And so we can intensify what we do in those areas.  We can do more active surveillance, we can do surveys, we can do more active mosquito control.

    GWEN IFILL:  The control efforts could be complicated by the hurricane coming ashore tonight.  Its heavy rain will leave new breeding pools for mosquitoes.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  In economic news:  Major automakers reported U.S. sales slumped in August, as a surge in business begins to cool after six years.

    And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 18 points to close at 18419.  The Nasdaq rose nearly 14 points, and the S&P 500 added a fraction.

    The post News Wrap: Florida prepares for first hurricane since 2005 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks as U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown listens at the campus of the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio, July 18, 2016. Photo by William Philpott/Reuters

    Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks as Sen. Sherrod Brown listens at the campus of the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 18, 2016. Photo by William Philpott/Reuters

    Editor’s Note: For the latest Making Sen$e report, economics correspondent Paul Solman traveled to the Keystone suit plant outside of Cleveland, Ohio, to discuss Hillary Clinton’s stance on trade with Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown. For more on the topic, watch tonight’s Making Sen$e, which airs every Thursday on the PBS NewsHour. And watch Making Sen$e’s report on Donald Trump’s trade doctrine here. The following conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

    — Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor


    PAUL SOLMAN: What’s Mrs. Clinton’s position on trade?

    SEN. SHERROD BROWN: She is someone who understands trade, who understands we want more of it, but we want it under a different set of rules.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But she was in favor of Trans-Pacific Partnership.

    SEN. SHERROD BROWN: Well, she supported TPP in the early days, because she worked for the president of the United States and his cabinet, and so everybody else in the cabinet supported TPP too. As a candidate, she knows that rules of origin are a problem for autos in the entire Midwest and not just the auto companies, but the hundreds of thousands of auto supply chain jobs too, and she understands how bad currency provisions have undermined all kinds of industrial jobs in the United States.

    “As president, she will continue to oppose TPP until it dies.”

    She understands that investor-state dispute settlement is a serious problem undermining health and environmental rules, and as president, she will continue to oppose TPP until it dies. She will set out for a new trade policy that works for workers in this plant floor, that works for workers in the United States and that helps countries in the developing world grow.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But isn’t trade a good idea? Is it not better for all of us as consumers if we have the most competitively made products in the world?

    SEN. SHERROD BROWN: I want more trade! I just want it under a different set of rules. And when you look what’s happened to American manufacturing, we lost 5 million jobs from 2000 to 2010, 60,000 plants closed, and this one almost closed in large part because of unfair trade practices from China, NAFTA, permanent normal trade relations with China and the Central American Free Trade Agreement. And Hillary Clinton has a real plan on how to enforce trade rules and how to write different trade policy.

    PAUL SOLMAN: You saved this plant, right?

    SEN. SHERROD BROWN: I worked to save it with Gov. Strickland and others.

    PAUL SOLMAN: How did you do it?

    SEN. SHERROD BROWN: Well, we worked with the union, we worked with the company, and we helped talk about “Buy America.” I wear this suit proudly, I have a number of suits that were made on this shop floor, 12 miles from my home. Donald Trump outsources his suits to Mexico; he could’ve bought them here. He could’ve had them made here. He outsources his ties to China — this tie’s made in the U.S. He outsources glass production to Europe. It could’ve been made in Toledo, Ohio. He outsources furniture to Turkey. It could’ve been made in Archbold, Ohio.

    Donald Trump talks a good game on trade, but he’s never lived it. He’s lined his pockets by outsourcing jobs to low-wage countries, and now he’s talking about trade as if he actually means it? I’ve been engaged in this fight against bad trade policy for 25 years, and I’ve never seen Donald Trump stand with us. I’ve never even heard Donald Trump’s name or voice while we’re working against bad trade policy.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Well, you haven’t heard Hillary Clinton’s voice on this issue either.

    SEN. SHERROD BROWN: Well, Hillary Clinton had a different set of responsibilities. Hillary Clinton, when she was in the United States Senate, was not an every-time supporter of these trade agreements, but she has stood with us a number of times, and she’s standing with us now. What she wants is to enforce trade policy, she wants to triple the number of trade enforcement officers, which will really matter in trying to level the playing field with South Korea and China and other countries that don’t play it straight.

    She wants a special trade prosecutor directed specifically at China, where we have by far our largest bilateral trade deficit. And she looks at TPP in a different way, fixing rules of origin, fixing currency issues and fixing investor-state dispute settlement, which undermines environmental and worker safety standards.

    PAUL SOLMAN: You understand why people would say she’s absolutely done an about face on this issue, right? And that she might well go back on the position she now has if she becomes president!

    “I absolutely trust Hillary Clinton to stand strong on these trade agreements.”

    SEN. SHERROD BROWN: I absolutely trust Hillary Clinton to stand strong on these trade agreements. When she was in the Senate, she voted against some, she voted for some. But I have talked to her in detail about currency, about rules of origin, about investor-state dispute settlement — all as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. She understands the agreement. I think you ask Donald Trump some of those questions, I’m not sure he has much depth of understanding, except tear ’em all up, all the while he was lining his pockets, outsourcing suits and glassware and furniture and ties.

    So I am confident that Hillary Clinton will stand strong on trade. I’ve written a book about trade, called the “Myths of Free Trade,” I understand this issue. I’ve talked with her at length about it, I’m confident she will stand with us for a very different kind of trade policy and that she will start her administration with much more aggressive enforcement of trade rules.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But Donald Trump said he would put a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods. That would be a good thing to you, yes?

    SEN. SHERROD BROWN: No. First of all, a president of the United States can’t unilaterally impose a tariff on another country. It takes an act of Congress, and that would never pass Congress. But that’s not the way to fix trade policy, to do unilateral tariffs on other countries. You enforce the rules. When China cheats on oil country tubular goods or Korea dumps steel – that is, sells below the cost of production — into the U.S. market illegally, you go to the World Trade Organization or you go to a NAFTA tribunal if it’s Canada and Mexico, and you force those rules.

    We know that in countries, especially those that have state-owned enterprises — where China might own a steel plant, a chemical plant or something else — that they will subsidize water or raw materials or land or wages in some cases, and they have much looser environmental rules and much lower wages. Of course we can’t win on trade when they do that! But that’s the importance of currency, that’s the importance of a trade enforcement regiment, which Hillary Clinton has proposed.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Donald Trump says he’ll cut taxes and that will make the more productive members of our society more productive still and that he’d create more jobs like this.

    “What Donald Trump is suggesting is more tax breaks for the rich, and people on this plant get pennies on the dollar — if they even get that.”

    SEN. SHERROD BROWN: What Donald Trump is suggesting is more tax breaks for the rich, and people on this plant get pennies on the dollar — if they even get that. This typical trickle-down economics that didn’t work during the Bush years. We had a 22 million private sector net increase in jobs during the Clinton years, and we had fewer than 1 million private sector jobs in the Bush years when he did his tax cuts for the rich, which were supposed to trickle down.

    Donald Trump says his net worth is $10 billion. His tax proposal will save him just on the estate tax alone — close to $4 billion tax cut for himself — so we know what that’s about.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But Hillary Clinton wants to raise taxes on people who are already productive.

    SEN. SHERROD BROWN: The wealthy in this country, the 1 percent have gotten richer and richer and richer. The people in this plant, the people in my neighborhood in Cleveland, the people in middle-class and upper-middle class suburbs haven’t done so well in the last 10 years or the last 20 years really.

    And Hillary Clinton just wants to say they should pay their fair share, as they should, as they’ve gotten wealthier and wealthier, as they’ve enjoyed most of the tax breaks on carried interest and all those huge tax loopholes that save billionaires, billions of dollars, certainly hundreds of millions of dollars on their taxes. And she wants to close those loopholes, ask them to pay their fair share, and put that into building highways and bridges and water and sewer systems that will grow our economy.

    We know that in this country, our best years economically were from the 1940s into the 1970s, when we had the best public works — we call it infrastructure today — in the history of the world. Highways, bridges, water and sewer, community colleges and medical research. We don’t do that the way we used to. Hillary Clinton wants to use those tax dollars coming from the wealthy, asking them to pay their fair share, so we can invest in public works, invest in that infrastructure.

    The post What’s Clinton’s position on trade? She’s ‘standing with us,’ says Sherrod Brown appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton addresses the National Convention of the American Legion in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S., August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston - RTX2NR6D

    Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton addresses the National Convention of the American Legion in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S., August 31, 2016. Photo by Bryan Woolston/Reuters

    DES MOINES, Iowa — Following the public outcry over steep increases in price for an emergency allergy treatment, Hillary Clinton is pledging to better protect patients from such costs.

    Clinton is rolling out a plan Friday designed to give the federal government more power to push back against what she calls “excessive unjustified costs” for medications that have long been on the market.

    In a statement, Clinton said that “all Americans deserve full access to the medications they need,” adding that she is “ready to hold drug companies accountable when they try to put profits ahead of patients, instead of back into research and innovation.”

    Clinton plans to create a drug-pricing oversight group that will monitor price increases. If this group of federal officials decides that an increase is excessive, it could take a number of enforcement actions, including making emergency purchases of an alternate version of the drug, allowing emergency imports of a similar product from other developed countries, and imposing penalties on the companies, such as fines.

    The announcement comes amid criticism for pharmaceutical company Mylan N.V. over the list price of the EpiPen, which has grown to $608 for a two-pack, an increase of more than 500 percent since 2007. Facing questions about the pricing decisions, the drugmaker has said it will launch a generic version, but that will still cost $300.

    EpiPens are used in emergencies to treat severe allergies to insect bites and foods like nuts and eggs that can lead to anaphylactic shock. Clinton has called on Mylan to reduce the cost of the drug.

    The post Clinton offers plan to prevent ‘excessive’ drug price hikes appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Zika virus is associated with a host of medical issues, and in Latin America, health officials are now finding that reported cases of the virus track closely with the onset of a temporary paralysis called Guillain-Barré syndrome.

    Researchers say that means an increase in GBS could be a signal that Zika is spreading. Zika infection can present in many ways, from nearly no symptoms to full-blown febrile illness. Most people tend toward no symptoms, making the dramatic presentation of GBS a more clear sign of infection.

    “Reports of the Guillain–Barré syndrome could serve as a sentinel for [Zika] and other neurologic disorders linked to [Zika], including microcephaly,” the researchers wrote Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, referring to the birth defect caused by the virus when it infects pregnant women.

    This comes after warnings from scientists studying the relationship between Zika and GBS in Tahiti that Latin American countries needed to prepare for the expensive and extensive care that goes along with GBS.

    “It is clear that increases in the incidence of the Guillain–Barré syndrome to a level that is 2.0 and 9.8 times as high as baseline, as we have reported here, impose a substantial burden on populations and health services in this region,” wrote the team, made up of researchers from the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, and individual countries’ health ministries.

    The researchers found that nearly 1,500 of the more than 164,000 people with confirmed or suspected Zika infection they surveyed came down with GBS. As the number of Zika infections rose and fell during a one-year period ending in March, so did the numbers of people suffering from the temporary paralysis associated with GBS.

    According to the World Health Organization, there is a “scientific consensus” that Zika causes GBS.

    The virus is primarily spread by mosquitoes, but can be transmitted through sex. When it infects pregnant women, it can cause debilitating birth defects in their fetuses.

    For the new report, officials reporting from six countries — Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Suriname, and Venezuela — as well as the state of Bahia in Brazil, found GBS surged during the Zika epidemic, with rates increasing from 100 percent in El Salvador to 877 percent in Venezuela.

    The researchers also found that the incidence of GBS was 28 percent higher in men than women, which matches what scientists have seen in cases of GBS induced by other infections.

    Studying the link between Zika and GBS has been challenging because other viral illnesses, including the one caused by closely-related dengue virus, also cause GBS. Distinguishing between the two viruses in tests is difficult.

    This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on Sept. 1, 2016. Find the original story here.

    The post Paralysis cases could help identify Zika spread, researchers say appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Three other pregnancies in the US have also been affected but they were not carried to term, the agency said. Photo courtesy Alfredo Ausina and Getty Images

    Three other pregnancies in the US have also been affected but they were not carried to term, the agency said. Photo courtesy Alfredo Ausina and Getty Images

    Teen pregnancy is way down. And a study suggests that the reason is increased, and increasingly effective, use of contraceptives.

    From 2007 to 2013, births to teens age 15 to 19 dropped by 36 percent; pregnancies fell by 25 percent from 2007 to 2011, according to federal data.

    But that wasn’t because teens were shunning sex. The amount of sex being had by teenagers during that time period was largely unchanged, says the study, which was published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health. And it wasn’t because they were having more abortions. Abortion has been declining among all age groups, and particularly among teenagers.

    Rather, the researchers from the Guttmacher Institute and Columbia University found that “improvement in contraceptive use” accounted for the entire reduced risk of pregnancy over the five-year period.

    “By definition, if teens are having the same amount of sex but getting pregnant less often, it’s because of contraception,” said Laura Lindberg, the study’s lead author and a Guttmacher researcher.

    No single contraceptive method stood out as singularly effective, said the researchers. Instead, they found that teens were using contraceptives more often, combining methods more often, and using more effective methods, such as the birth control pill, IUDs and implants.

    [Watch Video]

    Also, the use of any contraceptive at all makes a big difference, said Lindberg. “If a teen uses no method they have an 85 percent chance of getting pregnant [within a year]. Using anything is way more effective than that 85 percent risk.”

    The downturn in teen births actually dates back to the early 1990s, the authors say, with the rate dropping by 57 percent between 1991 and 2013. The increase in contraceptive use dates to the mid-1990s, with the use of any contraceptive at the most recent sexual encounter rising from 66 to 86 percent from 1995 to 2012.

    Valerie Huber, who advocates for programs that urge teens to wait to have sex rather than provide information about contraception, says the study is biased toward birth control.

    “As public health experts and policymakers, we must normalize sexual delay more than we normalize teen sex, even with contraception,” said a statement from Huber, president and CEO of Ascend, a group that promotes abstinence education. “We believe youth deserve the best opportunity for a healthy future.”

    More recent policy changes could help drop the teen pregnancy rate even more. One is the Affordable Care Act requirement that boosted insurance coverage for contraception, starting in 2012. The other is the 2014 recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics that sexually active teenagers be offered “long-acting reversible contraception” methods such as implants and intrauterine devices, which are highly effective and do not require any additional action, such as remembering to take a daily pill.

    But Lindberg noted that just as for older women, teens should be offered a full choice of contraceptives. “In the end, the best method for anyone is one that they are willing and able to use.”

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

    The post Drop in teen pregnancies is due to more contraceptives, not less sex appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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  • 09/02/16--07:39: Gwen’s Take: The high dive
  • Malaysia's Pandelela Rinong Pamg takes part in the Women's 10m Platform Final during the diving event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 18, 2016.   / AFP / CHRISTOPHE SIMON        (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images)

    Malaysian diver Pandelela Rinong Pamg at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Photo by Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images

    For me, watching the summer Olympics should have been a respite from covering politics. But every time one of those amazing, tightly muscled divers stepped confidently to the edge of a high board, I held my breath.

    As they sprang into the air – sometimes backward – and spiraled into the pool, I couldn’t help but think of the presidential campaign we are witnessing.

    For Hillary Clinton, who is trying to make history by becoming the nation’s first woman president, nailing the high dive requires accomplishing it with considerable baggage – her legacy, her husband’s legacy and a raft of hardened public opinion.

    For Hillary Clinton, nailing the high dive requires accomplishing it with considerable baggage.

    Donald Trump’s high dive was illustrated best this week when he hijacked the campaign narrative with a surprise trip to Mexico, an apparently conciliatory joint appearance with President Enrique Pena Nieto, and a fiery hardline immigration speech only hours later.

    By the next morning, he was telling Laura Ingraham, a popular conservative radio host, that he will soften his hard line – later on.

    For diving enthusiasts, the high wire difficulty of pulling all of this off is apparent.

    For Clinton, every time she talks about transparency, simple Google searches take us back to Whitewater and cattle future investments. When she touts her record at the State Department, the FBI’s harsh scolding about her handling of her emails springs back to life. And any mention of her husband’s post-presidential life summons debate about her ties — good and bad — to the Clinton Foundation.

    Trump’s high dives seem to repeat themselves in real time every day. Is he a CEO or a politician? Is he a negotiator or a tough talker? Is he speaking to voters or about them?

    Trump’s high dives seem to repeat themselves in real time every day. Is he a CEO or a politician? Is he a negotiator or a tough talker? Is he speaking to voters or about them?

    Then there are the low dives. There is not a lot of risk in going before the American Legion to declare that you love the flag and the Pledge of Allegiance, as Trump did. And it’s easy to stick the landing when you declare the “need to unify our country and go forward into the future with confidence and optimism,” as Clinton did before the same audience.

    But it is the high dives that capture our attention and dominate the never-ending news cycle.

    It’s Labor Day, the traditional beginning of the final drive toward Election Day. And if you doubt that there will be many high dives to come, consider this finding from the latest USA Today/Suffolk University national poll: Clinton leads in the horse race, but 80 percent of Trump’s supporters and 62 percent of Clinton’s also say if the other candidate were to win in November, they would feel “scared.”

    Kind of like when you are hanging by your toes at the end of the high diving board.

    The post Gwen’s Take: The high dive appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A voter arrives to cast their ballot in the Wisconsin presidential primary election at a voting station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States, April 5, 2016.     REUTERS/Jim Young  - RTSDPNC

    A voter arrives to cast their ballot in the Wisconsin presidential primary election at a voting station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on April 5, 2016. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

    Maine’s gubernatorial races often feature more than two candidates, and for 50 years, none of them has won a first term with majority support.

    Fed up with unpopular chief executives who lack mandates for their proposals, voters will decide in November whether to adopt an instant runoff, or ranked-choice voting, system whenever there are more than two candidates.

    Here’s how an instant runoff works: Instead of selecting a single candidate, each voter ranks all the candidates in order of preference.

    If no candidate is the top choice of the majority of voters, the candidate with the fewest first-place votes is scratched from every ballot, and there is a second count.

    This time, on every ballot where the last-place candidate was ranked first, the second-ranked candidate is counted as the voter’s top choice. The counts continue until one candidate is the top remaining choice of a majority of voters.Here’s how an instant runoff works: Instead of selecting a single candidate, each voter ranks all the candidates in order of preference.

    “This could be transformative in our state and, hopefully, around the country,” said former independent state Sen. Sen. Dick Woodbury, a leading proponent of the referendum.

    If voters approve the measure, Maine would become the first state to use instant runoffs in primary and general elections for U.S. senators and representatives, governor, and state senators and representatives, starting in 2018.

    “When you explain it to people, they like the idea,” said Jill Ward, president of the League of Women Voters of Maine, which spearheaded the referendum. Under the current system, “people assume somebody who wins gets the majority of votes, but they don’t.”

    [Watch Video]

    In four of Maine’s last nine gubernatorial elections, the winner received less than 40 percent of the vote. A 2011 League of Women Voters study of alternative voting systems found that ranked-choice voting was “the best way to ensure a majority vote in competitive, single-seat, multi-candidate elections.”

    Eight states hold primary runoffs — a second primary vote when no candidate wins a majority — in state legislative races: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.

    North Carolina holds a runoff if no candidate in a state race wins at least 40 percent of the vote. South Dakota has a runoff only for governor and federal officials. Vermont holds a runoff only in case of a tie and only in local elections.

    But traditional runoffs are costly to local governments and often draw a sparse turnout.

    Interest among state legislators in instant runoffs appears to be growing, said Wendy Underhill, program director for elections and redistricting at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Although, she added, “It’s hard to pass a bill changing the electoral system.”

    State legislators in Maine first introduced ranked-choice voting legislation in 2001, when the governor was an independent. They did again when the governor was a Democrat, and once more during the term of current Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

    When the bills went nowhere, the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting-Maine collected 73,000 signatures for the citizen ballot initiative.

    Nationwide, governors are increasingly elected without a majority. Ten governors were elected without a majority in 2014. In this decade, the rate of governors winning without a majority is higher than any decade in the last 100 years.

    Dissatisfaction with the Democratic and Republican parties has led to rising support for third parties.

    The Libertarian Party has been recognized — enabling its candidates to get on ballots — in 33 states, the Green Party in 21 states, and the Constitution Party in 15 states.

    Fourteen states considered 27 bills related to instant runoffs during the 2016 legislative session, but none became law, according to NCSL.

    In California, a measure authorizing local governments to use ranked-choice voting under certain circumstances passed in August with bipartisan support and was sent to the governor for his signature.

    In addition to Maine, instant runoff bills were introduced in Arizona, Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

    Rhode Island considered a constitutional amendment for instant runoffs.

    Bills giving some or all localities the option of instant runoffs were also considered in Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey and New York.

    Georgia and Vermont weighed using instant runoffs for military and overseas voters.

    Four state legislatures — Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and South Carolina — already have approved instant runoffs for military and overseas voters, who send in their instant runoff ballot with their primary ballot.

    Mississippi’s Board of Elections, under pressure from the U.S. Justice Department, approved instant runoffs for military and overseas voters in 2014.

    The number of bills involving instant runoffs in state legislatures has been on the rise: from 17 bills in 2012, to 20 bills in 2014, to this year’s 27.

    Think of an instant runoff like ordering at Dairy Queen, said Charles Bullock, professor of government at the University of Georgia and a fan of instant runoffs.

    “When you go to Dairy Queen, you look at the Blizzard of the Month and you want the Heath Bar. But they tell you they’re out of the Heath Bar, so you fall back and say, `I’ll take the M & M,’ ” Bullock said.

    Broader Appeal?

    Proponents of instant runoffs say that when candidates have to run to be some voters’ second or third choice, they become more civil and broaden their positions. And the voting system can affect voters’ behavior, too.

    In plurality elections, in which the candidate with the most votes wins, third-party and independent candidates are often discouraged from running as spoilers, and voters are often reluctant to “waste” their votes by picking a candidate who’s unlikely to win, Bullock said.

    An instant runoff allows voters to cast a first vote as a sincere vote as opposed to a strategic vote.

    But Bullock said: “Anyone who has been successful under the existing rules thinks they’re pretty good.”

    Critics, including Maine’s LePage, who was elected twice with less than 50 percent of the vote, contend the ballot initiative is politically motivated. LePage, who is giving “very serious thought” to running for the U.S. Senate in 2018, has urged citizens to “just say no” to the ranked-choice referendum.

    “This is just another way for sore losers to try and overturn election results they don’t like,” LePage said in a radio address in May. Besides, Maine’s Constitution requires plurality elections. “It’s that simple,” he said.

    Maine Attorney General Janet Mills said in an opinion in March, “It may not be possible to implement ranked-choice voting as envisioned … without amending the Maine Constitution.” Other attorneys and law professors in the state disagree.

    Bringing ranked-choice voting to Maine would cost about $550,000 for software upgrades with the secretary of state’s office, ballot printing and public safety, said Kyle Bailey, campaign manager of the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting-Maine.

    Technology Troubles

    Twenty years ago, if you were interested in instant runoffs, you had to look outside the United States. Instant runoffs are used to elect the Australian House of Representatives, the president of Ireland and party leaders in the United Kingdom and Canada.

    Then San Francisco adopted instant runoffs in 2002 for local elections. Nine other cities have followed, including Portland, Maine.

    Today, ranked-choice voting has growing bipartisan support in the U.S. Among those who’ve endorsed it: President Barack Obama, who as an Illinois state senator introduced an instant runoff bill for statewide and congressional primaries in 2002, and U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican presidential nominee in 2008.

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences uses ranked-choice voting to choose Oscar winners, as do many student governments.

    Legislators in states with traditional runoffs are more likely to consider instant runoffs. In Georgia, where primary runoff turnout has been as low as 12 percent of eligible voters, Republican state Rep. Buzz Brockway proposed a commission to study ranked-choice voting — and hit a wall.

    “What in the world are you doing?” His colleagues said. “I think we ought to at least sit down and talk about it,” he said.

    Even if states were ready to switch to instant runoffs, though, they face a practical obstacle in technology.

    “Policymakers often think it’s the right way to go but then bump into reality,” said Rob Richie, executive director of FairVote, a nonpartisan election reform group that advocates for ranked-choice voting.

    “Their current voting equipment can’t do it.” Vendors are waiting for more localities to adopt instant runoffs, and localities are waiting for vendors, he said.

    When North Carolina tried ranked-choice voting for a judicial election in 2010, state elections officials had to sort ballots manually for the second and third rounds, said Gary Bartlett, who was director of the North Carolina Board of Elections for 20 years.

    “You can’t push one button and have everything work. What we had in North Carolina was a workaround, but it worked,” he said. The Republican-controlled Legislature repealed instant runoffs in 2013 as part of a package of election laws.

    What It Delivers

    There’s also a question about whether ranked-choice voting delivers a majority winner.

    “The notion that it guarantees a true majority winner is a lie,” declared Maine state Rep. Heather Sirocki, a Republican.

    FairVote seems to acknowledge the limits of the system on its website: “When used as an ‘instant runoff’ to elect a single candidate like a mayor or a governor, [ranked-choice voting] helps elect a candidate that better reflects the support of a majority of voters.”

    A 2014 academic study concluded that an instant runoff “does not ensure that the winning candidate will have received a majority of all votes cast, only a majority of all valid votes in the final round of tallying.”

    This is because ballots become “exhausted” and are discarded along the way — when the voter marked only one or two candidates or marked the same candidate twice or candidates were eliminated before the final round.

    The finding “raises serious concerns about [instant runoffs] and challenges a key argument made by the system’s proponents,” wrote the study’s co-authors, Craig Burnett of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and Vladimir Kogan of Ohio State.

    One of the four local elections Burnett and Kogan studied was that of Tony Santos, mayor of San Leandro, in the Bay Area of California, who blames his re-election defeat on a 2010 instant runoff that went six rounds.

    Santos had won in a regular runoff four years earlier but had spent $35,000 of his own money, and the runoff cost the city $200,000, he said.

    “So I came out in support of instant runoff voting. It sounded like a good deal, and you avoid the cost of a runoff,” he said. He had four competitors and turnout was low.

    When the votes were first counted, Santos was 74 votes ahead but had only 36 percent of the vote. By the sixth and final round, the winner beat Santos by about 200 votes and had 51 percent to Santos’ 49 percent of the remaining vote. The winner held a majority over Santos but his share of the total votes cast was 46 percent, not a majority.

    “If we’d stayed with the plurality, I would have won,” Santos said.

    This story first appeared on Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

    The post How ranked-choice voting could make voters more open to third-party candidates appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    While greater educational attainment would lift up the bottom half of the earnings distribution, it would do little to address overall inequality. Above, a businessman walks by a homeless woman in New York City in Sept. 2010. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

    Putting too much emphasis on GDP can distort our perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses of an economy, writes Making Sen$e columnist Vikram Mansharamani. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

    Many business executives live by the creed of “What gets measured gets managed.” The metrics we use channel our attention and efforts. And when it comes to global economics, no indicator monopolizes our attention more than gross domestic product. While the measure is useful, it also has some serious shortcomings. Putting too much emphasis on GDP can distort our perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses of an economy.

    GDP measures economic activity: In general, the value of final goods and services a country produces in a year. It provides a good picture of the size of the income pie. But focusing on headline GDP growth each quarter leads us to ignore important factors not captured by income statistics.

    The size of the pie says nothing about how income is distributed.

    For instance, the size of the pie says nothing about how income is distributed. And considering distribution, like overall income growth, is crucial for assessing an economy’s health. This is especially true since incremental dollars are not valued the same by each person; $100 is worth more to a poor person than to a wealthy one.

    Imagine two countries with the same national income. In the first, 40 percent of the country’s income goes to the top 10 percent. In the second, 20 percent does. The latter country has much more income to go around to the vast majority of its citizens, and the aggregate well-being is likely to be higher.

    As Simon Kuznets, the architect of GDP, put it in 1934, “economic welfare can scarcely be adequately measured unless the personal distribution of income is known.” A broader metric like the Genuine Progress Indicator adjusts personal consumption for income inequality to fill out the picture.

    Headline growth figures also exclude demographic considerations. If a country’s income is growing, but not as fast as its population, then living standards can actually decline. Nigeria’s population, for instance, is growing by 2.6 percent per year, meaning that its economy needs to expand at that same rate just to maintain per capita income levels.

    Even if we made sure to qualify our headline growth figures with distribution and demographics, the discussion would still be limited to income. But there are many other factors worth highlighting to evaluate how we’re doing. Take wealth, for example, which GDP figures tell us nothing about.

    As the architect of GDP said, “economic welfare can scarcely be adequately measured unless the personal distribution of income is known.”

    Consider two people with equal salaries, but one has $1 million in the bank and is adding to it, while the other has $6,000 in the bank and is spending more than he or she earns. Nations, too, can overspend from savings, but GDP tells us nothing about the size of the stock they have to draw from — it merely measures the income flow. High or fast-growing GDP figures might result from overconsumption, for instance, but this would not bode well for the long-run economic health of a country.

    Moreover, in narrowly focusing on income, our national accounts leave out the value of leisure. This can distort our conception of the relative flourishing of countries. For instance, while the United States’ GDP per capita is roughly 15 percent higher than the Netherlands,’ American workers work 26 percent more hours than their Dutch counterparts. Which country is better off?

    Some measures of national well-being incorporate the value of time explicitly. The OECD’s Better Life Index, for example, includes a work-life balance dimension. Unsurprisingly, the United States ranks near the bottom on this metric, while the Netherlands tops the list.

    Another issue is GDP does not directly measure subjective well-being, and economists disagree about whether it is a decent proxy. According to the United Nations’ World Happiness Report, which focuses explicitly on gauging people’s happiness, GDP per capita only explains around a quarter of the difference in subjective happiness levels between the top 10 countries and bottom 10 countries. Other factors include healthy life expectancy, personal freedom and social support networks.

    These are just a few of the blind spots that an overly narrow focus on GDP figures can produce. As Robert F. Kennedy famously said, gross national product — GDP’s close cousin — “does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

    Employing a diverse array of metrics gives us a better picture of how we’re doing and what we should focus on improving.

    This doesn’t mean GDP, or GNP for that matter, is useless. Far from it. But analyzing the contours of GDP does force us to zoom out and understand its limitations. Relying on a single measure as a gauge of a country’s development can force us to overlook dimensions that matter.

    By contrast, employing a diverse array of metrics gives us a better picture of how we’re doing and what we should focus on improving. Using a “dashboard” of indicators, as economist Diane Coyle describes in “GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History,” would help us break free from the tyranny of tunnel vision. As Coyle highlights, the OECD’s Better Life Index offers a broad set of measures and even allows users to weight them as they see fit.

    I spent an hour or so fiddling with the site myself. The mere act of considering the relative importance of civic engagement and community led me to see the world differently. I encourage you to give it a try as well — it just might let you connect the dots in a way a single metric never could.

    The post Column: GDP is a useful measurement, but it doesn’t show the whole picture appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    An employee poses for photographs with Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Note 7 new smartphone at its store in Seoul, South Korea, September 2, 2016.  REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX2NUOR

    An employee poses for photographs with Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy Note 7 new smartphone at its store in Seoul, South Korea, September 2, 2016. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Samsung has issued a global recall for its newest phone, the Galaxy Note 7, two weeks after it came on the market.

    Customers have complained of the phone exploding while charging its battery. A total of 35 cases have been reported, according to a statement the South Korean-based company released to the Yonhap News Agency, a South Korean news agency.

    Samsung said an investigation into the complaints revealed a battery cell issue, and that it will stop all further sales of the Note 7 until it can correct the problem. The company also said it will replace customers’ recalled devices in the coming weeks.

    This is the first time Samsung has issued a global recall of one of its smartphones.

    The Galaxy Note 7 caught consumers’ attention with an iris scanner that unlocks the phone with a blink of an eye, as well as waterproof functions. It is one of Samsung’s most expensive devices, at more than $800.

    Earlier this summer, some consumers also complained about the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active, which was marketed as a water-resistant device but reportedly failed testing.

    The post Samsung recalls millions of Galaxy Note 7 phones appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with his Hispanic Advisory Council at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., August 20, 2016.   REUTERS/Carlo Allegri - RTX2MBG2

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with his Hispanic Advisory Council at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York, on Aug. 20, 2016. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    SAN ANTONIO — Donald Trump pinatas, with dark suits, oversized pink lips and unruly yellow manes in paper mache, are top sellers across South Texas — a potential sign of trouble for one of its Republican congressmen and some colleagues representing predominantly Hispanic districts across the country.

    First-term Rep. Will Hurd is seeking re-election from a constituency that’s nearly 70 percent Hispanic while representing 820 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, more than any other congressional district.

    Trump made a whirlwind trip Wednesday to Mexico, heightening speculation that he might back off promises to build a wall along the 1,989-mile southern border and force Mexico to pay for it. But in a fiery speech in Arizona hours later, Trump insisted again that Mexico would finance the wall and declared that millions of people in the country illegally were violent criminals who strained U.S. government services.

    After he doubled down on the issue, some of Trump’s top Latino supporters abandoned their support — including Houston attorney Jacob Monty, a member of his National Hispanic Advisory Council. Trump’s standing with many other Hispanics cratered when he opened his campaign last summer by suggesting that some Mexican immigrants were rapists and drug smugglers.

    That was the case in parts of Hurd’s district, which extends from San Antonio across two time zones of sparsely populated countryside to El Paso, a land area of 59,000-plus square miles — larger than 29 states.

    “He insulted Hispanics,” said Sylvia Arriola, a 59-year-old administrator for a San Antonio company providing services to adults with special needs. She said much of the district was territory Mexico relinquished at the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848. “We’ve always been here. This was part of Mexico. We didn’t ‘come’ from anywhere.”

    [Watch Video]

    Hurd’s is Texas’ only competitive congressional district. Since 2008, a Democrat has won the seat during high-turnout presidential elections, only to lose it back to a Republican in the midterms. Hurd beat then-Rep. Pete Gallego two years ago by just 2,422 votes.

    Gallego says he has no greater rematch weapon than Trump who “has succeeded at making himself a local issue like no other candidate I’ve ever seen.”

    A 39-year-old former CIA agent who once managed undercover operations in Pakistan, Hurd hasn’t endorsed Trump, though he says the billionaire businessman still has about two months to win his vote.

    “The reality is, when people are going in to make a decision about this race, they’re making a decision about THIS race,” said Hurd, Texas’ first black Republican in Congress since Reconstruction.

    Hurd isn’t alone in seeking to dodge Trump’s electoral shadow. Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo has vowed not to vote for Trump and suggested his party’s nominee is deliberately trying to blow the presidential election. California Republican Rep. Jeff Denham, whose district is more than 40 percent Hispanic, wrote in August that he often finds Trump’s words “disturbing, inappropriate and outlandish” but also suggested that he’d still vote for him.

    Republican Rep. David Valadao represents a California Central Valley district that’s nearly three-fourths Hispanic and says he can’t support Trump because the candidate “denigrates people based on their ethnicity, religion, or disabilities.” Colorado Republican Rep. Mike Coffman even produced an ad promising to stand up to Trump. “Honestly, I don’t care for him much,” Coffman says in it.

    Other House Republicans have refused to endorse Trump but should coast to re-election, such as veteran Miami Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Hurd’s fellow Texas Rep. Kay Granger of Fort Worth.

    “This is a disaster for the party,” Rosario Marin, a prominent Florida Republican and former treasury secretary under President George W. Bush who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico at 14, said of Trump. “If he thinks that saying all these nasty things will help get him to the White House, he’ll say them. He doesn’t care if other Republicans are left dead on the battlefield.”

    Hurd says he can overcome that. While campaigning last weekend on San Antonio’s western outskirts, he knocked on the door of Michael Bell, a high school world history teacher and golf coach who called Trump “a crazy person.”

    Hurd responded: “The second name down on the ballot is going to be mine, so you have a chance to feel good about pulling that lever.”

    Bell conceded he still planned to vote straight-ticket Republican, saying of Trump, “I’m maybe going to have to accept some of his …” Then he trailed off, shrugging.

    Darryl Dillard, a retired 20-year military veteran, also said he’s voting for Hurd and Trump. But he acknowledged “it’s very hard now to be Republican.”

    “They’re saying that Republicans are biased and prejudiced and don’t look at the global picture,” Dillard said.

    Gallego said that when he campaigns in Hispanic neighborhoods, he’s surprised people don’t say they dislike Trump.

    “What they tell me is far more significant. It’s, ‘He doesn’t like us,'” Gallego said. “Their view is that the only way they can defend their families is to make sure Donald Trump doesn’t get elected.”

    The post Republicans in Hispanic House districts fear Trump blowback appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The "Purple Armored Snout Mite" lives in soils and spits a sticky substance on its prey to slow them down. Photo by Gary Bauchan, Ron Ochoa and Chris Pooley/USDA – ARS, Electron & Confocal Microscopy Unit, Beltsville, MD.

    The Purple Armored Snout Mite (Trachymolgus purpureus) lives in soils and spits a sticky substance to slow down its prey. Photo by Gary Bauchan, Ron Ochoa and Chris Pooley/USDA – ARS, Electron & Confocal Microscopy Unit

    From the tea we drink, to the water we swim in, to the beds we sleep upon, millions of minuscule mites share our wide world. Mites are arachnids, much like spiders and scorpions, and the microscopic creatures are among the oldest and most plentiful invertebrates on the planet.

    “There are at least between 3 and 5 million species of mites, and that is a very conservative number,” said mite expert and U.S. Department of Agriculture Entomologist Ron Ochoa. “Almost every beetle will have a mite. Almost every single plant has one to three mites. The soil has mites. The ocean has mites. Humans have mites. Any mammal has mites.”

    Ochoa works for the USDA’s Electron and Confocal Microscopy Unit in Beltsville, Maryland, an agricultural research facility that allows scientists from around the world to get high-resolution images of the mites they are studying. The facility also plays host to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History’s mite collection that contains more than a million different mite specimens representing more than 10 thousand species. NewsHour paid a visit to the facility to see what’s under everyone’s skin.

    Ticks — the blood-sucking, Lyme disease-carrying subclass cousin of mites — are considered the largest of the kind, but most mites are much smaller. The tiniest mite on record is 82 microns long. That’s barely one third the width of a human hair.

    The Spinosaurus mite is named after the Spinosaurus dinosaur because of its enlarged back fin. Photo by Gary Bauchan, Ron Ochoa and Chris Pooley/USDA – ARS, Electron & Confocal Microscopy Unit, Beltsville, MD.

    The Spinosaurus mite is named after the Spinosaurus dinosaur because of its enlarged back fin. Photo by Gary Bauchan, Ron Ochoa and Chris Pooley/USDA – ARS, Electron & Confocal Microscopy Unit

    Ochoa credits the mites’ unseen dimensions for their ongoing success. “In the beginning that they didn’t really need a large size, and they are still around because they are escaping our ability to see them,” he said. “Humans are completely oblivious. Walking all around, feeling like they are the center of the planet while they are surrounded by mites.”

    Gary Bauchan works closely with Ochoa as director of the microscopy unit. Armed with an arsenal of various  microscopes, he and his colleagues take intimate looks at mites, fungi, bacteria and other microscope minions. So far, the team’s images have landed on the covers of more than 30 scientific journals.

    Some of their most detailed photographs come from the lab’s low-temperature scanning electron microscope, a technology that literally captures a moment frozen in time.

    “Most of the time in an electron microscope, you have to put mites in a fixative and kill them, and then they tend to shrivel a little,” said Bauchan. “Now, the other way is to freeze them in liquid nitrogen. So whatever they were doing at the time we froze them, that’s what they are doing in the microscope.”

    Some mites are helpful, benign creatures. Others, not so much. Check out just a few of the mites Ochoa and Bauchan have studied below.


    Rose lovers beware. The rose rosette disease mite (Phyllocoptes fructiphilus) is a good mite gone bad. In the 1970s, this mite and a virus it carries were used as a biocontrol agent to kill wild roses in farming areas.The virus causes a rose bush to produce too many buds, which the plant can’t support. At the same time, the mites feed on the host’s juices, and the rose plant eventually dies.

    Scanning electron microscope image of the "Rose Rosette Disease Mite". Photo by Gary Bauchan, Ron Ochoa and Chris Pooley/USDA – ARS, Electron & Confocal Microscopy Unit, Beltsville, MD.

    Scanning electron microscope image of the “Rose Rosette Disease Mite”. Photo by Gary Bauchan, Ron Ochoa and Chris Pooley/USDA – ARS, Electron & Confocal Microscopy Unit, Beltsville, MD.

    The rose rosette disease mite didn’t stop with wild roses — now, it threatens the wider ornamental rose population. Because the mite hides from predators in the hairs at the base of the flower buds and leaves, options for stopping infections are few. “The irony is the hairs are there to protect from insects but because the mite fits under them, it protects itself from predators that can kill him,” Ochoa said. “The mites not only seeks out the plant but uses the plant’s defenses to protect itself too.”

    The house dust mite (Demartophagoides farina) is one of three known species of dust mites in the world. The non-parasitic mites feed on dead skin cells. They take up residence in humid, room temperature habitats like mattresses, pillows, carpets and other household surfaces with easy access to the human body.

    Scanning electron microscope image of the "House Dust Mite". Photo by Gary Bauchan, Ron Ochoa and Chris Pooley/USDA – ARS, Electron & Confocal Microscopy Unit, Beltsville, MD.

    Scanning electron microscope image of the “House Dust Mite”. Photo by Gary Bauchan, Ron Ochoa and Chris Pooley/USDA – ARS, Electron & Confocal Microscopy Unit, Beltsville, MD.

    In America alone, more than 20 million people suffer from dust mite allergies. But they aren’t reacting to the mites themselves. “If you say you are allergic to dust mites, you aren’t allergic to dust mites. You are allergic to the stuff that’s left after a dust mite feeds on your skin,” said Bauchan. “It’s mite poo that you are allergic to.”

    Speaking of mites that feed on human material, Demodex folliculorum (Simon) is one of three mite species living on your face. The microscopic critters are found across the human body, but are particularly dense near the nose, eyebrows and eyelashes. They live in the body’s hair follicles feeding on the gland’s secreted oils. At night, an army of mites — researchers estimate more than 1.5 million on average — come out to mate and consume built up gunk around the hairs.  

    Scanning electron microscope image of the "Simon Mite". Photo by Gary Bauchan, Ron Ochoa and Chris Pooley/USDA – ARS, Electron & Confocal Microscopy Unit, Beltsville, MD.

    Scanning electron microscope image of the “Simon Mite”. Photo by Gary Bauchan, Ron Ochoa and Chris Pooley/USDA – ARS, Electron & Confocal Microscopy Unit, Beltsville, MD.

    But these mites aren’t considered harmful.  “You have them, but your immune system doesn’t identify it,” said Ochoa. “It’s like your immune system associates them with being part of your body.”

    Ochoa is fascinated by the fact that these facial mite are transferred from parents to children through close, prolonged contact. Researchers analyzing the mites’ DNA can actually trace a person’s geographic family origins over the course of generations. Still, scientists estimate 0.01% of people don’t have any Demodex mites.

    “For me, that is the big question,” said Ocoha. “There are several hypothesis. Number one is that they were born by Caesarean, and number two is the mother didn’t breast feed the kid.”

    Scanning electron microscope image of the "Peacock Tea Plant Mite". Photo by Gary Bauchan, Ron Ochoa and Chris Pooley/USDA – ARS, Electron & Confocal Microscopy Unit, Beltsville, MD.

    Scanning electron microscope image of the “Peacock Tea Plant Mite”. Photo by Gary Bauchan, Ron Ochoa and Chris Pooley/USDA – ARS, Electron & Confocal Microscopy Unit, Beltsville, MD.

    Odds are you’ll think about the “Peacock” Tea plant mite (Tuckerella japonica) the next time you sip on the hot beverage. The mites feed on stems and fruits of tea plants and often make their way into the brews you sip.  In high enough concentrations, it may even affect how tea tastes. Originally from Japan, T. japonica is now found across the world and uses a whip-like tail for defense and dispersal.

    And finally, the Red-legged earth mite (Penthaleus dorsalis) is the new kid on the block. It was first described in 1911 on winter crops grown on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. This was the last time that the mite was seen until 2012, when Ochoa and Bauchan got a call from organic farmers in eastern Maryland.

    Scanning electron microscope image of the "Red-Legged Earth Mite". Photo by Gary Bauchan, Ron Ochoa and Chris Pooley/USDA – ARS, Electron & Confocal Microscopy Unit, Beltsville, MD.

    Scanning electron microscope image of the “Red-Legged Earth Mite”. Photo by Gary Bauchan, Ron Ochoa and Chris Pooley/USDA – ARS, Electron & Confocal Microscopy Unit, Beltsville, MD.

    “We went out to see the problem, and their pea plants were black with the mites,” said Bauchan.

    Even identifying the species proved difficult since red-legged earth mites are cold resistant and simply walk off the frozen plate used to examine them.

    “The mite was walking on the -20 degree Celsius [-4 degrees Fahrenheit] plate like its us walking on a beach,” he said.

    Since 2012, the species has also been found on collard greens, bok choy and broccoli crops in Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

    The post Meet the mite, the tiny bugs in your mattress, your tea and on your face appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Miguel Vidal/Reuters

    Photo by Miguel Vidal/Reuters

    The printed book remains the popular choice for readers over their digital counterparts, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.

    In the past year, 65 percent of U.S. adults surveyed said they read a book in its printed form. 28 percent of people said they read an e-book over the same period, while 14 percent said they listened to an audio book.

    The study also found the amount of adults who read a book in any format — traditional or electronic — rose to 73 percent in 2016 from 72 percent in 2015. The rate of Americans who read a book in a year’s time has remained consistent in the past few years. In 2012, 74 percent said they read a book.

    The 28 percent of Americans who read an e-book has hovered around the same rate the past two years, despite a 11 percent spike in e-book readership between 2011 and 2014, Pew said.

    Pew’s results stemmed from a survey of more than 1,500 U.S. adults over a 12-month period.

    The study also pointed to changing habits in how adults consume e-books — it found that Americans have opted for a tablet computer or smartphone, instead of an e-reader, to read books. In 2016, 15 percent said they used a tablet to read a book in the past year, up from 4 percent in 2011. As for cellphones, that number rose to 13 percent in 2016, compared with 5 percent in 2011.

    But how many readers are format purists?

    According to Pew, 38 percent said they only consumed printed books, while much fewer — 6 percent — said they only read books in a digital format. But 28 percent said they read books in both print and digital formats, including e-books and audio books.

    Maybe “Infinite Jest” will be easier to finish if I read it on a smartphone?

    READ MORE: Have you read the 200 ‘best American novels’?

    The post Luddites rejoice! Americans still prefer printed books appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton addresses the National Convention of the American Legion in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo by Bryan Woolston/Reuters

    Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton addresses the National Convention of the American Legion in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo by Bryan Woolston/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton relied on the judgments of her staff and others not to illegally send emails containing classified information to her private email server, and told FBI investigators she was unclear about a classification marking on official government documents.

    The revelation came Friday as the FBI, in a rare step, published scores of pages summarizing interviews with Clinton and her top aides from the FBI’s recently closed criminal investigation into her use of a private email server in the basement her Chappaqua, New York, home.

    Clinton told the FBI she never sought or asked permission to use a private server or email address during her tenure as the nation’s top diplomat, which violated federal records keeping policies.

    Clinton has repeatedly said her use of private email was allowed. But over 3 ½ hours in an interview in July, she told FBI investigators she “did not explicitly request permission to use a private server or email address,” the FBI wrote. They said no one at the State Department raised concerns during her tenure, and that Clinton said everyone with whom she exchanged emails knew she was using a private email address.

    The documents also include technical details about how the private server was set up. It is the first disclosure of details provided by Bryan Pagliano, the technology staffer who set up and maintained Clinton’s IT infrastructure. Pagliano secured an immunity agreement from the Justice Department after previously refusing to testify before Congress, invoking his constitutional right against self-incrimination.

    Large portions of the FBI documents were censored. The FBI cited exemptions protecting national security and investigative techniques. Previous government reviews of the 55,000 pages of emails Clinton returned to the State Department found that about 110 contained classified information.

    Friday’s release of documents involving the Democratic presidential nominee was a highly unusual step, but one that reflects extraordinary public interest in the investigation into Clinton’s server. Republicans have used the email issue, as well as the family’s charitable foundation, to argue that Clinton is not trustworthy and should not be elected.

    The FBI’s investigation focused on whether Clinton sent or received classified information using the private server, which was not authorized for such messages. Clinton told the FBI she relied on others with knowledge about handling classified files not to send her emails inappropriately.

    “She had no reason to doubt the judgment of the people working for her on the ‘front lines,'” the FBI wrote about one email.

    Clinton was also asked about a 2011 email that caught the attention of investigators in which she directed one of her advisers, Jake Sullivan, to transmit a set of talking points and turn it “into nonpaper w/no identifying heading and send nonsecure.”

    Clinton told the FBI that she believed she was asking Sullivan “to remove the State Department letterhead and provide unclassified talking points” and that she had no intention of removing classification markings.

    In her interview, Clinton said she was unfamiliar the meaning of the letter “c” next to a paragraph and speculated that it might be “referencing paragraphs marked in alphabetical order.” That particular email had been marked as “confidential,” the lowest level of classification. Clinton said she did not pay attention to the classified level “and took all classified information seriously,” according to the FBI notes.

    After a yearlong investigation, the FBI recommended against prosecution in July, and the Justice Department then closed the case.

    FBI Director James Comey said that while Clinton and her aides had been “extremely careless,” there was no evidence they intentionally mishandled classified information.

    Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan issued a statement saying the documents show Clinton’s “reckless and downright dangerous handling of classified information.”

    “They also cast further doubt on the Justice Department’s decision to avoid prosecuting what is a clear violation of the law,” Ryan said. “This is exactly why I have called for her to be denied access to classified information.”

    The FBI director said the government found no direct evidence that Clinton’s private server was hacked but said foreign government hackers were so sophisticated — and the server would be such a high-value target — that it was unlikely they would leave evidence of a break-in. Clinton told the FBI she was unaware of specific details about the security, software or hardware used on her server and occasionally received odd-looking emails. But she told agents there were never so many suspicious emails to cause concerns.

    She also said she had no conversations about using a private email server to avoid her obligations under the Federal Records Act or the Freedom of Information Act.

    Clinton told investigators that she directed her aides in early 2009 to create a private email account and that it was “a matter of convenience” for it to be moved onto a system maintained by her husband’s staff.

    She told investigators that “everyone at State knew she had a private email address because it was displayed to anyone with whom she exchanged emails,” according to a summary of the July 2 interview released Friday.

    Clinton said that when top staff received an email, the recipient would evaluate whether the information should be forwarded to her, but that no one at the State Department raised concerns about her using a private email account or server and said no one on her staff “ever expressed a concern regarding the sensitivity of the content of these emails.”

    Associated Press reporters Michael Biesecker and Eric Tucker wrote this story.

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

    The post FBI releases documents from Clinton email investigation appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Brock Turner, the former Stanford swimmer convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, leaves the Santa Clara County Jail in San Jose, California, U.S. September 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam - RTX2NVH8

    Brock Turner, the former Stanford swimmer convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, leaves the Santa Clara County Jail in San Jose, California, U.S. September 2, 2016. Photo by Stephen Lam/Reuters

    Brock Turner, who was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in 2015, was released from jail Friday after serving three months.

    Turner, a 21-year-old former Stanford swimmer, exited the Santa Clara County jail around 6 a.m. local time carrying a paper bag filled with his belongings, according to Reuters.

    Written statements from Turner’s father and the victim propelled the court case into the national spotlight last year and ignited public outcry.

    Turner’s lawyer argued that both the plaintiff and defendant’s judgments were impaired by alcohol that night. His father received backlash after writing that his son’s life had been ruined by the incident and that his six-month conviction was “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”

    Critics said that Judge Aaron Persky’s sentence for Turner — six months in jail — was too lenient. But the judge agreed that Turner’s future would suffer if he imposed the harshest punishment.

    “[The] character letters that have been submitted do show a huge collateral consequence for Mr. Turner based on the conviction,” Judge Persky wrote in a statement explaining his decision.

    [Watch Video]

    After public uproar and a push for recall, Judge Persky requested to no longer hear criminal cases starting next week, the Associated Press reported.

    The victim’s letter, addressed to Turner, swept across news outlets and social media after she read it at Turner’s sentencing in June.

    “Your life is not over, you have decades of years ahead to rewrite your story,” she wrote. “But right now, you do not get to shrug your shoulders and be confused anymore. You do not get to pretend that there were no red flags. You have been convicted of violating me, intentionally, forcibly, sexually, with malicious intent, and all you can admit to is consuming alcohol.”

    In California county jails, it is not uncommon for inmates to serve half of their sentences if well-behaved, according to the Associated Press.

    Turner must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and will receive three years of supervised probation.

    The post Brock Turner released from jail after serving half his sentence appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    File photo of Uzbek President Islam Karimov by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

    File photo of Uzbek President Islam Karimov by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

    The government of Uzbekistan announced Friday that its president has died at age 78. Islam Karimov ruled Uzbekistan with an iron fist since 1989 when it was part of the Soviet Union.

    He had suffered a brain hemorrhage last Saturday, and rumors about his death had swirled ever since.

    Karimov became president 25 years ago, as the Soviet Union was collapsing and the majority Muslim republic of Uzbekistan declared its independence.

    When then-Secretary of State James Baker visited Uzbekistan in early 1992, Karimov insisted he would embrace democratic and free market principles. But he resisted making any economic or political reforms. And he ruthlessly suppressed all dissent.

    According to journalist and author Ahmed Rashid, Karimov “really just continued the Soviet model. He was very anti-democratic. He refused to carry out economic reforms. He wasn’t interested in building a market economy. He was very brutal with opposition to him, which included not just Islamic fundamentalists but also democratic opposition.”

    Ten years later, after 9/11, Uzbekistan agreed to serve as a crucial hub for the U.S. military on the northern border of Afghanistan.

    U.S. Special Operation Forces launched missions from there. And the air base at Karshi Khanabad served as a major U.S. military transit point to supply forces in Afghanistan. The CIA also operated so-called “black sites” there, where al-Qaida prisoners where held and interrogated.

    Then, in 2005 thousands of people took to the streets, protesting the repression and growing poverty. Many reportedly were gunned down by government forces. Karimov played down the incident. ”How many people were killed as a result of these events?” Karimov said. “I cannot say exactly, but as far as we are able to ascertain, more than 10 people from the government services died, however, it goes without saying that many more died on the other side.”

    Human rights organizations said hundreds were killed. After the Bush administration criticized the incident, the Karimov government shut down U.S. access to its bases.

    “The crackdown certainly created more militants and more terrorists simply because the brutality of the methods used.” — Ahmed Rashid, journalist and author

    “His human rights record has been perhaps the most appalling,” Rashid said. “There was a period after 9/11 when the International Committee of the Red Cross, which is supposed to maintain the Geneva Convention, actually pulled out of Uzbekistan. … Prisoners were routinely tortured in the most horrendous fashion. And there were several reports by ambassadors, in fact, that at least one, if not more, that prisoners were killed by being put into a boiling vat of boiling water.”

    His repression drove some Uzbeks, mostly Sunni Muslims, to join militant Islamic groups like the Taliban. And according to one security consulting company, 500 Uzbeks had joined the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq through December 2015.

    “The crackdown certainly created more militants and more terrorists simply because the brutality of the methods used,” said Rashid. “Young people who were jailed for parking offenses or something were trashed by the police and treated very badly. And many of them would just high-tail it and go down to Afghanistan or Pakistan and join the Islamic movement or some other Islamic fundamentalist group.”

    In 2015, Uzbekistan again became an important transit location for supplying U.S. troops in Afghanistan after Russia cut off the supply lines that run through southern Russia. “It is one of the most important routes since the Russians closed access,” said retired Col. David Lamm, who served as chief of staff of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan from 2004-2005. “Now with Karimov dead we are watching succession closely. Due to the money involved I suspect the regime will keep this part of the NDN (Northern Distribution Network) open.”

    There’s no word yet on who will succeed Karimov. The prime minister, finance minister and deputy prime minister are all potential candidates, according to Rashid. However, Rashid said, “You don’t have amongst any of these people, what you and I would call a liberal democrat or even a vaguely reformist leader who would perhaps try and change the system in Uzbekistan.”

    Arrangements for Karimov’s funeral were in full swing today in Samarkand, his home city, and will take place Saturday.

    The post Uzbek president is dead at age 78, government says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton testifies before the House Select Committee on Benghazi in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 22. 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. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But, first: Today, the FBI released two key documents about its investigation into the private email server Hillary Clinton used when she was secretary of state.

    One contains the agency’s notes from Clinton’s FBI interview, and the other is a 47-page summary of the FBI’s findings.

    NPR’s Carrie Johnson is covering the story and joins me now.

    So, what’s new about the documents that were released today?

    CARRIE JOHNSON, NPR: There are several new details, including really a sense of what Hillary Clinton told FBI investigators in that three-and-a-half-hour interview at FBI headquarters on July 2.

    Hari, she said she used this personal server as a matter of convenience. She never had a concern that she or anybody close to her was mishandling classified information, and that she actually doesn’t recall attending a security briefing or any kind of training about open records lawsuits or open records laws, which is interesting, because these materials only came out after a host of FOIA requests from news organizations and calls from Republicans in Congress.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And there was — one of the emails — or at least one of the quotes that we have is about a drone program. I think we can put that up.

    It says, “Clinton stated” — this is the FBI saying: “Clinton stated deliberation over a future drone strike didn’t give her cause for concern regarding classification.”

    Is this willful oversight, ignorance? Was she too busy? What were the reasons that they gave?

    CARRIE JOHNSON: Recall, Hari, that the FBI director, James Comey, has said that Hillary Clinton and closest aides were extremely careless with government secrets, but he didn’t find enough evidence to prosecute anyone for wrongdoing.

    That said, these new documents today include more information about what was going through her own email server, a lot of documents, a lot of emails about the drone program, one of the government’s most secret tools in the national security space, to allow officials at the CIA and the Pentagon to engage in extrajudicial killing of terrorists or would-be terrorists overseas.

    And what Hillary Clinton was asked about by the FBI were a number of emails about targeted killings about to happen, disputes between different government agencies about who should be targeted for those kinds of drone strikes and other things.

    What Hillary Clinton said in response to FBI questions was mainly, listen, I relied on career State Department officials to make determinations about what should be classified and what shouldn’t.

    She also said that these programs were the subject of multiple debates in media, in newspapers, on television and the like. And, often, her aides were passing around articles from newspapers about drone strikes. So, she thought it was OK to write about that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: At one point, I remember FBI Director Comey saying that no reasonable prosecutor would take this case.

    I mean, there’s also a little bit of controversy on just the releasing of these notes from an interview or this sort of a summary finding.

    CARRIE JOHNSON: Hari, it’s enormously controversial among Democrats, who believe that this could further cement a sense in the political campaign that Hillary Clinton is secretive or may have character problems.

    And it’s enormously controversial among some senior Justice Department officials from past administrations, with whom I spoke today. They said, when you decide not to bring charges against somebody, you shouldn’t dump all kinds of derogatory information about them out into the public space.

    In fact, one of them emailed me this afternoon saying, can you imagine the political careers that would be ended if the Justice Department decided to release these sensitive case materials in all the matters in which we decline to prosecute people?

    Where to draw the line here? So there is some sense that this could set a precedent for demands from Congress and reporters for a lot of sensitive information on closed cases on national security and public corruption moving forward.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Carrie Johnson of NPR joining us, thanks so much.

    CARRIE JOHNSON: Thank you.

    The post We now know what Clinton told the FBI — but should we? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Volunteers cut wood floor planks for a house under construction in Joplin, Missouri May 16, 2012. May 22 marks the one year anniversary of a deadly EF-5 tornado that ripped through the town, killing 161 people. The tornado damaged or destroyed about 7,500 homes and 500 other buildings, but the city is now well into a recovery mode that has spurred some segments of the local economy. REUTERS/Eric Thayer (UNITED STATES - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT) - RTR326HP

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Storms, hurricanes and natural disasters clearly test the fortitude of any area, as we’re seeing this weekend with Hermine, and just recently with the rains and flooding in Louisiana.

    We tend to focus on the immediate aftermath and relief, but the devastation can last for years.

    We have the story of how one city leveled by a tornado has spent years rebuilding, and in some ways is better and stronger for the future.

    The tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri, on May 22, 2011 was one of the most destructive ever in U.S. history; 161 people were killed, 1,000 were injured, and more than 7,000 homes were damaged.

    When the “NewsHour” visited four months later, people were still literally picking up the pieces of their lives.

    JANE CAGE, Chair, Citizens Advisory Recovery Team: It is certainly clean, compared with what it used to be.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Jane Cage, a businesswoman who chaired the Citizens Advisory Council to rebuild Joplin, told us back then she was worried people wouldn’t come back to the destroyed areas.

    JANE CAGE: In the beginning, I think everyone said, I want to rebuild my house. And now I think people are faced with the reality that what they wanted, their neighborhood and their friends may not be in that same spot.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Five years later, Cage took us on a tour of the same neighborhood.

    JANE CAGE: I think this is, in some ways, one of the best recovered neighborhoods. They’re nicer houses and larger houses overall.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: She says one of the main things that Joplin got right in the aftermath was encouraging residents to stay.

    JANE CAGE: We concentrated on keeping our population in Joplin, because we saw what happened in other cities that experienced disasters. And I think one of the first things that we did to make that happen was, our school superintendent made the promise that we would start school on time.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Five schools were completely wiped out in the storm, including Joplin High School. When we visited in 2011, classes had just begun in an abandoned shopping mall.

    Now a brand-new state-of-the-art high school has opened on the original site. It’s just across the street from where sophomore Blake Dean’s house was flattened. Dean described how he rode out the storm in a backyard shelter.

    BLAKE DEAN, Sophomore, Joplin High School: Sure enough, we start hearing a kind of freight train noise. And it just starts getting really loud and the pressure starts building. And then we all kind of just huddled up in the shelter, and it just blew over it.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: His family chose to rebuild on the same lot a bigger and better house. And he says the school is also bigger and better.

    BLAKE DEAN: Oh, it’s just awesome. It’s so — I mean, it’s so much bigger than the last one and there’s so much more opportunity.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In fact, bigger and better is how many in Joplin now describe the city as a whole. The population has actually grown by 1,000 people over the last five years.

    And fellow high school football player Maurice Aubrey says the sense of community has become stronger too.

    MAURICE AUBREY, Sophomore, Joplin High School: Now we have this single past experience that links us all together, as before. So, it just makes it — it’s made it so much better, I think.

    MARCINDA HEMPEN, Joplin Resident: My complex was this portion right here, and my apartment was right here.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Marcinda Hempen is one of those people who took advantage of those new opportunities. She was living in an apartment and huddled in the bathtub when the storm passed through.

    MARCINDA HEMPEN: The weirdest thing was, after it was all done, it was so quiet that I thought, am I dead? Did I not make it? Is this what it’s like to be dead?

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Hempen, a single mom of two now-grown boys, said, prior to the storm, she couldn’t afford to buy a house, but thanks to a $20 million federal loan program which helped her with a down-payment, she owns a home in one of the hardest-hit areas.

    MARCINDA HEMPEN: It’s still a little unreal. I own this. This is all mine. I can paint a wall. I can do whatever I want to do, and nobody can tell me different.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The community-wide effort, along with help from all levels of government and hundreds of volunteer organizations from around the country, has changed the face of the city. Nearly 2,000 new homes have been built; 300 new businesses have opened. And thanks to $30 million from the federal government, the city has a new sewer system, new electrical grid, and new storm shelters in every school and public building.

    There are also new parks, complete with basketball courts, playgrounds and water features. St. John’s Mercy Hospital, which was completely destroyed, has been rebuilt on a new site, and has $11 million worth of upgrades to protect from future tornadoes, including windows that can sustain winds up to 250 miles an hour, fortified safe zones on every floor, and a 450-foot reinforced tunnel, which houses generators, water and data communications.

    But for all of the signs of new growth in Joplin, there is one area where the healing has been more difficult. Cases of mental distress and trauma have more than doubled over the past five years, affecting people like Marian Kelly, who showed us the crawl space where she rode out thee storm.

    MARIAN KELLY, Joplin Resident: But, at some point I felt the air getting sucked out of the crawl space around me. And I thought, this is how I’m going to die.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: She was relatively lucky. Her house was damaged, but not destroyed, and she emerged with just some cuts and bruises. But the emotional scars have been much deeper.

    MARIAN KELLY: For me, the post-traumatic stress disorder has manifested itself mostly in a heightened emotional response to things. I get anxious or upset in ways that I wouldn’t have before. Also, the concentration issues are there. That’s why there’s alarms for everything on my phone. That’s why everything has to be written down.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: She has been able to hold down a job, but she says that’s thanks to medication and regular counseling sessions. She’s not sure she will ever fully recover.

    MARIAN KELLY: It’s been difficult for me to accept that I might not get all of this back, the things that I have lost. I have shaved off a few I.Q. points, you know? And I don’t know if I can expect there — to get them back.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: While Kelly still struggles with her memories of that terrible day, she is proud of the city for showing such resilience in the aftermath.

    She is also hopeful that the many young people who have moved to Joplin since the storm will bring new energy and life to the community.

    That new life is evident in the downtown, which had been largely abandoned before the tornado hit. Now it’s dotted with hip restaurants, bars and lofts.

    Rachel Grindle, who just moved to Joplin from Long Beach, California, is impressed.

    RACHEL GRINDLE, Joplin Resident: Our first week living in Joplin, we were invited to Friday night wine share, which is this networking group for people our age who are career-minded and city-focused. And after that, everybody came here to Infuxn afterwards. And we went out to dinner after that.

    And I looked at my husband, and I was like, I feel like we’re living more of the L.A. lifestyle in Joplin than we ever did in Long Beach.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Reminders of the storm can still be found everywhere in Joplin, whether it’s the memorials to the people who lost their lives, or to the miles and miles of treeless neighborhoods.

    But five years later, the signs of progress that have emerged from that tragic day have become a model for other communities who have suffered catastrophic disasters.

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

    The post Tornado-stricken Joplin now thrives, but emotional scars linger appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answered questions at  press conference about her private email server on March 10 in New York. Yana Paskova/Getty Images

    Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answered questions at press conference about her private email server on March 10 in New York. Yana Paskova/Getty Images

    To the tens of thousands of pages of emails and reports, the FBI Friday added another 58 important pages of documents to the dossier on Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server while working as secretary of state. (To read them yourself, click here and follow the links to “The Vault” to download the documents.)

    Here are ten key takeaways we found:

    Classified judgement. Clinton didn’t see emails about specific drone strikes as rising to a classified concern. For months, there have been questions about Clinton using her private email for tense, vaguely-worded discussions between State, the Pentagon and others over when to use drone strikes and whom to target. At the time, the U.S. generally did not acknowledge drone strikes. But the FBI summarized her words as saying that “deliberation over a future drone strike did not give her cause for concern regarding classification.” And that she added as further argument, that there were “many conversations about drone strikes that never occurred.”
    (See pg 3 of Clinton interview, pg 6 of FBI report summary.)

    Clinton said she thought small classified markings were something else. When asked if she understood the “C” markings beside some paragraphs, Clinton told the FBI she assumed they indicated alphabetical ordering. (See pg 8 of FBI report summary.)

    Colin Powell emailed about how he “got around” the official record. The FBI states that former Secretary of State Powell emailed Clinton in 2009 saying that if her use of a Blackberry became public, her emails could be subject to public record. He wrote, according to the agency, “I got around it by not saying much and not using systems that captured data.” (See pg 11 of FBI report summary.)

    13 Individuals had direct email contact with Clinton’s private address while she was at the State Department. The FBI says this was a “limited” group and that they often would forward emails from others to Clinton, including emails from other State Department employees. The FBI did not give specifics, but it raises questions about whether this conflicts with Clinton’s assertion that as many as hundreds of State Department staffers used her private email address. (See pg 13 of FBI report summary.)

    The FBI is not releasing the number of emails Clinton sent and received while outside the United States. It was redacted. It is not clear why this figure – describing the amount, but not content, of the most vulnerable set of emails – was redacted. Also redacted: Clinton’s birthdate. It’s Oct. 26, 1947. (See pg 14 of FBI report summary.)

    The sorting of Clinton’s emails – what got released, what got deleted – was far from comprehensive. And no one asked Clinton to weigh in. This report gives new details on how Clinton’s emails were deleted or kept, writing that initially a single staffer sorted through tens of thousands of emails on her laptop by looking for those which came from a “.gov” or “.mil” address. She then searched for names of staffers, leaders or specific words like “Benghazi” and “Afghanistan.” Those were all considered “work” emails and put in a Microsoft Outlook folder for a second-round look. No one read the emails that did not come up in those searches, the FBI reports, and no one asked Hillary Clinton to help determine if any single email was official or not. (See pg 16 of the FBI report summary.)

    Hackers did attack Clinton’s server. The FBI reports that in 2011, the staffer overseeing Clinton’s private server shut it down after seeing failed login attempts and interpreting it as a hack attempt. An FBI scan showed attempts to break into the system from external IP addresses over a longer period of time. The agency says one compromised an email account on the server (a staffer’s), but otherwise none seem to have been successful. (See pg 29 of the FBI report summary.)

    Clinton received malicious emails, including one linked to a pornographic website and seemingly connected to Russian hackers. At some point, the FBI writes, Clinton received a phishing scam email from a State Department employee. She did not open the link, which was potentially malicious, but asked the employee if the email was legitimate. In another incident, Clinton wrote her aide Huma Abedin that she was worried someone “was hacking into her email” because she received an email with a link to pornographic website. The FBI found that the link would have launched a virus that would have sent the user’s information to at least three overseas computers, including one in Russia.

    Clinton repeatedly said she was not trained in how to handle sensitive email information, including the president’s email address. Clinton repeatedly told the FBI that she “did not have guidance” or had not been trained in sensitive use of email, including on how to use the president’s email address. As she said publicly, Clinton insisted she relied on staff to forward appropriate, unclassified material. The FBI asked Clinton if she was aware that she herself was an Original Classified Authority who could determine classification. She replied that she was aware of that status but did not recall any training for how to use or how often she did use it.

    Clinton used private email to communicate with POTUS while overseas, when email was more vulnerable. While this is not a surprise, as Clinton was in regular contact with President Obama, we now know that then Secretary of State Clinton emailed him directly at times when her communications were most vulnerable – on her overseas trips. The FBI found no evidence that cyber attackers benefitted, but also said they cannot rule it out. (See pg 2 of Clinton interview, pg 15 of FBI report summary)

    The post 10 things we learned about Clinton’s emails from the new FBI documents appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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