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

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    A nun, belonging to the global Missionaries of Charity, carries a relic of Mother Teresa of Calcutta before a mass celebrated by Pope Francis for her canonisation in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican September 4, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini - RTX2O1F9

    A nun, belonging to the global Missionaries of Charity, carries a relic of Mother Teresa of Calcutta before a mass celebrated by Pope Francis for her canonization in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican September 4, 2016. Photo by Stefano Rellandini/Reuters

    Mother Teresa was canonized into Saint Teresa at the Vatican on Sunday morning, joining Saint Nicholas, Joan of Arc and thousands of others the Church found to be interceding with God in heaven to perform miracles on Earth.

    Following a brief biography of her work as an Albanian nun, which was mostly in Calcutta and for the poor, Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church led the ceremony as 120,000 people in St. Peter’s Square cheered. The Vatican ascribes sainthood to people who it says have been proven to perform miracles after they die. Teresa died in 1997 at age 87, and has, according to the church, cured an Indian woman of a cancerous stomach tumor and a Brazilian man of a viral brain infection since then.

    A general view of Saint Peter's Square as Pope Francis leads a mass for the canonisation of Mother Teresa of Calcutta at the Vatican September 4, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini - RTX2O1MW

    A general view of Saint Peter’s Square as Pope Francis leads a mass for the canonisation of Mother Teresa of Calcutta at the Vatican September 4, 2016. Photo by Stefano Rellandini/Reuters

    “We declare and define Blessed Teresa of Calcutta to be a saint and we enroll her among the saints, decreeing that she is to be venerated as such by the whole Church,” Francis said. “She made her voice heard before the powers of the world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crimes of poverty they themselves created.”

    Following a trip to Darjeeling and work as a nun in Calcutta, now called Kolkata, young Teresa in the 1940s longed to help the people in the slum that her school, which was run by Irish nuns, overlooked. She got permission to leave the convent to pursue her own work. And in an attempt to appeal to locals, she wore a simple white sari, downplaying her faith as she moved forward.

    Nuns from the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata, India, watch a live broadcast of the canonisation of Mother Teresa at a ceremony held in the Vatican, September 4, 2016. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri - RTX2O1XG

    Nuns from the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata, India, watch a live broadcast of the canonisation of Mother Teresa at a ceremony held in the Vatican, September 4, 2016. Photo by Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

    In 1950 she founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta with an initial group of 12 followers. By 1969 it became an international association known to help “the poorest of the poor,” often by undertaking relief work after natural disasters. Ten years later she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

    She carved her way as a small woman with a large amount of power. She was a woman who was recognized by President Ronald Reagan with a Medal of Freedom and also persuaded Cuban leader Fidel Castro to allow her to work in his country.

    Now, with more than 5,600 hospices in 139 countries, nuns in her order continue to wear the same sari – the white symbolizing purity and the three blue bands representing the vows they take.

    “Let us carry Mother Teresa’s smile in our hearts and give it to those whom we meet along our journey,” Francis tweeted after the ceremony.

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

    But with influence also came criticism of the church, the missionary and of Teresa.

    The process for sainthood is a costly and abused system – people have tried to debunk or simply don’t believe the miracles that Teresa has been said to perform.

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

    While Teresa was alive, some people questioned whether her order’s ulterior motive was to convert those who benefited. They would also criticize the quality of the order’s care and lack of hygiene, and her philosophy against abortion — which she made clear during her Nobel speech.

    Following her death, the Missionaries of Charity has also come under scrutiny for its secrecy.

    And some have resented Teresa’s fame, having earned it as an Indian citizen. Four other Indian citizens of Indian descent have also won Nobel prizes, but they seem to be lesser-known than Teresa.

    “She built an empire of charity,” the Rev. Bernardo Cervellera, editor of the Vatican-affiliated missionary news agency AsiaNews, told the Associated Press earlier this year. “She didn’t have a plan to conquer the world. Her idea was to be obedient to God.”

    Though it’s unclear if that was always her idea. For nearly 50 years, Teresa lived through spiritual doubt, despair and loneliness – a period that came to light during her beautification process.

    “She understood very well when people would share their horror stories, their pain and suffering of being unloved, lonely. She would be able to share that empathy because she herself was experiencing it,” the Canadian priest who published the letters and spearheaded her saint-making campaign told the AP.

    This was a revelation Francis reflected during the ceremony on Sunday.

    “For Mother Teresa, mercy was the salt which gave flavor to her work, it was the light which shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering,” he said.

    And that was, according to her book, what she aspired to do.

    “If I ever become a Saint–I will surely be one of ‘darkness.’ I will continually be absent from Heaven – to light the light of those in darkness on earth,” she wrote.

    The post How Mother Teresa became Saint Teresa appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Urban beekeeping is on the rise in major cities. Photo by Laura Fong/PBS NewsHour Weekend

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    By Sam Weber and Laura Fong

    Don Shump manages four hives of honey bees on the roof of the Sofitel hotel – 14 floors up from the street – in downtown Philadelphia. “Usually people go, ‘You’re doing what on the roof in Philadelphia and how high?’ And the conversation goes from there,” he said.

    Shump started the Philadelphia Bee Company in 2011, and now handles about 65 beehives in 15 locations around the city.

    “Being able to keep bees in an urban setting allows us to take advantage of the blight we have downtown. We have 40,000 abandoned lots in the city,” Shump said. “Bees really love the weeds that we have. Philadelphia in particular has a couple hundred years of botanical awesomeness going on.”

    Shump is part of a growing movement of urban beekeepers around the country. Cities that until recently restricted beekeeping — like Washington D.C., New York, and Los Angeles — have lifted those restrictions. Philadelphia now has about 400 registered bee colonies and 75 beekeepers. The movement is gaining steam, in part, because the number of bee colonies in the U.S. has dropped dramatically in recent decades.

    Now, the number of part-time and backyard beekeepers are on the rise, with an estimated 120,000 backyard beekeepers in the U.S., according to Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture magazine.

    One of those backyard beekeepers is Suzanne Matlock, who began keeping hives on the front lawn of her Philadelphia home in 2009. She became interested in beekeeping after hearing about Colony Collapse Disorder, the sudden loss of 30 to 90 percent of bee colonies, which can lead to a shortage of bees needed to pollinate crops.

    “Maybe it’d make a tiny little difference if each person would keep a hive of bees, just like each person composts or recycles,” said Matlock.

    With a background in biology and chemistry, Matlock is working to prolong the life of bees, raising queen bees that can survive cold Northeast winters.

    “My goal is to come up with some great genetic livestock that survives Pennsylvania winters and is nice and easy to work with,” she said. “If you can get a little extra honey out of them, that’s good too.”

    Read the full transcript below.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: On the roof of the Sofitel hotel in downtown Philadelphia, 14 floors above the street, Don Shump manages four hives of honey bees.

    DON SHUMP: We actually took some frames out of this one.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Each one contains as many as 100,000 bees.

    DON SHUMP: Usually people go, ‘You’re doing what on the roof in Philadelphia and how high? And the conversation goes from there.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Shump began beekeeping as a hobby, then five years ago, he quit his job as a web developer and became a beekeeper full time.

    He started the Philadelphia Bee Company, and now handles about 65 beehives in 15 locations around the city.

    His bees produced more than 1,000 pounds of honey last year, an unusual agricultural bounty for an urban environment.

    DON SHUMP: Being able to keep bees in an urban setting allows us to take advantage of the blight we have downtown. We have 40,000 abandoned lots in the city. Bees really love the weeds that we have. It gives us really interesting and complex honeys. When you bring bees downtown to an urban setting, you’re getting all kinds of different plants. Philadelphia in particular has a couple hundred years of botanical awesomeness going on.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: About a mile and a half east of the hotel, Shump manages eight more hives on the roof of Shane Confectionery, one of the oldest candy stores in the country.

    DON SHUMP: People don’t know there are any hives here until I show up with a smoker and veil, and people go where are the bees? And I go [points up].

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Some of the honey these bees produce will go on sale downstairs in the candy store. Some will make its way into “honeycomb” ice cream at the Franklin Fountain next door.

    DON SHUMP: This one is going to be full of honey. That’s beautiful.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Honeybees are much more benign than wasps and other stinging insects, but it doesn’t stop an occasional sting.

    DON SHUMP: (gets stung) — you can actually see it twitch and burrow. What you do is take your fingernail and pull it out.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Shump is part of a growing movement of urban beekeepers around the country. Philadelphia now has about 400 registered bee colonies and 75 beekeepers.

    Cities that until recently restricted beekeeping — like Washington D.C., New York, and Los Angeles — have lifted those restrictions.

    The movement is being embraced because the number of bee colonies in the U.S. had dropped dramatically in recent decades.

    DON SHUMP: In the 1940s, we had 5 million beehives in the United States. Now we’re about half that. We’re just starting to see a resurgence in an interest in beekeeping.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: That resurgence has led to an estimated 120,000 backyard beekeepers in the U.S., like Suzanne Matlock.

    SUZANNE MATLOCK: This is where the queen is building a colony.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Matlock began keeping hives on the front lawn of her Philadelphia home seven years ago.

    She became interested in beekeeping after hearing about Colony Collapse Disorder, the sudden loss of 30 to 90 percent of bee colonies, which can lead to a shortage of bees needed to pollinate crops.

    SUZANNE MATLOCK: Maybe it’d make a tiny little difference if each person would keep a hive of bees, just like each person composts or recycles.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: With a background in biology and chemistry, Matlock is also working to prolong the life of bees, raising queen bees that can survive cold Northeast winters.

    SUZANNE MATLOCK: My goal is to come up with some great genetic livestock that survives Pennsylvania winters and is nice and easy to work with. If you can get a little extra honey out of them, that’s good too.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Several times a year, Matlock harvests the honey that her bees produce.

    SUZANNE MATLOCK: Slice down with a knife.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: She removes the wax caps to get to the honey, and then uses a hand-powered centrifuge to extract it.

    SUZANNE MATLOCK: Spin as fast as you can…

    HARI SREENIVASAN: She says the taste changes with the seasons.

    SUZANNE MATLOCK: Fall honey is much darker than the spring honey.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Hobbyists and part-timer beekeepers like Matlock now account for 40 percent of U.S. honey production.

    SUZANNE MATLOCK: Look at how much we got just from 4 frames.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: For Matlock, though, tending to her hives is simply therapeutic.

    SUZANNE MATLOCK: Once I got over an initial fear of the bees when I was actually in the hive, I came to this point where I felt so serene. Every time I’m working in the beehive, time passes really quickly.

    The post Why urban beekeeping is a rising trend in major cities appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Stonework litters the sidewalk outside an empty jewelry store at the corner of Sixth and Harrison in Pawnee, Oklahoma, U.S. September 3, 2016 after a 5.6 earthquake struck near the north-central Oklahoma town. Photo By Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton/Reuters

    Stonework litters the sidewalk outside an empty jewelry store at the corner of Sixth and Harrison in Pawnee, Oklahoma, U.S. September 3, 2016 after a 5.6 earthquake struck near the north-central Oklahoma town. Photo By Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton/Reuters

    Oklahoma’s governor on Saturday declared a state of emergency for Pawnee County located near the epicenter of one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded in the state.

    The 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck Saturday morning about 8 miles northwest of Pawnee City, damaging buildings, shaking food from shelves in local supermarkets and sending shock waves through several Midwestern states.

    Gov. Mary Fallin said in a statement that no injuries were reported and damage was limited, though the state of emergency designation for Pawnee County would open up funding for disaster relief and emergency preparedness and could bring in federal aid.

    Saturday’s earthquake equaled another 5.6 earthquake recorded in 2011 in Oklahoma’s Lincoln County, the largest ever documented in the state.

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

    Oklahoma has seen a rapid rise in the number of earthquakes over the last six years, which scientists link to the use of wastewater by the oil and gas industry.

    While the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is often associated with the uptick in Oklahoma earthquakes, some studies show earthquakes may instead be caused by companies pulling gas and oil from water found underground, then back into the earth through disposal wells.

    Historically, the state saw just two magnitude 3 earthquakes or higher per year prior to 2009, though that number surged to more than 900 in 2015 after domestic production of oil and gas increased along with the amount of wastewater.

    Earlier this year, state regulators curbed the amount of wastewater that the oil and gas industry can inject thousands of feet into the Arbuckle formation, a sedimentary rock layer found under Oklahoma that rests above fault lines. 

    On Saturday, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which is in charge of regulating the state’s oil and gas industry, began halting the use of 37 additional disposal wells across 725-square miles in the area surrounding the earthquake’s epicenter.

    Fallin said the state also will work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has “sole jurisdiction” over disposal wells in another nearby county.

    “Information on the earthquake is still being collected, and will be reviewed by my coordinating council on seismic activity,” Fallin said

    The post State of emergency declared in Oklahoma after record earthquake appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Artwork from "The Answer" by Rebecca Sugar, author, Tiffany Ford, illustrator, and Elle Michalka, illustrator. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Sugar

    Artwork from “The Answer” by Rebecca Sugar, author, Tiffany Ford, illustrator, and Elle Michalka, illustrator. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Sugar

    There’s never been anything on television quite like Steven Universe.

    The show, which made its debut in 2013, comes from Rebecca Sugar, a veteran of Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time and the first woman to create a show for the channel. It follows the story of the Crystal Gems, the alien heroes who have remained on Earth to guard it after an attempted takeover by other members of their species. They take care of Steven, a half-Gem, half-human young boy who alone bridges the gap between the two species. The show brings as many absurdly fun adventures as genuine lessons about healthy relationships — and now, one of its episodes has taken form as a children’s book in “The Answer,” which comes out Tuesday.“[LGBTQ] stories are not considered appropriate, are not considered G-rated content, and because they’re not, they’re kept out of media for kids. And I think that that is profoundly sad.” — Rebecca Sugar, creator of Steven Universe

    Steven Universe has drawn a devoted fan base for its portrayal of unconventional family life along with a treatment of gender that has earned it such designations as “one of the most unabashedly queer shows on TV,” as Eric Thurm wrote for The Guardian.

    The relationships between the Gems, who are coded as female, mark some of the most mainstream same-sex couplings in children’s media. Steven Universe shows those bonds through “fusion,” which in the show means the merging of two characters into another Gem entirely.

    “The Answer,” written by Sugar with illustrators Tiffany Ford and Elle Michalka, traces the story of how Ruby and Sapphire, two Gems from different backgrounds, fell in love and came to fuse. But the book is also part of a larger, changing story about how cartoons portray LGBTQ characters for kids. Sugar spoke with us about the book, attitudes toward LGBTQ themes in children’s media and her personal history with fairy tales.

    What has it been like to create one of the only mainstream shows for children with LGBTQ themes?

    It’s really opened my eyes to the fact that these stories are not considered appropriate, are not considered G-rated content, and because they’re not, they’re kept out of media for kids. And I think that that is profoundly sad and awful. It’s something that I want to change so much, and I’m glad that we’ve found a new way to talk about relationships that’s letting us talk about those relationships.

    I think the part of it that is very invisible is how much we talk about love with kids. Everyone knows that love stories are appropriate for kids. Everyone tells stories of attraction to kids, everyone tells these fairy tales to kids. And it’s just like, the air you breathe, it’s so normal that it’s completely invisible. We are constantly reinforcing the idea that there’s a certain kind of love that’s innocent and a kind of love that’s simple and makes sense. And we are not discussing other kinds of love that are just as simple and just as incredible and make just as much sense.

    What you learn as a kid when you don’t see any of those stories or relate to any of those stories, is that you are denied the dream of love. You are denied the idea that your own feelings are pure, innocent, lovely, romantic feelings. and to me, that’s what this is all about. It’s not about who you’ll end up dating. it’s not about relationships per se, it’s just about your own feelings. You should get to appreciate and love and trust your own feelings. And if you can’t do that, it become impossible to appreciate and love and trust yourself.

    Artwork from "The Answer" by Rebecca Sugar, author, Tiffany Ford, illustrator, and Elle Michalka, illustrator. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Sugar

    Artwork from “The Answer” by Rebecca Sugar, author, Tiffany Ford, illustrator, and Elle Michalka, illustrator. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Sugar

    Growing up, did you feel like you could relate to the children’s stories you saw?

    I loved these stories. I had a hard time relating to them, but I loved them. I loved fairy tale romance! I wished I could be someone who someone could fall in love with. As I grew a little older it felt more and more impossible somehow. I felt like I was guessing at the right way to feel about things, like I was close but something was off about me, and the more relatable a romantic story was supposed to be to someone my age, the less sense it seemed to make. Having feelings for boys seemed like something everyone wanted to talk about, in everything I saw and read. Everything said, ’Love is something that will happen and change your life and you should prepare for it and it’s going to be wonderful.’

    But for a girl having feelings for other girls, there was a deafening silence. There was nothing to say, ‘This feeling you’re having for this girl, this is a love feeling.’ And if you ask someone, ‘Does this mean something?’ suddenly that answer for you is in the hands of someone else. And if that’s met with even a kindness like, ‘Oh, no, don’t worry about that,’ or ‘That doesn’t necessarily mean anything,’ or if someone is just confused by the question, you learn quickly that you are confusing and so are your feelings. Or maybe you don’t even think to ask, and by the time you figure it out, you’ve already learned that these feelings you’re having are not appropriate, instead of being encouraged throughout your childhood to think about your own feelings and enjoy them.

    I think that by excluding LGBT content from children’s media, a clear statement is being made that this is something that should be ignored, and that people who are feeling this, their feelings should be ignored, they should be ignored. And I think that that is wrong.

    Rebecca Sugar speaks at Cartoon Network's Steven Universe panel during New York Comic Con 2013 on Oct. 13, 2016. Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage/Getty

    Rebecca Sugar speaks at Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe panel during New York Comic Con 2013 on Oct. 13, 2016. Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage/Getty

    The story of how Ruby and Sapphire meet was portrayed in the episode “The Answer.” Why did you additionally decide to make this particular episode into a children’s book?

    The episode was supposed to have a storybook feel in and of itself, so turning it into a book felt really natural, and because the story plays with these visions of the future, the format of the book lends itself to that in a completely different way than the episode. I come from comics, and one of the things I love about the difference between print and animation is that with animation time is literal, but when you’re composing pages and you’re moving through a book, time is very different. It’s all about the way that the drawings grab you and the fact that you’re lingering on pages.

    How did the fairy tale tradition influence this book’s process?

    At least when it comes to modern re-tellings of fairy tales for children, the focus is so much on the purity and innocence of the love of these characters and the sweetness and cuteness of their story and how it’s so specifically for children — these beautiful, sweet simple stories for children. I wanted this story to have that simplicity and that beauty and that cuteness and to have all the imagery you associate with a fairy tale that’s meant for the eyes of kids, and that’s meant to be a dream of love for you to carry in your mind and in your heart.

    I think part of it for me, too, is that so many of those stories end with a wedding to a person that you just met. Ruby and Sapphire have that spark of attraction, that first-swept-off-your-feet moment together, but so much of their story is past that, when they’re checking in with each other and figuring out what’s going on with each other and being inspired by each other and really exploring and cultivating their relationship. For thousands of years, they are working on this love they have together with each other. I think fairy tales can often short-change you the actual love parts. The actual relationship of the characters in these fairy tales is rarely explored.

    Were there any particular compositions in the book that excited you?

    The thing I was most excited about was the treatment of Ruby and Sapphire in the borders. They’re sort of reading the book with you as you’re moving through it, and Sapphire is sort of on the top, sort of looking down on everything, a fatalist, and she’s describing what happens in real time, and Ruby, who doesn’t have a vision of the future, is going along with it until she can’t anymore. That imagery, I was really excited about. As they realize that they can change the story they start to crawl out of the borders and take over the pages and move into each others’ borders. And eventually, they eradicate the borders completely.

    I wanted that idea of expanding your horizons to happen compositionally with these characters, where they are suddenly realizing that there are all these other ways to look at things, all these other things they can feel if they move outside of the borders that they’re in.

    “I think fairy tales can often short-change you the actual love parts. The actual relationship of the characters in these fairy tales is rarely explored.”When Ruby and Sapphire fuse into Garnet for the first time, her look is very different than the version we see throughout the show. How did you create it?

    Until that show, up until that episode, [Garnet] has never asked a question. She is always sure of everything and she is so sure of herself. What was exciting about showing her first form was that we wanted her to be the complete opposite of that. She is the embodiment of questioning. She has no idea what just happened or why she exists. She’s this first thought, she’s this first feeling that’s happening between these two characters. She’s sort of a mix of both of them but there’s something there, which is her. She doesn’t know what she is. So we wanted her to look like that, like all of the gut-drop of being swept off your feet and the sudden giddy excitement of this feeling that’s happening. It’s like she’s just exploded into existence and she’s baffled.

    Initially with fusion, what I was really excited about was finding a way to talk about relationships that would be fun and exciting and action-oriented in this show that’s primarily targeted at six to 11 year old boys. I wanted the concept of healthy relationship vs. an unhealthy relationship to be exciting as good guy vs. bad guy. The idea of working on your relationship and caring about it would be as exciting as working out and becoming a buff, amazing fighter. This is something that can benefit you and your life and the people around you, if you sort of care about these relationships that you’re in with everyone around you and with someone that you love. I wanted that to be really cool and exciting.

    What can fusion teach people about relationships?

    I think part of the goal of having these fusions being characters is that you care about them as people, and part of the way that I want to convey these parts of consent is that this relationship, this living relationship, if you don’t have that, it will damage this person. You need that constant back and forth, that ongoing care about what another person is feeling in order to maintain a relationship and that’s a very abstract concept, but it’s not abstract when you think, ‘Oh, that’s a person, and I could be hurting that person.’ Our bond could be stronger, or weaker, depending on whether or not I care about what’s going on and respect what’s going on with my partner.

    Interview has been edited and condensed.

    The post Rebecca Sugar, Cartoon Network’s first female creator, on writing LGBTQ stories for kids appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Detroit, Michigan, on Sept. 3. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Detroit, Michigan, on Sept. 3. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    CLEVELAND — Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are making competing Labor Day pitches in Ohio, setting the stage for a critical month in their testy presidential campaign.

    The Cleveland Airport offered a glimpse of how critical the fight for Ohio has become in the lead-up to the general election, as airplanes for both party nominees and their running mates passed each other on the tarmac Monday morning. Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, prepared to leave Cleveland as Clinton and Tim Kaine arrived.

    “It’s kind of interesting to have all the planes here on the same tarmac,” Kaine said as he walked over to greet Clinton. “Just shows you how important Ohio is. We’re going to be here a lot.”

    The pair of Democrats plans to take part in a Labor Day festival with union leaders and workers in Cleveland. Trump and Pence attended a round-table discussion with union members, where Trump warned that America’s manufacturing jobs are “going to hell.”

    The Republican presidential nominee blamed the Obama administration for allowing companies to move jobs to Mexico. He also lashed out at the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership as “a catastrophe.”

    Trump was also expected to campaign at a fair in Youngstown, Ohio, in a nod to the state’s role as a make-or-break proving ground for Republican presidential candidates. No Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio and Trump is trying to overcome some splintering in the state party, which was supportive of Ohio Gov. John Kasich during the presidential primary.

    While Labor Day has traditionally been the kickoff to the fall campaign, both Clinton and Trump have been locked in an intense back-and-forth throughout the summer.

    Clinton has questioned Trump’s temperament and preparation to serve as commander in chief while seeking to connect the reality television star to the extreme “alt-right” movement within the Republican Party.

    Trump visited a predominantly black church in Detroit on Saturday in a rare appearance with minority voters, aiming to counter Clinton’s argument to moderate and suburban voters that he has allowed a racist fringe to influence his candidacy.

    The start of full-fledged campaigning opens a pivotal month, culminating in the first presidential debate on Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. Polls show Trump trailing Clinton in a series of must-win battleground states, meaning the debates could be his best chance at reorienting the race.

     

    File photo of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, by Mike Segar/Reuters

    File photo of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, by Mike Segar/Reuters

    Clinton will have millions of dollars at her disposal this fall to air television advertising and power a sophisticated get-out-the vote operation in key states.

    The former secretary of state raised a combined $143 million in August for her campaign, the Democratic National Committee and state parties — her best month yet. She began September with more than $68 million in her campaign’s bank account to use against Trump, who has not yet released initial fundraising totals for August.

    Clinton was expected to attend the Labor Day festival in Cleveland alongside running mate Tim Kaine and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. Later in the day, she was joining with labor leaders in the Quad Cities community of Hampton, Illinois, across the Mississippi River from Iowa, where she is locked in a tight contest with Trump.

    Democrats were fanning out across battleground states, dispatching Kaine and Vice President Joe Biden to Pittsburgh, former President Bill Clinton to Detroit and Cincinnati and one-time Clinton primary rival Bernie Sanders to New Hampshire.

    Addressing a crowd of union workers in Pittsburgh, Biden, standing alongside his possible successor, told the crowd that Trump has no understanding of the struggles Americans face every day, such as how to afford college or a family vacation. He warned that a Trump presidency would bring about economic stagnation for middle class workers.

    The destinations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and New Hampshire point to Clinton’s battleground map of approximately a dozen states that hold the key to the 270 electoral votes needed to claim the presidency.

    Clinton was arriving in Ohio and Illinois aboard a new blue-and-white Boeing 737 campaign plane emblazoned with her slogan, “Stronger Together.” She has mostly traveled by private jet during the primaries and the summer but was being accompanied on the plane by journalists for the first time.

    Greeting reporters traveling aboard her campaign plane before takeoff, Clinton said, “Welcome to our big plane! It’s so exciting.”

    She said she had a good Labor Day weekend, calling it “the last moment before the mad dash.”

    Asked her Labor Day message, she said, “If you want more happy Labor Days you know who to vote for.”

    Clinton has been pressured by media critics and Republicans alike to hold a news conference for the first time in 2016. She has not held a formal question-and-answer session with reporters since one in Iowa in early December.

    ___

    Associated Press reporters Ken Thomas and Steve Peoples wrote this story. Kathleen Ronayne contributed from Cleveland.

    The post Clinton and Trump courting Ohio voters on Labor Day appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo of giant pandas by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

    Photo of giant pandas by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

    The giant panda has been taken off the endangered species list after decades of conservation efforts.

    The International Union for Conservation of Nature changed the panda’s status from endangered to vulnerable in its most recent Red List of threatened species.

    China’s giant panda survey last year found that the species’ numbers had risen 17 percent in the past decade, with 1,864 adults living in the wild. The IUCN estimates that adding giant panda cubs to that number brings the total population to about 2,060.

    The World Wildlife Fund, whose logo is a giant panda, praised the news as a great moment for conservationists.

    “The recovery of the panda shows that when science, political will and engagement of local communities come together, we can save wildlife and also improve biodiversity,” World Wildlife Fund Director General Marco Lambertini said.

    The giant panda has been endangered since 1990, and the IUCN points to forest protection and reforestation as the main reason for its comeback.

    The group warns, though, that climate change could eliminate more than 35 percent of the animal’s habitat in the next 80 years, causing a population drop.

    The most recent Red List also contained bad news for the Eastern gorilla, which was placed on the critically endangered list.

    The IUCN said its population has dropped more than 70 percent in 20 years. There are now fewer than 5,000 Eastern gorillas in the wild.

    “To see the Eastern gorilla – one of our closest cousins – slide towards extinction is truly distressing,” IUCN Director General Inger Andersen said in a statement.

    The Eastern gorilla’s habitat includes forests in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, which have been war zones in recent years

    The wars have hit the Grauer’s gorilla, one of two subspecies of the Eastern gorilla, particularly hard. The Grauer’s gorilla population dropped from 16,900 in 1994 to 3,800 in 2015.

    The other subspecies, the mountain gorilla, has been faring better. Its population has increased to about 880 thanks to conservation efforts like those at the Virunga National Park.

    The post Giant panda off endangered species list, but Eastern gorilla declining appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) meets with U.S. President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China, on Sept. 5. Photo by Sputnik/Kremlin/Alexei Druzhinin/via Reuters

    Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) meets with U.S. President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China, on Sept. 5. Photo by Sputnik/Kremlin/Alexei Druzhinin/via Reuters

    HANGZHOU, China — President Barack Obama said Monday the U.S. and Russia have not given up on negotiations that could stem the bloodshed in Syria, but acknowledged that leaders are challenged by “gaps of trust” between the rival powers.

    Significant sticking points remain in the negotiations over creation of an unlikely U.S.-Russian military partnership focusing firepower on “common enemies” in Syria, Obama said. He acknowledged that a flurry of diplomacy at an economic summit and a 90-minute meeting earlier Monday with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, did not yield a breakthrough.

    “Given the gaps of trust that exist, that’s a tough negotiation,” Obama said at a news conference closing the Group of 20 summit. “We haven’t yet closed the gaps.”

    Obama didn’t detail the trouble spots, although he suggested the U.S. has concerns about Russia holding up its end of the bargain and enforcing the terms. Any deal would depend on Moscow using its influence with Syrian President Bashar Assad to persuade him to ground planes and stop the assault on opposition forces. Obama said the aim was to reach “meaningful, serious, verifiable cessations of hostilities in Syria.”

    Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov have for weeks been trying to broker a deal that would curb the violence between the Russian-ally Assad’s government forces and moderate rebels backed by the U.S. Talks are expected to resume quickly, probably later this week.

    The deal depends on the two sides agreeing to closer military coordination against extremist groups operating in Syria, something the Russians have long sought and the U.S. resisted.

    Obama has expressed skepticism that Russia would hold to its agreement. The State Department has said it wants a nationwide cease-fire between Assad’s military and the rebels, rather than another time-limited agreement like ones that failed before.

    Obama’s meeting with Putin came as the Russian leader is playing a prominent role in the presidential campaign at home. U.S. officials blame Russian intelligence for a hack on the Democratic National Committee that resulted in a leak of emails damaging to its presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. Putin has denied his government was involved, but cheered the release of the information.

    The president expressed concerns to Putin about cybersecurity issues, but would not detail the discussions.

    Obama and Putin also discussed the conflict in Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting the government, and the implementation of an agreement to stop the violence. Obama met earlier with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the same issue.

    The difficult diplomacy on Syria set the tone for an uneven few days for Obama on his final tour of Asia as president.

    The visit opened on a high note, with the U.S and China consummating their unlikely partnership on climate change by announcing they were both entering the global emissions-cutting deal reached last year in Paris.

    But the focus on climate quickly gave way to the failed Syria talks.

    A sit-down between Obama and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also laid bare the NATO allies’ diverging interests in Syria, with Erdogan pointedly challenging Obama on U.S. support for Kurds fighting the Islamic State group in Syria. The Kurds are the most effective U.S.-backed anti-IS force, but the Turks consider them to be terrorists.

    Obama’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping also veered into delicate territory, with a lengthy White House description detailing how Obama had pressed Xi to abide by an international tribunal’s ruling against China over the South China Sea.

    To the frustration of the White House, these weighty matters seemed to be overshadowed by a made-for-social-media moment from Obama’s arrival at the airport.

    As the president was greeted by his Chinese hosts, Obama’s aides and accompanying journalists clashed with a Chinese official as they tried to watch the ceremony. The tensions lingered throughout the trip as Chinese officials severely restricted the media’s ability to attend Obama’s G20 events.

    Obama’s next stop is Laos, where he’ll promote his effort to deepen ties to Southeast Asia. Obama said he would ask his aides to assess whether a “constructive” meeting was still possible in Laos with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte on Monday warned that Obama should not question him, during a scheduled meeting Tuesday, about extrajudicial killings in his country.

    ___

    Associated Press writer Kathleen Hennessey filed this report. Josh Lederman contributed.

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    File photo of the U.S. Capitol by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

    File photo of the U.S. Capitol by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — When you look at this year’s House races, roughly 40 races seem competitive, out of 435 House seats. Though they’re spread around the country, some states stand out.

    California has arguably six seats in play, divided evenly between the two parties. Democratic Rep. Ami Bera, whose father was sentenced to a year in prison because of election fraud, faces perhaps the toughest fight in his evenly divided Sacramento-area district.

    New York has five seats in contention, from the eastern tip of Long Island to the central part of the state. Four are held by Republicans, including two lawmakers who are retiring.

    Thanks to redistricting, most of Florida’s 27 congressional districts were redrawn and there are competitive races in at least four.

    Overwhelmingly Republican Texas, Utah and Nebraska each have a freshman facing a tight re-election fight: Republican Reps. Will Hurd in west Texas and Mia Love from Salt Lake City’s suburbs, and Omaha-area Democrat Brad Ashford.

    Ticket splitting?

    Many GOP or independent voters unhappy with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump could decide to skip voting entirely in November. But would House Republicans draw votes from such people if they vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton?

    With the intensifying partisan climate of recent years, voters have shown less willingness to split their vote between presidential and congressional candidates of different parties.

    Polling from American National Election Studies, run by the University of Michigan and Stanford University, finds just 10 percent of voters said they split their vote in 2012. That was down from 25 percent in 1988.

    Presidential and House candidates of opposing parties prevailed in just 6 percent of congressional districts in 2012, down from 34 percent in 1988, according to data from the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute.

    Trump could break that trend. But both sets of figures suggest people backing Clinton would be unlikely to support a House GOP candidate.

    The post Let’s look at some hot House races appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo of Black Lives Matter activists by Adrees Latif/Reuters

    Photo of Black Lives Matter activists by Adrees Latif/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Support for the Black Lives Matter movement has increased among young white adults, according to a poll that suggests a majority of white, black, Asian and Hispanic young adults now support the movement calling for accountability for police in the deaths of African-Americans.

    Fifty-one percent of white adults between the ages of 18 and 30 say in a GenForward poll they now strongly or somewhat support Black Lives Matter, a 10-point increase since June, while 42 percent said they do not support the movement.

    But most young whites also think the movement’s rhetoric encourages violence against the police, while the vast majority of young blacks say it does not. And young whites are more likely to consider violence against police a serious problem than say the same about the killings of African-Americans by police.

    Black, Hispanic and Asian youth already had expressed strong majority support for the Black Lives Matter movement in the June poll. Eighty-five percent of African-American young adults now say they support the protesters. Sixty-seven percent of Asian and 62 percent of Hispanic young adults agreed with that sentiment.

    The GenForward survey of adults age 18 to 30 is conducted by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago with the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The first-of-its-kind poll pays special attention to the voices of young adults of color, highlighting how race and ethnicity shape the opinions of a new generation.

    Sean Bradley, 26, of Clearwater, Florida, said watching several encounters between police and black suspects online helped cement his support for Black Lives Matter. As a white male, he said, he also has had run-ins with the police and witnessed officers trying to cover for what he considered illegal conduct by other officers.

    “The fact is that the police target blacks and they discriminate against blacks,” Bradley said. “Because of how they’ve treated blacks over the years, of course they (blacks) don’t trust them (police) and I know for a fact that some of the things the police do are illegal. I would be upset as well.”

    The Black Lives Matter movement emerged in 2012 after Florida neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was acquitted in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin. It gathered strength in ensuing years following the deaths of other black men at the hands of police in New York, South Carolina, Baltimore and elsewhere.

    Asked specifically about recent killings of black people by the police, 72 percent of African-American young people, 61 percent of Asian-Americans, 51 percent of Latinos and 40 percent of whites said they consider those killings part of a larger pattern, rather than isolated.

    The August GenForward poll came after police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, fatally shot Alton Sterling after pinning him to the ground, and after Philando Castile was shot and killed by a white police officer during a traffic stop in a suburb of Minneapolis.

    Asked specifically about recent killings of black people by the police, 72 percent of African-American young people, 61 percent of Asian-Americans, 51 percent of Latinos and 40 percent of whites said they consider those killings part of a larger pattern, rather than isolated.

    But young blacks are much more likely than young whites to call killings of black people by the police a very or extremely serious problem, 91 percent to 43 percent. Sixty-three percent of young whites think that violence against police is a serious problem, similar to the 60 percent of young African-Americans who say so.

    Young whites also are more likely to say they trust Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump than Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton to handle attacks against the police, 45 percent to 28 percent, though they prefer Clinton for handling police violence against African-Americans, 44 percent to 20 percent.

    Majorities of young African-Americans trust Clinton more to handle violence by and against police. Young Asian-Americans and Hispanics are also more likely to trust Clinton than Trump both.

    And 66 percent of whites also said that they believe that Black Lives Matter’s rhetoric encourages violence against police, compared with 43 percent of Asian-Americans, 42 percent of Hispanics, and 19 percent of African-Americans who said so.

    Samuel Martin, 27, of Conway, South Carolina, is one of those white supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, and said he’s supported its goals from the beginning. He also vehemently disagreed with the idea that Black Lives Matter’s rhetoric encourages violence against police.

    “The only thing that would encourage violence against police would be thinking that black lives do not matter,” Martin said.

    ___

    The poll of 1,958 adults age 18-30 was conducted Aug. 1-14 using a sample drawn from the probability-based GenForward panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. young adult population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

    The survey was paid for by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago, using grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

    Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods, and later interviewed online or by phone.

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    Businesswomen listening to colleague in office Photo by Getty Images

    While collective bargaining used to produce large gains for workers, entrepreneurship is now a worker’s most powerful tool for long-term career success and financial prosperity, writes Douglas McCormick Photo by Getty Images

    Labor Day represents an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of the labor movement on behalf of the American worker. Since this day became a national holiday in 1894, labor unions and their members have eliminated child labor, established the eight-hour workday and widespread employer based health care, improved wages, retirement benefits and working conditions, and passed the family and medical leave act, which guarantees unpaid protected leave. These achievements have drastically improved the lives and economic prosperity of American workers over the last century.

    How will labor’s collective bargaining model fare in tomorrow’s dynamic economy and labor market?

    However, Labor Day is also an appropriate time to consider how this collective bargaining model will fare in tomorrow’s dynamic economy and labor markets. The truth is that while we should celebrate the enormous accomplishments of the labor movement, the way workers should promote their interests has changed. While collective bargaining used to produce large gains for workers, entrepreneurship is now a worker’s most powerful tool for long-term career success and financial prosperity.

    There are a few key dynamics at play in today’s economy and labor market that will increasingly diminish the labor movement’s ability to secure attractive professional opportunities for American workers.

    First, size matters. Union participation in the private sector has been on a steady decline since a peak in union density in 1940 of almost 44 percent. Today, private sector union membership accounts for less than 7 percent of employment and less than 8 million workers. Including the public-sector unions, which have substantially higher participation, still only results in total union participation of about 11 percent. This drastic decrease in size means unions have less bargaining power, influence and impact on the national employment picture.

    READ MORE: The economy is steadily improving, but wages aren’t. Could unions be the answer?

    Not only are labor unions shrinking, but they are fighting powerful secular headwinds that will be difficult to overcome during the 21st century. Union membership skews disproportionately older (14 percent participation among workers age 45 to 64) at the expense of younger members (just 4 percent among 16 to 24-year-olds), which means union contracts often skew benefits to the majority of the members. For example, union leadership may protect benefits for existing or tenured members, while agreeing that future members will take a lesser deal. Unions are also more common in slow and no-growth industries such as steel, auto and electrical trades, and more states are enacting right to work laws that allow individuals to opt out of union membership and dues. With these headwinds, union membership and clout will continue to diminish.

    Given that these challenges will severely impact unions’ future efficacy, Americans are well advised to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset when it comes to their career interests.

    Decreasing size and growth prospects aside, the economic benefits of unions are not as attractive as they once were. Union representation isn’t free; dues range from 2 to 4 percent of annual member income. With these funds, unions attempt to negotiate better pay, retirement benefits and job security with benefit distribution often reflecting member seniority. However, this has proven challenging in today’s stagnant wage market, with recent median union wage growth of approximately 1 percent. To compound these challenges, the poor financial stability of many union pension plans combined with increasing job mobility has caused the youngest members to question the value of these retirement benefits.

    Labor unions remain important, but given that these challenges will severely impact their future efficacy, Americans are well advised to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset when it comes to their career interests. This doesn’t mean you have to actually start a business. Simply shift your image of yourself from an employee to a business owner, where your labor — your skills, energy and time — is the product you are “selling” in the marketplace. When you view yourself as a business owner, you can employ the principles of entrepreneurship to inform your career decisions. Here are eight key principles to guide your decisions as you manage the business of you.

    Maximize lifetime compensation over annual compensation: As a business owner, your goal is not to maximize your income this year, but rather to maximize income over your entire career. Take the long view, and make decisions that increase compensation, employability and longevity to maximize your lifetime career earnings.

    Compensation comes in many forms: Employees often focus on cash compensation such as salary, bonus or commission and underappreciate other forms of compensation. Jobs also offer valuable training, skills, experiences and relationships. Make sure to select jobs that offer the most “total” compensation.

    Build your brand: Business owners build brands for their companies. Consider how your professional choices impact your skills, experiences and network to complement your brand.

    Investing in yourself early and often through activities like continuing education and participation in professional associations will ensure your skills, capabilities and brand remain in high demand.

    Improve your labor through investment: Business owners consistently reinvest in their business to improve their products and value to their customers. Investing in yourself early and often through activities like continuing education and participation in professional associations will ensure your skills, capabilities and brand remain in high demand.

    Sell your labor in a growing market: Business owners pursue growing markets because finding fertile grounds is the easiest way to grow their business. This same principle applies to labor markets; industries and geographies that are growing generally offer higher rates of employment, better compensation and professional development opportunities.

    Identify good business models: Investors pay more for high-quality companies that demonstrate consistent growth, high profits and good barriers against competition. Employees are well served by pursuing employment at companies that possess these same characteristics.

    Plan for failure: In a dynamic labor market, periodic failure is expected. Employees can minimize the cost of job loss by pursuing careers in large industries and urban areas — which offer a high concentration of good jobs — and pursuing careers skills that are applicable in many businesses such as sales, human resources or finance. Choosing a career with these characteristics will make it easier for you to secure new opportunities quickly and minimize the cost of failure when it occurs.

    Use your capital to hire yourself: Buy combining your own money with your highly-developed labor resulting from the recommendations above, you are well-positioned to become your own boss as a small business owner. This choice often offers the best financial return on both your labor and capital, as well as giving you a great sense of accomplishment and more autonomy.

    So which holiday will you celebrate — Labor Day or Entrepreneurship Day? Do you prefer to pay someone else to negotiate on your behalf and others of varying talent, goals, prospects and work ethics? Or do you prefer to manage your career and investments and control your own destiny?

    I, for one, will be wishing you a happy Entrepreneurship Day.

    The post Column: 8 ways employees can thrive while labor unions decline appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Barack Obama arrives in Vientiane, Laos on Sept. 5 for the ASEAN Summit. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    President Barack Obama arrives in Vientiane, Laos on Sept. 5 for the ASEAN Summit. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    VIENTIANE, Laos — President Barack Obama on Monday became the first sitting U.S. president to step foot in the isolated Southeast Asian nation of Laos, opening a three-day visit meant to rebuild trust and close a dark chapter in the shared history between the two countries.

    Obama exited the main door of Air Force One, clutching a black umbrella in the evening rain in Vientiane, the capital, before the motorcade whisked him away.

    Obama is one of several world leaders coming to the country of nearly 7 million people, where the one-party communist state tightly controls public expression but is using its moment in the spotlight as host of the annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to open up to outsiders.

    The visit comes during what is probably Obama’s final trip as president to Southeast Asia, a region that has enjoyed intense attention from the U.S. during his tenure. Obama’s frequent visits to oft-ignored corners of the Asia Pacific have been central to his strategy for countering China’s growing dominance in the region. By bolstering diplomatic ties in Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar, the Obama administration has declared it wants to compete for influence and market access in China’s backyard.

    In Laos, Obama will wrestle with the ghosts of past U.S. policies.

    In the 1960s and 1970s, the U.S. rained bombs on Laotian villages and the countryside as America’s war with Vietnam spilled across the border. The Laotian government estimates that more than 2 million tons of ordnance were released during more than 500,000 missions — one bomb every eight minutes for nine years.

    An estimated 80 million cluster bombs did not explode, leaving tennis ball-sized “bombies” littering the impoverished countryside to wound and kill unsuspecting people.

    Obama planned to acknowledge this history and its damaging effect on Laos’ development, tourism and agriculture. He is expected to announce additional aid to clean up unexploded ordnance, while the Laotian government is expected to offer help in accounting for missing and dead U.S. service members.

    Obama said Monday in China, before he departed for Laos, that diplomatic work on war legacy issues will be “a show of good faith on the part of the country and a way for us to move into a next phase of a relationship.”

    He cited Vietnam as the model. Aides said Obama’s visit will probably echo a stop in Hanoi, Vietnam, in May, when the president declared he was “mindful of the past, mindful of our difficult history, but focused on the future.”

    In both countries, Obama benefits from not carrying baggage that might have complicated his message. Too young to have served in the Vietnam war, Obama serves as a generational page turner — eager to speak directly to those too young to remember the troubled past.

    In Laos, as he has across Southeast Asia, he’ll hold a town-hall-style event for young people. The White House said he’ll encourage Laos’ slow political opening and budding entrepreneurial culture.

    Obama will be speaking to people like 33-year-old Anysay Keola, who remembers his mother’s stories of running and hiding from the bombs and of memorizing a phrase roughly translating to: “The U.S. dropped the bomb on us.”

    But Keola, an entrepreneur and filmmaker and part of Vientiane’s growing creative class, also grew up on American music and fashion. The war’s ill will faded long ago, and his friends are excited about Obama’s arrival but not necessarily for political reasons.

    “He is perceived as like a celebrity,” Keola said. “It’s just on the surface: ‘Ooh, Obama’s coming. Ooh, big plane.’ Or things like that. Or his Cadillac car is here. Those are the things that people share and talk about.”

    While the U.S. is known as a rich country with an outsized cultural influence, China, by contrast, is seen as the huge neighbor helping to spur this small nation’s robust growth. Massive Vientiane construction sites come adorned with Mandarin script. China has committed to financing a $7 billion high-speed railroad to bisect the country.

    Though Laos’ new president, Bounnhang Vorachit, is seen as edging closer to Vietnam than to China, the country has managed a diplomatic two-step this year. As chair of the Southeast Asian nations’ group, it has projected neutrality in other countries’ disputes with China over the South China Sea.

    Obama is due to meet Vorachit on Tuesday.

    ___

    Associated Press writer Kathleen Hennessey reported from Hangzhou, China. Daniel Malloy in Luang Prabang, Laos, contributed to this report.

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    Former U.S. poet laureate, Philip Levine (1928-2015) was known as "the working man's poet."

    Former U.S. poet laureate, Philip Levine (1928-2015) was known as “the working man’s poet.”

    Poet Philip Levine (1928-2015) knew intimately about the monotony, filth and physical pain of hard labor. But he also greatly admired the men and women who toiled every day in America’s factories. The son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Levine was born and raised in Detroit and began working in an auto plant when he was just 14 years old. He assumed that would be his career, as he told the NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown in 2010.

    “When I was a young guy working in these places and didn’t see a way out as yet — and I certainly didn’t think the way out would be poetry,” he said.

    But poetry did indeed become his vocation. After attending Wayne State University, he went on to do graduate work at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and Stanford University and would eventually teach writing at California State University, Fresno for more than 30 years. He wrote 20 collections of verse, won a Pulitzer Prize and served as Poet Laureate of the United States. And yet he always considered his main mission was to document and honor the lives of working-class people.
    Watch next: Instead of fireworks, poet sees American skies lit up by history

    “I saw that the people that I was working with…were voiceless in a way,” he told Detroit Magazine. “In terms of literature of the United States they weren’t being heard. Nobody was speaking for them. And as young people will, you know, I took this foolish vow that I would speak for them and that’s what my life would be. And sure enough I’ve gone and done it. Or I’ve tried anyway.”

    What Work Is

    We stand in the rain in a long line
    waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.
    You know what work is—if you’re
    old enough to read this you know what
    work is, although you may not do it.
    Forget you. This is about waiting,
    shifting from one foot to another.
    Feeling the light rain falling like mist
    into your hair, blurring your vision
    until you think you see your own brother
    ahead of you, maybe ten places.
    You rub your glasses with your fingers,
    and of course it’s someone else’s brother,
    narrower across the shoulders than
    yours but with the same sad slouch, the grin
    that does not hide the stubbornness,
    the sad refusal to give in to
    rain, to the hours of wasted waiting,
    to the knowledge that somewhere ahead
    a man is waiting who will say, “No,
    we’re not hiring today,” for any
    reason he wants. You love your brother,
    now suddenly you can hardly stand
    the love flooding you for your brother,
    who’s not beside you or behind or
    ahead because he’s home trying to
    sleep off a miserable night shift
    at Cadillac so he can get up
    before noon to study his German.
    Works eight hours a night so he can sing
    Wagner, the opera you hate most,
    the worst music ever invented.
    How long has it been since you told him
    you loved him, held his wide shoulders,
    opened your eyes wide and said those words,
    and maybe kissed his cheek? You’ve never
    done something so simple, so obvious,
    not because you’re too young or too dumb,
    not because you’re jealous or even mean
    or incapable of crying in
    the presence of another man, no,
    just because you don’t know what work is.

    The post A poet’s ode to the meaning of work appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Protesters demonstrate for higher wages in the Brooklyn borough of New York City April 15, 2015. U.S. fast food workers fighting for better wages enlisted students, healthcare workers and racial justice activists to swell the ranks of rallies set for Wednesday in 230 cities. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson - RTR4XFO8

    Protesters demonstrate for higher wages in the Brooklyn borough of New York City April 15, 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    Editor’s Note: David Rolf is the president of SEIU 775 and the author of “The Fight for Fifteen: The Right Wage for a Working America.” Known as an innovative organizer, Rolf led the successful $15 minimum wage campaigns in both SeaTac, Washington, home to Seattle’s airport, and Seattle. Making Sen$e spoke with Rolf about the challenges the labor movement is facing today, the future of labor and the need for new bargaining models. The following conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

    — Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor


    In 2014, labor expert Harold Meyerson wrote that you believe that “the American labor movement, as we know it, is on its deathbed.” Do you still believe that?

    Yes. The enterprise bargaining model that American unions have operated since 1935 has been shrinking since the mid-1950s. There are now five times more American workers who have no legal right to union representation than there are union members covered by contracts. And the number of states in which private-sector union membership is above 10 percent is now down to six states. So if you consider the rise and fall of what Americans know as trade unionism, it’s clear that we long ago passed our strategic inflection point. And are now living out the end of the days of the old model.

    What’s so difficult about the enterprise collective bargaining system today?

    Beginning in 1947, the Taft-Hartley act striped labor unions of their most effective tools, such as secondary boycotts and secondary strikes, and introduced the concept of right to work, which incentivized free-rider status. Under right-to-work, people covered under collective agreements could pay nothing and still get something for a period of time until those unions ultimately couldn’t do their jobs anymore, because they were financially upside down. Rich Yeselson referred to this as “the landmines” of the Taft–Hartley Act: some of those bombs went off immediately — when President Truman invoked the act to put striking workers back to work — but some of them were not actually realized for decades to come.

    There are now five times more American workers who have no legal right to union representation than there are union members covered by contracts.

    Business meanwhile has succeeded. In the 80s, it succeeded in teaching workers that organizing and striking is a bad bet; it’s more likely to result in losing your job than getting a raise. That was the cultural lesson taken from all the failed strikes of the 1980s.

    By any metric, America’s enterprise collective bargaining system is a model that has been in decline longer than it was ever growing. The point of which is not to say let’s be depressed about it; it’s to actually invoke our own history and say, “Let’s not mourn, let’s organize.” And the fact that the future of this particular model is bleak doesn’t mean that workers shouldn’t have a bright future in the country; we’re just going to have to come up with something new.

    Why is labor-law reform so hard to pass?

    One, unions have been a single-party movement for the most part for contemporary history, so the Republicans largely want to kill us. That’s not always true in city hall or in all state houses, but it’s definitely true in Congress. And the Democrats have grown to take us for granted for the same reasons. So when it comes time to cast a difficult vote, there are few districts where unions are large any more and certainly few states, that why on earth would the Democratic Representative or Senator take a risk by supporting pro-union legislation? Doing so would require politicians to put the interests of American workers ahead of their own political careers.

    In an article you wrote for the American Prospect, you mentioned seven new models that the labor movement should invest in. “Geographic and sectoral bargaining” appears to be the most popular of the models. How does that differ from collective bargaining?

    If we blow up the whole notion of exclusive representation, which is one union and one employer, it becomes really interesting to think about the possibilities. With geographic and sectoral bargaining, unions could represent workers throughout an entire industry or in a certain area.

    We won the very first municipal wide fight for $15 in Seattle by using a politically constructed bargaining process. The table was set at city hall and the major union and community organizations in the city bargained for four months across the table with our key business institutions and came to an agreement on how to structure a phased-in $15 wage law for Seattle. Another version of this is the fast food wage board that Governor Andrew Cuomo used initially in New York to set wages for the fast food sector.

    With geographic and sectoral bargaining, unions could represent workers throughout an entire industry or in a certain area.

    Much of Europe, much of Latin America, and parts of Asia work on a more regional and sectoral bargaining model that eliminates some of the really perverse incentives that adhere to the old enterprise bargaining model.

    With the enterprise bargaining model, if you run a business and your competitors are nonunion, and your own employees start to organize, you’re going to be afraid of a few things — you’re going to be afraid of cost, as bargaining requires you to raise wages and benefits. You’re going to be afraid of losing flexibility as you have to bargain new work rules. And ultimately you’re going to be afraid that your competitors are going to eat your lunch, because they are going to have more money and flexibility, and you’re going to have less. And that produces a really strong incentive for businesses to fight unions on every front. They try to prevent unions from forming, they try to bust them once they exist, and if they can’t do that, they try to minimize bargaining demands and bargaining gains, and finally, they they use their trade associations and chambers of commerce to fight pro-union public policy.

    READ MORE: SeaTac airport workers fight exclusion from $15 minimum wage

    So it’s a system set up for maximum resistance and maximum adversarialism as opposed to, say, the German system, where regional and sectoral bargaining sets minimum standards for wages and benefits across whole industries within a region. Works councils solve problems at the workplace and unions sit on the corporate board of directors and even help set company direction and compensation for executives. And by the way, German automobile workers make twice what American automobile workers do in total compensation, and they sell twice as many cars. So this idea that we have to be in a race to the bottom even in a global industry like automobile manufacturing just isn’t right.

    How would labor unions function in this model?

    The question of course in constructing alternative labor regime is: How do you pair a regional-sectorial bargaining model, which definitely can be very powerful and scaleable, with some sort of revenue models so that unions or alternative labor organizations can still have organizational resilience? One option is you construct the regional bargaining system so that those unions or trade associations that have high numbers of penetration in the sector are privileged with a higher level of status in presenting their case to a negotiating body. And you have to be a member to be represented. Or you could pair other things, like union administration of benefits, to incentivize voluntary membership.

    Which of the other new models do you think have shown promise?

    Each of the models I wrote about in the Prospect piece have all shown promise somewhere. Regional and sectoral bargaining is the most widely practiced throughout the civilized world. Benefits administration is something that unions in Northern Europe do to generate membership within a regional sectorial bargaining system. Under the so-called Ghent system, unions are the providers of unemployment insurance you can’t get unless you become a member. It’s sort of like a AARP or NRA style of benefits where you have to join the organization to get benefits. And by the way, unions in U.S. could repurpose themselves to become mass vendors of employee benefits. Through our Taft-Hartley benefit plans, we have a lot of the infrastructure already in place for that.

    You mention “work-distribution platforms” as another alternative. How are they meant to tackle the on-demand economy?

    Work-distribution platforms are both old and new. In the oldest form, you had hiring halls. In the construction trades, you don’t have the same employer all the time. The work comes and goes, and you follow the work, but you still need to have good wages and stable benefits. And so construction hiring halls were in many ways the original work-distribution platform. Now we’re in the era of smartphones, and clearly Uber beat the Teamsters [a labor union for drivers in the U.S. and Canada] to the punch on inventing Uber. How different it would have been if some of their venture capital had come from the Teamsters pension fund?

    READ MORE: Column: 8 ways employees can thrive while labor unions decline

    The on-demand economy includes everything from Odesk [now known as Upwork] to Elance to Amazon and Uber and Lyft and TaskRabbit and Postmates and Instacart. Right now only a few million of Americans work in that economy, but it’s definitely growing, and the new jobs that have been created since the end of the recession in the aggregate have been nonstandard, irregular — that is, independent contractor work, on-demand work, fixed-term contract work, etc. We could begin to explore how worker organizations themselves could begin cutting out the middle man and getting into the business of workforce distribution. Some of that will be into long-term gigs and some of that will be into short-term gigs. But if the market didn’t need it, we wouldn’t be seeing all of these apps being funded by venture capital showing up on our smartphones.

    Do you see this shift taking place over a long time, or do you think it’s necessary for the labor movement to adopt these new strategies today?

    If the institutional unions of the 20th century want in on the 21st century movement, then they need to act. It’s time for us to accept that innovation needs to be our new religion. And a measurable portion of our resources and our talent needs to go into creating the next model.

    Now if we don’t, someone else eventually will. But there is no more readily available block of venture capital than today’s union treasuries to finance these experiments. For today’s labor leaders, we’re not going to be remembered for how many workers we organized under the old model, because it’s been shrinking for 60 years. We’re not going to be remembered for the quality of the contracts we bargained, because in a largely nonunion economy, you can’t bargain contracts that are that great. And listen, in my local, we organize lots and lots of workers, and we bargain some of the best contracts in our industry, but we can’t be naive and think that we will somehow permanently buck the trend of what’s happening to workers in America.

    Today’s labor leaders are going to be remembered for a simple thing: whether we recognized our own strategic inflection point and whether we had courage to do something about it by transferring resources and assets on a massive scale to invent the next form of worker power in America.

    Are you optimistic about the future of labor?

    [Fight for 15] was treated like a joke in 2012, and by 2014, the first four major metropolitan areas had adopted $15 wages.

    In terms of reasons for optimism in this moment, we are seeing the fight for $15 ascendant. I mean it was treated like a joke in 2012, and by 2014, the first four major metropolitan areas had adopted $15 wages. It’s now the law for 20 million americans, 35 millions americans are living in states with some form of a higher minimum wage. And $15 is now in the Democratic party platform. We’re now seeing cities adopt fair scheduling laws, restricting “clopenings” and hours caps for workers in retail, hospitality and fast food. We’re seeing state sick leave laws passed and new tools to prevent discrimination against those that were formerly incarcerated. We’ve got emerging efforts around paid family leave, and just this week, there was new law to protect farm workers in California. So there does seem to be a renewed effort, particularly in the city and state level, to solve there what could not be solved through a generation of failed federal efforts.

    Of course here are also a lot of reasons for pessimism, whether it’s the 40-year wage freeze or declining union membership, but if you look around, there are lots of enterprising efforts at the city and state level to change the lives of workers. The dominant story has been the death of unions, but underneath that, there has been lots of new enterprising activism and organizing. And I think that continues in an even more robust way today. That’s something that people should be excited about on Labor Day.

    READ MORE: The economy is steadily improving, but wages aren’t. Could unions be the answer?

    The post Column: The labor movement as we know it is dying. Here’s how it can survive appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    File photo of Rodrigo Duterte by Erik De Castro/Reuters

    File photo of Rodrigo Duterte by Erik De Castro/Reuters

    VIENTIANE, Laos — President Barack Obama threatened Monday to call off a planned meeting with new Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, seeking distance from a U.S. ally’s leader during a diplomatic tour that’s put Obama in close quarters with a cast of contentious world figures.

    It’s unusual for one president to tell another what to say or not say, and much rarer to call the other a “son of a bitch.” Duterte managed to do both just before flying to Laos for a regional summit with Obama, who Duterte warned not to challenge him over extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

    “Clearly, he’s a colorful guy,” Obama said. “What I’ve instructed my team to do is talk to their Philippine counterparts to find out is this in fact a time where we can have some constructive, productive conversations.”

    Duterte, who had been scheduled to meet Obama on Tuesday on the summit’s sidelines, has been under intense global scrutiny over the more than 2,000 suspected drug dealers and users killed since he took office. Obama has said he planned to raise the issue in his first meeting with Duterte, but the Philippine leader insisted he was only listening to his own country’s people.

    “You must be respectful,” Duterte said of Obama. “Do not just throw questions.” Using the Tagalog phrase for son of a bitch, he said: “Putang ina I will swear at you in that forum.” He made the comment to reporters in Manilla.

    Barring a sharp U-turn by Duterte, their sit-down appeared increasingly unlikely to happen as Obama flew overnight from Laos. Eager to show he wouldn’t yield, Obama said he would “undoubtedly” still bring up human rights and due process concerns “if and when” the two do meet.

    The bizarre rift with the leader of a U.S. treaty ally was the most glaring example of how Obama has frequently found himself bound to foreign countries and leaders whose ties to the U.S. are critical even if their values sharply diverge.

    In Hangzhou this week, Obama’s first stop in Asia, he heaped praise on Chinese President Xi Jinping for hosting the Group of 20 economic summit in his country, an authoritarian state long accused of human rights violations. His next stop was another one-party communist country with a dismal rights record: Laos, where mysterious disappearances have fueled concerns about a government crackdown.

    And sitting down with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Obama made no mention in public of the roughly 35,000 people Erdogan’s government detained following the summer’s failed coup in Turkey. Instead, he worked to reassure the NATO ally the U.S. would help bring to justice whoever was responsible for plotting the coup.

    Obama also spent about 90 minutes Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, another leader whose fate seems intertwined with Obama’s in all the wrong ways. On opposing sides of many global issues, the U.S. and Russia are nonetheless trying to broker a deal to address the Syrian civil war and perhaps even partner militarily there.

    “President Putin’s less colorful,” Obama said, comparing him with Duterte. “But typically the tone of our meetings is candid, blunt, businesslike.”

    Managing Duterte has become a worsening headache for Obama since the Filipino took office on June 30, pledging his foreign policy wouldn’t be constricted by reliance on the U.S. Washington has tried largely to look the other way as Duterte has pursued closer relations with China, a marked shift for the Philippines considering recent tensions over Beijing’s aspirations in the South China Sea.

    A public break from the Philippines would put Obama in a tough position, given the Southeast Asian nation’s status as a longtime U.S. ally. The Obama administration has sought to compartmentalize by arguing that military and other cooperation won’t be jeopardized even if it detests the current Philippine leader’s tone.

    Last month, Duterte said he didn’t mind Secretary of State John Kerry but “had a feud with his gay ambassador — son of a bitch, I’m annoyed with that guy.” He applied the same moniker to an Australian missionary who was gang raped and killed, and even to Pope Francis, even though the Philippines is a heavily Catholic nation. He later apologized.

    With a reputation as a tough-on-crime former mayor, Duterte has alarmed human rights groups with his deadly campaign against drugs, which Duterte has described as a harsh war. He’s said the battle doesn’t amount to genocide but has vowed to go to jail if needed to defend police and military members carrying out his orders.

    ___

    Hennessey reported from Hangzhou, China. Associated Press writer Teresa Cerojano in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report.

    The post Obama threatens to cancel meeting with Philippines’ Duterte appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    IN FLIGHT - SEPTEMBER 05:  Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks to reporters on her campaign plane enroute to Iowa on September 5, 2016. Hillary Clinton is kicking off a Labor Day campaign swing to Ohio and Iowa on a new campaign plane.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JOHN YANG:  From Labor Day to Election Day, 64 days and six counting.  For the presidential candidates, today marked the start of two months of cross-country campaigning to win the White House.

    Lisa Desjardins has our report.

    LISA DESJARDINS:  Labor Day in Detroit, a parade of curb-to-curb union members, lines of trucks, and one retired worker, former President Bill Clinton.

    A holiday for most Americans, today marks crunch time for candidates.  Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump hit the trail, as did their surrogates, spread out in key states.  Trump was swamped at a Youngstown, Ohio, fair, pulling out a bullhorn at one point.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee:  We’re going to bring jobs back to Ohio.  We’re going to bring jobs back to our country.  We’re not going to make these horrible trade deals anymore.

    LISA DESJARDINS:  While for Clinton, something recently rare, a short chat with the press corps.

    HILLARY CLINTON (D), Presidential Nominee:  Last moments before the mad dash for the next two months, so I hope you guys are ready.

    LISA DESJARDINS:  Clinton and her new plane were on the way to Cleveland, where she stressed her message on labor and the economy.

    HILLARY CLINTON:  This is the kind of difference that this election really poses, people like Tim and me who want to create more good jobs with rising wages and benefits for everybody willing to work hard, and somebody who stiffed people, took bankruptcy and laid off people.  One of his bankruptcies put 1,000 people out of work.

    LISA DESJARDINS:  The fight for Ohio meant a fight for space on the Cleveland tarmac today.  Right next to Clinton’s campaign plane, sure enough, that’s Donald Trump’s.  He was also making his own pitch to Cleveland workers.

    DONALD TRUMP:  Our country, in terms of manufacturing, in terms of jobs, is going to hell.  It’s going to hell.  Our jobs are being taken out of our system.  Hillary Clinton would be a disaster.

    LISA DESJARDINS:  Outside of Ohio was left to candidates’ supporters, like Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the former Clinton opponent now promoting her to workers.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VA):  Hillary Clinton understands that the $7.25 minimum wage is a starvation wage.  It must be raised to a living wage.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    LISA DESJARDINS:  In Pennsylvania, it was Clinton’s running mate, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine.

    SEN. TIM KAINE, Vice Presidential Nominee:  Hey, Pittsburgh.  How you guys doing?

    LISA DESJARDINS:  And the man Kaine a hopes to replace, Vice President Biden, on the day’s theme.

    JOSEPH BIDEN, Vice President of the United States:  Does anybody think there would be a minimum wage without union workers?

    LISA DESJARDINS:  Trump and his choice for V.P. spent the major campaign day traveling on the Trump plane together, where the nominee made it clear he will be at all three presidential debates.

    QUESTION:  Are you doing a lot of prep work?

    DONALD TRUMP:  I’m doing some.  I’m doing some.  I have seen people do so much prep work that, when they get out there, they can’t speak.  I have seen that.

    QUESTION:  Do you plan to have — I’m sorry.  Do you plan to have mock sessions where someone does play her?

    DONALD TRUMP:  I hadn’t planned on it.  I never did it before.

    LISA DESJARDINS:  That crucial first debate comes in three weeks.

    Until then, as they did today in Michigan, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, the two campaigns plan a frenzied focus on just a few key states.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Lisa Desjardins.

    JOHN YANG:  Late this afternoon, Hillary Clinton says she’s concerned about reports in The Washington Post and elsewhere of Russian cyber-attempts to interfere with the election.

    The post Candidates stress jobs and economy as mad dash to Election Day begins appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    File photo of Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson by Kevin Kolczynski/Reuters

    File photo of Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson by Kevin Kolczynski/Reuters

    PHOENIX — Unpopular among many Americans, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have opened the door for a third-party spoiler in the presidential campaign — and just as Gary Johnson is starting to warm up.

    Voters like Carlos Moreno could help him catch fire.

    “I certainly don’t want Trump to get in, but Clinton worries me,” said Moreno, a registered Democrat who works as a process server in the Phoenix area. “I’ve thought about Johnson, but I haven’t begun reading up on him. I better start.”

    The folksy Libertarian, a former Republican governor of New Mexico, is on the ballot in 50 states. Green Party nominee Jill Stein is on the ballot in about half. Neither is remotely within reach of carrying a state. Nor do Johnson or Stein appear to be in a position to tip any states toward Trump.

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

    Watch Gary Johnson’s interview on the PBS NewsHour.

    Of the roughly dozen battleground states on the road to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House, it’s in Arizona where circumstances could align in just such a way that Johnson could play spoiler.

    While Trump naturally has an edge as the Republican nominee — the GOP has carried the state in 11 of the past 12 elections — Johnson could steal enough votes away to allow Clinton to snag the state’s 11 Electoral College votes.

    In congressional elections in Arizona four years ago, Libertarian candidates drew enough votes away from GOP candidates to allow Democrats Ann Kirkpatrick and Kyrsten Sinema to win a pair of U.S. House races.

    The state’s junior senator, Jeff Flake, who had endeared himself to many Libertarians while serving in the House, won his bid for Senate that year, too.

    “It could happen,” said 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.”

    But the politics of third-party spoilers are complicated.

    In an August CNN poll conducted in Arizona, likely Republican voters were slightly more likely than Democrats to say they’ll support Johnson if he’s on the ballot, 10 percent to 4 percent.

    But Trump’s advantage over Clinton in the poll actually widened slightly when Johnson was included, from 5 points to 7 points. That could indicate that Johnson gives a home to voters who feel closer to the Republican Party, but are not planning on supporting Trump even in a two-person race.

    The post Could Gary Johnson get hot and play the spoiler in the presidential election? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Barack Obama speaks at the Lao National Cultural Hall on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Laos on Sept. 6. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    President Barack Obama speaks at the Lao National Cultural Hall on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Laos on Sept. 6. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    VIENTIANE, Laos — In the wake of another missile launch, President Barack Obama vowed Tuesday to work with the United Nations to tighten sanctions against North Korea, but added that the U.S. was still open to dialogue if the government changes course.

    Obama signaled the U.S. would redouble its effort to choke off North Korea’s access to international currency and technology by tightening loopholes in the current sanctions regime. Obama called the series of ballistic missile launches “provocations” that flouted international law and would only lead to further isolation.

    “We are going to work diligently together with the most recent U.N. sanctions,” Obama told reporters after meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye. “We’re going to work together to make sure we’re closing loopholes and make them even more effective.”

    North Korea fired three ballistic missiles off its east coast Monday, a launch that was widely viewed as a show of force timed to get the attention of world leaders visiting the region for a series of summits. Obama and other heads of state gathered in China over the weekend for the Group of 20 economic summit. Obama went on to the Lao capital for a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

    The U.N. Security Council in late August strongly condemned four North Korean ballistic missile launches in July and August. It called them “grave violations” of a ban on all ballistic missile activity. Despite the heavy sanctions, North Korea says the programs are justified because of the threat posed by the U.S. and South Korea.

    The White House noted the U.S. remains committed to moving ahead with the planned deployment of a major anti-missile system in South Korea. China has urged South Korea and the U.S. to scrap the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, saying it is merely meant to spy on the China.

    Park told reporters Tuesday that North Korea missile program is “fundamentally threatening the security” of the Korean Peninsula and both leaders defended its position as defensive.

    Obama suggested they would continue to push China, North Korea’s chief ally in the region, to use its influence to intervene and to crack down on North Korea’s use of front companies and other entities to work around the sanctions. Obama raised the issue in his meeting Saturday, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said.

    “We have over many years seen North Korea try to find ways to evade sanctions, try to find ways to access foreign currency, try to find ways to access sensitive technologies using front-companies for their activities. So we have to be very vigilant in terms of enforcement and we have to maintain the sense of urgency among the international community,” Rhodes said.

    Even as Obama promised a tougher stance, he did not close off the possibility for dialogue with North Korea, if it were to change course.

    “If it is willing to recognize its international obligations and enforce the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the opportunities for us to dialogue with them are there,” Obama said. “We do not have any interest in an offensive approach to North Korea.”

    The post Obama vows to work to tighten sanctions on North Korea appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a festival in Cleveland, Ohio on Sept. 5. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a festival in Cleveland, Ohio on Sept. 5. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — With Labor Day behind them, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are battling over national security in the South’s top presidential battlegrounds.

    Trump, the Republican nominee, released an open letter early Tuesday from 88 retired generals and admirals citing an urgent need for a “course correction” on America’s national security policy.

    “We believe that such a change can only be made by someone who has not been deeply involved with, and substantially responsible for, the hollowing out of our military and the burgeoning threats facing our country around the world,” the military leaders wrote. “For this reason, we support Donald Trump’s candidacy to be our next commander-in-chief.”

    Clinton’s campaign is spending big to undercut Trump’s message in a new TV ad also released Tuesday entitled, “Sacrifice.”

    Specifically, the ad shows military veterans watching some of the New York billionaire’s more provocative statements, including his claim to know more about the Islamic State group than military generals, his criticism of Arizona Sen. John McCain, a former prisoner of war. It also features Trump’s claim that he sacrificed a lot compared to families who have lost loved ones in conflict.

    “Our veterans deserve better,” reads a line at the end of the ad, which is airing in Ohio, Florida, Iowa, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

    The conflicting messages come as the candidates prepare to court voters in Southern states with significant veteran populations. The pair is also set to appear at an MSNBC forum on Wednesday night on national security.

    Trump is scheduled to campaign in Virginia and North Carolina on Tuesday, two critical states in his path to the presidency. Trump’s afternoon event in Virginia Beach will focus on national security, and he’s expected to meet with parents of soldiers later in the day.

    Clinton and her running mate, Tim Kaine, were making a pronounced pitch on national security and defense policy on Tuesday, fanning out to military-rich communities of Tampa, Florida, and Wilmington, North Carolina. At every stop, Clinton argues that Trump is temperamentally unfit to serve as commander-in-chief, warning that his bluster would damage the nation’s longstanding alliances.

    A Clinton victory in Florida would make it virtually impossible for Trump to overcome her advantage in the race for 270 electoral votes.

    Susan Page of USA Today and Stu Rothenberg of The Rothenberg-Gonzales Political Report talk about the role labor unions play in the election on Monday’s PBS NewsHour.

    Clinton has gotten help from the Republicans in questioning Trump’s capacity to serve as commander in chief. Dozens of GOP national security leaders released a letter last month warning that Trump would risk the nation’s “national security and well-being.”

    Trump, meanwhile, continued to face questions about his immigration policy a day after refusing to rule out a pathway to legal status for immigrants in the country illegally. He focused on his proposed border wall plan in a Tuesday interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

    The Republican White House contender said the Mexican president violated some “ground rules” by admitting that the two did actually discuss payment of his proposed border wall between the two countries, but added, “that’s ok.”

    At the joint press conference with President Enrique Pena Nieto last week, Trump told reporters that payment of his proposed border wall was not discussed. Pena Nieto later tweeted that it was addressed and he “made it clear” to Trump that Mexico would not pay.

    He added that had Clinton gone to Mexico, the trip would have been “a total failure.”

    The day before, Trump attacked Clinton’s energy level, noting she hasn’t followed his aggressive traveling schedule and questioning whether she had the stamina to lead the nation.

    “She didn’t have the energy to go to Louisiana. And she didn’t have the energy to go to Mexico,” he said.

    Clinton held a rare news conference aboard her new campaign plane on Monday as both candidates competed for votes in swing state Ohio.

    The former secretary of state said she is concerned about “credible reports about Russian government interference in our elections.”

    “We are going to have to take those threats and attacks seriously,” Clinton told reporters.

    Clinton’s comments follow reports that the Russian government may have been involved in the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails just days before the party’s national convention. The emails, later revealed by WikiLeaks, showed some DNC officials favoring Clinton over her primary opponent, Bernie Sanders — who has since endorsed Clinton for president.

    She said Russian President Vladimir Putin appears “quite satisfied with himself” and said Trump “has generally parroted what is a Putin-Kremlin line.”

    Clinton’s 25-minute question-and-answer session was her first extensive availability with reporters since early December. Beyond Russia, she answered questions about the ongoing controversy surrounding her use of a private email server while secretary of state, which Trump has used to cast doubt over her ability to protect classified information.

    The former secretary of state flatly said “No,” when asked in an ABC News interview whether she’d be willing to accept the Mexican president’s invitation to visit the country, as Trump did last week.

    “I’m going to continue to focus on what we’re doing to create jobs here at home,” Clinton said.

    The post Trump and Clinton clash over national security appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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