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

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    Posters of Fox News personalities include Gretchen Carlson, who has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against then-Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    Posters of Fox News personalities include Gretchen Carlson, who has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against then-Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    The parent company of Fox News has settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with former anchor Gretchen Carlson and issued her a public apology.

    The statement from 21st Century Fox said in part, “We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve.”

    It did not mention the settlement amount, but Vanity Fair reported that Carlson settled the claim for $20 million and agreed not to file any more cases against Fox News or any of its employees.

    Carlson alleged that Fox News CEO Roger Ailes had made unwanted sexual advances toward her, and then demoted and let her go after she turned him down.

    Ailes denied the allegations and said Carlson was lashing out because her contract with Fox News, which expired in June, was  not renewed. Two weeks after Carlson filed charges, Ailes resigned.

    On Tuesday, Carlson issued a statement saying, “I am gratified that 21st Century Fox took decisive action after I filed my Complaint. I’m ready to move on to the next chapter of my life.”

    Since Carlson filed her lawsuit, several other women working at the network have come forward with similar allegations,  including Fox anchor Megyn Kelly and Andrea Tantaros, host of “The Five.”

    Tuesday morning Fox News also reported that Greta Van Susteren, host of “On the Record,” is leaving the network after 14 years, effective immediately. There is no indication Van Susteren’s departure is related to the issues surrounding Roger Ailes. Van Susteren has defended Ailes on multiple occasions.

    Brit Hume, senior political analyst, will take Van Susteren’s place as the new host of “On the Record”:

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    The post Fox News settles Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment case appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Meet San Jose musician Aki Kumar today, and he’ll proudly introduce himself as “The Only Bombay Blues Man.”

    But there was a time when Kumar, while making a name for himself on the Bay Area blues scene more than a decade ago, would intentionally downplay his Indian heritage. He wasn’t so forthright about immigrating from Bombay — now called Mumbai — to find a new life in America as a software engineer.

    “I wanted to make a statement that I was a traditional blues man, so I wanted to be playing blues and have nobody even wonder where I came from,” says Kumar, 36, frontman and harmonica player for the Aki Kumar Blues Band.

    The cover for ‘Aki Goes to Bollywood’ pays tribute to classic Indian cinema poster design.

    The cover for ‘Aki Goes to Bollywood’ pays tribute to classic Indian cinema poster design.

    But after more than a decade of playing with top-notch blues musicians and recording a rock-solid first album “Don’t Hold Back” (which garnered widespread accolades, ranging from the Los Angeles Times to Dan Aykroyd), Kumar is taking his love for the blues to unexpected places.

    This month, he released his second album, “Aki Goes to Bollywood,” a stylistic mashup of old songs from Indian blockbuster films of his childhood with Chicago-style blues.

    “It’s Mumbai meets Muddy Waters,” says Kumar, who reworked Hindi-language hits from big names in Indian pop music — Kishore Kumar, Mohammed Rafi, and Mukesh — and made them his own.

    American blues fans are used to seeing their music evolve and take on new forms, but back home in India, Kumar says musical culture isn’t so malleable. As he worked on the arrangements for “Aki Goes to Bollywood,” Kumar nervously sent rough mixes back home to his parents in India, whose love of music Kumar credits for planting the seeds of his musical career.

    “It was terrifying in some ways. These songs are national treasures in India, sung by legends,” says Kumar. “But I think we pulled it off, and for me, it was the coming together of the music I discovered in the U.S. and my musical roots growing up.”

    This report originally appeared on PBS member station KQED. The video was produced, shot and edited by Kelly Whalen. Local Beat is an ongoing series on Art Beat that features arts and culture stories from PBS member stations around the nation.

    The post Mumbai meets Muddy Waters in a bluesy tribute to Bollywood appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    File photo of an influenza vaccine injection by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    File photo of an influenza vaccine injection by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Kids may get more of a sting from flu vaccination this fall: Doctors are gearing up to give shots only, because U.S. health officials say the easy-to-use nasal spray version of the vaccine isn’t working as well as a jab.

    Needle-phobic adults still have some less painful options. But FluMist, with its squirt into each nostril, was the only ouch-free alternative for children, and has accounted for about a third of pediatric flu vaccinations in recent years.

    The problem: Studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in the past few years, FluMist hasn’t protected against certain influenza strains as well as regular flu shots. Baffled scientists can’t explain why.

    The CDC says FluMist should not be used in the U.S. this year. Tuesday, the American Academy of Pediatrics agreed and urged youngsters to roll up their sleeves for a shot.

    “We’re saying, ‘Shoot, now we’ve got to do the poke again,'” said Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson of Seattle Children’s Hospital and the AAP. But, “we know the flu vaccine is the best shot at prevention and protecting those who are vulnerable from serious and even life-threatening infections from influenza.”

    Swanson has tricks to help ease tears and anxiety, like numbing the skin or distraction techniques like telling the youngster to cough on the count of three, coinciding with the poke. Sometimes the youngest feel braver by going first to show up older siblings. Swanson makes her own vaccination a family affair, parents and kids getting the shot together.

    But her top advice: Parents, don’t lie and tell your kids the shot won’t hurt. Instead, tell them “it might hurt a bit but it doesn’t last long and you can do this.”

    The FluMist mystery isn’t the only vaccine news. Seniors are getting a new option made with an immune booster in hopes of more protection. Here are some other things to know:


    Who needs flu vaccine?

    The CDC urges a yearly vaccination for just about everyone starting at 6 months of age.

    Flu is most dangerous for people over age 65, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions such as asthma or heart disease.

    But it sometimes kills even the healthy and young. The CDC says on average flu kills about 24,000 Americans each year, including about 100 children.

    If mom gets a flu shot during pregnancy, the vaccine also helps protect her baby during its first six months of life.


    When to get the shot

    Vaccinations are getting under way as shipments arrive at grocery stores, clinics and doctors’ offices. Despite the FluMist problem, the CDC expects enough to meet the typical U.S. demand, between 157 million and 168 million shot doses.

    Flu typically peaks in January or February but there’s no way to predict when it will begin spreading, and it takes about two weeks for full protection to kick in.


    Will I get sick?

    Flu shots are made with killed flu virus, so you can’t get the flu from them. But they’re not perfect; CDC says they reduce the risk of flu by 50 percent to 60 percent. Sometimes people still catch the flu but generally have a milder case than if they’d gone unvaccinated, or had flu-like symptoms that were caused by a different virus. And occasionally, a strain starts circulating that wasn’t included in the vaccine recipe.


    What happened with FluMist?

    Earlier studies had suggested FluMist actually protected youngsters better than shots. It’s not clear why, although FluMist is the only vaccine made of live but weakened flu virus.

    So it was a surprise when CDC said earlier this spring that scenario was flipping and FluMist was failing against certain strains. One theory is that it has to do with a change in the nasal spray’s recipe to incorporate four strains of influenza instead of three.

    “Having this scientific puzzle really bothers everybody,” said Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

    The FluMist recommendation could change for future flu seasons if researchers figure that out.

    It’s still legal to sell FluMist, which is approved for ages 2 to 49. Manufacturer AstraZeneca said it plans to make a limited amount available in the U.S. in response to some health provider requests.


    Other less ouchy options

    Two less ouchy gadgets are only for adults. A version of Sanofi’s FluZone can be given “intradermally,” using tiny needles to penetrate the skin instead of muscle. And a version of Seqiris’ Afluria vaccine can be given in a needle-free device called a jet injector that forces the vaccine into a stream of fluid that penetrates the skin.


    What’s new for seniors?

    People ages 65 and older are especially vulnerable to flu’s dangerous complications because they tend to have more underlying health problems and standard flu shots don’t work as well with their waning immune systems.

    One alternative to standard shots is Sanofi’s High-Dose Fluzone, containing four times the usual anti-flu ingredient. This year seniors have a second alternative, Seqiris’ Fluad with “adjuvant,” the first U.S. flu vaccine to contain an extra compound designed to rev up the immune system’s response to the shot.


    The cost

    Insurance covers most flu vaccinations, often without a co-pay. For those paying out of pocket, prices can range between $32 and $40.

    The post Doctors urge flu shots, not nasal spray, this year appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Professor Stephen Baenziger holds a stalk of wheat at the greenhouse of the wheat breeding program at the Nebraska university in Lincoln, Nebraska, May 5, 2008. The new U.N. food envoy sought a special meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council this month to address a global food crisis he said was a "massive violation" of human rights. Protests, strikes and riots have erupted in developing countries around the world after dramatic rises in the prices of wheat, rice, corn, oils and other essential foods that have made it difficult for poor people to make ends meet. REUTERS/Carlos Barria (UNITED STATES) - RTR2084K

    There’s a large and growing movement across the heartland states to use big, intensified agriculture as a path to restoring soil life and a stable climate, writes Miriam Horn, author of “Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman.” Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    Editor’s Note: In her new book “Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman: Conservation Heroes of the American Heartland,” published Sept. 6, Miriam Horn follows five people whose forward-looking practices sometimes defy widely held beliefs about sustainability and farming. Below, Horn pulls from the story of Justin Knopf, a farmer in central Kansas, to show that industrial-scale farming — and yes, even the pesticides that come with it — can be sustainable.

    Justin Knopf farms 4,500 acres in central Kansas, producing wheat, soy, sorghum and alfalfa for national and global markets, using synthetic pesticides, fertilizer and GMOs. In some quarters, those facts would suffice to condemn him as a villain of “Big Ag.” But Justin is a conservation hero, showing the way to restore soils and biodiversity, protect clean water and the atmosphere and feed a growing global population without giving over still more of the planet to agriculture — which already covers half of Earth’s ice-free land, uses 70 percent of all fresh water and has greater impacts on biodiversity than any other human enterprise.

    Rancher Farmer Fisherman

    Working with his dad and brother on land homesteaded by his maternal great-grandparents just after the Civil War, Justin grew up hearing how his grandmothers put wet tea towels in windows to try to keep out the black blizzards of the Dust Bowl. Given responsibility for several fields while still in high school, he’d watched his own soils blowing and washing away, weeds running out of control and paltry yields. But it wasn’t until he went off to Kansas State University that he understood a prime cause of that damage: generations of plowing.

    Though few landscapes appear more beautiful, fertile and orderly than the straight, black, fragrant furrows of a newly tilled field, plowing is unnatural and, in many climates and soils, one of the most destructive things a farmer can do. Plowing strips soil bare, exposing it to erosion by rain and wind. It collapses soil structure — closing off the water channels left by deep roots and worms — and harms life in the soil, which though it may appear dead is in fact Earth’s most biodiverse ecosystem, containing a third of all organisms. Those thousands of microbial species are critical to human survival. They sustain photosynthesis, which all food and oxygen come from, by ferrying nutrients to plants and protecting them from pathogens. They decompose wastes, turning corpses of plants and animals back into new life. They’re also directly vital to human health, the source of 90 percent of antibiotics and 60 percent of anticancer drugs.

    But plowing scrambles soil communities, separating and disordering symbiotic partners. Turning crop residues under disorders them further: crowding out valuable fungi by overstimulating bacterial growth. Those bacteria eat the soil carbon and breathe it into the atmosphere, turning it from essential nutrient to destructive greenhouse gas.

    READ MORE: Why growing lettuce in New York City is a growing business

    So Justin gave up tilling and persuaded his dad and brother to “no-till” too. For 20 years, mimicking the surrounding prairie, they’ve left their soils undisturbed and littered with a protective mat of stalks, husks and leaves. They’ve also applied the innovations of “precision agriculture” to minimize added nitrogen and introduced ever more diversity: planting mixed “cover crops” (which they never harvest, but leave to shelter and nourish the soil), intensifying their rotations and beginning to add buffers at field edges of flowers and milkweed for pollinators. Undisturbed soil stores carbon rather than releasing it into the atmosphere. Careful nitrogen use prevents release into the atmosphere of nitrous oxide, another powerful greenhouse gas, and harmful run-off into rivers, lakes and coastal waters. And diverse plantings support diversity both above ground — of grassland birds, beneficial insects and prairie mammals — and below, where a complex web of microbes depend on one another not only for survival, but also to provide together functions like immunity to crops that none can provide alone.

    Plowing is unnatural and, in many climates and soils, one of the most destructive things a farmer can do.

    And here’s where the simple verities about good versus bad farming turn out to be neither simple nor always true. Justin uses his residues, cover crops and rotations as his first line of defense against pests: preventing weeds from gaining a foothold and confusing insects. But he still needs to “burn down” those cover crops to enable planting and to beat back tenacious weeds. For both, he turns to Roundup, an infamous synthetic herbicide.

    The concerns about Roundup — and the crops engineered to resist it — are well-founded: the combination has been wildly overused, enabling vast monocultures and breeding resistant weeds. Most organic farmers make the opposite choice: avoiding chemical herbicides by tilling. But most soil microbiologists believe that causes greater ecological harm. “If you till to avoid herbicides, you do massive damage to soil microbiology,” says Justin’s mentor, Kansas State soil microbiologist Charles Rice. If herbicide, used judiciously, “allows you to leave the soil intact, it is a net environmental positive. We have fields that have been in continuous no-till for 22 years, using herbicides, with ever more microbial diversity and life.”

    That flowering is evident in Justin’s soils. His fields are increasingly (like the prairie) self-contained: holding soil, water and nutrients in place and building organic matter, fertility and biodiversity where it counts the most: underground. Among those who regularly track his progress is Dr. Ray Ward, a legendary soil scientist who runs a private testing lab in Nebraska. Ward has charted a steady microbial renaissance in Justin’s soils: in total mass, diversity and vigor. Justin’s soil carbon, depleted to near zero by generations of plowing, is now more than halfway to the 4 percent carbon levels in native prairie soils. With another decade or two of no-till, says Rice, Justin will close that gap.

    Agriculture can’t be formulaic or dogmatic because, as Justin says, “diverse ecosystems require diverse practices.”

    Justin is also, crucially, maximizing the nutrition produced per every acre, drop of water and pound of greenhouse gas emitted, as anyone who displaces native species has an obligation to do. No matter how ecologically sensitive a farm might be, growing crops where there was once prairie or hardwood forest unavoidably comes at the cost of species that once lived there and of the “services” those ecosystems performed, like cleaning water and air.

    High-yield farms, like cities, concentrate that human footprint. Low-yield farms, like suburbs, exact a far-flung, profligate price. Many small and organic farmers do maximize productivity, especially those that layer crops and integrate animals. But every farmer and even backyard gardener needs to ensure that whatever bit of forest or meadow they’ve sacrificed is well repaid in nutritious food.  And for crops like wheat, it will almost certainly make sense to concentrate production in regions like the American Midwest, where the grain’s close kinship to indigenous prairie grasses means that in can live in harmony with (rather than disrupt) the native ecology. It is because Justin grows grasses in a grassland that he can — through that intensive production — rebuild his soils and nurture several thousand species of co-inhabitants.

    READ MORE: Why Kentucky farmers are quitting tobacco and turning to an unlikely new crop

    There are, in short, no simple, perfect, universal answers. Agriculture can’t be formulaic or dogmatic because, as Justin says, “diverse ecosystems require diverse practices.” He sees, for instance, “crops and geographies and family circumstances where no-till is not the right solution,” including in very cool and poorly drained soils where under thick residues the soil can never dry or warm enough to germinate seeds.

    Big, heartland, mainstream production is where meaningful change will have to happen if sustainability is to become business as usual.

    Instead, there are only the best (and provisional) imperfect ways, which can be arrived at only by facing the trade-offs head-on. Consumers also need more meaningful measures like: how does the biodiversity and carbon content in this farmer’s soil measure up against the native landscape? Whole Foods is trying to move toward such measures; by 2018, they will classify produce as good, better or best based on soil health, water conservation, biodiversity and greenhouse gas emissions. Wal-Mart, too, the nation’s largest grocer, has asked its suppliers to source grains from farmers using practices like Justin’s to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Applying such measures will undoubtedly spur still more diversity — of farm size, practices and markets, including farm to table.

    But big, heartland, mainstream production is where meaningful change will have to happen if sustainability is to become business as usual, transforming not only niche markets, but the entire food supply chain as well. And it’s where meaningful change is happening. Justin is not an outlier, but part of a large and growing movement across the heartland states: not just to minimize the damage done by large-scale food production, but to use big, intensified agriculture as itself a path to restoring soil life and a stable climate.

    The post Column: When industrial-scale farming is the sustainable path appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Conservative political activist Phyllis Schlafly poses after addressing Tea Party members at a political fair in Charlotte, Michigan on July 24, 2010. Photo by Rebecca Cook/Reuters

    Conservative political activist Phyllis Schlafly poses after addressing Tea Party members at a political fair in Charlotte, Michigan on July 24, 2010. Photo by Rebecca Cook/Reuters

    Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly died Monday at age 92 in her St. Louis, Missouri, home with her family by her side.

    Her strong pro-family stances motivated her public life, according to the Eagle Forum, a group she founded:

    “Phyllis Schlafly spent an astounding 70 years in public service of her fellow Americans. Her focus from her earliest days until her final ones was protecting the family, which she understood as the building block of life. She recognized America as the greatest political embodiment of those values. From military superiority and defense to immigration and trade; from unborn life to the nuclear family and parenthood, Phyllis Schlafly was a courageous and articulate voice for common sense and traditional values. She authored 27 books and thousands of articles. She spoke tens of thousands of times across the United States.”
    Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly introduces Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis, Missouri, on March 11. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

    Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly introduces Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis, Missouri, on March 11. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

    Those speaking engagements continued even recently, when she endorsed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a campaign event in March. Trump praised her on Twitter:

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

    Schlafly rose to prominence in the early 1960s after publishing a sort of manifesto for the right called “A Choice Not an Echo”, which boosted conservative icon Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater to the top of the 1964 Republican ticket. Goldwater ultimately lost the election to incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson.

    People either loved or hated her. She garnered enemies when she led the movement in the 1970s against the Equal Rights Amendment, saying it would disadvantage housewives and lead to including women in the military draft.

    But conservative commentator Ann Coulter wrote that Schlafly’s arguments, discounted at the time, later rang true: “Not surprisingly given her background, one of Schlafly’s most devastating arguments against the E.R.A. was that it would end the female exemption from the draft. Though the amendment’s proponents sneered that this was preposterous, she was right. Law professors would soon be making the exact same point in the likes of the Yale Law Journal.”

    Coulter said Schlafly “unflinchingly pressed points that polite people thought it bad taste to talk about. … Thus, for example, Schlafly questioned how E.R.A. would affect gays, abortion, adoption, widow’s benefits, divorce law and the military.”

    In one of her final columns about transgender guidelines for schools, published on Aug. 31, Schlafly urged readers to “Check your local school to see if it is confused about whether boys should be allowed in girls’ restrooms and showers.”

    She was considered an anti-feminist and she enjoyed ribbing the feminist movement. At a pro-family gathering in 1977, she told the crowd: “I’d like to thank my husband, Fred, for letting me be here today. I like to say that because it irritates the women’s libbers more than anything.”

    Her hometown newspaper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, said the anti-feminist label belied her influence. Although she never succeeded in getting elected to public office herself, she used her books, radio commentaries and public appearances as her podium.

    “Before Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, there was Phyllis Schlafly,” the newspaper wrote.

    Schlafly’s husband died in 1993. She is survived by six children, 16 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

    We’ll have more about Phyllis Schlafly on Tuesday’s PBS NewsHour.

    The post Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly dies at 92 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    FDA has collected $1 billion from generic drug manufacturers but has only moved through half of the drugs backlogged for approval since 2012. Photo by Heidi de Marco/Kaiser Health News

    FDA has collected $1 billion from generic drug manufacturers but has only moved through half of the drugs backlogged for approval since 2012. Photo by Heidi de Marco/Kaiser Health News

    Consumers and Congress members pushing for cheaper alternatives to the EpiPen and other high-priced drugs are seeking answers about a stubborn backlog of generic drug applications at the Food and Drug Administration that still stretches almost four years.

    As of July 1, the FDA had 4,036 generic drug applications awaiting approval, and the median time it takes for the FDA to approve a generic is now 47 months, according to the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, or GPhA. The FDA has approved more generics the past few years, but a flood of new applications has steadily added to the demand.

    By comparison, the European Medicines Agency, Europe’s version of the FDA, has just 24 generics or biologically-based “biosimilars” awaiting approval. (The FDA’s count does not include biosimilars.) And the EMA along with the European Commission, which handles approval of marketing materials, are approving generics and brand name drugs in about a year on average, according to the EMA.

    Critics say getting generic alternatives to the U.S. market for products like EpiPen is still taking far too long.

    “We are concerned that Mylan (maker of the EpiPen) has not faced much competition for its product,” five U.S. senators wrote in August to FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf, adding that one of EpiPen’s non-generic competitors, Auvi-Q was recalled in October, granting Mylan a near monopoly. “News reports indicate that generic versions of the EpiPen have been subject to additional questioning by the FDA and have yet to be approved.”

    Last week, three members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce wrote a similar letter to the FDA, seeking information about the EpiPen generic applications it has received and how they’ve been prioritized.

    When asked whether the FDA holds any responsibility for the lack of EpiPen competition, FDA spokesman Kristofer Baumgartner said he couldn’t comment on pending applications or confirm their existence, citing confidentiality rules. But he stressed that the FDA pushes pending applications for drugs with no current generics to the front of the line and approved a record number of generics in 2015.

    “The FDA is confident that the overall trend in actions on generic drug applications will be one of continuing improvement,” Baumgartner said.

    In March, Teva Pharmaceuticals told investors that its generic version of EpiPen — the life-saving allergy treatment – was rejected by the FDA, and that it wouldn’t be able to launch the generic until at least 2017. Adamis Pharmaceuticals reported a similar rejection from the FDA for its EpiPen generic in June.

    [Watch Video]

    After news broke that the price of EpiPen injectors has skyrocketed, the allergy medicine’s maker, Mylan, announced its intention to offer a generic version of the product, to be sold at half the market price of the original. The New York Times’ Andrew Pollack and the University of Minnesota’s Stephen Schondelmeyer talk with Gwen Ifill about the role public outcry played in the company’s decision.

    Mylan has said it will offer a $300 generic in the coming weeks. Because Mylan also makes the brand name product, it will not have to wait in line behind other pending generics. And Dr. James Baker, the CEO and chief medical officer of the advocacy group Food Allergy and Research Education, said this may deter other generic manufacturers from seeking approval.

    Adrenaclick is the only other epinephrine auto-injector on the market, but it is not a generic for EpiPen and cannot be swapped out at the pharmacy if a doctor has written a prescription for EpiPen. It’s also not widely available, Baker said.

    “You call up 100 pharmacies, and maybe 10 have the device, from what we gather,” Baker said of Adrenaclick, adding that several factors have allowed EpiPen’s price tag to swell over the years. “Is Mylan doing anything illegal? No. It’s taking advantage of all these things to take the market and basically push it to an extreme.”

    Efforts To Speed The Approval Process

    The FDA’s generic backlog isn’t a new problem. In 2012, it was so large that it prompted the government to start charging user fees to generic manufacturers to provide the funds for the FDA to speed the process. The fees built on the 20-year-old Prescription Drug User Fee Act, which required brand name drug manufacturers to pay fees to increase FDA efficiency. In the first three years, the FDA collected $1 billion from generic drug manufacturers.

    The fees were used to hire an additional 1,000 employees, and put the Office of Generic Drugs on par with the Office of New Drugs by re-organizing it, and moving it to the FDA’s main campus from four buildings in Rockville, Maryland. The funds were also used to replace the office’s information technology system and implement a few other changes.

    As the FDA notes on its website, “Additional resources will enable the Agency to reduce a current backlog of pending applications, cut the average time required to review generic drug applications for safety, and increase risk-based inspections.”

    In October 2012, there was a backlog of 2,868 generic drugs awaiting approval, and the FDA said it would take a “first action” on 90 percent of these drugs by 2017. This summer, the agency met its goal a year early, but a first action isn’t an approval. Only 1,551 generics have been approved since the fees were initiated, and that includes some extras that weren’t considered part of the official backlog. So the agency has only approved about half of the backlogged generics that were awaiting approval in 2012.

    “Most applications from the backlog will need to come back to FDA for additional review due to deficiencies in the submissions, before approval is possible,” the agency said in a statement in responses to questions.

    The GPhA argues that the agency has declared applications to be “of ‘poor quality’ because they don’t meet new, more recent standards updated while these applications sit in the backlog.”

    The applications for generic drugs have continued to pile up even as the FDA approved a record number of generics in 2015 and again in the first seven months of 2016. The number of generic drug applications tripled from 2002 to 2012, according to January congressional testimony from Janet Woodcock, who directs the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

    Still, some observers are hopeful.

    “I think that it is an optimistic picture overall … at the FDA, there’s been a lot of progress, and I think there is more to be made,” said Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, who leads a research program at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “This is not something that people should think has been solved at this point. It’s totally an ongoing process.”

    This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, which publishes California Healthline, a service of the California Health Care Foundation. Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. You can view the original report on its website.

    KHN’s coverage of prescription drug development, costs and pricing is supported in part by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

    The post Outcry over EpiPen highlights FDA’s long backlog of generics appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars speak as they wait for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to speak at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina in July. Photo by Chris Keane/Reuters

    Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars speak as they wait for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to speak at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina in July. Photo by Chris Keane/Reuters

    RENO, Nevada — It was more than a routine get-out-the-vote knock on the door when Iraq War veteran and Nevada Republican Party staffer Jon Staab asked Kenneth Olofson, a Vietnam veteran, if he’ll be voting for Donald Trump. An instant bond was formed as the two swapped stories of service and those of relatives who fought in World War II.

    “I don’t miss an election,” Olofson, 74 and a lifelong Republican, said. “Whenever I vote, I think of Normandy.”

    A few blocks away, Daniel Mendoza, also an Iraq war veteran canvassing for the GOP, was promptly kicked off another elderly veteran’s property at the mere mention of Trump’s name.

    Two years ago, the Republican National Committee hatched a plan to bolster turnout for veterans, who traditionally lean Republican. The party calculated that 6.5 million veterans either didn’t register to vote or didn’t cast a ballot in the 2012 presidential election. In the shadow of the Obama administration’s controversial management of the Veteran’s Administration, the RNC compiled lists of veteran voters and hired veterans for an unprecedented get-out-the-vote effort.

    Then Trump won the party’s presidential nomination, and his controversial rhetoric has rubbed some veterans the wrong way. The billionaire businessman has mocked Sen. John McCain for being captured during the Vietnam War, threatened to withdraw from NATO and feuded with a slain soldier’s family that criticized him during the Democratic National Convention.

    On Tuesday, Trump released a list of former military leaders who support him. Clinton countered with a television ad featuring veterans silently watching some of Trump’s more controversial statements. “Our veterans deserve better,” the ad states.

    An image of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appears on a screen as he speaks to the Veterans of Foreign Wars conference at a campaign event in Charlotte, North Carolina in July. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    An image of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appears on a screen as he speaks to the Veterans of Foreign Wars conference at a campaign event in Charlotte, North Carolina in July. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    There’s limited polling on where veterans stand in the current presidential election. They supported Mitt Romney by 20 points in 2012 and John McCain by 10 points in 2008. But Trump has had trouble winning the support of some of his party’s base, and veterans are no exception.

    “The nail in the coffin for him was his NATO stuff,” said Colton Jordan, a 28-year-old former Navy SEAL and lifelong Republican, as he waited in a Las Vegas nightclub for a rally with his preferred candidate, Libertarian party nominee Gary Johnson.

    Still, Republican operatives are confident that if they turn out veterans, they’ll turn out more votes for Trump. Veterans vote at a higher rate than civilians, but younger veterans are less likely to vote than their peers. “Being a veteran, your skin’s a lot thicker,” said Mendoza, 24, who noted that he’s both Hispanic and a veteran — two groups Trump has disparaged — but he still supports Republican nominee. “It conditions you to seeing that bigger world and seeing past what someone says off the cuff.”

    The instant bond that veterans form with each other often defuses tension inherent in political canvassing and opens doors that would otherwise be closed, said Bob Carey, a former Navy captain and the RNC’s veterans outreach director. But their political utility goes beyond that. “Veterans have a disproportionate ability to gain the trust of any voter,” Carey said. “The military is the last institution that has the trust and respect of the general public.”

    Veterans vote at a higher rate than civilians, but younger veterans are less likely to vote than their peers. That’s no surprise to Staab. He was deployed to southern Iraq in 2008 where his unit received mail once a month and had to create a base virtually from scratch at an abandoned air field. He didn’t even remember to vote in the presidential election back home.

    Many veterans feel out of place after returning from war, and Staab and Mendoza, who returned from Iraq more recently are no exception. Mendoza is still dizzied by the carefree way some of his fellow students act. “People take being a citizen for granted,” he said.

    [Watch Video]

    Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump brought their campaign messages to the American Legion this week. So what do veterans think of the two candidates? Polls show Trump leading the veteran vote by double digits, but when veterans are asked who they feel would be most supportive of them, the candidates are even. Hari Sreenivasan reports.

    Staab now runs the GOP’s Reno office and has recruited Mendoza and a cadre of veteran volunteers to call other veterans and knock on their doors. In Nevada, the veterans outreach has a dual purpose — helping Trump and also the GOP’s senate candidate, Rep. Joe Heck, a brigadier general in the army reserves.

    Vicky Maltman, an veterans’ activist whose husband received a Purple Heart in Vietnam, at first refused to help Staab because she didn’t want to be associated with partisan politics. Now she happily volunteers because she believes the program is trying to mobilize a group she fears is growing politically alienated. “A lot of our veterans feel like they’re forgotten about,” she said.

    On a recent afternoon, Staab knocked on doors of veterans in a comfortable subdivision dotted with signs warning of wild horses that roam through the streets. Staab routinely introduced himself as a veteran and touted Trump’s 10-point plan for improving veterans’ issues, highlighting item six, a promise to create a special White House phone line for veterans having problems getting medical care. He also noted that Heck ran a hospital in Baghdad during the surge — and Staab added that he himself served during that operation.

    Even those who turned Staab away received a quick “thank you for your service” before the door clicked closed. “Part of the outreach is just thanking them for their service on behalf of the Republican party,” Staab said.

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    Dennis Swindell leans over to kiss the inscribed name of his partner, Gary Lee Bright, on the South Tower pool wall during ceremonies marking the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, in 2012. Photo by Timothy A. Clary/Reuters

    Dennis Swindell leans over to kiss the inscribed name of his partner, Gary Lee Bright, on the South Tower pool wall during ceremonies marking the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, in 2012. Photo by Timothy A. Clary/Reuters

    NEW YORK — Neither of the two New Yorkers vying for the White House is expected to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11th terror attacks with a visit to ground zero.

    Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are not slated to attend the annual commemoration at the former World Trade Center site on Sunday, a spokesman for the memorial told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

    “We have not heard from either presidential candidate, nor the President of the United States, that they will be attending,” according to Michael Frazier of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

    There is precedent for presidential candidates to visit the former ground zero on the anniversary of the terror attacks. In 2008, the last time an incumbent wasn’t running for the White House, Barack Obama and John McCain set aside their political differences to make a joint appearance at the site in New York.

    Four years later, Obama marked the event at the Pentagon while his challenger Mitt Romney thanked first responders in Illinois and Nevada.

    Neither Clinton nor Trump has released their public schedule for Sunday but both campaigns have confirmed they intend to halt television ads for the anniversary, keeping with a tradition of avoiding partisan presidential politics on 9/11.

    Officials at the September 11th Memorial & Museum in New York have said that they did not extend formal invitations to either candidate or to the sitting president, in keeping with past practice. But, officials said they would welcome a visit from either candidate or the president should they choose to attend the commemoration.

    Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for the Republican nominee, said that Trump “will not be campaigning” that day but declined to provide any details as to his whereabouts or if he planned to mark the anniversary.

    Clinton last attended the ground zero commemoration on the tenth anniversary of the attacks in 2011, when she was secretary of state. A spokeswoman for Clinton declined to comment about the Democratic nominee’s plans that day.

    Trump and Clinton are the first New Yorkers to become their parties’ nominees for president since nearly 3,000 people died at the former World Trade Center and both have made their experiences that day part of their campaigns’ narratives.

    Clinton was senator from New York at the time of the attacks and has frequently touted her efforts — including at her party’s convention this summer — to aid those impacted by the World Trade Center collapse. She made frequent trips to the attack site and her staff has highlighted her efforts to help secure medical benefits for first responders sickened at ground zero.

    Trump, meanwhile, has said he donated construction equipment to the recovery effort and gave $100,000 to the memorial after touring it for the first time earlier this year. But he also received widespread criticism for claiming that “thousands and thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated when the towers toppled, a claim for which there is no proof.

    New York typically goes Democratic in the general election though Trump has pledged to put up a fight for his native state. But while he easily won the New York state primary in April, he lost Manhattan to Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

    The lower Manhattan memorial — now a peaceful greenspace flanked by soaring new skyscrapers — has hosted Obama and other elected officials at previous commemorations but in recent years, including Sunday, the speakers at the event will largely be family members of the deceased.

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    Laboratory-confirmed Zika virus disease cases as of August 31, 2016. Chart by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention

    Laboratory-confirmed Zika virus disease cases as of August 31, 2016. Chart by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention

    Members of the House and Senate are back in Washington after an extended summer recess, a break that started in mid-July. While they were away, fears that the infection could be acquired locally in the continental U.S. were realized.

    The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention says it will run out of money for the virus at the end of September.

    In Florida, as of Tuesday, the number of non-travel related cases had risen to 56, according to the state’s department of health. Approximately 2,700 and 14,000 cases have been reported in U.S. states and territories, respectively, including locally transmitted outbreaks in Florida and Puerto Rico.

    Here’s a detailed explainer on where Congress stands with regards to Zika.

    How did we get here?

    Back in February, President Obama asked Congress to approve $1.9 billion to develop a vaccine, control mosquitoes and support pregnant women, who are at risk of giving birth to babies with serious brain deformities if they contract the disease.

    Just as it was easy to predict that Zika would reach the U.S., so too was it a safe bet that Congress wouldn’t come to an agreement on how to dole out that money. This is the last work session before the November election, and so far zero dollars have been approved.

    Rep. Tom Cole says Republicans are more than happy to give the administration the money it wants, but Democrats can’t expect Republicans to give them everything they want.

    It’s a complicated impasse, but the primary problem is that Democrats want the money requested by the president to be added to the deficit and not offset by drawing on pools of money that already exist. Republicans in large part agree that funds should be spent on Zika, but they want it to come from unspent money already appropriated for Ebola research and the Affordable Care Act.

    What is each side arguing?

    Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole is on the House Appropriations Committee and is involved directly in ongoing Zika negotiations.

    “We are moving broadly in the right direction, but there’s a…difference in philosophy. They want to be able to spend money someplace else. It’s a two year emergency and we have the money,” Cole said to the NewsHour. “If you need a new roof, you fix the roof and usually have to make adjustments. You forego something else you want.”

    Cole says Republicans are more than happy to give the administration the money it wants, but Democrats can’t expect Republicans to give them everything they want.

    One of Cole’s counterparts on the House Appropriations Committee working on the Zika issue is Connecticut Democrat Rep. Rosa DeLauro. She argued in a recent statement that haggling over the funding details will put the Zika response at risk. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention says it will run out of money for the virus at the end of September. According to Senate Democrats, millions of dollars have already been funneled from programs like the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Cancer Institute in order to sustain the campaign against Zika in the absence of new funding.

    As of September 1, 1,384 pregnant women in Puerto Rico had caught Zika virus. Photo by Alvin Baez/REUTERS

    As of Sept. 1, 1,384 pregnant women in Puerto Rico had caught Zika virus. Photo by Alvin Baez/REUTERS

    “We are running out of time and we are running out of money. We cannot continue to fight the Zika virus on a shoestring budget, shift budgets around and deprive other public health priorities, and force our nation’s top scientists and researchers to work on budgetary fumes,” DeLauro said.

    According to Senate Democrats, millions of dollars have already been funneled from programs like the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Cancer Institute.

    This summer, the House was able to pass, along party lines, a $1.1 billion funding plan, which Cole says would last until the end of 2017. The minority party in the Senate has more power to block bills, and Democrats used it to block the plan, in part because of the funding offset issue, and because the bill would prevent Planned Parenthood clinics from getting any of the money.

    What happens now?

    This evening, the Senate will again hold a vote on that $1.1 billion plan as its first vote post-recess. If it cannot get the 60 votes necessary to move the bill forward, both parties will have to go back to the negotiating table. Ben Marter, an aide to Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said the vote was a “true waste of time” considering the bill has already been blocked twice.

    And there’s an even bigger deadline looming — large swaths of the federal government will run out of money by the end of September if Congress does not approve additional funds. One possibility is attaching a Zika compromise to a massive funding bill. On Capitol Hill, this idea is known as a “train leaving the station,” in other words, a bill that will get signed. Whatever Zika funding solution could be riding on that train, straight to the president’s desk.

    But until and unless that happens, Congress will be under intense pressure from the public health community and constituents especially in places like Florida or Puerto Rico. The latter has reported 16,537 cases since 2015, with nearly 1,400 involving pregnant women. That pressure, and a looming deadline, could finally push Congress to reach a compromise on this public health issue.

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    San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) walks into the tunnel after the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Photo by Orlando Ramirez/USA Today Sports via Reuters

    San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) walks into the tunnel after the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Photo by Orlando Ramirez/USA Today Sports via Reuters

    Based on online sales, San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick has the most popular NFL jersey as the football season kicks off.

    Weeks after his silent protest of the U.S. national anthem led to a slew of think pieces, the back-up quarterback’s No. 7 jersey was the top-seller at NFLShop.com, CBS Sports reported.

    The demand for the jersey looks to outweigh the number of fans who have burned it, disagreeing with Kaepernick’s actions.

    The quarterback made headlines for sitting — and later taking a knee — during a preseason game. Later, Kaepernick told reporters that his move was meant “to bring awareness and make people realize what’s really going on in this country.”

    “There are a lot of things that are going on that are unjust, people aren’t being held accountable for, and that’s something that needs to change,” he said. “That’s something this country stands for freedom, liberty, justice for all. And it’s not happening for all right now.”

    As The Intercept, among others, have pointed out, the third stanza of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” penned by Francis Scott Key, is extremely unsympathetic to slaves.

    Kaepernick’s protest has “once again made us realize the power of athletes,” William Rhoden, former sports columnist for The New York Times, told the NewsHour last week.

    Now, Rhoden said, there are more young African-American men who are “becoming much more fluent in our history and are really becoming unafraid to use this podium to express views that are controversial and not controversial, and using this sort of national anthem as sort of the lightning rod for a lot of these controversies.”

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    Video by PBS NewsHour

    In an interview with the PBS NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill on Tuesday, Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine responded to Donald Trump’s repeated claim that Hillary Clinton didn’t look presidential.

    “I didn’t have a hard time figuring out what that meant,” Kaine told Ifill. “He was basically saying that because she is a woman, that she somehow didn’t meet his standard of what a president looks like. I think that is very, very easily understood by the vast majority of people who heard him make that comment, and they find it offensive,” Kaine added.

    In an interview that aired earlier today, Trump told ABC’s David Muir, “I don’t think she has the presidential look and you need a presidential look. You have to get the job done.”

    Ifill asked Kaine if he thought it helped or hurt when people make statements referring to Clinton’s gender.

    Kaine responded that “whether it helps or hurts us, it is bad for the country,” referencing the fact it took 144 years for the U.S. to allow women to vote.

    You can watch the full interview with Sen. Kaine online and on your local PBS station this evening.

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    Toui Bounmy Sidavong, 43, holds a bomb dropped by the U.S. Air Force planes during the Vietnam War, in the village of Ban Napia in Xieng Khouang province, Laos September 3, 2016. REUTERS/Jorge Silva         SEARCH "LAOS BOMBS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. - RTX2O6MX

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: As we reported earlier, President Obama is now in Laos, the small Southeast Asian nation where the United States dropped millions of tons of bombs during the Vietnam War.

    We stated at the top of the program that Mr. Obama apologized, but he stopped short of a formal diplomatic apology expressing regret.

    In a speech this morning, Mr. Obama said the U.S. would now increase funding to help clear the bombs that still maim and kill.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Many of the bombs that were dropped were never exploded. Over the years, thousands of Laotians have been killed or injured, farmers tending their fields, children playing.

    The wounds, a missing leg or arm, last a lifetime. And that’s why, as president, I have dramatically increased our funding to help remove these unexploded bombs. As a result, Laos is clearing more bombs, fewer Laotians are being hurt or killed, and, together, we are saving lives.

    Given our history here, I believe that the United States has a moral obligation to help Laos heal.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now special correspondent Mike Cerre reports from Laos on the American effort to clean up this deadly legacy.

    MIKE CERRE: A Lao grandfather who lost his left hand in 1964 to a UXO, unexploded ordnance, pointing out injuries to his three grandsons from a UXO from the same war.

    WOMAN: Two of the fingers were cut off.

    MIKE CERRE: The war may have ended here in Laos 40-plus years ago, but the casualties of war continue on places like this soccer field, where some kids just two weeks ago found a little bomblet. They thought it was a ball and took it home to play with.

    Despite official U.S. government denials and downplaying during the Vietnam War from 1964 to ’73, the United States dropped more bombs per person on Laos than have been dropped on any country in the world in any war.

    The U.S. Defense Department estimates as much as two million tons of ordnance were dropped on Laos, much of it focused on the Ho Chi Minh Trail that paralleled the Vietnamese border. The North Vietnamese used the trail network to transport troops and supplies into South Vietnam, where American troops were fighting.

    It was part of the secret war conducted in Laos, which remained secret until one determined American aid worker made it public.

    MAN: There is a good deal of evidence to suggest that the United States has been carrying out the most protracted bombing of civilian targets in history in Laos.

    MIKE CERRE: While working in Laos as an educational adviser in 1969, Fred Branfman was struck by the number of refugees fleeing the countryside into the capital, Vientiane, at the height of the secret war.

    FRED BRANFMAN, Author and Anti-War Activist: I estimated at one point that I had interviewed over 2,000 Laotians. Every single one, every single one, without exception, said that his or her village had been destroyed by bombing.

    MIKE CERRE: He also asked the refugees to draw pictures of the bombing, which he used in his testimony.

    CHANNAPHA KHAMVONGSA, Legacies of War: So these were accounts of people who actually lived under the air war. And at this point, nobody outside of Laos had known what was happening.

    MIKE CERRE: Channapha Khamvongsa is a Laos American who left Laos in 1979 with her family when she was 7 and was raised in Virginia. She left her job at the Ford Foundation 12 years ago, after she first saw the refugees’ drawings, to start a foundation of her own to deal with these dangerous legacies of the war. More than 20,000 people have been killed or maimed since the war’s end.

    CHANNAPHA KHAMVONGSA: What I realized as I got older is that America left behind such a dark legacy here. I felt compelled to do what I can to help remove the millions of bombs that are still left over from the war.

    MIKE CERRE: According to the Defense Department’s estimates, 20 to 30 percent of the bombs dropped over Laos didn’t go off as designed, whether that be for a technical malfunction or having fallen into a soft rice paddy. Either way, 25 percent of the country now is still contaminated by UXOs.

    CHANNAPHA KHAMVONGSA: Since 1973, there have been four deaths here. This particular field is going to be used for agriculture purposes, to grow fruit trees. But he came across too many bombies. And so he made a request to UXO Lao to clear the land. The last two days that they have worked here, they have been 42 bombies found already.

    MIKE CERRE: Bombies are the baseball-size explosives packed by the hundreds into larger cluster bombs designed to open in midair, raining the smaller anti-personnel bombs filled with ball bearings and other shrapnel over wide swathes of land.

    CHANNAPHA KHAMVONGSA: About 270 million were originally dropped of the cluster munitions. And an estimate of 80 million still remain on the land. Obviously, we still have a lot more to go. But for the villagers here, it’s so important that their land gets cleared.

    MIKE CERRE: UXO Lao is one of several ordnance removal operations that receive U.S. funding to find and safely remove UXOs throughout the country.

    CHANNAPHA KHAMVONGSA: I think one of the challenges to clearing the Ho Chi Minh Trail has just been, again, awareness and attention. There has been clearance over the last 15 years. But we just need more resources.

    MIKE CERRE: Daniel Clune, the U.S. ambassador to Laos, believes the improvement of UXO clearance protocols is one the reasons the U.S. will be spending more on remediation efforts here.

    DANIEL CLUNE, U.S. Ambassador to Laos: The substantial increase that the president has announced for UXO clearance in Laos from roughly $15 million a year to $30 million a year, a doubling, is very significant.

    MIKE CERRE: Have we ever paid reparations for the bombing that we conducted here?

    DANIEL CLUNE: We have a responsibility to clear the unexploded ordnance that we left here during the war. And this is not to make a judgment one way or the other about what happened here and who was at fault and who wasn’t at fault.

    It’s simply a question of young children being injured or killed as the result of ordnance that was dropped here in a war that happened 40 years ago.

    CHANNAPHA KHAMVONGSA: I mean, President Obama being here is historic, and it’s the first a U.S. president to visit here. And so we’re, I think, elated that he’s going to bring greater visibility to this issue. We’re hardly done. Even a doubling is not going to solve this problem overnight.

    And it’s going to take the next administration and maybe even the next, the one after, to really address this issue.

    MIKE CERRE: All agree that no amount of money, resources or time could ever find every unexploded bomb in Laos. Ordnance from both World Wars is still being found in Europe.

    The primary objective here is to make Laos safe by focusing UXO efforts on areas of known contamination in the more populated areas and educating Laos on what to look for and who to call when they find something.

    Emma Atkinson is the State Department’s program manager for weapons removal in Southeast Asia.

    EMMA ATKINSON, U.S. State Department: Right now, we have got about 85 percent of our funding that goes to surveying clearance activities, with the remainder 15 percent being split between survivors assistance and risk education.

    MIKE CERRE: Channapha’s Washington based Legacies of War Foundation, funded largely by other Lao-Americans, helps the State Department identify the local needs and the mix of local and mostly international organizations working on them, from victims assistance, to counseling and job training.

    CHANNAPHA KHAMVONGSA: I think the Americans obviously knew a lot about Vietnam and Cambodia. Some might have heard about Laos, but I don’t think they know about the history of U.S. involvement here, and in particular about the secret war. I think very few are aware that millions of bombs are still maiming and killing Laotians today.

    And that’s what we’re really concerned about.

    MIKE CERRE: Another group is using soccer to teach local kids how to identify UXOs, especially the small bomblets, which can be easily confused with the balls they can play with, as this third generation of UXO victims mistakenly did, with tragic consequences.

    CHANNAPHA KHAMVONGSA: As long as the U.S. continues to remain committed by sustaining and increase its funding as needed, I think we will be able to address this issue hopefully in our lifetime.

    MIKE CERRE: For the “PBS NewsHour,” Mike Cerre reporting from Xiangkhouang Province, Laos.

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    Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) campaigns at Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center in Columbus, Ohio, U.S., July 31, 2016.  REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein - RTSKH96

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump traded new jabs today amid polls showing the presidential race has tightened.  Clinton said there are growing questions about Trump’s ethics, and she linked them to his refusal to release his tax returns.

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), Presidential Nominee:  I’m going to continue to raise this, because I think it’s a fundamental issue about him in this campaign, that we’re going to talk about in one way or another for the next 62 days, because he clearly has something to hide.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Later, in Tampa, Florida, Clinton charged that Trump’s policies would lead the nation back to war in the Middle East.

    In turn, Trump released an open letter of support from 88 retired generals and admirals.  And in Virginia Beach, Virginia, he belittled Clinton’s argument that she’d be tougher on the likes of Russia.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee:  Putin looks at her and he laughs.  OK?  He laughs.  Putin.  Putin looks at Hillary Clinton and he smiles.  Boy, would he like to see her.  That would be easy, because just look at her decisions.  Look how bad her decisions have been.  Virtually every decision she’s made has been a loser.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Clinton and Trump will appear separately in a nationally televised forum on national security tomorrow night.

    GWEN IFILL: For more on the race for the White House, we turn now to Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine.

    Before becoming senator in 2013, Kaine served as governor and lieutenant governor of Virginia and mayor of Richmond.

    Judy sat down with Mike Pence during the Republican National Convention.

    I spoke with Tim Kaine earlier today after he delivered a national security speech.

    Welcome, Senator Kaine.

    SEN. TIM KAINE (D), Vice Presidential Nominee: You bet, Gwen.

    GWEN IFILL: From our account, listening to your speech just now, you mentioned Donald Trump 57 times and Hillary Clinton 29 times.

    Are you the Hillary Clinton defender in this campaign or the Donald Trump attacker?

    SEN. TIM KAINE: Well, I’m not a Hillary Clinton defender. I’m a Hillary Clinton promoter.

    And I am also drawing a sharp contrast with Donald Trump, because on this issue of national security, the power of the president, as commander in chief and as the nation’s chief diplomat, the differences are incredibly stark and very, very important.

    GWEN IFILL: Let me ask you something about something your Republican counterpart, Mike Pence, had to say about your running mate. He said that Secretary Clinton is the most dishonest candidate for president since Richard Nixon. Here’s your chance to promote.

    SEN. TIM KAINE: Hillary Clinton is somebody who has had a passion for families and children since she was a kid, in a Methodist youth group as a teenager in the suburbs of Chicago.

    And what I tell people, Gwen, is this. If you want to know about the character of somebody in public life, look to see if they have a passion that has animated them throughout their life, whether they were in office or out, whether they were winning elections or losing them.

    And Hillary Clinton has that, a passion to empower families and kids, and a desire to measure health of society by how families and kids are doing. You can see this from her service as a lawyer, first lady of Arkansas, and United States senator, and secretary of state.

    And I draw that contrast with a Donald Trump. What’s the passion that has animated his life, other than Donald Trump? And there really isn’t one. And so that is the important definition, in my view, of character in public life. Can you count on somebody? Do you know what motivates them? And with Hillary Clinton, I think that’s very, very plain.

    GWEN IFILL: Why would Mike Pence say something like that?

    SEN. TIM KAINE: You know, I’m not going to pretend to understand why he would say it.

    I think the Nixon analogy is an interesting one, because when Mike Pence mentions Nixon, here’s what I think of. Richard Nixon, under audit, released his tax returns, so that the American public could look at them and know what his financial situation was, whether he was following the law, and whether he was beholden to anybody.

    Donald Trump promised in 2014 that, if he ran for president, he would do the same, but he’s not even willing to do what Richard Nixon did.

    And then the second thing I think about when I hear about Richard Nixon is, Richard Nixon was a Republican presidential candidate who encouraged crooks to commit espionage against the Democratic National Committee in order to gain an edge in a presidential election.

    And that forged a constitutional crisis, an impeachment and a resignation. Donald Trump has encouraged Russians to cyber-hack the United States to give him an edge in an election. And that just shows how serious and seriously misguided Donald Trump is.

    GWEN IFILL: What evidence do you have to support the notion that Donald Trump directly, other than that one comment that he made, but that he’s been in touch with Russians, has had a direct connection with them to urge them to affect a United States election?

    SEN. TIM KAINE: That is the evidence, Gwen, that he publicly — not privately — publicly encouraged in a press conference during the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia Russian hackers to get involved and try to find information that would help him win the race.

    That’s the evidence. And he repeated it, and then, when he was confronted with it, he suddenly said, well, he was just being sarcastic.

    But anybody who would joke about that, about espionage committed by the Russians against the United States to help him in an election, that was an example of Donald Trump showing us who he is. And if he thinks that’s funny, then he has a sense of humor unlike anybody I have ever met.

    GWEN IFILL: But that doesn’t necessarily show — that shows him maybe if he thinks he’s being funny. That doesn’t necessarily show that he was in cahoots with the Russians, does it?

    SEN. TIM KAINE: No, but it shows — again, it shows he is publicly encouraging them to do it.

    And then we know, Gwen, that he’s also — there’s a series of questions about business deals that he had — has with Russia or Russian interests that could well be disclosed if he disclosed his tax returns, which he won’t.

    In an extraordinary, extraordinary turn of events, his longtime adviser and campaign chair had to step down within the last month because of very, very questionable ties to pro-Russian elements in Russia and the Ukraine, including allegations of undisclosed payments of cash to affect Ukrainian elections.

    There are a series of connections between Donald Trump and his closest advisers and Russia that at least raise significant questions. Some of those questions could be answered if Donald Trump was willing to release his tax returns, but he’s unwilling to do that.

    And when you add that to his public encouragement of Russia, it’s got to raise questions in people’s minds.

    GWEN IFILL: You see the polls as much as I do, Senator, so you know that there’s a wide gulf of distrust that Americans feel towards your running mate.

    Even Joe Biden came out today and said Hillary Clinton has got to open her hearts to Americans. She’s, obviously, been in the eye for a long time. What do you think that she has to do and what has to be done between now and November 8 for your ticket to make the case for her, instead of the case against Donald Trump?

    SEN. TIM KAINE: Yes, and we are making the case for her, Gwen.

    I’m passionate about that, especially on these national security issues. We just have to make it every day in the states that really count. Yesterday, I was in Pennsylvania and Ohio, states that are close. Today, I’m in North Carolina making the case. I was campaigning with Hillary in Ohio yesterday.

    And so we’re going to make our case on these issues, who is best suited to grow an economy that will work for all? And then the issue of the day, who is best suited to be the commander in chief, be our chief diplomat, and also the person who has the nuclear codes and the control of the American military?

    This is just deeply, deeply important, and we think when we make that case, the American public will be clear on who’s most fit to be president. And that’s Hillary Clinton.

    GWEN IFILL: As you travel making that case through all these battleground states you just named, do you find that voters are more driven by national security issues, like you talked about today, economic security issues? In either case, Donald Trump seems to be leading in most recent polls.

    SEN. TIM KAINE: Well, I think people are very focused on the economic issues. They want an economy that works for everybody.

    And, actually, we’re feeling good about polls we’re seeing. Some different polls came out today in different directions. But in the battleground states, like North Carolina, we’re in there. We’re feeling good.

    The top choice that people want to ask about is, who’s going to create an economy that does work for all? But the national security issues are very important for two reasons. First, because everybody knows that we want to be safe. But, secondly, people see these issues as probably the clearest window into somebody’s temperament, their judgment, whether they’re steady or volatile.

    And so the national security issues are a really good window into the character of the person that somebody wants to have as commander in chief. And we think those questions show off Hillary Clinton’s strengths and her experience very, very well.

    GWEN IFILL: Why does it seem like independents are leaning towards Donald Trump?

    SEN. TIM KAINE: You know, again, I see polls, like in Virginia and other states, where we’re doing very, very well with independents.

    And so, again, on the polling side, I see polls are close. But in the battleground states that matter, you know, just Virginia — Virginia was assumed to be one of the closest and most important battleground states going into this election. We like what we see in Virginia. We like what we see in North Carolina.

    We like what we see in Pennsylvania and Ohio. These are states that are going to be close, but, right now, we like what we see.

    GWEN IFILL: Let me ask you another question about something Donald Trump had to say over the weekend. He said that Hillary Clinton didn’t look presidential.

    And then he was asked about that, and he didn’t quite answer what he meant. What do you think he meant?

    SEN. TIM KAINE: Well, Gwen, I will quote it precisely.

    He said: “Hillary Clinton doesn’t look presidential, does she, fellows? Does she, fellows?”

    And, to me, I didn’t have a hard time figuring out what that meant. He was basically saying that, because she’s a woman, that she somehow didn’t meet his standard of what a president looks like.

    And I think that is very, very easily understood by the vast majority of people who heard him make that comment, and they find it offensive.

    GWEN IFILL: Does it help or hurt you when there are veiled or unveiled comments referring to your running mate’s gender?

    SEN. TIM KAINE: Well, you know, whether it helps or hurts us, it’s bad for our country, because we live in a country where we put our North Star out there in 1776 and said that North Star was going to be equality.

    It took us 144 years to make the decision that that meant women could even vote. And now we’re 96 years after that, and thank goodness we have broken a glass ceiling and a major party has nominated a woman for president.

    But for Donald Trump to suggest — and he’s suggested it before — that, for some reason, Hillary Clinton couldn’t cross over the hurdle because of her gender, when we have stated that our principle is the equality principle, and nations around the world have been able to elect women as heads of state, I think that shows that he’s living in a different time, a time that is not a match for what Americans now believe about who our leaders should be.

    GWEN IFILL: Senator Tim Kaine, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, thank you very much for joining us.

    SEN. TIM KAINE: Thanks so much, Gwen.

    The post Who can Americans trust with national security? Tim Kaine makes his case for Clinton appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Former Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) talks to reporters as he arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 6, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo - RTX2OCOQ

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL:  In the day’s other news:  Congress returned from its August recess with a full to-do list.  House Speaker Paul Ryan said the priority is to finance the government past October 1, when the fiscal year begins.  There’s also pressure to approve money for fighting the Zika virus.  And it all has to get done in about three weeks, before lawmakers head home for the final dash to Election Day.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  President Obama was in the Asian nation of Laos today, attending a regional summit and pledging to heal scars from the Vietnam War.  He’s the first sitting American president to visit Laos, and he cited a moral obligation to help the country recover from heavy U.S. bombing.

    The president also met with South Korea’s president at the summit, a day after North Korea test-fired more missiles.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:  We are going to work diligently together with the most recent U.N. sanctions that are already placing North Korea under the most intense sanctions regime ever.  We are going to work together to make sure that we’re closing loopholes and making them even more effective.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council strongly condemned the North Korean missile tests and threatened new sanctions.

    GWEN IFILL:  Security forces in Afghanistan ended a standoff today, killing three Taliban gunmen who seized a building in Kabul.  That left crews to clean up from a bombing that began the 11-hour siege.  The target was a building housing the aid group CARE International.  It all happened hours after twin bombings elsewhere in Kabul that killed 35 people.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Back in this country, one of the biggest for-profit college chains, ITT Technical institute, is closing all of its 130 U.S. campuses.  The announcement today affects some 35,000 students.  Last month, the U.S. Department of Education banned ITT from accepting new students who use federal aid, over allegations of poor-quality programs.

    GWEN IFILL:  On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 46 points to close at 18538.  The Nasdaq rose 26 points, and the S&P 500 added six.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  And American conservatives today marked the passing of a powerful voice, Phyllis Schlafly.  She died yesterday, after more than half-a-century of activism on major social issues.

    PHYLLIS SCHLAFLY, President, Eagle Forum:  The Equal Rights Amendment is a dead issue now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Phyllis Schlafly was one of the leading conservative firebrands of her time, especially on the role of women in American society.  She rose to prominence in the early 1960s with a manifesto for the right, A Choice, Not an Echo.  It helped boost Senator Barry Goldwater to the top of the 1964 Republican presidential ticket.

    A decade later, Schlafly led the drive to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment, or ERA.  It would have barred gender discrimination, but Schlafly warned it wouldn’t stop there.

    PHYLLIS SCHLAFLY:  And it is the position of the advocates of the Equal Rights Amendment that they don’t want it unless they get, in the same package, abortion, abortion funding, gay rights, drafting women.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Schlafly said she was defending what she called the real rights of women, including the right to be in the home as a wife and a mother.  She and her Eagle Forum also became a force on other social issues, opposition to abortion chief among them.

    PHYLLIS SCHLAFLY:  The Republican Party must keep the pro-life plank in the platform and must reject any language in the text or in the preamble that will be perceived by the press and the public as watering down our 1984 and ’88 platforms.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  And she remained active into old age, even appearing at a rally in march for Donald Trump.  Phyllis Schlafly died of cancer at her Saint Louis home yesterday.  She was 92 years old.

    The post News Wrap: Congress returns from recess to tackle funding, Zika appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Watch Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s speech live from Philadelphia at 11 a.m. ET today here.

    PHILADELPHIA — Republican Donald Trump is unveiling a plan for a major increase in defense spending as he works to convince skeptics in both parties that he’s ready to lead the world’s most powerful military.

    The New York businessman, who has struggled at times to demonstrate a command of foreign policy, will outline plans to “add substantially” to the nation’s arsenal of submarines, ships and combat troops in a Wednesday morning speech in Philadelphia, according to a briefing provided by his campaign. Trump’s address comes hours before his national security acumen is tested at a “commander in chief” forum on NBC.

    The appearances mark an intense, two-day focus on national security by Trump, who has offered tough rhetoric on the nation’s challenges abroad but few details.

    “I think my single greatest asset, of any assets I have, is my temperament,” Trump declared in North Carolina on Tuesday, fighting to undercut arguments that his erratic disposition is a major liability.

    “I think my single greatest asset, of any assets I have, is my temperament.” — Donald Trump

    Democrat Hillary Clinton repeated just such an attack on Trump’s ability to command America’s military.

    “They know they can count on me to be the kind of commander in chief who will protect our country and our troops, and they know they cannot count on Donald Trump,” Clinton said en route to Florida. “They view him as a danger and a risk.”

    While Clinton and Trump will be featured at the Wednesday night forum, they will appear at separate times and will not face each other on stage. The forum could serve as a warm-up to their highly anticipated first presidential debate, scheduled for Sept. 26 in New York.

    Trump was set to deliver another speech Wednesday evening, at the convention of New York’s Conservative Party, also expected to feature a heavy national security focus.

    A late morning address at Philadelphia’s Union League will outline his plans to eliminate deep military cuts, known as the “sequester,” enacted when Congress failed to reach a budget compromise in 2011.

    A Trump adviser, speaking on the condition of anonymity to share details ahead of the speech, said Trump would ensure the additional spending is fully paid for. The adviser did not explain how, but suggested there would be no need for structural budget cuts to pay for the billions of additional military spending over 10 years.

    Beyond new spending on troops and naval assets, Trump also will call for additions to sea-based missile defense.

    Trying to emphasize his military support, Trump’s campaign released a letter on Tuesday from 88 retired generals and admirals citing an urgent need for a “course correction” in America’s national security policy. It was aimed at rebutting Clinton’s arguments that she would be best positioned to lead the military and reassuring Republicans who have openly worried that his provocative statements might undermine U.S. alliances.

    “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.”

    On Tuesday night, Trump promised to convene his military commanders soon after taking office with “a simple instruction” aimed at the Islamic State group. “They will have 30 days to submit to the Oval Office a plan for soundly and quickly defeating ISIS,” he told North Carolina voters.

    Associated Press reporter Steve Peoples wrote this report.

    The post WATCH: Trump promises huge boost in military spending appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    File photo by Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor

    File photo by Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor

    Mahmoud ElSohly oversees acres of marijuana plants in the deep south, a swath of the country the tide of medical marijuana legalization has yet to touch. But he’s not running an illegal operation — he’s a professor of pharmaceutics and head of the marijuana program at the University of Mississippi, which holds an exclusive contract with the government to produce marijuana for research.

    Since ElSohly took charge of the program in the early 1980s, the landscape of marijuana research has changed dramatically. To meet the changing demands of researchers, for example, the program has developed specific strains with high levels of THC (a component that gives people a high) and cannabidiol, which has shown promise in antiseizure medications.

    But ElSohly is about to see the biggest shakeup to his program in its 40-plus years of existence. Last month, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced it was accepting applications for new cultivators to grow marijuana for research and drug development.

    The DEA said the move was motivated by researchers’ need for more supply and a wider variety of strains, as study of the drug picks up. Critics of the policy have also called the existing arrangement a lucrative monopoly for the university; the latest five-year contract is worth as much as $69 million, although the government only buys the amount of marijuana needed to meet research demand.

    STAT spoke with ElSohly about the perceptions of his program and what he thinks of the DEA’s policy change. Below are excerpts of that conversation, which have been edited for clarity.

    What advice would you give someone who is considering applying to grow marijuana?
    I wouldn’t want to give anyone any advice because all these people have looked at me like the enemy or something. I don’t know why, but that’s how it is. So I’m not in a position to give any advice.

    What do you mean they’ve looked at you as the enemy?
    They keep talking about this is a monopoly, almost like if we weren’t in the picture, things would be better. They have always badmouthed the project, they have always badmouthed NIDA [the National Institute on Drug Abuse]. NIDA doesn’t have this, NIDA doesn’t have that, the University of Mississippi can’t produce enough material — all that stuff that I don’t like to hear because none of it is true.

    The contract with NIDA is a competitive contract. And every five years, it gets readvertised and everybody bids for it, just like we do. We’ve been able to keep it here at the University of Mississippi because of the expertise, the know-how, the infrastructure that we have in place.

    How much marijuana do you grow? How many square feet of marijuana do you grow?

    We don’t grow marijuana every year. The last time we grew was 2014. Why? Because we produced about 600 or 800 kilos in 2014 and we still have that material. But we can produce anywhere from five to 10 kilos to growing thousands of kilos in a year. We have a 12-acre facility. Really, our capability is a heck of a lot more than the demand is.

    “We don’t grow marijuana every year. The last time we grew was 2014. Why? Because we produced about 600 or 800 kilos in 2014 and we still have that material.”

    What do you think about the possible medical value of marijuana?
    As far as marijuana that’s self-dosed, I don’t think it’s a good pharmaceutical preparation for patients. There’s really no defined dose, no defined way of use, no defined chemical profile, and no defined medical condition that has been shown that this particular product or that other product are good for.

    There are many things in cannabis that potentially have medical value. THC and CBD, to name a few, might have pharmacological activity that could be studied, could be evaluated, could be formulated into very well-defined pharmaceutical preparations.

    How has your job changed since the early 80s?
    Number one is actually producing really high potency material. In the early days, I think the maximum potency that we were producing was in the 3 or 4 percent THC range. It was because of demand from researchers and because it was consistent with what was on the streets at the time.

    Lately, because some investigators wanted to get material with much higher potency, we started producing material that had 8 percent THC. The investigators administered that to subjects in a clinical trial and the most experienced subjects could not tolerate it. They called and said, “This is too strong.” And I said, “We know that, but that’s what you requested.” And they said, “Well, can we have the maximum potency be 6 percent?” So we made cigarettes at 6 percent. We still have most of that material in the vault.

    What do you think of the DEA decision to offer licenses for more growers?
    There was some talk that because it was only one supplier, there might not be enough material. I don’t necessarily agree with that, but it doesn’t really matter. The DEA decided they’re going to allow producers to file for registration. That’s fine. I have no problem with that.

    Is it going to affect what you do at Ole Miss?
    At this point in time, I don’t see any change in what we’re doing. We’re still doing the same thing: making materials available, and we have all kinds of varieties that are available for research. We are meeting the demand and more.

    This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on Sept. 6, 2016. Find the original story here.

    The post Meet the federal government’s pot dealer appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Dementia has left Pauline Finster, 91, unable to speak for the past six months. She is never without her baby doll. (Francis Ying/KHN)

    Dementia has left Pauline Finster, 91, unable to speak for the past six months. She is never without her baby doll. (Francis Ying/KHN)

    Dementia took over Pauline Finster’s 91-year-old mind long ago and she may die without having another real conversation with her daughter.

    After Finster broke her hip in July 2015, Jackie Mantua noticed her mother’s speech ebbing until she only said “hi,” or that she felt fine. Mantua last heard Finster speak six months ago.

    Finster’s hip surgery led to a series of medical interventions that left her with poor circulation in her legs. Then gangrene set in. Mantua won’t look at the dead tissue on her mother’s right foot that is now creeping from the toes to heel.

    She has instructed the staff at the AlfredHouse assisted living home in Rockville, Md., where her mother has been in hospice care since earlier this summer, to keep Finster on Tylenol to hold back the gangrene’s discomfort.

    Is that enough? It’s really all she can do for her mother at this point, Mantua said.

    Hospice’s purpose, at least one of them, is to ease a dying patient’s pain at the end of life and improve the quality of that life. But what’s to be done when a dementia patient in her waning days can’t communicate her pain or help identify the cause? Or resists taking medications?

    All those concerns can be troubling for family caregivers for loved ones with dementia and in hospice care, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias.

    Families often describe a cancer patient’s last months as stressful but meaningful. That isn’t the case with dementia patients because the disease changes the patient’s personality and causes behavior issues, according to George Demiris, one of the study’s authors and a professor of biobehavioral nursing and health systems at the University of Washington’s School of Nursing.

    Caregivers who took part in the study said they worried that their loved ones were in pain, but unable to properly express it — and that possibility disturbed them, according to interviews with families taking care of dementia patients in their last stage of life.

    Multiple participants described feeling frustrated and defeated by patients’ cognitive difficulties and changing emotions, the study reported. Some described the patients as “prisoners” inside their bodies.

    Helping a dementia patient in pain can be challenging for hospice care providers, too.

    Previous research, cited in the recent study, found patients with dementia were prescribed lower doses of opioids than patients with cancer with similar pain scores.

    “You have no idea because she can’t say anything. I was saying ‘What’s wrong? What’s wrong?’ and she’s just looking at me like crazy.”

    Other research cited found that hospice nurses caring for such patients frequently asked relatives to interpret patients’ “pain signals” to help them assess pain. For example, one caregiver knew her mother was in pain when she moved a certain way in her chair. Another recognized his wife was in pain when a home health care aide gave her a bath by observing how she squeezed the aide’s hand.

    Sometimes, patients gasp for air or repeatedly touch the same part of their bodies.

    Mantua said she watches her mother’s face and stays vigilant for winces or grimaces. Her face is still expressive, Mantua said. Still, there are no words, only moans to indicate something is wrong.

    Recently, Mantua said her mother has been acting “strange.” Instead of her usual vacant but happy smile, Finster looked at her daughter with a “horrified” expression. Mantua told the hospice chaplain that it looked like her mother had seen the devil.

    The cause?

    “You have no idea because she can’t say anything,” Mantua said. “I was saying ‘What’s wrong? What’s wrong?’ and she’s just looking at me like crazy.”

    Finster has had dementia for 10 years. She has spent most of that time in facilities with increasing levels of care, moving from an independent living facility, to assisted living to memory care. Mantua has felt some of the frustration that caregivers of other patients with dementia have experienced. Three or four years ago, when Finster still had a phone in her room, she sometimes called her son Les — Mantua’s older brother — 10 times to leave him the same message that people were coming into her room and stealing her food. She simply forgot that she had called before.

    Finster’s years of cognitive decline have taken a toll on Mantua and her family.

    “You get to the point you want them to die because it’s hard,” Mantua said. “It’s hard to deal with. It’s a very helpless feeling.”

    Now 53, Mantua is a mother of three children between the ages of 27 and 31 and grandmother to twin five-year-old boys. She said she doesn’t have the patience or natural caretaking abilities to tend to her mother full time.

    It comforts her to know that her mother is looked after by a trained staff 24 hours a day, but for families who find themselves as the primary caregivers for dying dementia patients, the job can lead to anxiety, depression and grief, according to the recent study.

    “Caregivers stated that patients were combative because they could not understand that interventions were meant to help them, or that they forgot about past pain and so rejected attempts at assessment and treatment,” the study said.

    “You get to the point you want them to die because it’s hard. It’s hard to deal with. It’s a very helpless feeling.”

    For families, a loved one with dementia can become like a stranger who grows angrier and more aggressive than the person they remembered, said Demiris, which “complicates the caregiving experience.”

    Pauline Finster isn’t aggressive anymore. Mantua remembers when Finster’s dementia made her paranoid and angry. She was once so combative, the staff at her former assisted living facility wouldn’t try to feed her unless Mantua or her brother were present.

    The decision to begin hospice care wasn’t easy for Mantua or her family. She said it feels like her mother is already gone.

    There isn’t much for Mantua to do when she visits her mother at AlfredHouse. She chatters as Finster dozes, cradling a baby doll that is always with her. Someone at the assisted living home regularly changes the doll’s clothes, which amuses Mantua.

    For now, she keeps driving an hour once every other week from her home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore to Finster’s room in Rockville where they wait for the end together.

    The post How caregivers combat helplessness and aid dementia hospice patients appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the White House. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the White House. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has nominated a Washington, D.C., attorney for the federal bench. If confirmed, he would be the first Muslim American to serve as a federal judge.

    Obama nominated Abid Riaz Qureshi of Maryland for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Qureshi’s bio at Latham & Watkins LLP says he specializes in cases involving fraud and securities violations. He also has managed large, complex investigations on behalf of international companies. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1997 and Cornell University in 1993.

    An advocacy group called Muslim Advocates is applauding the nomination, saying that diversity helps ensure the fair administration of the law, and it is vital for Muslims to be included. The group said he had worked with the organization on a pro bono basis in two important civil rights cases.

    The White House has regularly cited Obama’s efforts to bring diversity to the federal judiciary, noting he has appointed 120 minority federal judges and 138 female federal judges.

    However, Senate confirmation is uncertain. Congress is in an abbreviated session, and the Senate is scheduled to meet only until the first week in October.

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

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    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by David Becker/Reuters

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by David Becker/Reuters

    The Dallas Morning News endorsed a Democratic presidential candidate Wednesday, a first in 75 years and 20 elections.

    The Texas-based newspaper’s editorial board said that its recommendation for Hillary Clinton didn’t come easily. The newspaper said it hasn’t backed a Democratic candidate for the presidency since before World War II.

    “Resume vs. resume, judgment vs. judgment, this election is no contest,” the board wrote.

    Although the board said Democrats’ “over-reliance on government and regulation” was “at odds with our belief in private-sector ingenuity and innovation,” the newspaper’s endorsement said Clinton’s record of service outweighed their reservations with the Democratic candidate.

    “Clinton has made mistakes and displayed bad judgment, but her errors are plainly in a different universe than her opponent’s,” the board wrote, adding that Donald Trump’s values are “hostile to conservatism.”

    “[Trump] plays on fear — exploiting base instincts of xenophobia, racism and misogyny — to bring out the worst in all of us, rather than the best,” the board wrote. “His serial shifts on fundamental issues reveal an astounding absence of preparedness. And his improvisational insults and midnight tweets exhibit a dangerous lack of judgment and impulse control,” it added.

    In a separate editorial, the board laid out its argument on why Trump “is no Republican and certainly no conservative.”

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

    The post Dallas Morning News endorses Clinton after backing GOP for 75 years appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden addresses the session "Cancer Moonshot: A Call to Action" during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland January 19, 2016.  Photo by Ruben Sprich/REUTERS

    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden addresses the session “Cancer Moonshot: A Call to Action” during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland January 19, 2016. Photo by Ruben Sprich/REUTERS

    The cancer moonshot initiative took a major step in development on Tuesday, when its organizing panel outlined 10 recommendations to stop the spread of the multifaceted disease. The Blue Ribbon panel report now heads to Douglas Lowy, the acting director of the National Cancer Institute, for approval before being presented to Vice President Joe Biden, who is spearheading the effort.

    “We are at an exciting time in our understanding of cancer, and the way we’re approaching how we treat it,” said Tyler Jacks, an MIT cancer researcher, chair of the National Cancer Advisory Board and Blue Ribbon panel member in a statement.

    Biden first proposed the moonshot in October, months after his oldest son Beau, 46, died of brain cancer. President Barack Obama endorsed the idea during his final State of the Union address, and the Blue Ribbon panel formed in April. Composed of 33 cancer experts, the panel worked to identify how the field could compress 10-year timelines for research and development into five years.

    The overarching theme within the report is improving patient care. Though cancer is often described as a single disease, it’s actually hundreds of conditions that are as individual as a patient. Multiple portions of the panel’s report cite personalized means for tackling the myriad nature of cancer. On the whole, cancer will kill an estimated 600,000 Americans this year alone.

    U.S. President Barack Obama (R) hugs Vice President Joe Biden during the funeral of former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden, at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington, Delaware June 6, 2015. Photo by Doug Mills/REUTERS

    U.S. President Barack Obama (R) hugs Vice President Joe Biden during the funeral of former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden, at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington, Delaware June 6, 2015. Photo by Doug Mills/REUTERS

    One recommendation, for instance, calls for engaging patients to gather as much data about their disease as possible to improve treatment in clinical trials. Another idea aims to tackle drug resistance in tumors, which often complicates patient outcomes. The advisory also requests the establishment of nationwide network for immunotherapies, which are treatments based on harnessing a person’s immune system to fight a disease. Other topics include what to do about early detection, tackling pediatric cancer and how to spend and allocate new research money.

    The panel presented the 10 ideas on Wednesday to the National Cancer Advisory Board, after a summer’s worth of conversations with dozens of cancer specialists at working groups and a White House Summit.

    But some experts are less convinced about the project’s eventual outcome.

    “Let’s be honest. There’s not that much money in the moonshot. I just don’t think it is going to have that big an impact,” Ezekiel Emanuel, vice provost for Global Initiatives and chair of the department of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, told STAT in June.

    The NCI asked for $5.45 billion to cover its 2017 fiscal year, and the White House requested $680 million on top of those funds to support the moonshot initiative. But, neither the House nor Senate allocated moonshot funds in their 2017 budget proposals for U.S. science agencies. The Senate bill outlines $5.43 billion for the NCI, while the House proposes $5.33 billion for next year. This budgetary debate follows years of stagnant funding for the National Cancer Institute and other agencies within the National Institutes of Health.

    Congress has three weeks to pass a funding bill for the 2017 budget.

    The post Cancer ‘moonshot’ panel releases blueprint, but lacks guarantees on funding appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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