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

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    Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein arrives on the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in July. Photo by Dominick Reuter/Reuters

    Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein arrives on the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in July. Photo by Dominick Reuter/Reuters

    A North Dakota judge issued a warrant Wednesday for the arrest of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who is accused of spray-painting construction equipment during a protest against the Dakota Access pipeline.

    Court records show Stein was charged Wednesday in Morton County with misdemeanor counts of criminal trespass and criminal mischief. The same charges have been filed against her running mate, Ajamu Baraka.

    Stein campaign spokeswoman Meleiza Figueroa could not immediately comment on whether Stein plans to turn herself in.

    Activists invited Stein to leave a message at the protest site near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation on Tuesday, Figueroa said, and Stein sprayed “I approve this message” in red paint on the blade of a bulldozer. A court document shows Baraka painted the word “decolonization” on a piece of construction equipment.

    Morton County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Rob Keller said the warrant has been filed and if authorities were to come across Stein, “they would arrest her.”

    The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is trying to stop construction of a section of the $3.8 billion four-state pipeline that tribal leaders say would violate sacred and culturally sensitive grounds and possibly pollute water.

    Before the charges were filed, Stein said in a statement said she hoped North Dakota authorities “press charges against the real vandalism taking place at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation: the bulldozing of sacred burial sites and the unleashing of vicious attack dogs.”

    [Watch Video]

    Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are two of the most unpopular presidential candidates in American history. But are they so disliked that Green Party nominee Jill Stein could become a viable contender in this election? Judy Woodruff speaks with Stein about her qualifications for the presidency, her economic, environmental and foreign policy proposals and her hotly contested views on vaccines.

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

    The post Green Party candidate Jill Stein faces charges in graffiti protest appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    EpiPen auto-injection epinephrine pens manufactured by Mylan NV pharmaceutical company. Photo by Jim Bourg/Reuters

    EpiPen auto-injection epinephrine pens manufactured by Mylan NV pharmaceutical company. Photo by Jim Bourg/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — A Senate panel has opened a preliminary investigation into why the price of lifesaving EpiPens has skyrocketed.

    The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Homeland’s investigations subcommittee said in a statement Wednesday that they began an inquiry into Mylan Pharmaceuticals’ pricing and competition practices. Mylan has been sharply criticized for its steep price increases for the emergency allergy treatment EpiPen.

    The price has grown to $608 for a two-pack, up more than 500 percent since 2007. The drugmaker has announced it will launch a generic version that will cost $300 in the next several weeks.

    GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri head the panel.

    Heather Bresch, CEO of the pharmaceutical company, is the daughter of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

    [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.

    WATCH: Did outcry on social media lead to Mylan’s generic EpiPen?

    The post Senate panel opens investigation into EpiPen price hikes appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Secretary of Defense Ash Carter testifies on operations against the Islamic State in Washington, U.S. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Secretary of Defense Ash Carter testifies on operations against the Islamic State in Washington, U.S. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    OXFORD, England — U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter accused Russia on Wednesday of sowing seeds of global instability and questioned whether Moscow genuinely wants a viable cease-fire in Syria.

    In a hard-hitting speech at Oxford University, Carter emphasized deep skepticism about Russian intentions in Syria, even as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry prepared to fly to Geneva for more talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Their discussions last weekend, on the sidelines of an economic summit in China, failed to produce a nationwide cease-fire in Syria or a U.S.-Russian military cooperation agreement.

    Russia is a firm supporter of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and their joint military operation has sometimes targeted the anti-Islamic State rebels backed by the Obama administration. The Russian Foreign Ministry said Kerry and Lavrov would hold their next round of talks Thursday and Friday. The State Department didn’t immediately confirm the trip.

    “Unfortunately so far, Russia, with its support for the Assad regime, has made the situation in Syria more dangerous, more prolonged and more violent. That has contributed to what President Obama this weekend called the ‘gaps of trust’ that exist between our two countries,” Carter said.

    Later at a news conference in London, Carter said Kerry would not be making another try with Lavrov if there were no prospect for success. But Carter added, “We’re a long way from getting there.”

    In last weekend’s talks, top diplomats from the U.S. and Russia, as well as President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, struggled to keep alive negotiations to end the bloodshed between U.S.-backed rebels and Syria’s government. Obama expressed skepticism that an unlikely alliance between rivals would yield the breakthrough needed to end the 5-year-old civil war.

    Carter urged the Russians to work with the U.S. toward a political transition in Syria, though he sounded less than optimistic.

    “Today’s news out of Syria is not encouraging,” he said. “The choice is Russia’s to make and the consequences will be its responsibility.”

    Intense fighting between Syrian government troops and insurgents in Syria’s central Hama province displaced some 100,000 people over eight days between late August and early September, the U.N.’s humanitarian agency reported Wednesday.

    “Despite the progress that we made together in the aftermath of the Cold War, Russia’s actions in recent years — with its violations of Ukrainian and Georgian territorial integrity, its unprofessional behavior in the air, in space, and in cyberspace, as well as its nuclear saber rattling – all have demonstrated that Russia has clear ambition to erode the principled international order,” Carter said.

    Carter accused Russia of being driven by “misguided ambition and misplaced fear.” He said Moscow understandably wants to be seen as an important world power, but is undercutting its case by undercutting the work of others.

    “It lashes out, alleging that it fears for its own viability and future,” even though it should know that no country, including the U.S., is trying to constrain its potential.

    He seemed to allude also to suspected Russian involvement in hacking Democratic National Committee computers in the United States and otherwise trying to influence the American presidential election.

    “Let me be clear, the United States does not seek a cold, let alone a hot war with Russia. We don’t seek an enemy in Russia. But make no mistake — we will defend our allies, the principled international order, and the positive future it affords all of us. We will counter attempts to undermine our collective security. And we will not ignore attempts to interfere with our democratic processes.”

    Asked later at his news conference what he meant by Russian interference in “our democratic processes,” Carter said he was referring to what some call Russia’s use of hybrid warfare — “interference in the internal affairs of nations, short of war.”

    “This is a concern across all” of Europe, he said.

    Asked whether he had been referring specifically to the U.S. presidential election, he said: “It’s not a concern in the United States only; it’s a common concern” throughout Europe.

    Speaking with Carter, British Defense Minister Michael Fallon said Russia’s interference in the internal affairs of Baltic states and other European countries “is something we have to be aware of.”

    Also Wednesday, the Kremlin said the latest round of U.S. sanctions against Russia ran counter to potential cooperation on “sensitive issues” that Obama and President Vladimir Putin discussed during their meeting this week during an economic summit in China.

    The Commerce Department has added 11 companies linked to the Russian arms sector to the sanctions list that the Obama administration compiled immediately after Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The move restricts the companies’ exports to the United States.

    The post Ash Carter accuses Russia of sowing global instability appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The first stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket returns to land in a time exposure at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, on the launcher's first mission since a June failure, in Cape Canaveral, Florida, December 21, 2015. The rocket carried a payload of eleven satellites owned by Orbcomm, a New Jersey-based communications company. REUTERS/Joe Skipper TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX1ZP3Q

    The first stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket returns to land in a time exposure at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, on the launcher’s first mission since a June failure, in Cape Canaveral, Florida, December 21, 2015. Photo by Joe Skipper/Reuters

    Today’s billionaires regularly channel their wealth into traditional areas of philanthropy like education and public health. Bill and Melinda Gates have spent billions to eradicate polio and malaria, Warren Buffet has pledged to give 85 percent of his Berkshire Hathaway wealth to the Gates Foundation and other charities, and duty-free shopping magnate Charles Feeney’s giving includes almost $1 billion of donations to his alma mater, Cornell University.

    READ MORE: Cancer ‘moonshot’ panel releases blueprint, but lacks guarantees on funding

    But the richest of the rich are also devoting significant resources to futuristic moonshots. Critics call it self-absorbed. Fans call it visionary. Two billionaire fixations have caught my attention: space travel and life extension. It’s the stuff of science fiction, which makes sense: The nouveau riche grew up inspired by the likes of “Star Trek” (Peter Thiel and Jeff Bezos) and “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (Elon Musk).

    The richest of the rich are also devoting significant resources to futuristic moonshots.

    Last week, we witnessed the explosion of one of Elon Musk’s SpaceX rockets as it prepared to carry a $300 million satellite into orbit. It was a setback, but the fact that it even happened is a testament to how far the private space industry has come. And despite inevitable hiccups, private space pursuits are yielding clear results. Just last month, the Federal Aviation Administration for the first time gave approval to a private company, Moon Express, to land on the moon.

    Billionaires like Musk are devoting huge amounts of time and resources into creating a viable private space industry. Collectively, Musk, Virgin’s Richard Branson, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Microsoft’s Paul Allen have invested over $1 billion of their own money into space ventures.

    SpaceX has been successfully running supply missions to the International Space Station, and Musk is expected to announce plans for a human mission to Mars later this month. Starting in 2018, the Bezos led Blue Origin will bring tourists — and, eventually, science experiments — to suborbital space. Branson’s company, Virgin Galactic, recently received authorization to restart flights to space after a tragic crash in 2014. And Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch Systems will send satellites into orbit using the biggest airplane in the world.

    READ MORE: Will these fringe technologies become the future of clean energy?

    Extraterrestrial resource extraction has also caught the eye of starry-eyed billionaires. Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt have invested in Planetary Resources, a company hoping to extract commodities from asteroids. Richard Branson is also an investor. Moon Express, a prospective moon miner, is competing for Google’s Lunar XPRIZE, a $20 million award given to the first team that can put a robot on the moon and transmit information back to Earth.

    While some billionaires are focused on outer space, others are fixated on living forever — or, at least, extending human lifespans dramatically. Oracle’s Larry Ellison has devoted almost half a billion dollars to anti-aging initiatives. “Death makes me angry,” he said. “It doesn’t make any sense to me. Death has never made any sense to me. How can a person be there and then just vanish, just not be there?”

    Regardless of the merits of their moonshots’ immediate goals, ambitious projects like space exploration and life extension are likely to provide invaluable spillover benefits.

    PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel is another high-profile would-be death-defier. According to the New Yorker, Thiel, too, “sees death as a problem to be solved, and the sooner the better. Given the current state of medical research, he expects to live to a hundred and twenty — a sorry compromise, given the grand possibilities of life extension.” Thiel has invested in anti-aging technology and has expressed interest in approaches like parabiosis — injecting young people’s blood as a means to longevity.

    Meanwhile, Google co-founder Larry Page has skin in the game as well; In 2013, he announced a life-extension startup called the California Life Company, or Calico, now part of Alphabet. I consider it a leading candidate to become the world’s hottest company within the next five years.

    The other original Googler, Sergey Brin, co-founded the Breakthrough Prize in the Life Sciences, which “honors transformative advances toward understanding living systems and extending human life.” 23andMe’s Anne Wojcicki, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Alibaba’s Jack Ma have joined Brin to support the prize.

    READ MORE: Unicorns and delusions in Silicon Valley’s tech bubble

    It doesn’t stop there. Five years ago, Russian billionaire Dmitry Itskov founded the 2045 Initiative, an effort to upload consciousness into a machine to achieve immortality. Itskov’s vision looks forward to the “singularity,” a point in the future when technological progress accelerates dramatically, potentially enabling nearly unthinkable developments like eternal life. Google hired the concept’s biggest booster, Ray Kurzweil, and Page and Google have backed Singularity University, which Kurzweil co-founded.

    While the lavish lifestyles of the rich and famous may capture our attention, it’s their ambitions that may ultimately affect us more profoundly. As science policy analyst Steven Edwards told the New York Times, “the practice of science in the 21st century is becoming shaped less by national priorities or by peer-review groups and more by the particular preferences of individuals with huge amounts of money.”

    Let’s hope their ambitions overlap with society’s needs, because for better or worse, their personal whims and visions are shaping the direction of scientific progress.

    And so while many of us may not relate to billionaire lifestyles, let’s hope their ambitions overlap with society’s needs, because for better or worse, their personal whims and visions are shaping the direction of scientific progress.

    Fortunately, regardless of the merits of their moonshots’ immediate goals, ambitious projects like space exploration and life extension are likely to provide invaluable spillover benefits. In the last century, geopolitical objectives stimulated funding for NASA and DARPA, whose research and development helped spur countless innovations, including solar panels and the internet.

    Might Calico crack the code for cancer as it seeks immortality? Or could findings from space research yield unlimited energy? It’s impossible to know, but fantastic moonshots like those being pursued today may well lead to such breakthroughs.

    The post Column: Like it or not, these billionaires are shaping the direction of discovery appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A protester walks past a line of police officers standing guard in front of the District 1 police headquarters in Chicago, Illinois November 24, 2015. Photo by REUTERS/Frank Polich

    Tune into the PBS NewsHour tonight for an in-depth report on what’s being done to address violence in Chicago.

    From 1965 to Labor Day weekend this year, more than 35,100 people — roughly the population of Tupelo, Mississippi — were murdered in Chicago, according to Chicago Police Department records and the Chicago Tribune.

    The deadliest year occurred in 1974, when homicides took 970 lives. But the past two years have also seen a sharp rise in mounting violence.

    So far this year, Chicago reported 507 homicides, which surpassed all 473 murders in the city during 2015, according to this Chicago Tribune analysis.

    Illegal firearms still flow into the city, feeding violent crime despite Chicago’s strict gun laws. To measure that inflow, Chicago Police Department tracks the number of seized illegal guns.

    Source: Chicago Police Department and Chicago Tribune

    As of Sept. 6, the Chicago Police Department confiscated 6,043 guns, a 22-percent increase over the 4,952 firearms officers confiscated last year, according to Anthony Guglielmi, the department’s director of communications.

    Chicago police officers seize one illegal gun every 59 minutes on average, during search warrants, traffic stops and investigations, he said. Guns range from AK-47 models to sawed-off shotguns and homemade handguns.

    “Every year, we just seem to find an increasing number of guns. We know this year, it’s just going to get higher,” he said, adding that illegal guns are often involved in violent crime.

    Chicago’s gun laws are not strong enough, Guglielmi said.

    “This hamster wheel is not going to be slowed down anytime soon,” he said.

    Lance Williams is an associate professor of urban affairs at Northeastern Illinois University and a youth advocate. He says Chicago’s latest violent trends also stem from poverty and unemployment. The two combine to leave Chicago’s young black men feeling penned in, he said. Nearly half of Chicago’s black men age 20 to 24 are unemployed, according to a report from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Great Cities Institute.

    “You can hire all of the police that you want, you’re not going to solve this problem because these young men are acting in alignment with their cultural value system,” Williams told the NewsHour in a report that will air Wednesday.

    “They just see their lives, you know, just passing them by,” Williams said. “They haven’t been to school. They’re not, you know, qualified for, for jobs. There are no businesses, viable businesses in their neighborhood, so they’re really depressed, and then they’re self-medicated through drinking and drugging, and the only individuals around them are other young African American males like themselves, who have these same forms of depression.”

    The post In Chicago, 35,000 people have been murdered in 50 years appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    An aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carries the Zika virus is seen at a laboratory of the National Center for the Control of Tropical Diseases (CENCET) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Photo by Stringer /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    An aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carries the Zika virus is seen at a laboratory of the National Center for the Control of Tropical Diseases (CENCET) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Photo by Stringer /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images


    Senate leaders in both parties said Wednesday they’re talking with the White House about two major issues that remain unaddressed this year: approving emergency money to fight the Zika virus and keeping most of the federal government funded after the end of the month.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters that the goal is to fund the government at last year’s levels, through Dec. 9 of this year. “We are in discussions about how to work out some of the differences we had that led to Democrats filibustering Zika funding on multiple occasions,” McConnell said.

    Democrats have blocked a $1.1 billion Zika bill three times in the Senate, because they object to Republican provisions in the bill, among them a ban on Planned Parenthood using any of the funds. Democrats also don’t like that the bill takes money from other programs to pay for Zika research and prevention.

    Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Republicans should keep additions from the most conservative Republicans away from the Zika bill. “We want to make sure they get the money they desperately need, and that doesn’t have a bunch of Freedom Caucus bells and whistles on it,” Reid said.

    Zika has been the central issue Congress confronts as it returns from a seven-week recess. The Centers for Disease Control say it will run out of money to fight Zika by the end of this month. President Obama in February asked Congress to approve $1.9 billion in emergency Zika money. So far, zero has been approved.

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., held back tears Wednesday as she described the condition in which infants are born with smaller heads as a result of the disease, known as microcephaly. She called on Republicans to approve Zika money now that will last for a year.

    For his part, House Speaker Paul Ryan said the House has already passed Zika money, and Democrats in the Senate are preventing it from going to the president for a signature.

    “Give me a break on this thing. We passed a $1.1 billion dollar bill for Zika, which was the level agreed to in the Senate,” Ryan told reporters Wednesday morning. “I think they are just being wholly partisan with these endless filibusters.”

    The post Senate leaders see path forward on funding Zika virus appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    UN peacekeepers prepare to secure the grounds of the central mosque in Bangui, Central African Republic. Photo by Siegfried Modola/Reuters

    UN peacekeepers prepare to secure the grounds of the central mosque in Bangui, Central African Republic. Photo by Siegfried Modola/Reuters


    LONDON — British Defense Minister Michael Fallon says sexual exploitation by U.N. peacekeepers must be eliminated.

    Fallon addressed the opening session Thursday of a U.N. conference on increasing peacekeeping contributions and improving the performance of the troops who participate. Defense ministers from 80 countries are attending, including U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

    Fallon said the U.N. needs to improve planning for peacekeeping, get more troop contributions and improve their performance.

    Fallon cited “shocking examples of poor performance” by peacekeepers. He didn’t give details but said he was referring to cases of sexual abuse and exploitation by some peacekeeping troops.

    On the subject of bringing sexual abuse by peacekeepers to an end, Carter said the Pentagon was ready to help.

    “The Defense Department, leveraging our own recent experience trying to rid our force of the scourge of sexual assault, is offering to help enable the U.N.’s National Investigative Officers and improve training to prevent sexual exploitation and other conduct and discipline issues,” Carter said during the conference.

    READ MORE: More allegations of sexual abuse by peacekeeping soldiers come to light in Central African Republic

    The post British official criticizes UN peacekeepers for sexual abuse appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Ryan Lochte of USA reacts in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 11, 2016. Photo by David Gray/Reuters

    Ryan Lochte of USA reacts in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 11, 2016. Photo by David Gray/Reuters

    Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte and three of his teammates have been suspended from the USA swim team, the United States Olympic Committee and USA Swimming announced Thursday.

    Lochte will also be required to give up $100,000 he earned in bonus money with his Olympic gold medal, the Associated Press reported.

    The disciplinary actions come after Ryan Lochte and three other American Olympic swimmers vandalized a gas station and falsely reported an armed robbery to Brazilian police.

    Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger, James Feigen and Lochte have agreed to serve the suspensions. In addition, none of the four swimmers will be allowed to join Team USA for its White House visit in connection with the Rio 2016 Games.

    Lochte has the longest list of suspensions. He is banned from all domestic and international USA Swimming national team competitions for 10 months, will receive no direct support or access to training centers or other facilities of the USOC and must complete 20 hours of community service.

    Lochte is also ineligible for the 2017 FINA World Championships and will not receive a monthly stipend from USOC or USA Swimming during his suspension.
    Bentz, Conger and Feigen received four-month suspensions and remain eligible for world championships.

    “Unfortunately, this storyline took attention away from the athletes who deserved it the most,” USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus said in a statement. “These athletes took accountability for their mistakes and are committed to represent themselves and our country with the great character and distinction we expect.”

    The post Lochte and teammates suspended, will not visit White House appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    File photo by Getty Images

    Some ICU physicians say that the units are dangerously out of date. File photo by Getty Images

    The first thing you notice are the alarms.

    Walk into the intensive care unit in just about any American hospital, and you’ll be bombarded with beeping and blaring noises and flashing lights. It may look high tech. It’s not.

    It’s “no different than it was 50 years ago,” said Dr. Peter Pronovost, a critical care physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. “There are stacks and stacks of machines with wires sticking out of them. It’s chaos.”

    ICUs are one of the most crucial departments of any hospital — heroic places with devoted staff who pull the sickest of patients from death. But many ICU physicians say they’re also woefully — and often dangerously — out of date. Six million patients in the United States pass through ICUs each year, and studies show serious and sometimes fatal medical errors are routine. And a recent review published in the journal Critical Care found no major advances in ICU care since the field’s inception in the 1960s.

    Now, a handful of doctors and nurses in places like Baltimore, Boston, and San Francisco are trying to yank the ICU into the 21st century.

    Pronovost, for instance, has called in submarine engineers and the physicists who built the spacecraft that whizzed past Pluto last year to help redesign intensive care. They’ve been shocked at how primitive even new ICU units can be: “They walk through the ICU and just flinch,” Pronovost said.

    One of the most pressing problems: None of the medical devices so critical to patient care — ventilators, pumps, drug infusers, pulse rate monitors — talk to each other, and, in what’s dubbed “the alarms race,” all try to outdo each other by beeping ever louder. Nurses answer a false alarm on average every 90 seconds, he said.

    “We have alarm fatigue. We’ve become numb to the noise and start to block them out,” said Rhonda Wyskiel, a former ICU nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital who now works to develop patient safety measures for hospitals at the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, which Pronovost directs.

    Pronovost, who made his name devising a checklist for doctors to consult before inserting a central venous catheter — a simple innovation that dramatically cut bloodstream infections — is now trying to create a “smart ICU.”

    “What I want to do for the ICU is what Steve Jobs did for the iPhone,” he said.

    [Watch Video]

    Moving beyond paper protractors

    To take one example: Many patients’ beds need to be raised to prevent pneumonia. Nurses are supposed to check angles each shift, sometimes using paper protractors. It’s a vital check that sometimes isn’t done or is not documented. Pronovost’s solution: a $2 sensor that could monitor the angle of the bed continuously.

    Another sensor could monitor the compression devices that are supposed to pump patient’s limbs to prevent deadly blood clots but are often left unplugged. He’d also like to connect ventilators to patient medical records to make sure vital information like the patient’s height — which affects the ventilator setting — is transferred. In his ideal world, all devices in the ICU would be networked and continually monitored, cutting the cacophony of alarms and the nursing workload.

    ICU nurses face an average of 200 duties per shift and spend a lot of time checking and double-checking orders and logging simple data from one device into another. Devices that actually spoke to each other and integrated information would leave them more time to spend with patients instead of machines, Wyskiel said.

    Such thinking is long overdue, said Dr. Marie Csete, an anesthesiologist and critical care specialist who now heads the Huntington Medical Research Institutes in Pasadena, Calif., and has coauthored a series of papers proposing ICU upgrades in the Journal of Critical Care. She said patient monitoring “needs to be designed from the ground up” because the current outmoded system is dangerous, inefficient, and impersonal.

    “Somewhere under the ventilator, rapid infuser, and stacks of drips, there is a patient, but where do you put your gaze?” said Csete. “We’re creating a generation of doctors who look at screens instead of patients.”

    Csete knows the dangers first hand: A few years ago, her mother, who was 87 at the time, nearly died in a Florida hospital after an aortic valve replacement. While in the ICU, she developed multiple organ failure and pneumonia. Orders were ignored, alarms were disregarded, and no one seemed to be paying attention. “If I hadn’t been there, she would have been dead the second day.” Csete said. “I was not impressed.”

    But reengineering an ICU is a huge undertaking, and one that involves a skill set not taught in medical school. “When physicians see the amount of math involved, they just scatter to the hills,” Csete said.

    The paralyzing weight of data overload

    Take the problem of data overload.

    All those noisy devices in the ICU generate an immense amount of data. In a modern ICU, a single patient can generate 2,000 data points per day, said Dr. Brian Pickering, an anesthesiologist and critical care physician at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. In a 24-bed ICU like his, that’s 50,000 data points a day. Important information is easily lost, or forgotten.

    Pickering joined the Mayo Clinic nine years ago from Ireland, where patient data was still logged on a paper chart at the end of the bed. He was overwhelmed, he said, by electronic records in the United States that had too many tabs and screens and were difficult to navigate.

    “Point. Click. Point. Click. Point. Click. Back and forth,” he said. “That may work if you’ve only got one patient. But I’ve got 24 in the ICU, and any one of them could be in crisis at any minute.”

    With colleagues, Pickering created an “electronic intern,” called AWARE, that identifies the most important information a physician needs and highlights it, organizing it around organ systems. (The system is now being sold to hospitals through a Rochester startup called Ambient Clinical Analytics; Pickering and the Mayo Clinic benefit financially from the sales.)

    Another app now being tested, called EMERGE, extracts data from patient records to warn clinicians if an intervention they are planning might cause harm.

    “There’s so many things physicians can’t find, so things get missed,” said Hildy Schell-Chaple, an ICU nurse at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center who has been testing EMERGE, which was developed at Johns Hopkins.

    Yet another approach comes from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, which is testing a new secure microblogging platform that allows everyone on an ICU care team to see all messages relating to a patient. It promotes better communication between staff and the patient, and ideally, leads to fewer errors.

    That is, if people use it, said Dr. Anuj Dalal, the hospitalist who designed the program. He said some staff members think of the system as too much work. They prefer email, or even old-fashioned pagers.

    “From a technology standpoint, it’s usable,” Dalal said. “Getting people to use it is a completely different thing.”

    Learning to see the patient as a person

    Similar resistance has slowed the adoption of telemedicine, which can link specialists trained in critical care medicine to small hospitals lacking such expertise. The remote specialists can order treatments, check prescriptions, detect errors, and even talk directly to patients.

    Early on, some physicians and nurses on the ground in ICUs so disliked the feeling of being watched by distant experts that they threw lab coats or towels over cameras. Slowly, acceptance is growing; telemedicine systems are in place in about 16 percent of the country’s ICU units, said Dr. Craig M. Lilly, a critical care specialist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and expert on telemedicine.

    A 2014 study showed telemedicine can reduce ICU mortality — in large part by ensuring that nurses and physicians respond quickly when patients take a turn for the worse. “Sometimes the nurse doesn’t notice, sometimes the nurse is busy doing other things, sometimes the nurse is too chicken to wake up the doctor at 2 a.m., and sometimes the doctor just won’t listen to a nurse,” Lilly said.

    New technology may also help ICUs — once notorious for alienating families and keeping them at arm’s length — better include loved ones in a patient’s care.

    UCSF is now testing bedside tablets that patients or families can use to upload photos and descriptions of themselves. They can let doctors know what they like to be called, what their hobbies are, what they fear about their hospital stay, and what their healing goals are. The care team can then see them as individuals — and not, Schell-Chaple said, as just some 48-year-old man in Bed 8 who had a liver transplant.

    “The ICU environment,” she said, “is not set up to treat people with respect and dignity.”

    ‘A eureka moment’

    The biggest hurdle to building a truly smart ICU, has been medical manufacturers who don’t want to open up their devices and share the data they collect.

    “I used to be guilty of that too, and it’s unfortunately so shortsighted,” said Joe Kiani, founder of Masimo, a manufacturer of noninvasive patient monitoring devices based in Irvine, Calif. “We all think we have this amazing data and we want to hoard it, thinking we’ll monetize it some day.”

    But Kiani soon came to realize that free data flow and linked devices were key to improving patient safety. He founded the Patient Safety Movement Foundation in 2013 and is working to get medical device manufacturers to sign pledges that they’ll share data from their devices.

    Some 60 of about 100 key device manufacturers have signed on, said Kiani, who is an electrical engineer by training. He’s spent the past decade working on a device, called Root, that can collect and simplify multiple streams of patient data.

    “I now see a future where everything’s connected,” he said. “Hospitals are finally having a eureka moment.”

    This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on Sept. 7, 2016. Find the original story here.

    The post Doctors fight to bring hospital ICUs into the modern era appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Chico Tillmon went from a life of crime and gangs, to saving lives through the Cure Violence organization. He mediates and deescalates conflicts that arise in some of Chicago's most violent communities.

    Chico Tillmon went from a life of crime and gangs, to saving lives through the Cure Violence organization. He mediates and deescalates conflicts that arise in some of Chicago’s most violent communities. Photo by Kenya Downs/NewsHour

    Many twenty-somethings spend their formative years between classes and exams, expanding their knowledge. Chico Tillmon spent his 20s — and his 30s — in prison. The street gang lifestyle, he said, caught up with him at the age of 23, when he was convicted and sent to prison for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.

    After nearly 17 years in prison, Tillmon is now a Ph.D candidate studying criminology. He’s using his own life story to mentor young men on the same streets in his native Chicago. As part of the organization Cure Violence, he works to de-escalate community disputes that have the potential to become deadly. Tillmon says he’s always been a leader, even as a high-ranking gang member. But those leadership skills he calls “misguided” are now being used for good. NewsHour talked with him about his experiences along with his thoughts on how the city could address its escalating violence.

    What inspired your transformation from gang member to violence interrupter?

    During time in prison, I had an opportunity to reflect on everything that had transpired in my life. Being away for so long gave me an opportunity to reflect and view society from a different perspective and a different angle.

    “My credibility comes from being born and bred on the west side of Chicago, being involved in street gangs.”

    Being able to see all the violence and chaos in the community that I once was a part of, and that I once helped produce, gave me an obligation to make a change in that situation of chaos that was going on in the community. I wanted to do something positive in the community, but I hadn’t figured out an outlet or an avenue to do it.

    What do you do about it now?

    I have direct contact with the individuals who may be doing the shooting or committing the violence. There are a lot of underlying problems that exist whether it be substance abuse or child molestation. Whether it just be being hungry or a plethora of problems going on with these individuals. What do I do? I love them.

    Cure Violence takes an initiative to invest in those people who society throws away in order to stop violence. What we do? We partner with other organizations to try to get them needed services. And when I get these individuals services, all I ask in return is if [they] enter into a conflict, before [using their] weapon, reach out to me.

    How is your approach unique?

    We look at violence as a disease. We don’t look at it as a problem for incarceration. We’re looking at it as people who have not been trained to resolve conflict in a peaceable manner. So when we see individuals who are involved in violence, we identify them as individuals who are just untrained and are responding to conflict according to societal norms.

    We’re trying to change people, help them rehabilitate themselves and be productive. So I really try to establish relationships with high-risk individuals prior to a conflict so that when the conflict starts I [can] come in, and I de-escalate.


    You consider yourself a “credible messenger.” What is that?

    A credible messenger is someone who knows the community, was born and bred in the community, has relationships with key individuals and has enough influence to stop or prevent or influence others from doing violent crimes, or violent behavior. So I have relationships with key individuals in the community.

    How is that an advantage over police and politicians?

    My credibility comes from being born and bred on the west side of Chicago, being involved in street gangs, experiencing the inner city culture, understanding the code of the street, understanding the lifestyle of people who live in the inner city and being a person who has passion and love for the people who live in the inner city. 

    So the reason why [people] feel more at ease calling me is because they know my objective is to make sure their son gets home safe. Whereas the police objective is what? To lock somebody up, to take people off the street.

    “The reason why [people] feel more at ease calling me is because they know my objective is to make sure their son gets home safe.” — Chico Tillmon

    What does everyone need to know about the violence in Chicago?

    One thing people don’t realize — violence is not just a Chicago problem. I was in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. I’ve been to several penal institutions throughout the United States. It was helpful for my development, because it let me see that the problem with societal norms was not just geographical. That’s why pure violence is able to go all over America, because of some of the same problems.

    We’ve got to view violence as a disease. And the same way that people in Chicago have this disease is the same disease that’s in all these other cities.

    What’s your ultimate goal?

    My ultimate goal is to create a paradigm that’ll help brothers [who are] getting out of the [prison] to stop going back. Also to change the culture in the community. Not only the behavior, but the mindset, so that it’s not even a thought anymore to kill someone over something so insignificant. Change the norms or the way people in our community think.

    At the end of the day, these people look like me. They might not talk like me or act like me but they have been exposed to everything that I’ve been exposed to. So I try and expose them to a different way of thinking in order to come out of the situation they’re in.

    The post From prison to Ph.D, this activist fights for peace in Chicago appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    File photo of voting booths by Blend Images - Hill Street Studios and Getty Images

    Judges are hearing arguments in a case on voting rights in Kansas, Georgia and Alabama. Photo via Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court on Thursday seemed likely to side with voting rights groups seeking to block Kansas, Georgia and Alabama from requiring residents to prove they are U.S. citizens when registering to vote using a national form.

    Judges hearing arguments in the case considered whether to overturn a decision by a U.S. election official who changed the form’s proof-of-citizenship requirements at the behest of the three states, without public notice.

    The dispute is part of a slew of challenges this year that civil rights groups have brought against various state voting laws they claim are designed to dampen turnout among minority groups that tend to favor Democrats. Those challengers have already succeeded in stopping voter ID requirements in North Carolina and Texas and restrictions elsewhere.

    In the citizenship case, a coalition including the League of Women Voters and civil rights groups say the requirement to show proof undermines efforts to register new voters and deprives eligible voters of the right to vote in federal elections.

    A federal judge in July refused to block the requirement while the case is being decided.

    [Watch Video]

    Two of the three judges hearing the case at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit suggested the citizenship requirement can pose a tough hurdle for many eligible voters.

    “The change clearly adds to the tasks to be performed to get someone registered,” said Judge Stephen Williams. He suggested opponents had shown voters would suffer “irreparable harm” if the requirement were not dropped.

    Judge Judith Rogers said there was evidence the requirement actually decreased the number of people who could register to vote. She cited Kansas data that 17,000 residents are on a “suspension” list of people who began, but have not completed, the voter registration process.

    At issue is the move by Brian Newby, executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, to change the federal form shortly after he took the job last November. Newby is a former Kansas election official who had publicly supported the state’s effort to change the federal registration form.

    By contrast, people registering to vote in other states need only to swear that they are citizens, but do not have to show birth certificates or other documents as proof. Alabama and Georgia are not currently enforcing their proof-of-citizenship laws.

    Opponents say Newby had no authority to take the action on his own. Even the Justice Department has refused to defend Newby’s action and has sided with voting rights groups.

    Michael Keats, an attorney representing those groups, told the judges that Newby’s conduct “threw the entire structure of the agency out.” He said such changes must be approved by at least three of the independent agency’s four commissioners.

    Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach argued in favor of the change, saying Kansas voter rolls have risen overall and that any argument that the requirement is affecting the ability of some to register is speculative.

    The EAC was created in 2002 to help avoid a repeat of the disputed 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore following ballot confusion in Florida. It is supposed to have four commissioners, two Democrats and two Republicans, but one of the Democratic seats is currently vacant.

    Judge A. Raymond Randolph noted that the commissioners had not taken steps to overrule Newby’s action.

    The post Appeals court sympathetic to challenge over voter rules appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 11: A flag sits in a name of the 9/11 Memorial before ceremonies for the eleventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks on lower Manhattan at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2012 in New York City. New York City and the nation are commemorating the eleventh anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks which resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 people after two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia and one crash landed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

    NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 11: A flag sits in a name of the 9/11 Memorial. New York City and the nation are commemorating the fifteenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks which resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 people. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

    Editor’s Note: Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States, which resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 people.

    English teacher Annie Thoms had just started the school year at her alma mater, the prestigious Stuyvesant High School in New York City, on the morning of September 11. Stuyvesant is located four blocks from Ground Zero. Thoms shares how she teaches 9/11 each year and how students from diverse backgrounds came together in the aftermath of the attack to create a play on the subject.


    I was 25 on September 11, 2001, beginning my second full year of teaching at Stuyvesant High School. On that morning, I emerged from the subway station to see Chambers Street filled with people, all looking up. I looked up too. Both towers of the World Trade Center were on fire, smoke billowing from the gashes left by the two airplanes which had crashed into them minutes before. From those gashes flew swirls of paper, and small black objects fell from the windows. After a moment, I realized that the small black objects were people. I caught my breath and turned down the hill, toward school.

    teachersloungeMoments from that morning are burned into my memory: The way the building shook as the first tower fell. Meeting my freshman homeroom in the cafeteria, one girl crying beneath her hijab; two other girls who had met only days earlier trying to comfort her. Walking down the stairs as if for a fire drill, understanding for the first time the purpose of fire drills, feeling oddly normal even as one of my colleagues yelled, “This is not a drill! This is a real emergency!” Walking north on the West Side Highway, watching students disperse in small groups. Looking back at one point to realize that the second tower had fallen.

    I was deeply aware in those moments – I think we all were – that the world had changed irrevocably. It is a strange thing to know this at the moment it is happening.

    In the months following the attacks, I worked with a small group of students to create and perform the play, “with their eyes.” Ten student actors interviewed 23 members of the Stuyvesant community – students, faculty, and staff – recorded, transcribed, and edited the interviews, and performed them in the character of the interviewees. Each interview-based monologue used the actual words and speech patterns of the interviewee, complete with pauses, “likes” and “ums.”

    The play was a patchwork of individual experiences: a senior who had to move out of his apartment near ground zero, furious at the tourists who came to take pictures of the site; a pregnant English teacher; a security guard who saw his life flash before his eyes; a Muslim student worried about racial profiling. The power of the play came from the ways these individual stories spoke to each other, complicating the narrative of our common experience rather than reducing it to sound bites.

    As I do every year, I will hope for cloudy skies, not the clear blue I remember from the day of the attacks.

    “With their eyes” was performed at Stuyvesant in February 2002, and published as a book by HarperCollins in September of that year. The creation of the play, the life of the book, and the experience of teaching in the same place in the years since, have taught me many lessons over the last 15 years.

    I learned that when students are invited to bring their own experiences into their work and entrusted with creative freedom, they are capable of extraordinary things.

    I learned that diversity of voices matters. The student director and producers and I made a conscious effort to cast students from all four grades, representative of the racial and ethnic diversity of the school. We chose a diverse group of interviewees, including staff members. Through the creation of the play, we heard, and were able to share stories we might easily have missed. We grew friendships we might never have made. We came to understand our community more fully by seeking out stories we did not already know.

    I learned that individual stories have the power to connect across geographic distance. “With their eyes” has been produced at high schools from Kansas to Florida, from Washington to South Dakota, and by two repertory companies in California and Missouri. Students have written to me about the bond they feel with the interviewees they chose to portray, and how that bond helped them understand the events of September 11 in a far more personal way. The specificity of a single person’s experience can forge a stronger connection than any broad generalization.

    I was deeply aware in those moments – I think we all were – that the world had changed irrevocably.

    I learned how quickly experience can become history. Students in my classes remembered September 11 as high-schoolers; then as middle-schoolers; as grade-schoolers; then, only through their parents’ stories. Ten years later, the experience was already a generation removed.

    Most importantly, I learned that everybody has a story to tell. All you need to do is ask, and listen.

    I will return to Stuyvesant this week, as many of my colleagues on the faculty and staff do every year, with the memory of that morning in September 2001 still fresh in our minds. I will be grateful that this year’s anniversary falls on a weekend rather than a school day. As I do every year, I will hope for cloudy skies, not the clear blue I remember from the day of the attacks. I will plan, and teach, and grade, and look for ways to get to know my students’ stories this year, to keep history in mind while striving to understand our community as it is now.

    The post Column: I was there on 9/11. Now it’s a history lesson that I teach appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    PHOENIX - NOVEMBER 4:  A bilingual sign announces a polling place in the home state of Republican presidential nominee U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) November 4, 2008 in Phoenix, Arizona. Voting is underway in the U.S. presidential elections with Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) leading in the polls against the Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

    A bilingual sign announces a polling place on Nov. 4, 2008, in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — Young Hispanic and Asian-Americans who are immigrants or have an immigrant parent are more likely to be liberal in their views on politics and immigration than those with families who have been in United States longer, a new GenForward poll shows.

    Eighty-seven percent of those age 18 to 30 who are immigrants or who have parents who are immigrants support allowing those who were brought to the United States illegally as children to stay legally, while 72 percent of those whose families have been in the U.S. longer agree. Eighty-five percent of first and second generation Latino and Asian immigrants and 74 percent of those who are third generation or greater oppose building a border wall.

    “Having some sort of program that allows the illegal citizens to become legal citizens, I think it gives the viewpoint that the U.S. cares,” said Juan Tavares, a 24-year-old from California whose parents were born in Mexico. “You’re going to have people who are illegal who will prove that they’re loyal or they care about what this country has given to them and they would like a chance to give back.”

    Still, Tavares, a U.S. citizen, says the United States could do more to secure its border with Mexico, including by building a wall in parts of California and Texas.

    “Just because I’m Mexican, it doesn’t mean I believe in an open border,” he said.

    [Watch Video]

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

    Only a minority of young Hispanics and Asian-Americans in the poll — 27 percent and 9 percent, respectively — say both of their parents were born in the United States.

    Brad Jones, a professor at the University of California, Davis, who focuses on race, ethnicity and immigration, said the results reflect that Latino immigrants are more directly affected by the increase in deportations under President Barack Obama’s administration and shifts in immigration enforcement policy. Jones also noted that while much attention is focused on Trump’s stance on illegal immigration, Asian-Americans have also been “widely tethered” to negative rhetoric on immigration throughout the campaign.

    “It’s not a surprise that young people who are closely connected either to parents who are immigrants or who are immigrants themselves are going to be just more attuned to the negative externalities of these policies,” Jones said.

    Zoraida Ramirez, a 20-year-old Hispanic woman whose great-grandparents moved to the United States, opposes building a border wall or deporting the millions of people who live in the United States illegally, though she only somewhat supports creating a path to citizenship for them. She somewhat opposes allowing people to become U.S. citizens if they graduate from college.

    “There are people that have worked to do it the right way and worked to do it the legal way,” Ramirez, who lives in Connecticut, said.

    The difference extends to politics, too. Seventy-one percent of first and second generation Asian-Americans and Latinos, but just 49 percent of those whose families have been in the United States longer, identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party. And 27 percent of third generation or later Hispanics and Asian-Americans, but just 14 percent of more recent immigrants, identify with or lean toward the Republican Party.

    Fifty-nine percent of immigrants and children of immigrants, but just 34 percent of those who don’t have at least one immigrant parent, have a favorable view of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Seventy-one percent of first and second generation Hispanics and Asian-Americans, but just 50 percent of those who aren’t immigrants or children of immigrants, say she is qualified to be president. There’s no such gap on views of Republican Donald Trump, with less than 2 in 10 among either group saying he is qualified to be president.

    Ramirez, who didn’t vote in the primary but said she preferred Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, said she’s leaning toward Clinton even though she views her somewhat unfavorably.

    “With Trump, he’s kind of a little bit too extreme for my taste, his views are so right wing,” she said. “He goes back on his word a lot.”

    The poll of 1,958 adults age 18-30 was conducted August 1-14 using a sample drawn from the probability-based GenForward panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. young adult population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points. The survey was paid for by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago, using grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods, and later interviewed online or by phone.

    The post Young voters from newer immigrant families lean more liberal, poll shows appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Barack Obama holds a news conference at the conclusion of his participation in the ASEAN Summits in Vientiane, Laos September 8, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX2OMLZ

    U.S. President Barack Obama holds a news conference at the conclusion of his participation in the ASEAN Summits in Vientiane, Laos, on Sept. 8, 2016. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    President Obama, Commander in Chief and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, can add another honor to his resume: namesake of a new species.

    Granted, the species is a parasitic flatworm. But in the scientific community, the act is considered an honor all the same.

    “I have named a number of species after people I admire,” Thomas Platt, the parasitologist who discovered and collected the new species, said in a press release.

    The move is meant to be a permanent tribute, he said. “Baracktrema obamai will endure as long as there are systematists studying these remarkable organisms.”

    Platt and three other American researchers proposed Baracktrema obamai as both a new genus and species in The Journal of Parasitology. The two-inch-long, hair-thin flatworm — a type of blood fluke — infects the lungs of black marsh turtle and southeast Asian box turtles in Malaysia. The team used genetic testing and morphological analysis of the worm’s body and genitalia to determine the new species. Their proposal marks the first new genus of turtle blood fluke in 21 years.

    Baracktrema obamai, a new genus and species of parasitic flatworm, was named in honor of President Obama. Image by Roberts et al., 2016, The Journal of Parasitology.

    Baracktrema obamai, a new genus and species of parasitic flatworm, was named in honor of President Obama. Image by Roberts et al., 2016, The Journal of Parasitology.

    The find was the last that Platt — a turtle parasite expert — named before retiring from Saint Mary’s College. Platt named 32 species during his tenure and was inspired to name Baracktrema obamai after discovering that he and the president share a common ancestor, he said.

    Platt and his colleagues hope the discovery will help broaden scientific understanding of parasitic blood flukes, especially those that cause the debilitating schistosomiasis disease in humans. Schistosomiasis is contracted when blood fluke larva in contaminated water penetrate the skin. Adults, and the eggs they produce, can cause abdominal pain, diarrhoea, anaemia, stunting and other problems in human hosts.

    While the new species is distantly related to worms that cause schistosomiasis in humans, it does not yet appear to harm its turtle hosts.

    It is just one of many blood worms that have evolved alongside a variety of animals, said Ash Bullard, a co-author and aquatic parasitology associate professor at Auburn University. “Sharks, rays, bony fishes, crocodiles, turtles, birds and mammals all host blood flukes. [They] have been tagging along within the blood of vertebrates for a very, very long time. Dinosaurs very likely had blood flukes.”

    Baracktrema obamai is not the first species bearing the name of the leader of the free world. A spider, fish, lichen, hairworm parasite and extinct lizard are also named after the president.

    The post Scientists name parasite in a tribute to Obama appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Container boxes are uploaded at a port in Qingdao, Shandong Province, China, September 8, 2016. China Daily/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA. - RTX2OM4B

    Container boxes are uploaded at a port in Qingdao, Shandong Province, China, on Sept. 8, 2016. Photo by China Daily via Reuters

    Editor’s Note: For the latest Making Sen$e segment, economics correspondent Paul Solman spoke with trade economist Gordon Hanson about how trade with China is hurting blue-collar workers in the U.S. — in certain geographical locations and industries. Hanson co-authored a soon-to-be published academic study on the topic, and its findings are as relevant as ever as the presidential candidates continue to talk about trade, globalization and jobs. You can read the working paper here. For more on the topic, tune in to tonight’s Making Sen$e report, which airs every Thursday on the PBS NewsHour.

    — Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor


    PAUL SOLMAN: So you co-authored this academic paper that made quite a splash. What was the key insight, and why did it have such an effect?

    GORDON HANSON: What we found was that international trade, in particular U.S. trade with China, has really disrupted regional economies in the United States. Coming out of the experience of the 1990s, I think we had a sense that globalization didn’t matter all that much for labor market outcomes for American workers. But as we went into the 2000s, with the rise of China, the situation changed. That massive increase in imports from China ended up really mattering for wages and employment in the parts of the country that produce goods that compete with China.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Were you surprised by the results of the study?

    “That massive increase in imports from China ended up really mattering for wages and employment in the parts of the country that produce goods that compete with China.”

    GORDON HANSON: I, and many other economists, had been working on the impact of globalization on U.S. labor markets in the 1970s and 1980s. And what we found was that impacts were there, but they were minor in comparison with technological change. We kept monitoring the situation, but that debate kind of died down. Then with China’s massive growth, we thought: Well, it’s time to re-examine this issue. We had a sense that we were going to find something. What we were surprised by was that those effects were not distributed broadly and evenly across blue-collar workers in the United States, but were really concentrated in industries and workers and communities that produce goods that compete in the same arenas that China does.

    PAUL SOLMAN: What geographical regions, arenas and industries were affected?

    GORDON HANSON: So what’s distinct about China is that its comparative advantage is concentrated in a specific set of activities. Goods like footwear and apparel, and textiles and furniture, lower-end electronics are produced in the northern southeast and the southern mid-west, in parts of Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania. So the hardship, the real impact of China’s rise, has not been spread across the blue-collar labor force in the United States. It’s been felt acutely in those particular labor markets.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Were you surprised at the reaction to the paper? It got a lot of attention, people saying, “Wait a second; the old story that it’s technological change that’s displacing jobs, not globalization – that old story is no longer true.”

    GORDON HANSON: There’s plenty of academic literature that has documented these adverse consequences of globalization on workers. I think the reason our work got so much attention is that the impacts were large, they were concentrated, and you could tie it to a particular event, which was the rise of China.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Donald Trump has said that we ought to erect trade barriers against China’s goods to retaliate for the unfair trade practices. Is China’s advantage a result of unfair trade practices?

    GORDON HANSON: No, it’s not. China has certainly bent the rules in many instances: there might have been a couple of years of currency manipulation; there has been the stealing of U.S. intellectual property; and there has been other instances where China has tried to get away with stuff that breaks the norm established by the World Trade Organization. The large part of China’s growth and its expansion in the U.S. markets is driven by the fact that it has an enormous comparative advantage in labor intensive goods.

    READ MORE: What is the Trump trade doctrine? His economic adviser explains

    PAUL SOLMAN: And what is that advantage?

    GORDON HANSON: So China’s growth was an outcome of the fact that under Mao, the economy was isolated from the rest of the world. It had this great potential. It had very low wages. It had an enormous workforce, but it wasn’t part of the global economy. The reforms in China that opened it to the rest of the world happened very quickly. So it was like you had this spring that had been compressed for three decades, and it was suddenly uncoiled.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But to the manufacturing workers in Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Ohio, the fact that they’re competing against super low cost labor is no consolation.

    GORDON HANSON: It’s no consolation at all. Those workers in those regions are the losers of globalization in the United States. We’ve known for a long time that globalization creates winners and losers. What we haven’t done in the United States is to make sure that we’ve got the right set of policies in place to help workers adjust to labor market shocks associated with globalization — or technological change, for that matter.

    PAUL SOLMAN: If we put barriers, trade barriers, tariffs, against Chinese goods, it would preserve the jobs of American workers, wouldn’t it?

    “We can’t turn the dial back on globalization. It’s a fait accompli.”

    GORDON HANSON: Donald Trump wants to sell the idea that, through trade protection, we can go back to the late 1950s. So suppose that he were to be elected president and were to erect say a 50 percent tariff on imports, not just from China, but for the rest of the world. That would bring manufacturing production back to the United States. There’s no guarantee it would bring manufacturing jobs back. As that production came back, it would be much more automated; much more capital intensive. We can’t turn the dial back on globalization. It’s a fait accompli. What we should be doing is thinking about how we make sure that American labor markets are as flexible and as responsive as possible to help workers who are hurt by globalization find new areas of activity.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Is this not the same argument people are making about what would happen if you raised the minimum wage? If the price of something goes up for the employer, then she or he will replace people with technology.

    GORDON HANSON: So I think the parallel here is you’ve got a situation in which lower-wage workers in America are hurting, and they’re looking for answers. And policymakers haven’t provided those answers, not in the last 10 years in response to China’s economic growth nor in the 20 years before that when technological change buffeted many parts of the U.S. economy. Quick answers, simple answers – raising trade barriers to China, a $15 minimum wage – aren’t going to magically move America back to a situation where we have robust wage growth for the middle and lower parts of the economy.

    READ MORE: What’s Clinton’s position on trade? She’s ‘standing with us,’ says Sherrod Brown

    PAUL SOLMAN: So what did your study find in terms of how people have responded politically to the threat to their jobs — or the destruction of their jobs by globalization — and specifically trade with China?

    GORDON HANSON: So over the last three decades we’ve seen this economic polarization in the United States; that income gains have been concentrated at the top. What political scientists have documented has occurred at the same time is political polarization – that is, our politicians on the right and our politicians on the left are growing further and further apart. What we haven’t been able to find until now is a link between that economic polarization and that political polarization. What we did was to go congressional district by congressional district and see what happened in areas that were hit harder by import competition with China. And what we found was evidence of that same process of political polarization, but not at the national level — rather, at a local level.

    “We’re at this complicated moment in American history where economic polarization and political polarization are interacting.”

    We went congressional district by congressional district to see what the impact of competition with China was at the local level. What we found was that the national pattern of polarization played out across communities. Areas that initially leaned Republican, when they were hit harder by import competition from China, they moved hard to the right. That was where the tea party flourished.

    But areas that leaned initially Democratic, and particular areas that had a predominantly minority population, leaned harder to the left towards more liberal Democrats. So we’re at this complicated moment in American history where economic polarization and political polarization are interacting. This makes it all the more important that we have a reasoned, careful and sane response to the difficult predicament that we find ourselves in.

    The post Yes, trade with China took away blue-collar jobs. And there’s no getting them back. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson listens as his running mate vice presidential candidate Bill Weld speaks at a campaign rally in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., August 27, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder - RTX2NAN1

    Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson listens as his running mate vice presidential candidate Bill Weld speaks at a campaign rally in Boston, Massachusetts, on Aug. 27, 2016. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    DENVER — If it was greater attention Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson wanted, he got it — but probably not the kind he wanted.

    As part of a media blitz in New York to try to raise his polling numbers enough to qualify for the upcoming presidential debates, Johnson fielded a range of questions Thursday with the aim of demonstrating he can take on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

    But one stumped him.

    “What would you do about Aleppo?” Johnson was asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” a question about Syria’s largest city, which has been engulfed by the country’s ongoing civil war.

    “What is Aleppo?” Johnson responded.

    Syria’s 2011 pro-democracy uprising, which gradually devolved into civil war, has sparked a refugee crisis across the Middle East and Europe as millions fled their homes for safety.

    When reminded of those facts by MSNBC on Thursday, Johnson said he’d work with Russia to find a diplomatic solution to the civil war and that the conflict was an example of the dangers of meddling in the region.

    Johnson’s blunder sparked widespread mockery, with a #WhatisAleppo hashtag trending on Twitter. Clinton chucked at a news conference when asked about Johnson’s flub.

    “You can find Aleppo on a map,” she said.

    Johnson later acknowledged to another MSNBC reporter the attention to the error was deserved and apologized in a statement, saying he was thinking of an acronym, not the Syrian city.

    “I blanked,” he said. “It happens, and it will happen again during the course of this campaign.”

    He added, “Can I name every city in Syria? No. Should I have identified Aleppo? Yes. Do I understand its significance? Yes.”

    The error couldn’t have come at a worse time for Johnson. He needs to average 15 percent in a set of polls to qualify for the presidential debates, the first of which is Sept. 26. He picked up high-profile support Wednesday night when former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney tweeted that Johnson should be allowed in the debates.

    Johnson seemed to recognize the peril of the Aleppo error. In a subsequent interview on ABC’s “The View,” he said: “For those that believe this is a disqualifier, so be it.”

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    ‘Danum Valley in Borneo -- one of the impacted areas on this map --  at dawn. Photo by Liana Joseph.

    Danum Valley in Borneo, which has been affected by deforestation. Photo by Liana Joseph courtesy of Cell Press

    In just two decades, the world has lost about a tenth of its wilderness, according to an investigation in Current Biology. The study compared an updated map of wilderness — biological and ecological landscapes mostly free of human disturbance — with those charted in early 1990s. The scientists found that the area that had been destroyed was large enough to cover Alaska twice.

    “If this continues, we could lose all wilderness areas within 50 years.” — James Watson, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s science and research initiative

    “Losing 10 percent of global wilderness in 20 years shocked me,” James Watson, study co-author and director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s science and research initiative, told the NewsHour. “If this continues, we could lose all wilderness areas within 50 years.”

    Watson and his team analyzed data on population density of humans in an area, land use transformation, accessibility of the area to people and electrical power infrastructure. The researchers examined these variables in order to map how humans have impacted the Earth and to what degree. They concluded that children born today may lose wilderness areas in their lifetime.

    “I was worried about the loss of wilderness around the world and realized that no thorough map had ever been made,” Watson said.

    Infographic by Kendall Jones and James Allan

    Infographic by Kendall Jones and James Allan

    The Amazon and central Africa were hit the hardest over the last 20 years, based on the team’s estimations. The Amazon — a rainforest twice the size of India and home to more than 10 percent of the living species on Earth — dwindled by 30 percent. Central Africa lost 10 percent of its wilderness.

    The mapping study also showed that current international conservation initiatives, like the Paris Climate Change Agreement and various UN initiatives, are not slowing the decline of wilderness, which is happening at double the pace of all preservation projects. One shortcoming is the rate at which lands earn protected status. Other barriers include funding limitations for these projects and political gridlock.

    Greg Asner is a global ecologist at the Carnegie Institution for Science that assesses forests across the globe for biodiversity and signs of deforestation. After tracking down an area with Internet access in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Asner told the NewsHour that the new study proves that remote wilderness is not immune to human influence.

    “The take-home message is that conservation and climate mitigation policy need to address all of the world’s natural ecosystems, not just the ones that conservationists think are the most threatened, based on the old way of thinking,” Asner said.

    Wilderness ecosystems provide enormous benefits, ranging from freshwater resources to carbon sequestration to climate regulation, Asner said.

    Watson said there is an urgent need for international policies that will protect these wild areas. “People should realize that their natural heritage is disappearing in front of their eyes,” he said. “Maybe they should think of their children and ask their political leaders to prioritize the protection of these important places.”

    The post Where will wild things go once their land is gone? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Opponents of Airbnb rally before a hearing called "Short Term Rentals: Stimulating the Economy or Destabilizing Neighborhoods?" at City Hall in New York January 20, 2015. Airbnb is a website for people to rent out lodging with over 800,000 listings in 33,000 cities and 192 countries.   REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: CIVIL UNREST BUSINESS SOCIETY REAL ESTATE) - RTR4M66Q

    Opponents of Airbnb rally before a hearing called “Short Term Rentals: Stimulating the Economy or Destabilizing Neighborhoods?” at City Hall in New York January 20, 2015. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    Airbnb announced Thursday that it is taking steps to protect against discrimination.

    The travel accommodations website has been under scrutiny in recent months for alleged racial discrimination by Airbnb hosts.

    Some users have reported hosts harassing them and calling them racial slurs. Others have said hosts refused their request to rent because of the color of their skin. Quirtina Crittenden, who told NPR she was repeatedly declined by Airbnb hosts, tweeted her experiences with the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack, and others joined in.

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

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

    In a report released Thursday, Airbnb said it is now devising a way to emphasize trip details and reviews while downplaying user photos.

    It also plans to expand its “instant book” feature, which allows homes to be booked immediately without approval from the host, to 1 million listings by 2017.

    Other changes will include anti-bias training for Airbnb employees and a full time product team to fight bias and promote diversity.

    Airbnb also plans to implement a new policy called Open Doors where the company will guarantee accommodation elsewhere for someone that feels they might have been discriminated against in violation of the new policy.

    “These steps are just the beginning, not the end, of our efforts to combat bias and discrimination,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said in a statement. “While we as a company have been slow on this issue, I am now asking you the community to help us lead the way forward.”

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    SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 20:  Pedestrians walk by  a Wells Fargo Bank branch office January 20, 2010 in San Francisco, California. Wells Fargo beat analyst expectations by posting a fourth quarter earnings of $2.82 billion or 8 cents a share compared to a loss of $2.73 billion or 84 cents a share one year ago.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

    Pedestrians walk by a Wells Fargo Bank branch office on Jan. 20, 2010, in San Francisco, California. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fined Wells Fargo $100 million for illegal banking practices on Thursday.

    Another $85 million will be paid to California and federal regulators, according to the Charlotte Observer.

    Since 2011, Wells Fargo employees have created bank and credit card accounts without customers’ consent.

    “Wells Fargo employees secretly opened unauthorized accounts to hit sales targets and receive bonuses,” Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray said in a statement.

    Wells Fargo employees had opened roughly 1.5 million unauthorized bank accounts and approximately 500,000 credit card accounts, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    The bank will pay $5 million in customer remediation, and as a result of a third-party review, the bank claims to have refunded customers $2.6 million for unwarranted fees.

    Over the past few years, Wells Fargo has fired 5,300 employees for such illegal behavior, according CNNMoney.

    This is not the first time the bank has been the center of controversy. In 2012, the bank paid $175 million to settle accusations that it had discriminated against black and Hispanic homeowners and targeted minorities for high-interest subprime mortgages.

    The post Wells Fargo fined for creating fake accounts, other illegal practices appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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