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

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    The Census Bureau released its annual poverty report Tuesday and it brought a dose of welcome news: after years of stagnant wages, incomes finally went up in 2015. The 5.2 percent rise marked the first annual increase in median income since 2007, before the Great Recession.

    Income gains were spread across all four geographic regions (the West, Midwest, Northeast and South), across age groups and almost all races (except for asians), said Census officials. Those in the bottom fifth income group saw their incomes rise the fastest in 2015.

    In explaining the rise in median household income, Trudi J. Renwick of the Census Bureau pointed to growth in employment and in the number of full-time, year-round workers.

    With improving incomes, 3.5 million people climbed out of poverty in 2015, pushing down the official poverty rate to 13.5 percent.

    “There was an increase in real median wages of 1.5 percent for men and 2.7 percent for women,” said economist Sheldon Danziger, president of the Russell Sage Foundation.

    With improving incomes, 3.5 million people climbed out of poverty in 2015, pushing down the official poverty rate to 13.5 percent. The 1.2 percentage decrease in the poverty rate is the biggest drop since 1999.

    “[The Great Recession put us] in a deep hole, and this one year almost single handedly got us out of the hole,” said economist Lawrence Mishel of the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute.

    But, if we look back to where we were before the recession and as far back as the 1990s, we still have a ways to go.

    READ MORE: Poverty makes financial decisions harder. Behavioral economics can help

    The median household income was $56,516 in 2015. While that’s up substantially from $53,700 in 2014, we’re still far from the peak in 1999 when the median household income was $57,900.

    “Poverty is higher than it was in 1999, family incomes are lower than what they were in 1999, inequality is a lot higher than it was in 1999,” said Danziger.

    The good news is that the economy is on the right track. As economist Justin Wolfers recently noted, August was the 71st month of straight job growth, and with decreasing unemployment, wages should continue to rise.

    “Poverty is higher than it was in 1999, family incomes are lower than what they were in 1999, inequality is a lot higher than it was in 1999.”

    The Census Bureau also put out a separate report on the supplemental poverty rate which incorporates how government programs, such as Social Security and food stamps, affect poverty.

    The supplemental poverty rate also declined, from 15.3 percent in 2014 to 14.3 percent in 2015.

    According to the report, Social Security benefits continue to play a pivotal role in keeping many Americans out of poverty — 26.6 million to be exact, including 17.1 million seniors (those 65 and above).

    Danziger says the supplemental report is critical to documenting the positive effects these government programs have in reducing poverty.

    “Some of these [government programs] don’t get counted in the official rate, and people say, ‘Oh my goodness, we’re spending all this money on food stamps, and yet poverty is high,” said Danziger. “Thinking that we ought to be cutting back food stamps is not a good idea when the report shows that are about 5 million fewer people in poverty because of food stamps and about 1.2 million fewer because of school lunch.”

    “[T]he report shows that are about 5 million fewer people in poverty because of food stamps and about 1.2 million fewer because of school lunch.”

    “It’s a balancing act,” said Robert Doar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, noting that the Obama administration has placed too much focus on increasing assistance as the primary way to help those who are struggling and not enough on getting poor Americans to work.

    “[Poor Americans] don’t want their situation to resolve by transfer payments. They want a job,” he added. “And when they have a job, they are just far less likely to be poor.”

    The post Income is up, poverty is down, but neither are back at pre-recession levels appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to the second installment of our week-long series on ideas to transform higher education for students and provide new opportunities.

    Tonight, Hari Sreenivasan reports why some Latino males are being urged to turn down a job today in favor of four years of college tomorrow.

    JUAN LOPEZ, Graduate Student, University of Texas: The series is called Rethinking College, and it’s part of our weekly education coverage, Making the grade.

    MAN: If I can have the mentors on one side and the mentees on another.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Graduate student Juan Lopez wants to bring to college campuses what he sees as largely missing, Latino males.

    JUAN LOPEZ: They’re not seen as people who will succeed, especially minority males of color.

    I want to go to college.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, on this day, Lopez and undergraduates from the university of Texas at Austin are mentoring high school freshman boys as part of an initiative called Project MALES.

    JUAN LOPEZ: Undergraduates mentor high school students. Graduate students mentor undergraduate students.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In this exercise, college and high school students move together over shared experiences.

    JUAN LOPEZ: I want to help my family out financially after I graduate high school.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: One common concern emerges for both mentors and mentees.

    EMMET CAMPOS, Director, Project MALES: They’re expected to be the wage earner in the family.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Emmet Campos directs Project MALES’ school mentoring programs.

    EMMET CAMPOS: So, their expectations that they get from their family and from their peers is that their goal is to get a job, and to earn an income. And so those factors are pulling them away from actually going to college.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Pablo Hall is a high school sophomore and the oldest boy in his family.

    PABLO HALL, High School Student: I want to make money after high school, so that when my mom gets older, I can put her in a house, and my brothers, like, keep them good. I just want to help my family after high school.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Even when students get to college, financial obligations can continue to haunt them.

    ANTONIO SALMERO, Student, University of Texas: When I was doing the two job thing, it was really hard, and everybody was excelling on their tests and their homework and their projects, and I was starting to fall behind.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Antonio Salmero is a senior at U.T. Austin.

    ANTONIO SALMERO: I felt really discouraged even to be in college, but, yes, the reason why, because someone’s got to pay bills, somebody has got to help out at home. Some of these kids in some of my classes, I know, haven’t even worked a day in their life. So, that’s always very stressful and discouraging.

    JUAN LOPEZ: Our parents are accustomed to the traditions of Mexico, of Latin America, El Salvador, Guatemala, et cetera. And over there, you got to work. What puts food on the table is work. And it’s this kind of mental setback that is instilled in our Latino males that makes them have to choose between an education and a job.

    ANTONIO SALMERO: Growing up, there was always this cultural belief that a man’s worth is defined by his work. There’s this sense of machismo in the Mexican culture. And machismo is the belief that being a man is providing for your family.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In the U.S., one in four children are Latino.

    Economists project that, within four years, two-thirds of all jobs will require post-secondary education and training beyond high school.

    Victor Saenz, professor at the University of Texas, Austin, founded the Project MALES initiative.

    VICTOR SAENZ, Professor, University of Texas: The demographic reality of this country and the future population projections suggests that the current 55 million Hispanics in this country is poised to double in the next 40 to 50 years.

    I think our future economic prosperity is absolutely linked to the educational outcomes for Latino males.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: While Hispanics are the largest and fastest growing minority in the country, they have lowest educational attainment of any group. The high school graduation rate for Latinos is 71 percent, but only 15 percent of Latinos hold bachelor’s degrees.

    And despite significant increases in college enrollment among Hispanics, a troubling trend has emerged. Latino men lag far behind women.

    VICTOR SAENZ: The men of color conversation nationally has really taken root and has gained great momentum. Project MALES is rooted in this larger social justice agenda.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Project MALES explores the reasons why so many Latino boys stop short of four-year degrees.

    VICTOR SAENZ: We see that Latino boys are over-represented in the special education ranks, over-represented in the school discipline pipeline. And by the time they get to high school and college, their numbers have dwindled to the point where there’s not enough of them to really look at student populations.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Austin High School principal Ty Davidson says mentors are especially important for first-generation students considering college.

    TY DAVIDSON: There’s somebody there who looks like you, may have the same experience as you, about anxiety over financial aid, the anxiety of maybe moving away from home, saying, it’s going to be OK. It’s, we’re going to do it together.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Project MALES mentors spend a lot of time talking to young men about the economic realities of being an unskilled worker.

    EMMET CAMPOS: We show them the data. We provide them with information about degrees and how they translate into incomes, into salaries.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: At Gus Garcia Middle School, mentors talk dollars and cents.

    MAN: So, I just wanted to ask you all if any of you all have an idea of how much the minimum wage is right now?

    STUDENT: Twelve.

    MAN: Twelve dollars an hour?

    STUDENT: Fifteen.

    MAN: Fifteen an hour?

    STUDENT: Ten.

    MAN: Ten dollars an hour?

    So, I guess minimum wage is probably a little over $14,000. Does that sound like a lot of money?

    STUDENT: No, $14,000 is barely enough to buy a car.

    MAN: You think you could live off of that?

    STUDENT: No.

    EMMET CAMPOS: We talk about, have you thought of what that car’s going to cost? Have you thought about what that house is going to cost?

    PABLO HALL: There are times when I felt I want to drop out of school.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Pablo Hall, who was thinking of dropping out of high school as a freshman, says Project MALES has made a difference.

    PABLO HALL: The mentors, they’re good. When I need help, they help me with it. You can tell the mentors what’s going on.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: At the same time, Antonio Salmero says mentoring high school students helped him when he thought of leaving college.

    ANTONIO SALMERO: I mean, I see myself pushing this idea of self-responsibility, of self-reliance, and determination onto myself, much like I do want to make them realize that as well.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The program hopes some of its graduate students will return to college campus as professors, a career also largely underrepresented by Latino men.

    I’m Hari Sreenivasan for the “PBS NewsHour.”

    The post A mentoring program that aims to keep Latino males in school appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    GWEN IFILL: Now: how the sugar industry paid experts to downplay health risks.

    Researchers have discovered documents showing the industry tried to influence scientific studies back in the 1960s. Early studies had found a link between sugar and fat and heart disease, but it now appears that the sugar industry paid two Harvard professors to point the finger elsewhere.

    At the time, it wasn’t routine to disclose such conflicts.

    Marion Nestle wrote an editorial about the latest research in “JAMA,” “The Journal of the American Medical Association.” She’s an author and professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University.

    Welcome, Marion Nestle.

    Let’s start by a few…

    MARION NESTLE, New York University: Well, glad to be here.

    GWEN IFILL: Let’s start with a few definitions.

    What was the Sugar Research Foundation?

    MARION NESTLE: Well, this was a trade association for the growers of sugarcane and sugar beets. It’s new called the Sugar Association. So it’s a trade group.

    Its job is to promote the sales of sugar and to lobby to make sure that nobody does anything regulatory to reduce the consumption of sugar. It’s a trade group.

    GWEN IFILL: So, yes. So, when all the years when we were being told that fat and cholesterol were the prime culprits in obesity and early death and heart disease, it turns out that sugar also played a big role.

    MARION NESTLE: Well, it did.

    If you look at the epidemiology, at the time, it was clear that both sugar and fat were risk factors for coronary artery disease. But these investigators at Harvard who were paid by the Sugar Research Foundation kind of cherry-picked the data and minimized the problems with sugar and maximized the problems with saturated fat. And that was exactly what the Sugar Association wanted them to do, as the documents show.

    GWEN IFILL: So, the goal here was to sway public opinion, in much the same way that the tobacco industry did?

    MARION NESTLE: Yes, it followed the playbook of the tobacco industry.

    The number one playbook rule is, the first thing you do is you attack the science, you cast doubt on the science. “Merchants of Doubt,” the book and the movie, explain all that. And the Sugar Association was doing exactly that.

    It was trying to get researchers to produce research that would minimize a role for sugar and shift the blame elsewhere. And they were very frank about what they wanted, and the investigators agreed that that was what they were going to do. Pretty shocking.

    GWEN IFILL: If they could shop for experts for something like this, to find someone at Harvard who could tell them what they needed in order to preserve the industry, how do we know that hasn’t happened or maybe it has happened in other nutrition areas?

    MARION NESTLE: Well, it has happened.

    And The New York Times last year had a big investigative report about Coca-Cola’s funding of thee Global Energy Balance Network, in which they had e-mails that showed that there were very close associations between the researchers who were doing some of this work and executives at Coca-Cola.

    But it’s very hard to get documentary evidence of this. But I do want to say one thing about it. It’s not a simple matter of buying investigators. These Harvard investigators, at least one of them, was really pretty well-known for his work linking fat to heart disease risk.

    And so he probably believed that that was what it was, didn’t think that sugar was nearly as important, and believed that. So it wasn’t as simple as the Sugar Research Foundation just saying, this is what we want and we’re going to pay for it.

    GWEN IFILL: When you say it’s not as simple, I’m going to ask you a question that is a little — leans towards simplicity. What is the smoking gun? Is it sugar? Is it fat?

    MARION NESTLE: Oh, I think it’s both, because both of them are nutrients.

    And we don’t eat nutrients. Most people don’t eat sugar on its own, and nobody eats saturated fat on its own. We eat foods that contain sugars and saturated fats. Diets are much more complicated to study than individual nutrients. But that’s really what everybody ought to be looking at.

    And dietary guidelines tell you, reduce consumption of foods containing a lot of added sugars, and don’t eat so much meat, which is a major source of saturated fat. So, I say it’s both, and you have to always take the number of calories into consideration when you’re talking about these things.

    GWEN IFILL: How skeptical could consumers be about these reports, which every year seem to tell them to worry about a different thing?

    MARION NESTLE: Well, I think they should be very skeptical.

    The first line of defense is always to say, does this research contradict what I thought I knew? If it does, you want to be a little skeptical about it and wait for some more studies to come out.

    The science is cumulative. Nutrition science is extremely difficult to do, because people are terrible experimental animals, and diets are so complicated. There are lots of different ways to put together healthy diets. And we know that diets that have a lot of vegetables, that balance calories, and don’t have a lot of junk food are really good for health. We know that.

    GWEN IFILL: Marion Nestle, we know it. It’s a question of paying attention to it.

    Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, thank you very much.

    MARION NESTLE: My pleasure.

    The post How the sugar industry paid experts to downplay health risks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The Chantilly Campus of ITT Technical Institute sits closed and empty on Tuesday in Chantilly, VA. Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

    The Chantilly Campus of ITT Technical Institute sits closed and empty on Tuesday in Chantilly, VA. Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

    When American Career Institute abruptly closed its eight campuses, Matthew Robbins was among the more than 1,000 students left on the wrong side of the for-profit college’s locked doors.

    The Abington, Massachusetts, resident had just weeks remaining in an 18-month program before he would receive a certificate in computer network design. Then came the January 2013 closing and a realization that more than a year of education was essentially worthless. Robbins’ credits wouldn’t transfer to another college, and he couldn’t find a similar program nearby. So he gave up on higher education for the time being and focused on his job. 

    “It will take us a while to get any sense of what’s happening with these students. I think it could definitely jade them, and we definitely worry about that.” — Jim Rawlins, University of Oregon

    “There were no other schools that offered the courses I needed,” he said. He is still waiting to see whether the $20,000 he took out in student loans will be forgiven by the federal government. “I’m pretty much stuck with nothing here.”

    Robbins is one of tens of thousands of former students who have been shut out of closed colleges — both for-profit and nonprofit. Another 40,000 are about to join them with the collapse of ITT Tech and its more than 130 campuses as the result of a crackdown by the U.S. Department of Education.

    Related: The new North-South divide: Public higher education

    Perhaps the most disturbing part of the trend: Nobody knows what’s happening to these displaced students, and many fear thousands may be giving up on college altogether, exactly when the country is falling behind its goal to increase the proportion of the population with degrees.

    “You’re not supposed to close and leave students in the lurch,” said Kevin Kinser, a Pennsylvania State University education professor who heads Penn State’s education policy studies department. “But we’re not set up to deal with mass closures.”

    Forty-seven percent of federal loan recipients whose colleges and universities closed from 2008 to 2011 neither had their loans forgiven by the Department of Education nor received federal aid to attend other schools within three years of their schools’ closing, according to The Institute for College Access and Success, or TICAS. That means those students have been left in debt with little or nothing to show for it.

    182 colleges closed between 2011 and 2015, affecting more than 43,000 students

    The potential effect is huge. From the 2011-12 academic year through 2014-15, according to TICAS, 182 colleges closed — 150 of them for-profit — affecting more than 43,000 students.

    It’s essential that schools that are closing work with federal and state governments to avoid leaving students at a dead end in their educations, said Steve Gunderson, a former Republican congressman and president of Career Education Colleges and Universities, an association of mostly for-profit schools.

    Related: A solution as obvious as it is rare: Making high school graduates ready for college

    “The reality is, if the credits don’t transfer to another school, they have to start over,” Gunderson said. “It’s the worst of all worlds. It’s debt without a degree.”

    When a college closes, state and federal regulators generally provide students with a list of “teach-out” schools able to help them complete their degrees or certificates. The problem, critics say, is that those schools are often for-profit colleges with their own sketchy histories and a hunger for tuition money and the federal aid that comes with it.

    In some cases, things work out for the best. After for-profit Ashford University’s Davenport, Iowa, campus closed earlier this year, neighboring nonprofit St. Ambrose University came to the rescue. The liberal arts university now enrolls about 40 former Ashford students, said John Cooper, St. Ambrose’s vice president for enrollment management.

    “There’s been a real effort on the part of Ashford and St. Ambrose to make sure students don’t lose ground,” Cooper said.

    Joe Rhodes had been attending Ashford on full academic scholarship when the school closed. After Ashford and St. Ambrose agreed to split the cost of continuing his scholarship, he decided to finish his education at St. Ambrose.

    “No matter what, I was going to push through and do what I needed to do,” said Rhodes, a 20-year-old junior from Moline, Illinois, just across the Mississippi River from his new campus. “But it was kind of tough to go through that whole [admissions] process again.”

    Related: Strapped for students, nonprofit colleges borrow recruiting tactic from for-profits

    Yet thousands of other students may be slipping through the cracks when their schools close, especially those at for-profit colleges, who tend to have different life experiences than undergraduates at nonprofits.

    For one thing, about 70 percent of students at for-profit colleges are 25 or older — a significantly higher share than at traditional nonprofit schools — and nearly 80 percent of students at for-profits attend part-time.

    Students at for-profits often have spent several years working before deciding to attend college, so a shutdown sometimes leads to them choosing a job over continuing school elsewhere.

    That was the case with Pamela Pinto, 26, who was just a month away from finishing a certificate in dental assisting when her American Career Institute campus in Framingham, Massachusetts, closed in 2013. The school could not find any record of her coursework, she said, so she did not have the option to transfer to another school.

    “It’s as if I never took a course,” said Pinto, a former hairdresser’s assistant who eventually was able to get her dental assistant license with help from the dental office where she works. “I was stuck in the gray zone. I was stuck with a loan of $15,000 and no certificate.”

    It’s difficult to know whether experiences like Pinto’s and Robbins’ are the norm. That’s because nobody tracks what happens to students whose colleges and universities lock the doors. Will they forever be left seeking lower-paying jobs that don’t require college degrees? Will the bad experience lead them to encourage their children to focus on careers rather than school?

    Related: Consumers get more information about a purchase they once made on trust: college

    “It will take us a while to get any sense of what’s happening with these students,” said Jim Rawlins, admissions director for the University of Oregon. “I think it could definitely jade them, and we definitely worry about that.”

    In Massachusetts, officials have tried to make sure displaced students know their options. Attorney General Maura Healey has gone after for-profit schools aggressively, suing ITT Tech and American Career Institute (ACI) for allegedly defrauding students. After ACI closed in 2013, Healey’s office made thousands of phone calls to former students to gauge the full scope of the problem.

    The “boatloads of debt” borne by former students is a slap in the face after they received a substandard education, Healey said.

    “It’s just so sad to talk to them. It’s bad enough that [the colleges] weren’t providing meaningful education to begin with. Now they’re even further behind.”

    This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Read more about higher education.

    The post When a college closes, what does a student do next? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Field in Sardinia, Italy, purported to be a field farmed by migrants. Image by Malcolm Brabant

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    GWEN IFILL: But, first: The European Union has set aside nearly $630 million for Italy to cope with the thousands of migrants coming across the Mediterranean from Africa.

    With so much public money available, opportunities to profit from the migrant crisis are substantial, as, it appears, is the potential for fraud.

    In June, special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reported on the Italian mafia’s use of refugee reception centers in Sicily to cheat the state out of more than $4 billion. The E.U. is now working with the Italians to try to end that.

    As part of that effort, on the Italian island of Sardinia, authorities are now checking into a scheme in which unused and neglected land was supposedly given to migrant African farmers so they could become self-sufficient.

    From Platamona in Northern Sardinia, Malcolm Brabant and producer Alessandra Maggiorani report.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: It’s just before sunrise. It’s the start of the working week. And we’re heading out to the land where these 50 or so African farmers are supposed to be working.

    This is the time of the day when most farmers out in the Mediterranean are starting work because it’s cooler. They can get more done before the heat of the day really kicks in.

    We have been told that these farmers work from Monday to Thursday, so let’s go and see if they’re there. In the late summer heat, crops need attention. But dawn came in Platamona came and went with no sign of activity.

    Right, well, it’s just after 8:00. We have been waiting here for more than an hour. And it seems pretty clear that nobody is going to turn up. We’re going to go for breakfast because I have a feeling it’s going to be a long day. And then we’re going to come back afterwards to see if they are here. And if they’re not, we’re going to try and find them and see what’s going on.

    We came back nearly two hours later. Nothing. At this small vineyard next to the African workers cooperative supposed location, we found a policeman and his father who didn’t wish to be identified.

    FRANCO, Policeman (through translator): I live in Porto Torres and I go to Sassari for work, so I would have seen the migrants. And the old man you see down here is my father. And if he had seen something, he would have been alarmed and would have asked me, what’s going on?

    GIOVANNI, Father (through translator): I would have noticed them. There’s no cultivation going on there and no livestock.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: At another vineyard opposite the farm, we talked to an agricultural worker who’d known the owner’s family for decades. Here, people are wary. He didn’t wish to talk on camera, but insisted that there had been no sign of any migrants working.

    When we started researching this story, it was being portrayed by the man organizing this cooperative as being a very positive story, that the African farmers who’d come from war-torn areas wanted to be able to support themselves and didn’t want to be reliant on the state.

    But then we got here, and he stopped taking our calls. And it all got a little bit strange. We were constantly probing for more information. My colleague, Alessandra Maggiorani, an experienced freelance journalist and native Italian speaker who has worked with the “NewsHour” on many occasions.

    ALESSANDRA MAGGIORANI, Journalist: I have just spoken with the president of the farmers association of this region. He was explaining that the people involved in this project have asked them for help to transfer their know-how, their knowledge, and their expertise in agriculture.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: This connection potentially added more credibility to the project. Once we started asking questions, though, the union quickly distanced itself.

    We’re outside the offices of the local farmers union, and the organization has made it clear that they don’t want to give us an on-camera interview. But we have spoken to a senior official who said that they were approached about this project. They liked it initially. They liked the fact that food produced by the Africans was supposed to be given to children at local schools or sold in local markets.

    They wanted to investigate it further, but they weren’t given any documentation, and so they didn’t become officially involved. We continued looking into the project and its partners, landowner Luca Pintus, and a leading member of Sardinia’s immigrant community, Cheikh Diankha, who’s from Senegal and the head of several organizations involving integration.

    Diankha’s company, Janas International, runs a reception center for migrants. And he based himself in one with a colorful history.

    ALESSANDRA MAGGIORANI: The reception center is actually on the premises of the Kiss Kiss, a former disco, which had a very bad reputation. It was closed down for prostitution, and more than 10 people were arrested.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: As our phone calls went unanswered, we paid a visit to Cheikh Diankha in his officer at the former Kiss Kiss disco.

    ALESSANDRA MAGGIORANI (through translator): I have been trying to get in touch with you. I called you many times, and you’re not taking my calls.

    CHEIKH DIANKHA, Janas International: Ah, OK, Alessandra.

    ALESSANDRA MAGGIORANI: Yes, Alessandra.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: I don’t understand. I just do not understand what’s going on here.

    ALESSANDRA MAGGIORANI: OK. You have to ask permission before…

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Yes, but we have come all this way to do a story about farming, and you — and we don’t see anything going on.

    ALESSANDRA MAGGIORANI (through translator): We came all the way here because he had an appointment to go with migrants out into the fields.

    CHEIKH DIANKHA (through translator): I didn’t vanish. I sent you the number of Luca Pintus.

    ALESSANDRA MAGGIORANI (through translator): Pintus never replies on that number. I don’t think the number is active.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: We then tracked down land owner, Luca Pintus, at his mother’s cafe in the main square of Sassari, a town in Northern Sardinia.

    Pintus tried to assure us that the project was above board. He promised to show us all the relevant documentation, as well as the farmers at work.

    This street in Sassari yielded more questions. We were invited to a smart address to meet Luca Pintus, along with a talented migrant clothes designer, as well as another director of Diankha’s company, and to see paperwork related to the farm project.

    But the only one to turn up was Diankha’s colleague, Giovanni Rossi, who said he was an accountant.

    GIOVANNI ROSSI, Accountant (through translator): You need to know that only authorized filming in allowed in Italy. So please lower your camera and wait in a decent way.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Rossi wanted us to look at their fashion work. We wanted to talk on the record about the farm.

    GIOVANNI ROSSI (through translator): I believe you are smart, so you can listen to what I have to say.

    ALESSANDRA MAGGIORANI: Let’s sit down and ask him questions.

    GIOVANNI ROSSI (through translator): Alessandra, let’s sit down

    MALCOLM BRABANT: No. No. No. No. No. No.

    (CROSSTALK)

    GIOVANNI ROSSI (through translator): No, a written interview. No, no. Go out, please.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: OK. OK. We will go out.

    Briefly, I was invited back into the room.

    Where are all the farmers? Where are all the farmers?

    We are trying to find the paper trail for this project. And we have come to this office on the outskirts of the town of Sassari, where they often deal in E.U. projects and funding. But they say that they have no record at all of this particular project, although they do say that there are other organizations who have money available.

    Back at the former Kiss Kiss disco, a question for Cheikh Diankha.

    So, I’m asking you, is this a scam?

    CHEIKH DIANKHA (through translator): The cooperative isn’t standing yet. So how can we have got some money?

    We haven’t taken nor received money from anyone. This has to be clear. Don’t go to the BBC and tell them that we get E.U. money. We don’t even know what the E.U. is. We don’t have any business with them. We have business with the farmers union in Sardinia.

    And we have yet to receive a single euro. The money for the petrol to go there comes form our pockets. Is that clear? We haven’t taken money from the Italians or the E.U., and everyone should hear me on this.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: After our meeting with Rossi, we came across Luca Pintus in Sassari’s main square.

    LUCA PINTUS, Landowner (through translator): Giovanni, I have found the journalists in the square. If you want, I will put her on, so you can make an arrangement.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: I just want to ask a simple question. When was the last time your land had farmers on it?

    LUCA PINTUS (through translator): This morning, they are picking. They have to make a gift of it to the elderly.

    ALESSANDRA MAGGIORANI (through translator): Do you mean in Platamona?

    LUCA PINTUS (through translator): On the field in Platamona, 15 days ago. I’m not sure.

    ALESSANDRA MAGGIORANI (through translator): On the basis of these projects, it is 32 euros per migrant?

    LUCA PINTUS (through translator): Yes, at the reception centers. But I have nothing to do with the reception centers.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Pintus was clarifying that 32 euros a day per migrant wasn’t a subsidy for the farming project, but a standard fee paid by the state to Diankha’s company and other reception centers. It’s supposed to cover food and clothing for the 100 or so migrants at the former Kiss Kiss disco.

    That’s potential income for his company of $3,600 a day.

    LUCA PINTUS (through translator): No filming, no filming.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Or $1.3 million a year.

    According to Luca Pintus, Cheikh Diankha and his colleague Giovanni Rossi plan to open a new refugee center.

    LUCA PINTUS (through translator): Understand, I am the director. You mustn’t film. You mustn’t film. You mustn’t film. Put this in your head.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: OK, fine. We’re going.

    GIOVANNI ROSSI (through translator): Sorry. Why are you so incorrect?

    ALESSANDRA MAGGIORANI: I’m saying that he’s finding excuses not to do the interview.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Yes.

    So these farmers, do they exist? Do the farmers exist?

    Luca Pintus insisted he wanted to fight racism and to help newcomers integrate in Sardinia.

    Migrants find it hard to leave the island because most are barred from ferries to the mainland. While migrants are a moneymaking opportunity for some, many Sardinians are weary of those selling cheap goods on the beaches or begging.

    But people hawking wares in supermarket car parks have little alternative, because a career in local agriculture doesn’t appear to be a realistic option.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Malcolm Brabant in Sardinia.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Online, Malcolm offers the backstory of his peculiar reporting odyssey. That’s on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour.

    The post ​Is this farm helping migrants or just a field of schemes? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Asheville, North Carolina, U.S., September 12, 2016.  REUTERS/Mike Segar - RTSNG36

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Recently, Hillary Clinton has been criticized for allegedly giving special access to Clinton Foundation donors when she served as secretary of state.

    But now Donald Trump is catching heat for how his foundation has functioned.

    I’m joined by David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post, who has spent the past few months digging into the Republican nominee’s history of charitable donations and his lack of personal contributions to the Trump Foundation.

    David Fahrenthold, thank you for talking with us.

    Tell us first a little bit about the foundation. How is it set up? How is it different from other foundations?

    DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, The Washington Post: Well, it’s quite a small foundation.

    Trump started it in 1987. And in contrast to other people who have about as much money as Trump has, it doesn’t have very much money in at all. The most money it ever had was about $3.3 million in 2009. The most money it has now is about $1 million total. So, there’s no paid staff. The board of it is just four Trumps, Donald, Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka, and one Trump Organization employee.

    They all work with no pay. They work half-an-hour a week. The most unusual thing about it is not just that it’s small, but whose money is in it. Donald Trump hasn’t put any money into his own foundation until 2008. Instead, he’s got other people to donate. And then he sort of gives their money to away to people who under the impression that they’re getting Donald Trump’s money.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, when you say other people have put money in, what sort of people are we talking about?

    DAVID FAHRENTHOLD: Well, a lot of them don’t want to talk.

    But the biggest donation you can see in tax filings is from Vince and Linda McMahon, the WWE moguls. Trump was on WrestleMania in 2007. And in that year and 2009, the McMahons gave a total of $5 million. Now, we know that wasn’t Trump’s payment for WrestleMania. He got paid separately, but about the same time, they made this $5 million donation.

    The other biggest donor has been this guy Richard Ebers, who is a sort of high-end ticket broker, like tickets to events, in New York City. He gives every year between $450,000 and $600,000, always in very odd amounts. It’s never an even amount.

    He also didn’t want to talk about why he gives to the Trump Foundation. And one of the thing big gifts has been from NBC Universal, which televised “Celebrity Apprentice.” Trump often used his Trump Foundation money to give what he said were personal gifts out of his own pocket on the show.

    NBC gave him a $500,000 gift, which served to cover the cost of all of those — quote, unquote — “personal donations.”

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, what about what the foundation has given money to? Is there a pattern, is there a mission, a particular cause that Donald Trump has been interested in?

    DAVID FAHRENTHOLD: Well, that’s really interesting as well.

    A lot of times, you see rich people who start their own private foundations, they are — as you said, there is an abiding cause. They give to their alma mater, they give to cancer research, they give to something like that.

    With Trump, there is no such abiding cause like that. It’s always — the money is given out in relatively small amounts, between $5,000 and $50,000, and it’s to a smattering of groups. Often, he’s buying a table at a gala or something like that.

    The biggest correlation you find is with Trump’s own personal and business interests. He lives in Palm Beach part of the year, where charity galas are a big part of the life. And he runs a club in Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago, that depends a lot on being rented out by charities, who can pay as much as $275,000 per night to rent out his club.

    So he gives to those charities that do business with him. And this enables him to sort of give to those groups without actually using his own money.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You have also — you also wrote, David Fahrenthold, that the Trump Foundation at least in once instance, actually in several instances, to political causes or political candidates.

    DAVID FAHRENTHOLD: Well, there’s one case in particular.

    So, giving to a political group is against the law. If you’re a nonprofit, you can’t give money to a political group. And in 2013, they did that. They gave to this group called And Justice for All, which was a political campaign committee helping Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who at the time just happened to be considering, her office was considering, whether to pursue an investigation against Trump University.

    They later on, after the money came in, decided not to pursue that investigation. Trump paid that money out of the Trump Foundation, which is against the law. And this year, after we pointed it out, he paid a penalty tax to the IRS of $2,500, which was 10 percent of the donation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So they’re not under any legal cloud at this point?

    DAVID FAHRENTHOLD: Well, what’s interesting is, there is another side to that gift, which is, not only did Trump’s foundation make that prohibited political gift, but they also sent filing to the IRS which contained an error that served to cover up the illegal gift that they made.

    Now, they said that error was inadvertent, but it was a great coincidence that the same year they made a $25,000 gift to this group they shouldn’t have, they told the IRS they had given $25,000 to another group, which would have been legal if they had actually sent them any money.

    That’s something the IRS could investigate. We don’t know if it actually is.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, we have to point out that the Trump campaign, Mr. Trump himself, says he’s actually given away millions of dollars over the years.

    What do we know about that in any form?

    DAVID FAHRENTHOLD: You’re right.

    He’s said over the years that he’s given the proceeds of a variety of things, books, TV shows, to charity, and it adds up to millions of dollars. He said he gives millions of dollars.

    So, what I have done over the last few months is go looking for evidence that those gifts exist. I’m not trying the find all of them. I’m just trying to find some evidence that they’re out there. So, so far, I have called 326 charities. Now, these are charities that seem closest to Trump, people he’s given Trump Foundation money to, he’s gone to their galas, he’s spoken positively of these charities.

    I have called 326 looking for evidence that there were these personal gifts from Trump out of his pocket. And between 2008 and this May, I found just one gift out of his own pocket. That was in 2009. It was for less than $10,000.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, when you ask the campaign about that, what do they say, when you have asked them for evidence of the giving?

    DAVID FAHRENTHOLD: They have been very slippery on this.

    The last couple of days, they have said Trump gives tens of millions of dollars away, or he has given tens of millions of dollars away. But that answer includes gifts from the foundation, gifts of free rounds of golf from his golf club to local charities. They even sort of implied that it might include just the salaries that he gives to his workers, that he’s helping people by paying them to do work for him.

    So, they haven’t broken down how much Trump actually gives out of his pocket, and they seem to be determined not to do that. I have asked for that a number of times. And I have gotten no details on that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I know that you will continue to be reporting on this.

    David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post, thanks very much.

    DAVID FAHRENTHOLD: Thank you.

    The post Donald Trump hasn’t donated to his own foundation since 2008, investigation finds appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A new scanner, developed by engineers at MIT and Georgia Tech, can read text on page without cracking a book cover. Photo by MIT Media Lab

    A new scanner, developed by engineers at MIT and Georgia Tech, can read text on page without cracking a book cover. Photo by MIT Media Lab

    People can now read books without opening them, thanks to a new device created by scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

    The machine uses beams of radiation to creep in between pages and scan individual letters. This new tool wasn’t made to create disdain among classic readers or for those too lazy to lift a cover. Rather it may unlock the secrets of old books or ancient texts too fragile to be disturbed by human touch.

    “The Metropolitan Museum in New York showed a lot of interest in this, because they want to, for example, look into some antique books that they don’t even want to touch,” Barmak Heshmat, co-inventor and MIT Media Lab scientist, said in a statement.

    This scanner exposes the contents of the concealed pages by relying on terahertz radiation. Terahertz waves mimic X-rays and soundwaves by being able to penetrate surfaces. Moveover, different chemicals — ink on paper for example — absorb terahertz radiation in different amounts. By beaming terahertz waves at a book, the MIT Media Lab device can skip through pages, but also tell the difference between blank and ink-filled parchment.

    The gadget shoots these waves in short bursts, a portion of which bounce back whenever they encounter the small slivers of air between the pages. Meanwhile, computer scientists at Georgia Tech developed a sophisticated algorithm that deciphers these reflections when they return to the scanner.

    Video by MIT Media Lab

    “It’s actually kind of scary,” Heshmat said. “A lot of websites have these letter certifications [captchas] to make sure you’re not a robot, and this algorithm can get through a lot of them.”

    So far, the prototype can read through the top nine pages of a book, but by boosting the power, future iterations may dig deeper. Heshmat and his colleagues published the details of the journal Nature Communications.

    The post This new machine can read book pages without cracking the cover appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Barack Obama (right) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at White House in October 2014. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

    President Barack Obama (right) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at White House in October 2014. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — The United States and Israel have signed a new aid deal that will give the Israeli military $38 billion over the course of 10 years. It’s the largest such agreement the U.S. has ever had with any country.

    After months of negotiations, the unprecedented deal was signed at the State Department on Wednesday.

    The aid totals $3.8 billion a year — up from $3.1 billion the U.S. gave Israel annually under the current 10-year deal that expires in 2018.

    Under the agreement, Israel’s ability to spend part of the funds on Israeli military products will be phased out, eventually requiring all of the funds to be spent on American military industries.

    Israel’s preference for spending some of the funds internally had been a major sticking point in the deal.

    WATCH: What Israelis and Palestinians really think about the conflict

    The post U.S., Israel sign $38 billion military aid deal over 10 years appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Video by PBS NewsHour

    Sally Snowman was just a child when she first fell in love with Boston Light, the nation’s first and oldest lighthouse station.

    “I had the privilege of coming out here with my family for a picnic,” Snowman told the NewsHour. “I got out of the dingy, stepped on the beach, looked up at this 89-foot tower and said, ‘Oh, when I grow up, I wanna get married out here.’ And in 1994 that happened.”

    Snowman and her husband Jay Thomson now call Brewster Island — the speck of land where the British built the lighthouse in 1716 — home for seven months of the year.

    Sally Snowman, keeper of Boston Lighthouse, lowers the American flag on Little Brewster Island in Boston Harbor. Photo by: Andrew Barresi/U.S. Coast Guard

    Sally Snowman, keeper of Boston Lighthouse, lowers the American flag on Little Brewster Island in Boston Harbor. Photo by: Andrew Barresi/U.S. Coast Guard

    Thirteen years ago, the U.S. Coast Guard hired Snowman to be the 70th resident keeper of the historic lighthouse. With all the previous lightkeepers being male, she’s also the first woman to ever hold the post.

    In the summer months, Snowman oversees a cadre of 90 volunteers who help maintain the facility. On weekends, she also touts the history of the lighthouse to tour groups who boat in from the mainland.

    “We are a living museum,” she said. “Visitors get to come out, climb [Boston Light’s] 76 spiral stairs, two ladders into the lantern room and stand by an eleven foot crystal made up of 336 individual prisms.”

    That crystal is a Fresnel lens installed 1859. Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, the rotating lens projects the lighthouse’s 12 beams out for 27 miles. In doing so, Boston Light continues the job it was intended to do 300 years ago: showing vessels a safe way into Boston Harbor.

    Boston Light's beams of light radiate across the night sky. Photo by: Class Andrew Barresi/U.S. Coast Guard

    Boston Light’s beams of light radiate across the night sky. Photo by: Class Andrew Barresi/U.S. Coast Guard

    “In 1716, there were many shipwrecks in the outer harbor of Boston and they wanted a major aid to navigation to show the ships safe passage,” Snowman said. “So, Boston Light was erected.”

    But that tower isn’t the one visitors tour today. The original was blown up in an incident during the Revolutionary War and was rebuilt by the newly-formed United States in 1783. The second rendition is the tower that now shines upon Beantown.

    Even as technology allowed the Coast Guard to phase out resident keepers from its other lighthouses, Boston Light will continue to be staffed. In 1989, Congress mandated the agency keep the facility manned and open to the public in perpetuity.

    And as the lighthouse station celebrates its 300th anniversary, Snowman is grateful Boston Light continues to inspire and inform. To her, it’s a “jewel of the harbor.”

    The post 300 years on, America’s first lighthouse shines over Boston appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign voter registration event in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign voter registration event in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Hillary Clinton is “recovering well” from pneumonia and remains “fit to serve as President of the United States,” her doctor said in a letter released Wednesday by her campaign.

    The health details made public by the Democratic presidential nominee included a description of the pneumonia diagnosis Clinton received last week Friday. Her illness became public after she left Sunday’s 9/11 memorial service early and was seen on video staggering while getting into a van.

    The health episode fueled long-simmering conservative conspiracy theories about Clinton’s health and provided a fresh line of attack for rival Donald Trump, who has frequently questioned whether Clinton has the stamina to serve as commander in chief.

    Facing criticism about a lack of transparency when it comes to her health, Clinton’s campaign promised to disclose more detailed information about her health this week.

    The letter released Wednesday by the campaign stated that Clinton underwent a chest scan that revealed she had “mild, non-contagious bacterial pneumonia,” according to Clinton’s physician, Dr. Lisa Bardack, chair of internal medicine at CareMount Medical in Mount Kisco, New York. She was treated with a 10-day course of Levaquin, an antibiotic used to treat infections.

    Bardack said Clinton is up to date on all vaccines, including two given to help prevent pneumonia — Prevnar and Pneumovax. The letter did not state when she received those vaccines.

    “She is recovering well with antibiotics and rest,” wrote Bardack, who also authored a letter about Clinton’s health released in July 2015. “She continues to remain healthy and fit to serve as President of the United States.”

    Clinton, 68, has blood pressure of 100 over 70. Her total cholesterol was 189; her LDL or “bad” cholesterol was 103, and her HDL or “good” cholesterol was 56 — all within healthy levels and not signaling the need for any medications. She has also had a normal mammogram and breast ultrasound, according to the letter.

    She takes thyroid and allergy medicines and the blood thinner Coumadin, prescribed as a preventative after she suffered a blood clot resulting from a 2012 concussion.

    The blood clot, which was in a vein in the space between the brain and the skull behind the right ear, led Clinton to spend a few days in New York-Presbyterian Hospital and take a month-long absence from the State Department for treatment.

    Clinton has spent the past three days out of the public eye, recuperating at her suburban New York home. She’ll return to the campaign trail Thursday, with a rally in North Carolina and a speech before a Hispanic group in Washington.

    “I just talked to her — she’s feeling great and I think she’ll be back out there tomorrow,” former President Bill Clinton said Wednesday, when he stepped in for his wife at a previous scheduled campaign event in Las Vegas. “It’s a crazy time we live in, you know, when people think there’s something unusual about getting the flu.”

    [Watch Video]

    How much should voters know about the presidential candidates’ health? On Sunday, Hillary Clinton left a 9/11 memorial ceremony in lower Manhattan after a stumble. It was later revealed that the Democratic nominee had been diagnosed with pneumonia a few days before. Judy Woodruff speaks with University of Michigan’s Dr. Howard Markel about Clinton’s pneumonia and what voters have a right to know.

    Trump, too, has said he plans to release the details of a recent physical this week. On Wednesday, he handed over a one-page summary of that exam, conducted by his longtime physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein, to Dr. Mehmet Oz while taping an episode of Oz’s show.

    Ever the showman, Trump’s appearance on “The Dr. Oz Show” was billed by the campaign as a discussion about his general well-being and his family’s medical history.

    The show does not air until Thursday and the campaign declined to immediately disclose the results. But a release from the show said “Dr. Oz took Mr. Trump though a full review of his systems,” including his nervous system, cardiovascular health, prostate health and family medical history.

    Bornstein had previously written a note declaring the 70-year-old Trump, if elected, would be the healthiest president in history. He later said he had written the letter in five minutes as a limousine sent by the candidate idled outside.

    Lemire reported from Flint, Michigan. Associated Press Chief Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione contributed to this report from Milwaukee. Donna Cassata contributed from Washington and Michelle Rindels from Las Vegas.

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

    The post Clinton releases medical records, doctor says she’s ‘healthy and fit’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Mosiac of New Horizons MVIC color observations of Charon obtained during the final 6.4 day rotation on approach to the system during July 7-14, shown in polar orthographic projection. Image by NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

    Mosiac of New Horizons MVIC color observations of Charon obtained during the final 6.4 day rotation on approach to the system during July 7-14, shown in polar orthographic projection. Image by NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

    Charon, Pluto’s largest moon, wears a red cap. Charon’s north pole has a dark red color, starkly different from its otherwise gray-white surface, and scientists have finally found out why.

    Using a healthy dose of math and data from NASA’s New Horizons mission, planetary scientists calculated how this red cap formed. They report that Charon steals gases from neighboring Pluto, which supports a popular theory that Pluto and Charon exist as a binary planet.

    “This is the first example we’ve seen of a planet’s escaping atmosphere polluting the surface of its moon in colorful ways,” Will Grundy, co-author of the report and Lowell Observatory planetary scientist, told the NewsHour. “Over the past half-century of spacecraft exploration, we’ve seen numerous worlds with all kinds of surprising things, sculpting their surfaces, and yet we hadn’t seen something like this before.”

    Grundy and his colleagues found Pluto releases colorless methane gas, which gets trapped in Charon’s gravity. The gas freezes onto Charon’s northern pole during its hundred year-long winters. When the icy pole finally gets some sunlight, it creates a chemical reaction, transforming the methane into red-colored molecules called tholins that are too heavy to escape back into space.

    Grundy said this finding, reported today in the journal Nature, reinforces the idea that Pluto and Charon are a “double planet.” Most moons in our solar system are really small compared to their planets. But Charon is almost the same size as Pluto, leading to exchanges in surface materials (like the methane in Charon’s red cap) or even shifts in the center of mass for the entire planet. If Charon wasn’t already orbiting Pluto, it could potentially be seen as its own planet. The Earth and the moon are the next closest thing to a “double planet” in our solar system, to scientists’ knowledge.

    Other dwarf planets exist in our solar system, like Pluto’s neighbors Eris and Makemake, which may have a similar relationship. But it’ll be several years before a spacecraft reaches the dwarf planets to get close enough to look.

    “Every time we explore something new, we find new surprises,” Grundy said. “Nature is amazingly inventive in using the basic laws of physics and chemistry to create spectacular and distinctive landscapes.”

    The post Why Charon, Pluto’s largest moon, wears a red cap appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    BOSTON - SEPTEMBER 9: Lighthouse keeper Sally Snowman, employed by the USCG, traditionally waves to tourists as they arrive on Little Brewster Island for a tour, Sept. 9, 2016. The island's lighthouse, Boston Light, turns 300 years old next week and is ready for its celebration.   (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Now to our “NewsHour” shares, Something that caught our eye that might be of interest to you, too.

    We visit the nation’s first lighthouse just off Boston, which celebrates its 300th anniversary today.

    SALLY SNOWMAN, Boston Light Keeper:  My name is Sally Snowman.  And I’m the Coast Guard lighthouse keeper of Boston Light.

    Boston Light is the last manned Coast Guard life station in the entire country.  It is located on Little Brewster Island at the entrance of Boston Harbor.  In 1716, there were many shipwrecks here in the outer harbor of Boston, and they wanted to have a major aid to navigation to show the ships safe passage into the harbor.

    And so, in 1716, Boston Light was erected.  And then it had an incident in 1776 in the Revolutionary War where the tower was blown up.  It was rebuilt in 1783, and that is the tower that exists today.

    And, today, 300 years later, the lighthouse is doing exactly what it was intended to do in 1716, which was showing a safe way into Boston Harbor.

    So, now I am the 70th keeper of Boston Light, with the first 69 having been all men.  When I was hired in 2003, I was a Coast Guard auxiliary person that volunteered out here and wore a uniform.  However, being on the payroll for the Coast Guard as a civilian employee, I wasn’t allowed to wear the uniform, and I was asked to come up with something that would help me stand out from the crowd.

    So, I came up with the idea of this costume from the late 1700s to help tell the story, that it’s not the original tower of 1716.  It’s 1783.  And this is what the keeper’s wife would have worn during that period of time.

    We are a living museum.  Visitors get to come out, climb the 76 spiral stairs, two ladders into the lantern room, and stand by an 11-foot crystal made up of 336 individual prisms.  Many of them are local, many of them from Boston.

    And so many of them say, oh, I have lived in Boston all of my life, I have looked at Boston Light, and never came out.  And why did it take me so long to come out here?  Because it is a jewel.  It’s a jewel of the harbor.

    The post 300 years old and this lighthouse is still a keeper appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    prison4

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    GWEN IFILL: Next, we continue with our Rethinking College series.

    Hari returns now with a report on whether taxpayers should cover college tuition for convicted criminals.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Jermaine Isaac (ph) killed a man when he was 15. He’s been in prison for second-degree murder 11 years. During his punishment, he is trying to make something better of himself. For the past two years, he has been attending college behind bars.

    JERMAINE ISAAC, Student, Goucher Prison Education Partnership: Going to college gave me tools. It’s taught me patience. It’s taught me hard work. It taught me that more things are possible.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Isaac is one of 100 Maryland prisoners studying for a degree as part of a partnership with Goucher College, a private liberal arts school in Baltimore.

    Goucher provides the professors and pays for the education with private donations.

    Amy Roza directs the Goucher Prison Partnership.

    AMY ROZA, Director, Goucher Prison Education Partnership: We have a chance to change the way we do criminal justice in the United States, if we invest in the root causes of what brings people to prison.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: When Jermaine Isaac came to the Maryland correctional institution in Jessup, he could barely read.

    JERMAINE ISAAC: College was never in a realm for me. It was never in sight.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Now, with a GED and 16 college credits, Isaac feels he’s getting a second chance. In January, he will be released.

    There’s going to be people watching, thinking, why are we giving a guy who took somebody else’s life an opportunity and an education? Shouldn’t he be punished in prison?

    JERMAINE ISAAC: We are the people who are coming back into society. Whether they like it or not, we’re coming back to society. And we’re trying to come back prepared to be citizens, and give back to where we took from.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: This summer, the Obama administration said it will extend that second chance to 12,000 inmates across the country. As a pilot project, the Department of Education will partner with 67 colleges, including Goucher, to provide higher education to prisoners who can’t afford it.

    Called Second Chance Pell Pilot, eligible inmates will be able to apply for federal grants.

    Education Secretary John King:

    JOHN KING, Secretary of Education: Students who have the opportunity to pursue education while they’re incarcerated are dramatically less likely to return to prison, 42 percent reduction in recidivism from students just having exposure to education; 98 percent of the folks who earn a bachelor’s degree don’t end up back in prison.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Advocates for college in prison say those statistics can break the link between poverty and crime.

    AMY ROZA: We see huge changes in lifetime earnings, $8,000 more a year for a student who has access to some college, $22,000 more a year for a student who has access to a bachelor’s degree. All of those impacts have a deep impact on children. And more than half the people we incarcerate in the U.S. are parents of school-age children.

    BRAD STODDARD, Professor, Goucher Prison Education Partnership: This case was a consolidation of two cases.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But is the education that these prisoners receive comparable to college courses on the outside? Professor Brad Stoddard teaches religion and social reform for the Goucher Prison Education Partnership.

    BRAD STODDARD: It is the exact same curriculum that I do for my general population students. We use the same reading material. We use the same primary sources, the same secondary sources.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Until the mid-’90s, inmates of state and federal prisons were allowed to apply for Pell Grants, money offered to any low-income college student in the nation. But as part of the 1994 crime bill, Congress took away grant money for the incarcerated.

    Critics of Second Chance Pell Grants say the Department of Education is now overstepping its authority.

    Congressman Chris Collins:

    REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R-N.Y.): There is a law on the books that there is no ambiguity in. Pell Grants shall not be allowed for prisoners, period, end of discussion.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: By designating the program an experiment, education officials say they can access the money and help prisoners get jobs upon release.

    JOHN KING: We need them to come back prepared to be successful. Otherwise, they will end up back in jail, which is a cost to — not only to them and their families, but to the to the country.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Collins says inmates should be trained in the trades and helped to complete a GED, but he stops short of money for college.

    REP. CHRIS COLLINS: We have no surplus. There’s no extra money anywhere in the federal government. So, I do not believe our children and grandchildren should be paying off in the future with interest moneys so a criminal behind bars can take a few random college courses.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: James Flood, the director of security operations for Maryland’s Department of Correctional Services, says classes do more than help the individual. They improve the environment.

    JAMES FLOOD, Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services: You don’t have time to dwell on negative things. You’re working. You’re going to school and you’re studying. You’re concentrating on positive things. And so we benefit as an institution, and it makes the facility safer.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And he says other inmates view those enrolled in classes differently.

    JAMES FLOOD: This is positive peer pressure, because it fuels admiration and respect.

    DEVAL WALLACE, Student, Goucher Prison Education Partnership: I started college here because I needed a change, man, something positive, something productive. It was a search for achievement, something to better myself.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Deval Wallace is incarcerated for attempted murder. He will not be eligible for parole for another six years. Still, he is enrolled in Goucher classes and hopes to get a degree in psychology.

    DEVAL WALLACE: It still benefits me.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: How?

    DEVAL WALLACE: Even though I’m not able to go out and use a degree, just being — having that knowledge and having to — I can help the next person that’s in here that might have a chance of going home, help steer him in the right direction, give him positive information.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: What’s your guarantee to me that, five years from now, when I catch up with you, it’s not going to be in a room like this?

    JERMAINE ISAAC: I can guarantee that because I hate prison. I can’t be here. Like, this is not a place for me. There’s no way I will return here, no way.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The Department of Education estimates 100 correctional institutions across the country will take part in the Second Chance Pell Pilot program.

    In Maryland for the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Hari Sreenivasan.

    The post Inmates get a ‘second chance’ at federal grants for higher ed under experimental program appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: There’s a growing problem for marine life in the world’s oceans and waterways, manmade noise.

    This week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a new decade-long plan to try to deal with the way it’s affecting life underwater.

    Special correspondent Cat Wise has our report. It’s part of our weekly series covering the Leading Edge of science and technology.

    CAT WISE: Beachgoers are drawn to the water this time of year to relax and enjoy some peace and calm. And that’s what many describe it’s like under the water, too.

    WOMAN: I would say it sounds beautiful, relaxing.

    WOMAN: I think it sounds, like, so peaceful, like, I mean, just calm.

    CAT WISE: But the calm near the surface often belies what it actually sounds like deep beneath the waves, especially if that’s where you live.

    Over the last hundred years, as humans have increasingly used the world’s waterways for shipping, defense, and natural resources, among other things, the level and the amount of manmade noises in marine environments has increased.

    But many species of mammals, fish, and even invertebrates rely on sound to communicate under the water to find food, mates, and stay safe.

    And those vital communications, in some areas, are being drowned out.

    MARLA HOLT, NOAA Fisheries: People don’t really realize how noisy it is. Sound travels very well underwater compared to air. So it can travel very long distances.

    CAT WISE: Marla Holt is a wildlife biologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle. She and other NOAA scientists have been studying the impacts of noise pollution on marine life from big to small.

    It’s been shown that noise can cause behavior changes, hearing loss, and it can even be fatal. Holt’s research focuses on orcas, also known as killer whales, and how they amplify their calls when they are in noisy waters, especially around container ships.

    MARLA HOLT: OK, so here are orca calls with minimal boat noise. And here are their calls with lots of boat noise.

    CAT WISE: There’s quite a difference, and you see it visually here too.

    MARLA HOLT: Yes, so, they really have to pump up the volume of their calls in order to hear each other.

    CAT WISE: Many of the orcas Holt studies spend a lot of their time in Washington state’s Puget Sound. They and hundreds of other marine species have a lot more than just container ships to contend with. More than four million people live around the Sound.

    The beautiful waterways of Puget Sound are what draw so many people to this area, but all the boating and shoreline development make this a very noisy place to be for marine life. It’s an issue that the state of Washington has been trying to deal with for quite some time.

    RHONDA BROOKS, Washington State Dept. of Transportation: Any time we touch anything with water, we try to deploy practices that aren’t harmful.

    CAT WISE: Rhonda Brooks is works for the Washington State Department of Transportation. She says the state’s many ferry terminals and bridges require a lot of work that is often quite noisy, especially when it comes to driving foundation piles in the water.

    RHONDA BROOKS: I think it’s only really been in the last decade or so that we have become concerned about the sound that it makes underwater as it’s being struck from above the water, and what that sound does to the species that are not only in the vicinity of the pile, but also miles and miles away.

    CAT WISE: While marine pile driving is a relatively small slice of the overall noise pollution problem, it is one of the loudest and most distressful manmade noises for marine life.

    Documented fish kills around marine pile driving projects in the early 2000s led to more state and federal noise mitigation requirements. One of the main ways to reduce the noise with pile driving has been through the use of bubble curtains, which are large rings that surround the pile, and the bubbles that are pumped out reduce the sound waves, but sometimes not very much, as little as 30 percent. They also can cause construction delays, according to Brooks.

    RHONDA BROOKS: As we know, time is money in construction. And so we began to look at practical, innovative ways to attenuate that sound.

    CAT WISE: So Brooks and other transportation officials sought help from engineers around the state. And they eventually got that help from this man.

    PER REINHALL, University of Washington: Once we understood the principles of how sound was created, then the solution was pretty simple.

    CAT WISE: Per Reinhall is the chair of the mechanical engineering department at the University of Washington. Over the years, he has developed a number of products, including a next-generation football helmet.

    But this was his first foray in marine construction, and what he came up with was a double-walled pile. Reinhall showed me how the system works on a model.

    PER REINHALL: So, what we have done is, we have taken the ordinary pile and then we have put another pile inside it. And, as you can see here, there’s an airspace in between where the water can not get to. And what we do is, we strike the inside pile. Now we have a bulge going down.

    But now it’s acting against the air, not the water. So, essentially, no sound, or very little sound gets developed.

    CAT WISE: The other key part of the design is the connection at the bottom of the two piles, seen in this testing prototype, which prevents the sound from traveling into the seafloor.

    PER REINHALL: And that’s really the secret sauce of this concept, is the flexible coupling at the bottom. See, it’s essentially a spring, a very, very stiff spring, between the outside pile and the inside pile.

    CAT WISE: Reinhall has turned his innovation into small start-up. The company, called Marine Construction Technologies, has done several tests with the state Department of Transportation.

    And the results, says Reinhall, have confirmed the design works. At this test, done in 2014, there was a 21-decibel noise reduction. To understand what that means, you really need to hear it.

    PER REINHALL: So, this is a regular pile. And this is our new pile. So, it’s a dramatic difference.

    CAT WISE: It is a big difference. How much of a difference?

    PER REINHALL: It’s a reduction of about 90 percent of the volume.

    CAT WISE: Ninety?

    PER REINHALL: Ninety percent of the volume, so, yes, it’s a big deal if you’re a fish.

    CAT WISE: One hurdle, though, is the cost. The double-walled piles are about 20 percent more than a standard single pile. But Reinhall says those costs should be mitigated by the effectiveness of the technology.

    PER REINHALL: The goal of this is to actually save money, if you include everything, if you include monitoring, the time of the projects, permitting, et cetera, et cetera. So, overall, the projects should be cheaper with this technology.

    CAT WISE: The Reinhall piles have yet to be used commercially, but the state is now evaluating them now for future projects.

    As for the marine life in Puget Sound, there was no comment, but we expect any noise reductions in their waters would be a welcome development.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Cat Wise in Seattle, Washington.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, it would.

    Cat’s report is also part of our Breakthroughs coverage of invention and innovation.

    The post Turning down the volume on human noise pollution for marine life appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A fleet of Uber's Ford Fusion self driving cars are shown during a demonstration of self-driving automotive technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. September 13, 2016.  REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk - RTSNO63

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    GWEN IFILL: Now: The Jetsons future may be arriving sooner than you think, for better or for worse.

    Uber is experimenting with self-driving cars. In Pittsburgh today, the company began deploying a small test fleet of the vehicles around the city.

    Hari Sreenivasan has the story.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK, the first thing to know, Uber tried this with several journalists this week. Each self-driving car was accompanied by a human operator, who loosely kept hands on the steering wheel.

    The cars are equipped with sensors, radars and light-mapping systems. Select Uber customers in Pittsburgh will be able to opt into a driverless car pickup.

    Alex Davies writes about all things transportation for “Wired” magazine, and took a ride in one of Uber’s self-driving cars. He joins me now from San Francisco.

    So, Alex, unless you were a friend of a Tesla driver or a Google engineer, you’re one of the first people to sit in the back of one of these cars. What was the experience like?

    ALEX DAVIES, Wired: So, for the most part, it was actually kind of just like a regular Uber ride, minus the fact that it was clearly a kind of carefully orchestrated media preview.

    It’s same way most Uber rides start. You pull out your phone, you open up the Uber app, and you hit — enter your destination. Then you call up the car. And then what’s going to happen from now on for some select customers in Pittsburgh is, it will say, hey, would you like a self-driving car, instead of some guy driving in the street who’s trying to make extra money?

    And if you hit yes, then that’s what shows up. And basically a car — right now, they’re now using Ford Fusions covered in this enormous pile of sensors on the roof, spinning light scanners, radars, cameras. That pulls up.

    But after that, once you get in, it works more or less like a normal Uber. You relax in the back seat and the car drives you exactly where you’re going.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Now, we mentioned the biggest safety precaution, which has been a human, an engineer, a driver in the car. But what other kinds of precautions has Uber taken to roll this test out?

    ALEX DAVIES: So, first of all, they’re only operating within a small select area of downtown Pittsburgh. They’re open to about 12 square miles right now.

    And the reason they’re limited to that space is that they will only send their cars out to areas that they have mapped in extreme detail. That means that the car already knows exactly where every traffic light is. It knows which lanes are right-turn-only lanes, which — where it’s allowed to make a U-turn or where it can’t, what the speed limit is everywhere, and where pedestrians are likely to cross, where cars are usually driving if the lane lanes aren’t super well-marked.

    So, basically, it’s kind of slicing off the riskier areas by only operating in places where it knows what the conditions are going to be like.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, why Pittsburgh?

    ALEX DAVIES: A couple of reasons.

    The biggest one is that Pittsburgh is home to Carnegie Mellon, which has — Carnegie Mellon has one of the best robotics programs in the country and probably in the world. And some of their engineers have been studying self-driving cars for 15 years now, well before anybody imagined that this could really be a thing.

    So, a lot of those guys and women are now working for Uber at its Advanced Technology Center in the city. The second reason is that Uber has — sorry — Pittsburgh has a lot of different weather conditions, unlike Silicon Valley, which is pretty much always sunny.

    Pittsburgh, you’re going to have to face snow and rain and different weather problems. And that’s a good challenge for the cars to learn how to solve. And the street grid isn’t the easiest to navigate. So, again, it’s training cars to take on more complicated situations.

    The third advantage to Pittsburgh is that Pennsylvania hasn’t really regulated this space yet, so Uber is free to do pretty much what it wants.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: What is the safety record of autonomous vehicles to date, and how is Uber factoring that in to these tests?

    ALEX DAVIES: So, overall, the safety record is excellent, because, for the most part, at least when you’re talking about fully autonomous vehicles, they have always got a man — a trained operator at the wheel ready to take over in any situation.

    So, for example, Google, which tests constantly in Mountain View and in Austin and a few other places, has had a few minor accidents, but nothing serious, nothing where anyone’s ever been injured.

    And the same thing with Uber, at least in California, where it’s required to report any accidents, as are all autonomous car operators. In Pennsylvania, it’s not exactly clear what the record is, though they say they haven’t had any accidents, just because there are no rules saying they have to tell you if there is one.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right.

    And, also, put this into perspective. Why is Uber doing this? We have heard about Google. We have heard about Tesla. We have heard about auto manufacturers. What’s Uber’s interest in having autonomous vehicles?

    ALEX DAVIES: So, Uber’s interest is natural, because when you ask automakers, for example, well, when you think about an autonomous fleet of cars, what does that look like, they will tell you, well, it looks like Uber. It’s a car that you don’t have to own or deal with parking or maintenance that shows up, picks you up and takes you where you want to go.

    So if Uber can take its model, which is already enormously successful and rapidly spreading around the world, and it can take out the single most expensive part of that, which is a human driver who takes half or three-quarters of every customer’s fare, and they can remove that person from the equation, then, all of a sudden, the business gets a lot more efficient and a lot more profitable.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK. And how far out is that future?

    ALEX DAVIES: So, Uber right now, if you say, well, when are you going to be able to take the engineers out of the cars, they will say, when it’s safe, which is not a particularly helpful answer.

    But if you look at the timelines other players have put out, Baidu, which is kind of the Chinese equivalent of Google, says it wants self-driving cars on streets in 2019. Ford is targeting 2021.

    So, I think it’s safe to say that Uber will be more or less on that timeline, so three to five years out.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Alex Davies from “Wired” joining us from San Francisco tonight, thanks so much.

    ALEX DAVIES: Thank you.

    The post How Uber is helping steer the future of self-driving cars appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Nina Van Harn had to leave her family to escape what she considered was a forced marriage.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first: Today on Capitol Hill, a Senate hearing looked into ending the practice overseas of child marriage. But what wasn’t examined thousands of American girls and women here in the United States who are forced into marriage every year.

    In the first of two parts, special correspondent Gayle Tzemach Lemmon reports.

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: For Nina Van Harn, raising her children today is a radical departure from her own upbringing.

    NINA VAN HARN, Married at 19: My childhood was part magical, and part complicated.

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: She was raised in rural Michigan on a 40-acre farm in a tight-knit community that practiced a conservative form of evangelical Christianity. Its members largely kept to themselves, more “Little House on the Prairie” than modern-day America.

    Growing up, she always knew one day was coming. She recorded its arrival in her diary.

    NINA VAN HARN: “Dear Kit (ph)” — that was the name of the girl in the journal — “You will never guess what happened today. This morning after breakfast, papa sat Naomi (ph) and I down at the kitchen table and nailed us both with a load of bricks. He believes he found husbands for both of us.”

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: Van Harn had turned 19. She was legally an adult. There was no gun to her head, no chains around her wrists. But because of lifelong pressures from her family and her upbringing, she considers herself one of thousands of American women and girls forced into marriage each year.

    NINA VAN HARN: I knew that I wasn’t going to say no. This was God’s will. God had spoken. And it was just not even an option. I didn’t think consciously in my head I’m being forced.

    CRISTINA BICCHIERI, University of Pennsylvania: This is part of, if you will, psychological manipulation.

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: Cristina Bicchieri is a professor of philosophy and psychology at the University of Pennsylvania whose work focuses on social norms.

    She says these marriage practices are more typical of close-knit, conservative communities, people with little contact to the outside world.

    CRISTINA BICCHIERI: Your choices are much more restricted, and also it is the case that even if the girl or the boy give their consent, it is force in the sense that only they don’t know or conceive of an alternative, but it is a terrifying thing to abandon their community. It’s scary. Where do they go? Whom do they talk to?

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: For Nina Van Harn, there was no one and nowhere to go. And then it was her wedding day.

    NINA VAN HARN: I do remember being very nervous, and yet knowing that I needed to be smiling, and I was supposed to be happy. And I just looked in the mirror and I thought, this is it.

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: Nina’s husband wasn’t physically abusive, but throughout over a decade marriage, she says that she suffered psychological abuse, under severe pressure from her family and community. Every household chore, every meal she cooked, every family visit, even sexual interaction, she said, came to feel like imprisonment.

    NINA VAN HARN: When you don’t consent willingly to be with someone, then acquiesce their requests, it doesn’t make it a yes. It makes it, hey, I want to survive today.

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: An attorney for her husband after an initial response to “PBS NewsHour” didn’t respond to further inquiries, and her father didn’t respond to multiple contact attempts.

    Numbers are hard to come by. But one recent study by a group that works against forced marriage found as many 3,000 cases in a two-year period. Legally, marriage is between two adults, age 18 years or older.

    But every state in the country allows for exceptions. Critics say these exceptions endanger young people, not help them.

    Advocates say children as young as 12 have been married with the consent of their parents, according to state data. Ten states also allow underage girls to be married if they become pregnant. But critics point out that those laws may actually be used to legitimize other crimes, such as rape.

    In a first-of-its-kind lawsuit, Nina Van Harn decided to sue the state of Michigan for an annulment on the grounds that her marriage wasn’t consensual, and was, in fact, based on compulsion.

    With no legal precedent in the matter, she had to build the case from scratch. She left her husband and moved to a nearby city, where she now lives a much less conservative lifestyle.

    The rest of her family ceased all contact. And she and her former spouse share joint custody of their three children. The case, she said, took on a deep personal significance.

    NINA VAN HARN: I felt just a sense that I was going to actually not only get away from him, but I was going to get free.

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: That’s what an annulment meant to you?

    NINA VAN HARN: Uh-huh. It meant freedom. And it meant a peace in my conscience.

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: When you look at these pictures, what goes through your mind?

    FRAIDY REISS, Married at 19: It’s like looking at a different person. It’s like looking at a stranger.

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: Fraidy Reiss felt similar pressures in a very different place. She grew up in an ultra-orthodox Jewish family in Brooklyn, and she says that the pressure she faced to get married was obvious.

    Even though she was legally an adult, 19 years old, she said felt she had no choice.

    FRAIDY REISS: You have never been on a date before. And your whole life, you have been told, you need to get married right away. You’re terrified.

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: Reiss Reiss was arranged to marry a man whom she’d barely met. She remembers the ceremony as a joyous time, but she says her marriage took a turn for the worse.

    FRAIDY REISS: He would describe to me how he was going to kill me.

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: In detail.

    FRAIDY REISS: In detail. He would describe to me in detail until my — he would explain how I was going to take my last breath.

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: The threats prompted Reiss to seek a restraining order in a New Jersey state court, which was granted in 2010, and remains in force.

    Divorce is considered sinful in Reiss’ community, and family and friends offered little sympathy. On her own, she decided to take action.

    FRAIDY REISS: My first plan was, I’m just going to get out of this marriage, and then it became, I’m going to get out of this entire situation.

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: Reiss left the community, and set out for what she considered the unknown. Her family felt so betrayed, in fact, that they cut off all contact.

    Professor Bicchieri says Reiss’ decision to leave puts her in a rare category.

    CRISTINA BICCHIERI: Let’s call this woman a trendsetter. It will show to other women — or it may not be a woman — can be a man, et cetera — that it is possible to act against the norm of the community, is an example. They have more propensity to risk. They are more autonomous.

    And another important element is that they must believe that their rebelling in some sense will be efficacious, that they will succeed.

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: Reiss moved to New Jersey with her two daughters. Her ex-husband retains some visitation rights to the girls.

    Reiss started a nonprofit called Unchained at Last that lobbies to enact tighter legislation addressing forced marriage across the United States.

    FRAIDY REISS: When people hear about this, they say, oh, well, that’s just happening in this one religion, or that’s just happening in this one immigrant community.

    And that’s a way to abdicate responsibility. It’s so important to raise awareness about this and to talk about this publicly, because you can’t solve a problem that nobody knows exists.

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: Back in Michigan, Nina Van Harn and her lawyer, Matt Burns, pushed ahead with their legal battle. The challenges, they say, are not just legal, but cultural.

    MATTHEW BURNS, Attorney: The goal isn’t to eradicate arranged marriage. In many cultures, that is the norm, and it’s accepted, and — but there’s, I think, a fine line and probably a fair gray area between what’s arranged and what’s forced. And so that’s, I think, another difficulty that we face here.

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: While not confronted with physical abuse, Van Harn overcame great psychological hurdles in building her case.

    NINA VAN HARN: When I walked out, I didn’t just walk out on this person. I walked out of my whole family. I walked out of my community. I walked out on many parts of what had been my faith.

    And I had to run very fast. And that was heart-wrenching thing to do. But I did it because staying was more frightening than leaving.

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: Now she hopes that this case will help other women from all backgrounds escape similar situations.

    Meanwhile, she has a steady job in human resources at an auto dealer. She leads an active, busy family. And she has built a new group of friends, many of whom she met at a support group sponsored by a local women’s shelter.

    NINA VAN HARN: It’s a community. We are a community that works together to help each other through life. We are, in some ways, co-parents. And that’s my family. And they mean everything to me.

    GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: On August 1, Nina Van Harn’s husband agreed to annul their marriage. The end of this case, she hopes, also will mark a whole new a beginning for her.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Gayle Tzemach Lemmon in Michigan.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Tomorrow, part two of our series, looking at American girls taken overseas and forced into marriage.

    And, online, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon describes how she was able to persuade her subjects to come forward. That’s on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour.

    The post Uncovering the problem of forced marriage in the U.S. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 30:  A voter shows off his, 'I Voted!', sticker after voting in the Florida primary on August 30, 2016 in Miami, Florida.  There are Senate seats as well as congressional races that voters are weighing in on along with other issues including a Miami-Dade Mayoral race.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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    GWEN IFILL: The latest national polls show a tightening in the race to the White House, especially in key states like Ohio and Florida.

    But when it comes down to it, winning in November will depend on which candidate has a viable path to 270 electoral votes.

    For more, we’re joined by John Brabender, Republican strategist and chief creative officer for BrabenderCox, a political media firm, and Bill Burton, former deputy White House press secretary under President Obama and currently California managing director for SKDKnickerbocker.

    John Brabender, give us a map, give us a tour of what it takes for Donald Trump to get to 270.

    JOHN BRABENDER, Republican Strategist: Well, I’m going to oversimplify it

    GWEN IFILL: OK.

    JOHN BRABENDER: You first start by winning every state Mitt Romney won.

    (CROSSTALK)

    GWEN IFILL: Is that possible?

    JOHN BRABENDER: The tough one, probably, if there is one, it’s probably North Carolina. That will be a battleground.

    That doesn’t get you anywhere near 270, because Mitt Romney wasn’t anywhere near 270. So, there’s two different paths you can go. You win a whole bunch of small states and cobble them together, which is almost impossible.

    To me, the logical path then is where could have Romney maybe have won and didn’t? And you look at Ohio, Florida. You’re still not there. Now you have got to win either Pennsylvania or Michigan. And I think Pennsylvania is probably a little bit more doable than Michigan, but, again, neither one of those states have the Republicans won since 1988.

    GWEN IFILL: Bill Burton, take that map and add what you would think that Hillary Clinton needs to get to 270.

    BILL BURTON, Former Deputy White House Press Secretary: Well, I think you start in the same place.

    You look at the states Obama won and wonder, well, where would Hillary Clinton have a problem and where does Donald Trump have problems? And the truth is, Donald Trump is not showing strength in any of the big states that he would need in order to actually get to 270. And Hillary Clinton is showing herself to be remarkably stable in all the states that she needs.

    So I think that Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, all those states actually look pretty good for Hillary Clinton right now. And while Donald Trump is showing some strength in places like Iowa, it’s just not enough to get him close to getting the electoral votes that he needs to win.

    GWEN IFILL: John Brabender, we know that he did incredibly well in the primaries. We didn’t expect Donald Trump to do as well as he did.

    Can he use that megaphone or alter it in some way to have it apply in the general election?

    JOHN BRABENDER: I think to some degree.

    Pennsylvania is a good example. He won every one of the 67 counties. Pennsylvania might be a parochial state, but it’s not a homogeneous state. So, even among just Republican voters, to be able to pull that off, when you have very moderate voters on one side of the state and more conservative in the middle, shows that he has very, very broad support.

    The second thing, in fairness to the Trump people, if you look at the most recent numbers, they’re actually doing well in Ohio, winning, winning in a lot of polls in Florida, and now Pennsylvania and Michigan have both tightened. They’re not ahead, but they have tightened. And that’s a good trend.

    GWEN IFILL: Bill Burton, one of the things that Democrats say is that Donald Trump gets a lot of free media and that that’s a disadvantage for Hillary Clinton.

    Can the free media lift him to where he needs to be? Isn’t that a potential threat to her?

    BILL BURTON: Well, I do have to give their campaign a little bit of credit.

    Monica Langley has a great piece in The Wall Street Journal today about how they’re trying to create different kinds of moments for Donald Trump, as opposed to just him shouting at rallies. They’re trying to get him in classrooms, and in churches, and in diners and places where he can make a more personal connection.

    Now, obviously, the strategy has its setbacks, as you saw today, Donald Trump in a church getting interrupted by the pastor because he started attacking Hillary Clinton.

    But I think that if he does really want to make gains, if he does want to find a path to those voters who are in the middle, then he needs to do different things than just do these rallies. And, you know, I think he’s actually doing a pretty good job of that.

    He’s still pretty limited in the effect that he can have because he so disqualified himself with such a large number of voters that I don’t think that there is an actual a path to victory for him. But he is at least doing a better — engaging in a better strategy than he had previously.

    GWEN IFILL: But, John, isn’t there a reason for that? That we see him in a church in Detroit, Michigan not a state that he’s necessarily competing in, that we see him bring forth the child care program, isn’t that to try to address the issues that Bill Burton is talking about?

    JOHN BRABENDER: Well, I think what it’s to do is to make him more likable.

    Here’s the biggest problem I think Donald Trump has. He’s not getting enough votes today of the people who already say they don’t like Hillary Clinton. And so I agree with Bill. I agree with the pastor. I don’t think Donald Trump has to be out there making the case against Hillary Clinton. I think people have known her 24 years. How you feel about her, you feel about her.

    What they’re still unsure about, particularly some moderate Republicans, we know gender there is difference, I think Donald Trump has to seal the deal by letting people feel comfortable to vote for him.

    GWEN IFILL: Bill, you used to work with David Plouffe, who ran the Obama campaign. And he said that — I think it was yesterday — he said this depends on who’s showing up, the composition of the voters that everyone is fighting for.

    What do you think the composition has to be in order for Hillary Clinton to win?

    BILL BURTON: Well, something that is interesting about the current polling is that, as you watch Hillary’s numbers fluctuate, part of the reason that they are is because the Obama coalition, younger voters, African-American voters, Latino voters, they’re not showing up in as large a number for her as they did for President Obama.

    And for that reason, I actually think that her numbers are artificially low. I think that, at the end of the day, those voters are going to join ranks, and it is going to help propel Hillary Clinton to victory.

    GWEN IFILL: We have seen — I’m going to stay with you for a moment, Bill, because we have seen in the last few days a big debate over the deplorables comment that Hillary Clinton made the other night.

    And I wonder if part of that debate isn’t about this very issue. How do you win over the people either who are offended by portions of the Trump coalition, or how does Trump, in turn, tar her as being intolerant? Isn’t that about part of this?

    BILL BURTON: I think that that conversation is happening along the edges.

    I don’t think that the folks who are in the middle look at the conversation over whether or not Donald Trump’s campaign is racist or whether or not Hillary Clinton should use that term to describe some of his supporters made sense, I don’t think that the folks in the middle are looking at that debate.

    I think they’re more looking at these two candidates. It’s a band of voters with which neither candidate has very high approval ratings. And they’re trying to make up their mind on who has a better plan for the economy, whose presidency would more positively impact my life?

    And I think that debate happens sort of among people who have already made up their minds.

    GWEN IFILL: What do you think about that, John Brabender?

    JOHN BRABENDER: Well, I agree.

    Sometimes, we all go on these shows and we have this debate over deplorable, not deplorable. And that’s not what people around their dining room table are talking about at night.

    One of the things Trump has done is tie into particularly what would be the sons and daughters of Reagan Democrats in places like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, who are voting for him because they feel both parties left them on the economic battlefield.

    They feel Washington doesn’t understand their lives anymore, and they feel that even though Donald Trump might make a mistake with what he says from time to time, they see that as authenticity and maybe somebody who will truly pay attention to them, because they feel ignored.

    GWEN IFILL: And there are, briefly, enough of those people to get 270 for Donald Trump?

    JOHN BRABENDER: Well, here’s the thing.

    In a state like Pennsylvania, the paradox is, to win, you have to get the conservative Democrats in the west, but you still have to do well with the collar-county moderates in the east. Romney did fine with the moderates, but not the conservative Democrats. Trump is doing well with the conservative Democrats. Now Trump has to seal the deal with the moderates in the east.

    GWEN IFILL: Fifty-six days, guys.

    John Brabender, Bill Burton, thank you both very much.

    BILL BURTON: Thank you.

    JOHN BRABENDER: Thank you.

    The post What each candidate must do to win the Electoral College appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A woman kisses her son while standing in the audience as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in Aston, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 13, 2016.  REUTERS/Mike Segar - RTSNMI3

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Child care is one of the biggest expenses many American families face, surpassing the cost of college tuition and rent in more than 30 states.

    When it comes to providing paid family leave, the U.S. lags behind every other developed country in the world. It’s a cause long championed by Democrats. And now the Republican nominee for president is out with a new plan that seems to break with conservative orthodoxy.

    Correspondent Lisa Desjardins reports.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The two who would be president of all are focused on the very youngest Americans, our children. Outside of Philadelphia Tuesday night, Donald Trump became the first GOP nominee to propose paid family leave and child care help.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee: We need working mothers to be fairly compensated for their work, and have access to affordable, quality child care for their kids.

    LISA DESJARDINS: How would Trump provide that access and care? First, Trump would push for mothers, but not fathers, to receive six weeks of paid maternity leave. Then, he proposes that child care costs be fully deductible for families making less than $500,000 a year.

    Total cost is not clear, but Trump says he would pay for this all by cracking down on unemployment insurance fraud. The family friendly turn is family-generated. Trump’s daughter Ivanka helped craft the policy, and today charged the Democratic nominee has failed.

    IVANKA TRUMP, Daughter of Donald Trump: Hillary Clinton has been around for decades and there’s no policy benefiting either mothers or fathers in terms of paid leave.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Ron Haskins is director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution.

    RON HASKINS, The Brookings Institution: I think it’s quite a big deal for Republicans. Republicans have not been noted for making parental leave proposals. But it is at least somewhat surprising. I would even call it quite surprising that Trump would make a proposal like this. It wouldn’t get much support, I think, in a Republican Congress.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Now to Hillary Clinton, who has stressed childhood issues for decades. What’s her plan? All parents would get 12 weeks of paid leave. Child care costs would be kept to 10 percent of the family’s income for most families, though Clinton hasn’t shown exactly how she’d achieve that. And she’d pay for it all by raising taxes on the wealthy.

    Clinton would also use those taxes to make preschool universal starting at 4 years old.

    HILLARY CLINTON (D), Presidential Nominee: We have to make it easier to be good workers, good parents, and good caregivers, all at the same time.

    LISA DESJARDINS: This is further than Clinton went just two years ago on mandatory paid leave, when she told CNN it was too soon politically.

    But now things have changed. Both presidential nominees are pushing for paid family leave at the same time, and perhaps with good reason. Polling shows that paid family leave gets the support of over 70 percent of Americans over age 40, and that’s the same group that has the highest turnout in elections.

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

    The post Inside the candidates’ plans for paid leave and child care appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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