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

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    A huge pine tree is shown after falling through a home from the wind and rain damage of Hurricane Hermine in Tallahassee, Florida September 2, 2016.  REUTERS/Phil Sears REUTERS/Phil Sears - RTX2NW00

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: With Hermine heading up the East Coast of the U.S., we take a closer look at the science and frequency of these hurricanes.

    William Brangham is back with more.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Hurricane Hermine is the first major hurricane to hit the United States in 10 years. Sandy, which did tremendous damage in 2012, wasn’t a hurricane when it came ashore.

    So, why such a long period of time since the last major hurricane?

    To help answer that, I’m joined by Sean Sublette. He is a meteorologist with the research group Climate Central.

    So, Sean, just take on this question. Not that anyone is really complaining about this, but why have we gone 10 years since the last major storm hit the U.S.?

    SEAN SUBLETTE, Climate Central: We really have been lucky at this point.

    Weather patterns change from year to year, and the Atlantic Basin has been active over the past decade or so, but the steering winds at any given time have largely directed the major hurricanes away from the continental United States.

    Now, to remember, a major hurricane, by definition, is a Category 3 or greater storm, a 3, 4 or 5. Hermine was a Category 1 storm, and, like Sandy, certainly doing a lot of flood damage, but did not really attain what we technically define as a major hurricane.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: One of the things I know is that a lot of the climate models initially had predicted that if the temperature globally goes up, which it has, and oceans have gotten warmer, which they also have, that we would see more of these storms and a greater frequency of the storms.

    So, are these models somehow contradicted by this last decade?

    SEAN SUBLETTE: Not necessarily.

    I think what most of them have begun to indicate, really, if you go back to the most recent IPCC analysis, or the consolidation of the research, is that they’re not necessarily going to become more frequent, but there is going to be the tendency or at least likelihood that the ones that do form are going to have more intense rain and very likely stronger winds, so that the ones that do manage to develop will likely be stronger.

    And the fact that sea level has continued to rise, as a lot of the polar regions have seen the glacial ice melt, that will compound any kind of storm surge flooding that comes from hurricanes.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, this last 10 years and the models that you’re describing, they don’t really help us understand what the next 10 years could look like for the U.S.?

    SEAN SUBLETTE: Yes, for the very short term, there is not an awful lot of skill with those particular batches of climate models.

    The shorter term is really kind of an area that most of the work needs to be done, but we do look for the longer-term trends when we think about climate change, as climate change is a longer-term phenomenon, on the order of decades to a century, vs. so much several years to a decade.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, let’s go back to Hermine, which is now threatening the Atlantic Seaboard.

    We have got something like 30 million people up and down the coast that might be looking at some glimpse of the storm. What are we likely to see this weekend and into next week?

    SEAN SUBLETTE: What we’re really concerned about going forward into tomorrow, as the center of storm goes up the southeastern coast, affects Hampton Roads, Virginia, and then, as we alluded to earlier on in the broadcast, going off New Jersey or Delmarva Peninsula, and likely just stalling for two or three days, and may attain hurricane status once again.

    But, really, the biggest story is going to be the tremendous coastal flooding. If this system just hangs off the New Jersey or Delmarva Peninsula and spins for two or three days, you will have a broad area of winds coming onshore. That will likely lead to some serious coastal flooding.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, why is the stalling important? I take it you’re saying, we would prefer it to just rush through more quickly?

    SEAN SUBLETTE: Absolutely.

    Most of the time, once these systems push northward, they begin to accelerate back out to sea. The steering winds, however, with this particular system look like they are going to set up so that it’s going to stall once it clears off the Virginia Capes and just offshore, only 100 miles or.

    So, if it just sits and spins in that counterclockwise direction, you have a continuous fetch of water onto shore from those strong northeasterly winds. And that’s what’s going to pile up the water along the coast.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Sean Sublette from Climate Central, thanks very much.

    SEAN SUBLETTE: Thank you.

    The post Why Hermine is the first hurricane to hit U.S. soil in over a decade appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    FILE PHOTO --  A man rubs his eyes as he waits in a line of jobseekers, to attend the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. career fair held by the New York State department of Labor in New York April 12, 2012.    REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo - RTX2NWJ6

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: It’s been a rough day across Northern Florida, thanks to Hurricane Hermine. And now much of the Atlantic Seaboard is under threat.

    William Brangham begins our coverage.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Hermine barreled ashore in Florida’s Big Bend region on the Gulf Coast around 1:30 this morning. It battered beaches with winds of 80 miles an hour and flooded towns with storm surge and heavy downpours.

    WOMAN: We get out of bed, the water is ankle-deep, and go and open the door. Floodwaters come rushing in. Now the water inside the house is knee-deep.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Adding to the mess, the storm tore up trees and snapped power lines, affecting thousands of people. Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for more than 50 counties.

    WOMAN: And evacuate immediately.

    GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), Florida: The number one thing is to stay safe. Do not drive in standing water. Stay away from downed power lines. Just because it’s clear outside doesn’t mean it’s safe.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: From the Gulf Coast, the storm moved inland and weakened as it pushed across Southern Georgia and the Carolinas. It’s expected to regain some of its power if the storm moves out over warmer water in the Atlantic. That had North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and others waiting and hoping.

    GOV. PAT MCCRORY (R), North Carolina: We’re going to see who gets hit the hardest, and hopefully no one will get hard hit at all. Again, our goal is to be overprepared and underwhelmed when it comes to this storm.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The Mid-Atlantic states may face the worst of Hermine. It’s projected to stall offshore this weekend, with the potential for historic levels of beach erosion and coastal flooding.

    Already, Labor Day weekend events up and down the coast were being canceled or delayed.

    But, today, at least, officials in Georgia said the effects were less damaging than feared, and surfers even took advantage of big waves near Savannah.

    Back in Florida, there were other concerns. The state has already reported dozens of cases of Zika virus, and the storm’s passage will now leave countless pools of standing water, ideal breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that transmit Zika.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: William will be back with what’s behind the recent absence of hurricanes hitting the U.S. mainland after the news summary.

    In the day’s other news:  Job creation in August came in lighter than expected.  The Labor Department reports a net gain of 151,000 positions, far below the gains of recent months.  The unemployment rate for August stayed at 4.9 percent for the third month in a row.  The weaker numbers could influence the Federal Reserve to wait until year’s end before raising interest rates again.

    The man who ruled Uzbekistan with an iron hand, Islam Karimov, has died of a stroke.  His government confirmed it today.  Karimov took power in the Central Asian nation in 1989, and was widely condemned for brutally repressing all dissent.  Even so, after 9/11, the U.S. used an Uzbek air base for airstrikes on Afghanistan.  The deal collapsed when Karimov’s troops machine-gunned 700 protesters in 2005.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin said today he doesn’t know who hacked Democratic Party organizations in the U.S.  The cyber-attack led to the release of thousands of e-mails and documents, and U.S. intelligence agencies have pointed to Russian hackers.

    But in a new interview with Bloomberg News, Putin says the culprits could be from anywhere.

    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia (through translator):  There are so many hackers nowadays, and they act so meticulously and so precisely.  They camouflage their activity to pretend that they were some other hackers from other territories or others countries.  At a state level, Russia is definitely not involved in this.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  Putin also said Moscow has no intention of trying to interfere in the U.S. election.

    A gunman who killed a security agent at Los Angeles International Airport will avoid the death penalty.  Instead, Paul Ciancia gets life in prison, under a plea deal on murder and other charges.  In 2013, he shot a federal screening officer a dozen times, and wounded three others.

    A former Stanford University swimmer walked out of jail today in a sexual assault case that caused a national outcry.  Brock Turner served half of a six-month sentence for attacking an unconscious woman after heavy drinking at a party.  The victim complained the sentence was far too lenient.  That sparked widespread criticism of the judge and the system, and, this week, state lawmakers approved mandatory prison terms for what Turner did.

    Samsung is recalling its brand-new Galaxy Note 7 smartphones because the batteries can explode or catch fire.  Today’s announcement came just two weeks after the product’s launch.  Samsung says there have been 35 cases of Note 7s burning or exploding out of 2.5 million sold worldwide.

    And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 72 points to close near 18492.  The Nasdaq rose 22 points, and the S&P 500 added nine.  For the week, all three indexes gained about half-a-percent.

    The post News Wrap: Lower August job creation keeps unemployment flat appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Jeff Schmaltz/NASA/LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response.

    Photo by Jeff Schmaltz/NASA/LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response.

    Hurricane Hermine is slated to cause serious coastal damage along the mid-Atlantic Coast and possibly New England, yet when the record books shut, it won’t be considered a “major” storm.

    By definition, a major hurricane hasn’t hit the continental U.S. since 2005.

    That’s despite causing at least one death and severe flooding in Florida on Friday, where the storm became the first hurricane to make landfall in the state since 2005.

    Cedar Key, a 700-person village 90 miles north of Tampa Bay, was “devastated” by rain, wind and a 9-foot storm surge, the town’s police chief said. More the 250,000 people lost power, according to the New York Times, as the storm crossed Florida’s Big Bend.

    Experts say the worst impacts are yet to come.

    “Hermine is going to have a very huge impact from Georgia and the Carolinas all the way up into the mid-Atlantic coast, and perhaps into southern New England,” Accuweather chief meteorologist Bernie Rayno told NewsHour.

    The battering of these coastal communities may continue well into next week, as the storm stalls just offshore. Rayno and other experts say the rainfall and winds may intensify as the storm churns in the ocean, causing the damage to push into inland communities along the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware.

    “You have to remember this past winter, Delaware and Maryland got hit hard with a nor’easters,” Climate Central meteorologist Bernadette Woods Placky said. These beaches aren’t at their strongest state so, this storm could be really damaging to them.

    So why isn’t Hermine a “major” storm? Let’s count the ways.

    1. All about wind

    Hurricane severity in the Atlantic Ocean is classified by the Saffir–Simpson scale, which pays attention to a single factor: wind speed. Created nearly 40 years ago by civil engineer Herbert Saffir and National Hurricane Center director Robert Simpson, the scale relies on wind speed because it’s one of the most damaging aspects of a hurricane when it comes to physical structures. Only Category 3 storms (with winds of 111 to 129 miles per hour) or higher earn the label of major hurricane.

    By definition, a major hurricane hasn’t hit the continental U.S. since 2005.

    Workers remove downed trees during cleanup operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Hermine in Tallahassee, Florida September 2, 2016. Photo by Phil Sears/REUTERS

    Workers remove downed trees during cleanup operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Hermine in Tallahassee, Florida September 2, 2016. Photo by Phil Sears/REUTERS

    “A lot of history regarding the construction in hurricane-prone areas and what they could withstand in terms of wind went into the scale’s development,” Woods Placky said. But it doesn’t account for storm surge — when winds push seawater onshore. Storm surge caused most of the damage during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The National Weather Service took notice afterward, according to Woods Placky, due to the damage and confusion wrought by the storm surge.

    “Afterward, the National Weather Service did a lot internal and external assessments, and from that, they’ve spun up their storm surge forecasting,” Woods Placky said. One model called SLOSH has been updated to show real-time information. It can really show where water is going to pile up, Woods Placky said. Here is a prototype storm surge tracker for Hurricane Hermine.

    Hermine should head back over water this weekend, where Rayno said it may stall, akin to what happened with the devastating storms over Louisiana last month.

    Rainfall is another understated factor of tropical storms, which may come into play this weekend with Hermine. Hermine should head back over water this weekend, where Rayno said it may stall, akin to what happened with the devastating storms over Louisiana last month.

    “That wasn’t a tropical system, but it stalled,” Rayno said. “When you have a stalling system, the moisture can produce a hell of a lot of rain in a short period of time.”

    Current weather models predict a strong easterly wind this weekend, so as heavy rains fill the mid-Atlantic states, strong air currents may push the surf against the coastline. The Saffir–Simpson scale doesn’t account for this factor — nor the speed, direction and physical size of a storm. All of which can dictate a storm surge. That’s where the scale falls short in terms of communicating the threat to the public.

    “If [Hermine] sits there and throws wind and rain back into those areas for a couple of days, that’s going to be pretty damaging,” Woods Placky said. She recommends people in coastal and adjacent communities pay attention to local meteorologists and emergency management. They’ll have the best handle on rainfall and storm surge levels for specific areas, as well as how to prepare accordingly, she said.

    2. Hurricanes come and go

    America’s hurricane drought isn’t an anomaly, and that’s because weather and climate work in cycles. This rationale is especially true for hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean.

    “You have spurts of activity and spurts where it’s tranquil,” Rayno said as he described the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). That is a warming and cooling of the Atlantic, which happens naturally every few decades. Higher temperatures mean more hurricanes, at least twice as many during the warm phase of an AMO.

    Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. Photo by van Oldenborgh et al./ ERSSTv3b/via Wikimedia

    Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. Photo by van Oldenborgh et al./ ERSSTv3b/via Wikimedia

    The latest AMO started in 1995 and contributed to the number of tropical storms that matured into severe hurricanes over the last two decades, according to NOAA. The U.S. was hit by four major hurricanes — Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma — in 2005 alone. Yet, in recent years, Atlantic temperatures have started sliding downward, which means fewer hurricanes.

    But AMO should shoulder the blame for the hurricane drought with a major climate pattern located halfway across the world. You may know it as the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which warms ocean water and air over the Pacific Ocean. One side-effect of El Niño is greater wind shear in the Atlantic, which cuts developing tropical storms to ribbons. Multiple El Niños have hit since 2005, including a strong one last year.

    “Certainly, the El Niño that was quite strong this year has faded away, and that has increased the probability of more storms in the United States,” Rayno said. The prediction for this hurricane season is more activity and above normal storms in the Atlantic Basin, he said.

    But that’s not the whole story.

    “El Niño explains the last couple of years,” Woods Placky said, “but not the last 10 to 11 years.”

    So what’s the primary reason for the hurricane drought? Luck. Woods Placky said even with ENSO, AMO and other climate patterns, big storms still hit the Atlantic. But, they missed the U.S.

    “We’ve had these storms out there. Some have been directed to Mexico, others hit the Caribbean islands,” she said. “There’s not a smoking gun for why they’ve been blocked [from the U.S.]”

    3. Don’t blame human-made climate change…yet

    Whenever there’s an increase in hurricanes, which may occur in the near future, people tend to blame anthropogenic (human-made) global warming and its influence on climate patterns. When I asked Rayno if this line of reasoning is valid, he responded:

    “No. Emphatically, no.”

    Ducks are splashed by the heavy rains of Tropical Storm Hermine as it passed through Surfside Beach, South Carolina, U.S. September 2, 2016. Photo by Randall Hill/REUTERS

    Ducks are splashed by the heavy rains of Tropical Storm Hermine as it passed through Surfside Beach, South Carolina, U.S. September 2, 2016. Photo by Randall Hill/REUTERS

    This challenge seems counterintuitive, given it’s accepted that warming temperatures worsen storms by increasing rainfall. However, the jury remains out on whether or not anthropogenic warming will increase the frequency of hurricanes or the intensity of their winds across the globe.

    The question remains open because reliable data on the lifecycles of hurricanes date back only a few decades. Scientists started tracking hurricanes with satellites in mid-1970s.

    “There was a lot happening off shore that people didn’t know about,” Woods Placky said. “Ships could give some idea, but it wasn’t extensive.”

    As a result, there are still a lot of open questions with hurricanes and climate change, which is especially true for long-term trends. Natural variability in weather patterns and climate events like El Nino and La Nina makes predictions even harder.

    However, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change did state in their last assessment that enough data are available to conclude there has been an increase the number and intensity of North Atlantic hurricanes since the 1970s. It’s merely unclear if this trend will continue.

    Regardless, global warming is strongly linked with sea-level rise. Higher seas mean larger storm surges during tropical storms and more coastal damage. Plus, heavier rains caused by climate change mean additional flooding for coastal and inland areas during storms like Hermine.

    “Globally, oceans are 8 inches higher than they were in 1900. That 8 inches is pushing storm surges that much higher and farther inland,” Woods Placky said. “Those are two things that we’re confident about — more rain and higher impactful storm surge.”

    The post 3 reasons why America’s ‘major hurricane drought’ is misleading appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    People march with an inflatable effigy of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during an immigrant rights May Day rally in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 1, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson - RTX2CD2Y

    People march with an inflatable effigy of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during an immigrant rights May Day rally in Los Angeles, California, on May 1, 2016. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/reuters

    WASHINGTON — No doubt Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have dramatically different approaches on immigration.

    In tone, Republican Donald Trump often highlights violent crimes perpetrated by immigrants in the country illegally, with aggressive rhetoric that emphasizes nationalism. Democrat Hillary Clinton features a softer approach that embraces diversity and the value of keeping immigrant families together, even as her critics accuse her of promoting “open borders.”

    It’s not just talk. The White House contenders’ policies would send the country — and the lives of more than 10 million people — down very different paths.

    Trump says he would build a massive wall, create a deportation task force to expel millions, and deny legal status to anyone currently in the country illegally. Clinton would offer a pathway to citizenship for most immigrants regardless of how they arrived, continue to defer enforcement action against families, and offer health care options to immigrants here illegally.

    Here is a summary of their proposals:

    Pathway to citizenship

    CLINTON: She promises to propose immigration legislation in her first 100 days that would include a route to citizenship. Her approach is largely in line with that approved by Democrats and Republicans in the Senate in 2013 turned aside by the House.

    TRUMP: He clarified this week that he opposes any pathway to legal status for immigrants in the U.S. illegally. They would have to return to their home countries and apply for legal entry should they wish to return. He has not said what would happen to those who choose to stay, but said they are subject to deportation. Trump has also called for an end to “birthright citizenship,” currently granted to anyone born in the United States.

    [Watch Video]

    A border wall

    TRUMP: A centerpiece of Trump’s immigration plan is a wall along the border between the United States and Mexico. There are already some 650 miles of fencing along the border, including roughly 15-foot tall steel fencing in many urban areas. Trump says he’ll extend a huge wall across the vast majority of the 2,100-mile border, which would be a major construction feat costing billions of dollars. He promises to make Mexico pay for it. He would also add 5,000 border patrol agents and expand the number of border patrol stations.

    CLINTON: She says there are places where a physical barrier is appropriate but opposes large-scale expansion of a border wall. She prefers relying on technology and more border patrol agents to ensure the border is secure.

    Barack Obama’s executive orders

    CLINTON: She supports President Obama’s executive actions that deferred immigration enforcement against millions of children and parents in the country illegally. A deadlocked Supreme Court decision in June blocked his order, but Clinton insists that such actions are within the president’s authority.

    TRUMP: He said this week he would “immediately terminate” the executive orders, which he said gave amnesty to 5 million immigrants. Indeed, the president’s plan shielded up to 4 million people from possible deportation, all of them immigrants who came to the U.S. as children or are parents of citizens or legal residents.

    Deportation

    TRUMP: He promised this week to create a deportation task force that would prioritize the removal of criminals, people who have overstayed their visas and other immediate security threats. The numbers could exceed 5 million. He backed off his earlier pledge to forcibly remove all of the estimated 11 million immigrants in the country illegally, however, saying only that those who aren’t immediate threats would have to go home and then apply for legal status. Critics have likened that piece of the plan to Mitt Romney’s widely panned call for “self-deportation.”

    CLINTON: She would continue Obama’s policy of deporting violent criminals and others who break the law after entering the United States. But she would scale back the current administration’s immigration raids, which she says produce “unnecessary fear and disruption in communities.” Under her plan, the vast majority of people in the country illegally would be allowed to stay and apply for legal status and eventual citizenship.

    Government assistance

    CLINTON: She would allow all people to buy into the federal health care exchanges, although she has said those in the country illegally wouldn’t qualify for subsidies. Her policy would also allow some to collect Social Security, so long as they pay into the system for at least 10 years.

    TRUMP: He would deny immigrants in the country illegally access to any government benefits, including the federal health care exchanges. He said this week that such immigrants should not be allowed to get food stamps, welfare payments or government-backed housing assistance. Those who do, he said, would be priorities for deportation.

    Sanctuary cities

    TRUMP: Like many Republicans, he vows to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities that shield residents from federal immigration authorities. Trump said this week he would block taxpayer dollars from going to any cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Municipalities like San Francisco, for example, have passed ordinances preventing city officials from even asking about immigration status unless required by law or court order.

    CLINTON: She has not directly answered whether she supports sanctuary cities or not, but her campaign said Thursday that “Hillary trusts our local police to make sound decisions about protecting their communities.” That strongly suggests she would not interfere with local ordinances, like San Francisco’s. She has said that such systems allow immigrants to freely report crimes and communicate with local policy without fear of deportation. Her campaign noted Thursday, however, that she believes violent criminal should be deported and a system is needed to ensure that happens.

    Associated Press writer Catherine Lucey in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.

    The post Here’s what Clinton and Trump plan on immigration appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands during their meeting ahead of the G20 Summit at the West Lake State Guest House in Hangzhou, China, September 3, 2016. REUTERS/How Hwee Young/Pool  - RTX2NZ7Y

    U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands during their meeting ahead of the G20 Summit at the West Lake State Guest House in Hangzhou, China, on Sept. 3, 2016. Photo by How Hwee Young/Pool/Reuters

    HANGZHOU, China — Setting aside their cyber and maritime disputes, President Barack Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping on Saturday sealed their nations’ participation in last year’s Paris climate change agreement. They hailed their new era of climate cooperation as the best chance for saving the planet.

    At a ceremony on the sidelines of a global economic summit, Obama and Xi, representing the world’s two biggest carbon emitters, delivered a series of documents to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The papers certified the U.S. and China have taken the necessary steps to join the Paris accord that set nation-by-nation targets for cutting carbon emissions.

    “This is not a fight that any one country, no matter how powerful, can take alone,” Obama said of the pact. “Some day we may see this as the moment that we finally decided to save our planet.”

    Xi, speaking through a translator, said he hoped other countries would follow suit and advance new technologies to help them meet their targets. “When the old path no longer takes us far, we should turn to innovation,” he said.

    The formal U.S.-Chinese announcement means the accord could enter force by the end of the year, a faster than anticipated timeline. Fifty-five nations must join for the agreement to take effect. The nations that have joined must also produce at least 55 percent of global emissions.

    [Watch Video]

    Together, the U.S. and China produce 38 percent of the world’s man-made carbon dioxide emissions.

    The White House has attributed the accelerated pace to an unlikely partnership between Washington and Beijing. To build momentum for a deal, they set a 2030 deadline for China’s emissions to stop rising and announced their “shared conviction that climate change is one of the greatest threats facing humanity.” The U.S. has pledged to cut its emissions by at least 26 percent over the next 15 years, compared to 2005 levels.

    The meeting of the minds on climate change, however, hasn’t smoothed the path for other areas of tension. The U.S. has criticized China over cyberhacking and human rights and voiced increased exasperation with Beijing’s growing assertiveness in key waterways in the region. Most recently, the U.S. has urged China to accept an international arbitration panel’s ruling that sided with the Philippines in a dispute over claims in the South China Sea.

    China views the South China Sea as an integral part of its national territory. The U.S. doesn’t take positions in the various disputes between China and its Asian neighbors, but is concerned about freedom of navigation and wants conflicts resolved peacefully and lawfully.

    Meeting Xi after the climate announcement, Obama said thornier matters would be discussed. He specifically cited maritime disputes, cybersecurity and human rights concerns, though the president didn’t elaborate or stress the topics during brief remarks in front of reporters at the start of the meeting.

    The ceremony opened what is likely Obama’s valedictory tour in Asia. The president stepped off Air Force One onto a red carpet, where an honor guard dressed in white and carrying bayonets lined his path. A girl presented Obama with flowers and he shook hands with officials before entering his motorcade.

    But the welcome didn’t go entirely smoothly. A Chinese official kept reporters and some top White House aides away from the president, prompting a U.S. official to intervene. The Chinese official then yelled: “This is our country. This is our airport.”

    Throughout his tenure, Obama has sought to check China’s influence in Asia by shifting U.S. military resources and diplomatic attention from the Middle East. The results have been mixed.

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive trade deal the White House calls a cornerstone of the policy, is stuck in Congress. Obama planned to use the trip to make the case for approval of the deal before he leaves office in January.

    Climate represents a more certain piece of his legacy.

    Under the Paris Agreement, countries are required to set national targets for reducing or reining in their greenhouse gas emissions. Those targets aren’t legally binding, but countries must report on their progress and update their targets every five years.

    The state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Saturday that China’s legislature had voted to formally enter the agreement. In the U.S., no Senate ratification is required because the agreement is not considered a formal treaty.

    Li Shuo, Greenpeace’s senior climate policy adviser, called Saturday’s declarations “a very important next step.”

    If the deal clears the final hurdles, he said, “we’ll have a truly global climate agreement that will bind the two biggest emitters in the world.”

    Louise Watt contributed to this report.

    The post China, U.S. join climate deal as Obama hails work to save planet appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    What is believed to be one of the biggest earthquakes in Oklahoma’s history struck the state on Saturday morning, with a preliminary magnitude of 5.6. No major injuries have been reported.

    The quake hit just after 7 a.m. local time and was felt across several states, including Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Texas, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The epicenter was about 8 miles northwest of Pawnee, a city of fewer than 3,000 people.

    “The eastern U.S. in general has older, more stable rock layers, so (earthquakes) are felt across a wider area,” USGS geophysicist John Bellini told the NewsHour.

    While there were no immediate reports of significant damage on Saturday, the Tulsa Police Department asked that people refrain from going to Pawnee, to leave roads open for emergency workers.

    The magnitude ties with the size of the last record-setting quake, which hit south of Pawnee in November of 2011.

    Oklahoma has seen an unprecedented surge in the number of quakes in the last five years. Before 2009, the state used to average only a handful of 3-magnitude or above earthquakes a year. But they have significantly increased every year after – reaching a peak of 900 in 2015.

    The spike has been connected to a rise in domestic oil production, partly due to technology called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which bursts rock formations with water and sand to get to the oil and gas.

    After the oil and gas is extracted and separated, the briny wastewater leftover is pumped back into the ground.

    As NewsHour Weekend reported in January, some wells produce 20 barrels of salty wastewater for every barrel of oil. And last year, energy companies in Oklahoma injected 1.5 billion barrels of water back into the ground. This reduces friction and releases energy that geophysicists say causes the earth to shake.

    Regulators have been putting caps on wastewater injections, which may have contributed to a decrease in the number of quakes.

    Bellini said there was no way to know whether Saturday’s earthquake was directly related to oil production. People on social media, however, started making their own connections.

    The post Oklahoma rocked by one of its biggest earthquakes in history appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks with Shalga Hightower, mother of Iofemi Hightower who was killed in 2007, at a meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 2, 2016.   REUTERS/Carlo Allegri - RTX2NXCY

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks with Shalga Hightower, mother of Iofemi Hightower who was killed in 2007, at a meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 2, 2016. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    DETROIT — Donald Trump said Saturday he wanted to help rebuild Detroit and told members of a black church that “there are many wrongs that should be made right” as the GOP presidential nominee tried to woo African-Americans two months before the election.

    “I am here to listen to you,” Trump told the congregation at the Great Faith Ministries International in remarks that included references to some of his campaign plans. “As I prepare to campaign all across the nation, I will have the chance to lay out my economic plans which will be so good for Detroit.”

    Seated in the front row was Omarosa Manigault, a former contestant on Trump’s reality television series who has been helping guide his outreach to the black community. Also in the audience was Detroit native Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who ran against Trump in the primaries and is now advising the campaign.

    While protesters were a vocal presence outside, Trump made a pitch inside for support from an electorate strongly aligned with Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    “I want to help you build and rebuild Detroit,” he said. “I fully understand that the African-American community has suffered from discrimination and there are many wrongs that should be made right.”

    He also said the nation needs “a civil rights agenda of our time,” with better education and good jobs.

    [Watch Video]

    Unlike his usual campaign stops where he confidently has addressed mostly white crowds that supported him and his plans for the country, Trump’s visit to Detroit on Saturday was intended to be more intimate.

    Some protesters tried to push through a barrier to the parking lot but were stopped by church security and police.

    Rev. Horace Sheffield who led a march from his church blocks away said: “I walked up to the gate and said I was going to church. I was immediately confronted and was told I needed a ticket. You need a ticket to get in church? Anybody who is in this church should be appalled. I love Bishop Wayne T, but to not let the public in?”

    Ahead of his trip, Toni McIlwain said she believes that as a candidate, Trump has a right to go anywhere he wants. But, she said, it takes a lot of nerve for him to visit Detroit.

    Many black people in the city, she said, are still stung by his stop in Michigan last month, when he went before a mostly white audience and declared, “You live in your poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed.” He asked, rhetorically, what blacks had to lose by voting for him instead of Clinton.

    “People picked up on” Trump saying “you’re all just crap,” said McIlwain, who for years ran a community center that offered education and drug prevention programs in one of Detroit’s most distressed neighborhoods.

    “He generalized the total black community. How dare you talk to us like that and talk about us like that?” she said.

    Carson told The Associated Press before Trump’s trip that it would serve as an opportunity for the GOP nominee to see the challenges residents face as he refines his policy plans.

    “It always makes much more of an impression, I think, when you see things firsthand,” he said.

    But the risky nature of the visit was underscored by what appeared to be unusually cautious planning by the Trump campaign.

    On Thursday, The New York Times published what it said was a script of pre-approved questions Trump would be asked in his interview with Jackson, along with prepared answers.

    Jackson told CNN on Friday that he “didn’t see anything wrong” with clearing his questions with the campaign and hadn’t offered softballs. Trump’s intention was to meet and speak with local residents while he’s in town “because he’s been criticized,” Jackson said, “for preaching to African-Americans from a backdrop of white people.”

    Among the members of the clergy denouncing Trump’s visit was the Rev. Lawrence Glass, who said Trump’s heart was not into helping blacks.

    Glass said Trump represents “politics of fear and hate” and that “minorities of all kinds have much to lose taking a chance on someone like” Trump.

    For Trump, courting black voters is a challenge. Most polls show his support among black voters is in the low single digits. Many blacks view some of his campaign rhetoric as insulting, and racist.

    Detroit is about 80 percent black, and many are struggling. Nearly 40 percent of residents are impoverished, compared with about 15 percent of Americans overall. Detroit’s median household income is just over $26,000 — not even half the median for the nation, according to the census.

    The city’s unemployment rate has dropped, but is still among the highest in the nation. And public school students have lagged behind their peers on statewide standardized tests.

    The post Trump tells black churchgoers in Detroit ‘I’m here to learn’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo courtesy of TeamLab

    Photo courtesy of TeamLab

    For a few brief days this summer, a sacred shrine and forest in Kyoto, Japan, became a technicolor dreamscape.

    The Shimogamo shrine, a World Heritage site whose history dates back to the 6th century, and Tadasu no Mori, the shrine’s forest and a national historical site, have long been sacred places in the Shinto religion. Japanese artistic collective TeamLab paid tribute to this history with “Light Festival of Tadasu no Mori,” an installation that transformed the landmarks with a vivid spectrum of light.

    TeamLab began organizing the exhibition in 2015, during the shrine’s Shikinen Sengu ceremony, during which the shrine is reconstructed every 21 years. The decision to work with light was in part a practical one: the medium allowed them to transform the space without disturbing it.

    “Since the entire forest is a religious space as well as a World Heritage Site, it was our duty to not damage any parts of the venue,” TeamLab artist Rio Nishiyama said.

    The group installed LEDs along a 500-meter pathway in the forest, and placed others inside lantern-like spheres throughout the shrine. As viewers moved through the space, walking along the pathway or touching the lanterns, they activated sensors that prompted the colors to change.

    Photo courtesy of TeamLab

    Photo courtesy of TeamLab

    In many other artistic exhibitions, Nishiyama said, the presence of art is largely kept separate from the viewer, lending them no role in the artistic process.

    “I think that art up to this point has treated the presence of others, in the opinion of the observer, as intruders,” she said.

    “Light Festival of Tadasu no Mori” pushed back against that notion — the work itself, Nishiyama said, is a visual representation of the energy that viewers bring to the shrine.

    “We wanted to explore the new relationship between nature and human being, rather than perceiving nature as something that is controllable by humans,” she said.

    The exhibition, which ran from Aug. 17 to Aug. 31, reflects a larger goal for TeamLab: to develop interactive art for urban audiences, building connections between people and the environment without disrupting the city’s everyday life.

    “Cities can be turned into art without changing anything physical, maintaining the function of the city as it is,” Nishiyama said.

    See below for more photos of the installation.

    Photo courtesy of TeamLab

    Photo courtesy of TeamLab

    Photo courtesy of TeamLab

    Photo courtesy of TeamLab

    Photo courtesy of TeamLab

    Photo courtesy of TeamLab

    Photo courtesy of TeamLab

    Photo courtesy of TeamLab

    Photo courtesy of TeamLab

    Photo courtesy of TeamLab

    Photo courtesy of TeamLab

    Photo courtesy of TeamLab

    The post Light show turns primeval Kyoto forest, shrine into a kaleidoscope appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Syrian civilians, with Turkish Army tanks in the background, walk through the Turkish border as they are pictured from a village in Kilis province, Turkey, September 3, 2016. Photo By Ismail Coskun/Ihlas News Agency/via Reuters

    Syrian civilians, with Turkish Army tanks in the background, walk through the Turkish border as they are pictured from a village in Kilis province, Turkey, September 3, 2016. Photo By Ismail Coskun/Ihlas News Agency/via Reuters

    Turkish tanks entered northern Syria on Saturday, joining rebel fighters and expanding in a push against the Islamic State that began last week.

    About 20 tanks and five armored vehicles entered the Syrian town of al-Rai from Turkey, where forces met with the Free Syrian Army in a joint military campaign named Operation Euphrates Shield, according to Turkish state media.

    The move comes after a bevy of attacks across Turkey claimed by the Islamic State. The attacks first spurred Turkey’s entry into Syria on Aug. 24, about 35 miles from Saturday’s invasion.

    Last week, Turkish forces began a military campaign with the backing of American airstrikes and with a contingent of Syrian rebels, who managed within hours to drive Islamic State fighters from the border town of Jarabulus.

    Turkish army tanks and military personal are stationed in Karkamis on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 25, 2016. Photo By Umit Bektas/Reuters

    Turkish army tanks and military personal are stationed in Karkamis on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 25, 2016. Photo By Umit Bektas/Reuters

    A rebel commander on Saturday told Reuters the operation would use al-Rai and Jarabulus as launching points to clear Islamic State fighters from Turkey’s border.

    “The operations are to work from al-Rai towards the villages that were liberated to the west of Jarablus,” Colonel Ahmed Osman of the Sultan Murad rebel group told Reuters.

    Turkey’s entry into Syria was launched to secure Turkey’s border against the Islamic State and improve security, but also to neutralize advances made by Syrian Kurdish fighters, who are supported by the U.S.

    Turkey’s military escalation on Saturday comes on the eve of a bilateral meeting during the G20 summit in China between President Barack Obama and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    The post In new operation, Turkish tanks enter northern Syria appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The John Hancock Tower (C) is seen from across the Charles River in Cambridge, in downtown Boston, Massachusetts March 31, 2009. One of Boston's most distinctive buildings, the John Hancock Tower, was sold in a foreclosure auction for $660.6 million on Tuesday, about half the price its owners paid just three years ago.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder    (UNITED STATES BUSINESS) - RTXDIB2

    The John Hancock Tower, center, is seen from across the Charles River in Cambridge, in downtown Boston on March 31, 2009. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    BOSTON — The nurses of Boston City Hospital weren’t in the habit of stopping by the bar on their way into work. But that was where they began finding themselves every morning, starting in the mid-1980s.

    They would show up as early as 8 a.m. at now shuttered bars in South Boston. They got to know the neighborhood’s bartenders, but not because they were ordering drinks: The nurses were using the bars to see their patients.

    The tuberculosis outbreak then raging among Boston’s homeless population had started in early 1984. By July of 1985, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was calling it the most severe outbreak ever documented among America’s homeless population, according to Boston Globe reporting from the time.

    Dispensing medications from bars, barbershops, and corner stores, Boston’s medical experts managed to rein in the outbreak. Since then, the story of their innovative plan has largely been forgotten by all but those involved. But it helped bring tuberculosis under control in the city, and set the precedent for similar interventions used today in developing countries, where TB is still widespread.

    Tuberculosis is spread through the air, and is highly contagious. Bacteria enter the air when a person with the disease coughs or speaks, and others breathing that air may get infected.

    In the close quarters of Boston’s homeless shelters, tuberculosis began spreading like a match to tinder. Complicating the problem, the drug regimen for the illness was demanding: Up to two years of multiple types of antibiotics taken every day. For homeless people, shelters had no way of knowing if a person would even return the next night, let alone months into the future.

    And if the whole antibiotic course wasn’t finished, the patient risked developing drug-resistant TB, which is more difficult to treat. Medications for drug-resistant forms of the disease also have serious side effects.

    So doctors and nurses got creative, and after weeks of puzzling over how to tackle the outbreak, they realized they needed to take treatment to the patients.

    “It was a lot of trial and error, using common sense, and adapting the system to the population,” said Dr. John Bernardo, TB Control Officer at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, who played a key role in caring for the homeless during the crisis.

    The work was divided between Boston City Hospital and the city’s newly established Health Care for the Homeless program.

    “We had to do things like get on our bikes and go find them every day to give them their medication,” recalled Dr. Jim O’Connell, president of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program.

    Other clinicians found their patients at their favorite watering hole. An 8 a.m. beer at a bar on Broadway in South Boston was the routine of two homeless patients — and turned out to be the most consistent place to see their nurses. If one of the men missed a day, the nurses relied on the bartender to report back when he was next seen.

    One man wanted to take his medication at work, but didn’t want his coworkers to see — so an outreach worker met him in the bathroom each morning, said Bernardo.

    In some cases, medical officials in other parts of the country needed to follow patients. “One fellow went to New York, and because we told him to, he got in touch with them and he continued the therapy — then he came back here and got plugged back into our system,” Bernardo said in a report in the Globe dated July 19, 1985.

    Clinicians kept these efforts up for over a decade. Still, the number of TB cases among the homeless across the United States remained 150 to 300 times higher than the nationwide rate through the late 1980s and only started to fall in the 1990s, according to the CDC.

    Since then, the idea of deputizing community members to help treat diseases has become the World Health Organization’s recommended strategy for treating TB around the globe.

    Dr. Paul Farmer, working in Peru in the 1990s, pioneered a treatment strategy in which a trained community member observes and supports TB patients on medication. Anyone from an employer to a nurse to a family member could take on this role.

    Similar efforts in South Africa and India have found that community volunteers can be just as effective at dispensing TB medications as medical staff. One study from India found that volunteers were more successful than staff at health facilities at supervising patients, in part because they lived closer to the patient.

    Such tactics aren’t in general use in the US any longer — TB cases in 2015 were just 3 per 100,000 people. But certain groups, including African Americans, immigrants, prisoners, and the homeless remain at higher risk than the general population for contracting the disease.

    In the US, the focus has now shifted to prevention — but this, too, benefits from a personalized approach, like the one that worked in the 1980s, says Bernardo.

    “Public health is personal,” he said. To reach Boston’s Haitian community — in which TB is highly stigmatized — Bernardo and his colleagues hosted a morning radio show. Many people started calling in with questions, and the number of patients coming to the clinic increased, too, he said. “It’s not rocket science,” said Bernardo.

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

    The post How Boston stamped out a TB outbreak thanks to bartenders and barbers appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Tank home

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    Read the full transcript below.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Tomas Garcia lives on a strict water budget.

    TOMAS GARCIA: I get about nine of these cases of water, and I’m two cases and two gallons left for the month.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: It’s halfway through the month, and this is the only drinkable water source for Garcia, his wife and two daughters. They also rely on this 2,500 gallon water tank that sits in front of their home. This water is not drinkable, the family cautiously uses it for washing dishes, flushing toilets and showering.

    Just over a year ago, it used to be much worse. The Garcias had no running water, because the Tule River had dried up after years of drought.

    It had been the main water source for the well under their home and for many residents of East Porterville, California, a community of 7,000 people 75 miles southeast of Fresno. Of the 1,800 homes in the community, 500 have had their wells dry up completely.

    TOMAS GARCIA: We were in desperate need for water, you know? And then the solutions to our problem is just to have a way to carry the water to our properties, you know? And the only way I have is my personal vehicle, my family vehicle.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Hauling water is all that Garcia did with his free time. He works as a manager at an auto body shop. And it’s what the Garcia family did instead of Saturday brunch or Sunday church.

    TOMAS GARCIA: My wife dislocated her shoulder, because it was a lot of work pushing those little five gallons buckets from inside the van, handing it to me, and me dumping in those tanks you know. And the stress to come home and there’s no water on my property, my family in need, and then health problem you know, and then it was very, very difficult.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The stress hasn’t helped Garcia’s high blood pressure and diabetes. He also worried that his daughters would get teased at school because people assumed families without running water didn’t shower. David Rozell is the public health emergency preparedness manager for the county. He says an on-going drought is not a typical emergency.

    DAVE ROZELL: In an earthquake or something, you can treat the injuries and they will heal over time and get better. We’re several years in and the disaster is still happening. We are not even in the recovery phase yet.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Rozell can’t definitively say what the health problems might be because there hasn’t been a lot of health data collected related to the water shortage.

    DAVE ROZELL: We’re coming into new territory here. We’re not sure the full extent of what this is going to do to the community.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In order to discover those health problems, the state conducted its first survey in three of the driest communities like East Porterville. The results were released this summer.

    DAVE ROZELL: We had heard anecdotal stories about the types of things that they were doing to conserve water. Whether it was reducing their hand washing, reducing their food washing, whether it was they had observed more dust or felt that there was, the community was less healthy because of the drought. But we didn’t have hard and fast information that we could use for that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The survey found that two-third of East Porterville residents have reduced how much they: shower, wash their hands, wash their food, or flush their toilets. Rozell says these habits will lead to more gastrointestinal illnesses. Residents also reported that drier conditions and dust have worsened chronic health conditions, allergies and asthma.  Then there’s the psychological toll.

    DAVE ROZELL: The drought had had some negative effects on their mental health and their peace of mind. We saw about half the households that we interviewed tell us that the drought had negatively affected their peace of mind.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Tomas Garcia knows about that.

    TOMAS GARCIA: I spoke to different people just only last week. And then they mention to me, “You know what? I was thinking of suicide myself.” I said, “What?” I said. Just because the stress they goes through. The most stressful days sometimes it was when I came in around this time and then loading the water and transfer from one tank to another and sit on myself and thinking about, “What are, I’m doinG this?” you know.

    MELISSA WITHNELL: We definitely feel frustrated when we see the struggle that we see the residents going through.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Melissa Withnell is with CSET, a local nonprofit running East Porterville’s Drought Resource Center. It has set up temporary showers stalls, bathrooms, and sinks in the parking lot of a local church.

    MELISSA WITHNELL: People are playing outside, people are working outside. We have a farm labor community. So, you know, it becomes a major issue when you cannot get in some water and rinse yourself off.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The center also hands out stacks of bottled water, but Whitnell says this site – as well as the water tanks or stress counseling services provided by the county – are only interim solutions.

    MELISSA WITHNELL: We definitely encounter, you know, mixed feelings because you’re trying to help people but there’s only such much you can do until a long-term solution is established. And so it then becomes an issue for the county and the state to step in so that this doesn’t become a public health emergency.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Felicia Marcus is the chair of the State Water Resources Control Board.

    FELICIA MARCUS: Generally this is a local concern, a county concern in trying to figure it out. But I think that in the enormity of a crisis of this kind, everybody has to come together and try to figure out how to do it.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Marcus recognizes that handing out bottled water and dropping water tanks in front of homes are not permanent solutions to the drought and growing public health concerns.

    FELICIA MARCUS: Has it taken longer during this drought to get it all done than I would like? Absolutely. I think all of us who have been working on it would’ve liked it to have been done instantly. But in dealing with reality, it takes working with people you have people who kept thinking, “Well, it’s gonna rain the next year. So do we really have to go through all of this?”

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Marcus says progress has been slow because water agencies at both the state and local levels have never collaborated before on an unexpectedly long drought.

    FELICIA MARCUS: We’ve had to invent whole new ways of doing things for the state agencies to be able to step in to use their legal authorities and our funding tools to be able to come together to create a solution for this particular community at scale that will be a longer lasting answer that will help.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: After nearly three completely dry years in East Porterville, state and local water agencies pooled together resources and drew up a long-term plan: connect homes with dry wells to the water lines of a neighboring city. The first few homes turned on their taps two weeks ago. The Garcia family is scheduled to be hooked up to running water by the end of the year.

    TOMAS GARCIA: Water is supposed to be for all. And then especially we live in the United States of America. This is most powerful country, and we have the resources to come up the solutions.

    The post Could California’s drought make residents sick? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at a Paris Agreements climate event with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and China's President Xi Jinping ahead of the G20 Summit, at West Lake State Guest House in Hangzhou, China September 3, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX2NZ7Q

    U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at a Paris Agreements climate event with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and China’s President Xi Jinping ahead of the G20 Summit, at West Lake State Guest House in Hangzhou, China September 3, 2016. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    HANGZHOU, China — At an economic summit in China, President Barack Obama is turning attention to the Islamic State group, consulting with the leaders of Turkey and Britain, important allies with their own challenges at home.

    Obama has not met with Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, since a coup nearly toppled Erdogan’s government in July. The attempted overthrow has led to accusations of U.S. involvement, and those tensions have been aggravated by growing clashes between Turkish forces and U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds.

    Also on Obama’s schedule Sunday was a first meeting with Theresa May, the new British prime minister who is managing her country’s exit from the European Union after the leave side won a referendum.

    Obama arrived Saturday in Hangzhou, an eastern lakeside city, for the economic summit. On probably his final visit to Asia as president, he was quick to underscore what he views as a success in an otherwise rocky relationship with his Chinese hosts.

    Obama and President Xi Jinping announced they had committed their nations to a landmark climate deal brokered last year in Paris. The two, representing the world’s two biggest carbon dioxide emitters, formally submitted documents marking their commitment. The move puts the deal closer to taking effect, potentially by year’s end.

    Still, the announcement only papered over long-standing tensions over cybersecurity, maritime disputes and human rights. The presidents signaled that those subjects were at the heart of private discussions lasting late into the night.

    Differences over open government and media freedoms were evident from the moment Air Force One landed in Hangzhou.

    As Obama was greeted on a red carpet, a Chinese official yelled at White House officials and traveling journalists to get back.

    “This is our country! This is our airport!” the official shouted.

    Even Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice and her deputy, Ben Rhodes, were briefly caught up as the official tried to keep them away, too.

    Chinese officials sparred with their American counterparts into the evening, with quarrels up to the last minute about how many officials and journalists would be allowed to witness meetings.

    The summit’s second day promised to highlight another frustrating relationship for the American leader.

    The coup attempt in Turkey has accelerated the deterioration in the relationship between Turkey and the United States. The Obama administration has expressed concerns about Erdogan’s crackdown on the press and, in the weeks since the coup, mass firings of teachers, military personnel and others accused of associating with the opposition.

    The U.S. is worried about Turkey’s recent operations across its border into Syria. The Pentagon has backed the incursions, but said they should only be aimed at IS fighters. Turkey has used the operations to push back Syrian Kurds it accuses of seeking to claim more territory.

    For the U.S., the dispute is a reminder of its increasing entanglement in the long-standing local rivalries and conflicts exposed by Syria’s civil war.

    Since the failed coup, the U.S. has been alarmed by Turkey’s diplomatic flirtations with Russia, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s patron, and apparent softening of its tone about the need for Assad to be excluded from a political transition. At the same time, the U.S. continues to work toward an agreement with Russia to cooperate more closely in the fight against IS in Syria.

    Obama told CNN in an interview to be broadcast Sunday that Turkey is an important NATO ally and cooperation on security issues hasn’t been affected.

    “What we want to do is indicate to them the degree to which we support the Turkish people,” he said. “But like any good friend, we want to give them honest feedback if we think that the steps they’re taking are going to be contrary to their long-term interests and our partnership.”

    Obama’s talks with May were expected to include an update on the IS campaign, and May’s strategy for managing the departure from the EU. Obama has said Britain’s decision to leave the EU would not harm the “special relationship” between the two countries. But he has warned Britain to be prepared for economic ramifications.

    Associated Press writer Josh Lederman contributed to this report.

    The post Obama consulting Turkish, British leaders on Islamic State appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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

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

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two months from Election Day, Hillary Clinton has a clear edge over Donald Trump in nearly every measure traditionally used to gauge success in presidential races.

    She’s raising huge sums of money and flooding airwaves with television advertisements. A sophisticated data team with a history of winning White House contests is meticulously tracking voters in key battleground states. Clinton also has multiple paths to the 270 electoral votes needed to win in November — so many that she could lose Ohio and Florida and still become America’s first female president.

    But Trump’s campaign believes there are pockets of voters eager to be persuaded not to back Clinton. While Trump squandered a summer’s worth of opportunities to court those voters, his campaign heads into the fall suddenly confident in its ability to make up lost ground.

    Trump aides were gleeful Friday over the release of FBI notes regarding Clinton’s controversial email practices while secretary of state. His campaign plans to come out of the Labor Day weekend wielding the report as a warning about the Democrat’s judgment.

    Getting Trump to make that kind of consistent case against Clinton has been a herculean task for much of the campaign. But advisers say he’s more receptive to his new leadership team’s more scripted approach, mostly because it’s coincided with a tightening in the public polls he monitors obsessively.

    [Watch Video]

    “There’s a renewed focus on Hillary Clinton and her problems, which I think has been beneficial,” said Matt Borges, the chairman of Ohio’s Republican Party. “He’s got to sustain this for another couple weeks.”

    Still, Trump aides acknowledge that the brash businessman needs to more to address his own shaky standing with voters.

    Trump’s campaign has spent no general election money on positive, biographical ads, despite having plenty of cash to do so. Efforts to highlight a warmer side of the New York real estate developer at the GOP convention were quickly overshadowed by flaps of his own making. He’s also angered anew Hispanics voters, a fast-growing segment of the electorate that Republicans are desperate to draw from, by holding fast to his tough immigration policies.

    “He’s running up against a population trend and a demographic reality,” said Steve Schale, a Florida-based Democratic strategist.

    If Trump can reshape the race, he’ll need to do so quickly. Early voting begins in some states this month. North Carolinians can start submitting absentee ballots Friday. In Ohio — a state no Republican has won the White House without — people can start voting on Oct. 12, a week before the last of three presidential debates.

    Both campaigns expect enormous audiences for the debates. Clinton, who has been in intensive study sessions with her debate team in recent days, is sure to face higher expectations from voters. Trump’s political inexperience leaves him with a lower bar to clear.

    Privately, Republican leaders say it will take more than strong debates for their nominee to alter a race that appears to be leaning in Clinton’s favor. While Trump publicly maintains support from numerous high-ranking GOP officials, a striking number of discussions among Republicans in Washington often begin with an assumption that Clinton will be president come January.

    Trump advisers vigorously dispute that the race has slipped from their grasp. They contend most Americans are just now tuning into the presidential campaign in a serious way.

    “We’re very much on schedule to do what we need to do to turn out the vote for Mr. Trump,” said Bob Paduchik, Trump’s Ohio state director and one of the most experienced operatives on the Republican’s staff. Paduchik said Trump’s efforts heading into the fall are focused primarily on rallying “disaffected Democrats and independents.”

    Clinton’s campaign has long argued that Trump is overestimating the number of voters willing to switch from voting Democratic in presidential election to Republican. But Clinton aides are monitoring movement toward a pair of third party candidates, Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein.

    “There’s no question you’ve got two candidates who are both underwater on their favorables right now,” Joel Benenson, Clinton’s chief strategist and pollster, said by way of explaining the appeal of Johnson and Stein. “I think it’s important as this gets closer that people understand the stakes and the importance of their vote.”

    Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine will have an all-star stable of Democrats making that case on their behalf through the fall.

    President Barack Obama is expected to spend much of October campaigning for Clinton, focusing in particular on increasing turnout among young people, blacks and college-educated whites. Vice President Joe Biden will camp out in working class areas of Ohio and Pennsylvania. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s vanquished primary rival, will be rallying the young voters and liberals who backed his campaign.

    Trump will be largely on his own, with the exception of running mate Mike Pence and a few loyal supporters such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. In the battle for control of the Senate, most Republicans in competitive races have stayed away from Trump.

    Democrats now see a clear path to taking back control of the Senate, with party leaders identifying Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania as favorable opportunities to pick up seats. Democrats are also confident that if Clinton wins in some of the most contested state such as New Hampshire, North Carolina and Nevada, she’ll bring along the party’s Senate candidates.

    There are bright spots for Republicans in the Senate contests. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio is running a campaign that mirrors Clinton’s more than Trump’s — disciplined, well-funded, and heavily centered on data — and appears on track to hold his seat, even if Clinton carries the state in the presidential race.

    Associated Press writer Chad Day in Washington contributed to this report.

    The post Clinton enters fall with key advantages in White House race appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Turkish army tanks and military personal are stationed in Karkamis on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 25, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo - RTX2NUZK

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR:  Today, Turkey again deployed tanks inside Syria to target positions held by Islamic State militants.  Twenty Turkish tanks backed by artillery entered northern Syria, about 35 miles from where Turkish forces first crossed into the country ten days ago.  Turkey says its military has no plans to stay in Syria, but aims to protect its border from ISIS, and separatist Kurdish militias.

    The incursion comes on the eve of a bilateral meeting between President Obama and Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in China.

    I’m joined now by Turkey’s deputy prime minister, Numan Kurtulmus, who is on a U.S. visit and is in Chicago.

    Thanks for joining us.

    First of all, there’s going to be a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 between President Obama and President Erdogan.  Well, what are you expecting from this meeting?

    NUMAN KURTULMUS, TURKEY’S DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER:  We expect it will be very positive conversation between two presidents.  So, especially focus on bilateral relations with Turkey and the United States, and also the common interests of both countries, and the Middle Eastern region, especially in fighting with the terrorist organization, including I.S. and PKK.

    Our expectation is this meeting will have positive effects on the future of the Turkish-American relations.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Will your president be asking our president to extradite Fethullah Gulen?

    NUMAN KURTULMUS: Of course.  Of course, our intention is very clear that Fethullah Gulen is the leader of the terrorist group who tried to make a coup attempt in 15th of July in Turkey.  It was a bloody attempt, unfair coup d’etat attempt.  So, he has links with the group who intended to change democratically elected government and the president of Turkey.

    So, our major expectation is to either extradite Gulen to Turkey or to detain him here until the court will answer here in the United States.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Your government has sent multiple dossiers to the U.S. intelligence community.  The U.S. citizens don’t know what it is.  What’s evidence do you have that connects Gulen to the failed coup attempt.  Why do you think he did it and he orchestrated it?

    NUMAN KURTULMUS: It is a group of people who have a very clear can connection with Gulen, and also the Gulenist movement in general.  So, there are so many military personnel on the file.  They have clear connections with Gulen, and the movement of — himself.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Does Turkey think that the United States played a part in the coup attempt?

    NUMAN KURTULMUS: No, actually, it is not our official view.  Some people on the newspaper, Turkish newspaper, made such a kind of decisions, but it is not our official view.  We still continue having a good relations with the United States.  So, we don’t see any clear evidence that some of the authorities of United States is behind the coup d’etat attempt in Turkey.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You know, your president has called Fethullah Gulen’s influence a virus and after the coup, the government has had a very, very strong crackdown.  You’ve fired some 80,000 civil servants, thousands of people, including judges and prosecutors have been jailed.

    So many people have been jailed that you have to make room for them releasing some of the criminals.  And you’ve had a crackdown on the media.

    How do you know that all of these people are guilty if they haven’t had trials?

    NUMAN KURTULMUS: No, not all of these people are guilty.  They’re under investigation.  The investigations are still going on.

    So, actually, it is a very huge conflict between the Turkish state, and the group of Gulenist movement.  So, they hide themselves during the last 40 years inside the state hierarchy.  They are in very strategically important position in the civil service.  So, we have to clean up our state services from those people who are criminals or they help the criminal people in creating a coup d’etat attempt in 15th of July.

    So, those files are under investigations.  They found none of the people guilty yet, but the court cases are still going on and also investigations for the public service servants are still continuing.  So, we will wait and see the end of the– the result of the cases, every individual cases after the evaluation by legal authorities.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:One of the things that the Turkish government has been interested in just in the past month has been trying to reinstate the death penalty, and that’s something the European Union says is a red line.

    So, which would Turkey prefer, the death penalty or membership into the E.U.?

    NUMAN KURTULMUS: Actually, it is not official case.  Now, people demanded on treason in the squares (ph) in the march against the coup d’etat attempt.  They are demanding that penalty.  It is not on the agenda of the existing democratically elected government.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK.  Finally, let me ask you a little bit about the Kurds.  I don’t claim to know all about Kurdish politics, but the top priority for the United States in Syria is to fight the Islamic State.  In that fight, the U.S. has Kurdish forces in allies that we are arming in that fight.

    The day that Vice President Biden came to Turkey to meet with your president, Turkish tanks went into Syria and they attacked Kurdish troops that the U.S. supports.

    So, if you’re an enemy of our ally, are you our ally?

    NUMAN KURTULMUS: Well, actually, it is not the Kurdish troop.  We have to make it correct.  So, this is a group of terrorist organizations named PYD or YPG.  So, we are not against the Kurds in the northern part of the Syrian territories.  The Kurds are the native people of those — this region, and also in the meantime, Arabs and the Turkmens are the original people of the region.

    Our position is that we are against having one party region in the northern territories of Syria.  So, that’s why if YPG or PYD makes it more than 911 kilometers length of territory, as PYD territory, it is not acceptable from Turkey.

    So, we are OK for the existence of the Kurds in the region.  But all other people, Arabs, Kurd, Turks and others must live there for long.

    So, we are against the terrorist activities of PYD.  As you know, PYD also has very strong connections with PKK, which is a clear terrorist organization, and also PKK is accepted by the Western countries as one of the major terrorist organizations in the region.

    So Turkey is fighting with PKK.  PYD and YPG are providing logistics for PKK inside Turkey.  That’s why it is also again unacceptable for Turkey, the activities of PYD and YPG in the region.

    So, as a strategic alliance, and as partner of the United States under the umbrella of NATO, we are fighting against internationally organized terrorist organizations, including Daesh, or I.S. — whatever you call it — and also PYD is a branch of PKK, which is one of the major threats to Turkey as a terrorist organization.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus, thank you for joining us.

    NUMAN KURTULMUS: I thank you so much.

    END

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    U.S. President Barack Obama arrives at the Hangzhou Exhibition Center to participate to G20 Summit, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, September 4, 2016. REUTERS/Etienne Oliveau/Pool - RTX2O24L

    U.S. President Barack Obama arrives at the Hangzhou Exhibition Center to participate to G20 Summit, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, on September 4, 2016. Photo by Etienne Oliveau/Pool/Reuters

    HANGZHOU, China — The United States and Russia struggled Sunday to keep alive negotiations to end the bloodshed between U.S.-backed rebels and Syria’s Russian-aligned regime. Even as top diplomats vowed to keep trying, President Barack Obama expressed skepticism that an unlikely alliance between rivals would yield the breakthrough needed to end the 5-year-old civil war.

    Still, as Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin attended an economic summit in China, the leaders were under pressure Monday to pick up where their top diplomats had fallen short. Obama and Putin were expected to meet Monday during a summit of the Group of 20 nations, while Secretary of State John Kerry planned to discuss with his Russian counterpart what Kerry described as “a couple of tough issues.”

    The talks culminated a several weeks of searching for a cease-fire between Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government and moderate rebels that would expand access for hundreds of thousands of civilians caught in the crossfire. The strategy has hinged on an unlikely U.S.-Russian militarily partnership against extremist groups operating in Syria.

    But beyond the Islamic State group and al-Qaida, the two powers have conflicting views about who fits in that category — as well as a deep and mutual distrust that the other party will hold up its end of the bargain.

    “We’re not there yet,” Obama told reporters Sunday. “It’s premature for us to say that there is a clear path forward, but there is the possibility at least for us to make some progress on that front.”

    [Watch Video]

    Obama’s wariness was less apparent among his State Department negotiators, who had been so hopeful a deal could come together while world leaders gathered in China that they scheduled a press conference and announced plans to brief reporters on the pact. Those plans deflated throughout the day, as both the briefing and the press conference were canceled. After an aide scrambled to remove the podium once intended for his bargaining partner, Kerry eventually announced there was no deal — standing alone.

    “I’ve said all along we’re not going to rush,” said Kerry, who has negotiated several failed truces with Russia in recent months.

    Kerry said the two sides had worked through many technical issues but said the U.S. didn’t want to enter into an illegitimate agreement. In recent days, the State Department has said it only wants a nationwide cease-fire between Assad’s military and the rebels, and not another “cessation of hostilities” that is time-limited and only stops fighting in some cities and regions.

    A senior State Department official said the talks first faltered on Sunday when Russia pulled back from agreement on issues the U.S. negotiators believed had been settled. The official, who wasn’t authorized to discuss negotiations publicly and requested anonymity, didn’t elaborate. Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov were consulting with their governments before talks resume on Monday morning.

    The conflict has killed as many as a half-million people since 2011 and caused millions of Syrians to flee their homes, contributing to a global migration crisis. Amid the chaos, IS has emerged as a global terror threat.

    Kerry and Lavrov’s talks represent their third significant attempt since July to finalize a new U.S.-Russian military partnership that Moscow has long sought. The package would include provisions so aid can reach besieged areas of Syria and measures to prevent Assad’s government from bombing areas where U.S.-backed rebels are operating.

    U.S. officials have said that as part of a deal, Russia would have to halt offensives by Assad’s government, something it has failed to do over months of diplomatic efforts. And the U.S. must get rebels to break ranks with the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, a task that grew tougher after its fighters last month successfully broke the siege of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and the site of fierce recent fighting.

    Negotiators on both sides have spent weeks poring over maps of potential areas where opposition groups operate and where Assad’s forces would be prohibited from launching airstrikes. The idea is for Russia to use its significant influence over Assad to ensure compliance with the deal.

    But the U.S. has long been skeptical of the military coordination part of the deal, because it says Russia has mainly targeted moderate, U.S.-backed opposition groups in a bid to prop up Assad. The U.S. wants Russia to focus exclusively on IS and al-Qaida-linked groups. Both Defense Secretary Ash Carter and National Intelligence Director James Clapper have expressed misgivings about sharing intelligence and targeting information with Moscow.

    Neither side explained Sunday in detail what sticking points remain. Kerry said the U.S. wanted a deal with the best chance for survival. Lavrov’s deputy, Sergei Ryabkov, said a deal was “close” but that Washington had to dissociate itself from Nusra.

    “Many of the groups considered acceptable by the U.S. have actually affiliated with the Nusra Front, while the Nusra Front is using them to avoid being attacked,” Ryabkov told Russian media, citing a longstanding complaint of his government.

    Associated Press writers Bradley Klapper in Washington and Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.

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    Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign rally at Carl Hayden Community High School in Phoenix, Arizona March 21, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni - RTSBK1D

    Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign rally at Carl Hayden Community High School in Phoenix, Arizona March 21, 2016. Photo by Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

    PHOENIX — If Hillary Clinton carries Arizona in November, there’s a good chance it won’t be because Democrats on their own have flipped a reliable GOP state they hope to win consistently someday.

    Instead, Clinton and Democrats may have Gary Johnson to thank.

    The Libertarian Party nominee’s best chance to influence the presidential race may come in Arizona, where the former New Mexico governor appeals to a group of finicky conservatives who make up part of the GOP base.

    “It could happen,” said GOP Sen. Jeff Flake. “Donald Trump has managed to make this an interesting state in terms of presidential politics, and not in the way that Republicans have wanted.”

    Johnson “is an easy out for some people in our party,” Flake told The Associated Press.

    About a dozen of the most contested states will help determine which candidate gets the 270 electoral votes to win the presidency. In Arizona, where the Republican nominee has carried the state in 11 of the past 12 presidential elections, Johnson could play the spoiler, potentially putting 11 electoral votes in Clinton’s column.

    The GOP’s recent struggle with independent-minded, small-government Libertarians was clear before Trump’s speech Wednesday in Phoenix, when he reaffirmed a hard line on immigration. And his stance could alienate the roughly one-quarter of Hispanic voters in the state who usually align with Republicans.

    “I think that right now we’re at a tipping point, where at any moment we are going to begin to see an outpouring of support,” said Latino GOP strategist Juan Hernandez, who works for Johnson in Arizona.

    Sensing an opportunity herself, Clinton began airing television advertisements in the state Friday, and has reserved $500,000 in ad time through mid-September.

    Democratic strategist Andy Barr said Hispanic turnout was “the multimillion-dollar question.” About one-third of the state’s population identifies as Latino, but their share of the vote ranges between 12 percent and 16 percent, according to public and private polling.

    “This closer it gets to 20 percent, the more our chances of winning go up,” Barr said.

    Johnson will appear on the ballot in every state this fall, while Green Party nominee Jill Stein is on track to make it in at least half. Neither is remotely within reach of carrying a state. Neither seems in a position to tip any state toward Trump.

    But Johnson could move a close race toward Clinton, in much the same way that Ralph Nader pulled enough votes away from Democrat Al Gore in 2000 to hand Florida to Republican George W. Bush.

    Four years ago, Libertarian candidates in Arizona drew enough votes away from Republicans that Democrats Ann Kirkpatrick and Kyrsten Sinema won election to the U.S. House.

    Flake, who had endeared himself to many Libertarians while serving in the House, won his Senate race that year, too.

    “It’s a really sore spot for the party,” Arizona Republican Party spokesman Tim Sifert said of those 2012 results. “You could see people frustrated, throwing away their vote and going with a third-party candidate.”

    The views of most Libertarians, focused on personal liberty and small government, overlap more with Republicans than Democrats. Johnson’s call for dramatically lower business taxes and regulation to unburden entrepreneurs resonates with Matthew Sherman of Phoenix, who describes himself as more as a conservative than as a Republican.

    “I’m for whoever has the best plan on startup companies,” said the 31-year-old who’s working on a business networking app. “So far, that’s Gary.”

    Republican Dave Richins, a councilman in Mesa City, said Johnson is conservative on spending, but tolerant on social issues, which he calls “a pragmatic combination.”

    “For me, a lifelong Republican, I don’t agree with everything Johnson proposes,” said Richins, a Johnson organizer. “But I find his pragmatism refreshing. That’s how we get things done.”

    Johnson’s hands-off approach to government also includes decriminalizing marijuana, and he could benefit from a November ballot proposal in Arizona on that question.

    “That’s another reason for Libertarians to vote in higher numbers,” said Barr, who is running the decriminalization campaign. “We’re inclined to believe that could increase Johnson’s performance.”

    At the beginning of August, Johnson’s campaign had $1.2 million after raising $1.6 million in July, according to Federal Election Commission reports. Since Aug. 1, he’s raised more than $3 million, according to his campaign. That’s a paltry sum compared with Trump and Clinton, whose campaign said it raised a total of $143 million last month.

    Johnson is spending in a few competitive campaign states, including Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, and less competitive ones such as Oregon, New Mexico and Utah.

    Arizona is not on that list, but aides say it likely will be this fall.

    “As a New Mexican, he’s fairly well known in Arizona,” said Johnson’s spokesman, Joe Hunter. “Arizona makes sense for us. We have a natural base of support there.”

    Associated Press writer Chad Day in Reeds Spring, Missouri, contributed to this report.

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    New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) waves before his remarks at a presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (not pictured) speech in Virginia Beach, Virginia U.S. July 11, 2016.  REUTERS/Gary Cameron - RTSHG3G

    New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) waves before his remarks at a presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (not pictured) speech in Virginia Beach, Virginia, on July 11, 2016. Photo by Gary Cameron/Reuters

    TRENTON, N.J. — Donald Trump is pledging that the government he appoints will bring sweeping change to Washington’s culture. So far, that promise comes with a heavy New Jersey accent.

    Despite being passed over for the job of Trump’s running mate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and an entourage of his closest allies could leave a lasting mark on a Trump administration, should he win in November.

    As chairman of Trump’s transition team, Christie is building a coalition of advisers who will staff key federal government agencies and execute new policy prescriptions if Trump wins the general election. Among them, are two of his longtime aides, Rich Bagger, a lobbyist who helped lead Christie’s gubernatorial transition team and Bill Palatucci, a top Christie adviser whose law firm has been showered with government legal work.

    “The chairman is the public face, sets the tone and ensures the transition has good connectivity with the candidate,” said Clay Johnson, who served as executive director of George W. Bush’s transition team in 2000.

    The team also includes Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner — a New Jersey native — along with some experienced government officials such as Jaime Burke, who was the personnel director for the Romney transition team in 2012 and a White House liaison to Health and Human Services under George W. Bush.

    [Watch Video]

    Christie is also hosting a transition team fundraiser in New Jersey later this month promising to give an inside look at the team for $5,000 a person.

    Presidential transition teams lay the groundwork early since the winner is ultimately faced with the daunting task of readying the new administration in the two and a half months between Election Day and the inauguration.

    “You have to be proactive,” Johnson added. “We didn’t know how fast warp speed was but a transition goes faster than that. It’s a mind boggling challenge.”

    As a former presidential contender, Christie has taken some very public swings at his opponent-turned-ally. He’s called the New York businessman “thin-skinned,” and said Trump’s proposed Syria policies are “painfully naive.”

    Also Christie, like a number of Trump’s closest advisers, brings his own share of baggage to the campaign. The embattled governor is still grappling with the fallout from a scandal back home, after lanes were closed on the George Washington bridge for political retribution. Lawyers for former Christie appointee Bill Baroni recently revealed text messages sent from an administration staffer to a campaign staffer that Christie “flat out lied” about his knowledge of the scandal.

    Christie, who has not been charged and denies wrongdoing, disputed the remarks and called them “ridiculous.” The criminal trial against Baroni and another former Christie aide is scheduled to begin Sept. 19.

    Personal relationships have counted for a lot in previous presidential transition teams: George W. Bush tapped his longtime appointments director and chief of staff Johnson along with Dick Cheney, who chaired the effort, and Barack Obama’s close adviser and friend Valerie Jarrett co-chaired his 2008 transition.

    In Trump’s case, however, it appears to be Christie’s relationships that count.

    Palatucci, a good friend of Christie’s and longtime adviser, is serving as the transition team’s counsel and Bagger, Christie’s first chief of staff who is now an executive at a biopharmaceutical firm with close ties to his administration, was hired as executive director.

    A former law partner and Republican political player, Palatucci is a longtime lobbyist for Community Education Centers and helped the company get contracts to house convicted criminals in privatized halfway houses.

    In late 2012, Palatucci left that job to join the law firm Gibbons, P.C. — which has been one of the biggest recipients of state contracts for outside legal work since Palatucci was hired. That includes more than $3 million to defend the state in a whistleblower suit involving an investigation of a Christie donor who received a fake law enforcement ID badge.

    That donor founded Celgene, the New Jersey biotech firm Bagger left the Christie administration to work for.

    As part of his lobbying job for the company, Bagger also accompanied Christie on international economic policy trips that many saw as precursors to his presidential campaign. They were funded by a nonprofit called Choose New Jersey, which is financed by business contributions from Celgene and other businesses.

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    Photo by PhotoAlto/Odilon Dimier via Getty Images

    Photo by Odilon Dimier/Getty Images

    Beekeepers all over the world have reported significant colony losses in the last ten years. Those may be caused by the interconnected effects of pesticides, parasites, landscape changes and a warmer climate. But the good news is that the phenomenon has shined a spotlight on one of the nation’s most ubiquitous workers, reinvigorated local beekeeping and sparked a bustling local honey movement. Here are some unforgettable takeaways:

    1. Forgive us, but honey is bee vomitus

    Bees need pollen mostly for the protein, and nectar mostly for the carbohydrates. Whatever they don’t eat in the field, they store away for the hive. Extra pollen, which is the male germ of the flower, goes into buckets on their hind legs. But the extra nectar heads to their special honey stomach called the crop, where it is mixed with an enzyme called invertase. The enzyme splits the sucrose into two sugars: glucose and fructose.

    After the bee has collected from as many as 100 flowers, it will head back home with its buckets full of pollen and crop full of nectar, which it will regurgitate when it arrives and pass along to a house bee mouth-to-mouth. The house bees chew it to squeeze out excess water and then spit it back out into the cell of a honeycomb for storage. An average worker bee will make one and a half teaspoons of honey in its short lifetime.

    2. Thank bees for coffee and chocolate!

    Wasps, bats, hummingbirds, beetles, butterflies and thousands of other critters all perpetuate pollination, which helps fertilize nearly 75 percent of the country’s agricultural crops. While it’s usually unintentional, the pollen — the male part of the flower — sticks to their bodies and legs and they carry it to the female part of the same or another flower. This allows the plant to grow a fruit or seed.

    Many staples of an American diet, such as coffee, chocolate, berries, fruits and nuts, rely on this process. But when wind, animals and insects in the wild aren’t enough to pollinate domestic crops, farmers need some extra help. Since bees are so efficient and easy to transport, there’s a $15 billion industry dedicated to hive rentals for farmers’ fertilizing pleasure.

    3. California has the bzzziest commercial bee industry

    California almonds employ as much as 75 percent of the commercial bee hive workforce in the U.S. because they are almost exclusively pollinated by honey bees, and the state produces 80 percent of the world’s almonds. Its almond industry requires the services of 1.4 million hives a year that are from all over the country.

    According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, sunflowers and canola seed both take up close to 17 percent of commercial hives, while grapes, apples, cherries watermelons, dried prunes, cultivated blueberries and avocados account for the rest.

    Commercial beekeepers tend to be semi-nomadic, often driving long distances to service clients’ crops during peak bloom periods (Adee, 2014). Several common migration routes includes a stop in California to pollinate the almonds in early spring, between February and March. An estimated 60 to 75 percent of all U.S. commercial hives are employed for the State’s almond bloom, and apiarists bring hives from as far away as Florida and Texas (Horn, 2006; Souza, 2011). Graphic courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

    Commercial beekeepers tend to be semi-nomadic, often driving long distances to service clients’ crops during peak bloom periods (Adee, 2014). Several common migration routes includes a stop in California to pollinate the almonds in early spring, between February and March. Graphic courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

    4. The U.S. is enduring a honey-laundering crisis

    Is it honey or is it corn-syrup in a plastic bear disguise? Honey is the victim of a long-running scam in which processors have sold imitations that might look and taste similar, but are actually cut with sugar or syrup.

    China is at the epicenter of this con, and some producers there have even gone through other countries and relabeled the product to avoid scrutiny. Launderers have gone so far as to filter out all the bee pollen, which is essentially honey’s fingerprint – the only way the federal government can track its origins.

    On the flip side, missing pollen is not evidence that the honey has been doctored. Legitimate packers also filter the microscopic traces from their product because it helps prevent crystallization.

    5. Raw honey will probably get harder, faster 

    There are three main reasons why honey solidifies in its jar, though it rarely spoils, so don’t throw it out unless you’re sure it’s gone bad!

    The first reason involves the sum of its parts. Water makes up a little less than a third of honey, and the rest should be glucose and fructose. Glucose is less soluble than fructose, so if there is more of it, it will separate from the water faster and form crystals. But here’s the cool part: this proportion is partially contingent on the source of the nectar. If, for example, the nectar came from lavender, which has more glucose, it will crystallize faster. If it comes from a tulip, it will be slower. (Common clover honey crystallizes rapidly).

    The speed of crystallization also depends on how much the honey was processed. The more it was filtered, the less likely it is to carry tiny catalysts, like wax, wings and pollen, which encourage crystallization. Sometimes it’s also heated to remove those particles. That’s why raw honey, which is usually unheated and less filtered than commercial honey, is more likely to crystallize.

    Honey storage, including its container and temperature, can also affect the pace. Honey resists crystallization the best at warmer temperatures around 77 degrees F, and in glass or a container that won’t let moisture in. If stored properly, it can last an eternity.

    6. Flowers and honey bees have an epic love story 

    Flowering plants recognized that it was easier to rely on bees than wind to transfer their pollen during the Cretaceous period 130 million years ago. According to Tammy Horn, author of “Bees in America,” flowering plants “developed colors and petal patterns to attract insects…In addition to pollen, flowers eventually produced nectar, providing carbohydrates to their winged vectors…the honey bee developed its morphologies specifically to collect pollen and nectar such as increased fuzziness, pollen baskets, longer tongues, and colonies to store supplies.”

    While some of those bees have gone extinct, the ones that exist now have become partial to flowers that have a landing platform and a secret ultraviolet nectar guide that humans cannot see.

    7. Killer bees are not as deadly as they sound

    Cue the Jaws theme song: killer bees, which are also called Africanized bees and are a hybrid of African and European bees that escaped from a science experiment in Brazil in the 1950s, have embarked on a slow coup in the American Southwest. They don’t look much different from other bees, nor are they any more poisonous, but they attack in swarms and chase their target. What’s worse: It’s hard to tell them apart from any other bee.

    But as they get more attention, it’s helpful to remember that like with shark attacks, it’s extremely uncommon, for any bee encounter, not just with killer bees, to turn fatal. There are more than 60 million people in the territories killer bees have invaded, but there have been no more than a couple dozen deadly attacks. And some experts say that since killer bees seem so resilient, they could help revive the country’s bee population.

    8. Keep the tissues handy, because local honey won’t fight allergies

    Have you heard that eating local honey will help your allergies? Unfortunately, there’s no scientific evidence that proves it. The springtime flowers that bees pollinate aren’t usually the ones making the assaults on the nasal passage and tear ducts. You can blame weeds and grass for that.

    Furthermore, the pollen that ends up in honey is incidental and minimal — less than .5 percent — which is “not enough to impact the nutrient value,” according to the National Honey Board. Regardless of the pollen potency, honey is packed with all kinds of vitamins and minerals and antioxidants, and people have been using it for medicinal purposes, often to treat wounds and inflammation, since the Stone Age.

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    Congressional lawmakers are on a seven-week recess. A look at what lawmakers accomplished and what unfinished business remains. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Congressional lawmakers are on a seven-week recess. A look at what lawmakers accomplished and what unfinished business remains. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Lawmakers return to Washington this week for an abbreviated election-season session in which they will likely do what they do best: the bare minimum.

    All Congress must do this month is keep the government from shutting down on Oct. 1 and, with any luck, finally provide money for the fight against the mosquito-borne Zika virus. Republicans controlling Congress promise they won’t stumble now, but the weeks ahead could prove tricky.

    A chief motivation for the September session, especially for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is allowing lawmakers to return to campaigning as soon as possible. Republicans are scrambling to hold onto their Senate edge as GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump lags in the polls.

    The short-term spending measure is sure to pass. The alternative is that Republicans would get the blame for a government shutdown, as they did in 2013.

    But it’s a complicated path for the temporary spending bill. Some House conservatives say the measure should last into next year, when there is a new president and a new Congress, and that would block any chance for a session after the Nov. 8 election. Leaders in both parties feel otherwise — as does President Barack Obama — and a temporary measure until December seems to be the consensus.

    “We are not doing anything into next year and every Republican should be aware of that right now,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

    Lawmakers left Washington seven weeks ago without resolving a dispute over money for Zika. The virus can cause severe birth defects and is linked to a host of other maladies. Obama asked Congress in February for $1.9 billion in emergency money, but legislation to partially pay for his proposal collapsed in July amid various fights. Among them was a Republican provision to deny money to Puerto Rican affiliates of Planned Parenthood.

    Because the shutdown-prevention measure simply has to pass, it’s a tempting target for lawmakers seeking to use it as a vehicle for their preferences. For instance, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., is pressing for emergency grants to help communities in his flood-ravaged state to recover.

    “I hope we can accomplish that in September,” Cassidy said.

    But GOP leaders probably will try to keep the spending bill as free of unrelated additions as possible, especially now. If GOP leaders were to grant Cassidy’s request, it would make it more difficult to say no to others, such as Democrats seeking money for fixing the lead-tainted water system of Flint, Michigan.

    House conservatives are looking to press ahead with impeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over the destruction of agency emails and misleading testimony on whether the tax agency, before his arrival, improperly scrutinized conservative groups seeking nonprofit status. The impeachment drive is a headache for Republicans who believe that Koskinen’s conduct isn’t serious enough to warrant impeachment, but who may be reluctant to support the Democratic appointee in such a politically charged environment.

    In a recent memo, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said lawmakers will take up legislation regarding the Obama administration’s $400 million payment to Iran in January, made immediately after four U.S. prisoners were released. The payment, for undelivered arms to the shah of Iran, was made on the same day of the prisoner release, and Republicans call it “ransom.” The as-yet-unreleased legislation is designed to prevent a repeat, but seems like an election-season messaging effort.

    McConnell also wants to advance a popular water projects measure. But the priority is to simply adjourn the chamber to allow embattled incumbents such as Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Richard Burr, R-N.C., to get back home and campaign for re-election against the political headwinds created by Trump.

    The abbreviated session should give GOP-run committees a final pre-election chance to hold hearings on the Obama administration and other targets such as EpiPen manufacturer Mylan, N.V. That company has come under withering criticism for steep price increases for its life-saving injector, which can stop potentially fatal allergic reactions to insect bites and stings, and foods such as peanuts and eggs.

    House Republicans are promising hearings on Hillary Clinton’s emails. FBI Director James Comey criticized Clinton’s use of a homebrew email server to handle sensitive work-related emails as “extremely careless,” but said his agency’s yearlong investigation found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

    Republicans now are demanding that the Justice Department open a new investigation into whether Clinton lied during testimony last year before the House Benghazi committee. They claim the FBI note may show Clinton provided inconsistent answers to questions about her handling of emails containing classified information.

    The post What happens when Congress returns to Washington this week? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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